Character Foundation

My love of books and passion for writing grew from the manure of a childhood I had growing up. It was the perfect fertilizer. From the time I was born I was thrown into an atmosphere of anger and aggression. My father wasn’t an alcoholic or a drug addict. He was just mean or absent. A cranky and miserable man with an entirely too short of a fuse so needless to say he was never a really big part of my life. When it came to parenting he was a minimalist and once my parents divorced, the main male role model in my life would end up being my grandfather.

My parents divorced when I was about 4 and I do remember that being a huge turning point for me, and of course, so was all the other crap that was to come. After the divorce, my mother quickly had to go from having one full time job to having one full time and two part time jobs. While she was out working hard to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table, my grandparents provided us with the care and supervision that we needed. They soon after began living with us and it stayed that way on and off for about ten years.

Many would describe my grandfather Cesar as mean and grumpy, a man of few words. He apparently wasn’t too popular among my aunts and uncles, although the love for him was never absent. They had their own daddy issues to deal with and most of my cousins weren’t his biggest fans. My grandfather, in my eyes was something else. For me he was a handsome elegant man who loved my sister and I to no avail. He spoiled us when he could yet we still showed great respect for him. If we did wrong, he would let us know, not once hitting us, but his verbal reprimands were like harsh, stinging slaps to our faces. We never wanted to let him down. My grandfather taught me what it was to have a man in charge. The head of the household. He may not have been a perfect father himself but he had obviously learned and had become the perfect grandfather for my sister and me.

My grandmother was an angel. She was a woman who had given to birth to 8 children and pretty much raised them on her own. My grandfather had been known to leave her for weeks without notice to go on drinking binges, spending the little money the family would earn completely on himself. My grandmother was a true housewife. Not only did she cook and clean, but she also tended to the farm (milking cows, killing chickens, ect..) and would hand make all of her children’s clothes. You can now just imagine the role she played in our lives. My grandmother taught us how to make homemade meals, and even homemade cheese. She knew all about universal energy and shared with us the importance of nature, love, and intuition. And when times were tough emotionally, she was the one who taught me how to get through it.

I’ve never had it easy. Whether it was my home life, school life, or the life I had among my “friends” there was always something I wanted to run away from. My grandmother was the one who taught me how to escape the bullying, escape the feeling of rejection from my father, escape from all the darkness, and all other things I had no energy to really face. She taught me how to escape through the magical world of words.

“El que lee se instruye.” She’d repeat. And I did.. I taught myself many things about life. Things I would have never discovered early on in life if it weren’t for the magic of words.

My Teacher’s an Alien by Bruce Coville was the very first book I ever read that hadn’t been assigned to me by a school teacher. I’ll never forget it. It had a bright orange cover with two school kids, a boy and a girl, looking through their school teacher’s living room window, as they spot the teacher zippering down his human disguise revealing the fact that he is, in fact, an alien. I was about 12 or 13 at the time and this book was the first book from the library I had ever decided to read on my own. It also ended up being the first time I had ever read a book cover to cover in one day. This is when I understood the magic that books held in transporting you from reality into a completely different world. From that day forward I had found my escape and I was addicted. At 14 I began to write. I wrote poems and short stories, most of the time using my life as a point of reference. Writing then soon turned into my other form of escape and also release. I ended up spending most of my adolescent years with my nose stuck in either a book or notebook while the rest of the time I spent observing. I learned to observe people and life around me. I began to get good at not only reading books, and people, but situations as well.

Today, I still find shelter within the pages of a book and expression within the words I write down. Who I am today and what I know comes from guidance of what I’ve read, and what I’ve experienced, but also from the wise words of whom my grandparents once were. My grandfather is no longer walking this earth. The day he passed was the day I knew I lost my fatherly guidance. Instead of sorrow, I expressed gratitude because to have him in my life at all was a needed blessing. I mean who knows how my view of men and relationships would have been if he would not have been present in my life. My grandmother on the other hand is alive, but she is not the version that I once knew. She suffers from Alzheimer’s and is totally wheelchair bound. She currently lives back in her home country of Colombia where she gets better and affordable care than she would here in the states. I cannot tell you when the last time was that I saw her or if I will ever get to see her again. I think about them every single day for everything I know came from the foundation that they helped build within me. Today, I give them thanks for the wonderful world they helped me create for myself, now all that is left is for me to make every day count for they did none of what they did in vain.

To Cesar and Maria, You will always be the great example of which to follow.

abuleitos

 

 

Directionless

There was a time where I had this amazing blueprint of how my life would go.

I would move away from home, go to college, and finish with a degree in Forensic Psychology. I wanted to be Clarice from Silence of the Lambs. During this time that I would be making something out of myself, I would casually meet the man of my dreams. We would fall madly in love with one another, get married, and start a life together. Sprinkle a little travel time on top of that and there was my perfect life… and this was all to be done before the age of 26.

This is when I had some direction in life and somewhere along the road I veered off the beaten path I had cleared off for myself. I one day realized that this direction I was headed in was not a true blue print of what I wanted my own life to be. It was starting to seem more like the life that I knew society and its norms needed me to be. I slowly became aware that this was going to be a life that was chosen for me simply because I felt like it was what I had to do to please the world.

I’m not more than halfway through my first year of being in my 30’s. I have no kids, no husband, and never graduated from college. I haven’t decided to settle yet when it comes to the family life. I refuse to settle down with just anyone in order  to please everyone else. After deciding that forensic psychology, although very interesting, would just in the long run ruin my cheery personality, I quit what I was studying, walking away from an institution that I felt no longer was serving me. Removing the goal from the sacrifice and what are you left with? Nothing other than a lot of sacrificing. Not knowing what I truly wanted to do when it came to furthering my education I decided against finishing the last two years I had left to go. I felt that it was pointless to add to a debt for a mere sheet of paper that would do me no good unless it would have been put to use, and it wouldn’t have been.

So here I am, no kids to keep me busy. No husband to keep me grounded. No career to keep me focused. Do I fear where I am in life? Not one bit. The way I see it, the world is my oyster and at this point in time anything is truly possible. I compare my state of being now to what I was back then when I had some direction and the difference is night and day. The stress level is low and happiness is abundant. I am hardly every cranky anymore, and even though I may question more where I may be in three years, it is not a question that scares me, instead it fills me with excitement.

I am happy to be living, and even though life may not be going according to plan, I am totally alright with that. For me, happiness, much like the wind, flows freely into my life, directionless.

You Know, Sometimes….

Life can really throw you for a loop.

Sometimes “better late than never” is just a little too late. Sometimes it’s brighter before a wicked storm. Sometimes words don’t just bounce off of me and stick to you. Sometimes the grass truly is greener on the other side and the Universe is allowing for you to take a little look.

Sometimes it’s hard to really look at the bigger picture. Sometimes we forget that things that mean more to us, will be hard to obtain, but not impossible. Sometimes it is hard to maintain a cheery disposition, especially when things are tasting a little sour.

Sometimes it is totally Ok to not be Ok. Sometimes is not most times and all we need is a little reminder, that although complicated and tough, life is always good.

Tatted and Employed

For the first time in a really long time I feel truly comfortable in my own skin. Sure, the uncomfortablitly was self imposed, but I will not compromise my love for art for better treatment.

Since I began getting tattooed, I have always been well aware of the stigma that was once associated with having tattoos. Some of that stigma is still around. It survives in the shells of the old and conservative. I am finding though, that most people are now more inquisitive and want to know “what” they all mean rather than “why” I decided to do this to myself.

About ten years ago when I began getting tattooed, I started in places where no one could see unless I myself allowed for it to happen. My first one was a small Asian symbol on my right hip. Then that turned into an entire dragon piece. I later got one on my upper arm. When wearing a shirt with sleeves, no one would really see it unless I exposed it. During this time I was working at a restaurant where tattoos weren’t an issue… until an ex employee made it one that is. Because of his crazy antics, a rule was strictly enforced that anyone with visible tattoos would have to cover them up for work. Boom. Just like that. A policy was made. You can imagine my surprise when I walked into work one morning and my new tattoo that I had just gotten added to my arm had to be immediately covered up. That same day I headed out after work to purchase the athletic sleeves that I would later wear for the next 8 years of my employment there. I believe that this job is what inadvertently aided me to at times feel very self conscious later on about my tattoos.

Let me just make one thing known. I love all of my tattoos. Due to my patience and extensive research, I had found myself wonderful and talented artists to do all of my pieces. Nothing that I have tattooed on my body represents anything vulgar or even semi offensive. For me to feel self conscious about my body art was something I hadn’t envisioned for myself. I felt that the policy had been made out of anger towards an individual and now an entire group had to pay. Was it fair in my book? No.

That first year of having to wear my arm sleeve was rough. Imagine working as a waitress, having indoor and outdoor tables, running all over a restaurant in Florida heat with a damn long sleeve on. All because one little fucker with rebel knuckle tattoos couldn’t pull his shit together. I was not the happiest camper in the world. As a matter of fact, during these times was when I had hit a rough patch a work. I simply was not happy working there. I had felt as if I not only wasn’t allowed to be me, but I was also being shunned by those around me. What kept me there? The money of course and even to this day I have yet to make the same kind of money that I made while working at this establishment. Well, time went on, and as I matured I tried to understand where they were coming from. I hadn’t let this new policy ruin my plans to turn this walking canvas into walking art. I slowly kept adding to my art here and there, even as I was continuing to have to cover it up. I even went to the extent as to think that if one day they were to change the policy and allow tattoos to be visible in the work place that I would continue to wear my arm sleeve(s) because I felt as though maybe I would have to work much harder at having to try to win my customers over if my tattoos were exposed. Don’t get me wrong, not everyone on this little island that I worked on were judgmental. I cannot even count how many people have questioned why it is that not only me but other severs had to cover up our tattoos. To many it was incomprehensible. There were even people who would comment on reviews, stating that they felt bad for us “kids” having to endure such conditions, especially during Florida summers.

Fast forward to today and I think about how sad of a thought that was for me to have. To think that if I didn’t cover up my body art that I wouldn’t be able to connect with my customers. It was a thought I wouldn’t have ever had if it had not been for those bosses and that policy. Today I work at a cute German bar smack in the middle of Boca Raton, FL. A high-class town with high dollar retirees and high dollar families. Unlike my previous place of employment, this place doesn’t require me to cover my tattoos, which really surprised me for this area. It took me about 2 shifts to really feel ok with allowing my tattoos to show. It took me another 2 shifts for me to realize that most people didn’t give a flying fuck about my body art just as long as I’m pleasant, attentive, and got their orders right.

I’ve realized so much by working at this place that has no tattoo policy. I’ve noticed that for one I now give more people the benefit of the doubt. Whether it is people I meet out in the streets or those I’m serving, I don’t go into it with the preconceived notion that they’re going to negatively judge me for having tattoos. In an odd way I feel free. Like I can actually breath and totally be myself. For those who do still continue to have a stigma against those with tattoos, I have noticed that by the end of their meal, it is as if I turned their perception from bad to good. As if they now realize that not all of us with tattoos have drug problems, or anger issues, or whatever else people seem to think when they see us.

For me, all I want to express in this piece that I’m writing to all of you is that in a world where people are trying so hard to be able to express themselves freely, in an age where people are fighting for individuality, why place such policies to hinder that? Listen, I get it. If Johnny Walker comes into my place of business with the words “Fuck Off” tatted on his knuckles and is looking for a job that deals with the public, fine. Have the guy fill out the application, and just don’t call him back, But to not only punish but make people feel as if they’re lesser of a person and must hide who they are and what they represent, simply because you fear the critics, shame on you. People who criticize will do so no matter what. You can try to hide the fact that your employees have tattoos but an obviously huge cover up is a dead give away and calls more attention to what you’re hiding.Give your employees the benefit of knowing that their wonderful personality and impeccable work ethic will shine through to your customers. Make them feel that it is ok to be themselves. Be that little change that this world needs to see.

Tough Times Are Bridges

People will always let you down. So will places and things. This is exactly why the sooner we realize to not expect anything different, the sooner we can live in extended periods of bliss no matter  what surprises are thrown our way.

As a kid I obviously did not know this key fact to life. Which is exactly why I love getting older because if you’re smart and you learn from life and its lessons, you begin to realize how much power you truly do hold when it comes to handling situations that are out of your control. The power isn’t controlling external situations. By doing that you’re setting yourself up for dooming failure. The power lies in controlling internal ones. So as I grow older I find that it isn’t so  much trying to grab reins of the outside world but more grabbing the reins of my inner self.  I’m learning to focus on the things I can control such as what I choose to focus my thoughts and actions on. I focus on my inner dialogue as well as I try to always keep tabs on how I feel. My instinct is my greatest tool and as I continue to live my life and tune into it more, I feel that it has become so strong that it has become a different sort of power within itself.

For the majority of the time I am a positive and a happy person, even when life hasn’t been so easy. It’s not that I’m being fake but it’s more that I don’t care to give into the emotions of sadness, rage, anger, depression, ect. I could feel it of course for a second…maybe a few minuets or a couple hours depending on the situation, but you will not see me dwell. I move on. I feel that there is no problem that couldn’t be overcome so quickly I try to find solutions. Even a serious illness has a solution. You may not like it but death is nature’s way of solving. Very emo of me to say I know, but hey, unless you are one to believe that when we die our energy just poof! collapses and turns to nothing, death isn’t such a bad solution, am I right? (I’m not talking suicide! Don’t get these thoughts twisted… Remember I mentioned ‘serious illness’)

Troubles are going to always arise and it is how we handle these problems that really defines us as individuals. No, life isn’t perfect and like I said before, there will always be something disrupting a happy streak. The way to begin to take control of these situations is by first looking at these issues or problems for what they really are, bridges. That’s right, a bridge. You are basically going from one island of happiness to another but in order to get onto that next island of happiness you must first walk the bridge to get there. How quickly you make your way over that bridge is totally up to you. You can take a seat and sulk a bit, dwell on all that you may have left behind on happiness island. Or, you can slowly begin to take one foot and place it in front of the other, making your way off of this wobbly bridge and onto the next happiness island of fun and adventure.

Difficult situations and hurtful emotions are very hard to overcome but human beings are made to be resilient and so we must remember that we are here to live,endure, learn, and there is no way for our souls to live, experience, and evolve without the painful, the hurtful, and the ugly.  The past few days for me have not been the easiest. Actually, scratch that, more like the last couple months, but with that said, I have had beautiful moments in between. Little bits of happiness here and there, sprinkles, like multicolored jimmies on plain vanilla ice cream. Just a little over 24hrs ago a decision was made for me that would indeed affect aspects of my life in ways I didn’t see coming. Although I cannot control these external issues, internally I am dealing. So I have stopped for just a second to take a moment to also breath in some fresh air. Yes, what I may be going through is not easy but I can accept it for what it is and can now wholeheartedly move on without regret. I have begun taking the steps to get over this bridge and I find that it’ll be much sooner than later that I will come upon this new island of happiness. I look forward to that moment. I surrender my thoughts to those of only positivity and happiness. Everything else can just fall away, and as the bridge I walk on sways, I use its momentum to propel me far far away from those feelings that could keep me stuck.

 

Getting to Know Frustration

I get back home from work and I am tired and drained. Having to cater to people and their needs truly does take a toll on a person, I don’t care what anyone says. When I get home all I want to do is take off my uniform, pee, and veg out for a little. That is me unwinding. Sometimes I don’t speak very much. Sometimes I just want to sit in silence. There are times that I may crave a beer and drink it (or two or three) while I watch my favorite t.v show. There are times I smoke a little pot. Unwinding and how you do so, I feel, is a personal choice. After living alone for most of my 20’s, I am used to this being my style of unwinding. Even when I was in school and living with my mother, other than the booze and the pot, this has always been my style of unwinding.

Oh how the comforts of unwinding have changed since rooming with someone.

We all get it. Having roommates is hardly ever easy. It’s almost like having a relationship, so many things to consider. So many more people to have to keep in mind. It is a self-inflicted punishment, one that usually arises out of convenience. Yet even though we are aware of the risks involved when deciding whether or not to have a roommate we still always give into the temptation of taking the most instantly gratifying way.

So here I am with a roommate. My usual unwind after work has now taken a turn.

I decide that once home, I was simply going to relax on the couch with my dog for a bit and catch up on a few of my shows that I haven’t had time to watch in the last few weeks. I do my usual routine.  I come home and change out of my uniform. I use the bathroom and after I’m done I get to my favorite spot on the couch and settle in. I begin to channel surf and just as I am about to locate the t.v show I have been waiting all week to watch, in comes my roommate.

“What’s wrong with you? Everything ok?” She asks me and I look up at her questionably.

“Yeah, everything is great. Why?” I answer as I turn and look back at the t.v.

“You just seemed annoyed or agitated.” She walks off and into the kitchen.

“No, well I’m not. Just here relaxing after work.” I smiled more to myself than to her. How did I look agitated?? I literally just sat on the couch and clicked on the tube. How can one misinterpret that into agitation?

“Ok, because if you are annoyed with something you can talk to me.” Lexi walks back into the living room holding a small McIntosh apple and continues the inquisition. NOW is when I begin to get irritated but I still try to keep it to myself.

“Nice, well I’ll surly keep that in mind the next time I’m annoyed or agitated.” I reply while I continue to scan the t.v guide. I’ve realized that at this point I’ve gone through half of the channels without even realizing. Great.

“Sooooo you are annoyed about something?” She was now staring at me from her bedroom doorway.

“What? No. Why? I just said that I wasn’t. I’m literally just trying to relax. I’m tired.” A flicker of annoyance dances across my face and hold onto my words. Who does she think she is ruining my winding down time? Like seriously.

“Well, You just said that you’d tell me the “next time” that you’re annoyed. That would mean that not this time but the next, insinuating that this time you’re annoyed but not willing to talk about it.” Her intention seemed genuine but this conversation had turned so annoying that her genuine concern no longer mattered. I wanted to flick her away from me.

“I honestly was just fine until a few seconds ago. This current conversation just got really annoying.” All of this talk about agitation and annoyance was starting to make me really agitated and annoyed. I was almost tempted to go into my room and curl up with a nice quiet book. Too bad it was a book that I currently didn’t want to read.

FUCK! Could a girl just watch some goddamn t.v without being interrogated?

The conversation didn’t end well. By the end of it I told her how this was exactly why I hadn’t wanted to live with her from the beginning. I felt as though I couldn’t just be myself without her questioning, probing, and prodding.  I had hurt her feelings because I hadn’t sugar coated what I was feeling. It took me a day and a half of meaningless small talk to get her “back to normal”.

I understand now that what I had considered to be an interrogation was just a kind girl giving a shit. Should I have gotten irritated and snappy back? Of course not, but I am only human. If I’m tired, hungry, stressed, or moody… well, who knows what could happen. But am I an asshole? No. I care. I truly do, especially when it comes to good people.

I’ve heard of adults being “stuck in their ways” but I  don’t want to be one of those. Yes, I’m used to my own ways of doing things but that doesn’t mean that I can’t change routine or break it a little. Breaking routine, the way I see it, is living.

As life with a roommate continues, I get to know frustration a little more and I accept it as an obvious part of life. It’s a daily struggle to adapt to living with a person especially one who is so different from who I am. Yet, the struggle is a rewarding one because with each hurdle jumped, our friendship grows a little bit more…..and there is such beauty in that kind of frustration.

 

What Does It Feel Like..

..to be you? Because to be me feels like…

I’m going somewhere slowly… very slowly, but at least I’m going somewhere, right?

Sometimes I feel exhausted and defeated. There are moments where I feel like the heavy weight of absolutely nothing is hanging on my shoulders and it’s a struggle to put one foot in front of the other.

Sometimes to be me feels like I’m competing against other people and their standards. It is almost as if I am continuously trying to live up to the goals and aspirations that others dream up for me, all the while I wishfully day dream of my own.

There are moments that being me feels like I am the strongest most powerful woman in the world. I feel as though there isn’t one thing any one person could say or do to make me feel less than bright. I shine during these moments like a diamond in the light.

There are times when being me feels like the most rewarding gift life has given me because even though I have lived a semi tough life, I wouldn’t  ever want to switch my life for anyone else’s.

To be me feels nomadic. It feels adventurous and spontaneous, with added slight flickers of instability. To be me feels like a whirlwind of the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful.

To be me feels daunting yet refreshing.

To be me feels contradictory and imperfect. So much so that it’s completely perfect.

To be me makes me happy.

Now tell me… What does it feel like to be you?