Sunday, March 07, 2004



Damn, makes me reminisce for the good ole days in the Gut dungeon with the VMS(S)K crew, cokes, wings, and cheesy bread. Les extrano tanto...Happy late birthday to V, by the way...a whole quarter centr'y, but you only look 16 (lol)! Love ya!

Self Challenge Update:
Tis official. The weekends are wrecking me.

Thursday and Friday, I was good: when I got home, I went to get my mail (the office is like a 10 min walk away), and then extended the walk to the half-hour cardio exercise like a good girl. So I actually did hit my exercise goals for the week. I even did my ab work out on my roof extension/terrace/porch/thingy. THAT is a superior way to do situps; the beautiful blue sky egging me on and drawing out stress at the same time.

Yesterday, I started out well when my sister Toto called me at 7AM.

**this was 6 am in her own time zone. Let it be known that she is NEVER up this early on weekends except when I haven't slept the whole week and she wants to call me, the little witch. Good thing she is my heart or she'd be in for it :o) **

Since I was already awake after that, I decided to be virtuous and walk to the Amigo grocery store, a 3 and a half mile trek. On the way, I saw this gorgeous 1964 IMPALA in Mint Condition. I was floored. It was incredible. I wasn't so pleased, however, when it's owner decided that since I liked the car, I must want to flirt with him (the guy was old enough to have bought the car when it was brand new, hello). That was interesting to say the least. I went, did my shopping, and got back to my house by 11AM. I settled down to chores and whatnot, thinking that today was gonna be an awesome Challenge day...

...however, then my Muslim girlfriend Abira (seriously, her family is the only other muslim family I know here) called to invite me to the mall and movies (You Got Served: loved it for the dancin', plot coulda been worse). I took her up on it, since I haven't seen her or her kids in like a month. What she didn't say was that we were going to eat at Pizza Hut. Dammit!

And then, this morning's breakfast was cookies and water. Ohhhh yeah, strong diet food... like I said, the weekends are wrecking me. I think I need to build a routine. I was like that in school, too; I was one of those women who was in every group on campus at one point, because the one semester where I din't do nothin' just to please my parents, I got my lowest gpa ever (a 2.3 if you have to know). Scheduling things tightly keeps me on track. Having free time just futz's me up. Oh well. I can only move forward. Tomorrow starts Challenge Week Two. I can do this!

Saturday, February 21, 2004

by any means necessary

Today marks the 39th anniversary of the slaying of El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, popularly known as Malcom X. Just a fact.

This week was a tiring one, so I didn't get as much sleep as I wanted. Lucky me, I also had 2 evaluations, one for the public school where I work, and another for Sapientis. Well Hoo-ray.

AAAND if that weren't enough, the jehovah witnesses came by my door today. Yes, on a saturday. So I decided to give as good as I got. I mean, if you're willing to preach your beliefs uninvited to the unconcerned, then you should at least be willing to hear the beliefs from which you are trying to convince the "ignorant".

I proceeded to read, from my own Bible, every scripture that the man of the couple quoted to me. I then supported my own view of what they said from both the Bible and the Qur'an. MAN, ALL THOSE SUNDAY SCHOOL SCRIPTURE RECITALS FINALLY CAME IN HANDY!!! I love beating that kind of missionary at their own game. Really. If I want to know about Jehovah's Witnesses, or any other religious group for that matter, I'll ask. That's how I found out more about Islam. I have to say this: I've found it true (at least in the USA) that we have no compulsion about the deen.

aiight, more procrastinating to do. ttys.

Monday, February 16, 2004

say anything.

I. Hate. Lesson. Plans. Hate'emhate'mhate'm.

There, got that outta my system.

Nilda G. called me today saying she found an apt. for me that cost $50 less per month than my current one, and it's already fully furnished. I could tell when she called I wasn't as enthused as she'd hoped, but I'm not so sure I want to move. Yes, with the savings I'd get in utilities it's more like $125 less a month, but now I'm used to the antique house. I've had to endure the bad and I've found out the good. And I'm one of those people who HATE packing. I'd travel the world, and pay someone else to pack for me.

On the other hand, it's made of concrete; entonces, no termites. And hot water. Insha'Allah I'm going to go see the apt this week, stay tuned.

I'm the most liberal and unorthodox practicing Muslim out there, and yet I'm probably the only one most of the people I know here will ever meet. Wild. At least I've broadened some horizons, fa'sho.

I didn't get the chance to say it earlier since certain people interrupted my train of thought, but I am SO SAD that Sex and THe City is almost gone!! And did you see yesterday? Ooh what if Big brings her back for the very end? Awww man, no more new episodes. I can't believe it. I bonded with half of VELMMSK over that, wait, it was the Sopranos. That and Domino's chickenwings with breadsticks. We went around going, "Where's Pussy???!!!", which is the funniest sentence, in context or out. In the basement of, that dorm that I can't remember the name of just now.

Guthridge (thanks to sr. alvarez. :-D ), the dorm is da Gut.

I gotta get outta this house, I'm going nuts.

Yay, back to the misbehaving kids at 7AM tomorrow.

It is really sad when returning to some hard-headed rude children is the highlight of a four day weekend. I really have to get my car soon. Like NOW.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

About a house and a happy valentine's day

to my fans, the quotations and apostrophes in this post are a little nuts, i'm working on it. ~tt

'I have a little rhythm,
it lives inside of me
and when it goes crazy,
I go dancing free."

~Me, age 7

Happy Valentine's day, yall! How's life?

I feel good, still trying to get the hang of this blog thing.
Wanna know what I did today?

Welll so I woke up freezing (it was 68 degrees- brr) at 5:00, curled and half-reclined in the easy chair, which is on the other side of the house from my room. Got up, stumbled through my dark house to my cushy, blue-flannel-sheeted bed and went back to sleep.

woke up again at 6:30.
woke up again at 6:39.
woke up again at 6:48, at which time I reset the radio alarm clock to 7:30.

woke at 7:30 to admire gold glow of the rising sun striking my varnished wood ceiling boards. I am one lucky woman- I put up with a lot of bulldukey (Toto's word), but my house has the best view in town, no contest. Anyway, there were a lot of clouds on the horizon over the ocean, but also plenty of light. Yay!

I finally got up around 8, said fajr in a very very very low and sleepy voice, and walked through my house and past the easy chair to the laundry/2nd bathroom to collect my clean drawers and bra so I could take a (downright FREEZING) shower. Before I can get back to my room and scrub my booty, the handy-men show up to finish what they've started on my house.

I should explain about the house. It's not mine, of course. I'm just out of college, so I'm renting this huge casota in Guayama. It was relatively cheap by my standards when I first began to rent it, but it's full of antiques- puts a whole new meaning on "fully furnished"- and old, old antique itself. Like historical.
In fact, that's the word I use every time I'm working on the dueño of the house to improve it just a little bit more, pull it a little more from 1949 portareeco standards to 2004 LIVABLE US colony standards.

(Yes, I said C-O-L-O-N-Y. Gotta problem wittit? In denial about the territories? Didn't even realize portareeco was a part of the USA? Email me and we'll discuss: forevertwenny (at) gmail (dot)com.)

I put on my southern heritage and feminine wiles and go to work: "Oh, Don Carlos, you simply must consider tearing down those dripping acoustic tiles. Why, one fell on the stove just yesterday, took out a pan of my homemade roast chicken. And look at the wood underneath, why, it has to go back to the historical construction." Or, " I told those handymen they just have to be mistaken, Don Carlos, I know you didn't intend for them to really paint the ceiling boards white. Surely the ceilings will have a historical glow to them when they are merely protected with a clear varnish. You would increase the home’s value by restoring that." All of this in Spanish, mind you, which is much more formal and therefore lends so many more opportunities to be a flirting debutante.

Man, the Deltas who threw my actual debut would be mad if they heard me say that.

But seriously, this house is just as much a pain in the behind as a pleasure, because someone let it go. If I had to guess, and I'm not all that educated about stuff like this, it was built in the mid-to-late 1800's for some relatively affluent people, since the ceilings are high but the rooms aren't all that big. It's had some additions, most recently the very narrow TV porch, where I chill since it opens onto the garden with the orchids- and of course, because the tv is there. Built on a woodframe, it's rare now when everything is made of concrete to withstand the hurricanes. And its full of sawdust from termites. I've never seen a termite here, but their gritty, round, plentiful, dark, almost microscopic leavings are present every time I turn around. I'm always sweeping the floors, I never walk around barefoot and I've just about given up on keeping the dust out of my shag bathroom carpet. It's like sand but worse because in my mind,it is intrinsically "dirty", making my house filthy because it just won't go away.

When I moved in, there was water damage to the white acoustic tiles above the stove in the house. But when the November rains and inundaciones came, closing schools and swamping the region for two weeks, they also brought the rotten tiles down, sometimes leaving me in danger of getting boinked on the head and one time actually taking out the second portion of my dinner.

At which point I informed Don Carlos that I was ok with living in a 3rd world country, but that I knew he had the resources to fix the house, and enough was enough. Three things I don't allow people to futz with: my family, my money, or my food.

Now I live with brand-new, natural-varnish ceilings in the kichen and two living rooms, and they're working on tearing down and replacing the walls and ceiling in the bedroom where I'll let JW stay if he decides to come. And, I'm getting a showerhead water heater, so no more cold showers!! WHOOOHOOO! It's the little things, I declare.

Anyway~ I unlock the door for the 3 handymen- Robertón, the grandad, Roberto, the son, and Jose de Jesus, the grandson- with my bra and pink Vicky undies in hand. That sparks a whole nother thought pattern, because the middle of the three is about 30 and VERY HANDSOME. (psst, Isa: He's fine as frog hairs, girl!) One side of me is blushing because this man is seeing my drawers (to get this you have to hear this word as "draauws", which is how I think it), and the other side is annoyed and hence could care less: what the heck are they doing comin'round at 8:30 on a Saturday?

Which is when I noticed that it really was 8:30 so I`d better get it going if I was gonna be on time for my driving lesson.
It's a ridiculous point of my reality that I have been driving solo for 5 years on a temps.

Twenty minutes later, I'd found out the lesson was canceled. I actually waited to call my house, thinking that 7:30 on a Sardy is too early even for my mother- so when I do call, my brother JW answers the phone and tells me that my parents are walking out the door. Dangit.

On the other hand, that meant I Spoke To JW for A Whole Twenny Minutes! You should be proud of me!

My youngest brother is 16. I love him with all my heart. I try to talk to him and send him letters once in a while, to help him through the Personal Hell that is living as the only child left in the house with our parents. They get to focus all of their attention on his very temperamental self, and it ain't easy. Talking to him is both a treat and a trial. One of those things where I know he's smarter than I was, but he's so smart he's throwing it all away. I know now where all the teacher's get the word "potential".

I offered JW the chance to live with me because I think it would be easier for him, and I think I can handle the responsibility. Right now, we're still making that decision,so I had a great conversation with him about it. He didn't snarl at all! I think he really does want to come, get away from our parents and see how he can do for himself. We'll see.

And that was just the beginning of the day.

This has been the most productive Saturday I've had in a while- I picked up the mail, spoke to my mother, sister, brother, and best friends, did more work on an incomplete project than I have in two months, and even came back home in time to offer refreshment to the handymen like a proper hostess. I got some isht done, you know? And until just now, it didn't even occur to me that this is the "Dia de Amores", the day for lovers, meant for romance and all that junk. I spent it last year sick, bummed out that I had to drop line, and feeling sorry for myself that I didn't have a boyfriend. I feel good that this year, I spent it showing some tangible responsibility and peace in myself.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

on being tall and uninsured

Submitted to the Radical Women of Color Carnival :

If you don't like gross stuff, please skip the next paragraph or two.

What a world, what a day. My toenail fell off today, which is the next step in a long, long scary healthcare-free journey that started when I busted my big toe wide open on December 30th. I remember this quite acutely, because it was the day before my health insurance got cut off. (There, gross stuff done, you can read on now and see what happened.)

See, I was walking into this little tiendita (really like, a small bar, I guess) en Mayaguez, which is a gorgeous city on the eastern side of portareeco, because it was blazin' hot and I wanted a bottle of water. Being that I am over 6 feet tall, I sometimes miss little things on the ground. Like the quarter-inch difference between the outside and the inside floors of the bar. So I slide my sandaled foot right into the tile as I enter, and damaged my poor, pitiful, absolutely gorgeous toe that had done nothing to deserve such ill treatment. Dangit. OooooWEEEE that hurt.
Now, I'm in Mayaguez with a toe that is wide open, and I have to make a decision which I realize is more common than I thought: do I go to the Hospital, or not?

Today, looking back, I can understand why healthcare isn't a bigger issue on the presidential candidates's radar. Until you don't have any kind of health insurance, you don't understand just how crucial it is. Betcha hardly any of those there candidates have had insurance and then lost it. I have a Public Health minor, so insurance is something I'd thought quite a lot about, but not so much until I was injured on the point of not having any. It really changed my thinking.
My particular situation probably isn't uncommon. Last December was the sixth month after I graduated college, and my mother's insurance was going to drop me on the last day of the year. Being that I'm twennytwo and an official grownup and all.

I even had a job at that point, a relatively good one. I'm a teacher at a public middle school. But no health insurance. I had to ask about it for months, and no one really came up with a satisfactory answer. Should I have had a benefits orientation when I was hired? Certainly. Did I ask the teachers union representative at my school about it? Yup. I had to stay after the man for two months before he passed me a phone number. That phone number led to more hours of frustration before someone got around to telling me that that particular bureau handled the free healthcare for which I don't qualify. Did I spend enough time looking for private insurance? Of course. It was too expensive. The irony was that I earn too much, according to government calculations, to qualify for the puerto rican health care card, and I earned too little to afford most private insurance. Suing the people who own the bar was out of the question for me; THAT STEP SHOULD HAVE BEEN MARKED, but I should've been looking where I was going. I could see on their faces, while the woman offered to put isopropyl on it, that they were terrified I would sue. I couldn't be the typical lawsuit-hungry american in that situation. It was as much my fault as theirs. But no lawsuit and not registering with the police meant I was on my own if my toe fell off or got infected. As it did.
How many other people have passed this very way?

Shout if you can testify!

I called my mother way back in Cincinnati to tell her the news; she wanted me to visit the hospital. Me being my twennytwo year old stubborn self, decided not to. I wasn't dead, just bleeding and in pain. I wanted to fully taste the vagaries of life without health insurance. My friends Isabel and Pedro took me back to their house, where I cleaned my foot in a tub of cold water, slathered it with neosporin (with the pain killer in), and dosed myself with panadol and coquito. Dont worry, the coquito was alcohol free and darn good.

I managed to shake and salsa my way across the dance floor three days later at Isa and Pedro's wedding, bum foot and all. And for the next 5 weeks I kept up with my toes myself, with no insurance. I'm still alive, and most days I forgot all about it. Until today, when I'm rocking in my garden underneath a beautiful bright white moon and look down to see my toenail isn't there. Then, I thank God I eventually did find health insurance (Much love and strength to Nilda and Fernando G. for hooking me up with the right people to do so), so I don't have to freak out about losing some body part more important to my health.

And I don't have kids, don't have parents to care for, I'm not responsible for anybody but myself. Can you imagine if I had had that happen to a five year old child? I have plenty of twennytwo year old friends with kids older than that. i Imaginate !

I made it without healthcare insurance. The uncertainty and consequences of not having it are something I wouldn't wish on anyone, anywhere in the world. Especially not the twennysomethings who are just starting to take responsibility for the world. Not anyone whose situation could end up so much worse, way worse than me.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Okay yall, here we go. bismillah al rahman al rahim.

So. In light of the events of the past twenny-two years, but especially the last one, I decided while sitting in my house in portareeco that I have to write a book. Because everytime I make an observation on the state of life, or politics, or food, or sex, or just about anything, the people around me either:
a) burst out laughing like they're watching Chris Rock
b) proceed to argue with me like I'm an established authority or
c) shake their heads and tell me I should really write all that down.

I don't know if that makes it valid, but my guts are telling me to give it a try.

I used to be an okay writer, but I haven't done just opinion pieces and poetry for so long that I'm at a loss as to how to get my chops back. I'd take a class at the local university, but here in Portareeco people tend to speak better Spanish than English and I have a laundry list of other classes to take first.

My friend Sherry, the one I left with all the others back in WASHINGTON, DC (a capital city), told me that a blog is a great way to write daily. I hemmed and hawed, cuz do I really want the world to have access to all my thoughts? But I'll try it. I've always been a sucker to try things at least once. Somebody needs to put me on reality teevee. But I digress.

So here the road to the book ( lord willing) begins.
Welcome to my humble spot! These are some of my thoughts on being in my twenty-second year.

I'll be back!