My childhood bully

My grandmother had a toddler when her second daughter passed away at 21. Her second daughter left behind a daughter of her own who just turned one. 

Debbie and Me

My grandmother saw to it to raise two little girls instead of one. That granddaughter was me and her little girl is whom I refer to as my sister despite actually being my aunt Debbie. 

Growing up with Debbie wasn’t easy because she didn’t make it easy. Debbie was my first bully. She picked everything first and gave me the leftovers, always. If my father gifted me anything, she used it till the ‘wheels fell off’, great example? My bike, my portable radio, my dolls.. anything she could get her hands on. 

When we made friends and they did not want to play with her, she forbade me to play with them, even would ‘tell on me’ if I did.. as far as tricking me, ‘they don’t like you, they call you names, fat and ugly’, she would say. Of course I would ask, and they would respond, ‘No! We like you, it’s her we don’t want to play with.’

I remember her telling me, ‘I’m going to Martha’s house’. We were living in the Dominican Republic, she was 11 and I 10. These were the days when children could run around the neighborhood unsupervised and tragedy wouldn’t strike. Martha lived in the ‘next’ neighborhood, for a child this could be about a 10 minute walk. 

I was surprised because Martha was my friend and so I prepared to go with her, ‘you’re not invited’ Debbie said. When she left, I called Martha’s house. ‘Debbie is going to your house and she said I’m not invited.’ 

Martha: ‘I didn’t invite her and what she said isn’t true. You’re always welcome in my house. You’re my friend.’

Turns out she went to talk shit about me. What some children do to tarnish the reputation of others, leading to isolation… the Modus Operandi of bullies.

She didn’t keep friends as a child so that was a testament of things to come in her adult life.
She was violent and ferocious with her words and hands. Small things would ‘set her off’. Disagreeing with her stance, talking to ‘her friends’, even ‘looking’ at her things would ignite conflict. 

My grandmother’s response? ‘Matense’ trans: ‘fight it to the death’.
What would today’s parents say to that strategy?

This was the reason why as we grew she had hers and I had mine, unlike many sisters.. ‘sharing’ was not possible with her.. a conversation, a game, an experience, friends.. so I learned to create my own world. 

We separated when we entered high school, she went to live with her sister, who I came to discover was her bully, so she would tell me when we came together years later. Life huh? And I went to live with my father and his family. 

Looking back, when it came to the treatment she gave me… there really weren’t any tender moments I can recall that can balance or ‘cancel out’ the crap I lived alongside her in my childhood. Yet there were moments I can’t forget that affected her, like her waking me up at midnight in tears because she wet the bed and mom promised to beat her if she did it again. ‘Help me change the sheets’ she would cry.. I remember the countless beat downs at the hands of her mom, my grandmother for the slightest thing.. I somehow was untouched because I didn’t ‘talk back’, didn’t challenge my grandmother’s authority, didn’t sneak out, wasn’t rebellious, wasn’t dark skinned, was the orphan daughter of her beautiful young daughter taken too soon. It’s as if Debbie was my ‘whipping boy’ without even realizing it. 

My grandmother wasn’t a happy woman, smiles and laughter were not her norm. Debbie was her 6th child and came along at her 42nd year of life from the man she would verbally ‘fight’, every encounter they had. Her stormy relationship with my grandfather is what I thought Love stories were about and a lesson UNLearned by me at 42.. 

You should never have to fight to be loved. 

Debbie paid for her misery and in turn I paid for Debbies. 

Looking back on her life, I could say it continued to be unfair. I observed from the sidelines how mental illness rapidly took over as she lost custody of both of her son’s from two failed relationships.
She went from being an NYU student to someone you could mistake for a homeless person, unclear and incoherent speech, disheveled appearance, a size 24 where there once was a size 8. I’ve learned that psych-meds bloat the body. I can only imagine how this adds to her worries. Like all the women in my family, maintaining a svelte figure is literally ‘life’, you are nothing if not your body.
There were years when ‘checking in’ to a psych ward was the norm, every time an obstacle presented itself, we knew where to find her. The only challenge, which hospital?

My grandmother claimed she just wanted attention and labeled her ‘sinvergüenza’ – trans: ‘shameless

Truth is I challenge any Latin culture to say that ‘mental illness’ has not been romanticized.
For Latin women, losing your mind for a man, how romantic? Losing your mind after a child’s death, how romantic? Losing your mind? ‘expected’. A form of cultural gaslighting.. the fragility of the female mind at the most tragic moments of her life.. It’s depicted in many telenovelas, described in many boleros, salsas, and merengues.. losing one’s mind is ok yet as long as it doesn’t happen in your family.

And that was the problem, or should I write, our family’s problem.

But it isn’t. For the most part, that generation of sisters aren’t as close as sisters could be.. but what some would call ‘fate’, changed that for Debbie and me.. we were each other’s sister.

Now in our 40’s, both childless and despite being on different mental wavelengths, I’ve forgiven my bully. I learned to love and care for Debbie.
With every act of kindness towards her, I’m undoing the pain of the past

I can thank the woman that raised us.. she introduced us to faith, to have it, and demonstrate it, to love your brothers and sisters as you love yourself could be the answer towards peace.

After all, if ever I found myself in that state, I would want someone to care and love me as if I were their sister.

The importance of Self Esteem

As a young woman in today’s diverse, fast-paced and fickle society, infused with instant gratification, I can proudly write that a constant challenging experience I have learned to overcome was my low self-esteem. It was an unidentifiable sickness that began in my childhood and lingered into my adolescence and lived with me way into my young adulthood. Today it is in remission, and with care and astute attention I make sure it doesn’t affect me in any way, the way it use to rule my every decision when I wasn’t aware I had it.

As a child born here in New York City from a Hispanic home, life was different for me and my sister and the other Hispanic kids in my neighborhood. Most of us were raised by old world grandmothers who probably never passed the fourth grade in their native countries. Harsh words and violent reprimands were the norm and never questioned. It went as far as greeting teachers on every first day of school with ‘if my girl misbehaves, I give you permission to hit her with a belt’ and living in fear of crossing that fine line. As a result I never did get into severe trouble but I always did live with the belief that I must not be good enough, if this is the way I am to be treated. I didn’t understand at the time that it was the ignorance, and fear of my grandmother that taught her how to raise us. She didn’t know any other way to keep us from following into the violent and drug-ridden streets of our neighborhood.

As a young girl growing up with this idea of myself, I made decisions that were unhealthy for a young girl and if had the chance to undo them, I would and wouldn’t. I did things to be loved and accepted but luckily never faced other decisions which I might really have regretted like many other young girls that have experienced the termination of a pregnancy. Despite my fruitful progression in my academic career, my picture of me was always off. I went as far as rationalizing that I was ‘lucky’ when it came to my outstanding grades. In my eyes I was never worthy.

As a young adult, I won a teaching scholarship that promised my certification and position in what I believe to be the only thing I will be doing for the rest of my days, teach fashion. I delved into my profession with fervor; doing anything and everything I could to become an exemplary and loved teacher, all the while abandoning my health to a ‘morbidly obese’ diagnosis. I convinced myself I was happy, that I was not the one with the problem but the world that had this unattainable image of beauty, though that may be true, that could never justify my being so overweight. It never occurred to me to see, the oxymoronic pinnacle of my life. There I was, knowing everything about fashion, from design to construction, teaching students to draw long lean lines to demonstrate the beauty of the perfect body for an industry that shuns imperfection and I, not setting the example.

Looking back, I always did keep a smile on my face, I believe that was my way of confronting and hiding from the real problem, that I did not love myself. Along the way, I was blessed with friends, teachers and mentors that echoed who beautiful I was, and even if they never tired of telling me, it didn’t really matter until I began to believe it. And believing it led to so many decisions, which opened the doors to other beautiful opportunities. This is the power self esteem can have. I thank all of them and the things I have learned that have convinced me today that I am worthy and that it really isn’t anyone’s fault but my own, what I do with what I know and believe.            

Today as I look around the classrooms I often substitute in, I see young girls like I was, intelligent and cheerful but starved for love and acceptance in a society that values your youth only if you meet their standards. I have come in contact with young boys, who go along with what others say just to fit in, and disregard their lessons of right and wrong. I have not let the chance pass by to tell them that they mustn’t fear the sound of their own voice and that even if these years may seem endless and so very important, they are only a part of one stage of many others yet to come. That every decision they make now mustn’t be seen as futile and unimportant but as a brick that is used to build a monument that will be their life or as a brushstroke on the canvas of the masterpiece that will be their life or as a stitch in the royal garment that will be their life.

I plan to continue to make that a part of my daily agenda when I begin to teach fulltime, to not only remind each and everyone of my students how important it is to value yourself but to teach them to do so; by communicating in a positive manner and helping them become self-aware of their decisions and possible consequences.

A well valued life will come with its obstacles and lessons learned from those obstacles but if you lack the weapons to overcome them, it is useless. The sum of what you learn, regardless of your environment, along with the amount of love you have for your self can arm you to conquer any situation. I believe both to be equally important and necessary in the very beginning of any human beings life. One cannot exist without the other in order to achieve success. What good is the knowledge if you do not believe yourself worthy to possess it? Unlike any other hardship, struggle or conflict in life, low self-esteem can only lead to failure. Whether it is academically or professionally, to believe you can do it and that you are worthy of its rewards is a personal motto that should be followed, and included in every AIM.

Written June 2010 when I was a substitute teacher

Letters undelivered

Get rid of them. If you want to get out of here, don’t even mention them.she said.

*Genna was referring to my letters. The letters I wrote before I attempted suicide. She was advising I not mention it to the appointed psychiatrist because it may delay my being released from the psych ward I was sent to. At 18 she seemed like a bit of a pro, a fact that worried my taking her advise. Don’t do this or that. Don’t say this nor that. And one sure thing was to not say I wrote out goodbyes.

I left a letter for my mother reading ‘I’m sorry.’. Although I doubt that would’ve changed a thing about where she believed I was headed.. H-E-double hockey sticks. YEP! Straight to the underworld for having taken my life. I actually struggled with that.. it almost made me change my mind, but it didn’t.

I wrote letters to my cousins, my friends, my mentor, anyone I believed I would owe an explanation because I would never want them to ask why. Even dare for a second believe they could’ve done anything to save me because they couldn’t.

I remembered an episode of some show about ‘sisters’ and there was this one sister struggling with that same decision and her answer was ‘having something to look forward to’ but that didn’t work for me. I remembered scenes from ‘’night mother’ with Sissy Spacek and Anne Bancroft and their fight to choose to live but that didn’t work either. I searched within me and the pain was so great that my answer was to just end it all, but I didn’t want to leave without saying why and goodbye to those I loved but there was one letter that was different, the letter for my father.

I accused him of adding to my pain, of not being around when he was needed. For the beginning of our story be he not wanting me, because I found out he didn’t. And many experiences thereafter were and still are testaments to that fact.

That was 26 years ago, I was only 3 years older than *Genna and the same age as my mother when she passed away.. I never really paid attention to numbers or years yet after I overcame that adversity I began to take note of almost everything, as simple and insignificant as it may have seemed… ‘God is in the details

I remember going back to my place, where it all happened and cleaning up the mess I left behind and there they were, the letters. *Genna’s voice still rung in my head ‘just get rid of them’. And I didn’t, instead I read them and kept them even after I moved out of that apartment. I wanted to always remember where I once was mentally. I wanted to remember the depths of my pain and how far I went to end it and how far I was promised I would go if I gave myself another chance at life. Some may not understand nor be accepting of this, but my faith did save me.
Looking back on all of the shit that stained my life, it was always there and it didn’t fail me then.
My truth today? Nothing will ever be as bad as that moment in my life. Any obstacle that can come my way, any challenge I believe I can’t meet, any pain anyone thinks to inflict on me will never compare to that night and I survived.

Years have passed and I have accomplished so much, more than I ever thought possible. And every time I reopen that box where the undelivered letters were, I have torn one up at a time. The person or persons that was suppose to read that letter never received them because that message is no longer relevant.. I made it my mission to let that person know how I feel about them and of how important they are to me in the days after that time in the psych ward. And I do it in my way, with words, with actions, with food.
Although I believe there is one left, and I don’t know if the little girl in me will ever be ready to tear that one up.

*Name was changed to protect identity.


Te vas a poner prieta.‘ – ‘You’re gonna get dark.’ is the warning told to little girls in DR when they stand in the sun.

Prieta‘ is worst than ‘dark’, its closer to the N word if anything, therefore the warning was more of a scare tactic for those that aspired or believe to be White.
And therein lies the lies sold to little girls of certain families.

I write ‘certain’ because the warning is given based on the social-economic status of the family; the little girls of poor families that are not born with fair skin might never be warned of the affects of standing under the sun. It’s as if you’re born in a caste system dictated by how fair your skin is.

I hid from the sun, not because of the change in skin color but because I was a fat child that hated to sweat and so I always walked in the shade. My youngest aunt though loved the sun. Whenever and wherever she heard those words, she turned a deaf ear and laughed in the sunshine.
My grandmother on the other hand would get angry, because my aunt was not born with fair skin. Of the six children she had, three were not fair and that aunt was one of them.

My mother was fair skinned, tall and svelte.
She was very preoccupied with her size, because along with keeping away from the sun, you had to watch your figure.
My mother was lucky, being fair skinned and thin made you favorable in the eyes of your parents and in turn, Dominican society; she bought it.
Her only challenge? maintaining a size 6 body.

That all ended when she died after her 21st birthday, I was a one year old and her little sister was two and that’s when the lesson on the importance of being ‘fair’ began, my grandmother being the teacher.

My grandmother raised me and her youngest together and unlike my aunt, I was fair but I didn’t care because I inherited my mothers preoccupation with weight as a child. The difference? I wasn’t maintaining it, I was neglecting it and my body grew increasingly faster than it should have every year.
I believe my grandmother thought the weight gain to be a phase and that I would lose it ‘cuando t’enamores‘ – ‘when you fall in love’ – YES! The ultimate why all women should be fair and thin!
But I didn’t lose it, I only got fatter… but at least I was fair.

I later learned the why of my ever increasing size, it was the result of being molested when I was eight. I told my grandmother that same day and she confronted the predator, who happened to be a ‘friend of the family’. She believed me.
It just so happens the same happened to my aunt.. another ‘friend of the family’ assaulted her and she told my grandmother as well.. but unlike me, she did not believe her.

My aunt as a child was energetic, ‘rambunctious’ to some. The youngest of six and the one that got away with everything, making her the resentment of her older sisters. Growing up with her, I noticed not many kids befriended her, she was assertive, loud, maybe too loud for some of them. Some even questioned our relation because along with our disparate skin tones, I was seen as the ‘calm to her chaos’.
I think back to all of our shared experiences and she wasn’t treated fairly, now is it because she wasn’t fair? I may never know, but I know it could’ve been different.

Truth remains that the treatment, the words, the language around those that are darker was not kind in my family.
La maldad lo puso prieto‘ – ‘Malice turned him dark’ my grandmother would say about her son, my uncle; ‘he wasn’t born that dark’, she would say. He got darker as he aged due to the bad life he chose was her explanation of why one of her children was not fair skinned. We laughed of course, but associating evil with dark skin shouldn’t be the butt of jokes around children, especially if your brother or sister is not fair.

To be fair today is taking on a new definition. Its meaning of ‘being just’ is taking the attention and is at the forefront while the ‘lightness’ of our pigmentation and its fictitious importance is being dismantled. A feat taken on by the sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters of those that bought the lies.
My grandmother bought it and sold it to her daughter but that doesn’t mean I have to buy it. Some days I don’t mind standing in the sun despite my grandmothers words. If I hide, it is because I still don’t like to sweat.
My aunt? she continues to laugh in the sunshine.

Little hostages

My cousins want me to get a job so I can move out.’ she offered as we walked towards the corner store.

Angel is a junior in my fashion class.
How old are you? 16?’
Angel : ‘I’m 17, I’ll be 18 this October‘.
My mental calculations did the math; she would be 18 in the beginning of her senior year.
Are you being told to leave?
Angel ‘No, but my cousins think that it will happen as soon as I turn 18. It’s really crowded in my house..’

Angel came in today, on a Wednesday, when NO student has to report for classes, she came in. THIS is a flag.
This means:
A- Student would rather be in school than home
B- Student is sooo dedicated that they will use their FREE time to invest in their work
C- All of the ABOVE

These are the signs I look for.

So, do your cousins work?’
She laughs, ‘No!
Oh! So they want to tell you what to do, without KNOWING what to do?!!
She laughs.
The truth was that while she was in the classroom, while she was trying to finish her work, her phone kept her distracted by the constant notifications.
The dings, the calls, the interruptions.. and she couldn’t finish because of the bombardment.
I walked over to her and while I was present, she ignored those distractions and she completed her drape… I was so proud…
But I knew that if it weren’t for my PRESENCE, she wouldn’t have finished.

She wouldn’t have found the courage to IGNORE those distractions and focus on the job.
Kind of like when you ‘work extra hard’, because your BOSS is present? (Industrial Psychology, look it up)

I had her take pictures of her finished drape as evidence of work.
Angel has many classes to make up.

Since the pandemic, there has been a myriad of students that have experienced difficulties, not being able to get online, not possessing devices, lack of technology, not being able to manage academically, socially, emotionally..
And while too many people lived in oblivion, ‘this is a 2 week thing’, ‘it’s not that serious’, I foresaw the impact.
Even posted the reckoning on my Instagram .. How it will obligate us to rethink education.
Maybe my Grad work in Informational Technology had A LOT to do with it, and somehow I knew our children would be the little hostages of that situation. Yet THAT would only exasperate the current situation.. the reality that is, under-served communities/families, childhood neglect , child abuse.. and the DOE’s answer? NX.. ‘no harm grading’.

Give an NX to every class on the high school level (thats my exclusive experience) for any class they couldn’t complete. The NX was classified as NO HARM grading.
Don’t hold them culpable for reasons they have no control over. BRAVO!
Yet we must do what we can to get them to complete these grades, and this was Angel’s reason for being in my class on a Wednesday… she wanted to complete her NX or just be out of her home…

So what’s your relationship like with your mom?
We’re distant.‘ she responds

Somehow I knew her answer before she would offer her sincerity.
She was among the few that would turn on her camera when in virtual class and the little I saw and heard allowed me to frame a better picture of her reality. There was an inaudible level of sound and little ones crowding the view alongside her, this was a ‘full house’.
It was indeed, a ‘crowded house’. There was no wonder why she would rather be in the building than home.

I know what that’s like. My grandmother wasn’t the warmest person. And I moved out as soon as I graduated high school, but I had a plan. I moved out because I knew what to do. I want you to have a plan and MOST IMPORTANTLY, do not worry about it UNTIL you are there, I know that your cousins care BUT it’s ultimately up to you. And it shouldn’t consume your thoughts until you’re closer to the finish line. Why worry about something you can’t do anything about? ….. Right now? Worry about completing your credits so you can graduate and be successful.’

To think this child has her classes to think about, her NX classes as well in order to be on track, add the probability of becoming homeless because she may not be wanted as soon as she turns 18, yet still enrolled in school.

Truth is that Angel at first glance looks like she could be an adult. She fills her skin beautifully and if it weren’t for her shy demeanor and limited knowledge when she expresses herself, you wouldn’t guess she’s a young girl in need of guidance.
And like her there are hundreds, thousands more that ‘look’ as if they are ‘grown’ yet are not. They have been born into situations where they are held hostage. Hostages because even though they cannot control their environment as all other children, in their case, compassion and love is lacking.
Compassion and Love warms the heart of the captor and allows, even compels them to approach, treat and care for the prisoner. While this isn’t even questioned when it comes to ‘normal’ parents, sadly there are parents that lack compassion and healthy demonstrations of Love towards their children. That famous scene in ‘Precious’ when the mother sniffles ‘who’s gonna love me?’; the ultimate sign of selfishness that should never exist in motherhood.

It takes more than shelter, food and clothing to produce a productive human being.
Regardless of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need’s which states they are the basic needs yet, as we evolve into a more AWARE society.. everyone clamoring for ‘feelings’ to be at the forefront of communication, let’s think more consciously about our children.

Are you raising an asset to the future society?
Or are the little ones in your life little hostages of your environment?

21 and suicidal

21 marks a time when all young adults celebrate being Free..

I remember my 21st year on this planet and I was not happy..
So not happy that I believed I was ‘better off dead’..
so much for FREEDOM and being able to DRINK..
I was DONE

I lived in a 1 bedroom apartment on 189th street and Amsterdam

The apartment belonged to my great aunt, Theresa and was ‘handed down’ to her niece, my current Pain in the Arse, aunt Carmen…. the one featured in past posts.. you know, ‘Mother of the Year’ recipient.

The landlord wanted to make sure that the apartment was inhabited by family and I was the one in line

I was 21 and insecure and secure… and despite being around strong female role models, the insecurities won..
At the time, I befriended the sisters of this Black boy I was re-frequenting..
truth is, he was my first many years before and he was the only one that labeled me ‘acceptable’ to have sex with..
Do you know what that means? How that feels at 14? To be accepted; to be desired? To be thought of as ‘beautiful’?

Just to get this picture into perspective, I was over 250 lbs. Not many guys would be ok with a Fat girlfriend in their arms in the 90’s

And so we met again and I hung out with his little sisters.. I was 21 and they were in their teens… I trusted them.. so much I would give them my debit card AND my pin

They cleaned me out..
Latinos would call me ‘PENDEJA”
Some friends at the time, after I recounted the tale would say, ‘what do you expect from ghetto Black girls?’
Today I know that NO ONE is the ambassador to their race, despite the lessons of my grandmother.

Then there was work.. I was a student teacher and it was the ONE thing that held me together, the ‘glue’ to my sanity… I found what I would do for the REST OF MY LIFE..
I guess the feeling some would describe as ‘meeting my soulmate’… but it was my JOB.
And something happened that threatened my continuing to teach and I thought, ‘what’s the point?’
I felt like a failure with no redemption, no sense of belonging, no sense of a future, no self love..
if other’s would play me for a fool after I have been nothing but kind and generous to them… what’s the point?

I decided to end it all but didn’t succeed.

It turns out that my plan failed mostly because I was over 250 lbs.. funny huh!
The amount of pills a fat girl takes may prove to be deadly for a skinny girl but not me at the time, and that’s how I was saved that night.

All of this flooded through my thoughts as I listen to the Cranberries ’21’.
‘No need to Argue’ was on loop that year for me.
Today as I grade my students work and listen to Dolores angelic voice, I think about where I was 25 years ago, in an unhappy place, confined to an asylum after my attempt.
The NYC Hospital rule is when you attempt suicide, you are moved to the mental health facility of the hospital you were taken to. Every hospital has this ‘floor’, tucked away with a double locked door and strict restrictions as to who can enter and what you can bring in. Followed 24/7 by a nurse till they conclude you are no longer a danger to yourself and obligated to attend therapy whether alone or in a group. A less glamorous ‘Girl, Interrupted’ if you will.
One very vivid memory?
Being worried about missing days at work and worried about missing classes.
I was also attending classes at City College..

Let that sink in.

I just attempted to end my life but what was at the forefront of my concerns was my attendance at work and school.
I know it’s programming YET I believe that saved me as well. Having something outside of myself as my focus allowed me to put things into perspective… Having things to look forward to, having things to throw myself into ASIDE from healing helped me..
I believe today so many young people are so focused on self, their worries feed their insecurities that then feed their anxieties and prevent them from breathing and the thought that ‘everything will be ok’ is next to impossible.
It took another 15 years to figure that out.. It’s REALLY not that serious.

At 21 I was an insecure fat Dominican girl experiencing feelings of self-hate, trying my damnedest to keep it all together and failing and that girl back then couldn’t accept that.
My job and how others treated me were the most important things that defined me.
Those two things are still very important to me, my students, what I do, how I am regarded, the difference TODAY, although it may ADD to who I am, they don’t define who I am.

This is One lesson I believe important to put on loop for my students…
‘You’re figuring it out and where ever or whatever it is you believe you should be right now, it’s just a step in the road to where you are headed and who you will become. Relax, just breathe..’


27 de Febrero

This day marks the independence day of a small island in the Caribbean – Dominican Republic.
It is the ONLY example on the planet where TWO countries SHARE land on an island. Two countries that SHARE a past, inherit more like it.. from two European powers – SPAIN and FRANCE

France OWNED Haiti and SPAIN owned D.R.

The way these two former European influences ruled has had a MAJOR affect in what we call the present.

The French treated it more like their ‘slave’ port, whereas the Spanish treated it like their ‘vacation getaway’. This treatment lead to the growth of the Haitian population. Let’s be real, slavery was a trade and the more you GROW it, the more profit.

The population of the Spanish colony stood at approximately 80,000 with the vast majority being European descendants and free people of color. For most of its history, Santo Domingo had an economy based on mining and cattle ranching. The Spanish colony’s plantation economy never truly flourished, because of this black slave population had been significantly lower than that of the neighboring Saint-Domingue, which was nearing a million slaves before the Haitian Revolution.

Needless to say, the Spanish side of the island as well as the French side had enough and broke off the ties… and then the formerly Spanish side had enough of the formerly French side and decided to be INDEPENDENT on February 27, 1844

Today, this day is marked by parades, endless hours of dancing on the streets, drinking with friends, feasting on anything and everything DOMINICANO.. and I miss it

I am half Dominican..
My mother Isabel was Dominican. She was a teenager when she moved to this country.

Here she is with her siblings, my aunt Esther, Giovannia and my uncle Frank. A picture taken in Santo Domingo, in middle school. This was when they all were ‘transferred’ to the USA.

She went to Brandeis High School in the late 60’s, early 70’s and that’s where she met Victor Hugo Chavez, a pimply faced Ecuadorian boy who was ‘fresh off the boat’ as well and Oops! that’s where my story began.

I moved to D.R, thanks to my grandmother when I was in 4th grade up till the end of my 8th year. I went to private school, the ONLY kind of school the children of foreigners or the then middle class go to because the public school system is not easily relied upon UNLESS you go to University. The truth is that the FIRST University on the WESTERN HEMISPHERE was erected in Dominican Republic, La Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo est. 1538

My years in DR..
As a child that knew ONLY spoken Spanish, learning how to write it and read it.. was not easy but it made me, ME..
I learned how to conjugate a verb… English is NOTHING compared to a Romance Language… imagine every single thing, inanimate or not, to have a GENDER… and refer to it in its correct FORM.. yeah, we take pride in our Language.
And the Music, the fast paced merengue
And the food…. a reminder, I am a self proclaimed GLUTTON… I KNOW FOOD
yet one of the biggest lessons was Pride for Country, a.k.a. La Patria

I learned how the entire island was once divided into 5 major tribes before Columbus ‘claimed’ it for his financiers.
I learned of the founding fathers, Duarte, Sanchez and Mella.
I learned of the many poets, artists, musicians, many of them WOMEN… Imagine learning at the age of 10, how NORMAL it is for WOMEN to be instrumental in the formation of the country!
I believe it was thanks to this, this kind of gender-less teaching in my formative years that allowed me to be unapologetic. Questioning my right to exist in certain spaces was NEVER an issue yet I was an overweight child, therefore ‘certain’ spaces were still unattainable.

And there was this ONE class – MORAL y CIVICA translation: Morals and Civics

Now you may think, ‘HUH?? Where does a school get off teaching MORALS to kids?’
There may be so many people that disagree, yet if you have reached a level of enlightenment where you can see how THIS can be a positive, then there is no explaining.
There was no denying that we were being taught right from wrong in our home, or any other Dominican home, as the country is FLOODED with Catholicism and Christian thinking… but what about the homes where those lessons ARE NOT TAKING PLACE??… Where the adults do not communicate nor lead by example?
How amazing if our children were taught the meaning of citizenship, democracy, peaceful cohabitation, respect for your fellow human beings outside of the home?!

Those 5 short years were unforgettable and hazy.. There are things that I do not remember but the impact of the lessons learned lifts the fog in my mind.
Dominican Republic taught me to love Independence despite and because of the struggle it took to achieve it. That it’s best to live free than under the servitude of another, because that would be the same as death

A ser libre o morir enseñó


How do porcupines mate?


This was a line from a movie I LOVE.. the updated version of the ‘Thomas Crown Affair’.. a millionaire who sees a psychologist? And engages in criminal activity? And has a hot red-head come after him? And takes place at The MET? Yeah! That’s my kind of movie.

But as all movies that leave an impression, I think about the lines I remember and somehow am convinced of their purpose.. there is a lesson to be learned.

I am a porcupine… I have my quills ready.. ALL. OF. THE. TIME.. even when I do not feel threatened they are ready.

I know that it is a defense mechanism developed after many years of growth but because it has served me well, aside from it being exhausting, why deactivate?

I don’t trust easily.

Trust is powerful yet fragile and not many people with identity issues give it away successfully. I have made costly mistakes that have resulted in loss of friendships in my youth. I’ve learned that years of gained trust can be broken in seconds and then take twice as long to rebuild.

Yet with those same years, I have also learned the antidote…   Communication.

Communicating can create, build and strengthen trust. The absence, lack of or FEAR of communication will do just the opposite, it can and will destroy it. So how does one not so proficient at communicating experience trust in a relationship? Practice it.

I am in a relationship now. Unlike past relationships, I want this one to succeed.

I believe women have this feeling within them that tells them if the partner they’ve chosen is good. It comes from living that OTHER feeling that tells you when your partner is NOT.
There’s been a long list of worthless personalities that never inspired trust and I knew it and because I never trusted anyone, I didn’t care. But this dude is different.

Another lesson learned, observe a person’s actions alongside their words. Actions will prove or deny words and continued actions can motivate trust. And I must confess, I still don’t completely trust him, something he knows, but he has demonstrated time and time again that I can.
Maybe that’s another way to make way for trust.

As per communicating with my partner, I realize that I sit on my feelings. What I mean is that today, when something happens that doesn’t sit well with me, there are no immediate reactions. It lingers in my thoughts and I think ‘What just happened? Why would he do that or say that?’ It looks like I wear my teachers’ hat outside of the classroom. And I have learned that it can be good but if I sit on them too long, it isn’t good.

When I am in the classroom, for better communication, I don’t react right away. For the benefit of whomever is in front of me, not reacting right away gives me time to try to understand them, as well as gives them time to talk through or explain anything that could be misunderstood. This is my job… It can be DRAINING. But I do it because I care about my students and that makes it rewarding. When it comes to my colleagues, I can see it as professionalism…  again this is my job.

Who ever said this would be needed when in a personal relationship? No one told me…

With my partner, when I don’t open up about what bothers me, it doesn’t ‘go away’. It remains with the rest of my unsettled thoughts and spins into this tsunami that could take out a small oceanfront village, depending on how long it occupies space in my head.

In the past? I would just cut them out completely, no one was worth the agony, the worry, the anxiety, the awkward silences… you name it. But it is different today. He is different.

‘That’s what’s bothering you?’ he would say with a smile. And then go on to explain what he meant or didn’t mean…
The outcome hasn’t always been baby bottom smooth. We’ve had it out a couple of times, and the feelings of ‘I’m done!’ instinctively come up yet lately after the disagreements he says ‘you know I love you.’
That helps.

It’s hard being in a relationship.
It’s even harder, almost impossible when you don’t trust.

I’ve learned that all of the uncomfortable feelings that feed mistrust doesn’t have to exist, just as long as communication does.

Awakening Old Pain

I had to take Childhood Psychology in college for my teaching certificate (circa 1996) and there was a lesson that stayed with me. There are events in a child’s life that can change and sometimes dictate their future, the first time I dived into the term ‘trauma’. I learned at that time that things such as the death of a parent, a loved one is one of the major ones.

My reaction? Huh? What? It didn’t register.

It may seem obvious to many but because my grandmother managed mostly to make the loss of my mother seem less traumatic, I was able to ‘not feel it’ and not see it for what it was, trauma.

The other adversity children could face that can be taken as trauma is moving. I believe anyone could agree that children need consistency, routine, stability to feel safe and a sense of balance.

Imagine removing those variables, breaking the friendships they make, the support systems they create for themselves for whatever reason the adults in their lives see fit. Not all parents can be as successful at protecting a child’s perception like the Jewish dad that created a game out of moving to a concentration camp, but wait, no! That was a movie!

Again I thought, ‘moving’?? I’ve moved about 5 times before graduating high school! and at 22 when I was taking this class had already moved twice after leaving my grandmothers’s place at 17.

I had been on an identity journey since I was little. I maintained that not knowing a parent leaves many questions unanswered about ‘self’. So many little things, the details, the minutiae makes the greatest connections between you and who you come from. And not knowing can be painful. Living day in and day out without knowing keeps the pain alive and I made it my companion while I tried to discover who my mother was.

All I had was pictures of her, a small suitcase of her belongings, and half truths.. People either had nice things to say or nothing at all. Never had a conversation about her with the man I call dad on social occasions and my grandmother had little to say.

I made peace with the fact that I will never know the whole story of who she was and at the same time struggled with the question, ‘If you don’t know your parent, your mother, your father, or your family how complete is your self-portrait?’

I’ve learned that it does not mean you CAN’T complete it on your own, without that knowledge. Everyone can claim who they are without anyone else’s say, anyone’s input or feedback. You have the power to do that. And NO ONE has the right to tell you what you can and cannot do. No one can determine your worth nor has the right or power to tear you down.
This I teach to my students.
When I address them, I add – Not even if those people are the adults in your life.. and I include parents.

Sad truth is that when I give this ‘sermon’ (as I’ve been known to give in my classroom) some students nod.. the students nodding know what I mean. To exist in a household where the adults that care for you hurt you instead, happens.

I’ve been taken to that place lately in my own home, or where I currently live I should write. I am 45 but when the verbal wars ignite, I am transported to that age again. And although emotional scar tissue served its purpose, not being able to feel when you grow up in the ‘hood’ comes in handy, it doesn’t mean I don’t feel today. As a kid I would shrug it off and keep going. Have adults yell and scream commands one moment and act as if nothing ever happened the next, evolves into you participating in the madness or being invisible to avoid being caught in the crossfire. I learned to do both.

I managed to get out, educated myself and traveled as far away, for as long as I could and after 18 years came back.. I planned to stay longer to care for my grandmother but that is proving unsuccessful. And so the stressful thoughts of ‘moving’ flood back.. Only this time it feels like I am forced to mourn my grandmother before it’s time..

I sat in this thought and realized why it hurt more than I thought it would. My grandmother had been everything to me. She has been my mother, my father, my defender and it feels like she’s being taken away from me.. I felt like a helpless child who’s mommy would never come back……. again.

And so two old pains that I managed to overcome resurface.. after all these years. That’s the funny thing about trauma, pops up when you least expect it!
I could blame COVID yet another lesson learned is laying blame where it belongs and giving credit where it is due. Forces you can’t control can never justify your cruelty and thanks to the chaos I am re-welcoming relocating.
No hay mal que por bien no venga‘.

Words never really mattered

‘Tu eres una Mierda! Tu eres nada! Tu no tienes nada! Tu no tienes a nadie!’

translation – ‘You are shit. You’re nothing. You have nothing. You have no one.’

These words were yelled at me while I fed my grandmother. The words came from her daughter.. her eldest daughter, what can classify as an aunt.

‘Why are you insulting me?’ ‘Are you listening to the things you are saying?’

‘Yes!’ she replied, ‘porque tu te crees demasiada mierda y tu no eres nadie!

translation: because you believe yourself to be hot shit and you are no one

I continued feeding my grandmother as I raised my voice, ¡Soy alguien! Sé lo que valgo, sé quién soy, y no tener dinero ni casas significa nada. Esas no son las cosas que dicen cuánto valgo como persona. ¡Usted está equivocada!

translation: ‘I am someone! I know my worth, I know who I am, and not having money or houses means anything. Those are not the things that say how much I am worth as a person. You are wrong!

‘No me abra tu boca!’

translation: ‘Don’t yell at me!’

But I did. I yelled back and louder than I ever have.
Unfortunately, that was my childhood normal growing up. Verbal violence was the way to communicate in the house I escaped at 17 and came back to live in as an adult. And I had enough.

I never thought I would have to keep defending myself to my family after all I have lived. I thought that because they knew my story, my struggles, witnessed my pain, they wouldn’t hurt me, but I was wrong.
She had this look of hate in her face that I just can’t erase.. my family hates me.
That wasn’t new. I grew up as a ‘recojida‘, what many refer as the ‘step-child’, and many never let me forget it.. this person was one of them.
‘You should’ve never taken that one in’ she told my grandmother in my presence about deciding to raise me after her sister, my mother died when she was 21, ‘look at how she repays the favor’.
When I came back from living in a foreign country after 5 years, I asked my grandmother to move back and her response was, ‘I’ll ask your aunt’. It was her apartment but she had to ask her daughter’s permission. The verdict? ‘Your aunt said she doesn’t want people living here.’

And ironically there are many things that she did and has done that could make you believe I am a liar. She can be a kind, generous, loving person yet that day, the hate that emanated from her mouth destroyed all of it.

When you grow up in a household where the ability to communicate does not exist, it’s like living on a terrain filled with hidden land-mines.. you don’t know what will set one off. Some children grow up to avoid, just avoid to feel peace, some children grow up to forget, repress or deny what is real or what happened and some children just build scar tissue and toughen their hearts and live by the thought, if those that I call my family treat me this way, what can I possibly expect from the world?

These are dangerous ways to begin the rest of your life.. and all because of the choice of words or absence of them. My past taught me the importance of choosing the right ones and offering kind ones over none at all. I was able to remove myself from using them to hurt mostly because of what I do.. you cannot face a child with anger in your heart and believe you will say the right thing.

When I have a student, a child before me I see me.. I see the once fat and sad, misfit teenager that lived with fear yet fearless and wanted nothing else but to be loved and belong.. and I talk to her and I choose the words she needed. She may have survived a world where words never really mattered, but the teacher she became today knows they do.

Words do matter.

Fuck it.

My first language is Spanish (romance language), therefore my sentence structure will be awkward to some ‘English only’ readers.. don’t judge

I was programmed. And so have you, programmed to believe, so many things..

Many of those programs have served me.. yet the others have buried me..

I was taught to keep silent about anything that happens to me at the hands of a man as a child…. because its my fault.
Imagine, you have a daughter… and she’s molested and you BLAME HER

Yes, that happens, in too many homes, in too many cultures, in too many countries.

I was molested when I was 8 years old… The predator lived on the 2nd floor of the same building where I live today.. He’s not there but his family still lives there.. A BIG lesson on ‘individuality’.. He attacked me… not his family.

Blame lays on him not his tribe.

That was the first time I experienced thoughts of SUICIDE. I experienced ending my life at EIGHT YEARs OLD…. just to put things into perspective.

I did not stay silent. After that happened.. when he tried to buy my silence.. It ate at me..

It happened after school (4 PM) and my breaking point was bedtime (9 PM)

I sat on this wooden chair in the kitchen, it is still there…. I love that chair.

My grandmother combed my hair and I told her.. with my eyes closed, because I was scared, it was my fault… an 8 year old little girl was culpable of a pedophiles actions

Just some perspective for those that have daughters

The next thing I heard was a BANG – our front door – she went to the second floor and confronted this man.
She believed me.. she defended me… THAT stayed with me.
I was 8 years old and my grandmother believed me.

But what about those that don’t speak up? The defenseless.
What about all of those little girls that are preyed upon, touched in a way that stirs up anxiety, assaulted or worse and fear takes over because they believe it is their fault?

Two out of three girls under the age of 12 will be sexually molested and that is NOT the worst part of that tragic statement. The tragedy is that too many of them will NOT be believed by their guardians. These children will be made to believe it is their fault, even more so if the predator exists within the family.

Because my grandmother believed me it gave me a sense of security and protection from the world. If anything ever happened to me, I can count on her. I know I wouldn’t be the same person if she wouldn’t have believed me.

Fear was the seed that this man planted at that moment in my 8 years but I didn’t let it grow the moment I spoke up.. that courage does not exist in every child and that is why I write:

Fuck it. I will believe every child. I will protect the defenseless.

Believe your children, do not let fear grow in their little lives.

Grateful Immigrant

We are born with the ability to reason, maybe for our benefit first, but no less to reason.

We are born with the ability to cry out for what we need when we are hungry, when we are in pain and when we want what is not in our grasp.

Then there are those that care for us or are obligated to care for us and they teach us to say ‘Please and Thank you’ in response to those needs being met.

That lesson is lost on some… NOT that it wasn’t taught, maybe it wasn’t enforced.. maybe some little ones were so cute.. too cute and their ‘please and thank you’s’ were overlooked.

And therein lies the seed of entitlement.

My grandmother told me a story of a young Dominican girl that came from her war-torn country that gave her nothing’. 

‘But when I came to this country, everything I have is thanks to it.. everything YOU have, everything you will BE is thanks to it.’

So it goes without saying this ugly child learned the value of ‘Please and Thank you’ 

I believe in leading by example and although she never said please nor thank you to me, nor any of her children, a fact that will ring true in many a Hispanic family, I will always remember the day as a teenager when she told me that story.. more like a Tweet if it existed then. 

I stayed at home on a Tues. Election Day and my grandmother who never exits the house, if only to go to the bodega or church, came to the kitchen bare-handed and I asked her, where were you?

‘Fui a votar’

Me: Huh??

‘Yes’, she said. ‘I went to vote’… I don’t remember for who, didn’t even care to ask. The fact that she participated was a pleasurable shock.

That action taught me ‘gratitude’. 


It’s July in NYC and Covid is ‘gone’.

And Covid is not gone… the restaurant below my apartment building abides by the social distancing rules. People wearing and not wearing masks.

I bump into the proprietor of Solace, Dominican entrepreneur realizing his American dream and throwing in the towel as he tells me about the wears of restaurant entrepreneur’s in the aftermath of Covid..

as I sit at Lyn’s place, a ‘healthy eating’ spot that took over the once Mexican spot right below the apartment my family has lived in for nearly 50 years..

‘I’ve been in this for far too long, to not know what’s coming’.. that’s what I heard.

My daughter just graduated high school, I’m done. This is the providers mindset..

A father looking to cash out because his obligations have been met. I will never know what that’s like.

But I do know that as a woman of Dominican descent it gave me great pleasure to see one of ‘my own’ prosper in my neighborhood.

‘I went to PS 192 and IS 195 and G. Dubs (the natives call George Washington High School ‘G. Dubs’) and I appreciate hearing what you’re saying but I’m tired.’

‘When you look like me, there’s so much weight on your shoulders.’

Translation = I can pass for Black and as such, the cards are stacked against me and the obstacles are not fairly adjusted. Whereas a White proprietor can be more fortunate with the roadblocks, I will not.’

The death of George Floyd ignited a movement which the young continue to brave and even though I may not completely understand restaurant business despite the lessons passed on by the person I call father, I know it isn’t easy. Passion is not the only factor that will see you through in the kitchen, yet I have this unmovable faith in our young. 

‘Ultimately, it’s going to be up to a new generation of activists to shape strategies that best fit the times.” 

‘I can’t afford to give up. I must let our students know that they can, even if you’re tired, and rightfully so, they must know that it’s worth fighting. They too must believe that they can realize their dream.’

The cards may still be stacked but we gotta ‘vote in’ a new dealer while changing the rules of the game.

I look around my neighborhood and it surely has changed… and so have I.

I never was what you think of when you hear ‘Dominican’. 

New students still think I’m Asian when they first see me, and so my appearance may break stereotypes as soon as I open my mouth.

I’m the ‘exotic cheese’ eating, PBS, ‘Frasier’ and ‘Columbo’ rerun watching, once in a while ‘Good Times’ grabbing, ‘fix your face’ teaching, no bullshit tolerating, gossip hating, all Latin loving, specific hip hop listening, mask wearing, traveling sapiosexual.

It is hard living in my skin in this time of Covid.

I am who I am


I’m a Latin American woman, born from a Dominican woman and an Ecuadorian man.

My DNA is spread out through an ATLAS of so many cultures, which compels me to reflect on who I am, really?

I thought I was what my grandmother’s told me I was or who they believed they were and where they came from; as a child I believed them.

As a young girl I walked the streets of New York City in the cage I called my body. Looking to be loved for any accomplishment, ignoring all stereotypes established about me. Fair skin, curly hair, artistic girl in a Dominican family… that’s called a ‘pass’. But I was always fat, that, in a Dominican family revoked your ‘pass’. So my rebellious act? Love EVERYONE and identify with EVERYONE and not give a fuck about their thoughts and acceptance.

As a young adult, my struggle with weight was my only focus. It made me blind to every other struggle but never blind to anyone in pain.

Pain was my connection to those around me.

As an adult I began to form my identity based on what I lived and not based on what other’s told me, suggested, believed me to be. The test was to be convinced while practicing compassion for those that didn’t understand nor accepted me.

As a teacher, I became the student. My students taught me so much especially my Black girls.. I won’t include Brown girls because I grew up in a household of them.. I will thank my aunt Esther for filling my space with Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and my aunt Carmen for The Supremes and The Commodores and the Jackson 5.. yes we were Brown but we weren’t Black and my students taught me about that, as much as I thought I knew.

‘You don’t understand, Ms.’

‘But I do’

‘No Ms. You don’t understand.’

It is different. I had to accept it and sit in it and understand.

I reflected on all of our field trips to the many locations where I took all of my children. Every store, every museum, every space.. Why were my Black girls approached differently than the rest? Why?

You have to LIVE it to understand. And so when they spoke of their feelings to me, I stopped with the ‘maybe’s’ and listened and accepted their feelings, knowing I could never understand their PAIN.

And their PAIN was another tie that connected us.

I also accept that with all of the LOVE I may demonstrate to them, some will still question my motives and be merciless if I make one mistake. They are young and forming their characters and deciding who they will become, I hope compassion will be in their arsenal and ultimately see people’s hearts and be so much better in their world than this world has been to them.

I am a better teacher, a better person thanks to them and every one of my children.

Every day, every moment, every experience, every friend, every enemy, every family member, every teacher, every adult as a child, every employer, every job, every country visited, every stranger encountered has shaped who I say I am. And the beauty of that, is the unwavering determination I stand on, so strong no one can convince me otherwise.


Its o.k. if you don’t know what to do, its best to make a decision when you do know than when you are not sure..
Its o.k. to love somebody so so so much but always love yourself even MORE.
Give time time – Dale tiempo al tiempo.. Things that are meant to be will happen naturally, not when they are forced..
Remember what you are worth and how wonderful you are; the person that will be yours will never need to be convinced NOR reminded.
Always look everything and everyone at face value, almost everything is EXACTLY as you see it, then thereafter ACCEPT it if you want it without expectations of change.
Faith and prayers DO work even while all else fails.
Don’t allow failures of the heart to change it, allow each fracture or tear or broken piece to heal and grow stronger. And choose wisely when giving your heart again, the next person should care for it as if it were their own.
Give yourself time with everything, there is no harm in thinking things through.
Enjoy yourself and your time and the things you do, create a little world of your own.
Don’t be afraid to let someone new in and trusting them just a little. They just might be what you were looking for and have the courage to hold on and not let them go.
If you were wrong, again, its o.k., as my mom always says, ‘Mas alante vive gente‘ – ‘there are more people up ahead‘.
The right Love will come along.

WRITTEN August 24, 2012 at 8:08 PM after another failed attempt at Love

Love doesn’t keep score

That passage along with the entire definition of Love can be found in the Bible..
The answer to all conundrums can be found in the Bible..
It’s just that ALL gets lost in translation..
Or conveniently avoided or ignored
But I never ignored that – ‘Love doesn’t keep score’
So how does a single gal decide in today’s world..
Old school gal in the digital age where it seems as if you can ‘order a tailor-made guy’ online.. Not really but ‘soñar no Cuesta nada‘..
At least it offers you a chance to narrow your choices down and avoid what you don’t want.
Black, White, Latino, Asian, 30’s-40’s.. Blue Collar, White Collar, college grad, college drop-out, thinker, do-er, works with his hands, Gets paid to think, limited vocabulary, Shakespearean speaker, single, divorced, with or without children, just starting or starting over.. They are ALL out there but..
Boys will be boys and men will continue to say what they must, in order to get what they want.. And some of us gals too..
Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of those that recognize our faults and maybe because I don’t ‘play dumb’ is because I’m still single..
That need to feel that ‘God-forsaken’ ring on that finger doesn’t rule my every move when it comes to men and never will, so maybe I will remain single..
But now as I have been frequenting a younger than moi, White Collar, Irish American, Single, College Grad that dabbles in the Arts, the literary kind of course (cause God Loves to have a laugh or two at my expense) I have found him to be emotionally unavailable. So I have been what I am NOT.. Patient..
And if you know and love me, you know that that one quality is Not one that I possess, but I have been practicing it out of Love..
Yes, Love..
As we get older Time becomes more and more valuable.. And for me it’s just become even More valuable so the little, unaccounted, indefinite, not promised, precious moments that I have, I invest them well or at least try to, and so he has become a part of my Time…
Even if I sometimes didn’t feel the same in return..
And then there was yesterday..
Blue Collar, older than moi, Irish American, Works with his hands and Loves it, Single and dabbles in the visual arts (cause God still wants to crack up) I have found him to be ready.. But then again, I pity a man that isn’t at 40..
He spoke of many things that scared and delighted me. All the things girls secretly think of.. and would never admit..
And I felt ‘rushed’ in so many ways.. But the thrilling kind that races through you when you’re on the down slope of a roller coaster.. But I feared it as well..
Cause I’ve always been ‘that’ in a pair, the ‘hurry hurry, let’s go’ and I’ve been secretly craving someone to slow me down.. And that’s what the young one does.. His ways has instilled patience and even if it is something I don’t want, it is something I need..
God tends to give you what you need.. Even if it isn’t what you want.. Great Father isn’t he?
So now what?
What do I do?
Those who know me.. And judging by what you have read, what would you suggest?
Even if you know I will do as I please in the end..
What’s the score?

Written April 2, 2012 at 10:48 AM

Snow in October..

October 31, 2011 at 11:30 PM

Meet me at Cafe Reggio at 3 pm tomorrow
A man that can tell me when and where to be with absolution is a man I can adore, respect and fear

and so I did – meet him
and so I do – adore him
and so I will – fear what started last night

The snow began around 11 and I stared in amazement at its downpour from my window
small white shadows flurried down and as the minutes went by turned into giant flakes

What a day? Out of all days… why today?

But if I don’t go? Will he take it as a sign that I wasn’t that interested… when words couldn’t express how interested I was
And if I do go and he doesn’t?…

Just GO

and so I did
at least it will be memorable because of the snow in October
arriving early I sat to wait and expected him not to show up

bzzzz-bzzzz  – ‘Where are you?’ – ‘I’m waiting for my date’ – ‘oh o.k., I forgot’ – ‘Well, I’ll give him half an hour to show up, if not I’m out.’

‘Oh stop! He’ll show’ – ‘oh you know guys, they can be assholes! Oh wait! Here he comes! Gotta go!’

MWHe stood tall and all I saw was his blues eyes
He was covered in small white flakes that quickly disappeared with the warmth of the room
He looked around and I wondered if he remembered what I looked like but then his eyes met mine and the search was over

My heart wants to go deeper

Every woman’s heart wants to believe that the first encounter will be magical and that as soon as your eyes meet his, he will realize that you are what hes been searching for, this unique phenomenon like snow in October… (sarcastically) unbelievable!

The thing was, the ‘thing’ is, that this wasn’t our first encounter
We had met a while ago with our words..

The honest unassuming exchange of words happened between us and that was when I first met him..
That was when my heart began to beat faster
when I read his words..
therefore to have him before me was just the added stimuli that made my heart race
because he turned out to be all his words were

I just maintained this prayer within me that afternoon and evening that he continue to be just that
and that his colors not turn after the sun went down or rose again
that he not be this amazing crazy event that happens once every 50 years, like snow in October
he hasn’t
I’m cautious, I’m back on American soil and I’ve chucked that hard learned Italian lesson about ‘Passione

Lasciati Andare ROSA, lasciati andare‘ – (la-sha-tee  an-dah-re)

Tran: Let yourself go!

and I’m so scared and I’m not scared of the aftermath either
Habit is kind of a miraculous thing like snow in October
if I treat this
like snow in October
this can be this eyeopening
exhilarating moment
that can leave me breathless
doubtful yet wanting to leave the safety of my four walls
looking for needful things to keep warm
wanting to know if anyone else is feeling this enjoyment
because it has been so long
and even if those flakes will never fall again in October
I will savor every second till they hit the ground
and melt
and evaporate – beginning the cycle

for the snow to come

M. Woods

The first 20 years

It’s as if I am writing about a sentence served..
Sometimes living can feel like that… a sentence and you wonder what did you do to deserve such a sentence and sometimes it’s exhilarating and you don’t want it to stop..
That is how I have been feeling lately and it takes me back to the first twenty years of my life.

I had my weekly therapy phone session and I recounted my weekends events.. it was a long list of ‘things accomplished’

Me: ‘I feel great. I really do. I had so much to do and I got it done. I had my Teacher Leaders project, DONE. I had my students grades to complete, DONE. I had my blogs updated, DONE.. well my non profit one is still lacking, but I will get to it. My grandmother is doing better..’ 

Therapist: ‘That’s good.’

I find myself talking more about what’s going on at home for obvious reasons.. I am feeling like a prisoner yet I don’t want to leave.. A mix between complacency and fear and lethargy..

‘I want to let you know that in the last slide of my Teacher’s Leaders presentation, I thanked my family, my friends, my partner John and you’

She laughed softly.

‘Yes, I want to tell you that I appreciate our sessions. I have learned or have unlearned the many things I was obligated to believe in the first 20 years of my life. To be strong and to only count on myself because I can’t count on anyone else.’

10 years oldThe truth is that believing that, allowed me to be the exception to the rule and not the ‘normal’ outcome. Believing that I had to be strong and do it all on my own allowed me to escape all statistics related to young Black and Brown girls. I didn’t end up pregnant as a teen, but I was molested; I didn’t end up an addict, but I did eat my way into morbid obesity; I didn’t end up in jail, but I did my share of dirt; I didn’t drop out of high school, because that was never an option; I didn’t commit suicide even if I did attempt it.. ‘I even fail at that!’ I remember saying afterwards.. my self esteem didn’t exist.. yet I was one of the lucky ones.. I survived it all.

My teenage years were not the best years of my life.‘ My voice cracked.

I did everything on my own and I had no choice but to be strong because in order to get out that’s what I had to be. I wanted better for me. But after being alone for so long, I had to accept that I couldn’t preach one thing in the classroom and not LIVE the message. It felt so false.. like I wasn’t being genuine with them..
I tell my student’s over and over to seek help when they are down, when they feel like breaking down talk to someone they trust. An adult you know has your back and wants the best for you. And SURPRISE! Sometimes that adult isn’t always your mom or your dad.. I know because that was me… and that’s o.k. And so you look for others and make them your family..
I had to test adults.. to see if they cared..

Ms. Manning, one of my heroines

I had two teachers in high school that SHOWED me they loved me. They didn’t have sappy words for me. They were real and honest, and they demonstrated they cared through their actions.. aside from them, I can’t say anyone else was memorable..
my guards were always up.. but I don’t want that for my students. I may have grown up that way but they shouldn’t have to.. Children shouldn’t have to grow up with that weight on their shoulders. They should believe it is o.k. to need someone, to need help.. and look for it, and ask.’

My voice cracked because I was thinking of my students as I recounted my teenage years. I am long past those years and can appreciate today all of the pain experienced but to think that any of my students could be in those same shoes..  hurts.

‘I can only imagine what some of our students may be experiencing at this time. In today’s meeting I told them, ‘I know what it’s like to be a teenager in a home you don’t want to be in. Not having a safe space to go to. Having your own room can be a luxury!’ I didn’t grow up with my own room.. I always had to share space.. sleep with my aunt or grandmother. We were always on top of each other.’ The same apartment I am in now, was shared with tenants, strangers while 5 of us were packed in 1 of its four bedrooms. That could be their reality.’

For the first twenty years I had no external support system, Rosa did it all on her own.

I have entered the belief that although it saved me, it doesn’t save everyone else. So many adults that are lost were children once and so they’re just children that somehow weren’t strong enough. So when I see my students, my children, some may not be as strong as I once was and so I try to be a part of that support system for them.

I am comfortable telling my students that I see a therapist, because I want them to have an example. I know I am a hard-ass for a teacher, with the ‘crazy’ standards, relentless, lives in the classroom because she loves what she does, but hopefully they see ‘she can’t do it alone’ or better yet, ‘she doesn’t HAVE to do it alone’.

‘I am grateful for all of the obstacles and challenges in my life. They have contributed to who I am but I know now that many of them didn’t have to happen. I didn’t have to do it all alone. I am learning to let go and allow people in. And that’s the lesson I have learned through therapy.
Expecting children to be strong and do things on their own has been the normal for way too long in our culture and it has to stop.’


This was a diary entry written 10 years ago in July when I returned to Florence for the summer in 2011
It’s about someone that I was with, when I lived in Florence.
His name was Mauro.
I saw him again that summer.

I was in a relationship with someone else in NYC. 

July 23, 2011 at 5:39 PM

per definizione ci sto con uno…. mi sa che per starci.. e non voglio sentirmi cosi
mi vuole bene, ed anch’io gli voglio bene ma sapiamo molto bene che non sono innamorata, e credo lo stesso di lui
‘sono stato bene da solo, ma la verità e che sto meglio con te’… ho letto
è vero che le donne si innamorano con l’udite e gl’uomini con la vista.. perche una bella donna farà qualsiasi uomo bavare
ma se dici la cosa sbagliata qualsiasi donna può dimenticare tutto il bello che ce stato..
quindi ‘sei stato bene da solo’ può dire anche che non hai bisogno di me…
e che stai meglio non è e non sarà mai abbastanza per una come me..
quindi ‘icché fo?’ (bella roba)
ho visto quello che nel pasato potevo fare qualsiasi cosa per il suo amore, e c’ho provato nei miei limiti
lo trovo bene ed una grande amicizia è rimasta
ho sentito quello che assieme ho fatto delle belle cose, incluso il amore.. e la verità è che lo voglio ancora
si… si, lo voglio ancora
ma sono in un incroccio nella mia vita che sto scoprendo cose di me stessa..
il vivere sotto le regola d’oro – comportati di la maniera in cui vorresti che gl’altri si comportarebbero con te..
quindi non mentire e non tradire, la sincerità per me va altrove della devolezza de la pelle
perche i momenti goduti sono solo momenti che passerano
ma il dolore che rimane può distrugiere tanto..
Per me, ritornare ai posti dove ci siamo stati è stato bello..
è come se stare li, lo avevo ancora.. eravamo ancora
parlavamo ancora.. lo respiravo ancora
ma lui non lo ha voluto
aveva le sue condizzione
come vorrei poter dire di si.. mi fa pensarlo tanto
ma mi sa che continuerò a ritornare ai posti dove ci siamo stati.. il fresco di Viareggio
quella pasticceria a Montecatini.. il bar a Pescia
mi va bene

by definition I’m with someone …. I guess it’s just to be with someone ..
and I don’t want to feel like this
he cares for me, and I him, but we know very well that I am not in love, and I believe the same of him
‘I was fine alone, but the truth is that I’m better with you’ … he wrote
it is true that women fall in love with what we hear and men with what they see .. because a beautiful woman will make any man drool
but if you say the wrong thing, any woman can forget all the beauty that there was ..
so your ‘fine alone’ can also mean that you don’t need me …
and your ‘better’ is not and will never be enough for someone like me ..
so ‘icché fo?’ (trans. ‘what do I do’) Mauro
In the past, I could do anything for his love, and I tried within my limits
I find him well and a great friendship has remained

I felt what we did together was beautiful, including the love we made .. and the truth is that I still want it
yes … yes, I still want him
but I’m at a crossroads in my life that I’m discovering things about myself ..
living under the golden rule – behave the way you would like others to behave with you ..
therefore do not lie and do not betray, sincerity for me goes beyond of the weakness of the flesh
because the moments enjoyed are only moments that pass
but the pain that remains can destroy so much ..

For me, returning to the places where we have been has been nice ..
it’s like being there, I had him still… we were together still
we talked still… I breathed him still
but he didn’t want it
he had his conditions
how I wish I could say yes .. makes me think so much
img_3622but I know that I will continue to return to the places where we have been .. the coolness of Viareggio
that pastry shop in Montecatini .. the bar in Pescia
that’s fine with me

to return

he asked his muse to write to him…. this was my response

March 27, 2011 at 3:53 PM

Is this what
you had in mind..

I remember the sleepless nights I had over six years ago when I first met you..

words on a screen that connected me to you, while I was with someone else.. and so were you.. your words kept me awake, awake regardless of the body laying next to me.. and all my thoughts were of you..

You made love to me in the most penetrable of ways, with your words, with the intellect of you..

no hand, fingers, lip, moist tongue and wet intimate contact could ever compare or obtain what you have of me..

I imagined you..

Used every verb to design you in my mind..
and it did you no justice..

I remember the night I first saw you over five years ago and how we drank to ease the nervousness and even if the love made that night was not what great romances are made of, I kept it tender in my heart and never forgot you.. because you never let me

You surfaced every chance You wanted.. you called the shots and I yielded every time and still do and even if it will end because it Will..
I want it to end me loving you tender and not enraged

remember a woman’s rage, it is never what you want..

yet I wanted you and still do..
thought of you as I lived in a foreign home, your home for years and learned your tongue because English words thrown together thoughtlessly were no longer enough to express what emerged in me when I thought of you, and still does, damn you..

for having that ability
but I will soon act upon the conviction that that Ability you have is because I gave it to you, and I will take it away..

just as soon as I learn how or just as soon as the effect wears off..

its only been about 2,000 days since our paths crossed
even if they decidedly do not run parallel, I can only pray they continue to progress
away from each other,

amore folle

let me go


has never been my friend..

i have named her my enemy from the second i announced my birth..
from the moment i made use of my lungs
and screamed my existence to the world..
when i am suppose to acknowledge her existence
i become undone

i have learned to accept her
because i have realized
that i cannot make it without her

because without her i would have ended my days in an asylum
ingesting small round pills that would
force her into my being

and when anything good
enters my life these days
i ask for her company..
to never leave my side

but i still hate her
because i can never be her
because she can never be a part of who i am and because i need her to succeed..

so forgive me

August FIRST, 2010

It’s been a year since I wrote that entry. The one with the same date that spoke about my adventure with my little cousin Andrew..
At the time I was on route with the planning of my Life, having just moved back from Italy not so long before then.. so much has changed..
And tonight I sit in a comfortable bed in Buenos Aires, Argentina.. 38695_417004531465_1718446_nand it’s like I can’t and can believe it, my being in foreign countries is becoming commonplace but I don’t want to feel like it is, I want to reserve that feeling of wonder when you experience something new..

– 2010








I was granted the opportunity to go to Buenos Aires, thanks to a friend I met and kept from studying and living in Florence, Geraldine Cunto.

Gera y Bea


Geraldine is Argentinian and amazingly talented and comes from a tight knit family that love and support her..  her mother Beatriz, I believe is the force behind that.. My safe introduction to Italy was thanks to her Dad Rolando.. but that’s another post I promise to write..


I stayed in Buenos Aires for one month in August and it was winter, their winter. I was given the opportunity to intern at La Martina and needless to say I had a blast.

Here are some pictures taken while in Buenos Aires..

Of the people, at work, on the bus.. of the market, the gardens, the streets, of their churches, their cemeteries, their architecture, their art, all that speaks volumes about them…


So what now?…


May 6, 2010 at 12:23 AM

It hasn’t been a year since I came back from Italy..
June 3rd will make a year and certain things have fallen into place..
As soon as I returned I took the exams I needed to become a certified teacher and a driver..
I am now a certified high school teacher but have yet to sit behind the wheel..
Work is fine.. I am always fine when it comes to that department.. work, work and more work..
I even have an offer to return to Milan, nice huh? but I don’t want to go back..
I am ready to start in the classroom. I am ready to take on a room of hopeful and helpless teenagers. I am convinced that my calling is Now..
Not bad when it comes to things that can be controlled..
But then there is the ‘matters of the heart’
I have been on and off a ludicrous string of bad encounters with guys..
One was a teacher, David, close to my age with a little girl, she is twelve and even if it was a nice date, five feet away from Scarlet Johansson on a Broadway stage, he never called back..
We had a pseudo love affair in writing.. we wrote and wrote almost every day before meeting and it turned out to be just that.. words
Couple of emails from another guy, Richard, an Eastern European, works in a logistics company in Long Island.. and just as brief was his entrance into my life, so was his exit..
There was Brandon, young Jewish musician, played the guitar.. the most beautiful grey eyes.. but his age became a factor that broke the deal..
and through this entire roller coaster ride there was a familiar face.. actually two familiar faces.. hey when it rains it pours.. but that didn’t work either.. they didn’t work either..
it is as if the five years I spent abroad never passed by, its as if I’m still 29, the age I was when I left because the guys I kept meeting were younger than me.. and sometimes it wasn’t so bad, but then it was.. for me..
I am the oldest in my family.. for all of the siblings that are the oldest, they know what I mean.. I am the responsible one, the dependable one, the strong one.. and I’m tired.. I don’t want this job anymore..
I want someone to be those things for me.. even if I know I will do ALL of those things and more for them..
So along comes this older guy.. lucky number seven years older than me.. Its like my Heavenly Father has always known what I wanted and He placed him down here to meet me.. and he did..
GettyImages-668600109-a0cd92We met three days ago, and I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge with him and walked it back..
We communicated very little before.. I wanted to write more, feel him out with words but I gathered he was the right to the point kinda guy.. so instead of giving in and give him my number, I invented a riddle for my number.. and he solved it and he called
So the Brooklyn Bridge it was, and there was where we met
He’s six feet tall, Irish-Italian and the oldest of four..
I loved, a little too much, that he’s tall.. I loved that when looking straight ahead I saw his shoulders, and the sun beating down on his neck.. We talked and talked of everything and nothing, the best kind of conversations.. till we arrived to Old Fulton Ave. where he wanted to sit and have pizza at Grimaldi’s.. a little pizza place with a looong line, any other day, it would have been inviting, but the sun was merciless and I really wasn’t looking forward to standing in the sun.. but I did, because he wanted to go there..
We ate and talked some more and moved our conversation to the pier one park, right on the water..
One unforgettable moment was when we were sitting together, I was looking in one direction, while he was looking at a couple with a baby.. I glanced over at the couple a few times but continued to look straight ahead at the Manhattan skyline.. he asks ‘Boy or Girl?’.. I swear my heart skipped a beat and I didn’t know what to answer.. he sensed my hesitation and responded, ‘I mean about the couple over there, you’re probably thinking ‘wow, he’s fast!”.. and I laughed, because yes, it was a question that took me completely off-guard.. I looked at the baby and said, ‘its a girl’..and he says, ‘well how did you know that?’, ‘she has pink socks’..
We commenced our walk back to Manhattan, stopped to get water and talked some more..
He spoke of his brothers and of his job and of his past, briefly
Asked me politely if I wouldn’t mind a ride back home and I accepted..
We walked to the garage on Reade St. and I treated him to Starbucks -‘my brother calls it Fourbucks, cause there is nothing less than four bucks’ he says.. ‘Not true’ I said, there’s the cafe Americano.. listen to me defending an entity that has commercialized one of the last legal drugs on the planet to the point of no return.. I got an iced coffee, he laughed at the fact that I had a Starbucks card.
We get on his Pickup truck and drive smoothly to the Westside highway and we spoke some more..
He spoke of his parents.. they met in college and his father was an English major (I secretly loved that) and he told me how his dad corrected his mother’s love letters, I outwardly loved that, I laughed so hard.. That was amazing.. I imagined these people by the way he spoke of them, and the love in his words made me want to meet them..
He left me a block away from home, because I didn’t want to take him off track on his way home.. He would have to continue North towards Westchester..
We briefly kissed goodbye and our lips were a bit closer this time.. The date was over and I rated it a success.. and a success it was, he called the next night..
I want to see him again and I believe he wants the same..
If it were up to me, I would be on the New Haven line as I type away.. but this time around, I want to do things right..
I want what I have never had, that thing that happens to undeserving women and the women of yester-year, I am liking him..
The hours I passed with him on Sunday seemed like minutes, that now seem like seconds.. and I want to experience that again, with him..
Talk again, talk some more, get to know him and him, me..
it’s all new, this is all new to me.. but this time around I wont ask,
so what now?..
This time around, even this will fall into place

August FIRST, Two thousand and 9

Saturday 9:07 p.m.
Woke up at about 5 a.m. realizing Jorge never came back to sleep, just to return my keys.. I guess he found his ride back to New Jersey.. I guess it’s a bitch getting on public transportation from the Heights to Jersey after midnight..
Being my mother’s daughter, I left the bed empty JUST for HIM, Jorge, my cousins’ pseudo brother and Friday night occupant of the empty bed. The empty bed is in Andrews’s room and last night I was on Andrew duty, this meant sleeping near Andrew in case he woke up in the middle of the night.
But knowing he is the Friday night occupant, I slept on the couch and renounced the A.C. cooled room just for HIM. And he didn’t return to sleep in it.
Pissed cause I could have FALLEN ASLEEP in the cold instead of the HOT sofa, I got up and waddled my fat ass to the room. I made sure Andrew was ok, and threw myself in the cold bed… Ahhhhhh – I just LOVE the person that came up with refrigeration.
Woke up again at 9 a.m. This time thanks to Andrew. Went to his crib and attempted to fool him into falling asleep, just for another half hour… please please… yeah right!
So I take him in my arms and take him to the bed, where he asks me for the famous ‘strawberry baba’ which is a bottle of whole milk with strawberry flavored Quik.
I go to the kitchen and prepare his Majesty’s request.
Its wondrous how when a family goes a couple of good years childless, they become a bit frigid and scattered. But when a child is born, it changes everything, the new additions are like Royalty, because everything and anything is done for them. Every want and every need, no matter how frivolous, is a met command. Little fuckers.. you should see this kid, my cousins jump at every little cry.. Before he came, we hardly saw each other. Couple of phone calls here and there to set up missed meetings. Now we are here every weekend to take HIM to the park or the zoo or the museum… Shit!!
But I love it..
So he’s sipping on his bottle, me hoping his eyelids are closing, him becoming more and more awake.. DAMN that was COLD MILK!!… after half of the bottle, he leaps off the bed – Let the requesting continue
Andrew: – I wanna play
Me: – Ok go play
Andrew: – Andwoo and Wousie play
Meaning ‘Get up and play with me’ – so I think for half a second ‘do I let him wander off to the living room and torment my mom or do i get up and start my Saturday at 9 A.M.’ …. tick tock tick tock… ok it was more than half a second.. long enough for him to repeat – Andwoo and Wousie PLAY!!!
I got up
I brushed my teeth and washed my face knowing he would follow me and watch me.. love how little things can entertain little ones of two..
I placed him in front of the idiot box while I made him breakfast for him and I.. mashed a potato for him and toasted bread for me..
Sat him down and hoped he wouldn’t refuse his breakfast as he usually does. Eating is NOT his favorite thing to do, something that makes me doubt he belongs to THIS family.. and so it was.. – No, I don wang potatoes, I wang bread – (Little Dick!! thats MY breakfast, IM ON A DIET!! I WISH I could have potatoes and YOU want my whole wheat toast?!!) I break off a little piece, small enough for him to chew and use the rest to bribe him into eating his mash potatoes… No Good, he eats my bread and the potatoes go to the garbage..
Time for Sponge Bob, but my mom puts some Spanish Cartoons, hating how we speak too much English to him. The lifelong argument ‘Ustedes hablan Español’.. ‘Hablenle Español‘.. well more like commands than arguments..
I fall asleep on the couch and when I wake up (12:30), I have this desire of just Getting out.. GO OUT!!
and Andrew reads my thoughts
‘I wanna go out!!’
so I clean his face and change his diaper and GO OUT!!
All the way to the elevator – my mother – ‘Agarrale la mano, no lo sueltes!!’ and I’m like – ‘NO! Yo lo voy a dejar ir, y que se lo lleve un carro!!!’… Lady I am the oldest Grandchild in this family, I have changed diapers, fed, babysat, helped with the homework, have gone to PARENT-TEACHER NIGHTS in my TEENS!!! are you kidding?!!
so we are outside… I take him to McD’s and I get my iced coffee and nuggets for him.. and then to the 148th street kiddie playground. Now at this moment I’m realizing how DAMN HOT it is, and how maybe it wasn’t such a great idea coming high noon to a playground to let loose this little demon..
He’ll have a Blast and I’ll get sunstroke!!
I’m on him like a tick on a street dog, realizing that his favorite thing in the playground could actually hurt him – the slide! – at high noon?!! that metal slab could cook his little thighs to the touch!! so i explain to him – ‘It’s hot.. you can’t sit on it..’ I touch it with a finger and mimic getting burned so he can understand its dangerous.. He touches it with his little finger and quickly removes it and repeats – ‘It’s Hot!’

So I receive a call from my cousin Tiesha, his surrogate mom, asking where were we..
‘At the park’.. She responds ‘This early?’ Obviously she has done this before… stupid me..
So I take him home… and figured I had all afternoon OFF, with NOTHING to do.. a.k.a Go Insane Time.. so I buy some eggplants and decide to make eggplant lasagna or Eggplant Parmigiana.
Now THIS dish right here, although simple, very few ingredients, takes a DAMN long time to do..
its all in the PREPARATION, slice and egg and bread and fry the eggplants..
and I ALWAYS make too Much, I thought 4 eggplants would be just right, YEAH right!! more like, too much, enough for two trays… but of course NOTHING goes to waste in our family, thanks to our grandma..
My cousin Ralphy was home, Thank Goodness!! Someone else on Andrew Duty..
I clean, slice, soak in water and prepare the eggs for the batter..
I prepare the sauce..
Little by little they all start appearing. Tiesha arrives with her husband and friend of the family, German.
And I cook and fry eggplants and stir the sauce… My grandfather arrives… and I cook…
Tiesha grates the cheese.. Polly O! is more like – Polly Oh Shit that’s gotten expensive!! 6.50$ for mozzarella?!! Whatever!! it’s not even real mozzarella!! so of course get the no frills…
My other cousin Steve arrives, a.k.a. the human vacuum cleaner, and eats some of the fried eggplant slices and this one time I’m grateful, because it was too much..
The ingredients are ready and comes time to make the actual dish that has to go in the oven…
Layer and layer of fried eggplants and sauce and cheese.. one tray… two trays.. and a broken OVEN!! ARGHHHH… so Thank Goodness, I have access to the oven next door.. Next door, another nightmare.. but not bad enough to NOT use the oven…
I go back downstairs, I need diet pepsi..
I run into my aunt Carmen and automatically wish I had my cell on me so I could call upstairs and warn them she was coming up.. she can’t stand my grandfather, her father… long story…
no luck, but oh well..
So the Lasagnas are done, and diets are broken.. they liked it… They BETTER had liked it!!! SHIT!!
I love cooking, aside from it being something to do, I like the end result. It feeds my loved ones.. a good that lately has become a bad, food=love..
Tiesha and German tells us of their nights adventure of drunken women in the heights coming on to their friends, and amongst them JORGE!! Oh so THAT’S where he was!!!
”Morenito, Tu Ta Bueno Morenito!!!’ Yeah I use to think that too, and I too was drunk..
So my aunt and cousins sit in the living room, watching the MJ top ten videos.. Again…
and little by little every one retires to their lives and I remain with Andrew and Fisher Price on the computer.
He KNOWS!!! Every time I sit down in that same spot on the table, HE KNOWS I’m gonna get on the computer and starts..


‘I wanna seeeee.. I wanna seeeee’ translation ‘ Stop what you thought you were gonna do and pay attention to ME’… He’s two.. if he were three I would have shoved his little ass and told him to fuck off.. or maybe its that I’m 34 and my patience has changed or matured or WHATEVER!!
Or is it that maternal thing they speak of.. so I give in and up on my lap he comes and we print out coloring pages and go over our A,B,C’s and play the animal match game… DAMN! My Leg is falling asleep!!
Grandma: – ‘Toma! Dale de comer
YIPEE!! Feeding time for the little one and FREE time for me.. my aunt Carmen proceeds to feed him and I’m finally on and after checking some emails realize it wasn’t much that I HAD to do, and I would love for him to bug me again..
I wanna seeeee, I wanna seeeeee…
my cousin Tiesha starts cleaning and cleaning and the cleaning extends to the fridge.. wow, the fridge..
now the fridge in our house is not just the household appliance used to store food… it has become the appliance that stores food that then becomes scientific experiments that can evaluate the length of time foods can be stored WITHOUT going BAD.. You CANT throw food away in this house.. The only acceptable way food can be discarded in this house, is through a mouth. Willing or not, food will be reheated, rehashed, reused and/or recooked to be ‘re’served without us knowing. It is RIDICULOUS!! Fine, my grandma has lived through wartimes but COME ON!! Are you willing to food poison your family cause you don’t want to throw away last month’s half eaten birthday cake?!! I can see it now – 78 year old grandmother of Thirteen taken away in handcuffs for poisoning her family by serving two year old frozen beef steaks!! IM TOTALLY SERIOUS!! That was the last thing my cousin threw in the garbage – meat dated 2003!!
Now guys, don’t get me wrong, it is safe to eat in my house.. i do make sure all ingredients are freshly bought, its just be cautious of anything left to be defrosted!! KIDDING!!
My cousin’s wife and friend, Nancy texts me – ‘The lasagna was great, my mom Loved it’… SEEEE, it’s safe to dine at the Carvajal’s..
Time for Andrews’s bath and the last strawberry baba of the day…
He’s out on the sofa like a meth addict after his dose.. eyelids closing, head wobbly and arms fallen over, not wanting to let go of the bottle… OFF you GO MY MAN!! To bed it is… and I sit finally free of him, able to get back on the computer…
and tell about my August FIRST, Two thousand and 9

So whats new?….

May 6, 2009 at 8:36 PM

I returned home in December, cioe’ New York.. I departed Tuesday the 2nd… at JFK, took a cab, wishing that part of my life (airport arrivals) was more like the film ‘Love Actually

And re-realized that my life is not like in films.. but maybe one day it will be the storyline FOR one.. with my luck, I will be dead and will not get to see a dime…

I arrived and my mommy was downstairs waiting for me… this part I live for… she is my constant factor, bene o male, my common denominator, my security blankey, the one that knows what buttons to push, because she was the one that installed them, but lets move on, (She’s a whole other blog)…. she had my cab fare in hand.. what? did you think she would be downstairs in the cold waiting for me out of the goodness of her heart??..
I dragged my suitcases upstairs and realized that ALL of the plans I had, from the second I arrived were all ‘ralentate‘.. (to slow down).. If I keep stopping to think of the word I want in English, I will be done when it’s time to fly back in July.. I wanted to see so many people but didn’t have the time, and to make things worse, I got a head cold..
Moving on..
For the first days I stayed mostly home, I spent more time with my mom this time around, and I don’t regret it..

Little AndrewI saw Andrew again, he has gotten so big.. he called me ‘Annie’ cause I guess ‘Rosie’ was harder to pronounce.. I had bought him a coloring book, crayons, and markers at the Munich Airport.. and I saw how he loved to sing and dance to commercials on the Hispanic channels and how he would say ‘one, two, four, five…’

His father says he doesn’t like the number ‘three’… He’s so beautiful

Thursday came and I get a call around noon…
‘Hello, una sega…’ (literally in Italian : a hand job, kinda-like when we recapitulate ‘my ass’ when responding; ‘Hello’ – ‘Hello, my ass’)
right then and there I knew who would be so refined as to answer in such a way my morning Hello… Matteo Tucci… and the country boy from Florence it was.. he was in New York City.. too
I remember inviting him to lunch when I was in Italy and knew more or less that I was either going to take him to Smiths or to Danny’s job…
I never went to Danny’s job but I wanted to go and in as much as it was on Park Avenue I figured, Why Not?.. and so it goes..
We went that same day.. reservations for two at Park Avenue Winter.. I went to where he was staying on Sullivan Street by West 4.. took a cab and headed to lunch..
It was BEAUTIFUL… absolutely beautiful.. the whole place.. Danny pulled out all the stops.. is that how its said?..
We ate soo much.. from a simple entree to filet mignon, to salmon tartar.. and I had mimosas all the while.. and afterwards Danny took us down to the kitchen.. awesome as well.. there is a private room with a round table where you can sit and eat while viewing the kitchen..
He was impressed.. the usual question came up.. he asked.. ‘Rosa, what the hell are you doing in Florence?’..
aside from his initial reaction to when we entered the restaurant
Rosina, ma questo e’ un posto serio‘.. (Rosina, but this is a serious place)
DUH!! country boy, where did you think I was going to take you?..

It is funny how we perceive people.. how we think that they are above us when in reality, we are on the same wavelength or maybe sometimes we are higher without even knowing it.. and that’s how it was.. between him and I… the only thing that separates us is money.. the amount of money.. because when you look at us, I have studied and have achieved more than a degree, have more than 20 years of work experience that was NOT obtained in my father’s company, know and speak three languages and depend only on me.. He can’t say the same
But it’s funny how that it was because of his ‘simplicity’ that I loved him so..

Moving ON..
I spent some time with myself.. I walked around Chelsea, discovering Barnes and Nobles is no longer on 6th and 22nd.. and had to walk to Broadway and 17th.. and stopped at EXPRESS and bought an undeserving Asshole some gifts.. and H&M.. HSFIand went to Fashion High.. why not? My steps always take me there.. I saw Ms. Barnett and Ms. Riviere and Ms. Trottman.. my old high school teachers.. and while I love re-seeing them.. it makes me feel old.. or rather it sets me back into my reality.. that it has in fact been ‘sixteen’ years since I graduated high school… SIXTEEN YEARS.. shit!! and I am happy to think that I have accomplished MORE than what I thought I would have by now… but maybe… or rather I have EXCHANGED experiences for others.. the important thing is not to regret.. and I keep asking myself… will I? The important thing for me was to finish my year in New York City.. among my family and friends, and I did..

I ended my 33rd year at home.. and I began it there..

I went to Smiths and ate ceviche, made by my littlest brother Alexis…
met Friends from the past.. David and Rafael.. and the most important people of my life.. Tiesha, Ralphy, Steve, Michelle and the beings that are now a part of their lives.. and Hugo and Victor, all on the 13th…
NOT to speak of the beautiful get-together hosted by Ms. Lovell herself.. and my seeing my handsome prince again… but that’s another BLOG…
Its 4 a.m. here in Italy.. I am watching ‘QUIZ’ in Italian… and I have to go to sleep..
But I will continue this one..
I’m not done.. because this is not all of it..

Written while living in Florence

But there isn’t a pill for that..

January 4, 2009 at 8:18 PM

For my indecision.. to settle my mind
For my upset stomach? Of course.. a headache? Certainly..
For the lingering pain on my lower back? .. I found some caplets for my acidity that can take care of that..
But what about my racing thoughts?
Something for my constant need to know if I’m taking the right road?
A pill just in case I regret the decisions I make?
Is there something I can take?
There isn’t a pill for that..
What about my shortness of breath?.. wait, my asthma isn’t a problem anymore..
But the seconds that tick away are..
The seconds that turn into minutes like the sneeze that brings on a cough..
Quick, take vitamin C, yet there is no stopping the clock..
There must be something to make me feel happy? Yes there is
There must be something to numb the pain? Yes there is
But nothing for my worries..
Nothing for the possibility of failure, for love unrequited
Nothing for the dread of reaching that last minute unaccomplished..
Still no pill for that, but there is one cure
And like all effective medicines, it never goes down smoothly..

Its called living..


Written while living in Florence, 2009

Cinco Años… Five Years… Cinque Anni…

April 25, 2009 at 7:21 PM

Me fuí, lejos, bien lejos, pero descubrí que no hay distancia quando hay amor
I left, far, very far, but I discovered that there is no distance when there is love
Mi sono andata, lontano, molto lontano, ma ho scoperto che non ce distanza quando ce amore

Un año se convirtio’ en dos y despues tres, gracias a la magia de transformarme, que aprendí de niña
A year turned into two, then three, thanks to the art of assimilation that I learned in childhood
Un anno divento’ due e dopo tre, grazie alla grazia d’il trasformarmi, che ho imparato da bambina

Y despues de cinco años, lloro porque en mi corazon no era sufficiente
And after five years, I cry because in my heart it wasn’t enough
E dopo cinque anni, piango perche’ nel mio cuore non e’ stato abbastanza

Estos años me han enseñado tanto, me han hecho fuerte para lo que me queda de hacer
These years have taught me so much, they have made me strong for what there is left to do
Questi anni mi hanno insegnato tanto, mi hanno reso forte per quello che mi manca da fare

Fueron mi decision y mi destino que me dieron risas a carcajadas y lagrimas como un río
They were my decision and my destiny that gave me hearty laughter and tears like a river
Furono una mia decizione ed il mio destino che mi hanno datto delle risate e delle lacrime come un fiume

Me confermaron que de nada se puede arrepentir solo aprender y seguir adelante y esperar
They confirmed that you should never be sorry for anything, just learn from it and continue and wait
Mi hanno confermato che di niente se ne puo’ pentire solo imparare e proseguire ed aspettare

Porque lo mejor está por llegar
Because the best is to come
Perche il meglio sta per arrivare

You’ll see



A reflection written while living in Florence about the 5 years I lived there from 2004 – 2009

It does take everyone

The first decades of my life made me believe that you can do it all on your own..
Every obstacle life throws at you can be overcome and all you need is the true desire to want to be better off than your predecessors.. ‘wanna get outta the ‘hood? do it, only person stopping you is you’.
Yet what I have learned after being in the classroom and interacting with parents, single mothers, involved fathers, grandmothers, older siblings is that it does take all of us to assist in the making of a successful human being.

Today is the birthday of a former student, now almost graduate of FIT with a Bachelors in Fine Arts, for Fashion Design, not surprised if it will be Summa Cum Laude after experiencing first hand his incessant need for perfection.
I first met Fabian Salazar as a freshmen back in 2012. He was in his element at Fashion High. He came to school dressed to the nines with full on makeup, and six inch heels and his confidence was contagious. He was a cross between ‘the cool kid’ and ‘the nerd’, a combination not many know how to carry nor commit to. He was known to students and teachers alike, all for positive reasons and that’s why I always cared for his growth.

He was enrolled in my Fashion Illustration class and learning Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator could’ve been more challenging than his drawing skills, but he got it. Fabian 10th gradeDrawing fashion illustrations came naturally to him and his conviction of becoming a future designer along with his dedication is what compelled me to enter him in an Art competition at the time.
I remember going to the event seven years ago, knowing he would be there yet being surprised to meet not only his mom but his dad too.
The reality is that I gave into the real yet stereotype that not many LGBTQ children are supported by their parents, some even disown their own children when they come to learn of their children’s nature and the casualties are higher in minority communities. I thought ‘he’s Ecuadorian so don’t be surprised if they don’t show up’, but I was wrong.
Fabian and ParentsI met a very beautiful young proud mom worthy of being a protagonist in a telenovela and a young modest dad that thought showing up for his son, was just ‘normal’ and then and there I remember thinking, ‘I don’t have to worry about him’. He’s going to be o.k.

There’s something that happens with teachers and some students, or maybe it’s just me.. When we meet certain students, that have this flicker, a hidden talent that we get to witness and there’s something that makes us want to protect it, protect them, nurture them.. and we worry about them and do what we can to make sure they thrive.. that doesn’t happen for all or to all, because I’ve also learned that it takes both the teacher as well as the student to WANT that flicker to ignite.

And Fabian’s flicker has slowly ignited into this flame that has the promise to burn all other houses down.

He has been patient and meticulous and non-discriminant about what he is willing to learn. His openness about what he can absorb has known no bounds and that drive lead him to enter Brooklyn Fashion Week by the end of his 3rd year of high school.

He composed a 10 look collection that met the standards of professional designers featured that year. To be that young and to know what your purpose is, is not experienced by many and to do humbly is an even bigger feat.

I remember wanting him to participate in Fashion’s Study Abroad Program that takes place in Florence, but experiencing a problem that I somehow didn’t understand. I went as far as going to the Italian Embassy so they could explain what the obstacle was. He had an Ecuadorian passport and the expiration date on it was too close to his return date to NYC. I still didn’t understand. That afternoon his mother called and tearfully said ‘Ms. Chavez’ he’s a dreamer’, confused I thought, ‘well of course he is, he’s full of ideas!! That’s what keeps his talent going’, I was clueless.. She was referring to DACA. Even though she may have thought it shameful, it made me respect him even more. The path he was on was non reliant on government assistance, and it was proving to be successful. The only thought was, how will he be able to finance college without financial aid? That remained to be seen.

Fabian Prom
Fabian at Prom

Fabian went on to do the things all American high school teenager do, go to prom and graduate and get accepted to college.

High School grad
Class of 2016









At FIT, he received his Associates in Fashion Design and then moved on to his Bachelor’s, which he is scheduled to earn at the end of this semester.

Associates Garment
Associates Garment

Bachelors Thesis
Bachelors Thesis

All while working job after job as well as tutoring other students at FIT and student teaching at Fashion High.

CTE award nightFabian has also shown to be a promising young adult. He was there to celebrate my successes, as I was there for his. He came to cheer me on the night I received my first CTE Teacher of the Year award.. He has given me faith in what some call ‘kindness’ by simply showing up. Generosity of time is rare and not many give it, therefore I am in awe when I witness it.. I definitely couldn’t have achieved an award such as that one without having students such as him… I believe the success of a teacher can be measured by the success of their students.


Today on Facebook, his mother posted a beautiful happy birthday reminder, letting him know how much of a blessing he has been and how proud she is of him. Fabian Toddler

Fabian and MomI never doubted that, as her written love note for her son took me back to the days she use to call my classroom after school to check that he was indeed in the building and not in the street. for a teacher this could be concerning because you think that there is no trust between parent and child but I slowly came to realize her fears..

She is the mother of an LGBTQ child, worse, a PROUD LGBTQ child that didn’t care what the world thought and more power to them but the fact was that the only TWO places that cared and protected him was school and home..
we still live in a world that will hurt you, even see your death because you are that way.. and that was her fear
and so I welcomed her calls and reassured her he was o.k.

And today he’s more than o.k.

I believe that he would’ve gone this far all in his own because he’s not only talented, he’s resilient and tenacious and driven. All traits you must possess to thrive…
but he had a loving and supportive mother there for him, loving him unconditionally.
A loving family, father, grandparents, siblings.. a network of friends that formed a village to carry him through.

It breaks my heart to know so many LGBTQ children do not make it this far.

Fabian Today





I made a mistake…

thinking that other ways of ‘getting to know’ people would be different…
Or rather that the reason why some people use these methods were different.. but they aren’t..
Stupid me
Man will always be man, doesn’t matter what century or millennium or level of technology.. if you go by donkey or on Eurostar.. the nature of man will  never change..
And where does that leave us that wait.. we aren’t looking.. because in the end, you can look till you go crazy but what is destined for you will happen, whether you look for it or not, therefore.. I will wait and that’s it..

I was doing it because I don’t have the physical time to be at the ‘bar’, nor the latest trendy spot for happy hour.. but better yet, because we are connected.. always connected.. to this web.. wireless..
I thought, why not try.. I’m already on it, looking at my family from a distance, talking to them, laughing with them and my friends I left behind.. and so I was at the mercy of this thing that lays on my lap as if it were a part of my body.. without a wire..
but in love, ‘Rosa’ I say to myself.. ‘how do you think it possible to make contact ‘wireless’’..
if that relationship is like fabric, so many threads interwoven to make something as fragile as silk, easy to damage if you do not take care for it or it can be strong like cotton that stands the test of time for better or worse..
and it covers you, first your heart, ever so slowly, then your body..  your legs, your arms and finally your head.. cause if we speak frankly, when we fall in love, the heart is in command of everything.. everything.. it is not your eyes that look, it is your heart.. then later.. after many years.. 10, 20.. 30 if you’re lucky like those before you, that’s when your head takes over (logic).. How can you stand someone after all that time, without logic?!! Come On!!

But it’s always beautiful.. that fabric
if it weren’t for fear that stops us..
Wrong or not..
I’ll wait


This is the translation of yesterday’s post on my experience of online dating while living in Florence.

In Italian the word ‘filo’ means both WIRE and THREAD, therefore when they say ‘senza filo’ that means wireless. This is where the comparison of wireless to fabric comes in.

Quién soy

I was born December 1974 in Washington Heights, New York City, back when the Children’s hospital of Columbia Presbyterian was known as Sloane Hospital for Women.

Hugo y Chavela

My mother and her family came from Dominican Republic while my father came from Ecuador; they were high school sweethearts at Brandeis, and only one year after graduation I came along.

And a year after that my mother passed away, leaving her mother to raise me.

My grandmother never finished elementary school in her country and never returned to school. Although she never received a formal education and spent most of her time as the ‘maid’ in her own rural home, her manners were not those of an ignorant country girl. She is soft spoken, courteous, considerate, and well-mannered with a profound respect and appreciation for knowledge and education.


Growing up, she moved the entire family to her country and at that time I entered the fifth grade. Not only were all the classes in Spanish, there were subjects I didn’t know existed. The Spanish wasn’t a problem because my grandmother never allowed us to speak English at home. ‘Cuando entren por esa puerta, hablen español, y solamente español. Aquí somos Hispanos y aquí se habla español!’. She was very definite in all her demands and never wavered and even if at the time we hated to have to just watch Spanish channels or translate everything for her, I don’t think she is aware of the huge ‘favor’ she did us, or maybe she does.

School in Dominican Republic was extremely challenging. It was unlike school at P.S.192 in Harlem; I still remember that fourth grade year before we departed. The first half of the year I was placed in an advanced class, a very diverse set of faces, white, black and Hispanic children but when January came around and my grandmother decided we were leaving, she went to the school to have me changed to an ESL class. She believed it would be better for me to be in a class with other ESL kids before our departure. I hated it, the lessons seemed to drag on and everything became so boring; the little fire I had within was slowly dwindling.


When we arrived, it’s as if I had entered another time on another planet. The hot climate, the pebbled roads, the barefoot half-dressed kids in the streets begging for water or armed with wooden boxes offering to shine your shoes for a quarter, it was all surreal and initially didn’t make sense just as the ‘Morales y Civica’ classes and ‘Caligrafia’. In my former school, morals and civics were never discussed and they surely didn’t care for calligraphy. So after a while when I noticed that classes such as algebra and physics were part of the daily routine, that became the norm, and the little fire began to blaze again.

As middle school came to an end, the matriarch decided it was time to go back to the States because according to her, an American high school diploma would be more considered than one from the islands when applying for college. She covered all her bases, sending us to an English institute on weekends to make sure we wouldn’t forget English and sending us to an Art school after school when she noticed we had talent, because despite her limited schooling she knew that given talents cannot grow if not given the means to flourish.


I was shipped to my father in Astoria, whom by that time had a family of his own. He had remarried and was on his fourth son when I started ninth grade in Long Island City High School. My father at the time was also going to night school to further his career as a Chef in a restaurant where he started out as a dishwasher in the late 70’s. We rarely saw him but were constantly reassured that this sacrifice was for the greater good.


High school came and went and many thanks are given to the teachers that made it bearable. Ms. Rifkin, the guidance counselor at LIC High School, whom informed me, after viewing my amateurish portfolio of dressed models, that there was a High School in Manhattan that catered to future ‘designers’ such as me. Mr. Cohn, the Occ. Ed. Teacher that said ‘Choose a career that you LOVE and you will always Love to go to work’ will always remain fresh in my mind as well as Ms. Carter, my first fashion design teacher that always kept me busy, because she noticed my restlessness and even allowed me to repair the sewing machines when they jammed. And I will never forget Dorothy Strauss, former English teacher, because she said I should be a teacher. The mere words made me laugh and I excused my laughter, because I thought them a bad joke, but she saw something I didn’t and she was right.

I obtained a spot in the SVA program, sponsored by the NYC Dept. of Ed., for CTE students that aspire to become high school teachers within their subject. The year I started, only five students were accepted into the program, out of over ninety applicants. I was the only young woman as well. After five years, you are guaranteed a spot as a teacher in your trade, but I was told that unlike other fields of study, in order to teach my field I need a college degree. Then there was FIT.

In the FIT years, I substituted in order to pay the rent and every other expense that came my way. Two years was the initial plan but an Associates could never be enough for someone like me and then came the Bachelors. Magna Cum Laude was more like it and the last year spent studying abroad in Italy finished that period in my life and commenced the next. I was taught to always follow through on all plans and never deviate from the plan therefore after graduation, the plan was to return and start teaching; that was not what happened. One year in Italy turned into five and that’s where I truly learned that ‘life is what happens when you’re busy making plans’.

Florence 2007

Aside from all of the art and design lessons and jobs as designers I had in Italy, my experiences in this new culture have taught me the following: work to live and not the other way around, make time to enjoy what is truly important, and yes, for better or worse, family is truly essential. Get to know them and you’ll get to know yourself. If there isn’t time to do it now, relax, there is always tomorrow, the world will not end if it doesn’t get done right away. Appreciate your health and body by eating right and exercising, if you don’t have your health, you have nothing. Spend time amongst your friends or people that can add to your talents and skills and never, ever waste a day. I really believe that it all summed up to make me a better teacher for my future students.


I returned June 2009 and while I awaited a teaching job, accepted a temp designer job in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I knew I wouldn’t stay but the more I could learn about anything design, I accepted. I never cared for the money I earned, as long as it was enough to live on and cover my student loans, I was actually happy because I saw its actual value, building my knowledge for my students. And so it happened, I began as a fashion design teacher in September 2010 at Fashion Industries High School, eighteen years after I graduated from that same school.

I’m on my third year and can see myself being carried out in a body bag. I am one very happy, satisfied, exhausted, restless, dedicated, and devoted teacher that knows she made the right decisions in the short path she has lead thus far. I am also aware that there are many more hurdles and the fact that I welcome them proves I am insane. I can add this Masters as one, and I am confident I will achieve this one as well. My experiences are not over. I make it a point to learn something new every day, the more I know is the more I can teach my students. My travels do not define me, they just add to who I am becoming. It is my belief that a true teacher should never give up in their quest, to believe and accept that you can never stop learning is the true path to greatness (along with humility, something else I picked up in Italy) To believe you are done when it comes to your field is when you are actually done. ‘The day you stop learning is the day you die’ – Ms. Wright, Speech and Communication teacher at City College.

So far, it has been exciting to live the life of a young woman born from Hispanic immigrants. I have been the example of all that is preached in this country, ‘work hard and there is nothing you cannot achieve’, ‘the opportunities are out there, you just have to want and go after it and it will happen’, a true product of the American dream. Besides everything that my grandmother has done for us and the example my father has given, I have also realized that it was all possible because I wanted it. This is the ultimate lesson I want to teach my students.


This was written as an assignment in 2013

while earning a

Masters in Instructional Technology at NYIT

Ho sbagliato..

December 26, 2008 at 6:35 PM

pensare che alcuni mezzi di ‘conoscere’ gente fosse diverso…
ovvero le ragioni d’il perche alcuni usano questi mezzi erano diversi.. ma non lo sono..
ingenua io
il uomo sara’ sempre uomo, non importa che secolo o che millenio o il livello di tecnologia.. se si va in asino opure nel eurostar.. la natura d’il uomo non cambiera’ mai…
e dove ci lascia a noi che speriamo.. non cerchiamo.. perche alla fine puoi cercare finche diventi matta ma quello che sta a te, succedera’ se lo cerchi o no, quindi… io spero e basta..
facevo perche non ho il tempo fisico di stare al ‘bar’, ne all’ultimo ‘hotspot’ a fare il aperitivo.. ma meglio perche siamo collegati.. sempre collegati.. a questa rete.. senza filo.. pensavo perche non provare… ci sono di gia’, guardo alla mia famiglia da lontano, parlo con loro, rido con loro e gl’amici che ho lasciato in dietro.. e quindi ero alla misericordia di questo affare appogiato sulle mie gambe come una parte d’il mio corpo.. senza filo..
ma nel amore, ‘Rosa’ mi dico a me stessa.. ‘come ti viene in mente fare contatto senza filo’…
se quel rapporto e’ come il tessuto, tanti fili intrecciati che forma la stoffa che diventa fragile come la seta, facile di dannegiare se non la curi o diventa forte come il cotone con le prove del tempo e le cose condivise, bene o male..
e ti copre, prima, piano piano il cuore, dopo il corpo.. dopo le gambe, le braccie e finalmente la testa… perche parlando chiaro, al inizio quando ci innamoriamo fa tutto il cuore.. tutto.. non sono i tuoi occhi che guardano ma il tuo cuore.. e dopo.. dopo tanti anni.. 10, 20.. 30 se sei fortunato come i tuoi, c’entra la tua testa, ma come si fa a sopportare qualcuno per tanti anni se non e’ la logica, Via!!…
ma e’ sempre bello… quel tessuto
sennon fosse per la paura che ci ferma…
sbagliata o no…

Rosa I. Chavez

Written while living in Florence 2008

The entry is in Italian because while living there I had to reprogram that part of the brain that controls language and speech to think and speak in Italian. And so I found myself thinking and speaking in Italian more often, after all in order to survive in a country that is NOT your own, the more you know and apply of their culture, the better your success. Immigrants and first generation Americans can relate to this.

At first it wasn’t very difficult because I had taken up Italian at FIT for 4 semesters in a row and the fact that my first language was Spanish, learning another Romance Language, Italian came less challenging.

If you copy and paste the entry, a lot can be LOST IN TRANSLATION, so I decided to touch upon the reason behind WHY I wrote it; the feelings that can arise from Online dating in a foreign country. Yes, I went there. I took ‘finding love’ to the world wide web in Florence and although it was very prevalent in the USA by that time, Italy had it’s own perspective of it. Hint, it wasn’t positive.

I found Italians to be very passionate people, passionate about everything and that was my allure for them. The thing about passion in Love is it ultimately requires contact, for it to achieve authenticity. You can’t fall in Love with someone solely via internet, but you CAN get to know them. Technology became a tool for that, yet Italian men did NOT see it that way…

And so my lesson in meeting Italian men via this method was a very interesting experience.

I promise to write about those soon..


The first time I learned about tragedy was in my high school English Lit class when I was 16 and the book that introduced me to that term was ‘Death of a Salesman’ by Arthur Miller. Old Willy Loman believing he was worth more dead than alive to save his family is the beautiful pseudo metaphor that plays out in so many different ways in real life.

Tragedy for example and by definition is taking the loss of a life in order to change the course of a journey. It propels one to examine the value of a life and the extremes that may exist and if one dares to reach them.

To believe we are not experiencing that today would be considered foolish. A single invisible organism has done away with more than 3,000,000 lives on the planet in the span of about 7 months. Each of them made part of a family, was a sister, a mother, a brother, a son, a cousin, a provider, a friend, whom for some is the same as family. And each one of those lives are the definition of tragedy.

In America, it’s taking a virus to clear up the fogged lenses some have about the state of education and wellness.

In America, it’s taking a virus to uncover how some feel about other people’s lives over their own prosperity.

In America, it’s taking a virus to further expose the disparities between races and their inherited poverty.

In America, it’s taking a virus to obligate us to focus, tragically on what really matters.

As I stand on a line to get examined for antibodies, I can’t stop but think not so much on how this has turned my life upside down, I think about when we arrive to a new normal, what will it look like?

Thinking ahead has served me well in my profession and so I have long allowed it to make part of my DNA

What will we learn from this tragedy after we have experienced physical isolation for so long, after we have radically experienced ‘no contact’, which could only add to human mistrust?

What can we learn from this tragedy while time passes by without our consent, how dare it! and each day melts into the next. These past 42 days has reintroduced the topic of incarceration and solitary confinement to my woes and empathy is all I can feel. And then my thoughts take me to the demographic breakdown of the incarcerated and rage is what I feel.

I step into the clinic and the masked healthcare worker announces that the visit is $200 if you do not have insurance… $200 in a time when unemployment applications have hit an all-time high, can we say ‘The Great Depression of the 21st Century’? $200 in a time when farmers are euthanizing their livestock and discarding their crops but all I can think is ‘I am so lucky I have insurance’, while the man 6 feet away from me states in Spanish, he’s in a shelter and only has Medicaid, realizes he cannot get tested and leaves.

My mind goes to my students whom I haven’t seen in 36 days and I think, I miss them. I normally postpone that feeling for the end of June but not this year. This year, this virus has bound me to their realities, confront the inaccessibility’s many have to the technologies some take for granted and come to terms with the fact that they are the casualties of their parents choices and limitations and I practice compassion. While others experience time pass by in their backyards, their basements, their attics, spare rooms, tree lined neighborhoods, many of my students pass their time in cramped apartments, some in projects and some not, with thin walls and light floors, without personal space yet with siblings, extended family members that may be compassionate or not. Some may have food every day and some may not, some may be the caretakers in their homes and some hopefully still are allowed to be adolescent.

My kids, as I sometimes refer to them, realities may read as tragic but like all tragedies, they do not last. This too shall pass and I want to believe they will be stronger for it. I too, grew up in a cramped apartment with no personal space, throwing a mattress on the floor every night and having to share the bathroom with extended family members as well as paying tenants that helped make ends meet. This and more were a part of my reality and my perspective at the time was not tragic, it was just plainly my life and I survived just as they can and will.

And I take a deep breathe….

It’s taking this virus to reimagine a better future for learning and healthcare and what it will take to make that happen; no longer should profit take priority over human life.

It’s taking this virus to bring out the best in human beings, capable of acting on kindness and selflessness and finding the courage to defend the vulnerable.

It’s taking the virus to rethink and restructure the status quo and learn to choose leaders that deliver because their track records show they serve the public and not themselves.

And when all of this is over, living in our new normal, let’s remember this and learn from it…

because it shouldn’t take a tragedy to place things in perspective.