A Clearer View

Honestly, have you ever seen her get mad?

In my head, I’ve been true to myself. In my head, I smiled only when I meant it. In my head, I saw no reason why I wouldn’t be able to show you the path leading to the real me, and that the view to my little glass house was HD.

But while the mind fools us by showing us only what we want to see, the eyes wink and say, “Oh well, I still have a clearer view.” But then again, those eyes — they usually don’t belong to you. It’s someone else’s view.

And for some reason, they can’t see your Charlie Brown shoulders; that the struggle to keep your back straight and your head up is millennial-real; that you’re tricking your eyes to stop looking into the distance because you know you’ll drift away to a place where only you, your heart and your thoughts know how far you can go and never return.

And when you hyperbole every word that comes out of your mouth, they can’t tell that you’d actually rather be lying on your mat or in bed with your mouth shut and your eyes closed, because they’re better at carrying your weight, that load that gets heavier by the day.

Tangled up in your sheets, listening to moving tunes and lyrics by some people you’ve never met, and probably never will, because somehow their music speaks to you and finally there’s somebody who understands your human sorrows and needs.

That smile on your face; that constant need to prove to everyone (who relies on you for their sanity) that you’ve got everything under control; that put-on energy that every morning you might enhance with a little dose of caffeine; that social media post screaming “happiness” from every angle you look — others could fall for it, but behind closed doors there’s no else you can fool.

So when you say to me, “You look so happy, I would’ve never guessed your misery,” it proves two things: how remarkably (wonderfully) oblivious people can be OR /AND what a great job I’m doing at keeping it all bottled in.

 

Echoing Thoughts and Unknown Answers

I tried to write something uplifting, something cute, something not only inspirational to me but to others. I tried to do that this evening because I wanted to stay away from the usual melancholic tone of my posts. For once, I tried to paint this in a different color, but came back with the same shades of blue.

Let’s just state, or reiterate, that forced “happy” thoughts make no echo, though. When I read others’ poems/stories/words, I want to find a connection. I want to know that it was worth every second. Somehow, I want to relate: awaken my mind, provoke me, trigger my deepest thoughts, arouse me, inspire me, motivate me…or let me feel your melancholy, but do it for me.

I think as humans, we will always just love stories with happy endings. And maybe that’s why I was hoping to write a “how-to-get-your-groove-back” kind of post. But how could I if I’m not in the right state of mind? Not today.

Instead, I’m going to tell you how, like never before in my past, yesterday’s invasion of Valentine’s Day posts triggered a rollercoaster of emotions in me: indifference, anguish, relief, nostalgia, amusement, bitterness… maybe I even got a tad jealous (because flowers).

First, seeing some people’s sweet notes about their significant others, people I know are in a dysfunctional relationship, sent my eyes rolling all the way up. At the same time, I laughed because they’re probably doing it for social media and, though it may be that they’re just trapped, that is sad.

Some of them reminded me to be glad that I’m riding solo.

But somewhere in the mix, between their various posts and my unwanted thoughts, the anguish and resentment took turns. How is it that the villains, those who’ve been insensitive and callous to you get to be happy?

The answer is unknown, I know.

“Wish them well” when you want to wish them hell is that little thing that comes only after you’ve made peace with the fact that some things in life can only be, and they will continue to go on until you get a little closure on your way out; until your shade can’t get any bluer; until all the moon’s phases reach their completion; until so much time has passed that you forget why you’re mad or sad.

Don’t know why, but that’s life. And so I ask: isn’t it strange how in this extraordinarily massive universe, we’re all connected by the same stories?

My thoughts can’t quite find coordination tonight, but hopefully you got my point. : )

Pandemic Aftershocks

Today’s blog post is just a brief, raw, almost unedited thought with a hint of inspiration and hope.

I was thinking earlier that it’s been a whole year of this sh*t. IT’S BEEN A YEAR. It feels like it was just yesterday when I first heard about COVID-19 and we all started living in this…hell (for lack of a more suitable word). I’m not being selfish; I know we were saving one another by staying home and doing so many social-distanced strange things, like the lock-down, but I can’t help feeling robbed!

So many stolen life moments, social events, job opportunities, networking possibilities…a whole year flushed down with the rest of the trash. Everything happens for a reason? I guess I’ll never really know about this one.

And it so happened that everything hit at once for a lot of us — everything hit us at once. At times, it was so incredibly hard, and still is sometimes because just like an earthquake, the pandemic is leaving behind some aftershocks. And it’s okay to admit it’s been all crap because you’re made of flesh and bones. It’s okay to admit it if you lost your mind a little. Honestly, most of us have already hit a darn pandemic wall — no need to sugarcoat anything.

Nevertheless, it’s been a heck of a learning experience living in a pandemic, for sure. More importantly, you made it this far. There’s no point in giving up on anything now. Keep breathing, keep going, and be present.

Much love.

One Lie at a Time

My closed eyes won’t let me see what’s right in front of me, but will navigate deep into the what-used-to-be.
My attempt to drop the baggage as I make my way out of this black hole
that seems to have no fin or starting point, has failed me every time,
bringing me back to that dreaded point, starting back at one.

Progress seems so slow; a step forward ends up being two steps backward.
Still, no finish line in sight on this, the longest stride.

And forget my cluttered mind — can find no solutions there.
The fog inside is thick and thoughts are all in knots,
words lose their real meaning, and reminiscence floods my eyes.

Selective, certainly, are the memories,
for if in their actual inclusive order they flowed
there’d be no doubt in my brain, no scar in my heart,
no tears in my eyes, only garbage down the drain
waving, good-bye.

The way I explain it to myself is one lie at a time:
first clear your vision and head to make trustworthy decisions, to walk on your two feet without stumbling one bit.
Like an algebra equation, you must find x to understand y.
Only problem is, clearing up the muddle in your head is no simple math quiz.

Staying Sane in Corona Times

It must’ve happened over a thousand times before Coronavirus. I was the victim of some ghosting and a little too much “left-on-seen” by average people I lowered my standards for. But, isn’t it life? La vie… ¡la vida! Then, it graduated from being a reasonably demanding person to life actually pressing down on me, and all of a sudden, I had bigger fish to fry. And that’s when I remembered that some things in life are reeeeally insignificant in our lifetime.

The COVID-19 era has left us in a complete state of stupefaction. Most of us can’t even seem to come to terms with this situation or find a medium. Personally, I’m better than I was eight months ago (which reminds me; I can’t believe it’s almost been a year?). But this doesn’t mean I’ve fully healed. Not the whole truth.

However, keeping a mentally healthy approach has been a priority of mine since as soon as I learned what was at stakes. You can’t quite function in this society without proper cognition. Can you make it? Yes. Will you be taken seriously and considered “sane” if you lose it a little? Probably not. (And, on second thought, who cares, right?)

The pandemic has affected a lot of people physically and emotionally. I’ve written about things we could do/things that I do to not lose my sh*t completely, but I feel like you can never overshare something that is so important.

And, with that in mind, I’d like to begin by saying that music helps a lot.

What’s your favorite tune? Happy or sad — do not hesitate to play it! If it’s sad, it’ll definitely help you scream out the pain; if it’s happy, you’ll dance it away. You can’t lose either way.

Keep in touch with those who bring out the best in you. There’s this quote that says, “Stay close to people who feel like sunshine.” I’ve never found anything truer. Surrounding myself with positive energy has helped me make it through every Monday-thru-Friday week. No time for the naysayers; no time for the Debbie Downers; no time for people who’ve brought you down in any way in life at all.

Do some sort of physical activities. Especially now with winter in the Northern Hemisphere (or the Southern part, if you’re reading this later), don’t stay inside. Winter kills! Have you heard of SAD season? It used to kill me, but not anymore. A SAD and COVID season combination is a recipe for perfect disaster. Go outside!

Consider light therapy if you can’t get any sun exposure, but please save yourself. Don’t hide under the blankets. Although, I must say, if you’re having a rough day where, under the blanket is where it’s at, by all means, do that.

There are so many things happening right now that you can do and safely go to and have some fun, always wearing a mask, of course, to kind of live life with a little normalcy again. I know that some places in the United States are acting like the virus is over ( ahem — I’m looking at you, Miami!) So, perhaps steer clear of some of those places and opt to be a responsible citizen. Also, stay informed.

Life in Corona Season hasn’t been the easiest, but it doesn’t have to be a complete lockdown. It’s simply not good for your mental health. Find a way to breathe, literally and figuratively! You can live it up safely, still. I’m pushing through and I’m sure you can do it, too. I’m rooting for you.

These tough times shall pass and I hope you can stay sane until then.

Somebody Rev Up His Engine

The car smelled like bad news as soon as I stepped in. I would credit my intuition, but it was more like something I’ve learned from experience combined with statistics — the fact that, when it comes to this transportation service, the ratings don’t lie. I found comfort in knowing that it’d be a short ride, though.

Then, about three minutes later (it must’ve been three minutes or less into our trip), as he pulled up to an intersection, the car just shut off.

Face buried in my phone I only looked up because he said:

“Uh oh.”

“Is everything okay?” I asked.

To which, very nonchalantly he responded, “We…might not make it to your destination.”

Wait, what?!

I dropped everything and paid close attention. I’d never had or would ever expect any driver to ever give me such warning.

It didn’t immediately occur to me that maybe something was wrong with the engine or that he was out of gas or something. As the daughter of a professional worst-case-scenario thinker, the thought of “is this when I get kidnapped?” briefly crossed my mind. (Actually, that might be a standard “being a woman” thought.) I’ve pondered on some worst-case scenarios myself before, when riding with strangers, but this was so ridiculous it was (kind of) hilarious.

The thing is, there’s something I don’t do, which maybe I should, but just don’t love the idea — and that is drive in Miami. I’ve lived in this city long enough to have picked up the pace of the bad drivers all around me and go with their flow. But the truth is I’ve already witnessed more than enough accidents and it terrifies me.

Instead, I’ve relied on other drivers to move around. Like I have in the past, living in big cities where the problem was a horrible parking situation, these days I take the train, ride with friends, get on trolleys, and of course I use services like Uber and Lyft. Though I like to believe it’s a better option, these last two are not necessarily any safer.

The driver, in this episode, started giving me all sorts of excuses as to why the car was losing power. “This is a rental,” he said, “from Uber, but it’s crap, it’s not a good car…” But he kept saying we might not make it and it made me anxious. As if I couldn’t just get out and leave

It was just weird, so I asked him to take local roads in case his car didn’t make it. I also started making conversations with the guy because, you know, I’d better started the negotiations! [Laughs nervously]

This was actually not the first time I found myself in a similarly awkward situation with an Uber/Lyft driver. At that moment, I remembered how one time I was going from Southern Jersey to Philadelphia. It may sound like a long trip, but it’s not if you know your US geography. Essentially, I was just going across the bridge. Upon realizing my destination, the driver sort of freaked out and started searching for something in the console and in the glove compartment.

Not finding what he was looking for, he said, “I don’t have any cash for the toll, do you?” When I told him I didn’t have cash, he asked if we could stop at his bank to see if his deposit had “cleared.” “I keep refreshing my account, but nothing shows up,” he said. Inside, I was crying. It found it funny, until I thought, well, here’s someone who is really, really trying to make ends meet and it was just sad.

Like the deposit-driver, the bad-engine-driver seemed to be struggling, too, as he couldn’t decide if the car was turning off due to gas or a bad engine — and I never looked at the tank to confirm.

I feel bad that they have to spend money to make little money. But as a passenger who is paying to simply get to her destination without drama or complications, I expect better. I hope that these drivers are better prepared to take on their job.

Those drivers both had something in common, though: low ratings. I ignored the flags on both occasions, but it is in fact one rule of mine to not proceed with a driver who has bad reviews.

In the end, and though barely, we made it to my destination and the driver apologized. But I’m certain we’ll never meet again.

Tales of a Friendzoned Night of Champagne

“Here’s to a fun night!” she raises her glass.

But the only thing he raises in response is an eyebrow. Studying the bottle now planted on the table, he tightens his lips, holding back a laugh.

“What’s the matter?” she asks.

“You wanna walk around with that?”

Puzzled, she glances at the bottle and right back at him. “It’s legal…”

“Cheap champagne? It should be illegal.”

“Your vodka isn’t all that either,” she refutes his disapproval. “Not like we’re finishing the whole bottle anyway… I knew we’d prob’ly get too drunk to appreciate the good sh—t.”

“Let’s just finish it up before we get to the park.”

“God, you’re such a poser…”

****

“How are you drunk before me?”

“I’m not.”

“You’re wasted.”

“I love you.”

“Ohhkayy, here we go, love you, too,” she says, rolling her eyes.

“No, like, I’m in love with you.”

“See, told ya you’re wasted.”

“We should be together.”

“Nonsense, you’re my best friend.”

“But I’m in love with you.”

“You need to sober up.”

“I really am—why don’t you love me? I’m in love with you!”

“First, you act like a d*ck and criticize my champagne choice and now you’re in love with me? Make up your mind.”

“How’s that related?”

“It’s getting late, let’s get out of here.”

“I wanna f—k you.”

She freezes. Her eyes shut as she tries to regain self-control. “What did you just say?”

“I wanna—”

“Never mind, don’t! We’re friends, for f—k’s sake, shut up.”

****

Her exasperated heavy breathing makes the cab driver slightly turn his head and it embarrasses her. So she looks out the window and sits back to calm her breathing.

“You’re too heavy for me to carry you, could you please stay awake for ten minutes?”

“Why don’t you love me?”

“Shut. Up.”

“Can I sleep over?”

“No f—kin’ way.”

This story has no end. She loses a friend to impulses every now and then.

The Art Teacher Who Couldn’t Draw – Excerpt

For my short stories, please visit Books


Once upon a time, I signed up for a foreign program to become a language teacher assistant. The program would allow me to work and live in Europe. I was hired and, despite some doubts, in the end I said, why the heck not?

My role was described as “prepare activities that focused on language and culture (based on the United States, in my case).” Essentially, I had to recreate the American English version of everyday lessons, adding a touch of their own culture. Of course, this was flexible; every school made use of their assistant differently. Piece of cake, I thought.

That was until my first day of work. On my way to the school, I found out that I’d be teaching a subject that was totally out of my expertise.

“How good are you at Art?” asked the principal, with whom I’d car-pool to school every day.

“Oh, I’m pretty bad,” I said, sort of joking, but not really. I was dead serious about the bad part.

I knew where she was going with that question, so I thought I’d let her know in advance. For a second there, I thought she was kidding me, but kidding she was not.

“It’s just that we’re still trying to figure out in what subject you’d be a better fit,” she said. “But you will most likely help with art.”

Art? Art!

What the hell did I even know about art? Not a darn thing.

I got really anxious and then really excited because, “Hey, that could be fun.” I always loved art. Besides, they’re just elementary kids; they won’t know I don’t know what I’m doing, I thought. And I kept calm. After all, I was only “the assistant,” right? It’s not like I was going to be in charge of all the main teacher’s responsibilities.

Well, my wishful thinking didn’t make it too far. There was no further discussion about the matter, and as soon as I stepped into the first classroom for orientation, I was introduced as Miss Art Teacher—sort of. And the next morning, despite the fact that I had not a clue about what I was doing; despite the fact that being an art enthusiast doesn’t make anyone a teacher, I had an art class to report to…as the teacher.


Stay tuned as I revise this old little story to be re-published soon. Yes, it’s a true story!

In the meantime, feel free to check out my little illustrated blog posts.