I Do

Psyched ya mind! She ain’t jumped the broom.

Wedding season has begun. I don’t know if that’s technically correct in terms of when most weddings get underway but at least for me, the season has begun. I am only planning to attend one engagement party and one more wedding this year, but it’s still hard to be 2 months shy of my 27th birthday and wonder When my turn?

It warms my heart to see young people get murried. Doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, black or white, I’m not the girl at weddings criticizing the decorations, color schemes, or even the plates I’m eating off of. As long as I’m celebrating people trying to do what doesn’t seem very popular anymore and I don’t get food poisoning…I’m gonna be there with a big smile on my face.

I enjoy people-watching at weddings. I enjoy checking out the groomsmen (and their ring  fingers), watching people interact and trying to figure out if I can read their body language to see who’s cuffing claiming who. I like to watch the bride and groom talk while having their first dance. I like to sit at a table where I don’t know anyone and meet someone new. I like to see two families come together and get along, even if it’s just for the sake of one day. I enjoy the spirit of being a witness to a sacred vow, and I respect those individuals who stand before God and take that charge–for it’s not something to take lightly.

Today I sat at a table with 5 strangers and experienced a roller coaster of emotions in a matter of about 3 and a half hours at a reception party. I sat at a table and wondered when the young man who eyed me all afternoon was going to get enough courage to ask me to dance. I sat at a table with 3 generations of women who all resembled each other and were beautiful in their own right. I sat at a table with a man who wore many masks to get along with all the characters surrounding us. I listened, I laughed, and I admired. I asked questions, I did some criticizing (of the DJ, who had to be the worst known to NYC), and I showed my support.

Sometimes weddings can turn into materialistic displays of status. There’s nothing wrong with that, but marriage is more than one day. I hope when it’s my turn, that there will be an excitingly delicious aura of passion, dedication, and love ooozing from the Mr. and I. That our love will be visible not merely in the physical sense but in those non-verbals…a knowing look, a sly smile, an inside joke. I want my well-wishers to leave full off that.

It’s my fantasy,


Feel free to share your thoughts on weddings and the like…

I Do

Tracing the Nursing Home

My latest {ad}venture has me volunteering in a nursing home for less than two weeks, since I am due to be back in school pretty soon and was interested in a way to maximize my time back in the City. I was advised by a Speech Therapist to volunteer some time working with a population I had never worked with before; the elderly. Considering that I love to volunteer and that it would look great on my resume, I jumped at the idea and found a nursing in which the application wouldn’t take weeks to process. The nursing home assigned me to assist the Recreational Therapy department in their daily activities.

Tomorrow makes one full week, and it’s a little bittersweet thinking about leaving soon being that I’ve just started solidifying some consistency and relationships with the residents, especially those who speak Spanish. Please note, no actual names have been used to protect the privacy of the patients/residents.


Here’s how my past week went:

Thursday Jan 12th, 9:30am-12:30pm

This was my first official day of volunteering after having met with the Volunteer Coordinator on Monday. She introduces me to the folks over at Recreational Therapy (RT) in an office that’s basically one big open room with about 6-8 desks cramped along the perimeters of the walls. In the middle of the room there’s carts filled with plastic containers of arts, crafts and knick-knacks.

I am paired up with one of the therapists. We go up to the floor she’s responsible for, the 2nd floor, and she does a bead project with the women there who are willing and able. She pairs me up with a Dominican man who is 54 but who looks to be in his late 60’s due to his condition. We play 10 hands of dominoes, in which I win one. Not only does he not speak much English, I notice that half of his face/mouth seems to be paralyzed because when he speaks he only moves the right side of his jaw. With careful attention, his Spanish is decipherable, and due to extrinsic redundancy (he habitually repeats his phrases 2 times)  I am able to engage in conversation with him. After the butt-whopping, Mr. DR is taken to physical therapy.

In comes a raspy-voiced, healthy and formidable Puerto Rican woman with all white hair. Before I see her, I hear her. Her favorite question is ‘Mami, what I do?‘ or in other words, What would you like me to do, now? which is her way of asking the nurse/attendant what they would like her to do next. At first I figured that it was a question of wanting reassurance, or demonstrating her dependency but as she sat in the day room for about 30 minutes she could not sit still and go 5 minutes without asking out loud Mami what I do? to anyone listening. Since she can only see well out of one eye, I deduced asks the question to make sure someone is around and that she’s not completely alone.

I learn that she has recently lost her husband, who also lived in the nursing home, and since then she does not hesitate in telling you ‘I am scared‘ or asking ‘I shouldn’t be scared, right?’ making it clear that she does not want to be left alone. I work on a simple motor activity exercise with her, having to repeat the task to her over and over since in between every action she takes the opportunity to ask me ‘Mami, what I do?’  The hardest part was reassuring her that she was in a room full of people, so there was no need to be afraid. I realize that comforting the residents and speaking positivity to them is a big part of the job, so I try my best to be genuine.

Friday Jan 13th, 9:30am-1:30am

Today I’m matched with a different therapist and we head to the 5th floor. The activity today is a chat, and so everyone is gathered around and the topic is Superstition and the upcoming celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday. The therapist tries to engage her audience by asking questions, and sharing personal stories. I meet another Dominican woman, who’s speech is fine and she complains about her leg being no longer ‘any good’ which resulted in her thinking that she was no longer ‘any good.’ Immediately I want to encourage her, but it’s hard for me to find the words in Spanish. I remind her that we are all on Earth for a reason, and I make a mental note to be prepared with much better rebuttals the next time.

Monday, Jan 16th 10:00am-1:30pm

I am the only volunteer working on a holiday, but I don’t mind because I know my time is short. I am back on the second floor, as the therapist begins an activity of ‘Word Search’ using the phrase I HAVE A DREAM SPEECH. The residents come up with 39 words, which is ironic, being that MLK died at that age. I then spend some one-on-one time with another resident, teaching her how to play dominoes again.

Tuesday, Jan 17th 9:30am-1:30pm

On the second floor there’s an arts and crafts project that involves hearts and painting for Valentine’s Day. I am assigned to a woman we’ll call Ms. Relentless because she had no desire in staying in the recreation room, all she wanted to do was go and lay down on her bad.

Ms. Relentless: I don’t feel well, I want to go to bed.

Me: I’m sorry, the nurses don’t want you in the room by yourself. It’s a safety issue. What happens if you try to get up and fall?

Ms. R: I just don’t feel well, I have to sit on this chair all day and it’s tiring. I’d rather lay in my bed, my back hurts.

{Therapist offers to bring her a pillow for her wheelchair. She comes back with a pillow and a magazine for her}

Ms. R: **Quiet for 2 minutes** When my daughters come, I’m going to tell them to take me out of this place. Some people talk to me nice, and others treat me bad, I don’t know why I don’t do anything to anybody.

Me: *thinking* I’m sure your daughters want you to be as comfortable as possible, but people here have your best interest at heart.

Ms. R: Some people here have ill intentions, I don’t know why I don’t do anything to anybody.

Me: *quiet*

Ms. R: I don’t feel well, I want to go to my room.

Me: You can’t go to your room until after lunch. You have to wait a little while.

Ms. R: My stomach hurts, can I have some coffee?

Me: You already had breakfast, lunch will be served in another 30 minutes.

Ms. R: I don’t feel well, I want to go to my room. I’m not bothering anyone when I’m in my room laying down.

This goes on for about the next half hour, until I practically have nothing else to say. I realize that the art of persuasion is harder than I anticipate, and takes some real skill, not mere back-and-forth. Negotiation is tied in there somehow as well, but since I don’t know necessarily what I can or cannot promise, I don’t want to put my foot in my mouth.

Wed Jan 18th, 10am-1:30pm

Today was probably the most productive day for me. There was a professional art class held with an outside teacher who comes once a week, and I got to see just how therapeutic painting can be. First, everyone chose pictures from magazine cut-outs. Then with their palate’s chosen, and the drawing/free-handing begins. I help with small details in paintings, or simply when someone’s hand gets tired, I encourage them by picking up the brush and filling in what they don’t have the strength to finish. I love how engaged and encouraging the art teacher is, they trust her judgment, advice and opinions. When I realize that an outlet such as art is something most of the residents look forward to every week, I start to be thankful for those people who take their jobs seriously in that place. I know sometimes the work can get redundant, even frustrating, but those caregivers are very, very necessary.

Nursing homes are not necessarily the happiest place, but some do their very best to offer a real home environment. Before seeing how one works first-hand, I thought bad about the family’s who drop their elderly and go on about their lives. I could never imagine putting my mother in her old age in a place like that, but I know that for someone who needs care around-the-clock a home-based nurse costs lots of money and circumstances play a major role in such a difficult decision. I know it’s easy to judge what you will do when you’re not being faced with the situation. When that time comes, I pray to God that I have the flexibility to take care of my mother. But I no longer knock those who are forced to place their loved ones in the hands of strangers.



Tracing the Nursing Home

Au Revoir 2011

Reflection Question: Write a love letter to your future self a year from now.

Dearest She,

You are strong. You are beautiful, and you are unique. Anybody would be blessed to know you as a friend because you are supportive, loyal and write some damn good birthday cards. Although you don’t have many people that you call friends, there’s nothing wrong with you because you are picky. But there is something wrong with holding on to people you know should no longer be in your life. Friends do come with expiration dates.

This year you’ve learned not to take what friends do or don’t do, personally. You’ve let go of holding grudges against people because they don’t call you, or they don’t respond to your calls, or they don’t check up on you. You’re understanding that there are different types of friendships, and not everyone is like you. People show love in different ways, and they may simply not speak the same love language you do.

Career-wise, the seemingly unfortunate series of events earlier this year have actually given you the kick in the behind to get back to school. Truth be told, it’s hard to take the initiative when things are comfortable. Right now you may be unsure about a lot of things. You think you’re not smart enough to Ace these speech-related courses. You think you’re too old to compete with the 20 and 21 year old brains. You think you won’t get accepted into graduate school, and you secretely hope you don’t get accepted so that things could be easier. So that you have a reason excuse not try harder. It’s easier not to try. It’s easier to give up when you have faced rejection.

But you’ve faced rejection OVER and OVER again this year. You were rejected by your ex-boyfriend. You were rejected by your former boss who let you go. You were rejected by the camp supervisor who didn’t give you a job this summer. And yet, you survived. You finished your first semester of accelerated pre-req’s with a 3.4 GPA. Not too bad. It was a shock; the country town, the coursework, the lack of a real life social network, the style of teaching…but you still came out on top. So you have no idea what school you’ll be accepted to, where you’re going to live, if this field is really your calling, but will you be paralyzed by FEAR? Or will you learn how to work to your full potential and carry on? Will you finally trust in God’s unchanging hand? Not only to say you trust, but to act, and talk like you trust?!

Things you need to work on in 2012:

  • motivating yourself- self-talk works!
  • stop interrupting people when they are talking. Interrupting people shows them you don’t honor their opinion, and that what you have to say is much more important.
  • not relying on having other people around to have a good time
  • being generally more positive, and not cynical
  • restoring faith in the institution of marriage
  • devotional time with God (Bible-reading and mediation)
  • eating healthier
Key Moments you shouldn’t forget of 2011:
  • Making beet salad (in Costa Rica, we call it ensalada Rusa) for houses you visited for Thanksgiving, just to have people look at you like you were offering them cocaine.
  • Your god-daughter’s fascination with cameras.
  • You are smarter than you give yourself credit for.
  • What you focus on, increases. (The Noticer by Andy Andrews)
  • You kissed your first white boy.
  • You had your first real extended hangover.
  • You let yourself be loved.
  • You were introduced to Citizen Cope and have a crush on Drake.
  • You met some inspiring bloggers, click on names for sites (@blaqdaisy, @up4dsn, @moetwithmedusa, @minusthebars, @BrittShelton1, @cgryp, @mindofadiva@IAmNikks, @inspired_enigma  just to name a few)
Remember that there is life after heartbreak, people who seem to be living more comfortable on the outside may be living in hell internally, and that walking down the street with a smile on my face can brighten someone else’s day.
Here’s to a memorable 2012! I wish all of you a safe and amazing New Year celebration.
Until next year,
Au Revoir 2011

ReCording Life: Traces of She

Chapters.  If you divided your life into chapters what would you call them? What chapter are you in now? What chapter is next?

1. Little Tica: I recall my early years in Costa Rica. Excursions with my mom (who I was instructed to address as ‘Betty‘) and way-older boyfriend to the beach house. My life was not much bigger than my mother, our house, my barrio and school.

2. New York, New York: In December of 1992, days before Christmas, Betty moves us to Queens to live with my grandmother.  I enter second grade in a local public school with a bilingual setting. I excel rapidly at English, am placed in regular English-speaking class by the fourth grade. By this grade, it is also discovered that I am squinting at everything and need glasses. Enter insecurity-issues. By sixth grade, American parents have noticed that I address my mother by first name and have pressured her into forcing me to call her ‘Mom.’

3. Black Girl Lost: Through most of my school years I identified with what people had assumed I was… ‘light-skinned.’ I had no real connection to Costa Rica, having never traveled back home nor kept any tico traditions at home. All I had were the isolated memories and current events that may have been slightly addressed in grown-folks conversations. My family looked no different than any other African-American family, and I never felt any real need to make any distinctions.

4. Lonely, Only Child: I went through tough bouts of depression in my pre-teen and teenage years. Mom and I were never really close as mother-daughter, and the fact that she kept constant boyfriends in between us didn’t help. I journaled a lot, to the point that my writing would get me in trouble when it was discovered snooped by Mom. Mom also had an overpowering fear that I would become a teenage mother, and was extremely stiffling. Eventually, since I couldn’t leave the house, I learned to use the internet as a way to recreate myself. I could become anyone I wanted to online. I chatted with older men online, being an utter attention-craver, but never went as far as meeting them.

5. College Daze: Upon HS graduation, I began to differentiate between Black people and me. The difference was 9 digits, and I didn’t have them. I wasn’t born in the United States, I was an immigrant. No immigration status translated into no hopes for college since I didn’t have the luxury of financial aide.

6. Fatherly Duties: Through the grace of God, my father (who had been estranged most of my childhood years), an American citizen, expresses wishes to file an application for me to obtain residency. It was not an easy process, but it gets done months before the deadline of my 21st birthday. I finish my Associate’s Degree on academic scholarship, and graduate with a BA degree in English in 2010. Through 4 years of my undergrad, I’m also employed full time as a legal secretary.

I guess I would call the Chapter I’m in right now, Adulthood, but that sounds so cliche. Currently, I’m a grad-school hopeful, tired of a job and looking for my career. Trying to find a place in this world where I fit. I want to work in the field that was pre-destined for me. I want to be the minority in this world who loves what they do.

The next chapter I hope will be called Commitments. As much as I try to make myself sound like this flighty, free-spirit I do long for stability. I do want to start a family, where a husband is key to the equation. I’m trying not to be cynical about marriage although it’s hard to be hopeful when all I see is ruins from couples who didn’t make it. I also long to be someone’s Mama, because bringing a life into this world is also another reason why no one can ever convince me that God does not exist. I want to be part of miracle-making, be honored with the task of a light-bearing Mama.

What chapter of life are you currently in? 



ReCording Life: Traces of She