Sunday, July 27, 2008

"I fear mediocrity more than death"

We recited this over and over on the first day of a life changing 10th grade. Benjamin Mendez, the 10th grade English teacher who just about wrote this in blood, would turn out to be both the best and the most dreaded teacher I ever had. He attended our wedding, in his white tuxedo, the designated pusher (you know in case I decided to walk backwards). He convinced me that my homesickness was only temporary and I wanted my Georgia Tech degree more than anything. He met and approved of Jamil. He was there when we were spent at a very tough and sketchy Forensics speech competition and I got my proud 6th or 8th place. I don't remember what place it was, but I remember he was there, just like he was there to convince me to stick in Forensics after I was edged out the previous year by some other strange circumstances. He was the first to hug me when I finished my speech as class Valedictorian. He was waiting at the bottom of the steps.

He is still alive somewhere in PR. It used to be that I could say he lived in my mind every time this phrase would sneak out into my thoughts. I fear mediocrity more than death... actually, I used to fear mediocrity more than death. Some days, and more frequently now that I work for THE MAN, I am not so sure. Somewhere in time, my fear of mediocrity has turned from fear to acceptance and I find myself resting in the easeness of a life that is content with what a minimum effort for what I need provides.

This needs to change. In fact, this change is starting now. Not only does Ben frown upon mediocrity but God does too. He has asked that everything we do should be done as if unto the Lord. How could I possibly offer mediocrity to a God who gave His only begotten Son for me? So what if my mediocrity goes by unnoticed, what if THE MAN, my friends, others are easily impressed? That is no excuse for me to settle at that level, because I do not do everything I do for anyone and I am not called to do it as if it was to THE MAN or as if it was to my friends or as if it was to others. I am called to do my duties as if onto the Lord.

Ben is no God, but God who provided me with Ben is a powerful God who works in mysterious ways, including excentric writings on a 10th grade English classroom wall at the hand of an unforgettable teacher. And so it is, that Ben was meant to have a one year impact in my life but instead has impacted my life in just about every season, even when it has been over a year since we last spoke. God bless Ben, God bless all the Ben's around the world and God continue to use Ben's to bless us and make us Ben's to bless others.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I voted!!

And here is my sticker to prove it.

Here is a surprising fact...

Even though I am not afraid to express my opinion and I highly advocate excercising your vote whenever possible, I have never voted. Ok, so I did call a couple of times to vote on American Idol this season, but never for government posts.

Now, I registered to vote in Puerto Rico at 17. I eagerly looked forward to my first election in 2000, but I was in the U.S. and somehow missed my opportunity to vote by absentee ballot. Most people will brush that off saying ah.. those don't really even get counted, but there is a LARGE number of absentee ballots casted on any one PR election.

Then in 2004, I had achieved my most prized qualification. I was able to vote in the U.S. election (PR is part of the U.S. but we do not vote for the President or have any senators). But, ironically, a trip with my International Affairs class put me out of town for the election and somewhere along the lines of studying and planning projects, I missed the deadline for submitting my absentee ballot.

This year's primary.... that was going to be it. But then, the DMV stepped in to make my life miserable one more time and they lost my voter registration and I was not able to be registered on time to vote. Around April, when I had to renew my license, they seem to have hired someone with nonzero IQ at the DMV. I know the IQ was non-zero because I renewed via computer and many of them cannot really properly operate one (I have had to assist in the past, and I have had to sit through system down situations, so believe me I KNOW). I got registered to vote and my card came in the mail to the surprise of both me and my husband.

So, first chance I got, I voted. July 15th at 27 (a whole 10+ years since I first set out to be a voting citizen). I will not tell you who I voted for, but if you ever catch me in person, I will explain lots of fun stuff about how we chose.

And so we put an end to this little embarrassing part of my life.

1. What do you think of the sticker?
There is an 80% turn out for voting in PR, so we don't get stickers back home. The first time I saw these people with peach stickers I had to resist laughing.
2. Did you wear your sticker?
We voted at night time so I had no place to wear it to. Well, there was the grocery store, but I just carried it proudly in my hand through out there.
3. Man, I sense some bad vibe with the DMV, what is that all about?
The extense space occupied by the "intertubes" is not big enough to explain my gripes about the DMV. Maybe one day I will post some stories, but basically going to the DMV sucks. Whenever I walk through the door they immediately associate a number of adjectives to my person which do not belong and treat me like a second class citizen.
4. Are you sure it is not just about the fact that they ask about your weight?
No, if anything it is about how fat they make me look in the picture, but it is about neither of those.
5. Do you need a voter's registration card to vote?
No, just your driver's license. However, when the DMV refuses to get a grip on the inner workings of hispanic last names... you might need a smallish army of identifications unless you register through them.
6. Absentee ballots count in PR elections?
Yep, although usually the tie breaker votes are amongst the people in jail and prison. They also have Air Conditioning and Cable TV.
7. Wow, that is a good picture of your hand lines. I have nothing to do, can I read your hand and tell you the future?
No, but I hear the DMV is hiring. Let me know if you take the job, because I will then be able to read YOUR future.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dear Sonny...

The first day you turned these stupid light meters on, it took me and my husband (we carpool to save gas) about 30 minutes to get to the Highway entrance. This normally takes no more than 10 minutes.

Our commute at this time of the day is 35 minutes on average. Once we get to the expressway, regardless of traffic, we must drive 15 minutes at least. Now, an average is a smoothing of a number of trials so that an average of 35 minutes means that sometimes it takes us less and sometimes more than 35 minutes. You have thus successfully increased our late afternoon commute (we wait traffic out by giving the man extra hours of our lives) on average by at least 15 minutes if you keep this up.

Yes, it looks nice and clear on 285 but on top of all this, it took my husband 20 minutes to make his way down 1.5 miles on Hammond to pick me up for carpooling. He drove 1.33 hours that afternoon because as soon as we hit an area without a meter, you guessed it, 285 was just as packed.

Basically, you have achieved the great feat of making carpooling worthless for us and decreasing 285 traffic at the expense of local traffic (you should hear what those who pay expensive rents at the top end perimeter to avoid 285 have to say).

Let's see if you remember this very popular speech given at weddings:
The ring, great because it is a circle... it has no beginning and no end... like your love/relationship etc.

Do you know what else is a circle? 285. People only take this road because they feel the need to drive around the perimeter. This is the ONLY way around, backroads not only suck, but they are just as packed and only lead you to the next entrance to 285 which are now backed up due to people trying to get to the next (hopefully) less crowded 285 entrance.

Now, this was a while back... But we would not know what it looks like anymore since we are too busy trying to make money to pay for gas or buy a helicopter whichever is cheaper.

Here is a grand idea: How about incentives for companies that allow telecommuting? How about a useful public transportation system? How about increasing the speed-limit so people can ride around their circle quickly and just as quickly get out of my way?

Seriously man...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Sunning like an Iguana

We just came back from Puerto Rico. We did a lot of sight seeing, family seeing, dog seeing and High School classmate seeing (the men are a lot fatter than the women and I am not the only one carrying a suitcase around under her skin--whew!). One highlight being "la casa de los pastelillos" which gets added henceforth as one of my favorite spots on the island. We also hit Lago Dos Bocas where we spent 15 minutes after a 2 hour drive because the restaurants only open on the weekends. And of course, we spent a nice afternoon at the beach in Isla Verde's El Alambique on a beautiful almost cloudy day allowing for refreshment without melting away. My baby sister has now seen a semi-naked European/Canadian/American male tourist at the beach--click on the link at your own risk (his was white).

Mr. Mambo came with us and he played lots with Kiwie (my baby sister's dog). This turned my parents house into dog central and a number of other dogs (exactly 1) came to visit and play. Mambo had a blast.

On the way back we got stuck in Orlando (thanks airtran--NOT) and all thoughout Mambo was a trooper. We didn't even give him meds.

He has been sleeping ever since we got back.

The Christmas Tree survived the preparation for our trip and so it is Christmas in July at our house (picture from today complete with suitcases in the background so you believe me). I am starting to think Jamil feels the piano will be lonely if we remove the tree.