Thursday, September 03, 2009

About te last year...

In a few days it will be a year from the day that I set foot on my short lived stint at my previous company with the oh so awesome commute. That date coincides somewhat with the beginning of an unexpected journey of introspection and revision of my life. A journey of discovery and correction. A journey into a lot of new adventures, a ton of learning about myself and the world around me.

Looking back, it is somewhat scary. Although I have been very frustrated by the twists and turns that life has taken sometimes suddenly and although I have often grown disappointed at the things I have been learning or more the ways of the teacher I have to say I am glad. As often as I wished I would know where I was going, I am glad I didn't because I think I would have chickened out before learning the due lessons.

God has provided the right support in many ways. People have been placed in my path. Some that I can look up to, some that I can learn from, some that I can imitate and some that are counterexamples. Some people have come to teach a lesson and left just as quickly to open my mind and spirit to the next teacher. Resources have been provided to traverse the tough road. Some resources I have been provided with plenty of time, some with short notice, some have been for my benefit and some have had a lesser known or not as expected benefit of sorts. There has been obstacles and smoothly paved roads and this and that.

I am not done, haven't reached the end. I had the opportunity to visit with a friend this last weekend. It was unplanned, unexpected and halfway insane. It also will go down in my book as one of the best times ever. It blows my mind that without having gone through this journey we would have never met and it blows my mind how important this friendship has been throughout this time and how it has blossomed from a very small remote possibility. I hadn't thought about this journey in a long time, but I was reminded of it the minute I landed.

Since, I have done some crosschecks and some revisiting. The outlook of another x amount of time through this journey is scary. But, I look around at my life (blessings, hardships, joys and tears), the people in it (some new, some old, some re-acquainted, all awesome), the lessons learned (tough and easy but all valuable), etc... and I have to conclude that I stand to win more than I stand to lose. It doesn't erradicate the fear, it doesn't make me run for it, but it is encouraging. And it reminds me that whatever life may look like at any point in time, God is true to His promises and God is true to me and continues to be on my corner. I am not perfect, but I look at the work He has done in my life over the last year and as much nostalgia as there is for what was and what isn't any longer, there is rest in knowing that it is right... in Him.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Quick Updates

I am loving my new job. Jamil is now an old man and was able to celebrate with a good friend from High School and his wife. Mambo will likely not undergo surgery as long as his knee continues to NOT bother him.

Thanks to all our friends who made it to Jamil's birthday party this past Saturday!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wow! It's a wrap!


I took a job at a company I have been looking at for a very long time sometime in the Fall of 2008. I even wrote about it on this blog. I loved this company beyond what I expected. They have solid leadership at the top, the people have a true team spirit and whether it is true or rehearsed, the company tries to convey a commitment to not compromise long term gain even through a tough economy. I'm a believer.

My last day there is Friday. I still cannot believe it.

My stay there has been nothing short of awesome. The increased personal time yielded by a decrease in travel and more regular work hours have allowed me to do some growing and thinking and learning that I never expected. Also unexpected is the unbelievable people I have met. I initially was unimpressed by their less cutthroat approach to career I encountered, but have been blown away by their approach toward life. I want to focus on 4 people in particular (no names) whom I have met while working (but who are not necessarily a part of my team) and who have left an imprint.

IN LOVE. He worked halfway across the globe from me in the old world. Despite of tough experiences in his life, he has found the love of his life. I have had the chance to witness the tail end of his saga to marry his bride and listened to him talk about all the troubles this has taken and about how in love he is. He makes me believe that true love and romance are not dead. I wish God to bless his quest and grant the pursued goal and beyond that, may He bless his marriage and relationship for many years to come.

IN PURSUIT. Extremely responsible with duties at work. Amazingly helpful. So straight-laced that I have only recently learned what an amazing (beyond just good and helpful) individual this person is. Full of dreams and aspirations and fearless to pursue them even with a family to care for. This person gives me hope that we don't all kill our inner children and our dreams when we reach a certain age and reminds me that it is worth pursuing my own dreams even if they seem silly at times. Also, that working does not have to happen in exclusion of doing so. I pray that God use this person for His glory.

IN YOUTH. Oh, to see life through this person's eyes. I have discussed many concepts: sushi, kidding, love, kissing... Some of the most enjoyable late night conversations (and I mean 2 or 3am) in the last 9 months have taken place with this person. Brilliant self-assurance, amazing passion for doing a good job, commitment to friends and life. This person reminds me that not everything I know of is worth pursuing and some of the less coveted things are best guarded. I pray that God reveal Himself in this person's life and keep their mind pure and innocent and allow them to be pleasantly surprised some day by all the experiences we have discussed.

IN AWE. I could write a book about this person but the impact this person has had in my life is so deep that I doubt it would make much sense to anyone else. For this person's benefit (if they ever run into this blog)... Crazy strong and courageous. Amazingly smart and clever. Absolutely helpful and kind. Their being exudes greatness. This person gives me hope that kindness and honesty and true friendship are not all dead practices. My truest desire is for God to pour blessings in this person's life, overflow their cup and grant the deepest desires of this precious heart and make His will in this life perfectly clear because this much talent cannot be wasted.

Maybe I am leaving a company full of amazing people (the 4 above are just examples)... I am kind of hoping that more than just finding a small sample of good, I have just gained new eyes to see the world around me instead. The new journey will be different, but I am hoping to not forget the lessons learned and I am hoping to continue to grow in this amazing way.


Friday, June 12, 2009

A Friday morning in our household...

Ok, this is an honest to goodness re-telling of this morning's events.

I walk into the bathroom half asleep and Jamil is trimming his beard (he grew one the week he was sick and has ignored my jabs to shave it off). He was wearing a shirt the same color as mine and I asked him to go change it. He said he got dressed first so I should change mine. I told him I couldn't cause he hadn't done my Puerto Rico laundry. So here is what ensured.

Me: It makes you look pale, so change it.
Jamil: I am not pale.
Me: Yes you are, in fact in the years since we have been married, you have grown almost white. Actually, we are going out in the sun again, to reclaim the Florida/PR color.
Jamil: No I'm not.
Me: Yes, you are. You are way pale. I am married to the most American Indian in the world, don't want to be married to the whitest too!
Jamil: Maybe it is because you are really a vampire and suck my blood when I am not watching so I am growing pale. (said with a straight face, no laughter, no nothing).
Me: Oh, really? I'm surprised you wouldn't have noticed.
Jamil (matter of factly, still very serious): What? Can you think of a better explanation?

I had to leave for work, but if he is wearing a yellow polo shirt today and you see him, please pinch him for me?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Trusting God

I like to blame things to human nature. The alternative is admitting that I am flaky and that goes against human nature in it's own right, right?

Isn't it strange that one of the reasons people get hurt the most is that they trust people who fail and that they have expectations out of fallible situations and people? Yet, a person gets hurt by a loved one (family member, friend, significant other) and in a little while longer, doesn't that same person forgive or goes looking for or allows a new such relationship to recur? Why don't we lose all hope and trust in all of human nature when we know humans let us down the same way we let others down? Why don't we lose trust in others like we so readily, sometimes, lose trust in God?

Isn't it strange that we can say we believe in a God, who has done such a demonstration of love as is giving His one and only Son to die a horrible death for our sakes, and yet we have trouble trusting Him? We have trouble sometimes by second guessing the goodness of his intentions?

We are absolutely willing to trust people who fail constantly with things like kids, money, posessions and happiness. YET, we have a God that has not failed us ever, and we continually fail to trust Him? Even after He made a clear statement of love in the action of offering His Son as a sacrifice for us?

God has never let me down. If anything, I have let Him down a bunch. Even when I have ignored or forgotten our relationship or put it on a second plane, He has continually made an effort to be there and bring me closer. He provides for all my needs: emotional, spiritual and physical. He really does, if I look around and think about the awesome things that have come about in my life, I cannot arrive to a better conclusion. Yet, sometimes, even shortly after He has shown how much He cares, I find myself wondering what is He thinking now, why am I in this or that or why didn't this or that happen or... over little things eve. At the same time, I am willing to let people who have violated my trust multiple times to have a second chance.

As part of putting God first, we need to learn to trust God. We need to stop wondering about his intentions when his handiwork is not in clear harmony with our desires. We need to trust that He knows better and He has our best interest at heart and this is hard and heart-wrenching and uncomfortable.

The last 8 months of my life have been pretty amazing (to me at least). Some events have been easy, happy and enjoyable. Some events have been tough, frustrating and painful. All events have been 100% God's provision and I am a better person for the amazing journey they make up collectively and individually.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Obligatory Christmas Tree post on April Fool's

So, for those who have been watching, somehow it has become tradition around this blog to post regarding our usually present and somewhat green Christmas Tree.  

This year is no exception, except for one thing.  This past Christmas, we went down to Puerto Rico for the holidays.  Having just gotten rid of 2007-2008 season tree right before Thanksgiving, I figured it made no sense to acquire a tree since we would not be home.  So, we have no pictures of the 2008-2009 tree, because there wasn't one.

However, here is a picture of the 2006-2007 tree standing in our backyard.  Yeah, that year we just planted it in the back as a solution to keep the HOA letters from filling our mailbox.  It is no longer green, or even orange.  Its youthful colors are a thing of the past as are its branches.  BUT, it stands beautifully in testament to our first ever Christmas Tree in our house:

Usually, I also have to make some statement about how, even though this is a post done on April Fool's it is not an actual April Fool's joke. But, this is neither my house nor my tree. Both our defunct trees Rest In Pieces (yes, I meant Piece not Peace) somewhere in a dumpster after being manually shredded to bits sometime in April or November.

All that said, the following related posts from our blog's past are not jokes:

Our giveaway
The winner video post:

2007-2008 Tree featured in 2008's (NOT) April Fool's post
2006-2007 Tree feautred in 2007's (NOT) April Fool's post

Incidentally also NOT an April Fool's joke is that we have lost the pictures of the 2006-2007 tree in Jamil's hard drive crash.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

We've been busy... How busy?

Sooooo busy that the dog is doing my piano homework for me...

Ok, just kidding, we are WEDDING busy.

My little sister (24 almost 25) is getting married at the end of the month in Puerto Rico.  So, we will be going to warmer lands and wearing dresses (Jamil gets to wear pants and I am slightly jealous of this) to celebrate with her.

In other news, I dislike weddings.  Anyone else dislike weddings with me?  I can't be the only one!

What else?
Jamil is leading 2-3 Bible studies.  His hard drive crashed and had to rebuild his project's data and has slept an average of 2-3 hours a night at most.  We made a roundtrip to Nashville in under 36 hours this weekend.  I am making headway into my resolutions, maybe I will update that soon on here.  Anyone up for skydiving?

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Birthday Post

One of my favorite shows growing up was Doogie Howser. The show was about the growing pains of a genius teenager who is a brilliant doctor. At the end of every episode, he would turn on his computer (old timey PC) and make a journal entry. It was always short and sweet and cleverly captured the gist of the episode or chapter.

If I was Doogie, this would be today's entry:

It has been a wonderful life thus far... I have many wonderful people in my life including a wonderful family... I also have the privilege to call Christ my Savior.

I can count to 28 since I was about 3... It will be much harder to make 28 count... We must find a way.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

On the subject of death...

Death is a journey we all undoubtedly begin the moment we scream at birth. It is unavoidable. It is also one of the fairest experiences in life since it touches everyone: rich and poor, young and old, etc.

If you are like me, you don't even think about death on a regular basis. Maybe you even start to believe you are immortal. I know that I have made plans for what I will be doing in my 70s and 80s.

One of my best friends from High School lost his dad this morning to a short but fierce battle with liver cancer. It is the stuff you never hear about anymore. In our efforts to defeat death, we have transformed cancer from a silent sudden killer to a slow death. We have allowed ourselves to believe we can call the shots. This same friend and I happen to have been close to a young man who passed away right after our third year of college after a long battle with a similarly aggressive cancer which came back for the kill quite literally after we all thought we'd found the gold at the end of the rainbow.

I asked a friend this past Sunday what her biggest fear was. She said death. I was surprised being that she is a Christian and understands that upon death we are reunited with the Father. I inquired further. She explained that she is not afraid for her own death but for the death of dear and loved ones and the emptiness that it leaves. That it is not the same to see someone live a healthy 98 years and achieve all their dreams and make a difference as it is to witness someone pass in what seems like "before their time". We discussed the issue of time and forethought. I explained that cancer is quite unsettling to me. Just about every other illness one can die of can be somewhat explained and justified, but cancer just hits anyone without rhyme or reason and regardless of efforts to live a healthy life. Minutes before we embarked on the walk that sparked this conversation, a friend called her. The healthy husband that she was about to divorce had just had a terrible accident and walked the thin line between life and death were the next 48 hours would be crucial.

On Monday, I found out one of my old co-worker's mother had had a stroke over the weekend. My co-worker was on her way home from a trip to India. On the way to her layover in Paris, she heard the news. In a world where not too long ago going to India would be deemed much more dangerous than for a healthy mid-sixties woman to stand up from her bed in the morning, my friend was well and her mom had a stroke. She is afraid to die and losing mobility and independence on account of an unexplainable stroke is a threat to her life. My friend debates on the next point of action as she lives over 4,000 miles away in the land of opportunity.

So, what gives? It gives that living life in any way but the most meaningful way is a waste of time. It gives that doing anything but your best for a season, some season, any season is risky because it might be your last season. It gives that life is short and you should tell people you love them and you care. It gives that you should make every day count. It gives that similar to everything else in life, it makes no sense to just spill about anything which is finite such as your time on Earth and the time of those you love. It gives that you should allow God to take full control of your life, trust him to provide you with direction and not wait until you are older, wiser, done, sick or worse.

My friend's dad was not even 60, not even sickly, not even, not even, not even. Please pray for my friend and his family in this time of loss. Please go and make life worth your while.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Patricia goes speechless...

One of the most eye-opening or demoralizing experiences I had in graduate school was doing poorly on the introductory course for the area in which I wanted to do research which was being taught by the professor I had hoped to study under. Not that I expected to be exceptional, but that I truly believed this was one of the areas in which I felt I was strong.

The real world is different from school. We do not get official grades by people we respect. Actually, most times any feedback we get about how we are doing comes from those who disapprove of our performance. While we exchange kind words with our friends, family and acquaintances, we rarely really give each other feedback that will help us improve on the important areas of life. I say important because we do exchange plenty of endless meaningless chatter about how we do on the wardrobe, hair, make-up, etc.

After school, there are few "checkpoints" in life that can give you a good, clear, objective measure of how you are doing. Some of them: making the proverbial 7-years of marriage mark, having children, children's graduations, work-related items such as promotions and evaluations, knitting the one scarf or blanket, etc.
But how do we know that we are doing good in the deeper areas? How do we know if we are being good friends? How do we know if we are making an impact? For those of us who are Christians... How do we know that we are living properly? How do we know we are sharing God with others? How do we know we are trusting God enough? How do we know?

The truth is that we do not know. The truth is that this is one of the reasons we trust God. The truth is that this is one of the reasons why only trust in the One True God can save us and grant us access to Heaven. How else would we know how good is good enough?

THAT SAID, along the way, if you pay attention, and specially if you trust God, you encounter points in your life that give you pause and shake you awake to realize where you are missing the mark.

I am generally bad at having serious conversations with people. Serious conversations make me uncomfortable, most of the time I think it is best to spare others of the details of your thoughts, I often feel like they are a waste of time and then they expose vulnerabilities that are best kept private. Secretly (or not so secretly like on this blog), I enjoy serious subjects. I am intrigued by the workings of the human mind. I am amazed by the way people think and make connections and simply floored by the way even "random" situations bring people together. Recently a dear friend of mine brought this up: "When the student is ready, the teachers will appear". It is so true, but how/why/when?

The friends I have known longest and I have known each other for about 16 years. It is a group of 3 girls plus me. You could not find more different backgrounds, beliefs, personalities and aspirations in any group of 3 random people.

To make a long story short, I can probably count the number of times I have had serious conversations with each of them. We have also, basically, lost touch over the last 10 years. Until recently, I only communicated with one of them on a semi-weekly basis, but more by her effort than any effor of my own (I am ashamed of this).

Recently, I was very frustrated at a situation in my life, and a different one of these girls picked up on it. A very serious conversation ensued. It was more a vent of frustration than anything else. I didn't think much of it. However, over the months following this conversation, we have been speaking more often. I attributed it to ME simply being around more often and this strange solemn frame of mind I can't seem to shake off.

On Tuesday night in the midst of a cough medicine stupor, the realization that I really have not paid much attention to her life in the last 10 years and extreme frustration at the stupid serious mood I cannot shake off, I asked her some tough questions. Yeah, ashamed of that too.

What is the moment that has left the deepest mark in your life?
An afternoon when a good friend of mine started talking to me like she never has before and trusted me with a private conversation. I felt like the best friend in the world and I cannot stop thinking about that day.

I have had the hardest time trying to come up with ANYTHING much to say about anything since then. I wonder if bathing in garlic will shake-off a serious mood?

Checkpoint: I am a clueless SCHMUCK!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A very nice rat wants very nice cheese

A mad scientist has a very nice grant from a very nice university. This affords him a very nice lab, a very nice rat and some very nice cheese.

This is not ordinary rat. This is a very smart rat. It has been through many experiments and acquired wealth of knowledge. She is a 5th generation lab rat, in fact. She reads lab rat science magazines and admires all the great ones that came before her and all the great ones in all the great labs belonging to great scientists with great grants. She reads "Who moved my cheese" daily, just so she can be ready in case there is an experiment that day.

Of course, cheese is an important element of any experiment.

One day, the scientist takes the rat. More than a great lab rat this was the scientist's pet rat, so she got to go places that no other rats adventured to before. Her scientist was mad, but was very kind. On this day, they went to the grocey store. This was usual fare. The scientist felt that to achieve good results it was best to allow the rat to experience the cheese buying experience.

On this particular day, though, on the way back from the grocery store, they stopped at a big place called Home Depot. The rat could read, of course, that is how she knew where they were. At this place, her usually unskilled master bought what seemed like miles and miles of wood which he then piled up in his very nice little sedan (must protect the environment, even if you are a mad scientist).

The scene was familiar from the many journals he had read. Soon enough, it was clear what was going to happen. The proverbial maze.

Now, this was no ordinary rat and she could smell the cheese bought. It was no ordinary cheese. It smelled like no cheese she had ever had before. And so it was that with a tummy full of cheese scent, she set off to beat the scientist at his own game.

She sent a notice to all the rats and mice in the neighborhood. She would be recruiting for a special super secret mission. She needed someone astute enough to conjure up a plan, but not too interested in the cheese for fear that the temptation for the cheese was greater than the committment to work together. These mazes can be dangerous and if a couple of rodents were going to conquer, they would have to stay together. She decided not to mention the quality of the cheese.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of waste in New York City (where the rat lived), so not many replies came without the mention of the special cheese. I mean, why would subway mice leave warm hideouts full of junk food for possibly stale cheese? So it was that the best response obtained and the resource chosen by the rat was not a rat or a mouse but a squirrel. See, with urbanization, there were not many nuts to be had in the city and cheese sounded mighty good.

And so it was that the squirrel moved in. At night when the scientist slept, they schemed and planned and developed and thought about just how they were going to outsmart this maze. During the day, the squirrel would go in the stack of books covered in dust and would hide among the common rodents so the scientist did not catch onto their plan.

The day arrived when they were going into the maze. But, it arrived with the winter. And try as she could to wake up the squirrel, nothing could. She was disappointed and furious. She had not thought about how to obtain the cheese and conquer the maze by herself at all! What is a disappointed rat to do at the call of her master?

Surely, a 5th generation lab rat understands well that the principal duty of a lab rat is to further science research and discoveries. So she obediently went on. The maze was everything she had read about and more. Thankfully, the cheese was not moved. She could smell it. With every turn, it smelled like it was closer until the smell was overwhelming. But she seemed to be running around in circles. How could it be? Everything she read indicated there would be an opening and the golden substance would shine right through like a mighty irresistible, mouth watering giant. But, she couldn't get to it. And come to think of it, this did not smell like the very nice cheese from the very nice grocery store. Oh, that nothing this day will turn by the book.

After hours of struggle, the scientist opened the entrance door to the maze and called out the rat. She followed the way out, dejected and disappointed. All the planning, all the scheming, all the desire, all the effort to have neither conquered maze nor tasted golden cheese.

The mad scientist took the rat to her cage and as she opened her eyes, through her heavy eyelids from all the effort and all the frustration, she spotted it. And it was white, not golden. And it was the very nice cheese from the very nice grocery store and she was given it freely by her master and she could not understand. In the cage next door, the other rats and the dust covered squirrel enjoyed the usual meal.

Alas, a very nice lab rat can read very nice writings about the way things should be. She can trust very nice squirrels and come up with very nice plans. But some mazes are unconquerable and the sweetest blessings come but from the mercy of a very nice master. Alas, a very nice mad scientist might be mad, but what is a scientist to do if not care for his flock of rodents, the converse of which makes him a mere exterminator?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sister Alice (or Catholic School stories Pt 2)

Sister Alice was a nun at my High School (one of 4 or so). She had had a pace maker put in her heart shortly before I started school there. She had some other health issues which affected her mobility and forced her to wear orthopedic shoes.

Sister Alice is one of the deepest ladies I know. She was 100% dedicated to her labor as Vice-Principal and teacher all the same. She grew up in Massachussetts and I remember she had an interesting story about how she decided to become a nun. Actually, I never heard the full story. I kind of wish I had dared ask the nuns at school more questions about their travels to clergy, but I didn't.

Anyway, our school always had animals in it. They were not school pets, they were just stray animals: roosters, hens, chickens, dogs, dogs mating, cats. Sometimes, actually a lot of times, the kids at school abused these animals to some extent. One such instance being this black cat.

To the surprise of many, Sister Alice took to this cat very dearly. This cat would hide from everyone but come straight to her. Surprisingly, for a cat anyway, the cat followed her EVERYWHERE. As it turns out, the cat was a pregnant female and shortly after this love began, she had 4 little kittens.

There are a good number of stories relating to the kittens and the cat. A lot of people in the administration office did not really appreciate sharing their space with them. The end of the 5 cats living at school was a bout of stinky diarrhea in the Administration office. They were quickly given away then, all but the original mother of course.

My favorite story:
Sister Alice taught what you guys would call Honors English. One section each for 10th, 11th and 12th grades. I believe this was during my 12th grade. The kittens and cat had contracted the cat version of pink eye. Now, because the mother was afraid of the students, she taught this habit to the kittens and unless they were all "chilaxing" at the Sister's office, you would not see them.

Our English class was right before lunch. The kitties needed eyedrops to cure the pink eye infection, but as I explained the Sister's mobility was not such as to pursue cats throughout school. So, our duty for a week was to leave class and find the cats throughout the yard, catch them and hold them still while she adoringly put the eye drops in their eyes.

That is how a number of people from my class ended up wearing scratches all over our arms. The Sister was very strict and tough. Most people would say they "deaded" her, but if you dig deeper and consider this story, you can easily see that we all were fond enough of her and her labors to get scratched out to lend her a hand.

Next time, I will tell you how 6-10 people from my class ended up with strange moles all over our arms for a couple of weeks.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Thankful Friday (as in thank God it is not Thursday anymore)

This is me at 10:27AM yesterday morning.

This is me around 12 noon.

Yesterday, around 12 noon I was chewed out (expletives and all) by a customer. Actually, I was verbally abused, more than just chewed out. I have very thick skin, so to have been upset by someone speaking nonsense is unheard of. Actually, I have a high tolerance for foul language, to make it more unbelievable yet.

I won't explain the details, quite frankly because I am just worn out of explaining the occurrances to: my co-workers (who did not know what to do when I was so upset), my manager, my Sr. Manager, and recently my Director who wanted a write-up for HR.

The amazing thing to anyone that knows me well is that I never lost my cool and I never talked back. The amazing thing to my 18 year old who does not understand why I didn't break my hand against the phone is that I am just really glad for the lessons I have learned from this:

1. I should stop using foul language. It may seem harmless to me but it may be harmful to others. It also may send the wrong message even when I am not trying to be inpolite.

2. I am thankful for my job, my company, my co-workers and my manager. It is very nice to have people champion behind me and take this situation seriously (maybe a little too seriously).

3. I like my job, a lot. A little something in the back of my head was worried that I would get in trouble and I did not want to be in trouble, because I like my job.

4. I have made headway into a few of my secret goals for 2009. One of which is self-discipline.

5. Another one is re-encountering my fear of mediocrity.

6. The last one being allowing myself to feel what I am feeling. Granted, it is pretty easy to allow myself to feel anger, but it is going somewhere.

7. I have good friends who were upset WITH me and wanted to take this guy down on my behalf.

8. I have a very supportive husband.

9. I have encountered the WORST and handled it, which means I can deal with it ALL.

10. I have a new umphh to do my job and will do my best to prove the jerk wrong and show everyone that I am on top of my game.

11. I have the strength to not let one guy ruin my whole day. We laughed about the whole story last night. Me and my peeps from our very long-running Thursday Night Bible Study.

12. I can know win bad day poker and bad customer poker with one story.

13. I am an emotional eater, after all. This is a good realization because now I can work on controlling that.

All is well that ends well.

My favorite hymn that we sang last night:

O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Catholic School Stories Pt. 1

Puerto Rico schooling is such that whenever possible, a parent will pay to send a child to private school. Most private schools are Catholic and much more affordable than in the US. I went to many schools leading up to the 7th grade. When we moved towns, my mom managed to find us a spot at Notre Dame and my life changed. Yep, even though I am not Catholic and my parents weren't either, we all agree that ND is a life changing school. If you are looking for schooling in PR, look no further and contact me for details, but if you are reading my blog, I will spare you and instead bring you the first of (hopefully) a series of stories from school.

STORY ALERT (may be boring):
Unlike the stereotype, we did not have nuns running all over the place. We also did not have priests. Our school was run by what I consider liberal Redentorist priests assisted by the nuns of Notre Dame, who are also quite liberal and wear simple blueish skirts with white button down shirts and short hair. We had something like 2 priests and 4 nuns. While all but 1 of the priests that went through were Latin American, the nuns were all American. They had been in Puerto Rico for a long time and could converse to some extent in Spanish. The nuns and American priest had quite the American accent and confused the genders of stuff constantly, but you get over the initial funniness of that after a bit.

We had a huge campus (by PR standards at least) and our sports teams were at the top of the lists. Our school also had a very intense/dedicated science program and a strong focus in that area so we competed in many science competitions and belonging to the Chemistry club was just as elite as belonging to the Varsity team.

Our principal is a visionary. An amazing guy really. He has been in seminary, he taught every AP Chemistry class until a few years after we left and while he was not the day to day moderator of the Chemistry club, as a chemist and early member of it, he was quite involved.

The Chemistry club initiation took place close to the end of every year (as close to St. Patrick's as possible) of High School and was officiated by the principal. It was a semi-secret event to which only teachers and Chemistry club members along with special guests are invited. A demonstration proceeded with the legend that a nun, a long time ago had encountered an elf in the school who eventually died. She kept the bones of the elf in a coffer and every initiation, the elf likes to come and visit. The recipe is written in the history of the school. He had all the props, setup the Bunsen burner and added all the chemicals and would stir in the "bones". Supposedly, as he stirred, the bones of the elf would contort and reveal the future of the school.

It was awesome! I do not know if my classmates liked it as much. The elf spoke in parables of wet twins (water fountains) and things of the like. It was up to the attendees to decipher the predictions. Eventually, an explosion would occur and the elf would materialize (really a purple foam) in a cloud of smoke and all the guests would rush out the doors and proceed to the reception.

Why don't we have stuff like that as adults? Why don't we make everyday life interesting like that? It surely isn't just teenagers that enjoyed the demonstration, the teachers (the ones that had been there for a long time anyway) made sure to attend. So what happens when we grow up? When do we become boring and uninterested?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What I am learning (Thursday 13)

The serious post is here, if you want to read a funny list of 13, skip here

1. Work Life balance is NECESSARY and HARD to maintain/create.

2. Working Out WILL, indeed, give you more energy. Write that down to remember when you don't want to go.

3. The need for friendship is NOT properly satisfied by the constant acquisition of random acquaintances. It is important to invest in people's lives and it is equally important to allow others to invest in yours.

4. Leave it all out on the field. Once you carefully choose a course of action, LEAVE IT ALL OUT ON THE FIELD.

5. It IS, indeed, true that: Second to trying and winning is trying and failing (LM Montgomery). As a corollary, it is shameful to not try at all, it is weak and shallow.

6. Do NOT judge a book by its cover. My best friends have found me before I was aware of them. Some of my favorite activities started with "I never will".

7. Do NOT look at the past in an attempt to re-live it. Look back only long enough to learn from your mistakes and LET IT GO. Once you do that, you will be stronger, happier and ready for new experiences.

8. Kids and the elderly hold the key! Look at things through their eyes and the smallest day to day tasks take on a new value and a new meaning. This so far seems to cure road rage, impatience, the desperate need to understand stuff and delusions of grandeur.

9. Them mice in your head that work double-time at making you doubt and wonder and not trust and second guess? FIRE THEM! Keep your conscience and common sense, but the mice are no good. Maybe without them you will be wrong about some things, but with them, you can never enjoy a good thing.

10. True friendships are indeed resilient and lasting. There is no sweeter taste than the realization that a "lost" friend was just on hiatus. True friendships are apparently re-kindled effortlessly, when you least expect it and when you most need it.

11. Do not let your fears have any impact on your choices/decisions and actions. It is silly to let thoughts of things you do not like direct your path.

12. LIVE LIFE! Enjoy every moment, every note, every red light, every falling hair, every rain drop, every puke, every cold, every germ, every tear, every laugh, every hug and every helping hand. Enjoy every little, big, old, young, new strong and weak gem that crosses your path. Do not do this because you are afraid it might be the last or you might lose your gems, do it because it is worth enjoying all that.

13. I miss my sisters more than anything in this world. My sisters are both wonderful, beautiful, smart, insightful people. It is a good thing God picks those because I could have never made a better choice and I would have missed out. My baby sister is amazingly trustworthy and loyal. My middle sister does not ever cease to amaze me and I doubt she ever will. If someone wrote a movie about our lives together (me and middle sis), it would HAVE to be a musical.

Happenin' Humping Hump Day

So I am readying a post of Thursday Thirteens, but Thursday is an easy day. So, I figured people need something to read on Wednesdays. The title is in honor of my teenagehood friend Elba who loves calling it 'Hump Day'.

So, here it is.

Things to do to get through Hump Day:

1. Pandora --This is very easy. It takes literally 30 seconds to get you to your favorite music. You enter artists and songs that you like and Pandora will play it intermixed with songs they consider to be similar. You get information about the artist and why the selection was made. Also, if you don't like something hit the thumbs down and they apologize and never play it again. What is wild is that I tried this for a few hours yesterday and only had to thumb down 2 songs and thumbed up just about everything else.

2. $2 Skate -- In Georgia, Sparkles has a $2 skate night. Also, Bowling Alleys and other like places have discounts on Wednesdays.

3. In Puerto Rico and other states, Wednesday is ladies night for movies and other date type activities. Meaning discounts.

4. Blogger -- Start a blog, or revive your dying one.

5. Text/E-mail a friend you haven't spoken to in a while.

6. Craigslist -- Get on craigslist and just look at the ads. Be careful with personal ads as they can be inappropriate and meeting people off the internet is dangerous.

7. Ebay -- Remember that lunch box you carried to school in the 3rd grade? Do you miss it? Look it up on ebay. Careful, it is addictive.

8. Lottery -- We do not advocate playing. Seriously, even if you played, chances are you would not win. BUT, the GA Lottery records the numbers for all past drawings and you can enter numbers on the website and it will see if it matches any drawings in the past. You can even download the results to Excel and do some stats with it.

9. Draw something, doodle, something. Remember that pencil you pushed through so many years of school and which has been replaced by the keyboard, use it... it is very freeing to do so.

10. Make your weekend plans. Nothing makes Wednesday go by faster than planning for the weekend.

11. wikiHow -- Learn anything from how to braid, skate, ride a bike to how to bake, throw parties, re-create your life. It is amazing! When you are done reading the crazy abundance of guides try something from there for kicks (I do not recommend trying anything from the life advice section).

12. The Uncyclopedia -- Bet you have heard of Wikipedia by now. But, the Uncyclopedia looks, feels and smells like Wikipedia without all the real content. It is hillarious. Read the article on Earth for starters!

13. Wikipedia -- Gain some real knowledge that is close to accurate. The impress your friends. Consider this piece of interesting information about the Birthday Song and its strict copyright. I bet you never knew! Ok, if you have ever eaten with Jamil in the last year at a restaurant and it was someone's birthday, you have heard that information. If you are not inclined to reading, we are open for dinner all of next week just find a restaurant with good probability of birthdays and he will tell you all about it!

So, hopefully this will help you in your future pursuits of conquering Wednesday. We are not responsible for your employment status resulting directly or indirectly from following any of the 13 suggestions above. Nor are we responsible for the effects of any action resulting directly or indirectly from you following instructions from anyone, including any item contained hereinto or hereoutof or due to your bad hearing, etc, etc, etc. Read, we are broke and will not be sued!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Jamil and Jamil went for a walk...

Patricia's recent post had me thinking about what my own "20 year old self", "15 year old self", and even "5 year old self" would say about my current life... Here goes...

Favorite Ice Cream
Now: Rocky Road.
20 yo: Rocky Road.
15 yo: Chocolate (hadn't discovered Rocky Road yet).
5 yo: Chocolate.

Prepackaged lunches
Now: Awesome!
20 yo: Awesome!
15 yo: Awesome!
5 yo: Awesome!

Gym / Exercise:
Now: Never!
20 yo: Never!
15 yo: Never!
5 yo: Never!

Now: Shouldn't I own my own business?
20 yo: Stupid cube farm.
15 yo:
Nice! You're successful.
5 yo: Wow! That is a lot of money, and you're on the computer all day!

Favorite Color:
Now: Blue.
20 yo: Blue.
15 yo: Blue.
5 yo: Blue.

So, in short... The only differences between "me" and all the "mini-me"s, are related to how I view my job/work. (At least for the specific categories in Patricia's original post!)...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Patricia and Patricia went for a walk

If it isn't clear to the few lurkers of this blog, something has changed.

I am trying to bring Rolling on the floor laughing back, but I don't know if it is still there. I mean, I am laughing lots and lots and lots: YOU HAVE NO IDEA. I am enjoying little things that you wouldn't believe. Jamil is thankfully quite amused by all of it. This morning this moron lady changed lanes in front of me, past where the turn lane line becomes solid, with no indicator on and proceeded to break on a yellow so we missed the green turn light: I did not honk (gasp).

Actually, I wanted to for a minute, but then I thought "it is just as well that I sit here in my car on the road and enjoy my morning drive since I do not get to drive so much anymore". 25 year old Patricia screams in my ear: Seriously, WHAT?! C'mon, get a grip Patricia". 16 year old Patricia claps twice and says "Goody yes, maybe let's also skip work and go for a long drive, we have waited so long to do this". 5 year old Patricia thinks "Look! special edition, I wonder why her car is special edition, why is it special? how many special ones are there? what does the regular edition look like? that's a pretty green color hanging there!" 3 year old Patricia, meanwhile sucks her thumb intrigued by a very familiar smell in the car, it makes her smile.

In an effort to bring funny back, here is some other Patricia arguments:

Which ice cream flavor?
Strawberry of course. 22 year old screams: Jake's chocolate slap yo' mama. 10 year old says nothing like chocolate, 7 year old remembers good bean ice cream and 5 year old does not really like any of it.

About my pre-packaged lunch?
If I never eat Hormel again it will be too soon. 20yo: Hey, that solves the problem with the fridge space, awesome, no refrigeration... if only there was a rice with cheese one. 14yo: Why, Patricia, that does not look like rice and beans and while we like to try new things, rice is not supposed to be soupy wet. I thought we were going to step up from cafeteria food. 10yo: Whew, then we can put all $2 in our pocket to buy a nice present for someone special instead of wasting it on ketchupped burgers, maybe we can go to the craft store and buy some materials to make some stuff. 5yo: Can I just have milk instead? I really like the brown warm chocolatey stuff flowing from the bottle. The bottle has cool numbers, some are really big and some are small and they are on either side and when you scratch your fingernails on them it makes a cool sound and it feels nice. 2yo: I am never ever eating again, people who eat get fat. Look at grandma's pastor and all the people from church.

On going to the gym/excercising:
We must and we will! 20yo: Never, ever ever... I will play some roller hockey though with the guys on Curran Deck. 16yo: Ummm, remember we tried to avoid this? It causes injury and pain and we... ok we used to not need it... you have gotten a little chubby though, but still NO GYM can't we just walk downtown instead? 11yo: What and get hurt like the time with the baseball bat or the time with the basketball or the time with the volleyball? 4yo: Must conquer the monkey bars, we only got to the third one remember? 3yo: Can we ride the bike instead? I like playing better and you seem to have finally got the no wheels bit down, why risk forgetting?

On work and what I do for a living:
Pays the bills. 23yo: it will do until we figure out what we want. 17yo: great, found a way to be on the computer 24/7, I knew you could do it! I bet you are making friends all over the world! 12yo: I hope you get to program a lot and play Carmen San Diego, but exactly how are you going to make a better world on the computer again? 9yo: I bet you are really good at them fractions and conjugations and that's how you got the job. 7yo: Wow, and do you get to see how they make stuff? 5yo: You do what? Aw, c'mon. That is the best you can come up with? At least be the guy who puts the pills in a bottle but the lady who sits far away on a desk... c'mon! 3yo: But we liked flying, remember? What happened with all the flying? We also like hotels, remember the room service and the big bed and the TV and sleeping with the light on?

And what is my favorite color?
How the heck do you wake up one morning and not know what is your favorite color? Yet, I cannot name one!! 3: blue, 4-5: brown and black, 6-18: blue, ~19-20: yellow (RIP Jose Miguel) and Orange, briefly at 20: red and then I just don't know. I do like my eggs fried over medium with some sodium bicarbonate for the digestion. All Patricia's scream: yea, them tummy aches are no fun, but giving up chocolate/worrying/hot dogs/brownies/milk/fried food/eggs is no fun.

So that is it, my attempt at not boring you to death. WAKE UP!! WAKE UP!! WE ARE ALMOST DONE, WAKE UP!

I don't actually hear voices, but it is fun to try on someone else's perspective for a chance especially if it is a younger you. It helps figure out where you are going. Hopefully, one day, 70 year old Patricia will look back, smile, be in touch with the lives she has touched and the people she allowed to touch her heart, sigh, close her eyes and exhale the name of the most beautiful color in the world. Even better, she will ask two very important questions that we should all ask ourselves: Was it worth it? Are we proud of our work? and 70 Patricia's all of different ages will smile and scream in unison: YES! and YES! We are working to ensure God joins in on the second one.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The analogy you will never hear at Church--especially if you are Baptist

Disclaimer: We don't drink, smoke or advocate anyone to do either.

We are all alcoholics... every one of us, so to speak.

We all have very important needs (food, clothes, etc.), but we also have very strong desires or wants (emotional, physical and spiritual). The most popular: respect, relationships (love, friendship, parent-child), power, recognition, etc.

Most of these are harmless, but when we get too much of one of them, it consumes us. Like alcohol consumes an alcoholic. The desires are not bad, like alcohol in itself is not bad. However, they are both intoxicating. Some of us have higher tolerance than others. In C.S. Lewis's eyes the pursuit of any of these is simply a pursuit of happiness and he writes “And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

So we hear this, C.S. Lewis is a highly regarded scholar so we try to heed his advice. We can sober up, switch to cigarettes, a lesser form of that which fills our needs. We turn to God, and the strength of the pull from the alcohol is minimal. Then, one day, by accident even, you get a taste of the sweetest, purest, highest proof alcohol you have ever tasted-something they call joy-and you know life will never ever be the same.

So you go back to Lewis:
“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”

And you wonder:
You realized the error in your ways. You realized that there was no happiness away from God. You realized happiness is in seeking God. You deprived yourself of earthly desires that take your attention away from the Source. You were not even looking for anything else, yet you are in the middle of pure bliss, so how could this be?

My answer:
God allows us to have a taste of happiness/joy provided by Him (a happiness you could never find even if you searched the whole world for it), with no effort of our own. This temporary state allows us to experience:
1. His Power--He can do what your efforts have failed to do.
2. His Mercy--We screw up, yet he chooses to bless us.
3. Heaven--happiness on earth is just a small taste of Heaven.
4. Your powerlessness--You need HIM.

When it is all done, because everything in the world ends, you are left longing not for the happiness which we can obtain by our efforts, but the joy only He can provide. Life's tests are simply the time periods during which this joy is absent from our lives. It is then that we make a very important choice: be bitter that our perfect bottle has been taken away and wallow in cheap beer or push on through enjoying the spare cigarette along the way knowing full well that whatever we do not have here, there is a bigger bottle of the sweetest, purest, most intoxicating alcohol you have ever tasted waiting on the other side. You have had a taste and know that nothing else will satisfy you the same.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Cherish every rainbow rising in the sky in spite of the rain...

So it is officially an epidemic of pondering around these parts. I have discussed the issue of trust and friendship at least 30 times in the last month with a good 15-20 people--only 5 times have I been the one to bring up the subject. Roman and Greek philosophers such as Cicero and Laelius wrote many treatises on the subject with great passion. The Bible itself contains a good number of examples: David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, Jesus and Lazarus. This is just a low quality story and is not meant or able to rival any of the other sources.

So this is right after one of the best summers of my life (Math program in California). I was building a puzzle of L.A. in my parents house in Puerto Rico when the phone rang and my "plans" changed.

Me: Hello
Christel: Hello, Patricia...
(Christel's tone is very business like which is not uncommon for her, but she worked hard to get to the next few words--this made it harder to understand what she said next)

Christel: I have some very bad news.. You remember Kevin?

Boy did I remember Kevin! Kevin was the most awesome guy in the world. We were all in grad school together. Grad school is very trying. Kevin didn't have it all figured out, but he sure as hell helped as much as he could to get us to feel welcome and figure stuff out. I loved Kevin like the big brother he took upon himself to be. I bugged him to stop smoking, but would stand outside with him while he smoked all the same.

He was very tall, very sweet, a huge teddy bear like no one else I ever knew. He was also very deep. We had a number of very interesting conversations about life, heritage, love, family, God, our beloved islands in the Caribbean and math. He was always encouraging me to push through in grad school.

As a matter of fact, I had been thinking about him and even e-mailed him without response a few weeks before Christel's call with no response. I figured he was busy...

Patricia: Of course... How is he doing?
Christel: Yes, so they found him dead. Apparently he died on Monday (July 21st, 2003)

Dead what? Dead serious? Where is Michael laughing in the background? C'mon guys this is not funny...

Patricia: What do you mean dead?
Christel; His roommate found him dead in his room. His brother is making arrangements to take his body back to the island. There will be a memorial service later in the week.
Patricia: What do you mean dead? What happened? Was he sick?
Christel: He had had food poisoning. No one really knows what happened and his family is keeping everything private. He has had a rough semester overall.
Patricia: Send me the details of the memorial.
Christel: Ok, but you will not be in town.
Patricia: No problem.

So a few other things about Kevin: he was sick an awful lot and he rarely complained. But, food poisoning? How could food poisoning take MY friend? How could a little food poisoning take down a guy as big as Kevin?

I did the only natural thing... I continued to build my puzzle.

Mom: Who was that?
Patricia: Christel
Mom: What happened?
Patricia: Oh, she was just telling me about a kid in school who died...

I must have sounded very convincing because she did not pick up at all on what the news meant: I had lost my dear Kevin. Actually, I think I was convincing because the news hadn't made it all the way in my head yet. Either way, I realized there was something odd that just happened. I tried to understand what was going on. What went wrong. A few minutes later, I had it all figured out. I called Christel back with my conclusion. She said they had decided not to tell me the whole story until I got back.

I should have kept in touch like I said I would! I am a tool for not doing so, life is sooo short. That would not have changed the outcome since some things were already in gear which I could not stop, or could I? It took a long time to make peace with the fact that Kevin was not coming back. It took longer to make peace with the fact that I wasted the last 2 months of time I had with Kevin by not staying in touch. I had phantom Kevin syndrome for a very long time. I would think "oh, I need to tell Kevin this" or "oh, Kevin is not in yet" or "should I wait for him to go to lunch?" The calls coming in our shared office asking for kevin in the following year did not help. I was in shock.

I tried to blame his death on other people and when I got tired of assigning guilt, I heard the full story from another source. Then I understood that there are things you cannot change and there are things outside your control. Everyone must travel their own road and all you can do is be there, open ears to hear their calling for help, open arms to help them stand up and open heart so you can rejoice in the memories later.

Today, 5.5 years later, I still think of Kevin. He was so right about so many things and so wrong about so many others. I took for granted that he would be there when I came back. This is a bad philosophy of life because there is no promise of tomorrow. We should live today, every day, like there is no tomorrow. Real friends are special gifts from God/life with unknown expiration dates. Few are meant to stay a lifetime, no matter how hard we try. But we serve them and ourselves best if we maximize the little or long time we have together by putting all we got on the line and worrying about picking up the pieces later. Worrying before loving is a recipe for regret and missed opportunities or as L.M. Montgomery puts it: Next to trying and winning, the best thing is trying and failing.

"Dance like no one is watching, love like you'll never be hurt,sing like no one is listening,and live like it's heaven on earth."- William Purkey

Monday, January 05, 2009

The proof is in the pudding or American nonsense sayings series part 2

Jamil is nuts. Yes sir, he most certainly is. He is trying to make it sounds like it is me, but no sir, it ain't. He is the crazy one he just has you all fooled.

One thing about me, though, I think American sayings do not make much sense.

This afternoon he says: the proof is in the pudding.
Me: The what?
J: The proof.
Me: What proof?
J: The pudding.
Me: So what does the pudding prove?
J: It proves nothing, the pudding IS the proof.
Me: But you said the proof was IN the pudding.
J: Right.
Me: So how can the proof be both THE pudding and IN the pudding?
J: I need a grocery list.
Me: I will give you a list, but I do not like pudding, so don't buy any.
J: I wasn't going to buy pudding.
Me: Is this pudding thing a saying or something?
J: Yes.

(Jamil always resolves everything with google, ask him why his shoes are not velcro and you'll see)

J: It is a perfectly valid saying.
Me: All your base are belong to us.

Seriously! What a waste of perfectly good computer space.

The original proverb: "the proof of the pudding is in the eating."
So what if you do not like pudding? and what proof does the pudding require? And what if the pudding ends up being a false lead, why would you eat it? And eating just proves you have a stomach. If anything, this actually says the proof is in the eating of the pudding. How do you go from the proof is in the eating to the proof is in the pudding?

Other stupid American sayings I heard recently:
Bats in a bellfry -- Hopefully the bellfry is in the caves where bats belong
A Chain is Only as Strong as its Weakest Link -- Do you mean it is only as WEAK as the weakest link?
A diamond in the rough -- Doesn't that mean you are hard to cut through and have potential for being a lot of work for nothing? How is this a compliment?
A little goes a long way -- Yeah, if you are Jesus. Have you looked at the economy recently?
A dime a dozen -- listen, a dime is 10 and a dozen is 12. So what gives?

Some real sayings, the kind that help you live longer and avoid injury. Also the kind that explain life rather than complicate it. Of course, from Spanish origin:
A shrimp that falls asleep is swept up by the current.
He doesn't miss even a doll's baptism.
Longer than a poor man's hope.
Slower than a tar IV or a procession of lame men.
No one knows who they work for.