Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sláinte!! In an Irish state of mind

 It has been a while... again. I hope I've been gone but not forgotten. The legendary Irish in me gets pretty green today. It feels real eventhough we can't prove it. It must be immigrant empathy plus cultural similarities uprising. At the end, if we are all together in this fight called life... We might as well do it like the pros.

"Irish diplomacy: the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions, and look forward to the trip" Winston Churchill

Originally published for St Pat's day 2010:

“You don’t have to be Irish to be one on St. Paddy’s day…” Isn’t that a catchy phrase? But why do we like to feel Irish? At first I thought, it has to be the alcohol infused euphoria of celebrating with green colors, tons of beer, music and friends. After two years in a row of hosting a St.Patrick’s day party, I thought that was my case.

This will be the first year after two “go-green, drink free, have fun” bashes, that I have the time to think about what makes me feel Irish, even though I am not (and for the record, it has been a family urban legend since I can recall, our Irish inheritance that is).

This year I am away, alone, working, after two extremely intense weeks full of traveling, life-changing events and deep feelings. Thinking about the luck of the Irish, the Irish –Celtic rock and folk music I love so much and the energy those tunes bring me; my restless Irish terrier always ready to play and up for some hugs; Boston and the Red Sox (and how close we are for opening season!), of the Irish pubs and their live music, Celtic dances, stout beer and sharp cheddar. Remembering the sad movies and books about how difficult life has been for the Irish, forcing them to migrate away from their own country and make their own luck, but staying together and keeping the faith. Surfing all those mental images I have of the feisty Irishman, full of courage, pride, tradition, loyalty and passion, never giving up, always up for more, ready for the next fight. Not always right, but with the conviction of their own ideals that makes them strong.

That is my idea of being Irish, that’s what makes me feel like one: the fact that I want to fight for what I want and enjoy every minute of it, to keep up with the challenges every day bring, to never let go and recover fast from the falls, because I don’t want to waste my life making plans for when the time is right. Feel happy even with the smallest things, only because they make me smile; never to ease my passionate mind but always slow down to aim right. Trust in my instincts, follow my heart and keep the faith. Not to be afraid of love, express it, share it and let it flow back. That’s the spirit I want to have. That’s what I want to be… to always remember, to never forget…that it’s all up to me.

Happy St. Patrick ’s Day!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Macaroon Rain

Paris, France, summer of 2011
C’mon, hurry up! It’s almost 5 o clock and I’m sure they’re going to close soon.  This was the cry of a desperate person. A woman in need.   A hard working professional that had no time to waste.  We gotta get them, or else…  this was war…

My first cousin, more like my little sister I should say, came with me to one of my business trips, to nowhere else but Paris.  Day after day I woke up early, got ready for work, and she stayed in, licking her wounds, sleeping over her past. Waiting for me to go out and discover together new places and stories, taking pictures – both mental and digital- of a city that had so much to offer. After a full week of bonding, laughing, weeping, spending long nights not really sleeping but holding real deep conversations, we knew that we will remember this week forever.

What is Paris if not a gourmet extravaganza of all sorts?  Wine by the bottle?  Check! Croque monsieur on demand? Check! Grand Marnier soufflé? You bet! Every day a new restaurant or café, Walking off the calories and sucking in the love. It was a week that tasted like a life time.
Right around the corner from our hotel in gorgeous St Honoré, there was a little jewel – a Pierre Hermé Macaroon shop… for those who are not familiar with the concept, a macaroon  is a French (some say British actually) biscuit that is soft as a cloud and smooth as an angel (like I’ve ever tasted or touched an angel or a cloud, right?). Anyway, in this place, they have the most amazing macaroons not only for the perfect crispy yet melting in your mouth meringue, bright multi color array of round marvels, but for the unique fillings: from classic pistachio to sweet rose petal, green tea, jasmine, passion fruit & chocolate, lavender, coffee, guava, Tahitian vanilla.  I’ve tasted them once, my cousin bought a sampler box as a midnight snack and then I was hooked. We got to buy a box for the folks back home (ok fine!  And for us right here).

Friday afternoon of our last day in town… too many things to do, too little time!  Left the office and got to the room. Cousin was back from her shopping spree – the bags around gave the room the look of a Harper’s bazaar photo shoot. I’ve changed my working clothes, took her by the hand and left the place like there was no tomorrow (because there wasn’t for us in Paris!). Once we arrived to the hotel front door, there it was: a super gray sky and a super heavy storm pounding the sidewalk like bullets. Oh my, what are we going to do???? The front door bellman told us: Mademoiselles, you wait, raining much, you wet (maybe his English wasn’t that bad, but that was all I could hear between my desperation and the sound of city rain). I took a deep breath, along with a glance at my watch, and made up my mind: Do you have umbrellas, monsieur? We are taking off! You sure, madam? Just wait and it will slow down… yes, I AM SURE! The macaroon place was not going to shut its doors on me!! So there we went, one big umbrella for each other, me taking the lead and cousin walking as fast as she could to catch up with yours truly – little frantic me, short as I can be but determined as much – power walking thru the curtain of Parisian water falling  from a crying Napoleonic sky. 

It was only two blocks from the hotel indeed… two LONG, WET blocks looking like distance looks like in dreams; the faster we walked the further it went. I never looked back, I was sure cousin was right behind… it never occurred to me how this rushing thru the rain holding a huge umbrella was hysterical for the viewers, especially for the one in front row (yes, cousin back there). Every step I took, bouncing the huge cover up I was holding with all my strength, she was getting twice as wet: once from the rain, twice from the water flowing from my umbrella!!  My little feet were soaked of course, and that was making me even more frantic. I was moving my short legs faster by the minute and the huge umbrella was covering pretty much my whole self – it was like looking at a video game, I was the Super Mario Bro’s mushroom rushing thru one of their strange world being chased by a carnivorous flower.

Finally, we arrived! Pierre Hermé was still open, we pushed the door so hard it hit the wall and got in dripping and laughing… crying-laughing actually… do you know the feeling?  It took us a good full minute to realize that the nice French employees were there, observing these crazy foreigners in awe.  After recovering from the laughter attack, 5 minutes tops, we started to explain ourselves, to justify our desperate journey in the rain, perhaps looking for a slight sign of empathy, when suddenly… the rain… magically… STOPED!!! Just like that, not even slowed down, oh no. The rain was gone. Gray clouds opened up to a crispy clean almost sunny afternoon. “This is Paris in the summer, madam” they said… this is how stupid must look like in French, I thought.

Macaroons we bought, oh yes. A box for here and some more for the go. Wet pants and soaking flats made me feel super uncomfortable. But it was totally worth it. From that day on, cousin and I developed an intense love for sweet treats, a huge need for accomplishment, and above all, a superior sense of urgency for the things that matter the most:  the small, crazy, unplanned things that make you laugh your guts out, the ones that create stories, those small details that make life worth living.

To my beautiful Paola, on our Paris trip's first anniversary (almost!) 
Love you to hell and back, and that's far!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Oldie but goodie...freedom has no expiration date

July 4th, 2012

"Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry is own weight, this is a frightening prospect. " Eleanor Roosevelt

"Money won't create success, the freedom to make it will." Nelson Mandela

"If society fits you comfortably enough, you call it freedom." Robert Frost

"Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free." Jim Morrison

"When people talk of the freedom of writing, speaking or thinking I cannot choose but laugh. No such thing ever existed. No such thing now exists; but I hope it will exist. But it must be hundreds of years after you and I shall write and speak no more." John Adams

...............THE TIME IS NOW!!

America for the Americans - originally posted on July 4th, 2010

Independence Day is a colorful holiday, summer time and fireworks, barbeques and lemonade (or beer). A day to remember we live in the land of the free home of the brave. To feel proud of being part of a great machinery of citizens that make this place the land of opportunities, a place where the dreams are possible and where hard work, honesty and spirit counts.

The 13 American colonies declared its independence from the British Empire back in 1776, in a document written mainly by Thomas Jefferson and John Adams and with the main objective, besides stating the obvious separation from England, to ensure "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with inalienable rights," and "that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." Equal. That is one strong word.

The United States of America is a country built mainly by immigrants. People from all around the world were welcomed to settle in a country in need for inexpensive labor force and offering hope for those getting away from hunger, religious persecution and political instability. European immigrants mainly from Ireland, Germany, Italy and Poland along with millions of Afro-Americans already in the country during colonial times started it all. Diversity in all senses: creed, ethnicity, culture, language. Asia made its great contribution of people along with Mexican agriculture workers. Scandinavians were lure to the other side of the Atlantic by the promise of free land in America. Nobody arrived uninvited. They all wanted a piece of the dream. A dream described mainly by the letters from their own relatives already living in, by exaggerated descriptions of the so called opportunities.

Historically and cyclically immigrants had been discriminated by the native-born –and most likely garnished by surnames such as Fitzpatrick, Bauer, Rossi, Roosevelt, Murphy and Garcia – with unfair acts ranging from verbal and physical abuse to burning their homes and deporting them for taking the American’s jobs. Immigrants have been taking turns in the path of discrimination: African-Americans suffered the most by slavery and denial of human rights; Irish treated as second class citizens, carriers of diseases and filth. Mexicans treated as criminals, ignorant and second-class human beings. Stereotypes applied without further reasoning or logical foundation.

I am an immigrant. I was born in Mexico. I was naturalized American therefore became Mexican-American. My family lives in Arizona. I pay my taxes; we contribute to the great American economy. I am as proud of my background as I am loyal and grateful for the opportunity to be in the United States. My two beautiful nieces are half-Mexican, they will always be. I was told, more than once, I don’t look Mexican… neither do my nieces. I don’t take that as a compliment…it insults me and my heritage to the bone. Nobody should have the right to decide who is good or bad, who has the right to live or should leave by the way it looks, the ability to speak more than one language, an accent or the amount of spices you can tolerate in the food. Arizona’s government is enforcing a state of fear and encouraging the ignorant idea of supremacy based on racial profiles.

One of my best friends, who is also one of the smartest human beings I know – which happens to be Mexican – once told me “Illegal immigration is a social phenomenon not a crime”; by treating illegal immigrants crossing the southern border of the USA as such, and granting the authorities the right to apply subjective criteria to determine who is not an American, a greater evil is encouraged: racism and superiority. A few clarifications for the record: not all the darker-skin, short height, dark-hair, Spanish-spoken aliens trying to cross the border are illegal; neither are all Mexican – Guatemala, Salvador, Honduras and the rest of the central and south American places are, in fact, different countries (it might come as a shocker to some, but America is not just the United States). Not all “Latinos” look alike.

The United States of America, as well as any other nation in the world, has all the right to regulate immigration; nobody should live illegally in a country, without paying taxes and without basic living conditions. But one would think that a first-class country should have the capability to find better means of control; criminalizing an act of desperation and self-preservation goes against human nature, against the nation’s ideals and foundation. Yes, it is against the law and should be treated like that; but no, it is not a crime. Yes, it is something that should be regulated; but no, it does not give the right to become human-hunters.

Some of the greatest contributions to the American culture came from immigrants: from literature to food, from financial institutions to music. Immigrants willing to work hard and become part of a new generation of people open for change and respectful of each other’s right for freedom, to equal rights, equal obligations, and equal opportunities . Call me naïve and romantic, but I still want to believe in America for the Americans – whatever the background, whatever the country – but willing to be free.

To Mia and Amy - always feel proud of who you are.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fortunately, Unfortunately - by Ryan Osmond

Ryan Osmond

Fortunately, one day Kyle won a lottery ticket. Unfortunately, it was in Japan.
Fortunately, there was an airplane in 20 minutes. Unfortunately, the time he got there, there was a thunderstorm.
Fortunately, the clouds lowered, so the plane could lift off. Unfortunately, it started to hail.
Fortunately, he parachuted into Japan. Unfortunately, he landed on a fire.
Fortunately, the fire got put out. Unfortunately, he fell in an open manhole.
Fortunately, there was another manhole near by. Unfortunately, there was a giant troll ready to attack him.
Fortunately, it was only a statue. Unfortunately, now he was a mile away from the lottery ticket office.
Fortunately, there was a taxi. Unfortunately, he was short on money.
Fortunately, there was a bank. Unfortunately, by the time he got back from the bank the taxi was gone.
Fortunately, he brought a phone. Unfortunately, the new taxi ran out of gas.
Fortunately, it was right at the lottery ticket office! 
About the author
Ryan is an amazing  Canadian-Mexican 8 year old boy. His creativity is beyond limits. Used to have an imaginary friend called Guga. He loves  snow boarding, surfing, camping, rocks and backyard science. Ryan lives in Vancouver, BC with his parents, He is my best friend's son and Godson by heart...he is my beautiful, beautiful boy.