Posts

Unintended consequences

This post is about sexual assault, but I’m not going to try to convince you about my views on Kavanaugh.I am a liberal.I make no apologies about it; it is not a secret. I am who I am, and everyone that knows me knows it.I guess my post is not so much about sexual assault; it is broader than that. My post is about social media and empathy.I am a very empathetic person.For whatever reason, and trust me I have theories, it is hard for me not to put myself in the shoes of the other.I am also very accustomed to being surrounded by people who do not share my world view. Which as time goes by, I realize more and more that it is kind of a rare thing.
Other than my immediate family who frequently agree with me, and for the 7 or 8 years I lived in Athens Georgia, I am usually surrounded by people who disagree with me.Which teaches you a lot of constraint for a lot of reasons: not offending a business associate, keeping the peace at family gatherings, advising a student, or an employee.You also…

Post Maria Puerto Rico

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I’ve been digesting how to describe what I saw when I was in Puerto Rico this time around.My first visit to the island since Maria was 9 months after the disastrous storm crossed it.If Puerto Rico were the United States, the storm entered through Florida and came out through Washington State.Think about that for a second.The island is only 100 miles by 35 so that means there was not an area that went untouched by the storm.
However, my hometown sits where California sits so it suffered less than most. It’s hardly something to celebrate when to get there you must drive across the island and see the blue tarps.Lots of things are different while at the same time – everything is the same.It is hard to put into words when you drive by the spot where you held your rehearsal dinner and it is no longer there.Swallowed by the ocean, or a blown away by the wind.When you fly into San Juan it looks the way it always looks: beautiful.The ocean, the green, the forts… and then you fly over Carolina…

The Three Kings

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My first memory of the three kings was in New York City.  We didn't celebrate it, even though we were from Puerto Rico, we just did Christmas.  I was in my dad's arms and he was showing me an image of the kings on the wall.  Maybe it was a Christmas card... I honestly can't remember.  I remember asking him about them and him telling me they represented the three wise men who brought gifts to baby Jesus.  He told me how in Puerto Rico, where he grew up, little kids left out grass for the camels and the kings would leave them gifts by their bed.  I asked if this was at Christmas and he said no.  Three Kings Day happens after the New Year.  I was around Sofia's age and I remember thinking "Puerto Rican kids are the luckiest kids in the world!  They get two Christmases!"

When we moved to Puerto Rico I was 7 years old and I too got two Christmases.  The year I moved to Puerto Rico I learned a lot about my culture that showed me I was one of the luckiest kids in the…

My Tribe

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Sebastian Junger wrote a book called “Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging”.If you haven’t read it I highly recommend it.One of the points he makes is how trauma unifies people.How when something terrible happens to a group of people, they are unified by the feeling of tribalism that is present in all humans.He supports this with evolutionary theory, sociology, psychology, and just personal anecdotes from his time spent in war zones.The classic example is New York after 9/11; how crime rates dropped and how the city became warmer.On 9/11/01 I was living on an Army base in Germany and I experienced this first hand.Americans, especially those with military ties, were treated with a deference that was hard to describe.TSA agents in airports would thank me for my service and sacrifice (I was then a Military wife). I saw the memorials in Paris and in different German towns where the locals were pouring out to show their support.It was overwhelming.Still, the experience was removed from me.I …

The weekend

I left home for the first time in 1996.  It was for 10 months, then I was back home for 10 months again, and then I was gone forever.  In reality, those 10 months when I was back I was in a sort of purgatory of being home and away at the same time.  It was a hard time for me.  When I left again in 1997 I just went to graduate school in San Juan.  I was home (in Puerto Rico) but not home (in Cabo Rojo).  From the first time I left I have always called my parents on the weekend.  Always.  For over 20 years.  Back in the stone ages of the 90s we had to rely on land lines and long distance calling plans.  Remember the “Nights and weekends” plans?  That’s why I called on the weekend – it was usually cheaper.  If you called during the week you had to wait until after 9 pm to get the cheaper rate.  The good old days.  When I lived in San Juan I took off the long distance plan to save money and would buy calling cards (remember those?) just to call my mom and tell her I was fine.  When I l…

Maria

When I was kid I used to love storms.  In Puerto Rico the storms were always a fun time.  When I was really young it was a time to play cards and board games with my brother.  Sometimes I read by candlelight.  I remember fondly a time early on – maybe even the first year when I was 7.  My dad and my 16 year old brother were fishing with my uncle. My 9 year old brother was staying at my other uncle’s house with my cousins.  It was just my mom and I and it started storming.  No power.  We had two candles.  So, as it got dark, we lit one candle and then made another one from the melted wax and some string.  Eventually my dad and brother came home with crazy stories of being in the ocean when the storm was coming in and my dad being sea sick.  I remember that fondly.  The best part about living in a place where the power goes out frequently is the stories.  My mom and dad always had stories about growing up in the 50s in Puerto Rico.  As we grew older we would be playing outside with fr…

800,000!

I was 7 years old when my parents decided to move us to Puerto Rico.It was June.One brother turned 9 that July, one turned 16 that August.It was without question the hardest decision my parents had to make for their family - and without a doubt the best one.The difference in upbringing between one child and the other two is staggering.I won’t dwell on that right now because that is not my focus.My focus here is that I am Puerto Rican.Yes, both my parents are from there.But I was born in New York City.I never tell people I am from New York.I am FROM the island.That little piece of land is in my heart because that is where I grew up.Where I came of age. First album purchased.First date. First concert. School graduations. My life story started there and nothing will ever change that.It doesn’t matter how many turns my life has taken (and there have been quite a few) I am Puerto Rican first.All politics aside, that is my truth; that is your truth; that is everyone’s truth.You are from the…