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I’m off to see the…me, I guess?

30 Mar

In the past, I have been informed that an action I take can make it seem like another person is, or more often than not, is not doing something else.  For example, I have been told that by doing my job, it makes it “look” like a colleague is not doing their job.  Or by being a friend, it makes others seem like they are “bad friends” to someone else.  I suspect I will be “accused” of this once again in the not too far off future.  To this I say, thank you.  I am eternally grateful for being informed that I hold such fierce, magical powers.  To be able to make things appear one way (i.e. a person is not doing their job, or not doing it well) when in reality things are another way (i.e. a person is doing their job and doing it well),  is a particularly powerful skill to have!  I guess I am a wizard, or a bruja!  So here I am.  At 4:30 AM on a Saturday morning, ready to update the skills section of my resume to include “magical powers that result in changed perceptions of reality.”  Here I was, all this time, under the impression that the only way a person can “seem” like they are not doing their job, or not doing it well, is by…well, not doing their job, not meeting their responsibilities, expecting others to carry their load, etc. I guess I was wrong, and phew…at almost the ripe old age of 47, I finally know the “truth.”




How to be HIP

26 Sep

This title refers not to being a hipster, not to the acronym used for High Impact Prevention, or to that commercial that once featured a very cute and perky cartoon hippo for the health insurance company.

It refers to my mom who at the ripe *youthful* age of 84 years will soon be getting hip replacement surgery.

In the past year, she has been dealing with exceedingly more debilitating pain in her right hip. Nothing else has worked. And given that she has congestive heart failure and takes certain meds that are contraindicated for pain meds that could help, this is her only option for improving her quality of life and being able to go on the long walks she so loves.

So, on October 12th I will be packing myself up to spend the week (and if needed, longer ) to be with her while she recuperates in the Bronx.

Not too long ago, this would have filled me with much dread and anxiety. Luckily, I have become much more hip myself with age and can navigate upheavals with stride. I’ve notified colleagues that I will be available via phone/text/email and can work diligently on an upcoming funding application.

But Mami and her cadera that hopefully will soon be able to menea once again come first.

Thankfully, my team is very supportive. Like a nice strong hip.



8 Aug


Miss Milly’s Revenge

8 Aug

So, true to form. Instead of sitting here on this sultry hot evening in NYC running analyses for my dissertation, I am bringing this to you all. You saw it here first!  My idea for a screenplay that will make me lots of money so I can pay off some school loans and maybe buy an apartment where my mom and I could live in relative comfort together.  (My mom is 84 and lives in the walk-up apartment where I grew up.  I live in a walk-up in Brooklyn.  She needs to have  a hip-replacement surgery.  You all can do the math….)

Maybe I can even have some left over clams to donate to my organization. (But my org. would have to agree to use it efficiently and effectively to bolster our research and evaluation department.  Which may entail getting rid of some barnacles).  Note the sea theme thus far?

Sometime recently, 3 fully grown adults decided to kidnap a small shark (a sharknapping) and wrapped her up in a wet blanket and strolled out of the aquarium that was her home in a baby carriage. You know. For kicks. See below.

Shark stolen from San Antonio Aquarium is back in her tank – CNN

Isn’t Miss Helen cute?  I feel for her.

Anyway – my movie would be called Miss Milly’s Revenge.  Based on poor Miss Helen’s plight.  In a world where Sharknado has multiple sequels that someone actually paid to make, Miss Milly’s Revenge has a chance to make a mark (or shark, in this case).

The film begins with the sharknapping.  Miss Milly is brought to the home of one of the thieves, and unceremoniously placed in a tank in the basement of his house.

At first, she is very sad.

But slowly, she gets very mad.  VERY MAD.  All that anger causes some chemical reaction and she grows bigger and bigger.  So big she smashes out of the tank.  She also is now able to move around outside of water.  A landshark.


Slowly, she goes up the stairs.  It is midnight, and everyone is fast asleep.  She finally makes it all the way up the the bedroom.  The thief is snoring away. She stands over his bed.

drip. drip. drip.

The thief wakes up, there is water drops plopping on his face.  He opens his eyes and in horror sees Miss Milly looking over him.  She whispers, “land shark” and attacks!

She wreaks havoc all over the neighborhood, hunting down the other two thieves and all those unlucky enough to get in her way.  But really, all she wants it to be back home in the aquarium.  She misses her friends and her routine.

Think Gremlins, meets Jaws, with a dash of Carrie and The Ring.

Finally, Miss Milly is caught.  As dawn breaks she becomes smaller and smaller and much more manageable.  She also needs to be back in water.  Landsharkness only happens at night and when she is unhappy and really, really mad.

She is brought back to her home aquarium.  She is seen happily swishing her tail.

But at the very, very end, we see she has birthed millions of tiny baby sharks.  In toilet bowls, sewers, regular goldfish camps, ponds and puddles throughout the neighborhood!

And THAT is why her name is Milly.  And THAT is her REVENGE!

Just when you thought it was safe to be swimming around doing your own thing …We hear the Jaws music; see a HUGE 5-fingered HAND splashing into the water trying to grab you.

See? The horror is really that someone would do that to you.  We have Milly’s POV.

Do you all think this idea has “bite” (chuckle chuckle laugh laugh)?  If so, do not forget to give me mad props and credit where credit is due.

OK.  Back to dissertation now.

And…everybody knows

23 Jul

Recalcitrante riot

23 Jul

Recently, I was called “recalcitrant” by a colleague. This person has already accused me of creating a “hostile work environment” with nothing to back the accusation. Yet..somehow, despite being unprofessional and using the tactics of a school-yard bully, name-calling and trying to intimidate others, while not using any of his energy to actually do the duties required of his role professionally, this person is receiving a nice chunk of change. Every 2 weeks.  As Holly Golightly would say, the mind reels.  Also, “quel rat”.

I take this label of recalcitrant in both pride and stride. I offer you this definition:

: obstinately defiant of authority or restraint

Let’s cut the bull. I am a 46 year old professional. My colleague is in no way my superior. If I am calling you out on the fact that you do not do your job, repeatedly throw others under the bus, and are completely unethical as a researcher –  and this is evidenced – and the response is that I am obstinate and defiant of “authority”  and “uncooperative toward discipline” then – yup, I am recalcitrant.

But dearie. You still are not doing your job and basically stealing time, resources and money. And getting away with it!  So, I proudly now wear the recalcitrante researcher badge con honor! Am thinking of having multiple T-shirts printed with English and Spanish words and definitions on front and back and wearing them daily to my office! Will make getting dressed for work each morning much easier!

Canoeing Along the Stream

28 Apr

I have decided to start writing here again.  If for no other reason than I am in the midst of writing my dissertation and this seems like a productive procrastination exercise that actually allows me to continue on my journey to once and for all completing my doctorate.  See, my dissertation topic is near and dear to my heart – it looks at how foster care placement affects the sexual health behavior of youth.  My first job straight out of college was as a foster care case manager, and all of these years later, I wonder whatever happened to all of the youth and families I was honored to have encountered.  How an often broken system that is meant to provide security and safety, actually may have caused more harm.

On to my own childhood.  Join me on this canoe navigating my stream of consciousness. So I grew up in a mostly Latino neighborhood in the south east section of the Bronx.  Almost all of my neighbors were Spanish-speaking, and my household was no different.  In fact, I did not really learn English until I started kindergarten.  I am now 46, but like Matryoshka (those Russian nesting dolls – the ones you open up and you find continuously smaller ones inside of each other) – there is the little Me inside of Me.  She is with me everyday, and it is up to me now to nurture and care for her.  I am her parent now.

For some reason, I have been plagued by a recent NPR piece I heard one recent morning.  It was about a documentary (The Devil and Father Amorth) the director of the movie The Exorcist made about a real-life exorcism, performed by an Italian priest that recently passed away.  (see information here – but be warned.

Anyways, when I was a small child I was convinced that I would become possessed by the devil.  Why?  I do not know if there was any one real reason – probably a few pieces to this puzzle.  The context of my cultural and historical background, going to Catholic school, catching a glimpse of a commercial for The Exorcist on TV, having a ridiculously sounding Catholic name… See, I am named after one of the Archangels, and for those that do not know, the devil, or Lucifer, was the fallen Archangel,  And what was this horrible thing that poor Lucifer did to warrant such a sentence into the depths of hell?  To dare to question God.

As I have been one to question authority, even as a small child, well…you get the picture now.  The odd thing is that I always sort of felt compassion for Lucifer.  In kindergarten (again Catholic school) we had coloring books depicting passages from the Old Testament.  In those pictures, the Devil was not this ugly scary creature.  Just a really sad looking angel. 😦  Eventually, the anxiety of becoming possessed passed, and I would not have such thoughts as I would fall asleep.  Instead, I was thinking about my latest crush.  More often, I was thinking about when I could finally get out of dodge, on my own, and be independent.  I often fretted about my studies and grades, as a scholarship would be my ticket out of my neighborhood, out of the city, and on to college.  I was a pretty good student, actually, but always anxious.  But one night I did have an amazingly vivid and odd “experience” – I hesitate to call it a dream, because it felt so real, so sensory and tangible.

I was in my bed and the way my apartment was set up, the light from the hallway was on and shed a certain amount into my bedroom.  My bedroom door was open, and I was in bed “sleeping”.  I suddenly felt as if someone had sat down at the edge of my bed, at the bottom towards my feet.  I felt the weight.  I opened my eyes.  There was a tall man dressed in dark clothing, like a suit, with a wide brimmed dark hat.  Think Nick Cave (who I love, by the way, but still.

The figure leaned over, and even though he should only have reached my mid-torso, all of his sudden his face was right up against mine and he said, “you will be possessed by the spirit of a skunk.”

That might sound funny, because it is.  But skunks are smelly and people avoid them and run scared from them even though they are pretty cute creatures in my opinion.  I was petrified.

Fast forward to this week.  I was at a directors meeting at work.  Now – if you ask me to pitch up at an early morning meeting, when I have been working quite late the night before, and on the agenda it says “internal communication issues, concerns, and how they impact our work,” and you ask for participation….well, I am going to answer honestly, authentically, and participate. I am going to speak my mind – clearly, professionally, and respectfully as an adult.

Let’s just say my contribution was not well received.  Let’s just say that I was not supported.  Let’s just say that folks did not appreciate being called out as adults behaving badly, regardless of their own little Matroyshka that they are not caring for adequately, compassionately, or with nurturing intention.

You know what?  I am AOK with being a skunk.  An adult skunk.  And I am not possessed by anything other than my convictions and sense of what is just in this world.