Friday, December 16, 2005

Time flies

No this is not about a type of fly, like fruit flies and the like. I am just saying that time actually goes by very fast like it was flying. Only it is actually better because time doesn't have to flap wings over and over to move as fast as it does.

I must have thought about a million things to write about this week, it has been a pretty intense week (in good and bad ways), but I just never found the time or should I say the right time to write about it. In case I never get around to writing about all these things, here is the summary:
Sunday: We had the priviledge to visit some very cool people at two nursing homes in the company of 4 even cooler people from church.
Monday: God called home yet another grandfather. After a battle similar to that of Mr. S, my stepdad's father died on Monday around noon time. No more escaping to the movies and having food he's not allowed to eat or listening to his stories of living at the "central" (sugar factory). We watched the Chronicles of Narnia.
Tuesday: Christy came to practice with the worship team. The only thing that would make this any better is if Lacey stayed.
Wednesday: We spent some good time with Mrs. S eating chicken soup and watching ice come down outside. It reminded me of drinking hot chocolate as a child at my grandma's house in the middle of a storm, only now I am older and can touch the floor with my feet while I sit down (barely since I am short).
Thursday: Bible study is always a good time. Chandra's cheesecake rocked. Not that it was rock hard, and I barely even noticed being poisoned. It was seriously really good.
Friday: I was very disappointed it did not ice this morning. I think I would have liked to work from home today.

I will try to expand on these events later, I have learned a lot this week. It seems like I have been learning a lot recently. To think that I would have to finish school to start learning, or maybe it is that now that I am not in school I have time to sit back and think about how much I have learned.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Upset about stuff

I will not post details about the source, because I learned a while back that I will probably regret it later. I still need to get it out of my chest, and hence the post.

I don't like a lot of stuff. I don't like that stuff that I don't like is messing with stuff I just love. I don't like that stuff that I disagree with interferes with stuff I am willing to go along with perhaps even want to go along with. I don't like the way stuff is going and I don't like were stuff is heading. The worst part is that I know I have no control over stuff... and I am trying to fight it which makes me even more upset. I particularly don't like that stuff is going the wrong way (from how it played our in my head)!! I don't like not having control over stuff and I don't like the anxiety of not being able to do anything to make stuff go my way. I particularly don't like that the anxiety and upsettedness of stuff makes me not be able to just relax and trust that stuff will work out. I don't like that I know where stuff is headed and that I know that stuff will end or be different, especially when I can forsee it and not prevent it even though I don't want stuff to stop or change. I want stuff to be fixed and I want stuff to be ok and I want stuff to be better and I want stuff to go back to the way stuff was. I hate changes, I hate unwelcome changes a good bit and I hate changes triggered by stuff I don't like even more. I want to scream, but screaming does't fix stuff.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Oxymoron: Closing a church on Christmas day because it falls on Sunday

Give me a break!

If you know me at all, you probably know I am not a big fan of big churches to begin with, but this has nothing to do with my dislike of big churches and everything to do with the message something like this sends out to the world, be it coming from a big church or a small church: it does not matter!

I understand the attendance issues but I am also a big believer that if even one person wants to come to a church service, the church should be open for them to hear the Word, otherwise we have set ourselves up for failure in the Great Commission. How do we tell someone it is important that Jesus was born and God is first priority and then say, "well I think we don't really have to have church on Christmas... I know we have been talking about it the past few weeks and all and it is still very important but we know people will be busy opening presents and going to see family we don't want to bother them with church". How do we preach on the importance of Christmas and then cancel church.. doesn't cancelling church kind of imply that it is not important to think about God on Christmas... what's next? I can see it: "And now for our benediction: May God help you in all your Christmas shopping and one final announcement: don't forget Church will be closed next Sunday night because the mall is still open and we wouldn't want Church to get in your way". Which brings me to my next point: I have run out of words to explain my outrage, the irony and contradiction of closing Church on Christmas day, for further assistance, go to Church this Christmas; e-mail me if you need assistance finding one that is open near you.

My strong opinion on this is kind of ingrained in my upbringing. In Catholic "culture" Christmas is probably one of the days of highest attendance throughout the year (up there with Easter and Good Friday). People that don't go to Church the whole year go on these days whether it falls on Sunday or not. As a matter of fact, I am sure the Catholic churches near us back home have many plans for Christmas day this year more than others because having Christmas on Sunday is a blessing and implies a huge influx of people.

I haven't been Catholic for many years for many reasons I will not go into (we can discuss this over e-mail if you would like), but I do admire their position in this matter, granted they have benefits such as a leader who is entirely devoted (exclusive from any other demands) to their Church community and that helps, but they have been able to relay the message and teaching to the community of believers and that is admirable in our days. I am not commending anyyone to convert, I do have many disagreements with important parts of Catholic doctrine that in my opinion go against what the Bible teaches. I am, however, exhorting our leadership to think twice before making decisions about opening the Church based on attendance. Instead of considering whether the Church should be open or close, maybe the energy should be spent trying to figure out how to bring more people to Church despite the social drive that works against us. Maybe we should leave our comfort zones and figure out why it works for the Catholic church and not for us. I think this news should be a wake up call to all believers to consider not just whether or not to go to Church this Christmas, but also, what other things we do that might send out a confusing message to our leadership and to the world, and what can we do about them as we approach the beginning of a new year.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Departed, but not forgotten!

Mr. S. died on November 18th. Those words are not stated merely as a fact, but they are stated with great respect. Mr. S was a very fine man, and he had many admirable qualities. He is someone that I will continue to look up too. Not only was he a strong Christian, but he had many worldly qualities as well. For example, there were so many things around his house that he built himself. He was great at woodwork, and he wasn't afraid to work with his hands and get a little dirty.

Now, only two weeks after his death (it seems like ages), am I finally ready to post about it. I've opted not to read other people's posts about the matter (including my own wife's posts, which I will read after posting this). I preferred instead to digest everything, examine my feelings, and then write. I'll read everybody else's thoughts later. Sure, you may not be able to "feel" the raw emotions I felt in the beginning, since I've let some time pass --- but I don't prefer to broadcast my emotions, anyway.

The main thing I ask myself is, "Who will I remember?" There are lots of different answers to this, because there are many different situations in which I have seen Mr. S. If I think about him as a leader of our church, then I remember him in this fashion: giving announcements during the service in a very southern accent, mentioning building repairs that were needed during church meetings, bringing up issues that no one usually thinks of, and dressing very well for the service. If I think about his declining health, I think about the prayers that were said for him, the delight he took in the singing of songs, the way he would pick up his walker and walk normally (just holding the walker), the pills that he took, but most of all, how he remained dignified even when dressed in his pajamas and how he tried to appear that he was "doing just fine" (even insisting that he go out to eat). If I think about his humor, I think about how he stuck out his tongue at Mrs. S to show her that he hadn't swallowed his pills yet, how he jokingly accused Mrs. S of putting crumbs over his placemat, and the wry smile that he would give after making a joke. If I think about his love, I think about the kisses he would ask his wife for as she served him his dinner, about the many people he has invited into his home, about the many weddings he and his wife would attend, and about the stools he worked hard to make as gifts.

I could go on and on about the different ways I think about Mr. S - his practical, down to earth style, his modesty, his little quirks, his service to the Lord, etc.; and there are probably a hundred little anecdotes that I could bring up (#4 haircut, moving his chair to just the right spot, watching baseball with wireless earphones, dominoes, etc.). When it comes down to it though, there just isn't another man that I have as much respect for as Mr. S, and not another woman that I have as much respect for as Mrs. S.

I know Mr. S is "doing just fine" right now, and that he is enjoying being with the Lord. I know that Mrs. S is going to miss him more than I can imagine, and is going to have to rely on the Lord for her comfort. My prayers go out to all of those who knew him, that God comfort them, bless them, keep them, grow them, and glorify himself. I'd just like to end with a shout out to those in heaven: Mr. S arrived on November 18th.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Music that captures the attitude, not just the instance

Jamil and I have very different tastes in music. Part of this is cultural (he is Indian and I Hispanic), but the other part is due to what each looks for in music.

When Jamil listens to a song he judges it by its rythm maybe its melody, but I listen to the lyrics and the mood of the music. I am not looking just for a song that captures an event in life or a simple feeling but a song that with a mix of lyrics and sounds captures that exact emotion you can't describe. I have discovered (trying to explain it to Jamil) that this is not easy to explain, but I will attempt to do so on Jamil's stupid DVORAK keyboard (i.e. bear with the typos).

Try to think back on a memory that was emotionally intense. I don't mean just sad or happy, but one of those feelings that is very rare, very intense: you can feel it deeply. I have found that unless this event is recent it is hard to get that feeling just by remembering. Yet, good or bad, most of these emotions leave a desire to be felt again. For example, your exact feelings on your first kiss with your husband or wife or the exact feelings that make you not want to go skiing again (say intense pain of a broken bone).

I and my middle sister grew up among adults and, not knowing that you could say anything about it, listening to "old people music". Well, a lot of these older (mostly spanish-speaking but seldom Italian or French) singers worked really hard at this. We are not talking about people with popular voices and pretty faces only, we are talking about people that besides a nice voice, had a poetic instinct and wrote a lot of their music to this end. People like Alberto Cortez, Facundo Cabral, Joan Manuel Serrat really coptured the feeling. A song about aspirations in life and how they change as you grow older, but that at the same time capture the feeling of that youngster crying inside that wants to be a fireman throughout even in his old age and after he has given in to the pressures of society to pursue some other prestigious career (Yo Quiero Ser Bombero--I want to be a fireman).... or a song that coptures the emotions, ambiance and feelings of a man whose beloved wife of not too many years is now gone where the singer and writer (my favorite: Ricardo Montaner) captures the details... the picture... the instance with that one piercing feeling (Dejame Llorar--Let me cry).

The point is that these songs trigger those emotions and allow you to relive them as close to the real thing as possible and not many artists can. I am a sucker for this kind of music and have even tried to capture an emotion in music myself with limitted and low frequency success, I am sure many die trying.

Well, part of the problem (you might have realized if you clicked on any of the liks above) in trying to explain this is that there aren't many such attempts in "American" or "English-language" music. And then I heard them: Ponies in the Surf it took 5 notes of their song Ventricle and I knew I had found it... the way to make it all clear to Jamil. I shared it with Jamil the very next morning. In the beginning it was frustrating, he didn't get it. He was listening for the rythm, the melody (which given an old guitar and two voices was not very appealing to him). Now, he actually likes it and can at least relate to this feeling I have been describing.

This all sounds really random, but it came about from a very logical chain of thoughts. At the time that I started writing this post, we had just gotten back from Bible study where we sing church hymns as part of the night's activities and it hit me: a lot of these hymns do capture feerings: awe at the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross (When I survey the wondrous cross), a feeling of meeting Jesus inspired by his encounter with Mary Magdalene (In the garden), confidence in our God, in whe He is and in what He does and has done, and humbleness before Him knowing how much we owe Him (Rock of ages). So all of a sudden I have a whole "new" source of triggers... of the better kind... of the kind that, instead of sending you remembering good and bad memories, send you remembering why you are where you are, what God has done and where you should be headed... capturing the attitude rather than a fleeting emotion. It is funny how a few years back I didn't even like hymns... I missed out...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Upside down verbose realization

I was looking through some of my friends blogs and then I went back to ours. We don't post half as often, Jamil barely even posts... but man our (my) posts are long. I apologize.

Jamil and I are right now in the process of cooking Kawa Sak (sp?) basically stew beef in a tomato onion base. Jamil's family is coming tonight for dinner. The publix near us has bad produce. The onions were the size of small lemons and the tomatoes were not ripe. Nobody has ever died after we have cooked Kawa Sak. Our toilet sometimes suffers after a nice Kawa Sak meal. We have enough atomizers to fix this.

Jamil's niece and nephew are also coming. They are precious, but I wonder what they'll do. When they have been at other people's places, they play with the ornaments on the tables, but we have no ornaments... makes me wonder if they will try to climb the walls instead.

Talking about ornaments, I just realized that I lied in the previous sentence. Jamil's mom graciously sent some Christmas ornaments direct from QVC and HSN. Optical Fiber grandeur.

I hear QVC or HSN now sell upside down Christmas trees of the expensive kind. I can't believe anyone would pay more money for one of those than for a normal tree. If something like that sells that well being turned upside down, I wonder what I can turn upside down myself and make a profit: upside down TV, upside down lamps, upside down chimneys.... the possibilities are endless.

I don't really like being upside down, unless it is temporary while riding a rollercoaster.

I don't like cooking and I don't like ornaments and I don't like Jewelry and I don't like make-up. I am thankful that I can cook and that people (Jamil's mom mostly) think about giving me ornaments and Jewelry, I am very unthankful about the existence of make-up. There is also no love for upside-down trees, laughs and giggles maybe, but no love.

I am hoping to wake up really early on Friday morning for shopping madness. Then roll over, realize I don't need to save those $10 or $20 that bad after all and sleep until 4P.M.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

We came home around midnight after Thanksgiving dinner and the store we planned on visiting at the crack of dawn had what we needed at the right price online. We slept in, hung out with Alan and Ashley and spent all afternoon doing what we like to do the most: nothing.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The aftermath & other sad ponderings

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;- vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow- sorrow for the lost Lenore-
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Nameless here for evermore.

Maybe that doesn't capture my thoughts exactly, but it captured the mood.

Mr. S went home last Friday (see previous post). This is ok. That is truly what he wanted, although I know he was afraid to leave Mrs. S. I am thankful that we got to know him the way we did, and I know Mr. S's stories and memories will make nice stories when we have grandkids that (like me) can never get enough stories from their grandparents. And that is how we thought we were visiting the S's to keep them company only to find out that we were visiting the S's because God had a plan. Most people think we were ministering to them not knowing they were ministering to us. Not that we were seeking or expecting these blessings because in fact we have done as was in our hearts, but that God has blessed us through getting to know them.

As it is when sad things happen, I came to thinking about a bunch of things. I, of course, considered the future as anyone does when a death makes you realize time on earth ain't infinite, but more importantly, I have had a chance to think about my journey in the past few years. Don't take me wrong, I don't think dwelling in the past is good, but one has to look back every now and then to make sure they are walking in tha right direction. The following long post is a collection of thoughts I wrote down (but didn't get to publish) yestarday afternoon.

Why do I live in Atlanta? I have asked myself that question many times. Sometimes in longing for my loved and warm Puerto Rico full of family and laughter, sometimes looking for a purpose. Because I believe in God, I know that I am not here by accident. As I was thinking about this last night (Sunday) on my way home from a work reception I had a couple of thoughts:

1. I have matured so much since coming to Atlanta. I am no longer the young puertorrican that arrived at that unfamiliar airport with a suitcase full of clothes, a guitar and a computer. I am now married. I live in a house. I have a church family of my own. I have friends and different support groups. My accent has faded, my thoughts on life are very different these days. When I came I was a very inexperienced girl, perhaps too smart for her own good. Now I have more experience, but sometimes I feel dumber (not as in lacking intelligence, but as in unable to explain things that had simple explanations before).

At 17 when I arrived here I knew what I learned in Catholic school about the Bible, what I learned from my parents helped me develop a moral system and the stories of my grandma, greatgrandma and greatgrandma's sister helped me smile and reminisce with a little nostalgia of times that I never knew.

2. I have matured in my faith. I might not be as black and white as I used to be when I was 17, but sometimes that black and whiteness resulted out of self-righteousness and in that sense I have become wiser. I now understand much more than I did then. The Lord has met me in Atlanta in a way that I would have never expected, but never violating my desires. We had agreed I would let Him take over, but I was afraid of change and so I pleaded that He does this slowly. And He has... looking back know He has taken over so much and it is so much better this way. Praise God!

3. I now do things I would have never thought of. At my arrival in Atlanta I didn't want anything to do with Christian music. Today I help with worship music at West Merritts Baptist Church (really the name of the church is Midtown Community Church, but in my heart there is a special place for the old name). At 17 I wasn't going to get married until I turned 30 or so, at 24 I am married, own a house and will probably have kids before 30. At 17, I was going to return to Puerto Rico and live there forevermore as soon as I finished school (at 21). God saw it otherwise and I am not even sure if that will ever happen.

At 17, I knew God had something for me to do, I didn't know what. At 24, I have a pretty good guess and am amazed at the way that God has worked in my life for that goal in these 7 years during which sometimes I didn't even feel any closer to God than a non-Christian. At 17 God promised He would never let me go, all He asked is that I seek Him and I pray to Him. Today, when I realize I might have not been as faithful as I should, I realize He is just as faithful if not more than ever!

I will be 17 no more, but I have no need to be 17 again. God has made sure to provide for me in ways I could never imagine. And I just now, come to realize how great is His faithfulness.

1. He brought me to a church of dedicated believers where I have learned the word.
2. He brought me to a church that more than a church is a church family and has truly provided in that sense.
3. He has provided for me the husband I prayed for. Not that I prayed to have a husband because I didn't really want to get married, but knowing that one day I would get married, I prayed for my husband whomever he was, so that God would bring him safe and wise to me. God did.
4. He has provided for me financially.
5. He has provided for me emotionally. Today I stand tall as an emotionally mature individual with ocasional instances of homesickness.
6. He has provided for my family while I have been away.
7. He has provided endless opportunities of growth.
8. He has provided many ways to do His service and has remained faithful even when I have hesistated.

Recently, God provided Jamil and I with grandparents. We have grandparents at home, God bless them. I grew up around my grandma, grandpa, greatgrandma, greatgrandmas sister etc. etc. I love my immediate family, but I owe my extended family a good bit of my upbringing. God even thought of that. WMBC sports an extended family of 6. But most recently, God has allowed Jamil and I a pair of special grandparents away from home. I am thankful to God for them, and I am thankful to them for their faithfulness. I am thanful to God for the family and friends he has provided. I am thankful to my friends and family for what they let God do through them (knowingsy or unkowingly). I am thankful to God for where I am in life. I am thankful to God for bringing me to Atlanta. I am thankful to God for working on me even when I haven't been faithful. Lord, bless all the people you have put in my life, every single one of them. Lord, bless their lives, their loved ones, provide for them as yau have provided for me and allow me to be a blessing in their lives tha way you have made them a blessing in mine.

Last thought:
The human in me fears cooking neverending pasta again. The Christian in me rejoices in the knowledge that I do not have to worry about these things because God is in charge. At 17 I would have been embarrassed about this post, at 24 I could care less. I am not done growing or being molded by God.

Mr. S, I know you told me not to be sad, but I am not sad for you (I promise), I am sad for us who will now go on without you (and your wise advice) and for those who will never have the chance of getting to meet yourself or someone like you. Don't worry though, we'll take care of Mrs. S for you.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The end of a hectic week full of neverending pasta and the passing of Mr. S

Well, this was a hectic week and we should have guessed it being how it started.

Sunday: I decided that since we had finally gotten Jamil's car fixed the day before at the dealer, we would take separate cars to church. That way Jamil (who had stayed up all night preparing the Bible study) wouldn't have to get ready in such a short time. Instead he could hang around the house a bit longer and then go get Mrs. Louise. Well, his nicely tuned up car blew a tire... not punctured or anything just plain blown on the side. After much debating and in the middle of me trying to figure out how to get juice and pastries without money or a wallet for the hungry Sunday schoolers to come, Jamil decided he needed me to come over and help him. So I did. And that is how I left for church at 8am and didn't get there until 11:10AM. Makes that story of the little ladies in Florida's 24 hour church trip not sound so unbelievable.

Monday: One of my co-workers was leaving at the end of the week which left me with the daunting task of trying to get a brain dump out of his head. That and a customer installation that couldn't be completed took up most of my day. At the end of the day we went to see the S's for a little bit. Time with the S's is always nice, educational and refreshing. It reminds me ever so much of my time as a kid with my grandma.

Tuesday: Mr. S got taken into hospice as an inpatient, and that is how the day started. Pretty confusing all around. And at work, besides trying to get a brain dump from my coworker, I had to move a customer's system that was being tested and then I had to work on a presentation for a meeting next week. At night we were able to see the S's and spend some time with Mrs. S who was still getting used to the new in-hospice environment. Mr. S slept the whole time we were there, much different from the man we left on Monday. At least he was not in pain.

Wednesday: Jamil's uncle from Canada was in town and so we invited him and Jamil's grandma and his other uncle and aunt (the ones that live in Lawrenceville) for dinner. We cooked neverending pasta. Since the couple's group was coming in the next day we went ahead and made two trays. Well, Jamil's family almost finished the pasta, but of course they didn't because it is never ending after all. Then the thought dawned on us: out of 3 times we had cooked this, 2 it hadn't ended and out of those 2, one was followed by a death (someone who hadn't eaten pasta). It is a good thing we are not superstitious. We were able to see the S's briefly and drop Mrs. S a banana. Mr. S didn't look any better, but again at least he was out of pain.

As icing on the cake, I had a doctor's appointment with a doctor I dislike very much. It was scheduled for 11:30AM and I was not helped until 12:45PM. I just needed a prescription. I said this on the phone when I scheduled my appointment. On my first visit to this doctor, after making me write 15 pages worth of information on my first visit (visit was scheduled for a simple consultation), made me urinate in a cup, took some blood and asked me to lie down without ever talking to me about the reason I went to see him. When I asked if he even knew why I was there he was very startled. This time this is how it went an hour and 15 minutes after my scheduled appointment:

Nurse: Hi Patricia can you please give me a urine sample
Patricia: Can I? Yes I can because after an hour sitting here I have had plenty of time to partially refill my bladder, but do you want to know why I am here?
Nurse: (Thinking no) Why are you here Patricia?
Patricia: For a prescription
Nurse: Ah
Patricia: (Thinking... these people need to learn to read, maybe that way people wouldn't sit in this office so long). I can still urinate in a cup for you if you would like.
Nurse: No that is ok, come sit here

I sat in the lab section, and after asking how much longer it would be, she directed me to a sit far from he in front of the doctor's office. The meeting with a doctor was exactly 4 minutes, and he didn't even really talk to me.

Thursday: Work was once again hectic. I left about 1 hour later than I had planned due to this passing of the baton. We rushed through bad rush traffic to meet the Bible study group. We arrived 10 minutes after the first couple and found out that it takes a lot longer to warm up neverending pasta than it would have taken me to make it fresh. Bible study was good. 1 Samuel 27. We prayed for the S's. There was (as usual) pasta left over. Mrs. Louise joined us ( we would like more people to join our group since we recently converted it from the couple's group to the everyone who wants to come group. We would particularly like more of the older members of our church to join us, they are all such a great influence and model in our lives. I stayed up until 3am knitting my Harry Potter scarf (to be worn at the movie viewing on Friday), but didn't finish so I wore a half done scarf instead of a completed one.

Friday: Since Mr. S had gotten bad last week, we had made sure to have our cell phones in the room every night. Thursday night Jamil's cell phone stayed out. A 6am voicemail message from the eldest S son told us that Mr. S had passed away at 1am the night before. It is the end of an era. We returned the call (we got the message right as we were leaving late for work). We decided to join our group to watch Harry Potter after all. We stopped by before meeting out group to see Mrs. S.

Saturday: Mr. S viewing. No matter how many of these things you go to, they don't get any better. Mr. S had gotten a little mischivieous in his last few weeks (or at least we had gotten to know his joker side just a few weeks ago) so you almost expect him to sit up in his coffin and laugh at everyone. But he didn't, and that is how after 9 years of ups and downs and many of what seemed like near death encounters, Mr. S is know with the Lord. He has left a great legacy in us though. And by us, I mean Jamil and I but I also mean all the people that ever knew him, because it is impossible to have know the S's and not learn anything. Mrs. S is a very gifted and strong woman and we are sure she will make it through this and our group is all very committed to ensuring this happens.

We will see what God has in store for Sunday... Maybe we'll take one car this time and avoid the temptation to cook pasta... Fortunately, God is in control of all things and so we do not have to worry about superstitions.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

New house, no lease breaking fee, all is well

It is so hard to keep up, specially when there is exciting stuff going on.

We found a house, put an offer, went back and forth with the seller and closed on it all in 4 weeks *breathe*. We also found someone to take over our lease.. go craig's list. So we saved about $700 and just about doubled our monthly expenses.... and this is a good idea why?

Anyway, we love our house.. all minus the tiny garage suitable for small European cars only. It is a good thing I didn't get an SUV after all. We moved three days after we closed on it and the move took 2hr35min from the people arriving to help us move to unloading the last piece off the truck... Now we are unpacking.. except for work is hectic and now we NEED to make money (read.. if we want to still have the bank allow us to stay in their house) so really we have unpacked some but far from all. Our stuff probably doesn't cover 15% of the house.

Jamil fertilized the lawn last week in his attempt to do yard work.... I am guessing this will last exactly until he has to cut the grass twice. Bets are welcome. Home Depot will now be reported in our income tax forms as a dependent. we have already looked into direct deposit (yes sir, how do I sign up for direct deposit?... Direct who?... yeah the way I see it if you are going to get 30% of my income won't you at least take it before taxes?). We met a nice gentleman at our HD called Woody he knows pretty much everything there is to know about locks and more.... this is actually somewhat of a scary thought (remember that movie Cable Guy?).

So that is us, we doubled our expenses -$700 and went from renting a place to borrowing a house from the bank. You have to love this capitalist system where companies will buy the house you want for you and let you stay in it for some cash!! Excellent!!

In other news, there is a constant fire flame in our house in the attic. Which makes no sense being how the inside of the house is as close to cardboard as it gets... Wihch brings me to my next point: someone needs to read the 3 little pigs stories to all these house builders. Then people wonder why hurricanes do so much damage in the U.S.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The cat is gone, the pressure is on and other subjects

Things seem to finally be coming down to a normal level, judging from the fact that we have been able to post a little more often.

The cat is finally out of our hair, actually we never had direct contact with the cat so it really was never in our hair... these English language expressions are quite annoying. What does it mean to have something in your hair? Where do sayings like that begin? How do they transalte to bigger things? Suppose it all started with people being happy to get rid of lice. How does it's finally out of our hair (talking about lice) ever translate in anyone's view to stuff like: that salesman is finally out of my hair, or the kids or anything bigger than say a fly. Wouldn't you notice if something that big was in your hair to begin with, wouldn't your head fall off if you had something that heavy in your head?

Talking about heavy in your head, a house is a lot of work. So many things need to get done in so little time. It better be worth it. I don't really know how I got tricked into this house buying cause as far as I remember I was sure I liked renting a good bit. Oh well. We like the house so hopefully that makes up for all the headaches.

We went to Jamil's uncle's house yesterday to drop off the cat. Looking at the mess of boxes makes our move even more dreadful: not looking forward to doing all that ourselves. We (at least I) moved many a time in college (8 times over the course of 7 years), every move was at least twice as hard as the previous always. I am a pack rat. Everything is attached to a memory, a time, a place, a person. We have many boxes stored in a closet, some of them haven't been opened in a few years. The problem is that every box is a trip down memory lane, and I like memory lane. There is a bit of traffic, but the pace is nice and constant, not many accidents happen on memory lane.

We watched the apprentice this afternoon. I always think of myself as a TV addict, yet anytime and everytime there is something else going on in my life, it is really easy to stop watching TV with the same intensity, so maybe I am not as addicted as I think. In fact, I have lived places without a TV for as much as a month or two at a time and not been bothered by the lack of TV. The truth is, however, that when I want to truly relax, I plug in to the tube and it works really well. Since today is the first time in a while that we've been at home for a good bit of time, I have been plugged in to the tube for a bit. Other things we did: play the guitar (p), sleep (P&J), work on Bible study(J-currently), mail house paperwork (P&J), forget the cat is gone and then smile when we rememember it is gone(P&J). I think I will go in and continue reading "Of Mice and Men" in a bit.

In other news:
One of our friends is really sick and not suspected to make it past tomorrow. Actually, he hasn't been expected to make it many more days for about 9 years, so it is kind of hard to really think this is it, but he is certainly worsening. The nurses don't expect him to hold on much longer. Please keep his family in your prayers. He is ready to go home to the Lord, and those around him understand this and find comfort in this, but it is one thing to know it in their minds and another when reality hits. Pray for God's direction in trying to figure out how to be there for them.

The funniest thing about posting in a blog is that we tell each other, hey I posted on the blog today, and that is the only way the other will ever know to read it. Being that we are probably 90% of our audience, this is pretty sad. Oh well, it is better than chatting on MSN accross the room (we don't do that...anymore).

Take care and don't forget tomorrow is a Church day.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Closing on a house...

So, it looks like we are finally going to close on a house... After much intense negotiation, it looks like the seller and us have finally been able to agree on a price.... The closing date will be October 12th, if everything goes well (and hopefully it will)... Patricia and I have signed the contract, but as far as we know, the seller has not signed it yet.

There are a lot of things to take care in preparation for the closing:
  • Get everything straightened away with the lender (this involves signing tons of forms, and looking up papers from as far back as 2003)
  • Getting hazard insurance (this involves calling insurance companies, and getting apples-to-apples quotes --- some of the companies will trick you by giving you a lower quote by changing the deductible, or by not including certain coverages)
  • Get a home inspector to visit
  • Get the home appraised

Right now, we are both pressed for time with a million things to do, and having to "prove" all sorts of things --- for example, Patricia has to prove that her degree relates to her job in some fashion... (It's apparently not enough to prove that she has an income, and that she is a full-time employee)...

With all the things that the lender pokes their nose into, I find I'm worried about the possibility of identity theft (especially because we shopped around for a lender)... and of course, I found it funny that one of the insurance companies said to me, "we can add identity theft to your coverage for a mere $10 a month, it covers up to $25,000"... I'm wondering --- don't my credit cards protect me from that already anyway? As far as I know, I just have to call the credit card companies and say, "Hey, I didn't do that!"...

In other news, the cat was in its cage (travel container) today. So far, we've found it: in its cage, in the chimney (fireplace), on top of the cabinets, behind some boxes, under the table, and behind the couch. I cleaned the litter this morning. Ick!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Why Jamil and I should not have pets

We are cat sitting for Jamil's aunt and uncle who just moved from Florida to Atlanta kind of (they ahven't actually closed yet, and a hotel is not a residence). We were asked to sit for their cat Omar. Originally, they were all going to stay with us for a night. I guess the fact that we only have 1 bedroom and on top of that we live far from where they have to do their errands stuff, made them decide to stay away at a hotel in Lawrenceville (the middle of nowhere, GA). We got left with The Cat.

Day 1:
Jamil wakes up a good bit before Patricia, after searching for the cat everywhere, goes to take a shower. Patricia wakes up shortly after and searches for the car herself (not knowing Jamil had done so already). Patricia tells Jamil she can't find the cat, hoping that Jamil would say don't worry I saw him when I woke up. Well, Jamil had had no luck and soon it was Patricia and Jamil searching furiously for a cat all over their *small* apartment living room/dinning room and kitchen (we obviously kept the bedroom and bathroom doors closed). At this point Jamil is almost late to go to the dentist and Patricia is past due on her ironing.

The night before they had seen the cat go into three different places. The last one being the chimney, the scared cat owners made us cover the entrance to the chimney with a box. Low and behold Omar had figured out how to get in anyway and after 40 minutes of on and off searching we found the cat. We left in a hurry.

Around 10am, Patricia realizes no one left any food for the cat. Thankfully, we had leftovers in the fridge and live close enough to home where we could go and fix this.

After work, we came in quietly in hopes that the cat wouldn't hide. Once again, the cat was nowhere to be found. Now, our apartment living area is pretty empty at the moment and we have no furniture or anything of the sort, but we searched easily for 15 minutes including lifting the heavy couch, the chimney, the fridge, cabinets etc. The cat was camuflaged in his kitty cage. I think that's where we should have left him all along. Jamil cleaned the litter right before bed.

Day 2:
Wake up. Search for the cat. I believe that on day 2 we didn't have as much trouble finding him (he was in the chimney and very upset). Jamil cleaned the water plate. We left for work. A few hours later Jamil was on the phone: "Hey, I am out of my meeting and forgot to put water back out for the cat". Seeing as to how the cat hadn't eaten much of his food the day before when we forgot to leave him food, we decided to wait until we were out of work to solve this.

At 5:30pm we left work with a list of things to do, including putting water for the cat and getting rid of the darn cat. Jamil ran upstairs to take care of the water issue and found a memo from the leasing office: they will be entering apartments the next day we were to secure all pets. Two good thoughts followed: 1. an excuse to leave the cat caged, 2. a reason to kick the cat out of our place (since we are not supposed to have a pet). Other side thoughts included: maybe the cat will run away, maybe Jamil's uncle won't want the cat locked up so long so he'll pick it up. Just as a smile began to show in my face, the phone rang: Jamil's uncle had broken his arm, also they hadn't closed on the house so they had no way to keep the beast.

6:30PM dinner
8PM Band practice
9:30PM Pick-up Jamil
9:45PM Emergency room

yep at 9:45pm we were on the way to Lawrenceville (read very very far). We spent the best part of an hour at the emergency room.

12am Search for the cat.

Thankfully, the cat was so depressed at this point, that it was just sitting on the cage.

12:15am Kill a bug
12:20AM Clean the cat litter

Stupid cat pooped and urinated about 3lbs worth, I don't even think he ate that much. I am going to guess that Jamil just didn't do a good job the night before cleaning the litter.

1AM or so, sleep.

Day 3:
Wake up late on account of the lack of sleep. I ran in the bathroom for some alone catless time, Jamil searched for the cat. This time it took 15 minutes to find the stupid thing and another 15 to try and get him down from the top of the cabinets that run over the fridge. Jamil got afraid of the cat because it hissed and managed to get him to stay as far out of reach as possible on top of nothing else but the fridge.

Thankfully, we left the cat in a cage today, without food and without water, so we have had a not cat worries day today. I am secretly hoping they fine us, just to ensure Jamil's uncle would never ever think or leaving the cat with us again.

Then again, in 3 weeks we move into a house, duh!


Jamil and I shouldn't have pets!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Change your job! Change your house!

So... House shopping is tough... The house we thought may have been "THE HOUSE" turned out to have a very different price than we thought... Oh well... back to searching the market... We want a Single Family Home --- not a townhouse (although we would go for a townhouse if it was big enough and private enough)... We want a home more than we want an investment... (so fixer-uppers are out, as are houses that seem like they will madly appreciate, but don't feel like "home")... Yet, both of us still want a good deal... Maybe we should look into purchasing foreclosures...

I switched jobs... I no longer work at Federated Systems Group... I now work at Internet Security Systems as (drumroll) a contractor! Yes, I finally took the leap into contracting. It's better pay, and if I work more than 40 hours in a given week, I get paid for it. What about benefits, you ask... Well, I can use Patricia's benefits, or buy them myself (with some of the extra money)... What about job security? Yeah, contractors are generally let go before full-time employees, but I'm not worried. The market is good right now, and when the market does go bad again, I still don't think it will be too much of an issue.

Hmmm... I think Patricia and I are going to cheat on our diets tonight... Red Lobster is doing all-you-can-eat shrimp, and it's September 9th --- one of the many special dates for us...

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

it's tough to keep up

It is really tough to post regularly.

I love my job. Jamil changed jobs. We now carpool. We are looking for a house. We think we found THE HOUSE last night. It felt right and the price tag was right too.

The hammock is now hung back home in PR, it was tested with two 200lb men and it survived. I hear the dog likes it a bit. I got to watch the test over webcam.

Crime is still on the rise.

Jamil's family is moving to Atlanta.

My sister came for a week and we had lots of fun.

We celebrated our 1 yr anniversary in Savannah at a place called Forsyth Mansion...hypelink to come later.

All is good in our neck of the woods, although things at Church are a little weird and stressful.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

ATM Tour and Batman

The news in PR these days contain many instances of what we call the ATM tour or Tour de las ATH(for the spanish letter for at all hours). The idea is that when you are going to your car after a day of shopping or a Big Mac, two men coming out of nowhere and armed with guns force you to let them into your car, make you seat on the back seat and drive you to an ATM machine to make you withdraw the maximum amount allowed ($500 in most PR banks). By then they would have taken the money in your wallet. If you are one of the unlucky ones who gets robbed not at midnight, they will attempt to make you drive them to your house for more money or beat you up rarely do they steal your car. If you get robbed close to midnight they wait until 12:01a.m. to take you to another ATM since at that time the limit is reset.
THE GOOD NEWS: They don't kill the victims
THE BAD NEWS: You are down $500 and scared sh*tless. Since the righteous owner of the bank account is the person who makes the withdrawal the whole FDIC protection thing fails.

Yesterday, scared because of the news and leaving behind a very paranoid pair of parents (see the above paragraph), we went to the biggest mall to see Batman. The biggest mall has good parking and there is security all over the place, but has acquired a bad reputation over the years so I guess they were justified. In any case, Batman was great!! I kind of missed not having funny looking villains but it was still exciting enough. I don't like how they made Bruce seem like a lost soul at times and how they made out his character weak with fear of bats. But a movie being what it is I will forgive the writers.
VERDICT: Predictable but entertaining/absorbing the future looks bright for a new installment of Batman movies.

If only Batman were Puerto Rican, maybe he would fight the ATM Tour mafia!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Channels Misplaced

After much searching, I just found ABC and something that looks like the WB and WGN. The satellite company seems to have misplaced them among the local channels... I wish I had found them yesterday...anyone know what happened in Summerland?

Saturday, June 18, 2005


So, it's a little wierd for the two of us to start a blog while we are about 1500 miles apart. Patricia is currently in Puerto Rico, and I -- well, I'm home in Atlanta.

I've spent most of the day playing a little online game called runescape. You should check it out at It's an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game) written in Java (hoo-rah!). It's free to play, and there are tons of things to do. You can fish, mine, smith, craft, as well as the usual fight. There are quests to complete, but I'm sorry to say I've finished all of the free-to-play (f2p) quests. I could subscribe to get access to the pay-to-play (p2p) items and quests, but I figure that I might as well continue leveling up on the f2p servers (since I'm still having fun).

I could go on telling you about how I fought some moss giants, defeated a green dragon, and other silly stuff like that, but suffice it to say my day just wasn't as interesting as Patricia's (see her post about hanging the hammock). Don't take me wrong, I've had fun today. I just don't think you'd be interested in hearing about it. ;-)

Hmmm... maybe I should get off the computer - and get on the gamecube. ;-)

Hammock hanging gone wrong

In May we went to Costa Rica with some friends (Mark and Alan). We had a really really good time and like good Americans it all ended at a gift shop center in Sarchi. As we pondered on souvenirs for our friends and family, it occured to me that it would be a good idea to buy Jorge (my dad) a hammock. At Jorge's family's house they have always had a hammock in front of the TV and we are all couch potatos (hence the cable downgrade being a disappointment), so this was to be the perfect gift.

I came home on time for Father's day and my diligent mother arranged for one of their friends (who is from Costa Rica and whose house sports a few hammocks) to come hang up Jorge's on time for tomorrow's celebration.

It all started at 9a.m. although being hispanic the 9a.m. start consists of calling people and trying to rush them to make the ideal noon start time. In any case, their friend came around noon followed by a long 30 minute discussion of the process to follow which (being that their friend is male and so is my dad) included a trip to Home Depot to find the "right tools". Being that they had discussed in full detail the tools needed and that Home Depot is no more than 3 minutes away from our house this was to be a quick trip. Once again, we are hispanic and they are men and my mom and their friends' wife made the mistake of releasing husbands in the wild with credit cards, so 2.5 hours later they came back. I am not really sure what more they bought because it seemed like everything they came back with they already had, but they were smart enough to come food in hand (forseeing the dangers of coming back to hungry impatient wives who surely were to have spent their time together making fun of men's habits.

So after eating, much suspense and finding the metal frame of the wall, we hung the hammock. First test subject was my 250lb dad... no problems. A few oohs and ahhs and be carefuls but otherwise no problem. My dad commented that it wasn't wide enough. The expert friend determined to show the ignorant dad the stretching ability of the hammock sat on it.

Mom: Be careful, Jorge just sat there... be careful (as a true hispanic woman she continued).. we should put up a sign to be careful blah blah blah
Friend: Look Jorge look how much it stretches.
Jorge: Hmmm.
Mom: That is a man who truly believes in his work.

A proud worker, their friend moved forward sat up and jumped up as if to get higher up on the one side. That is how two seconds after my mom mentioned his pride in his work it happened. First a click then a bam! and the laughter finally came as my mom's friend lied down on the floor in disbelief. My sister missed it and almost cried at the sight... "to think that I was not even doing anything important.... Do it again!". My mom's thoughts: "Man, all that to not have a camera!!!"

Lesson: Do not use hooks sold at Home Depot for hanging plants in pots to hang people in hammocks. I'm still laughing and the hammock remains unhanged!

Friday, June 17, 2005

What do you mean no cable?

I am currently in Puerto Rico. After 7 years and 3 degrees at Tech, I will be working in July and so I came home before I start.
Puerto Rico is a beautiul island. The beaches here are absolutely awesome, the food is excellent, it is warm all year round (it means only one set of clothes: summer) and the culture is very relaxed. However, when you have grown up here it feels more like it is too hot always, traffic sucks (worse traffic than Atlanta traffic) and the best beaches are crowded which makes one less than relaxed.

In any case, my family lives closer to the mountains (30 minutes away fromt he beach), it is not so hot, there is always a breeze and we don't have to stumble into rush hour traffic very much at all so really I don't have it that bad so I can come, spend time with my family and relax. However, I am faced with a very big challenge when it comes to enjoying myself: my parents have unsubscribed from 90% of the cable (satellite really) channels that matter.

Whoever has heard of paying for cable if you don't even get NBC and ABC? Who cares if you get QVC, HSN and ESPN if there is not a single movie channel. I can watch TV from all around the spanish speaking world, but I can't see old one hit wonder singers jinx current one hit wonder singers on Thursday night! This is outrageous, were they not informed that we didn't subscribe to any movie channels in Atlanta because we were counting on catching up on all the movies we hadn't seen during our vacations in Puerto Rico? How can we have quality family time if our nice big TV only plays cartoons? Not to mention local Puerto Rico TV is a moral, health and intelligence hazard.

I am afraid of what I will be surprised with when we come visit for Christmas. Now, to google to figure out what people did for entertainment before there was cable.

First Post

After much thinking about it, we have joined the blog fad.

Who are we?
We are a young married Christian couple living in Atlanta. Jamil is originally from Florida and I am from Puerto Rico. We have been living in Atlanta for over 7 years and met in college while attending Georgia Tech.

What will we write about?
We'll see.