Monday, December 29, 2008

A Random Beginning

The following is part of a "writing exercise" from Facebook. The point is to write twenty-five random things about yourself. Turns out random is not necessarily my strong suit, but, as E. said, this is a good start for a completely different project. Enjoy.

1.I am the youngest of four children. My father's son from his first marriage (he still lives in Cuba), my brother and my sister were all teens and pre-teens when I was born.

2.Having much older siblings meant that for first part of my early life I was raised by two sets of parents (sort of). By the time I started high school, my brother and sister had moved out. After they left, it was a little bit like being an only child.

3.I grew up in a bar. OK, it was my parents’ social club. My parents and siblings took me everywhere. I was seen but rarely heard. I think this explains why I always felt more comfortable around adults instead of people my own age. It also explains why I am so comfortable on a bar stool.

4.My parents taught me a lot about the importance of helping others. In the 1980s they took in a lot of people that came to the US from Cuba. They gave them a place to stay when they arrived, helped them find homes and jobs, and made them part of the family. My parents asked for nothing in return, they were simply repaying the kindness shown them when they arrived in this country. I try to be that way for my friends. Don't ask, just give.

5.I did not meet my grandparents (or any of my extended family) until my father took me to Cuba when I was eight years old. It was the only time I got to see my grandparents, but the love was instant.

6.I saw my uncle (my mother’s brother) when he came to the states in 2002. I was amazed by the instant connection my siblings and I had with him, in spite of being apart for over twenty years.

7.When I am with my family, I am a Cuban girl who happened to be born in America but when I’m not with them, I am an American girl of Cuban descent. I struggle to find the balance and not lose either part.

8.I am currently 36. My mother had her last child (me) when she 36. My sister had her last child when she was one year older than I am. Makes me wonder.

9.My father died five years ago. I have come to realize that I will never get over it. Life goes on, but it will never be the same. I know I was lucky to have had as much time with him as I did. He was far from perfect, but loved me unconditionally. I miss him every single day.

10.I still believe in love. My parents were married for 45 years. They fought like mad but they also took care of each other and us. Now that I’m older, I understand how and why they stuck together.

11.I still believe in love, but I’m not going to settle. My mother has often said, “Better to be alone, than in poor company.”

12.I have recently started buying art. I don’t know what’s “good,” but I know what I like and I buy pieces when I can afford to do so. I can’t paint or sculpt or draw worth a lick, but many of my friends can, so I’m learning about different techniques from them.

13.I’m trying to be better about traveling. I haven’t been out of the country in two years. My last “big trip” was for five days for a friend’s wedding in Wyoming. I don’t know what’s holding me back. There are a lot of places I want to go, but I never actually plan a trip. I guess I’m not good at vacationing.

14.I used to hate the mole on my nose so much that I once tried to scratch it off.

15.I have had short hair since right before I started college. Before that, my hair was shoulder length, chemically straightened and often pulled back (one French braid, two French braids, pigtails, cornrows, ponytails). I also had TERRIBLE bangs for a long time. Whenever people ask me if I would consider having long hair again, I want to say, “Sure, will you be hiring someone to come over and do it for me every day?” I was never good at doing my hair, so this works for me. Plus, I think I look cute.

16.I have very large feet for someone my height. My father used to tease me that, if I wanted to, I could sleep standing up.

17.I always wanted to be a dancer, but my parents could not afford dance classes, so they signed me up for the free after school gymnastics program. I haven’t tumbled in years, but I cartwheel when I can, preferably in front of monuments and historic sites.

18.When I was in kindergarten, my teacher told my mother that I was a “soft touch” because I cried at the end of every movie she showed in class. I still cry at movies. My top tearjerkers include Rudy, The Color Purple, Shadowlands, Cinema Paradiso and Truly, Madly, Deeply.

19.I played Susan B. Anthony in the fourth grade school play and led the other girls in a rousing rendition of Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman. This clearly explains my feminist/activist ways.

20.In 2004, I took a bus to Washington, DC and participated in the March for Women’s Lives. A friend invited me to go and after thinking about it for a day, I realized how important to me it was to go. We left before dawn and got home late the same day. It was one of the best days of my life.

21.I am learning that for every major (or minor) setback, there is an opportunity for success.

22.I have become more comfortable in my own skin over the last few years than I have ever been. I think this feeling comes with growing up and doing things that used to scare me (taking a big girl pill as my sister would say). We’re not talking huge things, I’m not jumping out of planes or anything, but going to open mics, walking up to strangers and striking up a conversation…things like that are making a difference.

23.I have always been a night owl/insomniac. No matter how tired I am, I’m up until at least midnight (at most 2 or 3 am). Sometimes I’m productive (cleaning, writing letters, paying bills), but mostly, I just lie there reading until I’m drowsy.

24.Instead of counting sheep when I have insomnia, I make lists in my head. The most popular list is of authors in alphabetical order. Jane Austen, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Raymond Carver...

25.This list took a ridiculously long time to compose. If it were truly random, it might not have taken as long.

There's a theme here and all I have to do now is flesh it out.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thinking of You Again

From a journal entry: December 11, 2008

I'm wondering where you are these days. You always come to mind when I am in the midst of some struggle. My inner self reverts back to the girl you once knew. Fearless and foolish, uncertain but willing to take a chance. I wonder what you would say, what advice you would offer me now. Would you even offer any now, knowing what you know of me, of yourself, of us. It wouldn't matter. Even if you said nothing I would know how you felt. That's how it always was between us. As much as we talked to each other, we could say just as much without a word. That is how I found myself to you in the beginning. It wasn't anything you said. It was just you. When we were together and the world fell away, we were able to say everything to each other. I miss that so much now. I miss having that with someone who knew me before we were even formally introduced. What a luxury it was to have you for that time. What a gift to know that even when you weren't with me, near me, I had you. I realize now that I still do.