Tuesday, December 11, 2012

People To Hang Out With: That's my Dawg!!

Beautiful smiling Amelia
This week I found out two sad pieces of news.  One that a little friend of mine Piper, long time animal companion of my girl Crystal passed away recently and two, that another friend Amelia, long time animal companion of friend AJ is not well.  During my past few months of travel, with regular interactions with Latin American dogs both stray and cared for, my motto on human relations became "I only trust children and dogs".  When I can afford the opportunity and time I love to hang out with a dog.  They like to get dirty, they like to lie down, and they are always up for a hug.  Spending a day with a dog will inevitably lead to spending a day doing things I like to do but perhaps can't get away with being a human (I do want to know what is in that hole! I do want to run for no apparent reason!)  and the one thing I can get away with-laughing.  To me dogs always look like they are smiling and it makes me happy. Who doesn't want to hang out with someone who always has a smile on their face?

For my favorite dawgs who have gone: Salsa, Grendel and Piper.  

Hang Out Song Break #7

For the style, the hair, the dancing, the striking of poses and the piling up into a small public transportation mini van.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Respond and Rebuild

Had a chance to hang out with the lovelies who bottom line this, as well as some other folks from all over lending a hand and residents of Far Rockaway. LOTS of work still to be done, go for a day at least if you get the chance. http://www.respondandrebuild.org/

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hang Out Type: Get Away Hang (Immediate Friends)

CJ jokes, "That time you were in Portland it was like you were in a black hole. It must have been hard for you to not be in contact with me". It was hard and it was true. I had spent years dipped out of the circle of my oldest friends. On some self induced loner quest through the west coast in search of something that I am not sure of. In these last few years I have been trying to be more balanced in maintaining ties and continuing on my own personal venture. One way to do it is to plan a getaway with your nearest and dearest. Combining the perks of road trip (stop at random country spot,ROBERT IS HERE ), site seeing and lounging, the get away allows the space for you to relax and the space for random chat and intimate moment. This past weekend I spent getting some of that keeping-ties time in, having a get-away weekend in the Florida Keys with said old friends. It pays to make that intentional time with your closest friends, with the folks who know you best. Giving yourself a chance to mend and regroup from the world/community that you normally inhabit that may not know you as intimately or well. You renew your bonds to one another and then at the end huddle up and say "go team" with renewed energy to continue on your own personal journeys. Personal Side Note: If you have never been to Florida I am sure you want to know, "What's up with Florida?!" I am a fan of the state and while difficult for me to slow down a little bit after the whirlwind that was moving through Latin America and difficult not to be home with the whirlwind that is Sandy, I enjoyed the peace of mind my time here allowed me. For me Florida is real subtle breezes and sun, salt water and springs, tropical fruit and lizards, cruisers and one-story sandy colored buildings. I spent most my time doing yard work in random yards, seeking out fruit and laying in the sun. This was my first time in the keys. We stayed at a woman's land called Sugar Loaf Woman's Village on Upper Sugar Loaf Key, that provided us a totally tranquilo and private space to chill with one another. Among it's variable adorable structures and flora, my favorite spot on the land of course was the outdoor shower with hecka warm water. We spent a day at a dug out quarry full of coral and tropical fish. I didn't move much from my sunning spot but my friends took frequent dips and gave themselves full body masks from a muddy spot on the shore. Plenty of things to do here and if you are ever headed down this way please feel free to hit me up so I can give you the insider Floridian tips on how to enjoy the real Florida.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Playing with these coffee farm dogs was perhaps the happiest that I have been in a decade. I have just returned from approximately 52 days of travel through Central America and nibbled on South America a bit spending a good chunk of time in Colombia (with two travel team mates). Now just three weeks away from returning to New York, folks keep saying "it's a good thing you're not there right now" but I am a bit sad I am not. I have affinity for the city now and it seems wrong not to be there helping in some way but rather spending my hours for the most part lounging in Florida. Currently I am hanging out in Lake Worth, Florida, where you get to see random weird things at sea level. Much to discuss on hanging out through the epic journey and will get to it little by little. While staying at a hostel at previosuly mentioned coffee farm in Salento,Quindío,Colombia, I griped once again about staying at backpacker hostels to an 18 yr old Mexican girl whose post-high school graduation involved traveling for a few months through Latin America. She says, "I like it because you get to meet like minded people". And perhaps this was the source of my disgruntledness, I was not with like minded people. Meeting world travelers I at first would be slightly intimidated by what they had seen and the multiple languages they could speak. And in general they were fairly impressive and kind people. But after awhile what I saw in them mostly were folks getting away from something and instead of an empowered wander lust I just saw wafting lonliness. My interpersonal solace came mostly from my team mates and from interacting with local folks at every level who seemed stable, clear eyed and generous. My fellow hostel bunking travelers were driftwood and I was looking for a rock. Picture courtesy of Denise H.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Spontaneous Family Hang y Me Voy!

When I just need a break in general, to take a nap on a long bus ride and/or to be pampered in the way only a doting Puerto Rican grandmother can I take a quick trip up to Buffalo, N.Y. to visit my father's family. This time around my Grandfather requested the visit and despite my quickly approaching departure date from the States I conceded, even though my time with my Grandfather usually just entails me literally watching him do things- like watching TV (PR gossip television shows,baseball games,Italian cooking shows), strum on his guitar, or pour over highway maps of the United States all while he mumbles and hums to himself. He is adorable. In addition my visits entail my Aunt and Grandmother asking me if I am hungry nearly every hour and bringing me food even if the answer is no and comments that my cousin artfully described as "10% compliment 90% something else". Thus far favorites include my grandfather telling me I look like a tramp (he is not a fan of the tattoos) and from my aunt "Oh-is that what you call a skirt? From the front maybe but from the back not so much". The dry wit I have been exposed to my whole life and I am grateful for it, it reminds me to not take myself so seriously or to recognize people have multiple ways of showing their love that are totally acceptable (just look for it, make note and then you will know when the words that are really coming out of their mouths are "i love you"). The best comment so far is from my 4 yr-old cousin "Why do you talk so fancy? It's sexy", sigh why do they grow up? This is my last post until I return to Amerika early Novemeber. Good luck til then friends.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Hang Out Song Break #6

No matter how many years go by and how much my musical tastes expand and grow, nothing makes my heart stir (in the way I believe it was meant to) more than the fast and passionate punk. When I  need to get my power back I listen to the voice of one of the best bad asses I have ever known.

Punk note: The band is Dark Lion and the label that recently pressed a 7inch of the original tape version of the recording is Vinyl Rites.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

It's a feeling

I have uprooted once again, having completely cleared out of my place in Bed-Stuy and plans indicate I will be leaving Brooklyn borders.   Excited for new prairies and not sad to leave but grateful I had a chance to live in this legendary cultural center of BK (and the world).  I am going to miss some aspects of the neighborhood.  Namely, the call to prayer from the Masjid At-Taqwa mosque located at Fulton and Bedford,  my landlord and her family which included Marcel my constant advice giver and morning chat friend and their grandson who would jump out and greet me from a hiding place sometimes when I would stumble through the door at the end of a long day, automatically lifting my spirits.  And last but not least Abdul, my friend and parking lot attendant on the corner of Halsey and Bedford always wishing me a nice day.

Some more things I will miss:

Masjid At-Taqwa
Cats named after revolutionaries.  I will also miss the laundromat on Arlington.

It's the Brooklyn way. One of my co-workers on a walk around the neighborhood, as love seems to emanate from him.

Random shit: Just another horse in Bed Stuy.  Federation of Black Cowboys pay a visit to the local elementary school.  On this same day a block away I came across a Afro-Carib cop trying to settle a traffic dispute between an old ass Orthodox Jew and an old ass Muslim man.  There's a joke in there somewhere.  I was tempted to take a picture but decided it would be rude but laughed out loud at the sight nonetheless.

The colors....

The stoop.  


Friday, August 17, 2012

Hang Out Type: Spontaneous

In the moves being made to a) move out of my apartment and b) go on a three and half month vacay, I realize here in New York I have finally built up a network of folks, solid and reliable who make my life here much easier.  And that even in New York with a little intention you can build up community to the point that living in this metropolis is starting to not feel so different from the smallest town I have ever lived in-a perk that includes the spontaneous hang out.  One of the things I was missing about my small town communities from years back was the random drop in, the impromptu dinners, having friends down the block who were immediately accessible for any random favor.   Although geographically my life here is not structured to facilitate this as easily as it was say in Pensacola, FL where all my friends for the most part lived within a seven block radius of one another, here in Brooklyn/Queens a bicycle makes disconnected portions of the city seem seamlessly accessible, fluidly blending into one another.  Ten to twenty minute rides providing you fairly quick access to one group of friends or the other.  The spontaneous hang is a web of assurance and a nod of reliability and accessibility from a circle of friends that you are cared for and taken care of.  And I don't think of myself as being particularly social but I do enjoy good company, keeping me from feeling like I exist in some sort of void but I am reluctant to plan.  So having people who are easily accessible and existing in my life allows for the spontaneous hang, that random moment of getting to catch up with your friend.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


As a Floridian I hate to admit that New York City summers kick my ass, making me sluggish and slightly disoriented.  These last few days particularly difficult for me as I sport a mid summer fever, that as usual is a result of lack of sleep and a brief period of chain smoking. It's almost two in the morning and Files and I are standing on the West 4th humidified platform discussing our very young adult hood, when we first struck out in the world.  "How the hell do younger kids just own $2,000 laptops now? I remember barely having enough money to eat", "It's a different time".  Then we briefly discuss how dumpster diving was actually done to supplement meager means at the time (well for some of us any way).   We just got out of watching Slacker at the theater at West 4th  and the film had triggered a nostalgia in us, reminiscing about when our lives were fairly similar to the movie.

Just an hour before the movie I was eating nachos, sitting in the entryway of a closed Starbucks with an old friend.  We reviewed old "love affairs" that had circulated in our friend group over the years and passersby stared at us, their brains trying to process if we were homeless, injured, drunk or all three.  Who sits on the sidewalk on 7th and 24th, for a dinner of nachos as if they do it everyday?  We do.

Today ran into a buddy from Chattanooga at a local coffee shop I usually avoid.  He was telling me how he is almost done with school and is looking to become a Latin teacher.  That the "old guard" is dying and younger scholars of Latin such as himself are poised to take over.  I nod and comment approval on his smarts and he responds, "It's just my thing and everyone has their thing".   His comment contributes to my internal dialogue of the week, what does it mean to be "special"?  Which all began while washing dishes preparing dinner with friends.  Listening to a song in Spanish, that our host was translating and interpreting, I'm looking down at my hands and arms, shiny with water and soap, gliding over one green plate after the other.  I realized that I had thought the song was a love song, singularly isolated to make only one individual special.  He had interpreted it as a spiritual song on how all things were special.  This is the correct interpretation.    

There is no time of my life that I don't want to include moments such as these.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The bonds that tie

This past week I had a chance to sit for one on ones with a couple of friends who have been in my life for well over a decade.  We have not lived in the same town, much less the same state in years but here we are once again meeting up, consoling each other through our ups and downs, helping each other get through our day to day.  Leaving me to wonder, what are the bonds that tie us?  Is it chemical? Is it personality? Some reincarnated soul gang that rolls with each other life after life?  I have no answers here, I am genuinely intrigued as I get older why some relationships are so effortless and others so effortful.  When on paper two individuals side by side check out the same, it seems illogical that your connection to either of them should vary by much.  Being able to kick it seems less about the activity itself but more about the bonds that exist between you and that person.  Sure, yea I would rather be doing some activities over others but getting wasted with your head glued to the bar has it's place in life just as much as spending an evening creating something with friends.  In time being spent, I say I am up for whatever, which I am but if I think about it I am really up for people.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fuck "Eat, Pray, Love" this is my "Sin Mapas"

I say this to Marissa and she replies,  "That should be your Facebook status".  I don't have Facebook so here ya go.  We were standing in line waiting to get into the free Calle 13 concert happening at Prospect Park.  We had been talking about my disdain of folks referring to my upcoming venture to South America as my version of "Eat, Pray, Love".  In all fairness I have never read the book nor seen the movie that it seems now will peg all solo female travelers from here on out as desperate, lost, and looking for love in the far reaches of the world (from the western world at least).  As I had told Marissa and a few other friends earlier in the week via email , "I was a solo back packing bad ass before that chick even thought of writing that book".   This trip I won't be so much of a solo bad ass for most of the trip but bad ass nonetheless with three other folks who I hope to be blessed enough to have with me.  Sin Mapas was a documentary that René Joglar and his musical brother Eduardo Cabra Martínez of Calle 13, showing their venture through parts of Latin America in hopes of better understanding the countries they were touring through.  I am very much into the pan-Latin vibe of the group, Rene being the Latin Marcus Garvey of my heart.  Like the brothers in the film, I too am eager to understand the land and most importantly the diverse array of people that I share a colonized culture with and see what we have in common and what we don't and how I am going to continue that story for myself from this point onward. 

 I won't be taking pictures.  While I enjoy photography, I find the act of taking pictures makes me feel disconnected from what is happening to me in the moment, much like posting every thought you may have on Facebook, some things are better left in your mind.  I do however have plans of documenting my venture via sound!  With my lil janky digital recorder-plazas, busses, restaurants, beaches-I hope to bring you the sounds of Latin America by December- and that way you can develop your own pictures in your mind of my trek.

Link to Sin Mapas - shown in total. Yea it's in Spanish, get a dictionary.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Hang out Type: One on One

Hermano a hermano.

The one on one is my thing. One on ones you can roll deep , symbiotic with another human, running tasks, eating food, moving forward in one silent in sync motion.  Finding moments to share thoughts that seem random like something you read about numerology or ancient Romans or how you remember the first time you saw your mom lie or how you don't think you can ever honestly love someone because you just don't trust a single soul.  The most casual comment to the most intimate woven together with ease between the two of you, along with jokes and sound advice.  It carries an intimacy that I am addicted to and that I find necessary to gain from most friends in order to feel we gently push the boundaries of our friendship outwards, to a further place.  Providing a space for the friendship not just as a pair but allowing a sincere space for one of your partners in living to be distinctively human, where they can say what they want and exist how they wish.   

Groups are solid and it is rad to be able to pull off a genuinely good time with a large amount of  people.  But one on ones are the essential building blocks to a friendship.  Make the time for near and dear and make sure you are readily available, undistracted, open and ready.  You can answer that text later.  Turn to your pal and breathe slow, do something nice, this is the moment you will remember when you think about them when they are not around anymore.  

Personal Side Note.  Mano a mano. This dude was reading my palm explaining to me that your left hand stays the same, it's your overall narrative but your right palm changes and gives a heads up to where you're at in the moment.  Looking at my hand his eyebrows arched in empathy and he says to me, "You really feel what others are going through, you take in their energy".  The comment made me stumble out of my smugness for a moment and I smirk and weakly say "yea".  And with even more sentiment he says to me, "No. Like you really feel it, to the point it's unbearable.  You might even avoid being around people because of it".  My response in this moment was to pull my hand away because being that seen is not my thing but that sentiment is almost always counteracted by wanting to give in, hoping that I have found someone to give into. What he said was true.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hang Out Song Break #5

Discovered while hanging out in Ft. Greene Park, late evening, after werk.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

People to Hang Out With: Traveling Guest

Cyrus sitting quietly in Central Park

Over the years I have had the pleasure (mostly) of meeting random folks who needed to sleep on my couch.  Recently I had the pleasure of hosting Cyrus who made his way into my home as the travel partner of my friend Mel who had decided to pay New York a visit.  To entertain ourselves one evening I interviewed Cyrus on hanging out and afterwards we watched a bunch of Sublime and No Doubt videos online.

EIA: Cyrus so I ‘m interviewing you because we are in my living room and I told you that I wrote a blog about hanging out and then you-
C: I got so excited.
EIA: Yea you got really excited and then you said you like to hang out.
C: I did. And I still fancy myself as someone who likes to hang out although I don’t hang out like I use to.  I think that’s part of growing up and burning out and getting old.
EIA: Burning out about hanging out – you just said..
C: That might have happened to me a little bit.
EIA: Like recently?
C: No, after I grew up and moved out of said small town.  I never really found that community of transient like street kids, it was such diversity- they were all so funny. All the kids were really funny and it was just a very funny scene. And I’ve never found that anywhere else.
EIA: You were talking about that you like hanging out and specifically the first example you thought of was when you were younger-
C: Hanging out in the streets
EIA: -and you were living in?
C:    Salem, Oregon
EIA: And you were like a street kid?
C: No I would go home in the evening but I would hang out on the streets in the day. Like after school I would go like go hang out downtown for a few hours to several hours.
EIA: And so you were saying like now you feel like you never found that.
C: I never found that kind of community anywhere, where people just sit on the sidewalks and are so full of humor and life, beauty and joy. 
EIA: Do you attribute that to an age thing maybe?
C: Maybe, yea. Honestly when I walk past groups of young kids hanging out in the streets somewhere who look like they are kinda down and out, looking like they want to get fucked up or something, I don’t really give them much of a chance or give the time of them day anymore.  Ya know?  And I think part of that is that I wouldn’t think that they were as funny or as cool as the kids were back in the day.  And in that way sometimes I kinda find myself jaded about a lot of things in that way. 
EIA: But is there I mean – when I talked about having a blog about hanging out you did get excited so-
C: I did get excited and I still like the idea of hanging out and in a way I still hang out but it’s a lot less social then it used to be.
EIA: How’s that?
C: I think I’ve gotten more shy.  And like I hung out all day in Central Park but I didn’t talk to a soul.  And nobody spoke to me.  And that is something that I liked about the Salem  street kid scene or whatever is that hardly anyone could ever walk past us without being – we would talk to them or somebody would always shout out to them- there was always some player interaction with passersby.
EIA: Antagonistic or just random?
C: Sometimes yea  or funny though. Antagonistic or funny.
EIA: So whadya do today? 
C:Today I just sat quietly.
EIA: But you also went to the museum
C: Yea I went to the museum and I was quiet there too.
EIA: You had a Central Park day
C: Yea I did. 
EIA: I guess I’m trying to think of why you used the term “hanging out” as opposed to saying “I spent the day” – and then you kinda didn’t mention –initially you really just thought of your time hanging out in the park as opposed to your time that you spent doing something which was going to the museum so – why do you think you used those words?
C: I think that I think of hanging out as maybe where I first came across the idea that I was really just loitering somewhere and hanging out and in Salem there was often this- where the street kids would hang there was always a battle with the city.  The shop owners were always trying to get people to leave and we were always trying to have a place to hang out and it was this sorta thing and I think I just associate, like when I think about hanging out – I mean I can think about hanging out with friends in a different way but I still think about hanging out or hanging around as like meaning hanging out on the street and talking with people who also hang out on the street. 
EIA: Right because of that initial experience that’s what frames your idea of what hanging out means.
C: That’s true.
EIA: What are your favorite things to do while you’re hanging out?
C: Well I do like to people watch.  And maybe even back then part of the fascination with me hanging out or whatever wasn’t so much me- I think that I came to know the other people that were hanging out but a lot of it was just watching them be really funny, interacting with people and being funny.  I also just like people watching in any which way but I also think that it’s more fun when you have somebody to people watch with because then you can like make up stories about the people who are walking about.
EIA: (Laughter)  I never thought about that- sounds like a lot of fun.
C: Oh it’s a lot of fun, we should do that sometime.
EIA:  I had a boyfriend we use to like to go to restaurants and sit really close to people who seemed like they were going on their first date and pretend that we were also on our first date– we were basically eaves dropping on people and enjoying the awkwardness that was going on between them.  It was a little bit-
C: That’s fun!
EIA: I felt kinda bad- because you would be like “Oh that was so painful!” I just always thought dates were so awkward.
C: And when you hang out somewhere you get to see a whole variety like in the park today I saw couples and you can kinda like watch them and be like “Oh they’re not going to be together very much longer” just the way that they’re interacting.  Ya know she’s suddenly walking ten feet in front of him and ya know it’s exciting to see that change.  And then there’s that new couple that are shyly hanging out on the bench way off to the side and they look kinda annoyed when you walk by because you know they wanna smooch or whatever. Or you see the people who’ve been together- or just voyeuristically are just all over each other.  There is just all different levels.
EIA: Yea it’s interesting that you use the term voyeuristic I was in the park yesterday with my friend and he was like “What is it Valentine’s Day or something?”, there were three couples making out within ten feet of each other as we walked by down this path and I think one of my favorite things about New York is use of outdoor space and how people just don’t give a shit about  living their lives on the street because there is not enough space inside or something so people live their lives out on the street which like gives this new – the hanging out in the street here is phenomenal like there’s people playing cards or chatting with neighbors or -
C: It’s beautiful.
EIA: -yea you just have this really amazing human interaction
C: Spain was like that. I went to Spain when I was young and people would hang out like every day like outside on their porches or the park benches and in certain cities like Sevilla people were really just necking everywhere, people were getting it on! And I thought it was beautiful, I was just like, “This is really beautiful!” I would so much rather see people making out then trying to sell each other things or get things from each other—it’s beautiful to see.
EIA: So right now you are on a short sojourn through the US?
C: Well this is an epic journey for me at this point.
EIA: Yea but you’ve only been gone for like-
C: A week.  But I’ve got a long way to go!

Friday, July 13, 2012

"I guess I'm an alien",

  - a friend says to me on the phone while we discuss how when in grad school we would try to explain to our peers that our obtainment of higher education was really a goal to not work 40 hours a week.  To be so skilled and bad ass in our fields of interest that we could get away with working half the amount of time for twice the amount of money.  When you are in grad school the goal of trying not to have a career is foreign and people stare at you funny.  Despite this mantra of mine my body and mind did become infected with the notions of success and maturity.  What does it mean to have those things?  What does that look like?  This is really about losing your way on the path or rather losing the path on your way.

Interpret as you wish.

Several  months after graduation I went on a camping trip with two very new friends, Gil and Mikey. On our last day out having spent the night barely sleeping due to an extreme drop in temperature we were far from prepared for, we started a late afternoon hike.
The Adirondacks were stunning in a way that you question whether you really exist or not.  After a few hours of us mostly silently hiking letting the woods seep in, we realized that the sun was quickly  setting and the temperatures dropping ( late October).  We were not going to make it to our predetermined destination in time to make it back
The map reading that saved our fricking lives!
before dark.  Not wanting a repeat of experiencing  the previous evening's temps Gil, the only member of our party who had taken any time to read the map at the trail head convinced us that crossing a slightly broad and quickly moving river, was for sure the best way for us to return to our car quickest.  I resisted this plan to my core, I knew it was the best option (if not the funnest) but had a hard time rushing to take off my shoes and my socks to traverse the freezing waters to the other snow covered bank.  I think inherently I was scared that I was incapable of agilely crossing the river and did not want to make the attempt in front of new company.  I sat on a log brooding for a moment  and I remember the thoughts in my mind. When did I get so uncomfortable in my own skin?  When and how did I get so fearful?  So resistant to other humans?  I jokingly blame grad school for my up tightness but truth is my fears are self induced.  Gil slumped down next to me already having crossed the river and come back, looking so bummed out that I looked so pissed off. He would later tell me that he thought I was mad as hell but really I was just so embarrassed.  Meanwhile I look up to see Mikey already finding his own path across the river leaping and climbing stones with a grin on his face and I say, "I'm gonna do it I just need a minute".

Crossing the river stone by stone with Gil who prone to being helpful, is holding my hand and pointing out each cautious step, giving warnings ("okay the water is deep right here")  I make it across.  Mid river I had stopped for one moment to look up at my surroundings- standing barefoot on a shaky rock. I felt as if every piece of me separated momentarily into little points of light eager to join the larger light coming from the setting sun and if I had just waited one moment longer in that separation I would not exist right now.  I remember getting to the opposite bank so excited like  something new had just been injected into me and hopping up and down, "Ah man! That was so much fun! That was so much fun!!"  "That's great but put on your shoes before you freeze!", Gil says pointing down at my very red feet contrasting against  the white snow beneath them.  This moment along with several others this past year caused a crack in this hard shell I had built up as self defense-literally a cracking I can almost hear. Cold river crossing. Crack!  Wasted pillow fight in hotel room. Crack!  Riding a bike everyday again. Crack!

As a result of all that cracking this last year has consisted of much spiritual vessel growing pains, along with much risk taking physically, emotionally.  Not taking risks was how I had strayed and my memory was coming back. Shortly after the camping trip,  in a tarot reading from my friend Sue (less about the cards more about getting advice from her) which I do when I am unsure what I should do with this life, she looks up from the spread and  asks, "What are you willing to risk?", my lips parted and I let out a barely audible "Everything."

For Gil and Mikey, my newest co-conspirators in living dangerously. 

Hippie side note: I know I am SUCH a hippie, I have been hanging quite a bit so I promise to get to the topic (hanging) at hand asap.

Photos courtesy of Mikey Duffer. 
Driving to go camping and map reading courtesy of Gil Avineri.
Woods courtesy of Earth. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

"Sometimes I wake up and I don't wanna be here." -childish gambino

I have been busy prepping my life physically and mentally for a four month break from my beloved NYC which includes a trip traversing from Mexico City (D.F) to Panama to Colombia and beyond.
I have always avoided world travel for a variety of reasons (fear of plummeting death from airplane, fear of vomiting a lot from motion sickness on airplane, fear of being in a foreign country mid apocalypse mayhem) but definitely the biggest reason by far is that I never wanted to become some world traveler asshole.  You know, like wear Teva's all the time, pronounce foreign words with an exaggerated correctness completely out of context, adopt the native dress of the countries you've visited like some sort of badge, speak about the people and the customs of the countries you've visited "knowingly", have a white boyfriend with a pony tail-just tons and tons of really horrible characteristics a person can have.  The absolute worst.  I like to think my genetic inherited ability to define myself as "brown" will sway any of this type of behavior but in reality I am indeed a product of the westernized world, a fact that becomes abundantly clear to me even when I visit my family's native (and colonized) island of Puerto Rico. And native is pushing it when my ancestors not so distant past migration to the island means I have Spanish, Italian, Taino, African (?) etc blood flowing through my veins.  I am distinctively "new world", the colonized and the colonizer all in one body, genetics that will influence my perceptions and intuitions on my upcoming trip along with my North American ego.
Me (age 5) fishing in Panama, a regular weekend activity.  Hermano to my left, Papi's legs in the background.

My father was stationed on an army base off the Panama Canal in the early 80's, so my initial memories of my life are painfully romantic.  Parrots, picking mangoes, playing with my brother in sugar cane and in tropical torrential rains, dolphins, old trains, in fields late at night hunting crabs with my father and uncle, rain forested mountains, Panamanian folk dances and music in Panama City, markets where my five year old self selected out bunches of quenepas and small purses fashioned and being sold by indigenas, etc.   I am excited about returning to the region where my life more or less began and to see if there will be a stirring in my chest.  When discussing my trip with random people a few have said "you won't want to come back".  I am not sure if this is something people say in general when folks are about to venture to some great place or if they really think I won't come back.  Perhaps I won't. Sometimes I do like to imagine that there is a hidden zipper somewhere on me I haven't discovered yet (but I suspect exists around one of my big toes), but once I do I will be capable of zipping off this top and become something new or what I truly am.  My insides actually being composed of twigs, leaves, light and every tongue and this fall when picking fresh fruit on the same roadsides I did when I was five, I'll find the zipper and slip into the woods where I began.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hang Out Type: WORK

First job as a bagger, the smell of this place still makes me gag a little and they all smell the same.

Ah WORK.  Some of us take pride in it, some of us avoid it at all costs, for some of us it is the base of our identity, and for most of us I imagine it is a combination of those feelings and many more.  It's where on average according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics we spend 8 hours of our day. What are you doing with that time and  bonds formed with work?  I have a very tight crew of friends who while I adored them before we even started working together, the ups and downs of our work place has sealed us in a different and special way for life.  They forever will be family to me and my soul aches for them in an inexplicable way.  And then there are those times you work with friends and maybe your respect for them drops a little because their work ethic sucks and they would let it affect their co-workers/friends with such ease you wondered if they truly contained any sort of consciousness.

As a worker my favorite hang outs were restaurants, where your co workers smoke pot in the walk-in coolers and you can somehow get away with being a little drunk.  Sometimes working a kitchen on a slow night with no orders coming in was so boring that you thought you could simply die but  I miss the conversations with my co-workers and interactions with customers.  Grocery store jobs come in a close second where you could inevitably get away with chilling behind the dumpster or storage room or in yet another walk-in. I also have a slight obsession with aisles of food. Not the actual consumption of food but rather the many types of food and how to present them.  One of my favorite places to work was at Sevananda Natural Foods Coop when I lived in Atlanta.  I ran the supplements and herbs section and really loved stocking the herb jars because you had a chance to interact with the herb, smelling its freshness and medicinal qualities.  There are other grocery store nerds out there like me.  We meet in private.

One of my favorite tasks at one of my favorite jobs, stocking bulk herbs.
Also there is hanging out with friends at their jobs.  I like to see my friends working, it is another spectrum of their personality you may not know so well yet.  Watching how they interact with strangers, their co-workers and their work ethic, is charming.  Work is some sort of sacred space and I am honored to be let into it.  It's kind of like when people bring you home to their families, they are fine with being humiliated alone in these situations but then when they have chosen you as a witness to their lives it is something special.

I just counted to myself how many jobs I have had in my life and surprisingly could only think of 13.  I only say surprisingly because I have tallied up my life before and in total I have lived in 7 towns, 16 different houses and have had 57 roommates, so 13 jobs seems low.  But of course none of these numbers are counting randomness in between, life white noise.  At some point in my late 20's I had somehow decided I never wanted to see another human so chose a profession that affords little human contact at times.  Turns out that I was wrong.  Office life is draining and isolating despite the challenge and mental stimulation of my work tasks.  I have been working alone for the last eight months.  Just this second I said so long to a comrade from the office next door.  We literally became friends by the water cooler and our mutual dry humor has been getting us by these last months.  He has unexpectedly decided (the best kind of decisions) to break free and go traveling.  Sad to see him go, we exchanged contact information, high fived each other and hope to see each other soon.  Here's three cheers for hanging out in the space that consumes most of your adult life- the work hang out.

Thanks to Olivia for reminding me of the work hang out- where we hung out together as Research Assistants in the bowels of Columbia University.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

People to Hang Out With: Secret Friend

At work yesterday while debating the quality of the Smashing Pumpkins early nineties versus late nineties with my decade younger co worker, I was reminded of a secret friendship I had at the very first punk house I lived in, Squaresville in Atlanta, Ga with my roommate Matt.  Why our friendship was secret was because Matt's girlfriend at the time and I did not get along and so doing what any respectable boyfriend should do when trying to maintain the peace, he and I did not socialize with each other in public.  We kept our distances in all social situations which at the time, our lives were basically a twenty four hour social situation.  Yet one hot and shawdowy afternoon in our old Southern wood frame home, Matt and I were the only ones around and in polite conversation discovered that we both had a great love for singing along to the Smashing Pumpkins.  One of us actually owned the Siamese Dream CD and would only bust it out when alone.  In between Orchid and the Get Hustle, Matt and I secretly listened to it at full blast and sang along.  Once the songs were done we would smile at each other affectionately and then return to our respective rooms and lives seemingly unconnected.

Friday, June 22, 2012

For people on the west coast who miss actual thunder storms.....

Today's flash thunderstorm in NYC.

Life side note: I had an attempted jacking of my cell phone this week , right out of my hand, which is  a very common crime in NYC.   I am not even mad, I kinda liked it.  I figured after three years in this metropolis that it would and should eventually be my turn.  And it was.  I grappled with the assailant for my phone and won out!  I didn't fight him out of principle or because I love my phone so much but honestly just because in the most random moments I am really competitive.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It's in the cards?

"I don't practice Santeria, I ain't got no crystal ball"
Although I appreciate the fine art and entertainment value of astrology, tarot, psychics, runes etc.  I am wary of when friends or myself become too dependent on these tools in making life decisions or deciding the parameters of who we are and what we can be. Above is the Lovers Card from The Collective Tarot, a collaborative art project carried out by 25 artists that I was honored to take a part in (designing above card) and am a big fan of the Tarot Collective, the bottom liners who make sure printing continues of this rad(ical) deck.  I appreciate this deck not only because of the rad folks who put it together but because the reading of the cards is not disempowering, making you believe that there are forces that be that you are controlled by and your life is not in your hands but rather empowering, with the messaging that the life you want can be created by you and the communities you are a part of.  Nervous when I got assigned the task of creating this card thinking I was going to have to depict visual wisdom of choices made in relationships, I was pleasantly surprised in my research of the card's history. Its true nature was not about the heart romantically but about the heart passionately.  The Lovers Card is there to encourage you to make that brave decision to follow your heart or to make a decision to stay on the safe path.  In choosing the safe path your chances of gaining the "fruit" of life is limited if not non existent.  It is about intentionally choosing to live passionately.

Despite any spiritual practice I may take on now or in the future I like to remember my first true religion was punk.  Although born with the attitude, my punk life inspired and inspires me to make brash decisions.  Center yourself and remember to never let anyone or anything define who you are or who you can be, even the dang stars.  Live passionately, defy the stars, it's more fun that way.

Hippie side note:  Honestly what I think is that there is nothing between you (priest nor psychic reading) and connecting to some higher power or energy, we just forget how to.  Just go ahead and reach out and grab that energy your damn self. You can do it, it's right there in front of you!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pop with a Circle A

I really love pop underground to motivate me in whatever exercise routine I have for the day and there is nobody I love more than observant muslim and anarchist Lupe Fiasco.  Granted musically I am a much bigger fan of his premier album Food and Liquor (2006) than I am of the much poppier most recent Lasers (2011) but dammit it makes me happy to think of Lupe's commentary on world politics which includes being pro-Palestine anti-Obama and dismissal of the voting process, seeping into the minds of tweens across America.

Jihad is not a holy war, wheres that in the worship?
Murdering is not Islam!

And you are not observant
And you are not a muslim
Israel don't take my side cause look how far you've pushed them

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Discouragements in Hanging Out: Gossip

As the years go by I have grown increasingly agitated and bummed out if you will by gossip.  I will be happily hanging out drinking, enjoying some fresh air and one sentence out of someone's mouth will send me tumbling down. Defined as  "idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others", gossip can change the air from light hearted to slightly tense in a second.  The prior second you loved everyone in the room and the next, hate everyone on the planet. Never have I been involved in hanging out that ends in a gossipy tale and leave that moment feeling gratified or that I had truly spent those moments in my life in the most valuable way.

I use to be wary of critique of gossip because it invariably had a sexist slant to it.  Gossip is pegged as the world of women and conversations by women are trivial and trivial because they entail the discussion of such "trivial topics" such as emotions, feelings, and sharp critique of the actions of others. One can say that gossip provides valuable information in social circles which it does, let's say for example providing information if someone has a history of sexual assault which I have seen this transfer of info trivialized by people as tagging it as gossip. But we all know that information about a person's possible abusive past is not gossip and it is not "idle talk" but protective and valuable information (and there is a couth in distributing this information to those who  will benefit from it).

An aspect of gossip that really gets me, being a girl that runs in multiple circles but circles that are nonetheless tied to each other somehow is when someone says something about someone I really care about or I am getting queried for inappropriate info about someone I really care about.  What aggravates me in this moment the most is that when this happens the blow is to two not just one because it 1) shows lack of respect for the individual being discussed and 2) shows lack of respect for your love for that individual.

Usually when I try to discuss this topic with friends, people feel uncomfortable having participated in it so will try to justify it with saying it is harmless, is just for entertainment, and doesn't account for much.  But I am a hippie and at the end of the day truly believe that the bullshit that comes out of our mouths goes out into the air and is just hanging out in the universe bumming everyone out.  If we are who we say we are, desirers of creating an alternate and better world, breaking traditions and expectations in every other part of our life, why stick with this one? There is a difference in sharing info from a good place and from a janky place.  Let's not argue technicalities or semantics, you know when you are gossiping in the shit way because the air feels heavy, smells stank and you don't feel right. Sharing funny stories or concern for friends with one another is not the same so let's not pretend it is.

I hate to get all moral but I can't help it, it's kinda my shtick but I will never bring up anything that I am not myself personally working on.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


When you are a person like me (perpetual motion machine) you must constantly purge your belongings to insure your movements are as swift as possible.  This morning I chose to tackle my "personal" box - full of letters, artwork, zines and photos from family and friends.  I usually avoid going through this box and clearing it out because a) I will cry at some point and b) it seems odd to sit down and determine what memories you want to hold onto and which ones to risk possibly eliminating entirely.  But alas I did- went through each one, supportive letters from family and friends through celebrations and tragedy and did my best to get rid of the fluff.  Found one lone map that ended up being of Mexico/ Central America which I took as a nod from the cosmos.  Here is a small sample of the saved, that I kept to make it easier for historians when they have to chronicle my life in the future. 

A natural progression: First Communion, punk high school graduate, hitchhiker.

"Letters are testaments of friendship" - AE 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It's Warm 2012

View of the Williamsburg Bridge at twilight, beers on a Brooklyn roof top. 

Me: "Basically I am just trying to recreate my life from the ages of 22-25 within the next few months.  Just a summer of complete wild-assery"

D: "I want in on that."


This is not exactly true.  Because I am older, wiser, experienced-I couldn't recreate my mindset from that part of my life if I tried and there are certainly parts of my mindset from that time that I am glad to be without.  I am one of those people whose lives are full of a multitude of blessings, not really sure as to why and am often waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I am now in another wave of forward-upward trajectory, I can feel it when I wake up in the morning the universe pushing me forward as I am in the midst of planning a four month pseudo sabbatical get away from the city.  I like to think much how Che Guevara's motorcycle trip ended with him becoming one of the most influential revolutionaries in history, that I too will end all my silliness and adventure seeking providing something to this world.  For now, in the spirit of my early adulthood I will be happy making sure I feel joy each day, letting every being I come across know that I love them, drinking and gaining unnecessary amounts of sun exposure.

Between coordinating with friends my sabbatical and general warm summer fun time I also think about Syria specifically this week with the Houla Massacre.  What madness is this?  How can one man's mind make logic out of being so cruel to another?  It seems so illogical, with all the beauty in this world that someone would want to spend their time in this life wanting to  cause such destruction and grief.  I ask myself how but it is easy for me from the comfort of my very Brooklynite, sabbatical planning 30 something life to place judgement on the actions of individuals who live in countries wallowing in conflict (and I am not speaking of Assad but the minions in his employ who carry out crimes against their own people).  It seems even so much more illogical to me often that my life is the way it is and that others are the way theirs are.  When I look out off of rooftops onto the NYC skyline I am looking past the hazey dreamy sunset to the other souls surviving in much crueler circumstances and my immediate reaction is to pray pray pray.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hang Out Type: WTF?

Sunday morn stroll through Von King Park (Bed-Suy) on my way to retrieve my life.  
I am slightly addicted to chaos.  It gives me a subtle satisfaction and at the end of a day of it I will sleep the easiest.  This weekend was probably my favorite in awhile beginning Friday night with unexpectedly having three people sleeping in my fairly small studio apartment, which nearly a year ago would have seemed like an impossible desire.  A year ago the thought of even having one person in my home for a few hours was almost overwhelming.  But as we all four drifted to sleep the one closest to me wished me many many blessings throughout my life for my generosity.  I wanted to tell her the moment we were all in was blessing enough.

The next day I woke up slightly feverish but happy and spent the morning sharing punk music and cigarettes with my current pseudo roommate.  The day was beautiful out but I could already sense that it would be off and although feeling remarkably lazy, decided to eventually step out the door and see what the vibe I was feeling was all about.  I worked for a few hours and then went to go meet up my old friend Scotty at our friend's bookstore for a stroll, some reminiscing, and general check in.  We had a really lovely evening of hanging out with another old friend from our former "dejected planet" of Pensacola.  Around 9PM we returned to the book store to find it dark, our friend gone, a classic move on his part.  We were met with an apologetic note about how he couldn't possibly wait leaving Scotty unsure how to return to where he was staying for the night and me without my bike and house keys.  I called pseudo roommate in hopes that he was around so that I could return home and Scott could chill until he figured out where he was going, only to be quickly hung up on because pseudo roommate was on his own weird adventure for the day, helping a friend in need who seemed to have disappeared.  I was laughing hysterically at this point joking about how I really needed to get some normal ass friends who a) would not deprive me of all my belongings to leave me stranded mid Saturday night and b) would not hang up on me two seconds into a phone call without finding out first why the fuck I was calling.  Scotty seemed stressed in a non-New Yorker way by our predicament but I decided to solve the stress of the moment how I solve all my feelings of angst in New York - by catching a cab.  Sure, they can be pricey but the ease of the ride lulls me, I usually have a nice chat with the driver and it gives me a moment to think and gather my bearings.  Around 11:30 PM I get Scotty to his destination after a few hours of BK walking and exploration.  I eventually get the  text that I would not be getting into my own house that night and due to an increasingly brewing fever I almost cry where I would have been laughing at my misfortune  instead.  Another Florida friend stepped up to the plate and welcomed me to her home around 1AM, where I finally got to crash until my very stinky slightly sore self would have to get up the next morning and trek north to retrieve my belongings and my bike.  Without my key I missed two anticipated social events, a gay nautical space themed dance party on a boat and a birthday picnic in Prospect Park.  But I spent time with other friends during my brief window of homelessness, having unexpected conversations and exploring streets unknown to me, so I was content.  How the hell does being locked out of your house sound like fun you may be asking?  Well most importantly because it reminds me that I still have it in me.  That I am still alive- that my body and spirit are still operating at a level that can take whatever each day is going to lend me.  So I want to shout out-"Give me more!", to whoever it is that is listening.

Raised eyebrows, whoas, and it's-complicated's , have been bantered around me a lot as of late in response to my current life plannings and happenings.  But I love this shit and by shit I mean my life.  What is so fucking complicated?  This year of living dangerously, I want to lend what I can lend and bend where I can bend.   After nearly a decade of boxing things up, being cautious and over analyzing I am exhausted.  This year is a lesson in and a return to just going with it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hang Out Song Break #4

Life Side Note: Some days me and New York hang out all day and at the end I wish I could be immaculate conceptioned by the magic that is this city.

Monday, May 14, 2012

"Bonito. Beautiful"

It's Summer in New York aka the time of the year I feel extra Puerto Rican!  You  cannot live in New York and not be exposed to how Latin the city gets once the weather is warm and the streets are poppin.   I love my nest in Bed-Stuy but I miss my old hood of Washington Heights often.  I miss apartment building living, all of us on top of each other and in my corner of the Heights that consisted of Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Russian Jews, opera singers, jazz musicians, random ass white people, policia and the high end drug dealers (often difficult to tell the difference between the last two).  I miss hearing the rehearsing, the lovers quarrels and family celebrations.  I miss the bustle of 181st with it's mix of cheap and high end boutiques and the vendedoras  hawking their fruit juice and roasted corn and the old men hawking their frituras.  I miss the interweaving of the multiple languages coming up to my window and at the end of winter when the slightest bit of warmth becomes apparent the Latins opening their windows and turning their speakers out into the street.  On 181st and Colonel Robert Magaw there was the house that played bachata.  At my first apartment at 177th and Haven Ave there was the family across the alley way who would have actual musicians in their living room and my roommate and I would sit at the window and applause at the end of every song.  One time I made an attempt at joining in on providing entertainment blasting Mi Gente out the window and at the end of the song got some cheers and applause in return.   Over all my favorite was the older lady on Fort Washington who every Friday night played heart wrenching Puerto Rican love ballads.  All her windows would be open and every light would be on and you could see the marigold painted walls of her home and the somewhat tacky gilded furniture and oversized pots and plants one associates with homes of older Latin women of a certain ilk.  I looked forward to every Friday because of her and almost would close my eyes feeling the  sentiment as I walked the four blocks that the songs she was playing were completely audible.

I miss all of this I suppose because it was a subtle reminder of a life I miss with my family.  And each song and "mamita" from the neighbors kept me afloat feeling supported by some world wide Latin web and not so distant from something familiar.  Lately I have been having a lot of family exposure- not mine but that of other people.  Most recently, last night at the celebration of a friend from med school whose Ethiopian family fed us plenty and insisted on bringing my table of friends bottle after bottle of some sweet  mystery home brew until I was sufficiently tipsy and very much needed to go home.  I like to hang out with the family of friends 1) because for one moment in my very sola life I get to have a familial moment and pretend they are my family too and 2) to see another element of a friend's personality.  They are polite and a little reserved, bending over and kind to children, revering older folks and respected by their families. I get this opportunity every now and then weddings, birthdays, random evening dinners at their homes and what I love about New York is that often it leads to me being exposed to a culture vastly different than mine or vastly similar. I become a part of something new and I secretly laugh inside how they love each other and grate on each other and want to tell them to take it all in no matter what, "you're sick of them but you would miss them if you were rolling on your own".

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Rules of Hanging Out #3: Go ahead and have some fun (you won’t get fired/kicked out of school/broken up with/ evicted)

On this day I was supposed to go get my taxes done but the universe said "Fuck it!" and I did.  Rarely in New York does my life allow me the privilege of just bopping around for a day and I was not going to pass this up.  Plus my good buddy and PIC (partner in crime-a topic to be discussed later) Adee was visiting and we could all be dead tomorrow so let's make the best of it eh?   We started the day off with some breakfast at my house and then a pleasantly warm and sunny walk over to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.  On the way grabbing ice coffees and I a cigarette which made me so happy that I stopped  walking and almost knelt on the side walk and prayed out loud to the creator to feel free to take me right in this moment because there was no way I could feel any better and I was satisfied.  Finally getting to the gardens (Tuesday is their free day by the way) Adee and I  as usual found ourselves laying in the grass mid rose garden staring at our surroundings, feeling the earth beneath us, pondering our existence in this realm and feeling refreshed.

Afterwards we headed up to Harlem to meet up with our friend Anna Luisa who had let us know about a work shop for teaching artists at the Studio Museum.  The Studio Museum is one of my favorite places in NYC and I was long over due for a visit.  The workshop was designed to provide project ideas for folks who work with young people and art related programs, which all three of us have done in the past.  The art project they had us do was making 45 album covers bearing in mind the theme of  "the soundtrack to your life".  It was really adorable to sit in a room doing an art project with all adults especially when everyone went around the room, sharing what they had produced and their fucking feelings! The whole experience really made me miss working with young people, it has been some years BUT afterwards a woman approached me about speaking with some students at her medical high school in Canarsie about the work I do.  Now that I am not a grad student, I am really trying to build meaningful connections in New York so it becomes home/community for me and my future life here that I am constructing in my head.  Which I realise sounds grossly sentimental when said out loud but it's true.  I am really looking forward to visiting the high school and all goes to show that it pays to hang out!

Our record covers
Two weeks after this good day I am finally going to go get my taxes done.  Is there some sort of late fee? I don't know and don't really care because in the end it will be okay.  I am not preaching irresponsibility (because I think having a sense of responsibility shows character) but a sense of balance and wisdom (also displays of character).  We all have things that need to get done and I know generally accepted wisdom dictates - "Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today", however this must be applied to general good times as well not just tasks, errands and work.  Now go call in sick to something!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hang Out Type: Disaster!!

Safety crouch for tornadoes

I am a big fan of disaster preparedness and it largely came from my own experiences going through a category 5 hurricane in Pensacola Florida, which is why my good friend, Matt Runkle interviewed me for his series The Business of Staying Alive on his blog.  To correspond with that chat I wanted to talk about hanging - disaster.

One of my favorite moments in disaster hanging was during school in the  seventh grade while waiting for tornado sirens to sound at which point we were all trained to run quickly to the hallways to get into our safe positions. In the interim some genius on the staff thought it was a good moment for us to all watch Romeo and Juliet (1968).  Nothing will make a bunch of twelve year olds hornier than watching a tale of teenage rebellion in love and lust while awaiting their impending death by high speed winds.  My 7th grade boy friend at the time, held my hand through out the whole movie and our palms made a sweaty ass mess with the anxiety we were feeling and because it was really muggy and hot. I think they would turn off the AC every time a tornado was on its way and let me tell you in a school full of pubescence turning off the AC is no joke!  I mostly remember just fantasizing about my future in banging it out like the protagonists in the movie but the boyfriend was clearly operating on a much deeper emotional level.  At the end of the movie he turned to me very somberly and staring dead into my face said, "Tina-I need you to know right now that I love you".   I think I smirked at his vulnerability, laughed a little and said "alrighty" which is not too far off from how I react when someone tells me they love me now, because I think they are drunk, lying or just confused.  The tornado came and while we had all enjoyed the day of no work - when the sirens finally sounded the halls were eerily quiet as we crouched against the walls, listening to each other's breathing and the truly train like sounds of the tornado.

Flash forward about twelve years to me waiting out Hurricane Ivan in Pensacola, with me and my roommates cuddled up into the hallway that ran the center of our house with a mattress blocking the entrance to guard us against any flying debris if it should come down to it.  My boyfriend at the time was not trying to convey to me how much he loved me in case of death but rather kept begging me to shut up with the jokes already so that he could sleep out the hurricane.  Fair enough.  But my roommate Paul and I were engrossed in the play by play hurricane being broad casted on the radio and for some reason thought the reports scary yet slightly hilarious and spent most the night giggling in a corner.   With our battery powered radio, some water and a few snacks we waited out the night.  Besides a torn awning our house survived the storm really well.  I can't say the same for my neighbors, one of which had completely lost their roof.  The news focuses on storms as if it is this isolated moment in time where everything exists after the storm the way it was before but that is never the case, things always change. The weeks after the storm was eye opening in how the world truly exists when you and your neighbors are meeting up every day at the back of an army truck to receive rations of food and water.   Much of the time everyone spent the few weeks after Hurricane Ivan with no water and electricity, centered around helping out neighbors and friends with any clean up they needed and the sharing of supplies so everyone was getting by comfortably enough.  The punk owned and run coffee shop I worked at at the time stayed open largely due to the dedication of my good friend Scotty.  There was enough amenities to pull off making coffee and he dutifully sat out in front of the coffee shop for days dispersing cups of joe for donation.  His effort in creating a sense of normalcy in a tumultuous moment I thought sacred and was much appreciated by neighbors and passers by, as a place to stop, share stories and offer support.

So the rules, the rules.  Like in all moments in life where you can anticipate stress try to remember
1) It's not that serious- you will make it through.  Humor is invaluable.  2) Don't get dramatic, let's keep it together no? There is going to be a lot of work to do after the storm.  3) But also take care of yourself and run through any emotions you're having, they are legit. 4) Like any other time period in your life, take time to relax and enjoy the company of your friends and yourself.

Here is the Center for Disease Control's web page on disaster preparedness , don't let it make you crazy, just let it make you aware.