Distance is relative

LILIESGrowing up I was lucky to have  parents who were able to afford overseas trips and by overseas trips in this case I mean Puerto Rico.  Roughly every other summer my mom would pack our bags and off we went for 3 months of cultural immersion.

Dad, the workaholic that he was, typically would spend that time away from family at Indland Container Corporation.  His weekends were either spent on his motorcycle, fishing, or hanging out with friends. (every married guy’s dream.)

I never heard from either parent whether or not the other was missed but dad would call every week.  I liked the break because it meant something different, playing with cousins, going to the beach, eating PR food and not having to face Mr. Disciplinarian.

Irregardless, I always wondered if my parents DID miss each other…I guess after so many years of marriage they took each other for granted.  Dad did his thing, mom did hers.  I never thought I would end up marrying someone who ended up many miles from home.  And if I even had the faintest inkling that I would…..I always thought *I* would be the deployable one.

When you love someone and they leave, you keep close their memories, their love.  And with that you’re never truly alone but tell that to the heart when days…nights go by and you face each and every one of them alone, you go to bed alone and wake up in the middle of the bed not worrying about stealing the covers or taking up too much room but you miss that worry. And you wonder, as I at times did….had mom ever miss dad’s presence all those years ago…because I know she does now and he isn’t back home in Indiana waiting for his family to return from the island.  But he remains, he remains in our hearts and this is something I never take for granted. And as much as I miss my husband I wonder the impact of his death would mean to my heart if he were the first to go. Love is beautiful but also very painful.  But I try to hold on to the joy it brings, because love does indeed make life beautiful………

Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!
Henry Scott Holland
1847-1918
Canon of St Paul ‘s Cathedral

 

Do unto others

I grew up knowing what it felt like being in the minority.  I never considered myself different than the other kids in school until I revealed in the 4th grade that I was half Puerto Rican.  My teacher discovered (cannot remember how) that I was bi-racial.  She was fascinated and asked if I would create a short presentation of my roots.  I was glad to do it; this doey eyed innocent little girl who held no shame about being “different”. I brought pictures, wrote out the alphabet and showed the kids how to pronounce each letter. Afterwards I received accolades from the teachers and even gave a presentation to the 5th grade class.

Little was I to know then the drama that would unfold through my childhood and teenage years for being the mixed child. Kids would call me names (and the wrong racial slurs also). I was called a wetback though Spic was the more appropriate term.  Had rocks thrown at me, was spat upon all because my father decided to marry an island girl who was a little more brown than others and spoke with a beautifully lilting accent.

I learned to stick up for myself, to fight back with words and not fists.  All that torrential abuse caused me to quickly learn to develop a thick skin but when you’re a 9 year old little girl you haven’t quite developed the tools to wrap your arms around your heart in protection.  It took time, and made me realize how sad these people were who would so easily discount so many of the world’s population and of course, someone like me.
Those racial taunts only spurred me even harder to leave home and succeed, which I did. We all have to learn how to get along. Doesn’t matter your racial, ethnic, religious, or socioeconomic background.  We have but this one life, this one planet.  Let’s all try to get along…shall we?

Racism springs from the lie that certain human beings are less than fully human. It’s a self-centered falsehood that corrupts our minds into believing we are right to treat others as we would not want to be treated.
Alveda King

Operation Bootstrap

I mentioned on Facebook that after watching the biography of Steve Jobs makes me wonder if more Americans had some of his zeal, passion for their jobs, community, whatever…we could lift this country by its bootstraps and move forward in a positive light. I know this country became what it was due to the pioneer spirit and the hard work of our forefathers. Sometimes I think we become to complacent with our lives, material things that we forget how lucky we actually are to live in this great country.

One of my friends made the stark comment if we had the same zeal as we did when Russia was our political enemy perhaps Americans could find motivation to move this country forward. Seems to me with all the political hoopla we are stagnating as a industrialized nation…and it pains me to see this.

Operation Bootstrap was an economic incentive that created very ambitious projects to move Puerto Rico out of a primarily sugar can plantation based society to a more industrialized one.  This concept has also been used in other areas such as Africa which is trying to educate their children by partnering with non-profit agencies to improve literacy and education in general in this continent.  They become the future. And hopefully a bright one.

Though the United States is not floundering it does have some ongoing chronic issues which need to be addressed. Talking these problems out to death isn’t resolving anything. I keep seeing fast food restaurants popping out everywhere in rural America…(and makes me wonder where exactly is this country headed?) Our manufacturing jobs are sent overseas…the cost of living is outrageous which creates a vicious cycle of paying out high wages for blue-collar jobs and white-collar seems to be stagnating.  If not why so many unemployed college graduates?

We need to work together as Americans to bring this country back on its feet. Irregardless of what the politicians are saying this American is a doubting Thomas.

PROVE IT!

Create change!!

Being Puerto Rican and la familia

I had previously posted on this very subject in the past regarding the Puerto Rican or rather the Hispanic view of the family.  We Hispanics tend to be a very tight knit bunch.  Our family, our blood means everything to us.  I cannot describe how wonderful it feels to be the recipient of so much devotion.

Interesting Facts

Puerto Ricans consider themselves American but are fiercely proud of their island and their culture. They don’t usually call themselves Americans or “Americanos”, but “Puertorriqueños” or “Boricuas”. To most Puerto Ricans, “my country” means “Puerto Rico”, not the United States.

Criollo (creole) is a word used today by Puerto Ricans to describe things native to the island, such as: music, cuisine, language, arts, people, religion, and other aspects of the island culture.

It is known that Puerto Rican descendants call themselves Puerto Ricans. “I am Puerto Rican, but I wasn’t born there.”

The term “Nuyorican” is used to identify New Yorkers born in Puerto Rico or of Puerto Rican descent who live in or near New York City. The word Nuyorican derives from a combination of the words “New York” and “Puerto Rican”.

My mother was the best example of a mother’s love.  She loves us unconditionally and always has. Sure, she had that infamous Latina temper but we never once doubted how much this mother loved us.

I sometimes feel I pale in comparison to how I love my daughter but then I think about the sacrifices made in order to ensure my daughter was brought up well, never had to worry about a roof over her head or food in her belly. She saw how dedicated I was to being educated and I instilled these values along with hard work into her.

For those of you men who find Latin women erotic and ache to date/marry one of us I beg you to try and understand the concept of La Familia and to keep this in mind if you wish to be involved:

                 Puerto Rican                                                          American

Family is the foundation of the Puerto Rican social structure. The word ”familismo” is a Puerto Rican word that means close family connections, and it emphasizes the concern for the well being of the family. Friends and peer-aged acquaintances are often seen as the foundation of U.S. social structure.
Communications by telephone, as well as visits among families, are signs of being caring and are strongly encouraged and valued. Communication by telephone is common, but family visits are often reserved for holidays and special occasions.
“Interactions between family members and others are expected to be courteous, honorable and considerate” (Giammanco & Bartolomei, date, page ?). Interactions among family members reflect the independence that is expected and highly valued among individuals in this culture.
Family honor is of primary importance to Puerto Ricans, and they value an extended family, or modified extended family, which is the basic support system for first- and second-generation families in the U.S. (e.g.: cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, godparents (padrino/madrina), and close friends. The family unit is very diverse but, generally, it tends to be small and nuclear.
Individual achievement is not considered as valuable as family loyalty. Individual achievement is highly valued.
It is quite common to find three generations living under the same roof.Married couples tend to live in a house or apartment near their parents. Family members such as the grandparents, parents, married children and other relatives may live in different parts of the country.
Children are brought up as an integral part of the family unit. “Each [family] member has interdependent responsibilities, which validate their position in the family” (Giammanco & Bartolomei, date, p.?). Children are not expected to contribute to the welfare of the whole family.

click here for the source

Interesting Fact
Puerto Ricans are known for their warm hospitality, often considered very friendly and expressive to strangers. Greetings are often cordial and genuine. When people are first introduced, a handshake is usual, however, close friends and family members always greet you hello or goodbye with a kiss on the cheek or a combination hug and kiss. This happens between female friends and between men and women, but not between male friends.

Puerto Ricans are best known by speaking using lively hand and facial gestures, as hand and body language are important forms of communication.

Puerto Rican New Year’s Traditions

Thought I would share an old post of how this celebration is typically done on the island:

My mom introduced this to me last year.  Why she did not do this earlier no clue but on Midnight we throw out water from the old year…getting rid of bad tidings.  Here is some more info regarding some PR traditions for the new year:

 In Puerto Rico, children enjoy throwing buckets of water out the window at New Years Eve midnight. Some believe that this emancipates their home from evil spirits.

In Puerto Rico, everyone goes to the beach at midnight (okay not everyone)….and falls backward into the ocean. Making loud noises at the stroke of New Years Eve midnight with car horns, boat whistles, church bells or drum beats is also practiced to drive off the demons.  I remember the car horns but not going to the beach at midnight and acting crazy…. :^)

Parrandas

Even before December arrives, the chords of cuatros and guitars, accompanied by guiros and maracas, can be heard playing the traditional tune of an “aguinaldo” or “villancico” (Christmas song). Parrandas, also known as “asaltos” or “trullas,” are the Puerto Rican version of Christmas caroling. Friends gather late in the evening and go from house to house singing traditional holiday songs. The parranderos (carolers) generally are invited in by the homeowner and, in anticipation of their visit, the host offers them food and drinks. The parranda then continues on to the next house with the host usually joining in. Parrandas generally last till mid-January.

Año Viejo

Indisputably, Año Viejo (New Year’s Eve) is the holiday with the most noise and bustle in Puerto Rico. Friends and family gather to await the arrival of the New Year and say good-bye to the old. The celebration begins early in the evening with a lot of drinking and eating of traditional foods. Many choose to dress in brand-new clothing so they can receive the New Year with new things.

Although the government has outlawed pyrotechnics, you can hear plenty of firecrackers, bottle rockets, and cherry bombs exploding all night long and, as midnight draws closer, everyone gathers in anticipation of the new year. When the clock strikes 12, all you hear are fireworks, horns, cheers, and cries of joy as everyone hugs and kisses one another, wishing each other “Feliz Año Nuevo!”

Año Nuevo

After saying good-bye to the old year, a lot of Puerto Ricans do one of many rituals to receive the New Year. Eating 12 grapes at midnight is a custom that comes from Spain. It is said to bring lots of prosperity to those who do it. Another one is to throw a bucket of water out into the street to rid the home of all the bad things and prepare it for the arrival of all the good things. Another ritual is throwing sugar around the outside of the home to attract good luck and ward off bad luck.

Website:

http://www.puertorico-herald.org/issues/vol4n50/PRHolidayTrad-en.html

 

“You’re Hispanic so that MUST mean…”

…that you’re illgal or your parents were or you’re Mexican.

I am honestly concerned over the IQ of some people who are so narrow-mindedly focused on such hateful things.  Why is it that there are individuals who automatically assume if you are of one ethnic class that you fit in with their stereotypical beliefs of what you “should” be.

I am not illegal

My mother did not come into this country illegally

And I am not Mexican.

People will ask me:  “Do you speak Mexican?”

Really?

Where did you go to school?  Because from what I understand there is more than ONE Latin country where people speak Spanish and have their OWN cultural hertiage AND history.  And here’s another history lesson for you folks who have questions about Puerto Rican citizenship. They ALSO  retain American citizenship and have for many years. Hmmm, say since 1917 through Woodrow Wilson .  Puerto Ricans acquired U.S. citizenship under 8 U.S.C. 1402, which is part of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act.

And for your information yes we do eat alot of rice but we also have a variety of dishes that in no shape or form resemble the taco or the refried bean. I am not downplaying Mexican heritage here but rather outlying a simple clarification that the Hispanic culture is diverse.  Think of say Europe and the many different countries there with their own cultural mileus:

  Irish/English/Scottish/French/Spanish/German/Italian/Dutch/Sicilian/Corsican/Finnish/Swedish/etc…..

get it?

Vejo San Juan

My sister took this photo last week. I adore the pastel colors. So festive:

En mi viejo San Juan
Cuantos sueños forjé
En mis noches de infancia
Mi primera ilusión
Y mis quitas de amor
Son recuerdos del alma

Una tarde me fui
Así a extraña nación
Pues lo quiso el destino
Pero mi corazón
Se quedó frente al mar
En mi viejo San Juan

Adiós (adiós, adiós)
Borinquen querida
(Dueña de mi amor)
Adiós (adiós, adiós)
Mi diosa del mar
(Mi reina del palmar)
Me voy (ya me voy)
Pero un día volveré
A buscar mi querer
A soñar otra vez
En mi viejo San Juan

Pero el tiempo pasó
Y el destino burló
Mi terrible nostalgia
Y no pude volver
Al San Juan que yo amé
Pedacito de patria

Mi cabello blanqueo
Ya mi vida se va
Ya la muerte me llame
Y no quiero morir
Alejado de tí
Puerto Rico del alma, adiós (Juan Diego Florez)

Impressions of the island

I enjoyed my brief respite in Puerto Rico.  The trip seemed to whiz by in a moment.  Me, a person used to spending months at a time on the island while growing up…the few days I was there seemed almost like a slap in the face however am grateful I had the opportunity to visit family.

The island seems pretty much the same except for the vast volume of cars. I read somewhere that Puerto Rico ranks up there as far as the density of cars compared to the population.  It was a little hairy driving from San Juan to Ponce.  Think of Chicago but on a grander scale since the driving habits encompass the entire country.

Fountain at the Plaza de Las Delicias

The mountains were as beautiful as always.  Palm trees everywhere, winding roads through the mountains (made this lady a little carsick), clearest blue oceans, bluest of skies, a palette of nature’s color.

The people were just as friendly.  I soaked in every single detail of the houses, the people, the sights and sounds, the smells.  It also saddens me to see some parts of the island, sections of Ponce deteriorating.  I didn’t care for the graffiti or the litter.  I feel that with people out of work couldn’t the government at least at the local level create a green program to clean up the graffiti and trash?  Create jobs to beautify the island?  Just some thoughts.  The culture is so vibrant, the music, people…way of life.  Let’s preserve it.