Thursday, July 2, 2015

Five years ago today

Wow, it's been a while since I've visited these pages. I guess that Facebook and Twitter have now taken up what I used to do here, which was to keep close friends and family abreast with my life.

However, today is a day to mark, especially, so I'm here again, where my papi used to come regularly (he was subscribed to the blog) to find out what was going on with me. Today, five years ago, my father left us to "the other side of things." He is sorely missed.

I feel very fortunate to have this photograph, which I believe my mami kept. I remember that, on one of his visits to me while I was studying at Harvard, my dad insisted that we should take a portrait. He made all the arrangements, told me to dress up, and took me to get this photograph done. Back then I thought it was my dad being a little weird, like he could be. As a typical 20-some-year-old (I wish I knew what year this was taken--the black plastic bracelets on my arm suggest the 1980s), I was not a little annoyed with this embeleco.

Now, so many decades later, I can't be more appreciative that my dad took the trouble to do this. He knew something I didn't know then (and wasn't that true for so many things?!). He knew this would be something to cherish in the future. For that, and for so much more, I give thanks. Papi, you may not be here with us, but you are always present in our hearts, forever.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A glory of magnolias!

April is that month in Ohio where everything starts to sprout, and when it happens, it seems to happen de la noche a la mañana, or overnight. You go to bed and there's nothing above ground and you wake up and there's all these little signs of life edging themselves up toward the sun. When you live in these parts, where nature dies over the winter, it's revealing to see that the first color of life isn't green--it's red. The first buds, when they appear about mid-April, are reddish in color and later they turn green. It gives everything this crimson aura that signals the pulsing of life within, itching to come out.

The magnolia tree in front of our house in the small city is always a glory. It hits its peak right about now and when the sun salutes it in the afternoons it looks like a radiant, blushing bride, opening herself to a new life. It is simply a perfect tree. Last year, we had a frost in late April that killed the blooms (thankfully, not the tree) and I wept for days when I saw the pretty-pink petals drooping and burned brown by the frost. Thankfully, there doesn't appear to be any cold spell coming over the next few weeks so maybe we will be spared that suffering this April. We can only hope.

The gloriousness of the magnolia tree is rather ephemeral. Probably by next week, when its green leaves come out, it'll lose its blooms and drop them, like a bird molting its feathers.

But, by then, we'll have the tulips in full bloom and my beloved bleeding hearts, which have just started to show their tiny heart-shaped flowers, will bring it on. Without a doubt, spring is really a marvelous time of the year here.

It reminds me that, despite any frustrations or setbacks or doubts, life reinvents itself every year about this time. Life, despite death, is unstoppable. That's a good thing to always remember.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Practicing resurrection

"Holy Week" was always a big deal when I was growing up in Puerto Rico. I remember that it was a long week off when we'd often stay with my great-aunt at her Santurce ground-floor apartment, and binge on movies about The Passion that wouldn't show Christ's face because it was disrespectful. A lot has changed since then.

I'm no longer in the island of my childhood, and my beloved great-aunt has disappeared into the living, breathing void that is Alzheimer's. But Easter is still an important date for me. Though I'm not particularly religious, I make the point to attend Easter service. I now prefer the Episcopalian church near our house in the small city, especially because I love the ability to follow the service carefully through the handouts and The Book of Common Prayer. Last year, I went to Mass with my brother and nephew when they visited, and remember that feeling of being "lost" in the Catholic liturgy, unless you have it memorized. Nowadays, there's very little I can/have memorized so I appreciate the Episcopalian helpfulness.

Today, I got up early (funny how I can't manage that as blithely when it's time to walk the dog or go to the gym) and made the 8 a.m. service, which was lovely. The woman rector (another thing I like about the Episcopalian Church) gave a sermon about resurrection, one that echoed my sentiments this morning about why this day is so symbolically important to me (I'm very familiar with the practice of resurrection).

My husband and I had also invited some good, close friends for a potluck and we had a feast. I made shrimp and grits for the first time, with the grits that my brother and nephew had given me as a present last time I saw them (they know of my late passion for S&G, acquired two years ago when I visited Savannah). The dish came out rather good, if I may say so myself, and the rest of the dishes that our friends brought were delicious. The conversation and the company were great and we enjoyed some time outside, basking in the sunny day.

Yesterday, my husband and I went to Turtle Pond, one of our favorite city parks, with Lizzy and enjoyed a nice, long stroll, albeit in much cooler temperatures.

It's been a perfect weekend, though, some of it devoted to R&R, to spending time with my husband and furry children, to cooking up a storm (which I love doing), and to friends. Investing the same effort I put into my work into my personal life is a very important part of the practice of resurrection.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Pretty San Diego

I'm not a fan of flying anywhere, especially long flights, but the four-hour flight between Chicago and San Diego is one that I enjoy, especially because of the views it affords. My camera doesn't do them justice for the desert landscapes make Earth look like another planet. I never get tired of looking out of the plane window on this flight.

I arrived in San Diego on Thursday for the American Association of Colleges & Universities conference on Diversity, which was highly recommended to me in my new role as Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at my small college on the hill. I wasn't complaining that it was in the 80s when I arrived, though the shuttle driver was bemoaning the heat. I told him I was from Ohio and that I'd trade him anytime.

The hotel was at walking distance from the harbor, which was lovely, and I appreciated that my name was correctly spelled and my í accented, as it should be.

We got a long lunch break from the conference on Friday (good planning on the conference organizers' part!) so we took a walk to the harbor and found a great place to eat and a famous bookstore to visit.

A Starbucks near the hotel was a great plus to me, although I couldn't get anyone to spell my name right there. You always know you're not in your país when you can't get them to spell your name right!

The conference was, overall, a helpful and productive experience, giving me lots of ideas and new connections in the field. But, most of all, I loved the time I got to spend with my oldest niece, who came to visit me from L.A., where she's studying film and acting. That time spent with her was precious. In addition, now I also know that San Diego is gorgeous and a great place to visit.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Monday, March 9, 2015

Puerto Rico!

February was the month when Hell froze over (at least that's how it felt in Ohio, as in many other parts of the U.S.), and March didn't start much better.

But this week, the second one of spring break at our small college on the hill, we flew away to Puerto Rico to bask in the sunshine and the temperatures in the mid-80s.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Hell froze over in February

Simply put, February sucked the duck in Ohio this year. Temperatures were regularly way below freezing, and the snow and ice were ubiquitous. A cruelest month, February encouraged a lot of sedentary-ness and it was the longest, shortest month because it simply refused to end.

In early February, I got to travel to NYC for work meetings and my husband I got to take some time to explore the city and have dinner out at a Brazilian restaurant, all of which felt like a really nice break in a year that started busier than I could've thought possible

Still, I'm learning a lot in this new position and really enjoying what I'm learning, as well as the ability to make a difference in many different ways.

Pretty, our "inherited" cat, loves my little apartment near the small college on the hill and, despite her more than fifteen years, is still a playful kitten when she decides it's time for play.

As its parting gift, February regaled us with a luna de toros, which shone like a perfect brooch on the bosom of the velvety night.