A Memory

It was right around 4 am when I woke up startled from the haze of the bad dream.  From my open window, I smelled bagels cooking from the bakery distributor a couple of blocks down.  I made out the smell of cinnamon raisin braided in with the onion and garlic that overpowered all the smells.  It was early September.  The afternoon before it had been pouring rain.  On the ride home from Manhattan on the Express bus into the Bronx I wondered if we were even going to make it home.  Rivers had formed on the Bruckner Expressway making our bus driver weave and swerve to get around it and get us home.  I got home an hour later than usual, but by then the rain had tapered off.

I did my usual routine of Chinese take out from the restaurant across from the bus stop and walked the two long blocks home to my apartment.  I watched the evening news.  Primaries were tomorrow, some schools had their first day of school and the weather was supposed to be much better – cooler and sunny.

Now here at 4 am with a nice cool breeze mixed in with the smell of bagels.  I tried to remember why I woke up so startled.  

I dreamt I was back in PR in our old house on the family compound.  But the house was huge this time, a few stories tall.  We were on one of the other floors, second floor maybe, and were told we had to leave.  The house was on fire and the floor was starting to crack.  I’ve always had vivid, odd and disturbing dreams, this was no different.  Other than the house burning everything else in the dream seemed so perfect.  The air was warm, the rooms in the house were bright from the sunlight entering through the large windows.  The light gave everything a yellow tinge.  It was a surprise when someone said there was a fire.  The only indication of trouble was the cracking sound from the floor.

I tried going back to sleep but it took almost 2 hours.  My alarm went off 20 minutes later. I hit the snooze button a few times up until 7:20.  Finally had to drag my butt out of bed and get to work.  It was cool out but not chilly.  I had the TV on and Al Roker said it was going to be a beautiful day.  I put on my sandals and wore a knit light purple top.  Quite the combo.  Eh, I wasn’t trying to impress anyone.

I decided to take the Subway in.  The Express Bus at this hour was going to take longer in peak rush hour traffic.  At least the train would be easier.  I always got a seat since I lived at the second to last stop and could take it all the way to work.  I stood by the back part of the platform and looked over the railing to the street below.  The light this time of year always bought me back to childhood and the first few days of school.  I remember the smell of the new school supplies — new book bags and pencil cases have a distinct rubbery smell.  I remembered walking to school eager for a new beginning.  The yellow light of that morning vaguely reminded me of my dream from the night before. It glowed against the buildings and the reflected off of windows, bright but warm.

My train pulled in and I sat towards the back of the car.  We made our way through the North East Bronx.  We paused in Parkchester, as usual, it was the switch over for those that wanted to take the local train through the South Bronx.  We were going express into Manhattan from here.  There was an announcement on the PA, something about an incident in lower Manhattan and our train’s final stop being somewhere before Wall Street.  It didn’t matter to me.  My stop was in mid-town.  We finally got moving again.  We pulled up and over the curve before going underground for the duration of the ride.  

It was such a perfectly blue and cloudless sky.

A wish for the future (for my son)

A wish for the future (for my son)

I hope that someone’s ethnicity and race don’t matter – where people are blind to skin color and everyone gets a chance to be known for who they are.

A world where all religions are respected equally and it doesn’t matter what someone believes, but that they are judged by their actions, deeds, and compassion.

That he gets to be surrounded by people of integrity.  Where people mean what they say, do what they say and live up to the same standards that they place on others.

A place where people are no longer judged by who they love.  Where everyone understands that, just as they haven’t chosen who they fell in love with, it’s also the same for everyone else.

That he gets to live in a place where everyone understands that we all want the same: to feel secure; to give and get love; to laugh and experience joy; to express ourselves; to be heard and respected — and that everyone deserves the opportunity to experience these things.

Above all else, to live in a world where everyone really, truly, deeply gets what a gift this life is.

Believe what you want as long as its your own…

This thought has been on my mind lately.
It can be taken in regards to almost anything: religion, faith, politics, child-rearing, social interactions.  But, it doesn’t mean to make up your choices and decisions just based on what you think you know.  We need to be open to what we don’t know and the possibility of facts going against our reality, beliefs and truths.

When I use words like Truth and Belief they’re not the same concept as we’re taught growing up.  How can two people believe two opposing things and both things be true?  How can we believe two different things and both of us be right?  I’m not saying that its always the case that everyone is right and could never be wrong – relativism.  Truths and beliefs do need to be balanced out with a sense of morality, ethics and compassion that transcends through all societies. But, at a different level, we can both have a different approach for the same end result.  There is not just “one way”.

I can’t accept that someone will believe what someone tells them at face value without having gone outside of their comfort zone to see if there are other opinions and facts.  Just because someone you respect says something, doesn’t make what they say true, and it doesn’t mean that you have to take it as truth and convert it into your own beliefs.  You can still respect someone and look up to someone, even if you don’t agree with 100% of what they say.  Isn’t this what friendship and marriage is about?  Same holds true for people with positions of authority in our lives.  We can respect, but not follow blindly.

The strongest ideas and beliefs are those that came about after we were nudged enough to make us uncomfortable.  We learn some information that pushes against what we think is true.  We finally realize that what we believe can stand the test or needs to be re-evaluated.  The strongest convictions come from not taking just one point of view, but looking through the different ideas and deciding for ourselves what is true for us- which may not be the truth for someone else.

Leyéndole a mi hijo aprendo yo…

Leyéndole a mi hijo aprendo yo…


Algo que yo quisiera que fuera más acostumbrado en nuestra cultura es la lectura.  Especialmente en cuestión con nuestros hijos. 

Unos de los mejores momentos en mi día es después de haber bañado a mi hijo, cepillarle los dientes y ponerle sus pijamas, nos acostamos en su cama y leemos un libro.  El escoge lo que quiere – muchas veces es el mismo libro por un par de semanas (huy como enzorra, pero es para él) – y nosotros lo leemos.  En ese momento, todo lo demás no importa.  Los trastes en el fregadero, la ropa para guardar, todos los que-hacerse toman el lado y el enfoque es todo para nuestro momento juntos. El y yo y nuestra corta aventura (a veces es papi que va con él).  Es nuestro ritual que ayuda llevarlo a dormir sin protestas porque tuvo su tiempo a solas con papi o mami.
No tan solo es el tiempo para compartir y crear una union mas fuerte sino también el aprende lo importancia de la lectura y tomar el tiempo para leer.  Le hemos leído desde antes que cumpliera el año.  Empezamos con “Good Night Moon” (Buenas Noches Luna) .  Y a lo que pasaban las semanas, el reconocía mas y mas objetos en el libro.  Siempre recordare leyendo la parte sobre el globo rojo y el señalándolo en la pagina.    Ya noshemosgraduadode “Good Night Moon” a “Arthurs Birthday”, “Cars and Trucks and Things That Go”, “Busy Town Fire Station” y ahora “Harold and the Purple Crayon” (Harold y el Lapiz Color Morado).
Me encanta leerle un libro que yo disfrute como pequeña, es regresar a mi niñez por los ojos de mi hijo.  A lo que leemos el me enseña diferentes partes de los dibujos, o dice algo que yo no hubiese pensado.  Me hace reír y apreciar lo buen niño que es y en que se está convirtiendo.
Es increíble ver lo que esa mente tan joven se imagina.  Y es que son ojos nuevos que no están empañados con todos nuestros años de malas experiencias.  Es ver de nuevo un mundo lleno de posibilidad y que aunque el dragón es feo, no hay que tenerle miedo.
A mis amigos y familiares, saquen el tiempo para leerle a sus hijos y a los niños pequeños en sus vidas. Hagan la lectura con sus hijos parte de la cultura en SUS familias. 
Buenas noches.

Essays and Short Stories