You Can’t Buy Everything

I pulled up to the house, the usually clank, clank as I rolled through the gate.


Turned the radio down. Grabbed the wrapper from my breakfast biscuits, half full can of day old La Croix, and gas station receipts, some hard dried up play doh, and stuffed it in a plastic Walgreens bag.

Car Key. Glasses. Purse. Garbage.


My husband opened the door as I stood there fumbling through my Mary Poppinesque bag for the keys.


I adjusted the strap of my blue messenger, switched the bag of garbage I had collected from my car to the other hand.


He smiled longingly at me as I caressed his neck with my free hand.


We kissed softly.

Keys and sunglasses collided with the school pictures of the kids as I tossed them on the table by the door.

Walked around the red scooter the kids left in the hallway.


A shoe box on the kitchen counter caught my eye, but I casually placed my bag down next to it and walked over to the sink to pour out the remaining La Croix before I tossed it.


”Is that for me?” I asked, tilting my head back, not sure if he was in the room yet, but looking for him in the reflection of the kitchen window.


I grabbed the box as he walked up to me.


They were white cycling shoes. Seven and a half.


I had gotten him a Peloton for Valentine’s Day, and had been thinking about trying it, but hadn’t gotten myself a pair of clip-ins yet.


”Happy Birthday,” he said warmly.


”I love them! Thank you” I kissed him and wrapped my arms around his waist, and rested my head on his chest.


”What do you get the girl that can buy herself anything,” he stated.


”Well, not anything,” I said rolling my eyes, smiling.


”I couldn’t buy you… Your love…Our Family… Thank you.”

And we held each other.

God’s Mercy: The Shrimp Boat

5 de Junio 1980
Port of Mariel, Cuba
———-
Many waited in the large room. Among them, my parents and sister—only 10 months old at the time—my aunt, uncle and cousin.

Like pupils, they listened intently for their names, not just to indicate that they were present, but because it meant they were a few steps closer to freedom.

The summer heat only added to the bubbling tension. As each name was called, uneasy looks turned into smiles. Families, couples, men & women headed into another room. Sometimes one after the other, but more often than not, the order didn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason. 

The room grew empty as people rejoined each other in the other room that may as well have already been called America. 

After some time, my father found himself alone; only a few others whom he didn’t know remained.

He waited, conjectured, speculated, imagined the worst; he prayed; and then he saw my mother and sister returning with a guard. 

They hadn’t called his name. He would not be authorized to leave through the Mariel boatlift.

He had previously been imprisoned for attempting to leave the island, and now, years later despite a wife and infant, it seemed they weren’t going to let him go so easily.

My mother couldn’t speak as she approached him. Fear welled up in her eyes, and in his heart. 

He bit his bottom lip, opened his mouth, then hesitated. 

He told her to take my sister, and go ahead with my uncle.

“Tranquila,” he said and held them close as she sobbed. 

“Despidese ya, que usted no lo va a ver mas,” the guard sneered heartlessly. What joy could he find in separating a family?

She kissed him one last time. He cupped my sister’s face in his hands and kissed her forehead lightly, smelling her hair at the same time, hoping to remember her sweet face whenever he smelled the familiar baby cologne. 

My mother’s heart ached, but even at 19 she was obedient and loyal. 

My father watched them go, towards an uncertain future, but better nonetheless, even if the sea would forever lie between them.

My aunt held my sister for the majority of the trip, while my mother vomited over the edge of the boat that brought them to the United States. She was seasick the entire voyage, perhaps heartbroken and distraught by her decision as well. 

———-

Thankfully, with the help of God and the support of our families, my father was able to leave Cuba a few days later. The boat that brought my father to the United States on June 10, 1980, and would eventually reunite my father with his family, was named God’s Mercy; and so has it carried us ever since. 

———-

This is just a piece of the story of my parents exodus from Cuba; however, the sacrifice they were willing to make that day is not unlike those they have continued to make over the last 35 years. They always put their families’ needs first, above and before their own desires. My parents have been amazing examples and pillars of instruction my entire life. I am so grateful to have them both. More than anything though, I am grateful to God for his mercy and the blessings he has bestowed on our entire family.

How to get away with Mur…MARRIAGE!

How to get away with Mur…RIAGE!

Ha! Marriage!
Yes, I almost said Murder; but both go hand in hand if you ask 40-50% of the population.

MARRIAGE: It’s supposed to be a “Merry-Age”? But for a lot of people it’s more like a slow torturous death.

The plus side is you can always just pull the plug and get a divorce, RIGHT?

NO!!! This totally annoys me.

If you inherently believe that you are gonna fail at something the whole while you are attempting it, don’t you think that negativity will filter through? At the first sign of trouble, you just throw in the towel and bail?

Gosh, we’d probably still be pushing boulders around and beating each other over the head with clubs if we gave up on everything so easily.

Yes, some issues arise because people get married for the wrong reasons, or without getting to know each other well enough, and so on. But for the purpose of this blog post, let’s assume both parties are in love and genuinely believe they WANT to spend the rest of their lives together.

I always hated the phrase “Marriage takes work.” If marriage takes work, then I guess parenting is unpaid overtime, with no breaks or benefits?

I only kid (if you are single and not a parent yet).

If you ARE married and/or also in the parenting phase of your life/relationship, have Faith; be Steadfast; YOU CAN DO THIS!

How? How can I get through another day, you ask? How can I be happy, make my partner happy, and be a good parent at the same time?

Well this post has all the answers you’ve been looking for, you just have to read the whooooole thing to find out.

Okay, I lied.

It’s not easy. It takes a lot of slapping yourself in the face, and saying “Snap out of it!” And “Stop whining like a lil B—-!”

Hi. My name is Carmen.

I’m 17 years into my relationship; almost 11 years into my marriage; and 8 1/2 years into the parenting phase.

And I’m very happy with my life, marriage and family up till now. Many will say I’m happy because I haven’t gotten to the bad part yet. Why do people always wanna have a worse story than you? Wether it’s relationship stories or the horrific labor stories women tell, we are always trying to one up with the bad vibes or bad news.

Well, thankfully, we passed the “7 year itch” without a hitch. We’ve got four kids, all natural labors, 3 with epidural. And although our oldest is only 8, she is frightfully maturing at the speed of light.

Unfortunately, there’s no epidural for marriage, but you shouldn’t need one.

Here are 10 other things you can do be happy in your marriage. I say other because there are so many factors that contribute to a happy marriage.

1: Play hide & seek.
Or, as I like to call it: randomly hide from your husband and scare the crap out of him.

WARNING: while this is EXTREMELY fun, and HILARIOUS, be warned that I cannot be responsible if you get punched or kicked in the face by your frightened significant other.

Whenever I hear him coming down the hall, I find a quiet place to hide and then wait… And wait… And wait. Sometimes for several minutes.

Sounds sinister, I know, but it makes for a great laugh for the both of us, after the initial scare that is. Thankfully he seems to forget to get me back.

2: Serenade each other randomly. 

You don’t need a fancy guitar or Mariachis. Just sing in the car or at home when “your song” comes on. Or text them randomly if you hear your song or any other romantic song on the radio. And don’t discriminate if it’s “Bump and Grind”; it’s the thought that counts.

3: Say I love you when you’re just going to another room.

Say I love you a lot! NO, it does not take the meaning away! Sometimes we don’t say it enough to avoid overuse.

Are you kidding me? Do you know how many times we use the word “the” or “and” everyday? Try taking that out of   rest of this blog post see how odd it would be.

Say “I love you” often as you can.

4: Make time to be Intimate.

This should be number 1, but the order doesn’t really matter.

This is especially true once you have kids, but even before. You get married, and have jobs and responsibilities, and before you know it you could be in a slump! Do not give in to the slump. As tacky or unexciting as it may sound, set aside time to be intimate. Literally, count the days and plan for it.

As boring as that may sound, it will still be fun and exciting once you get around to it! So book your calendars just as you would a mani, pedi, or gym-time.

5: Leave little love notes for each other. 

This one is more for the ladies.

Ladies, don’t read this and say, “my guy never does that.” You see THAT is YOUR biggest problem. Stop comparing your guy to someone else’s. AND stop expecting things from him just because you do them, or want him to do them. Men are totally different animals than us. They DO NOT think the way we do. So you have to learn to interpret and appreciate the little things they do for us.

Like what?

Well, how about when they fix something around the house; deal with your car problems; maybe they let you pick a movie. Okay, maybe it’s just a show between the commercials of the football game; okay, maybe you just hold the remote. FINE! Who am I kidding, we barely have remote rights.

Also, ladies, men are terrible guessers. Just tell them what you want and stop expecting them to “know” everything.

6: Compliment each other.

Naturally, as time passes and you start to settle into the relationship, you get so comfortable you forget how attractive you once found each other. You forget about the chase because you already caught each other, and even though you still have the hots for each other, you stop saying/showing it.

This sort of goes back to number 4/1, but also leads to #7.

7: Be confident.
Too often we don’t give ourselves enough worth. We get down on ourselves because we don’t like what we see in the mirror and we ASSume the other person is unhappy with us as well.

Well, NEWSFLASH, men are easier to please than you think. NO they are not blind; you ARE NOT Miranda Kerr or Sofia Vergara, and yes they find these women very attractive. BUT nevertheless, your spouse wants YOU! So ACT like you look like Miranda Kerr, just don’t talk like Sofia Vergara (that’s just annoying). Put on something sexy no matter what you look like, and your spouse will be happily surprised!

8: Never keep track of who owes who.

Marriage is a give and take (this also goes back to number 4/1).

It’s about compromising and sacrificing.

Sometimes you will feel like you are giving more than the other person. But you aren’t supposed to keep tabs. It’s not a math equation.

You don’t give in hopes of receiving, although the saying goes “you rub my back, I’ll rub yours.” And who doesn’t love a good back rub?

You have to love the person more than yourself. If you are both truly in love, then it all balances out.

Ask my husband and he’ll confirm, “Happy Wife; Happy Life!”

9: Don’t worry about other people’s relationships.

NOBODY is perfect. No matter how “happy” people seem.

You know what makes for a great marriage?

Discretion.
Keep your problems between the both of you. Work them out together, whenever possible just between you and your spouse. Because your unconditional love will forgive many things, but your friends, family and Facebook will not be as understanding or forgiving.

10: Articles about Marriage are like Fad diets.

Their advice WORKS! But the second you atop dieting, you gain all the weight/problems back.

You see marriage is for a lifetime. There is no quick fix, or one time remedy because life takes it’s own course. You have to face obstacles and challenges as they came. It’s impossible to plan for anything.

I hope this post is somewhat helpful. If I have to pick one out of the ten as thee most important, I would go with number 4! 😉

Like Nike says,“Just Do It!” LITERALLY!

Tit for Tat?

Last weekend, my husband and I decided to fight the deep-seeded urge to stay home growing roots into our couch, and instead join our best guy friend and his girlfriend at her middle school reunion. It was at a casual indoor/outdoor bar called American Social, where they also serve food. How American.

I (and by I, I mean my husband) complained about the name of the place; about missing the exit on the way there because he was complaining about having to be sociable; about the valet having just closed as we pulled up due to rain. There were so many reasons to have just stayed home. We could’ve been on the couch or in bed, by ourselves, out of the rain, watching a movie, or even better… SLEEPING!

GASP! A perfect evening wasted. BUT we pushed on! Damn it, I was determined that we be social!

We got there before our friends did so we pushed our way through the outdoor lounge area to the bar inside. I guess lots of people had the same idea as us because this place was packed. I’d never even heard of it, but then again we don’t stray very far from the house. It’s like we’ve got these little ankle bracelets that will self destruct if we hit a certain distance from home. We do. They are called children. Ha! No, but seriously, we’ll make any excuse to stay home, even when our parents watch the kids for us.

We hadn’t eaten dinner, so I made reservations on the way there through Open Table. There’s an app for everything! We waited about 15 minutes before they sat us at one of the low lounge tables outside; America themed throw pillows and all. By then, I had already had my first drink, and, of course, I had to use the bathroom.

I made my way back inside to look for one. It was a young crowd in general, young as in early to late thirties. HEY! That is still young!

I didn’t pay much attention to the guys; but like most women, I criticized each and every female as I bumped past them on the way to the bathroom. It’s like a defense mechanism; criticize them before they have a chance to criticize you.

Women, we are our own worst enemies.

So what did I see? You women readers are curious, I know. There were several gorditas wearing too-short shorts; a few others wearing knee high boots that made them look like Humpty Dumpty; the typical, slutty girl in the see through top, thong showing every-time she, well just all the time; the drunk dancing queens bumping into people, repeatedly making them spill their drinks; and then, of course, there are always the few girls that actually look good. THOSE are the ones you REALLY attack.

There was this one, GODDESS, if you will, in a short tight skirt and crop top, some Hervé Léger getup, or probably Bebe. She had long brunette hair, flawless skin and makeup, a perfect tan, nice flat stomach, long legs, and curves in all the right places. Perfect, Perfect, Perfect; in my opinion of course. She was the ideal of what I’d like to see in the mirror. So, I did the typical eye roll, almost epileptic, like completely into the back of my head, and grumbled,”Skank.”

I did more damage in that short walk from my table to the bathroom than a tractor trailer on an icy stretch of busy interstate road.

Now, moping and overanalyzing my own outfit and overall look, I practically punched the bathroom door open.

PERFECT, there’s a line of girls to keep me busy. I waited patiently, but ever criticizing, of course. I finally got on with my business, just number one, and washed my hands. As I opened the door I took a deep breath thinking about the path of destruction I must take back to my table, when I encountered the goddess I previously described towering before me.

“I love your hair,” she said, looking in what appeared to be my direction. She passed me into the bathroom and proceeded to adjust her own hair in the mirror.

“Are you talking to me?” I said befuddled, looking around for some amazing hairdo.

“Yea. You’ve got beautiful hair! I love it.”

“Thanks.” I answered in shock. I leaned against the heavy door just enough that it began to push me out as it closed. A second later I turned back and said,”Well, you’ve got great boobs!”

I KNOW! I couldn’t believe I had just said it either. But it was true!

I only realized after it had escaped my mouth how awkward this comment was here in the hall between the ladies and men’s room, with all the other people, women, waiting and judging.

“They’re alright.” She said and grimaced as she squeezed them together as if to say,”These old bags“.

“Yea! I don’t have much going on there. Yours are great.” I insisted smiling kindly, and I turned and left the bathroom.

Tit for tat, I guess you could say. I couldn’t believe that the girl I had considered perfect, and perfectly hateable, had just complimented ME. She saw something in little old me that she wished she had, and she wasn’t too proud to admit it.

Wow! Mind, Blown!

After that I felt all confident like, strutting in my mind to “I flip my hair back and forth.” There were too many people in there for actual strutting, though; and nobody else really cared how my hair looked, so I just excused my way back to the table.

(Cue the “moral of the story music”, something Oprah-ish.)

None of us are perfect, and even those who would seem close to perfect, will point out many flaws about themselves. We are harsh enough on ourselves sometimes; and then even more critical of others.

We, gotta work on that ladies!

Needless to say, the goddess gave me a great confidence boost. And it served to affirm what my husband had already been telling me for years…Curly hair is awesome!

Carpe What?

When I was 5 years old, I didn’t have many aspirations-aside from laying on my back on the living room floor, drinking a bottle of yoo-hoo chocolate milk, while watching the latest Woody Wood Pecker cartoon or Chilly Willy. Seriously, who didn’t love singing, “My name is Chilly Willy. I’m frozen through and through.”

Ah, Youth!

Those. Were. The. Days!

When my biggest concern was missing the clown at the end of the year party in kindergarten, because I had caught the chicken pox from my sister. Mrs. Rodriguez had been talking about the party for weeks. It was a big deal! ::rolls eyes and grumbles:: I can’t believe I missed it.

Can you imagine the impact those last two weeks of school would have had on my life?

**********

Moving on.

I had my first crush in 3rd grade. He was funny and cute… Dumb. As. Rocks, though. He brought his dad’s credit card to school one day. He was so cool! It said his name right there on the card.

He held it up to me gleaming. The plastic coating that made the card shiny, rather than just a dull matte blue, was slightly peeling off one corner. It was just a little bit, but naturally, I pulled on it and a huge piece flaked off. It’s like a scab, and who can resist picking a scab?!?
My eyes opened wide, as did his. His face turned a bright red, and his eyes welled up.

He ignored me for weeks! Okay, so it was just a few days, but it seemed like forever. Our desks were arranged in groups of six, and ours faced each other.

We didn’t have twitter or hashtags back then, but seriously #FirstWorldProblems.

One day, when we were on speaking terms again, he said, “Meet me at the big tree after school.”

Oh my God! He likes me! I thought giddily, but somehow contained my excitement and only let out a mild, “Sure.”

I hesitated on the sidewalk that day—to the left was the field with the big tree, to the right, the pick up line.

Decisions. Decisions.

I was 8.

I pulled nervously on the black straps of my backpack and waited at the pickup line.

It was the last week of school; my last week at that school.

He didn’t say anything about it the next day.

I imagined that he had waited by the tree, and watched me drive off in my uncle’s red Buick Regal.

**********

5th grade

Another crush…

He was older, and a writer…

Stephen King. LOL! I bet you thought this post was taking a dark and twisted turn. But no, I simply fell in love with his writing and with reading in general.

I started writing poems here and there. At school we learned about Haikus. HaiWho? HaiWhat?

First they were senseless,
But with time I did catch on;
I wrote more and more.

My best friend and I would write short stories, mostly murder mysteries. We haven’t published any just yet, but any day now we’re gonna dig through those boxes of journals and notes and yearbooks, and I bet we have some real gems in there!

I also loved Archie’s Digest. My mom would always pick one up for me in the checkout line at Publix.
I always thought my best friend and I were Betty and Veronica. Her name was Veronica, but I wasn’t blonde. Well, neither of us were. Ah the point is they were best friends, and I identified us with them. Das it!
**********
7th grade

This is beginning to read more like one of my journals, and boy did I have tons of them!

Thirteen, and I’ve decided I’m gonna be a lawyer. It’s more like I was pushed into it by my father. I prepared many opening statements, and filed countless motions before him. Unfortunately, I never won any cases. He was the opposing counsel AND the judge, kinda one sided there don’t you think?

So, what do a budding teenager and her old fashioned father argue about you might ask.

For starters, anything that involves being out of the house with other people, aside from school or work, regardless of the time of day. It was harsher than it sounds.

Whether it was just hanging out at my best friend’s house, going to a movie, or roller skating at Hot Wheels, the answer was an affirmative “No!”, and only sometimes a tortured “Yes”, thanks to my mom’s nagging. Oh, and God forbid I mention the beach, or come home from the “mall” with a tan.

I just wanted to hang out with my best friend, listen to Aerosmith, and talk nonsense (but very important, best friend nonsense) over a slice of Papa John’s and some Chips Ahoy cookies.

Imagine if we had done everything we had planned back then?

We might be running a clothing store called ClothesStop. Or was it ClothesTime? It definitely would’ve been a chain of stores by now. #Forever13

**********

9th grade
Life has gotten so much easier! #SaidNoTeenagerEVER

You turn 15 and your dad turns into an even bigger drag!

My inseparable best-friend and I are now separated by way of about 26 blocks between our high schools. Not very far on a map, or driving time, but apart nonetheless….creating a gap that opened ever so slightly each day, like bolts you turn to stretch a bone. A little pain each day, until suddenly you are taller, or in this case more distant.
**********

1997
I met a boy. Well, if you ask my father, he was a man.

He did have a lot of facial hair, and chest hair, and arm hair, and leg hair.

OKAY, he was all hair, and hair meant he was not a boy. O_o

Beware the hair, mommas and poppas!

OF COURSE, I thought he was “the one”.

Father hates him? CHECK!

PERFECT!

That wasn’t really why I thought he was the one. I was young, but I was in love.
And contrary to all of my fathers…”instructions” let’s call them, I was certain that he was right for me.

I was only 15, but I was right.

***********

2003

I hit the big 2-1! I could now drink “legally”! Woohoo!

My high school sweetheart proposed on my 21st birthday, April Fool’s Day. Thankfully, it was not a prank!

But I wasn’t shocked. I did not break down in tears. Somewhere, there is footage on an old video camera that captured the moment. WHERE IS IT? I don’t know, but the important thing is: I. did. not. cry.

Am I heartless or cold-hearted? Some might say yes.

But I wasn’t. I didn’t cry because I wasn’t shocked. I loved him, and I knew he loved me. I wanted to get married eventually, but we had what mattered the most already- love and each other. So I said yes, slipped the ring on my finger, and we went upon our merry way.

We are now 10 years into the marriage and ready for Divorce…

HAHA! Just kidding. We’ve got 4 amazing kids, and I couldn’t be happier. I do cry a lot more these days, though. Once you have kids your hormones and emotions just spiral out of control. Okay, that could just be me… Moms?
My best friend is still that.

Our friendship was like a butterfly that reincarnated back to a larvae, and metamorphosed again after college. (I totally had to look up that word… Metamorphosed, doesn’t really roll off the tongue.)  We both got pregnant with our first child around the same time, and now our little caterpillars are going to grow up together. #Cliches #Metaphors

**********

Life can be exciting, but unpredictable.

My life is not perfect. It’s great; not perfect. But I am happy, nevertheless.

Do I ever question life, the whos, whys and whens? Yes, I’m only human, of course I do.

But I never regret, and I never wish to go back or relive.

You have to live your life forgetting about the “What ifs?” and instead saying, “What NOW?”
CARPE DIEM!

And that DOES NOT mean act like an idiot; live today, who can speak for tomorrow.

For me It means live for today, because yesterday is gone; what have I learned from my choices and experiences, and what can I do with them now for a better tomorrow.

Seize Change!
And while there are things that I wish had not happened in my life, or perhaps, that had just happened differently, I am certainly glad I never went to the big tree that day.

Construction

This weekend we attended a destination wedding in Colombia.

******

We overcrowded a large chiva bus that drove us around town blasting music. There was dancing in the aisles, and much cheering each other on as we, unsanitarily, gulped whiskey from a bottle we passed around; several bottles, actually. We wore printed straw party hats and colorful thematic necklaces with traditional Colombian designs—elephant masks & bull heads.

20130527-235634.jpg

I watched a friend’s husband as he gazed at her from across the torn leather seats of the chiva bus. At some point during the excitement of cheering, dancing and exchanging saliva and liquor, they had been separated.

He searched for her through the people dancing and drinking in the aisle. She didn’t notice him staring so earnestly at her. He smiled. Maybe it was partly his loins that yearned for her. After all, the next night he would jokingly hump our table at the reception after a little borrachera from one too many drinks and cigars. But right now, it was his eyes that smiled, admiring her beauty as she laughed and clapped at those around her.

******

We held tight to the champagne bottle bubble favors the coordinator had handed us at the door of the church. We waited excitedly for the moment we could start blowing bubbles. Not so much because it meant our two friends were now united forever by GOD, but because blowing bubbles is fun, Damn it! A few of my friends, okay just one of them, innocently blew bubbles into the aisle before it was “time”. What a rebel! We laughed.

The clear christmas lights adorning the white rose and hydrangea arrangements along the aisle, shone hopefully through the tiny spheres that drifted above our heads.

We listened intently as the happy couple repeated their vows to each other sweetly. The groom stuttered nervously as he said,”Fi.. Fide.. Fi…Fi… Fidelidad.

I think we all wanted to shout the word as he stumbled through it. Fidelity is probably not the part of your vows you want to falter on, but it was innocent nerves.

His bride sailed through her vows seamlessly, but we aren’t gonna read into that. 😉

******

Later, I watched my newly wed friends on the dance floor. The bride smiled affectionately as she sang to her husband. All eyes were on them as they belted romantic lyrics to each other, spinning each other around, sometimes fast, sometimes slow; at arms length, then real close. They saw only each other.

They danced throughout the night; and always, love danced in their eyes.

******

Another friend, overjoyed for the happy couple, chose Patron for her celebratory toast(s). Her other half watched as she poured another glass on the rocks, then swayed her way to the dance floor where she and other friends danced energetically.

He reveled in how she enjoyed herself—dancing, laughing and taking pictures.

Did she have a bit too much tequila? Maybe.

But he never said a word; he never flinched; he never grimaced as she teeter tottered across the dance floor to use the bathroom. But, he was there to help walk her to their room, to take care of her in sickness, in hangover, and in health.

******

Me and my better half sat together most of the night. I’m not big on dancing in general; the fact that 95% of the music was salsa, merengue or other Latin beat, didn’t help.

A chicken with its head cut off has more rhythm than I do.

We shared a celebratory cigar on a balcony just outside of the reception hall. (I took 3 puffs. Spicy is all I have to say. Mouth on FIRE! Adventurous moment over.)

We were alone.

We chatted and gossiped. We laughed and flirted. Looked at each other, looked away. We held hands, we held each other. We kissed.

We didn’t stare off into the sunset. The view was mainly building sites that had just broken ground; other edifices, only 3 to 4 stories into the process; and some, just sites sectioned off for future use.

******

Love, like construction, changes and grows; just never stop building.

Shipping and Handling

I received a package the other day. I often get packages at home because I do a lot of online shopping. Yes, I love buying stuff, but I’m really not big on malls. I can’t say that I enjoy walking around for hours, going from store to store, trying on countless outfits, just to leave with a belt & a couple of perfume samples. And, I definitely don’t want to waste the little free time I have, there. For me, it’s worth the shipping & handling.

I saw the package on the front lawn on my way out that morning. It was covered in dew, must have been there since yesterday. I tossed it in the house, wondering what it could be, since I hadn’t ordered anything, but I didn’t have time to check.

When I came home that night, there was another, larger package by the door.

Odd.

I brought them both into the kitchen.

Sure enough the packages were addressed to someone else—Jane*, the lady who used to own my house.

*(The names have been changed to protect the innocent, and by innocent, I mean the children.)

My husband and I only met her once, on the day of the closing; by then we had come to a few conclusions about her. But, we met her husband, or rather ex-husband, when we saw the house for the second time.

His realtor mentioned how he was looking better, and filling out again.

We learned that John had survived a battle with cancer the year before.

John showed us through the house. One of the walls of the family room was a showcase of his daughters’ awards and accolades over the years for volleyball and softball. There were numerous school pictures, and their graduation pictures.

There were no “family” pictures.

The rest of the house seemed pretty bare.The master bedroom, although huge, looked more like the maid’s quarters: a small bed, 1 nightstand, 1 lamp. No decorative frames, furry rugs, floor mirrors, or big fancy comforters. Just some drabby old sheets that seemed to be collecting dust. Throughout the house we noticed grime in the corners of the bathrooms, behind doors, and so on. Someone was trying to keep up appearances, but barely.

It didn’t seem like anyone had been doing much living there for a while now.

He showed us the patio area,”This is a great party house. The pool is heated. Nice big yard. The cabana has a bathroom and a shower; perfect for entertaining.”

John mentioned that his daughters’ friends were always at the house because the school was so close by. “Our daughter goes to school down the street,” we added.

“That’s great! We loved having all their friends over, to enjoy the pool and the lake. We’d barbecue. Those were great times,” he said staring off towards the lake.

“I live with my parents now, and my youngest daughter,” he added and turned back towards the house.

Jane’s number was listed on the package just above her name and my home address. I decided I’d give “the bitch” a call to let her know about her packages.

“The Bitch” seems like a strong name for a woman we barely knew… Seems.

The day of the closing, she brought her new husband along, a man she had conveniently met at the very school her daughters and his son had attended. We wondered, “Did they meet before he got cancer or after? Before the divorce finalized or after?” Needless to say, she wasn’t looking good in our book.

Jane had inadvertently left behind a drawer full of lingerie in the built-in in the closet. After we moved in, I started cleaning out the drawer and noticed some greeting cards and letters. Don’t get snooty, OF COURSE, I opened them. There were Christmas and birthday cards from her now husband, dating back 3 or 4 years.

One letter read, “I wish we could already be together this New Years. You’ve brought so much happiness to my life. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you…”

Sounds sweet enough, except she was still living with the father of her children at the time.

Despite what I may have thought about her marital misbehavior, Jane was very sweet and appreciative when I called to let her know about the packages. She said her daughter would drop by the next morning to pick them up.

I said I’d leave them by the door, but the next morning just as I was heading out, a black honda civic was parked halfway in the gate, motor running. It was her daughter. The driveway was clear, but she seemed to hesitate to pull up all the way. She stared in my direction under the carport, not at me so much as at the large wood front doors.

She saw me then, walking out with the packages, and got out of the car.

“Good Morning. These are the packages that came for your mom.” I said, handing them over. She didn’t say a word, or couldn’t.

She finally smiled and nodded, taking them from me, but staring through the open doorway into the house behind me.

In the mornings, the sun shines through the many windows and doors of the living room. It’s the main area just as you walk into the house—bright and crisp and hopeful. It sold the house to me. The clean light cheers up the whole house and mood…well, most of the time.

The exchange took only seconds, but felt longer. Her eyes wondering,”When did this stop being my home?”

She returned to her car. I pretended I had forgotten something and went back inside to wait until she was gone. She sat in the car for a few minutes before finally driving off.

That was some expensive shipping and handling, I thought sadly.

Pockets

My name is Carmen Maria Hernandez, and I am NOT a recovering iPhone addict.

* Step 1 – I admit I am powerless over iProducts – BUT my life has become more manageable because of them.

Even as we speak, or read, I am using my iPhone memo app to write this post in the bathroom, my second office.

The bathroom is probably a commonplace for iPhone, iPad or other smart-device use; however, my usage doesn’t stop there.

I take my iPhone everywhere. I lay it on the counter closest to the shower; thankfully, I have the Life-proof case, so I can answer in the event of an emergency. In my car, it is in the cup-holder, charging or readily accessible on the door sill, where I also keep my menudo (pocket change). At work, it’s on my desk, or in my pocket. At the gym, it is in my hand throughout my cardio; I go to my cubby in between sets and hit the home button, just itching for a notification. I generally wear clothing with pockets to ensure I can keep my phone on me at all times; I am also a Levi’s 535 Legging Jeans ADDICT. I suffer when I have to wear a dress, skirt, or other apparel than does not have pockets. And, unfortunately, I don’t have breasts big enough to stash my phone in my bra. It would be all phone.

I never stray more than 10 feet away from it, or I start beeping like a portable phone that’s too far from it’s base. It is my pacemaker. I check it no less than every 10 minutes for updates in email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WordPress, and so on. Those little red circles and white numbers in the corners of an app are an instant energy boost.

I am taking the first step—admitting I have a problem. I normally don’t point out problems, unless I have some sort of plausible solution. In this case, I don’t know that I WANT to have a solution.

Unless… I can surgically attach the iPhone to my wrist!

* Step 2 – Come to believe that a Power greater than the iProducts could restore me to sanity.

Wait, there is something GREATER than the iPhone?!?!?!

My husband thinks I have a problem. His solution is to delete Facebook, and all the other social media apps, that keep me replying ,”uh huh, yea, ok” in many unattended conversations. But mainly, he just refrains from social media use of any type.

He DOES NOT want to know if so and so is “In a relationship” or if “It’s complicated”. He does not want to deal with the emotional ramifications of being unfriended on Facebook, muted on twitter, or unfollowed on Instagram.

He does not wish to “like” a status about so and so checking in at Flannigans; or get unsolicited reminders to download Candy Crush. He does not want that random friend request message,”Oh my God. I haven’t seen you in years!”

Yea? There’s a reason for that.

He does not want to Tumble through pics and clips of Lebron dunking, although he loves that; hot chicks in panties, although he loves that, too; nor far away exotic bungalows overlooking a crystalline sea that he dreams about, but most probably will never travel to.

He does not care about Lil Wayne’s latest tweet, Rihanna’s raunchy pics, or a clever retweet of what some Grumpy Cat wannabe said.

You may be wondering what he does do with his iPhone???

Well, he does make and receive phone calls and texts…sparingly. He is anti, social media; but, probably, a little anti-social, as well. Think one word responses, and, in some instances, grumbling and mumbling. I love him to death, but sometimes it’s like listening to someone and not knowing if they answered you in Spanish or English because your brain could not process a single sound? #MiamiProblems

He also checks the occasional email, and plays Dice with Buddies regularly.

Oh, and he does stay up to the minute on the latest headlines with the CNN app. So, he gets some points for that.

Don’t misunderstand me. My husband is by no means lacking in intelligence, joy, or the desire for innovation. He just does not waste any time on “an electronic tracking device” (his words verbatim) disguised as a tool for social growth or acceptance. Yes, there are useful and educational apps, but let’s face it, we do spend a good majority of the time checking status updates.

My husband can probably go two days without charging his phone, while I can’t go two hours.

So, who is right?

In any case, I suppose extremes are bad either way.

And here I am, 6% battery left on my iPad, and I’m suffering because the charging cable is not long enough for me to charge and type.

Better wrap it up.

* Step 3 – Make a decision to turn my will and life over to the care of God as I understand Him.

Now, that one I can check off as a given.

——–

This post is in no way meant to belittle the struggle with alcoholism or poke fun at Alcoholics Anonymous. I believe alcoholism is a serious issue, specifically, more and more in today’s youth.

The actual first three steps to recovery from alcoholism are:

* Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

* Step 2 – Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

* Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.

The 12 Steps

This is a recent AA story I read by Roger Ebert.