Slumber Parties

I’ve mentioned before that whenever Mama and I visit each other we always sleep together. No matter what. And as I lie in bed typing this post, she is sleeping next to me snoring away. It seriously amazes me how fast she can fall asleep. I recently read that it takes the ‘average person’ about seven minutes to fall asleep from the time their head hits the pillow. I am definitely below average and Mama is definitely above. Last night I thought she was talking to herself because her snores were in a sort of rhythmic pattern that sounded like speech. I wondered if she was experiencing another visit from Papa. Earlier today she received news that her brother who lives in Dominican Republic had been burglarized. His house was broken into and he was badly injured in the process. She began to tear up and become very emotional retelling the story to my Aunt and I just felt so bad. Strangely, it made me love her more because it was so obvious how much she loves her brother and made me realize how close she is with her siblings. It’s so admirable and inspirational. I hope one day my brother and sister and I can share a similar relationship. Mama doesn’t cry often, truly, which made it that much more shocking when she did this afternoon. It made me think of the last time she got emotional like that and it was unfortunately because of me. It was a few weeks ago and I had just begun the process of redoing my room (for the hundred billionth time) and I needed to unpack my entire college apartment into my room. Not easy. Add to it all of Mama’s stuff and me being a crazy organizing neat freak with everything have to be in a certain spot and out of the way, right away. She got offended because I moved clothing of hers from a drawer of my dresser into a shelf in my closet. She took it as if she, and her things, were no longer welcomed. She became very dramatic, which I’m starting to realize she is a bit of a drama queen, and took her suitcases, (which aren’t easy to lug around) into the basement. This upset me because I found no need for it and thought it was an extreme over reaction. I told her she was being stupid, which was the worst thing I could do. She thought I was calling her stupid, when really I was referring to her actions, which she thinks are the same thing. She was tearing up, explaining how she changed all of her flights and calendar to come to my graduation and spend some time with me. I felt bad, but I still feel she was in the wrong and jumped too quickly to wrongful conclusions. Anyways, she soon got over it and everything was fine again. I realize there is absolutely no point in sharing that story but for the sake of writing what’s coming to mind. This post is just a jumble of thoughts but at least it’s something rather than nothing!


A Visit From An Angel

“I went out with a man the other night,” is what I thought I heard. I’ll admit I was distracted, not paying full attention, not expecting to hear such words. Not having my Spanish down is a major problem. It causes confusion, misunderstandings (to say the least), frustration and sometimes I feel like I could be missing out on important information. I almost did on Monday night when I spoke to Mama during our nightly conversation.

When I heard that while watching Conan O’Brien on television it immediately shook me out of the distant space I was in. SHE WHAT?! SHE COULDN’T! SHE WOULD NEVER! Thoughts flooded my mind, panic filled my heart. She knew I heard wrong because she knew my reaction to what she actually said would have been much different. She was right.

“You didn’t understand what I said, did you?” “No, dime otra ve.”

The second time she repeated it, I didn’t miss a single word. Although it seemed like I could be getting it wrong because it seemed so unreal. It was magical.

“Papa visited me the other night. I woke up and he was in my bed and I was startled and I asked him, “Ramoncito, what are you doing?” He answered, “Lying here with you.” I think that she then said to him that she had to go get something from the kitchen. He told her, “You stay here, I’ll get it.” She must have fallen asleep and when she woke up she said, “It’s been a while now, where did he go? What is he doing?” And then she remembered and said, “Oh yeah, he’s dead.”

Now, I don’t know what that dream meant, if it even was a dream. I really believe it was Papa finally paying a  visit to Mama to let her know that he’s all right. She said it was the first time she dreamed of him since his death. I asked how she felt after she realized he was gone again and she said she was OK, she wasn’t scared or anything.

My heart broke for her. I started crying but didn’t want her to realize that I was. I’m not sure if she did, before she told me the story we were saying our goodbyes and so as soon as she finished, she said goodnight. I don’t know if it was because we already were parting or because revealing that news to me made her feel sad. I felt sad for her, but so happy that Papa had done that for her as well. I knew she appreciated it too.

Moments like those I wish I saw her more often, then I would’ve been able to see her face and known exactly how she felt. I would have been able to hold her hand, give her a big hug, keep her company. When I see her in person next, I think I’ll bring up the topic again. I don’t want to make her relive it and feel sad again, but I would like to know more about it and really see for myself how it affected her. That way, I know she’s OK even though I know she’ll be all right no matter what. She’s the strongest person I know. I hope she never feels alone. I’m happy that since I can’t be there all the time to make sure she’s OK that Papa is at the job, looking down on her. Thanks, Papa.

The Great Divide

I sat on the bus with tears rolling down my face. I didn’t care if people saw me or what they would think. Not that it would have made a difference if they did, I couldn’t help but cry. There are two people in this world I can’t stand being on ‘bad’ terms with, it’s absolutely the worst thing in the world when they are mad at me or disappointed with me. Those people are my mom and Mama. I knew what was going to happen the moment I read that text message. I knew that Mama wouldn’t understand, would instead be left hurt and confused. I was exactly right.

When I made the decision about a year ago to graduate a year early, I knew Mama just had to be at my graduation. I mean how could she not be? She flew to New York from Florida just to see me for my prom and high school graduation. College graduation trumps both of those easily. So when I told her she had to come, I knew she would be there. What I didn’t know is that she would wait until almost the last minute to book her flight. (OK, graduation isn’t until May 12, but when it comes to buying tickets, you do it as early as possible.) Mama’s smart and even smarter with her money and she is pretty savvy when it comes to flying being that she does do a lot of traveling back and forth to Florida, New York and Dominican Republic. I was nervous that her putting off buying a ticket meant that she didn’t want to come. I just didn’t understand what she was waiting for. Finally, about a week ago my aunt texted me to confirm the dates to book Mama’s ticket. I was in class at the time, which is conveniently located in the basement of one of my school’s buildings. I didn’t have any service, not that that mattered, I don’t look at my phone during that class because I am literally afraid of my professor, (in a good way). By the time I saw the text, it was too late. She had already booked the ticket for dates I wouldn’t be available for. I know it was’t my fault and I still don’t understand why the two of them after waiting all this time to get a ticket in the first place, couldn’t just wait a little while longer for my response, but nonetheless, I felt horribly bad and knew I’d be blamed and labeled ‘the bad guy.’ I specifically told Mama the earliest date she could come. Unfortunately, it was only the day before my graduation. Before it, I would still have work to go to, a final exam to take, Ian’s graduation to attend and his family to hang out with. I told her she could stay later than the rest of my family was. But, Mama had booked a ticket to come to Buffalo about a week earlier than my graduation date and to leave several days after.

While walking to the bus after my class was over, my aunt told me she had already purchased it. I told her that I wasn’t going to be all right with leaving Mama alone in my apartment with nothing to do while I was away. It didn’t matter. She told me that Mama didn’t mind. I minded. I immediately began to cry as I called my mom to tell her what happened, to tell her that she had to talk to her sister, to tell her that this wasn’t OK. Mama may have been all right with nothing to do for hours, but I wasn’t. I mean, I don’t even have a T.V. in my room. She said that she could take care of herself, that she could cook and clean and do my laundry and iron my clothes. That would have been OK if she hadn’t planned to stay in my apartment as long she had. All of that would take up maybe half a day and even so, would have been extremely uncomfortable and awkward being that I live with two roommates who I am not exactly ‘friends’ with. I was so upset because I didn’t want Mama to get the wrong idea, that I didn’t want her to come. That I didn’t want her to see and spend time in Buffalo. Of course though, this is exactly what she thought.

After talking to my mom, I called Ian and couldn’t hold back my emotions as I began to sob and hyperventilate. Yes, a bit of a strong reaction but I just felt so helpless and terrible and so many other emotions. I just knew what was to come, how Mama would react and feel, I couldn’t bear to think I had hurt her. Still, that didn’t stop her from hurting my feelings as she repeatedly said to me that she was canceling her ticket and not coming altogether because I didn’t want her to. I couldn’t have her do that or think that I didn’t want her there. All I wanted was for her to come, but during the time that I would actually be there too, be able to hang out with her, show her a ‘good’ time, spend time together. She had such a hard time understanding my side and of course the language barrier made it even more difficult to make it clear to her my reasonings and feelings.  tried to picture what we’d do during our time together if it were to come down to that. Of course, I would have loved her to come and stay with me but I didn’t want to have to sacrifice attending my boyfriend’s graduation and the festivities that follow. It’s absolutely horrible to say, but as much as I wish I could invite her, I knew I couldn’t. Dinner with his family would be weird, all of them trying to communicate with one another. So awkward. I didn’t want to do that to her. I didn’t want to have to choose. I would of course have chosen her, would have missed seeing Ian graduate, missed his dinner party and picking his mom up from the airport just so that Mama wouldn’t be alone. I didn’t want to have to make that decision though. I didn’t think it was fair considering all the time she was given beforehand to get a ticket at a reasonable price. I needed help. I called my uncle, I knew that he would be able to speak to her calmly and rationally to get her to see my side a little and make the situation better. Thank God for him because I don’t know if Mama would be coming to my graduation if he hadn’t have worked his magic with her. He got her to change her ticket to visit my parents and siblings in Long Island instead and then take the trip up to Buffalo with my dad by car.

After she told me of her changes, it didn’t make me feel any better. I still felt the strain between us, the awkward tension. The harshness of her voice said it all, the ‘fakeness’ in her tone. I didn’t know how to behave after we hung up the phone. Ian joked that she didn’t love me anymore and I couldn’t help but agree. Couldn’t help feeling she loved me a little bit less then she had before. I didn’t know where to go from there. Do I call her the next day like I usually would have? Do I wait for her to call me? The entire next day I spent debating on what to do. After the whole day had gone by, it was 11 p.m. and there was still no word from Mama. I was a little anxious and unsure how I felt that she still hadn’t called me. I decided to suck it up, be a grown up and call her. I thought I might as well get this whole thing over with, call her, see where we stand, the sooner we can get this behind us, the better. When she answered all seemed normal, she said she was waiting to call me because she though I’d be at work.

I felt relieved, I felt reassured and I felt rejuvenated. We were back. The Great Divide was over. 

Don’t be Afraid…

I’m sad to have left this blog fall at the wayside with the end of my class and the start of the Spring semester. I would like to blame it on being too busy with school work but then I’d be lying. Still, I’d like to make up for it by trying to continuing with it.

A few weeks ago I was stricken with fear. It was a Tuesday, I had just finished my first class and I stood in front of the elevator I had just walked out of on the 10th floor of Clemens, where the majority of my classes are held. I was waiting for my second class to start and had 10 minutes to spare. Because my first class is in the basement, my iPhone doesn’t receive any service prohibiting me from all messages and phone calls, etc. Ideally, during a class this is great. However, when I did get service again upon taking the elevator up to the tenth floor, I found that I had a voicemail.

At 11:00 in the morning I found it strange that it was from Mama. She knows my schedule and knows that I can’t talk until after 5:00. The voicemail announced, of course, in Spanish, that I shouldn’t be worried, but… I honestly don’t know what else it contained after that as I immediately, of course, began to worry. I did catch something Mama said, but because my Spanish comprehension is a bit limited, I didn’t understand it.

I don’t think I will ever forget that moment or how I felt afterwards. I began to sweat, I couldn’t think rationally, I didn’t know what to do. I was scared. It felt like a panic attack. After Papa passed away a few years ago, I kind of became obsessed with death. Not in a creepy way, but for a long time all I could think about is Mama and (even now I can’t even type it, but readers can pretty much get what I’m trying to say here). My entire life I have thought that she is immortal, that she will never leave me, and though I still believe it to be true, I know that she feels aches and pains. Hearing about them kill me every time. It reminds me that she’s human. That she’s 70.

More frequently she’s been complaining about the pains in her bones, I think she has osteoporosis. When I heard her say those first three words in the voicemail, I imagined the worst. I called my mom first before calling Mama, I wanted to make sense of what I heard. Either I didn’t get the word right, or I had misheard it, but my mom couldn’t interpret its definition. I think she tried calming me down as she knows how I am with Mama, but I was too focused on figuring out what the message meant to hear her. It took so much to fight back tears. I didn’t know what was going on but that didn’t stop my brain from thinking it did. Afterwards, I went directly to the source. I called Mama. I think she may have heard the fear in my voice as she assured me that everything was fine, that she had said not to worry for a reason. If I understood correctly, I believe that she had called me by accident and left a voicemail because, well, it’s what she does.

I felt better after that, but not completely. It made me realize so many things, mostly that I really need to improve my Spanish and that I can’t allow myself to jump to any scary conclusions. Sometimes I get so paranoid that I feel that Mama withholds information from me in order to protect me. Though I really don’t think this to be the case, I can’t help but feel one day it might be. I hope that day doesn’t come for another 70 years. But when it does, I know that I won’t be however miles away Buffalo is to Florida, but probably in just the next room.

Christmas Isn’t Very Far Away

When it comes to Christmas it’s important to get something extra special for the extra special people in your life. Mama is obviously on the top of that list, but is so hard to shop for! She really has no need for anything, or so she claims. Also, she’s very frugal, (like me) so she would rather you not even spend your money. But, that’s not going to happen.

This year, I will be in Florida for Christmas. I am so excited. Even though it won’t be a white Christmas, or 80 degrees opposed to 30, (which is nothing to complain about), I can’t wait. Mama’s family will be together, all of her children and grandchildren (with the exception of my cousin Marcel) and it’s going to be a wonderful time. And hopefully even better because I thought of the perfect present for Mama.

Now, being older, I feel a sense of responsibility in ensuring she gets the best, most useful gift. In christmases past, being younger, I gave immature presents like lotions and bath soaps. BORING. This year I hope to accomplish what I did with her birthday present, which was put a huge smile on her face with a bingo cushion and other bingo accessories.

Mama is constantly complaining about her back and butt hurting her. It drives me crazy when she tells me she’s in pain. I freak out. I don’t like to hear it! But, nevertheless I’m glad she tells me because then I can try to solve the problem. This is what I’m trying to do in her christmas present, which will be a massage cushion. A chair is way too expensive, and this way with a cushion, she can use it everywhere from sitting in bed to driving in her car.

I’m so excited to give it to her this Christmas. I hope it helps ease the tension in her bones. And while I am in Florida for the week, I am making her go to the chiropractor!
It’s funny now she’s taken care of me for most of my life, and now that I’m 20 (not that it’s very different from 19,) I feel it’s my turn to take care of her.

Here are some pictures of our last Christmas in Florida in 2008. It was our last Christmas with Papa.

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Assignment: Story Corps Interview

Choosing a person to interview was obviously an easy decision. I wanted to speak with Mama because she is the central theme of my blog and I thought it would be nice that she could play a more involved part of it. I wanted to introduce Mama more formally to the readers of my blog so that they could hear her voice and listen to her speaking in Spanish. I feel this is helping in understand what our conversations sound like.
In choosing which clip to play wasn’t as easy of a task however. Mama and I spoke about a series of things. We discussed her life growing up in the Dominican Republic. About what it was like having so many siblings and also experiencing the death of many of them at such young ages. We talked again about her journey to America, the ex-boyfriend that refused to marry her, which in turn led to her meeting her real soul-mate, my papa. We brushed briefly on what they thought of one another upon their first meeting and then how their lives took on from there.
I chose to use the segment of Mama talking about her siblings. She is one of 19 and that is a story in and of it self. Only five are alive today. Growing up in DR wasn’t necessarily the safest and best place to live, and as a result Mama and her family suffered many hardships and personal tragedies. In this clip she talks about how two of her brothers died on the same day, a 16 year old and a 6 month old. She goes on to discuss how good God is that her parents were able to survive it. She talks about the remainder of her siblings, and how well they all got along. Also, she explains how hard life was, the work was a lot, but still, she was happy and lived a happy life. She talks about the other siblings of hers that had also died young and the ones still alive today. She concludes by summing up the rest of her adult life. Married at 23, has three children and 10 beautiful grandchildren.



Mama Comes to America

Assignment: Discuss an event in your life using some research

This past 5th of November marked the second anniversary of my Papa’s death. During my phone conversation with Mama on that day, she reminded me of it. I was at work at the time and the date and its meaning hadn’t yet occurred to me. November is going by so fast and it’s been hard to keep up with the days. Anyway, it got me thinking about the night Papa passed away. I remember it clearly – I had booked a flight to Florida as soon as my mom had told me it was time. I left the following morning. Luckily, I was able to see him the day I arrived. He died that night. I was the one who answered the phone as the nursing home he was being taken of in called to tell us the news. It was kind of weird. It was around 11 p.m. and as soon as the phone rang, Mama just instantly knew who was calling and began crying. I immediately began dry heaving over the toilet and couldn’t stop. I was literally sick to my stomach.

Papa passed away sadly over a long period of time. Though he died Nov. 5th, it felt as if my family and I had lost him a long time before that. Papa had diabetes, but had also suffered a stroke, which is really what changed him drastically. He was no longer the active, happy, upbeat man I had known my whole life after that. A stroke is the rapidly developing loss of brain function(s) due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. As a result, the affected area of the brain is unable to function, which might result in an inability to move one or more limbs on one sides of the body, inability to understand or formulate speech, or an inability to see one side of the visual field, according to Wikipedia.

I miss Papa so much, and I know my Mama misses him every day. It’s amazing to think about them as a couple and how much love they shared. It’s crazy to think what if they had never met. Then, my mom wouldn’t have been born, she would have never met my dad, and I wouldn’t be here. Just like that, life would be so different. Or really, I’d have no life. And the fact that it almost happened is the scariest part of all. This brings me to Mama’s journey to America.

Mama grew up in the Dominican Republic (D.R.). She was extremely close to her parents (Mama Felicia and Papa Jacinto) and was very family oriented. With 19 brothers and sisters, it would almost be impossible not to be. She was brought up catholic and was very invested in its values and traditions.

Growing up in D.R. was difficult at best. Mama had it a little easier then most because she lived on a farm and survived off of the animals they had and plants they cultivated. Mama worked extremely hard throughout her childhood and early adult years.
“Cleaning, washing, shopping, cooking. It was a lot of work. A lot of work,” Mama said. She was a very good daughter. Her father absolutely adored her.

Politics was a different story. For her entire life, Rafael L. Trujillo dictated D.R. His 30 years in power, to Dominicans known as the Trujillo Era, is considered one of the bloodiest ever in the Americas, as well as a time of a classic personality cults, when monuments to Trujillo were in abundance. It has been estimated that Trujillo’s rule was responsible for the death of more than 50,000 people, including 20,000 to 30,000 in the infamous Parsley Massacre, according to Wikipedia. However, politics was never something Mama got involved with and fortunately, did not directly affect her.

Three years before Mama would enter The U.S., Trujillo was finally assassinated. The story of why Mama came to America is an incredible one I never get tired of being told.
Mama had had a boyfriend for eight years in D.R. When it came time for them to get married, he refused to marry her in the Catholic Church, or any church for that matter. This was unacceptable to Mama, but mostly to her mother who was extremely religious. The two broke up. After this happened, Mama’s father heard a story in which another young woman had killed herself as a result of her own breakup. He grew terrified that his daughter, who he loved so much, would befall the same fate.

“My papa thought I was going to die of a broken heart. He was so afraid I would kill myself. And for that reason I came to New York,” Mama said.

Despite what her father thought, according to Mama, she took the breakup well. And even though she was sent to N.Y., she wanted to come, she said. On June, 6, 1963 she turned 22. On September 22, 1963, she left for the U.S. She remembers the exact date as if it were yesterday.

“I remember my mother bringing me to the airport with my brothers and sisters too. I remember Papa’s eyes being swollen shut from crying so much. He couldn’t bring me to the airport because of his eyes. He couldn’t stop crying. He really loved me and was sad to see me go even though he wanted me too,” Mama said.

Upon entering N.Y., she stayed with her aunt – her mother’s sister. The same aunt who would later hide letters Mama’s ex-boyfriend would send to her from D.R. She did it because she thought she was protecting her. She didn’t want to show them to her in fear it would make her upset. The letters said that he wouldn’t marry Mama in just one church, but in 1,000 churches if that is what it took. Mama never saw a single one.

This was also the same aunt who introduced Mama to Papa. And the rest is history. They fell in love and a year later got married.

I had thought for the majority of my life that Mama and Papa had met in D.R. and got married there. I was very wrong. The first time my mom told me this story, I fell in love with it. It’s almost like a movie. In fact, it’s very similar to The Notebook, except Mama’s ending is a bit different. Hearing Mama tell it makes it real.

Though I feel sorry for Mama’s ex because he realized what he had much too late and now must spend the rest of his life missing my Mama, I am glad she never got the letters. Who knows what would have happened then. She might have forgiven him, flown back to D.R. and then married him. It would appear had she gotten the letters that that would be the assumed, normal course of action. Luckily though, God and fate intervened. Despite eight years of a relationship, she found everything she needed and ever wanted and more from Papa in just one year’s time. If that’s not true love, I don’t know what is. It just goes to show you that everything happens for a reason!

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Grandmothers and Guilt-trips

Yesterday I made the unfortunate return back to Buffalo, school work, and cold weather after spending a week in Orlando, Florida. The reason for my trip was to attend a journalist convention. But also, because the convention just so happened to be about 15 minutes away from where my Mama lives with my Aunt Linda, Uncle Richie and my three little cousins, Dionisio, 10, Immanuel, 5, and Hannah 2. While the conference took over the majority of the time that I was there, it still managed to become one of the best weeks, ever.
I arrived late Tuesday night; my aunt and Mama picked me up from the airport. After the 15-minute car ride we came home to a very silent house; everyone was sleeping. Which I guess at around 11:30 at night is a good thing when you have young kids. And it was probably the only time that week I’d experience what I’m sure my aunt considers a foreign friend. Anyway, it had been a long day since hours before that I had spent time editing at The Spectrum office and then attending the three classes that followed. Mama had already prepared my side of the bed with two pillows next to where she slept on nothing but mattress. It was time to call it a night. (And yes at practically 20 years old, I still sleep with my Mama every time I visit even though there are at least two other vacant rooms. And this is also the case when she comes to Long Island. – I told you we were close).
I’d be lying if I said this was one of her guilt-trips because I wouldn’t have it any other way- snoring and all. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the future after I get married and such. I’m sure my husband won’t mind resorting to the couch during her visits. Anyway, guilt-trips must be an art perfected by all grandparents. They know just the right degrees of getting you to abide by what they say or tell you to do no matter how much you want to oblige. They just make it impossible for you to say no to them because if you even think about saying otherwise, the mere thought alone is enough to make you feel horribly bad. Mama has got this down to a science.
She is not used to my eating habits even though it’s something she’s been aware of for a long time. I don’t get hungry until hours after I wake up, but to her because I wait so long to eat, she thinks I just simply don’t do it. Due to this, whenever Mama served me food, it didn’t matter the time, or that she’d given me enough that my uncle couldn’t even finish, I would have to eat it. Just to make her happy, no matter how full I was, or not even close to hungry I felt. If it means putting her mind at east, I will gladly do it. I probably gained 10 pounds during my stay.
Also, you think that since we were under the same roof for a week that our phone calls would be put on hold, right? Wrong. It’s bad enough forgetting to call her one-day while at school, or seeing her missed call appear on my cell phone. But to hear her voicemail saying how she asked me to call once arriving at the conference to ensure that I had made it OK, feels equivalent to disappointment. Even when we’re in the same state, she is constantly worrying about me. It’s the cutest thing. Of course since hearing that message, I didn’t forget to call the other times telling her I arrived at the hotel where the convention was held.
But I felt the worst on Saturday. The Spectrum adviser also attended the conference, and on Saturday night when it ended, wanted to go to dinner with me. I felt horrible not spending a night with Mama, especially during dinnertime but she seemed OK and understood when I told her what my adviser wanted to do. But, it turned out my adviser didn’t just want to get dinner; she wanted to ‘hang out.’ So we ended up walking around City Walk, which is just outside Universal Studios. Mama called three times in what was probably a two-hour time span, before we had even eaten dinner. She left a voicemail each time. My adviser even took notice of it. Don’t get me wrong, you all know how much I love my Mama, but continuously having to ensure her of what we were doing, where we were, that it was just my adviser and myself, what time I would be home, (which was later then expected, and in turn produced another phone call and message) was a bit much. Nonetheless, I’d do it all again the same way just because it’s her nature, and she only wants to make sure that I’m OK.
The best guilt-trip, or worst, depending on how you look at it was on Sunday. The conference had ended that morning and I was finally free to a day and a half of relaxation and most importantly, retail therapy. Mama and I hurriedly made our way to one of my favorite stores in Florida, DeeDee’s. We unfortunately in New York don’t have it and whenever I come down it’s a must that I do some shopping there. I was ready to spend some money, because I needed clothes (though by looking at my closet one might disagree), had been a while since I last bought something (well OK, maybe not that long), and was in DeeDee’s after all so I didn’t have another choice (This is the truth).
As we eventually made our way to the register I was calculating the total and embracing how much it would come out to be. I knew that in our trips before Mama had always paid for my things, but this time was different. She had already paid for my plane ticket, which I told her it was for my birthday so she wouldn’t have to get me anything more. But when the time came to hand over my credit card, Mama made sure the only card that would be swiped would be hers. I argued and pleaded, but it was to no avail. Mama actually managed to guilt me into buying me clothes. Is that not true talent or what?
And of course the next day when I had to switch out the suitcase that I came with for a bigger one because my new purchases didn’t fit, Mama asked if I could bring two suitcases. I told her I didn’t want to because it was unnecessary and I didn’t want to carry two. We got all of my things into a bigger one and I was all packed. That night Mama’s sister came by and slept over. Mama made sure that when it was time to sleep, her sister slept upstairs, and I got the coveted spot in her bed. We both slept horribly, tossing and turning, and not wanting the morning to come. When I woke up at 6 a.m. I found her in the living room filling a second suitcase entirely with food. I told her I didn’t need anything, that there were in fact supermarkets in Buffalo and that a lot of the things she had gotten I already had. It goes without saying that I returned to Buffalo with two suitcases in hand.
Despite it all, if it weren’t for grandmothers and their guilt-trips I wouldn’t have had such an amazing time. The conference was extremely beneficial. I learned tips on how to stand a part in the job market, hot to get hired, and received invaluable advice and guidance from experts in the field. It definitely helped steer me in the right direction for what to do and where to go after I graduate. And spending time with my family, especially Mama, was the perfect break from school, (even if I did spend a lot of time doing work.)

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Have any of you ever felt guilt-tripped by your grandparents or a family member? And what are your plans after graduation? Are any of you doing anything to prepare for it now?

A Stroll Down Memory Lane

Assignment: Write a flashback connecting what is going on now in your life with the past.

On Sunday, Ian and I took advantage of the beautiful fall day and a break from schoolwork and studying to go pumpkin picking. It’s a tradition we’ve been upholding for the last few years, and Sunday was the perfect day to continue it. We went to the Great Pumpkin Farm in Clarence. It was the most popular farm I’ve ever been to. Kids and parents adorned the huge field. It was impossible to avoid strollers, kids screaming and crying in fear of the haunted attractions, and babies strapped to their parent’s stomachs. All in all, it was madness.





As we strolled along the park, seeing kids playing about and parent’s chasing after them, Ian and I grew a little envious. To only be a kid again where all you had to worry about was which cartoons you wanted for your macaroni and cheese and whether or not you could get away with eating dessert before dinner. Now, it’s more like midterms, registering for next semester, and graduate school applications. Definitely not the best of the two options. Seeing the children’s carefree spirits instantly brought me back to my own childhood days.

“Since your Dad and I have to go out, Papa will be watching you guys,” my mother said. “Don’t give him a hard time and do what he tells you to do.” Because it was the weekend, it meant that my cousins visited. And we had a lot of them. My cousin, Marcel lived with us because our house was a three family home at the time; my family on the top floor, Mama and Papa in the middle, and my aunt, uncle and Marcel on the bottom. Marcel has stepsiblings, Cynthia and Little Richie who come every weekend and when they do, we always have the best times. They’re the oldest of the rest of us, so naturally they take charge. Also, my other cousins who lived not too far away, Jonathan, Michael, and Steven, often come to join the festivities.

We were online to get apple cider and fresh pumpkin donuts when Ian and I heard the announcement. “We have a lost boy, age four. He’s wearing a green shirt with black stripes. If you find him please bring him over to the center table.”  I instantly looked around me and grew frantic for the parents. How nauseating and scary it must be to look around only to realize your son is no longer near you. Of course you don’t want to immediately think of the worst- that someone could have kidnapped him- and yet those thoughts creep toward the front of your mind. Fortunately they are quickly replaced by a moment of rationality; he’s a 4-year-old boy. He probably just wandered off in search of the camel or goats. They will find him.

“Papa is babysitting, which means getting away with whatever we want,” my older sister, Tatiana said. Being only six, I was scared to break any rules and felt guilty tricking my grandpa. My older sister and cousins obviously didn’t feel the same way I did. “OK, then you stay here and the rest of us are going to sneak out and ride our bikes to the store to get ice cream.” I was nervous to let them leave but had no power in making them stay. They rode off for the store that was only about a five minute bike ride away. While they were gone I stayed in my room the whole time, and made sure not to draw any attention to myself. I didn’t want to lie to Papa if he asked me where everyone else had went, and I also didn’t want to get the rest of my cousins and my sister in trouble. I was in a pickle.

Of course all good things must come to an end, so Ian and I decided we had as much fun as two college students could at an event designed for kids, but ultimately enjoyed by everyone. We had done enough; fed the animals, walked through the corn maze and the haunted attraction, looked at endangered and nearly extinct species, ate donuts, drank cider, and circled the farm half a dozen times. As we were making the way to his car, I said, “I really hope they found that kid, you think they would announce it if they had.”

By the time they made it back, melting ice cream in hand; Papa never even knew they had left. They were right after all, no one got in trouble and we all got to make ice cream sundaes. ‘I wonder if Papa thinks the ice cream was in the freezer the whole time?’ When they came back we returned to our usual hangout of made up games: jungle people, house, school, and my personal favorite, getting dressed up as a mini-bride- taking pictures and putting on a pretend wedding with me and my cousin, Steven playing the bride and groom. “OK Vero, now face me, and smile,” my cousin Cynthia said. “Tati, go find Steven.” My sister did as she was told and came back with a not so thrilled Steven even though it required dragging him by his shirt. Steven did not enjoy this nearly as much as the rest of us. Poor kid.

“What are you talking about?” Ian said. “The parents were lost, not the kid. Of course the parents came to get him. They said that the kid was at the center, and that that’s where the parents could pick him up.” I thought this over in my head and figured I could have heard it wrong. Since Ian was pretty adamant that that was the case, I was relieved that I had been mistaken and the boy had been reunited with his parents.


A Not So Happy Birthday To Me

OK, so usually I am the kind of girl who starts counting down for their birthday the day after it ends. And even though most birthdays, at least for me, always suck because they never live up to the expectations I associate with them, I still am excited year after year. Obviously presents are always something to look forward too, and boy do I love presents, but above all, my birthday always falls around Thanksgiving, which for me means family.
We host a big dinner at my house every year, mostly to celebrate my birthday, but also to bring all of my family together. It’s the best time of year because I have a huge family, so when we all come together it’s so special and a lot of fun. Mama and my family from Florida usually come, and we’re all united under one roof to reflect on what we are grateful for and to eat amazing food.

I’m lucky because my birthday is always during a holiday so I’m never at school. It wouldn’t be a bad thing having to celebrate my birthday in Buffalo, but it sure would be sad not getting to see my family and go out to dinner and do all of the birthday things you look forward to doing. Also, all of my friends from high school are home at this time so we get to have a mini reunion and also celebrate mine and my best friend (and roommate’s) birthday, she’s two days earlier than me. So, long story short, I love my birthday.
This year however, I’m not all that thrilled. Yes, I can’t wait to see everyone, but there are so many things not to look forward to. First, Mama isn’t coming. I’m seeing her in Oct. and my family and I are going to Florida for Christmas, so it didn’t make sense for her to make the trip, especially since I’m only home for like four days. Second, my birthday is on Sunday, which is the day before we head back to school, which is the day everyone leaves to go back to school, which means I’ll have no one but my family to celebrate with (including my boyfriend and best friend). I refuse to head back up to school on my birthday so I will be making the trip next day because I don’t have classes until later in the evening. Third, I’m turning 20, which just sucks on its own.
For most people this is not a big deal because 21 is really the one they’re most looking forward to.
Well, not me. Truth be told, I think turning 21 is so overrated. 20 is when things become serious, it’s a huge deal because I will never be a teenager ever again.
Many people might associate turning 18 with becoming an adult, but I don’t agree. For me, 20 is a huge slap of reality because not only are you almost all grown up, almost done with college, but also will soon have to figure out the next phase of your life. I don’t know if I’m ready for all of that yet. I’m even debating whether or not rushing into Grad. school right after I graduate is a good idea. It’s beyond depressing, especially having no choice in the matter. Change may sometimes be a good thing, but this kind of transition is going to take a lot of getting used to.
Digesting your teenage years and bidding them farewell is weird, foreign, and a difficult to swallow concept. I’ll be forced to do it, as most are, but it isn’t something I welcome along happily. You can’t go back to those years ever again, you can only move forward. They become nothing but a distant memory as you become a responsible human being (well hopefully).

Countdown: 6 days!

Am I right? You guys are probably older than me, how did you feel about turning 20? Was it just another birthday, or were you just as freaked out as I am?