I will not forget

My cousin came to visit a few weeks back. He has been living in Florida for almost 15 years.

He sat in our living room and we laughed and talked and of course, the hurricane came up. He sobered up and said “oh my God. That was a horrible week. I had such a horrible time.”

And I almost slapped him. “YOU had a horrible week?! Bitch, you will not sit there and tell me that you, back at home with your power and your running water, and your hospitals open and your not destroyed surroundings, had a horrible week. Shut up right now, I’ll tell you about a horrible week.”

I mentioned that we had to shower outside, we had to collect rain water, we had to ration potable water because we didn’t knew when we were going to be able to get more. We had no phones, so we couldn’t call anyone. Communications were so badly affected that the governor, having the highest tech in the island, was giving out wrong information because news traveled so slowly from one place to the other.

He knew all of that. I said “but what you don’t know, what you can’t see, is the fear. It was a lingering fear, one that ran so deep sometimes you couldn’t put your finger on it.” What’s this feeling that covers us like a veil, at all times? Oh, right, we are scared.

I would go outside with Little J and literally physically guard her as she walked because suddenly any fall that could result in an open injury was terrifying: hospitals were mostly closed, but the ones that were open were very risky to go to. Most had no generators for the first weeks, or only had them for the first days, so bacteria and infections  hijacked entire wings. People would go to be treated for one thing and suddenly got an infection and just died because basic medication was so scarce. I’m a hysterical mom, so we didn’t played outside much during that critical time.

Emergency agencies seemed to be something that didn’t exist. We needed medication, no one could get it. We needed water and food, it took weeks for people to receive it. When we started getting news from outside, it looked like help was not coming because ports were impenetrable. I mean, all that big water.

I heard the president say that only 30 people died in a conference room, right before throwing paper towels (PAPER TOWELS) and I couldn’t believe no one corrected him. Portable military freezers were filled with bodies without logging information because no agency could keep official records in an effective way, and we saw that in the news, so how didn’t he knew?

The missing list was on the hundreds within the first week after the hurricane, how didn’t he knew?

We had reported deaths of asthma patients who couldn’t power their nebulisers within the first few weeks, and how didn’t he knew?

We had a break out of influenza and leptospirosis in october, how didn’t he knew.

I’m not a crier, but I cried every day. Well, it was mostly every night. Tears would just come out from mental exhaustion, frustration and terror. All the what if’s clouded my mind and for the first time in my entire life, I couldn’t sleep well, no matter how tired I was. I started waking up and staying awake for hours, mostly before sunrise.

So, no. I’m not forgetting any of what happened, or anything that’s been said. By anyone. I will not forget.

I will not forget.

Behind the Mountains

“Mamá behind those mountains is Puerto Rico.”

“Darling, Puerto Rico is hugging us right now.”

“How you mean?”

“It is hugging us with the breeze, and the sky, and the sound of the trees and the birds, and the shadow, and all this green.”

Close your eyes so you can feel it. It is right here and right inside your heart.

 

 

At twenty three I could make up a story out of thin air as easy as I was breathing. Words would flow out of my hands, and out of my mouth and out of my soul so easily, so freely, so true.

It was second nature to create little words out of tiny ideas. One thought would keep on untangling forever and I relished it’s own will with glee.

Then I spent more time with images and then in my early thirties, I mixed the two. And then I got ashamed of it all. Ashamed of the magic I used to make stories, because magic was not decent, hard work and anything that wasn’t related to decent hard work was shameful.

My brain shut down all the magical corners and all I could get from it, outside of work, was silence. A profound and dark silence. I lost all my moods around that time too. Normal jokes that would usually get a cackle out of me, didn’t tickle me anymore. But for my Baby J I kept a bit of my creative going.

I seeded that bit and it started to bloom after I moved out of a miserable relationship that sucked me almost dry of all me. To my surprised, it bloomed. It’s first leaves where just newfound laughter and words. I began to talk again, make conversation. And little by little I got me back, not exactly as I was before mind you, but a whole of me. One that recognises itself again, one with a voice and a brain full of magical corners – different, but magical.

So now my brain is full of ideas, and sometimes they come up at random moments. Like today I was driving and thinking of Dragon and how much I did love him, enough to write him the most stories and how I could still write him a few more. I don’t know anything about him now, but I can still remember his touch and the way he made me giggle with joy and that untangles into a story, or three.

And I dreamed a character a few weeks ago and she was so amazing. She came up quietly passing by and smiled going away without a bang, but I thought of so many different things for her to do.

Maybe I’ll go write some of those.

Puerto Rico is OPEN FOR BUSINESS

A few hours after the hurricane we were able to turn on a radio and I started scanning every single millimetre of the dial trying to find a signal.

You know those movies about the end of the world when they suddenly realise how fucked up they really are because no radio works? That was the scene. Except my little girl was in the room with me and I couldn’t show in my face what my heart and my mind were feeling. No matter how many times I went backwards and forwards, the only sound I could find was static and I had to tell my girl that was ok.

That’s what keeps coming to my mind today whenever someone mentions the Tonight’s Show recording in Puerto Rico. I’m sure everyone has a similar memory because at work everyone would just start crying whenever we showed each other the clips.

If you have never experience what it is to live in a place that isolated, to know that it was up to you as a community to bring everything back up, you have no idea what it feels to watch this:

My eyes tear up because my island, my beautiful maiden, she’s looking so much better now! Look at those green mountains! Look at those smiling faces!

Jimmy said it in his show and I just want to remind you; we are ready for you! Come show up and enjoy this magical little piece of heart called Puerto Rico where every party looks a little like this:

Have a great one peeps!

Been wanting to write

I have been wanting to write pretty much every moment of every day since I started working.

Waves of stories plague my mind and I have to take my eyes off the excel table on my computer screen and stare at a corner of my cubicle for just a second, just to feel their touch and then, inevitably and always with regret, I have to let them go to continue whichever mundane task I have to waste my brain with.

Those excel tables translate into the ability to have adventures and experiences with my girl and I am truly thankful. But my boss is crazy and that’s made some days. I don’t mean crazy as in I say she’s crazy just because her attitude is wrong or the way she treats others is horrible, but crazy as in she’s sick with anger, resentment and low self esteem and needs lots of help. And probably love too.

And I’ve been wanting to write about how my little girl loves to sit with my ninety three year old grandma in her bed and look at magazines and my hearts feels so full I have to hold my breath at the thought.

I wanted to write about that house’s street corner. How it looks so bland and boring now but twenty years ago we talked about it at least once a month because cars kept crashing on it, breaking the gate and hitting the house, basically parking inside the living room.

The other day I had to make a call to the customer service department of the company I worked for several years ago and the guy that gave me the orientation sounded very much like the trainer from hell that I had there and thought I should write about it because, he’s still there being miserable.

And I was thinking the other day while driving that when I was in college I used to hit the signal light stick with such power it sounded as if I was going to break it and now I barely touch it and that must be some kind of life parallel.

A couple of days ago the gossip dude at work came up to me just to ask me if I have a boyfriend and I said no one in that building should ask me that question so he said “oh, it was going to be in your interest but ok” and I somehow reached into my pocket of sass, unused since approximately 2008 and got out a “oh! Is someone giving me money?!” And everyone that looks at me knows I couldn’t care less about money but that shut that dude down like BURNED. He turned around to say “this one thinks she’s the smartest cookie around here!” And now he limits his interactions to the appropriate good morning only.

I definitely had something to write about the night we had a tropical depression coming through the island and at some point during the night I woke up with my heart racing because the rain was pounding on the windows and the wind was blowing and I felt fleeting despair. It took me about twenty minutes to control my body from going into full on emergency mode. During the day gas stations had been full with hour long lines from everyone filling their tanks. Water and non-perishables ran out in some supermarkets because people remembered how there was thirst and hunger on the days after the Hurricane Maria. A few moments later while I was trying to convince myself I could sleep the power went off and I prepared myself to deal with the power generator for weeks. The power came back about an hour later and it was morning when I stopped waiting for it to go off again.

But alas, I haven’t written the stories that knocked my brain and thus, this must make do.

Hurricane Maria study

One story.

Una de esas tragedias, el papá de un amigo:
“Mi papá murió en el el hospital Pavía el 27 de septiembre. Le dio un ataque de corazón el sábado 23. En el hospital no había luz, personal limitado, y la medicina necesaria, Lovenox, se terminó el lunes 25. Cuando la doctora me lo indicó yo la pude conseguir en Houston. El martes por la mañana salí para Miami para interceptar un vuelo de FedEx que llevó la medicina a Puerto Rico. En aduanas no había luz y no tramitaron el release. Finalmente dejaron que mi primo recogiera la medicina a las 9AM. Papi murió a las 8:30AM.”

Brief translation: “my father had a heart attack September 23. Hospital had no power and limited personnel. They ran out of Lovenox, his treatment Monday 25. Tuesday I intercepted a flight on Miami that took the medicine to PR. Customs had no power and did not released. Finally they let my cousin pick up the medicine at 9am. My father died at 8:30a”.

That’s just one story. Getting sick or wounded in September or even November in PR meant you had very low possibilities of getting treatment.

It was terrifying.

Just had to share.

Tuesdays of Texture | Week 18 of 2018

Tuesdays of Texture is a super cool weekly feature. You can read about it over here; but the short version is I want to see a bit of your world so link up your post in the comments!

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At parking lot.

A post shared by @ naramilee on

I mean.

Posting this from a parking lot in the middle of a dense errand day, while waiting to finish to get to work and do a few hours of clerking over there.

Have a nice week!

Tuesdays of Texture | Week 14 of 2018

Tuesdays of Texture is a really awesome weekly feature. You can read about it over here; but the short version is I want to see a bit of your world so link up your post in the comments!

A year ago I went to an interview that broke me into tiny little pieces.

I interviewed for my dream job and on the last of four interviews and after hearing a third of my answer to his ONLY question, the interviewer let me know that I was not “prudent” enough for the position BUT if I had a client account that I could give to his company, he would gladly assign me to that project. You know, I only had to give him MY job.

I melted into that chair as soon as he finished talking, my mind giving me a pretty comprehensive brainstorming of all the ways and reasons why I was a failure. I don’t even remember walking out of the building, I was so out of myself.

It took me a couple of months to gather the pieces of that failure and transform them into the steps to find a job. Not my dream job, but a job that gives me what I need from a job right now.

It’s been three months and some days I’ve felt like I am the BOSS and some days I feel like I’m not capable of doing anything right, which is a new thing for me, as I’m usually pretty confident of my skills. Then again, I had never worked for serious outside my field so there’s that feeling that I got to learn EVERYTHING from scratch, even if it’s not actually true.

Speaking about bosses, my boss is crazy. Which is the worst kind of boss, right after drug addict boss, which is definitely the worst in my list of bad bosses. Crazy bosses don’t remember the instructions for the projects that they gave you because they can’t keep up with all the crap they make up on the spot or that it was them who changed the excel table. Combine that with an “I’m never wrong” policy and it’s a recipe for disaster. I’ve had a couple of really bad days on account of her crazy.

Last week it was one of those days were she was giving me a hard time with a project by asking me to figure something out and report it. I had no resources except my very limited experience and a sour partner that is so unpleasant to work with last Thursday she threw a snack on my desk asking “do you want a turd?!”

In my desperation to get the information I needed to finish the task at hand I picked up the phone and called someone I had listed as reference. I didn’t knew if that company had the information I needed, but I figured if they gave me ANY info it would be more than what I had, which was nothing at all.

A woman picked up the phone and responded that yes, she was the person I was looking for and then when I asked her about the order number I had, she said “no, that’s mine” and hung up. I gave up on that, put together what I could handle and presented my boss with the incomplete task. I figured if she had cared about getting the entire thing, she would have bothered giving me the list of contacts I needed to get the info we needed.

Then the next day something extraordinary happened: that person that hung up on me called me. It was THE FIRST call from a company that I received on my desk, transferred from the receptionist and everything.

She wanted to APOLOGISE for her behavior the day before because it turned out, she was THE PRESIDENT of the company and she liked to treat her clients well.

She had her daughter on the hospital when I called her and she felt interrupted, but she admitted that was no way of treating someone and she offered me her service and her cell phone number to contact her whenever I needed. Then she told me she would send me an email on all the updated info from the orders she had in her system, which was not what I needed the day before but helped me a ton on reconciling all the info I had.

I found this pic of this tree I photographed in the parking the day of the interview that broke me one year ago. That tree’s bark “peels” itself off in pieces. That’s exactly what I feel I’ve done these last months in my professional career. Every layer that I’ve taken off slowly reveals what I know and can do now as a professional resource.

Maybe I’m still working on being an office person, but I’m on my way.

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Have a great week.