Friday, November 30, 2007

The Great Vacation of 2007: New Jersey! Like You Care Anymore. (I Sure Don't.)

I'm better today. Really. Better. I appreciate those of you who reassured me that this is all normal and will pass. And as always, writing is the magic cure that almost instantly makes everything better. Also, we're settling back into our routine, and Max has been more manageable the last couple of days. (Or maybe I'm more settled and can manage him and the dog and my life better).

I'm still recovering from my vacation. Traveling with a two-year-old and spending 24/7 with said two-year-old for a week straight is really no vacation, despite how wonderful it was to see family and to benefit from their help. No matter how much we tried to keep to Max's routine as much as possible, it just isn't the same. And the truth is, I'm just not used to that much in-your-faceness. I can't help but think that if I were a stay-at-home mom, I'd handle these things better. Because even though travel always upsets a routine, I feel at a deficit when it comes to "constant" parenting. I mean, I get to leave my house every day and deal with a whole other kind of world. I've always said - based on my experiences during maternity leave and going back to work - that I think I'm a better mom in part because I'm not with my child 24/7 (which, I know, can be interpreted as all kinds of horrible, but I don't see it that way). But there's a price to pay, and in this case, it means that whenever I have to spend days and days with my son (especially not in the comfort of our home), I end up a rattled mess, feeling clueless, useless and frustrated.


I still had a great time. We visited Ben's family in New Jersey and managed to get away for a couple of days to NYC (or really, 24 hours spread over two days). And I totally love these people, and love how they go out of their way to accommodate us and, most importantly, give us real breaks from Max.

So! Now that this post is 50 days overdue, here are the highlights:

We were here:

Which is a very lovely area, with houses that are so unlike what I'm used to, and lots of trees and small woods and explosions of flowers (in the Spring). Every time I visit, I end up seriously considering moving there. And then I remember the high property taxes and the cold, and I get over it.


My first snowfall was very beautiful and unexpected. It snowed all of Sunday, which looked like this:

And the family kept scoffing and saying that it wasn't real snow. But then we woke up Monday morning to this:

And everyone was like "Oh! Snow!" It was gorgeous, but I got to enjoy for like 15 minutes before we had to head out to NYC. Still, I was able to touch it and walk around and stare and stare and stare, which is all I really wanted to do.

The City!

Our time in NYC was great. We just walked our way through Chinatown, SOHO and the East Village. It was great to be alone with Ben, but of course, we talked way too much about Max. By the time we ended up in a small cafe and enjoyed an afternoon snack, we had shared many laughs and acted like silly kids - it was wonderful and much-needed.

We had dinner at Mario Batali's LUPA, with my BFFs M and C and their significant others, who live in New York, and Ben's husband dear friend, M, who was also vacationing in the city. Oh, and with Brooke Shields, who sat an arm's-length away from Ben. We were a very nicely matched group and had so much fun talking and eating and drinking. The dinner was wonderful: a long, lingering meal that lasted three hours and included six courses. Quite simply, I haven't had such an all-around awesome meal in ages (nor have I ever had one so expensive!).


We got back to NJ Tuesday afternoon, to find out our son hadn't really missed us and had been spoiled beyond repair (reckless use of the pacifier, every wish granted, lots of playing with water in the kitchen). We spent a couple of days relaxing (the best pedicure I've ever gotten; a manicure that was ruined within an hour of leaving the salon - as always; a visit to the mall) before Thanksgiving Day. TD itself was great, with a mix of friends and relatives, plus C. We had a dessert bake-off that was fantastic: so many good sweets that people looked like they were going to pass out.

The most interesting part of the holiday for me was the menu. My whole life, the Thanksgiving menu has been turkey, pork leg or shoulder (if it's a particularly large group), white rice, black beans, yuca, salad (basic, like lettuce, tomato, onion, olive oil and vinegar), and maybe fried sweet plantains. As the years have passed and we've become more assimilated, the menu has expanded to include that yam dish that has marshmallows on top and stuffing, and sometimes, cranberry sauce. But this year, there was none of this. We had three varieties of cranberry sauce, three kinds of stuffing, green beans, roasted root vegetables, mashes potatoes, a salad with pecan-crusted baked apples and cider. I mean, I had just never had such a traditional Thanksgiving, and it was great. I put a little bit of everything in my plate and loved it all.

But I really missed the white rice and black beans!

Some random moments caught on camera:

Who knew the boy was so patriotic?

Max loved the trampoline:

Ben caught me scolding him about something; his facial expression is priceless.

Ben's paramour is shy:

But I'm not. (Hai, wur drnkz!)

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Posted by Tere @ 11/30/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mah Gawd, It's, Like, Awful

I want to tell y'all about my vacation, I really do. (Because....? I don't know, it just seems like something I have to do at this point, boring details be damned!).

But I have to confess, I just can't seem to write anything lately. That I got my post in to GNMParents this week is a small miracle, because the words, they, uh... um... I got none. Nor have I got the mental energy or ideas required to do this thing often and well.

The problem, if I can pinpoint it correctly, is my son. He's kicking my ass. Yeah, two is fantastic and magical, but it's also too all-over-the-place for the way my mind works and much too jarring for the steady rhythm and peace I grew used to those few, short weeks when he was normal and pleasant.

I'm having a really hard time coping with the way life will be manageably and pleasantly chaotic for a short while before he suddenly turns into either a whiny mess or a devil-child. My patience is diminishing ever more quickly every time he asks for something, I give it to him, and he nonetheless proceeds to throw a tantrum over it. Something in me is just not able to grasp and accept these things, and I'm feeling like I just don't want to be alone with this kid anymore, at least not for a while (which is impossible, since we're alone most of the time).

I think a part of it is that I feel like I deserve some peace, a home that runs smoothly and a child that is not such a pain in the ass because, damn it, I've had an awful year and have still managed to keep a grip on things - and when am I going to get an effen break? When am I going to have one day where I don't have to handle six baseless tantrums, willful defiance, hitting - oh, and having to pick the dog's shit off the floor?

Because seriously? I'm tired of putting my best face forward and insisting on being cheerful and patient and generally a good sport, only to end up exhausted, confused, frustrated, unappreciated and caught in an endless cycle of crap, crap and more crap. No wonder I no longer feel like myself, much less like a woman, period.

Ah, but I signed up for this, didn't I? This is my life now, isn't it?

I miss when it wasn't like this day after day after frustrating, despairing day.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/28/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Post Before the Post About the Vacation

(The Great Vacation of 2007 post is coming soon... tomorrow, actually. But I'm working my way chronologically here.)

Last Thursday was a big day for us. It was the day Ben paid his car off. Early that morning, he picked up his title, and we were looking forward to being back at just one car payment.

Take a wild guess what happened. Go on, I'll wait.

.... .... .... .... ....

Some asshole slammed into the back of his car! (photographic evidence here). The funny part is that the guy had been riding his bumper on a backed-up U.S. 1, and he knew it was going to happen. Sure enough, there was some vehicular movement, and the guy, seeing a nice big gap, sped up to close in on Ben's bumper again. Except that he was going so fast that he couldn't stop. Ben saw it coming, hit his emergency brake, and braced himself.

And then, wham! The force was so hard that it pushed the big steel bike rack on the back into the window, which is now completely shattered but nicely held in place by the tint film.

The good news is that Ben was not injured and this was totally the idiot's fault, so we're getting the car fixed without dropping a dime. The bad news is that it totally sucks to have this happen the very day we paid the sucker off. Also, the fear that the frame may be bent, which could lead to having the car being declared a total loss and us having to get another car. Blegh. Do not want.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/26/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

From the Bowels of the Northeast

Just popping in to tell y'all I'm having a wonderful time. Saw my first snowfall, fell in love with NYC all over again and am about to have my first "American" Thanksgiving.

I've been offline most of my vacation, but pay a visit to my review blog for a piece about a neat site that helps you find someone to care for your child, elderly relative or pet. Looks like it a could be a valuable resource of help get you out of a pinch. Take a look!

More later when the food coma wears off (there goes all the weight I'd lost - I've feasted on fantastic food for the last 5 days and don't plan on stopping).

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Posted by Tere @ 11/21/2007   | | | links to this post

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Plane Didn't Crash; or, If The Plane Crashed and I'm Writing This, They Have Internet in Heaven. Or Maybe Hell.

Hey, look at that! We survived the flight! Not only did we survive, but everything moved smoothly (read: the airport was a breeze, holiday travel be damned), and it was a pleasant, non-eventful flight.

Especially since we were in first class.

I've never traveled first class. When we were checking in, we were offered an upgrade for what sounded like a reasonable price. We decided that with a child, a crowded flight, and my state of anxiety, perhaps it would be o.k. to upgrade just this once.

I'll never be able to fly coach again.

I feel like I've stumbled upon some secret world. The big seats, the hot towel, the water and juice before take-off, the complete breakfast meal - it was unbelievable! I didn't know such wonders existed in the front end of the plane.

So we're here and having a good time already. So much to share, and I will, in due time.

Right now, I'm gonna relax for a bit.


Posted by Tere @ 11/17/2007   | | | links to this post

Friday, November 16, 2007

Updates You've Been Dying For

It's been a while since I provided an update on both my saga with Weight Watchers and my problem. So, let me do that in case I die in an exploding plane tomorrow and you're forever left wondering about these very pressing issues.

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers, what? That's like a thing of the past around here. I'm definitely not "on" Weight Watchers, given that I haven't counted points in two weeks. Still, I am sticking to small portions, stuff I know has few points, and not eating past 6:30 p.m. I really have no idea what I weigh or how much I've lost, but right now, I'm wearing a pair of size 3 jeans, so it can't be bad. (Also: it's a total fluke that these jeans fit. Bearing a child has effectively made it so that junior sizes - not even higher ones - go past my thighs. Oh, and I'm dangerously close to a muffin top - these jeans are an inch too low for my comfort level - but am keeping it all in nicely).

Everything was going well until PMS hit last week, and for the last 5 or 6 days, I have to confess, I've had ice cream every single night. And damn, it's been delicious.

With the holidays coming, I'm a bit worried that I'll revert to some old (bad) habits. The one saving grace is that my stomach has truly adjusted to eating smaller portions, so I'm making it a point to enjoy myself but to stick to small, small portions. I've gotten to the point where a bite or two of some things (in particular, things that aren't good for you!) are enough to satisfy me. So I fill up on the lean, healthy stuff, and indulge in a speck of the sinful stuff.

My Problem

When I started writing this post a few days ago, I was going to say that my problem was no longer a problem to the degree that I simply let it stop eating at me. You know when you just let something grow into a giant monster that's always breathing down your neck? That's what I'd done. And then a while back ago, I realized that my attitude was really harming me and affecting my life, and I stepped back and tried to put everything back into proper perspective.

Doing that really helped. I still struggled with crappy feelings about the particular situation at the root of all this, but it was really better.

But things have changed in the last couple of days, and right now, I can report that this problem is as close to solved as it's ever going to be. This isn't the kind of thing for which I expected (or for which there really is) a solid resolution, so what's developed is as good as it's going to get. And I'm happy with that.

For now, this problem is done.

So now, before I go on vacation, a few more things:

-- Thanks for your words of encouragement as I get ready to fly. I failed to mention that I used to work in the aviation industry, and knowing a lot of what goes on behind-the-scenes is actually helpful to me. But again, I lose all reason when I'm gripped by fear.

-- I will have my laptop with me and will be checking email and writing here, but probably not regularly. I intend to relax as much as possible.

-- Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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Posted by Tere @ 11/16/2007   | | | links to this post

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The One Where You Hold Me and Tell Me It's All Going To Be O.k.

I can't put this post off anymore. My flight leaves in less than 48 hours, and it's time.

I swear I don't mean to be melodramatic, but flying - it terrifies me. More than alligators, bad boob jobs and muffin tops on skinny women. As much as I'm looking forward to this vacation, as much as I need it, as much as it promises to be fun and relaxing - I am stressed and scared and on the verge of tears (o.k., a few times I've outright cried) whenever I think about us flying there and back.

At this point in my life, it isn't me I care about - it's Max. I just keep playing over and over in my head how the plane may explode, taking with it my sweet two-year-old who deserves to live. The comfort of knowing he wouldn't suffer and that we'd die with him is very little when I think of the simple fact that Max would cease to exist in this world. All the things a mother thinks when she allows herself to accept her child's mortality run through my head. And on top of those awful, awful thoughts, I wonder and worry about my family and what it will do to them to lose Max.

Because Max, Max is very loved. He has touched many lives these last two years, and those whom we would leave behind will undoubtedly feel the loss. But beyond that, I just get stuck on the part where this beautiful life would be ended so horribly, where my son would be robbed of a chance to grow and love and live and be. It's so unfair, so wrong. And I just keep playing that over and over in my head.

Sigh. I keep hoping that in allowing myself to think the worst, I'll be able to release it and be free of it. But it's not happening. I am flooded with images and thoughts that just scare and sadden me.

So I just keep telling myself, "it'll be o.k., it'll be o.k." And I really hope to God that it will be.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/15/2007   | | | links to this post

The Ghost of Christmas Shopping

I'm in a hell of my own making. Come see.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/15/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Death, Friendships and Rainy Wednesday Afternoons

It seems so appropriate, doesn't it, to have it rain the day someone is buried.

When I stepped out of the church earlier today, the sky was gray; the rain began as we all made our way to our cars. It felt like a fitting punctuation to what has been a surreal 24 hours for me.

I got the news yesterday that the father of an old (former) friend had passed away. His death was sudden and unexpected, and hearing about it was pretty shocking. It instantly made me think that the death of a parent of someone I've known since my teenage years makes all too real my own parents' mortality (his dad was the same age as mine).

But my thoughts have stretched farther than this; particularly at the funeral mass, I found myself thinking about so many things....

... like my relationship (or not) with this friend. We had a falling out years ago, due to a very private matter over which I felt he had no say, especially when his "say" was mainly about him and had little to do with me or the other person involved. Prior to that, though, we'd been friends since high school, and we ran in the same circles. No matter what happened to our friendship, I will always have to owe him a debt of gratitude for being the guy who introduced me to Ben, and for arranging it so that Ben would have a chance to talk to me and ask me out.

.... and considering the strained nature of our relationship, what exactly was I doing there? My prevailing thought when I heard the news was that I had to go - because in my culture, in the way I was raised, all feuds take a back seat to death. For death, you put everything aside and show up and pay your respects.

.... but being in that church and seeing other people who had long ago shown me they were no real friends of mine was so odd. I hold no grudges against them, but awkwardness is awkwardness, and as the priest talked about the fleeting nature of life, I found myself thinking of the days when I hung out with these people, when I viewed them differently than I do now. Not that I view them particularly awfully or anything - we just had fun as social acquaintances but had no real basis for friendship.

.... and in the midst of all these thoughts about friendships, death of parents, how fleeting life is, how life and love take an infinite amount of faith, I found myself thinking about, most improbably, the second child I so very badly want but feel extremely unready for. He/she exists already, by my sheer desire for him/her. To find myself suddenly yearning for and fearing this unknown baby - in a funeral mass - made no sense to me. But for some unexplainable reason, I felt that child very close to me in church today.

In the end, as we paid our respects to the deceased's family, my (former) friend hugged me and thanked me for being there, expressing that it meant a lot to him. And I hope it did. I hope as he deals with his father's death he too thinks about friendship and the fleeting nature of life and how the choices we make forever mark our lives; and of how there are moments when all grudges can and should and must be set aside in an effort to comfort, to reach out, and to acknowledge and be awed by the fragility of life.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/14/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

New York City Nomads

Ben and I refer to it as "Black Monday". It is a day in our marriage we rarely speak of, but when we do, there is little laughter, the pall of that dark day still lingering heavily over us, even now, three-and-a-half years later.

It was the day that left us an exhausted, cold, wet and soggy mess in the second floor of the Barnes & Noble on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, piles of shopping bags messily strewn around us while we tried to figure out how to: a) get warm and dry, b)make our feet stop aching c) keep moving and enjoying the city for another few hours with all these damn shopping bags weighing us down.

The shopping bags, I'll admit, were mostly mine.

We knew that particular day in New York City was going to be a rough one. You see, we always stay in the family apartment when we're in the city, owned by one of Ben's aunts and uncles. Besides being the perfect apartment, Ben's uncle uses it as his office two days out of the week, and on those days, you have to be out by 8 am and can't come back till 9 pm. So we knew that Monday, we'd have to stay out all day and most of the night, and that our best bet was to cram the day with activities so the day wouldn't drag on.

What other day-long activity is there besides shopping?

Well, o.k., we did other things: we visited the USS Intrepid; Ben was dying to go to a museum, but most are closed on Monday, so it was a bad day for that activity. So without bucketloads of money to spend and no real game plan (despite the 273 guide books I'd read), we spent that dark, rainy Monday wandering up and down the streets of Manhattan.

Because yes, the rain.

Our beautiful Springtime in New York disappeared on that Monday, and left us with a cold (50 degrees!), wet day - it was that kind of cold rain that just endlessly falls all day long, a persistent drizzle that seeps right to the bones.

We had no appropriate coats nor umbrella, and that didn't help.

So, we wandered around; we hit Chinatown, where we got hopelessly lost as I desperately searched for the Pearl River Mart, only to realize hours later that I had the wrong address and it was literally a block from where we had been running around in circles; we hit ABC Carpet and Home, where my eyes filled with tears at all the beautiful things we had no money nor reason to buy; and we shopped for souvenirs, clothes and basically, crap.

So by early evening, we just couldn't handle any more shopping and wandering: we were exhausted, freezing and cranky, and my feet, thoughtfully protected by my New Balance sneakers, were swollen and throbbing. So we went into the Barnes & Noble and settled, like scared, weary refugees, into a corner somewhere on the second floor. There we stayed and rested for about an hour, pretending to read when an employee walked by us, until we felt like we could take the streets on again.

We received a reprieve when Ben's uncle called to let us know he had finished early and could come back. By then it was 7 pm, and we'd had enough.

Until the next day, when the rain had cleared and we set out once again to wander the streets of Manhattan.

(all this to say, can't wait to be back next week!)

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Posted by Tere @ 11/13/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday, November 12, 2007

Short and Sweet

I have the day off. My husband is off saving lives; my son is off playing his heart out with his friends.

I'm all alone.

I'm relaxing on the sofa (in recliner position, to boot!); music is playing; my warm coffee mug is within arm's reach.

Later on, I'll start packing and organizing for our vacation next week.

Monday has started nicely.

Hope yours has, too.

Posted by Tere @ 11/12/2007   | | | links to this post

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday Morning Observation

There might be something better than bacon stuffed into a warm piece of Cuban bread, but I can't imagine what that would be.

Posted by Tere @ 11/11/2007   | | | links to this post

Friday, November 09, 2007

I’m Not THAT Heartless

There's no way I’d sully your Friday (and possibly your weekend, since I rarely post then) with my sad navel-gazing.

Alas, I’m still too deep into my introspecting to stray too far from, um, myself. But I’ve been listening to some great, perfect-for-my-mood music, and that’s inspired me to share with you the kind of music you might want to listen to when you’re in a funk and just want to wallow in it a bit before getting over yourself.


Song: Come on Home
Artist: Indigo Girls
Why?: Just the right amount of melancholy. And with lyrics like these -
I hear the owl in the night
I realize that some things never are made right
By some will we string together here
Days to months and months to years
What if everything we have adds up to nothing?
- it’s kinda hard to go wrong with this one.

Now it's 45 minutes since I wrote that last part, and damn, it's hard to really catch the nuances of the songs I've selected. I mean, how do you properly express what makes a song so right for a particular mood, especially when the mood is introspective, reflective, melancholic and similar kinds of -ives and -olics?

So here. Here's a list of songs (grouped by artist, because I'm organized that way) that work for me. Take them for what it's worth and wallow at your own risk.

Toad the Wet Sprocket
Throw It All Away

Come Back Down

The Space Between

Jason Mraz:
1,000 Things

Angels or Devils
Somewhere in the Middle
Every Little Thing

The Fray:
Fall Away
Look After You

Howie Day:

Ray LaMontagne:
Hold You In My Arms

Mary Gauthier:
Before You Leave

It's Alright to Cry

Third Eye Blind:
Deep Inside Of You

No Ha Parado De Llover
En El Muelle De San Blas

Been A While
So Far Away

Indigo Girls:
Blood & Fire
Keeper Of My Heart

Ah, sweet angst.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/09/2007   | | | links to this post

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I'm Still Feeling Introspective, In Case You Couldn't Tell

Growing up in a Cuban household, you would hear a lot about everybody's "nervios" - their nerves (or their marbles, if that explains it any better). It seemed - as a child, anyway - that every adult's nerves were shot to hell: so-and-so had a nervous breakdown after her divorce; so-and-so went on Valium when his wife died; so-and-so was ripe for being institutionalized after her husband ran off with his best friend's wife; and so forth.

We are, it seems, a people greatly afflicted by, controlled by, struggling with and obsessed with los nervios.

It's no wonder then, that I found myself, at the age of 10, convinced that I was insane. Certifiably, 100% insane. My first diary is almost completely devoted to my ruminations on the topic, wondering if the fact that I thought or felt XYZ was a sign of my insanity, questioning if the right thing to do (for the good of all) was to just commit myself to a hospital. Seriously, I wasted an inordinate amount of time on this. It has haunted me for a large part of my life, this struggle with depression, anxiety and the general conviction that I am not normal, or more precisely, that I am not able to live as freely and cheerfully as everyone else.

There came a point, though, where everything changed. A chain of events that began with 9/11 and ended with my pregnancy set my life on a new course. A lot of what I went through in those years was personally catastrophic - and yet, I felt the freest and most myself that I've ever felt in my entire life (does this sound like the premise of a bestselling book?). I'm still trying to understand that paradox, still trying to hold on to whatever it was that allowed me to be that way.

But my nervios. My nervios have preoccupied me more than they should, perhaps because I know they have the power to paralyze a life, to render it numb and empty and zombie-like and incapable of really being or doing - and I just don't want that for myself; I don't want the safety that depression and anxiety offer. What's more, my anxiety, when hitting me full force, is simply too overwhelming, too powerful. So the last few years of my life have been dedicated to being better, being healthier, being truer - in short, to being Tere as I want her to be.

What's worked for me: lots of therapy and lots of slapping myself around.

And while I no longer fall into long, painful periods of depression, my severe anxiety has been a much bigger beast to overcome. And in the middle of all this - as I try to reconcile all my selves, as I try to be the person I want to be, as I try to shed the things that hold me back - I have had to accept (or am trying to accept) that there will always be a part of me that is - off. I will never be cheerful or sunny or happy-go-lucky. I will always over-analyze, always have plans B, C, D and E lined up, always view whatever happiness and peace I experience as a rare gift I must treasure and savor and enjoy to their fullest.

Right now, I have every reason to believe that I will not be undone by my nervios. But damn, it takes a fucking lot of work.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/08/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Blah Blegh Blah UGH

Well now. It's just one of those days. Started out o.k. and quickly spiraled into hell. Ever had one of those?

The effect of receiving (confronting) news/information/truths you weren't expecting at that particular moment (nothing, like, life-threatening, just crappy) is sometimes so surprising. I've spent my day feeling such a range of emotions - from angry to despaired to stupid to betrayed to resigned to foolish.

When this happens, I find myself reevaluating every single thing about myself that has led me to where I am today: every choice, every instance where I went against my gut and true desires, the way I make my decisions mainly out of guilt or pity or both. And always, I'm amazed at the way I know what I feel and what I want - and yet in the end, I act based on what is right. And by right, I mean "fair" or "morally/ethically right" - but never do I act based on what I want. When it comes to the big things in life, I never seriously consider what I might truly want; I just go with whatever is "right", I go with whatever will solve the problem or keep things moving or will make the most people possible happy. But not me. Happiness has always eluded me because I have never truly courted it. And this precedes motherhood, though motherhood has undoubtedly cemented the practice firmly in place.

Either way, the point is that today - which I had every reason to believe would be just another Tuesday - has turned into one of those days where I just want to be alone with my thoughts, where I need to reevaluate everything, where I wish I wasn't me living this life.

There is a flaw here somewhere. Because all that I think I am, the way I see myself, the me that I think is so painfully transparent - is obviously not the way others see me, or understand me, or even believe of me. So I am Tere as I know her, and Tere as everyone else tells me I am. And it is in this disconnect that everything hinges for me, because if I am not able to be the Tere that I know, if most everyone assures me that the only me that exists is the one they're telling me I am, then I could very well not be who I think I am. And all that I am, then, all that everyone tells me I am - is someone I don't want to be, living a life I don't want.

(Holy crap, I think my brain just seized.)

It'll pass. Doesn't everything, at some point? But these kinds of days, they leave a part of themselves in me, a part that always manages to settle deep inside and make itself at home, even as I think I've moved past it.

To change. To be. To start over. To hold on. To let go.

I have no answers today.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/06/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday, November 05, 2007

On Two

In a recent-ish post about her son turning two, Amalah stated that she liked two; that it was charming and fun, which, one could assume, was strange thing indeed, what with all the lore of the "terrible twos".

But I wholeheartedly agree with her. Which is great - but also a bit worrisome because we're only a couple of months into two, and I may take this back by Christmas.

But right, now, I agree: I like two. It is charming and fun and full of surprises ("damn it!" being one of those surprises).

Life with Max right now is wonderful. In learning how to handle the situation when he throws tantrums for no reason or is a general PIA (and just as importantly, in learning how to handle myself), I am realizing how very easy-going, cooperative and eager-to-please he is. More than that, how fun and quirky he is.

With the arrival of two, I've discovered a boy with boundless energy who is adventurous and brave; whose exuberance at the simplest of things is inspiring; who says "I love you" (then follows up with "te quiero") without any prodding; who every day is talking more and more, throwing around phrases that I'm quite sure no one's made a concerted effort to teach him; who has a unique sense of humor; who is affectionate (those kisses of his are the best. thing. ever.); and who is so very agreeable, responding to every request with a sing-song "o.k.".

Max's two is not always so easy and enjoyable, and yet even those days manage to turn out all right. When he is "on" because he has an audience and knows it, there is no stopping him, nothing he won't do for a laugh or praise. There are instances when the slightest thing (or things we can't even identify) turn him into a crying, tantrum-y mess, and those are a nightmare to endure, and I am usually my own brand of crying, tantrum-y mess when it all just becomes too much.

But generally speaking, there are days when it feels like the amounts of kisses, hugs, snuggles and laughter are limitless, almost as if one day alone cannot hold them, and so they spill over into many other days. These are the days when I find myself feeling at peace and smiling a lot; and when I realize that when I used to say that I wanted kids, it was out of the hope that I would one day know something like this, that I would one day feel my heart bursting with a joy and love that I didn't even believe really existed.

I've needed this child if only just to feel human again. When I feel like a failure, or that I am too cold and weird and socially awkward and sensitive and anxious and unworthy of a good, happy life, all it takes is Max's smile. His smile and his hands touching my face and his face buried in my chest. And I feel human. I feel o.k. I feel a happiness that has always eluded me. I feel whole.

So two, two really isn't terrible. It's actually turning out to be pretty damn great.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/05/2007   | | | links to this post

Sunday, November 04, 2007

This Should be an Update on the Fatness, But It's Not

Mainly, because I deviated from my writing here and ended up writing a review in my new review blog.

But I at least managed to be in the realm of this topic, seeing as how I reviewed the new Curves Foods products, which should help me in my efforts to lose weight.

So, whatcha say? Care to take a quick read of my review? Of course you do! Please and thanks!

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Posted by Tere @ 11/04/2007   | | | links to this post

Friday, November 02, 2007

Cubans Give the Best Presents!

What do you do when you want to show your family how much you love them?

If you're Cuban, you get them their own tomb!

Better yet, you get everyone tombs, so you can all rest in eternal peace together! Even the Anglo in-laws!

Seriously. This is the gift that my bff M's grandparents have just bestowed on her and her (very white) husband.

My bff M has lived in NYC for about 10 years now - it's where she met said white-boy husband, who, unlike Ben, grew up completely sheltered from Cubans and Hispanics and their shenanigans.

On a visit home last week, M's grandparents broke the news about the eternal apartment complex they'll all be sharing, including her husband. Even better, they all - grandparents, M, her mom - all took a drive to the cemetery to visit it! M got a first-hand look at the mausoleum, including her very own special forever place. Unfortunately, her grandparents did not spring for the special lights that go on the grave marker for anyone but themselves, but M always has the option of purchasing her own later on.

I don't know, I kinda agree with what M told me - it's very comforting to know where you're going to end up. And it's beyond generous of her grandparents to provide so thoughtfully for her.

And as the products of Cuban households, we understand that death is a favorite topic, a central theme, in our parents' and grandparents' lives. One day it may be true of us.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/02/2007   | | | links to this post

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Now That They're Back Safely, I Can Tell You Where They've Been; Plus, Special Souvenirs!

On Tuesday, my parents returned from their European vacation (my mother's first trip abroad). I hadn't told many people about it because well, they were flying, and given my feelings about flying, I can't think or talk about my loved ones flying until they're safely back home.

My parents were in Eastern Europe, specifically Prague, Budapest and Vienna, because we had sent them there to celebrate my mom's birthday and their upcoming 40th wedding anniversary. My mom's one travel wish was to see Prague, so to Prague we sent her. And by "we" I mean my sisters, since I merely provided the spending money.

After Vienna, my parents broke from their tour group and headed to Rome, where they attended the beatification ceremony of what is to be the first Cuban saint. As I understand the story, this soon-to-be saint died in the Spanish civil war in 1932, but he was buried in a mass grave with a bunch of other soldiers. So technically, we don't know which remains are his (I'm fuzzy on this aspect of Catholicism, but I think when someone's going through the saint process, part of it is having the remains present or inspected or something like that, and in this case, that's not exactly possible).

Anyway, my parents got VIP seating for the ceremony (of all the things to get VIP seats for!), and had a lovely time visiting St. Peter's Basilica, eating Italian food and spending time with friends who met them there.

Flash-forward to my parents being back home, handing out souvenirs. As my mom is pulling pashminas and chocolates and t-shirts out, my dad pulls out three little zip-lock bags containing something that looks like coffee. Except that it wasn't coffee, but dirt from the soon-to-be Cuban saint's tomb. It seems that one of his friends, who had visited the tomb in Spain, collected some dirt in bags as a keepsake for my dad, my sister (!) and one of the local bishops.

(Aside: Cubans - at least, the Cubans I know - seem to have a fixation with dirt/sand/rocks from countries or places that have significance for them. For example, if they go to the Holy Land, they bring back some dirt or a rock or something. I believe it's somehow tied to exile and how that heightens the importance of such a basic element like land, when your homeland is one you may never see or touch again. Also, we're really morbid people.)

So then, the three bags of grave dirt are lying peacefully on the coffee table when a child by the name of Max walks by and gleefully grabs them. Soft bags! So much fun! Fun to throw! Wheeee!

You know where this is going right?

As I try to wrench the bags from his little hands, one breaks and.... grave dirt goes crash all over my parents' living room floor.

Yes, I was horrified. But I will probably go to hell for how hard it made me laugh.

But my parents are back safe and sound from a great vacation, and that's what matters.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/01/2007   | | | links to this post

How to Feed a Toddler

Well now, I’m not even going to claim that feeding Max is a breeze or that I have all the answers when it comes to dealing with toddlers at mealtimes. But there is one way that I differ from most first-time moms I encounter or read about, and I thought I’d share my wisdom (snort) with you.

Do I have any real advice, or am I just talking out of my a** again? Read the rest of the post and find out!

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Posted by Tere @ 11/01/2007   | | | links to this post