The Problem with Grief

Life plays out like a tragedy. In the end, we all die. The journey plays out like a novel, written by the hand of the indelible gods; the entropy of our lives resolved by eternal slumber. Those who remain alive, left behind by those they loved and have risen to the heavens, have to deal with the aftermath of their sudden departure. Even when you know they have prepared to pay Charon for a ride across the river Styx, you will never be truly ready to see them leave. The baggage they carry is much lighter than the one still in your care.

Putting an emotional facade can become a challenge if you are not feeling regret or sorrow. When you work as hard as I do to keep in touch with friends and family to be apprised of their lives, you don’t tend to miss them until months or years after they are gone. That’s why a funeral can be both a curse and a blessing. You are not ready to say goodbye forever so quickly after their journey ended. As long as you keep them alive in your thoughts and memories there will be no need to mourn. Eternal they become until the day death comes for you too.

We all grieve in different ways. No way is more important or deeper, or more heart breaking. A loss is devastating for good reason, because it creates a void that stays latent until the day you die. Nothing can fill it, only assuage it, and we aren’t taught to understand the difference; we must learn it. All the unknowns remain unknown, and the secrets are taken to the grave. The person you knew is everything and nothing at the same tame. The many version of themselves colliding into one clear person, defined by death, and buried with honors. Everyone is good and loved the day they are summoned to the great beyond.

No one’s way to grieve is erroneous. Reconciling styles between friends and family can result in a powder keg of raw emotion and instability. How much time is enough time to mourn? I dare not say. For there is no need to rush catharsis, not one event that will help you pull the pieces of your broken heart together. You just wait, and stew and brood, until the heavens see fit to remove the burden, to impart the lesson that will make the loss seem like a blessing. We give meaning to the things that have no meaning, and we struggle to determine if the lesson was good enough to merit the formalities of saying goodbye forever.

We bury the living, we keep alive the dead. The irony as inescapable as the weight on our shoulders. Love more. Judge less harshly. Make sure that you balance the work and life equation to your advantage. We only get what chance at life, make the most of it. Don’t let others tell you what to feel, or how to act. Only you know the proper way to heal your wounds and surrender to the grace of the gods.

See you all in Valhalla, my beloved warriors.

PTSD Doesn’t Discriminate: Anyone Can Develop It

I’ve gotten some smart ass clap backs from people assuming that a middle class person of means cannot and should not develop or have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) so I felt the need to set the record straight. Fifty percent of people in the USA will experience first hand trauma, with women more likely to develop PTSD than men. Combat veterans are notorious sufferers of this condition and many mistakenly assume that this is the only sector of the population that can claim to have it. Anyone can develop PTSD, and 8% of the USA population will experience it. (PTSD stats taken from Google searches.)

From the National Institutes of Health:

Not every traumatized person develops ongoing (chronic) or even short-term (acute) PTSD. Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some experiences, like the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one, can also cause PTSD. Symptoms usually begin early, within 3 months of the traumatic incident, but sometimes they begin years afterward. Symptoms must last more than a month and be severe enough to interfere with relationships or work to be considered PTSD. The course of the illness varies. Some people recover within 6 months, while others have symptoms that last much longer. In some people, the condition becomes chronic.

Although I have not been diagnosed with PTSD, there have been many traumatic events in my life that have created trigger points for my anxiety and stress. Certain news, good and bad, result in bouts of depression or panic attacks. I cannot get a call in the middle of the night without wondering if someone has been arrested, is dead or dying. When people yell at me I burst into tears; I assume an admonishment dug deep into my emotional core and decided to take residence there. The one that has taken me a time to get over is waiting for a late menstrual cycle. Due to the miscarriage and subsequent failed attempts at conceiving, staring into a pregnancy test is terrifying especially now that I don’t want children. Having sex is tough cause I do not want to have to go through that harrowing experience ever again.

Because I wouldn’t wish any of my traumas on my worst enemies, certain words, phrases or expectations send me down a path of anxiety, despair and quick emotional distress. I started avoiding weddings, baby showers and any celebration of love because I couldn’t handle the inquest about children. For all I know I can’t have them and I will never be a part of the parenting community. When my friends with kids don’t invite me to things I automatically assume it is because of our status. RSVPing no to our events, usually comes with an excuse about how their kids hinder their participation. The NO fatigue got to us so hard that we stopped planning parties all together. We are a family, just the two of us, and not meeting others’ expectations of marriage has given us enough trauma to last a few lifetimes. 

The next time someone says they have PTSD, even if it sounds ridiculous to you, be kind and don’t refute the person. Unless you have a clinical understanding of the disorder and a record of the person’s experiences and state of mind, abstain from passing judgement. People that appear happy and successful didn’t necessarily go through charmed childhoods or perfect experiences. Their problems are real, regardless of your opinion, and the pressures of life can create situations that were not safe and extremely traumatic for them. Fears are difficult to conquer and reacting subconsciously to triggers is a reality for many people, which cannot just be controlled or ignored.

Hugs!

#Adulting Sucks: What now?

Most of my time is spent talking about, writing or listening to my peeps about the pitfalls and peaks of adulting. My conclusion: We are all in a collective slump. Yes, there are some cool things happening – kids, weddings, promotions, per adoptions, vacations – but the underlying feeling is that society’s expectations aren’t meeting eye to eye with our own. Never in a million years did I think being an adult would be exhausting due to the power struggles and misguided and misplaced trust in the systems that serve us. Just look at President Trump’s term so far and you can fully understand why chaos is a ladder. You can either rise amidst the confusion or sink because you never understood how to play the Game of Thrones…

Ugh!

Putting up with unreasonable expectations is one thing but humoring unreasonable people is nearly impossible! Expectations can become outrageous, especially when based on desire and aspirations and not on actual statistical data or grit, but they are a necessary evil. It is a way of measuring success, and in some cases, responsibility. Surely, most don’t ask too much of themselves but when you sound off your life goals against what others wanted for you it is hard to not feel defeated. No matter what you decide to do someone will make sure you feel bad about your decisions and choices. Oy vey!

You want proof that adulting sucks? Just check the many ways one can throw shade, online and in person. Ways that take me back to junior high. Financially successful people get ripped to shreds because they are held to impossible standards: It’s your hard work that earns you money but society decides that it truly belongs to the people and to the government. Some how you have to fund everyone else’s enterprise to be considered a good person. In theory, these is some truth to the common good rhetoric but since I can barely finance my own operation, I can’t imagine how others could afford to. Being told that you should pay more – taxes, price wise, etc – because you can afford it sucks hard. Who do they think they are?

What is wrong with people?

Marriage, meh. I have a whole section about that subject alone, alongside etiquette, women/feminism and relationship advice. Nothing I ever do is good enough representation of what a wife should be, and I refuse to bend the knee on that front and capitulate. Being a woman, engineer, smart and nerdy is a daily uphill struggle. Half the time no one understands me because my words are too big or my references too obscure; the price I pay to drink and know things.

If adulting is definitely sucking, beyond what I gripped about here, my advice to you is this: In a world full of the same, of suppressed dreams and repressed human doings, cause they are barely being, dare to be exceptional – extraordinary. Challenge the system. Don’t settle for less; settle for more with the same. Always grow, travel and learn, aspire to expand your horizons. Grab all those expectations about life, love and the pursuit of happiness and torch them. Become inspired by the unknown. Enjoy every moment you get in this planet. Complain but don’t brood. Bond with others as mystery loves company.

As my friend Phil Collins one said: You can’t take it with you when you go. And in Spanish: No hay mal que dure mil años, ni cuerpo que lo resista. You will endure. You will persevere. You will get a hang of this adulting thing.

Enjoy the ride!

 

Death Defines You

There are only two things in life that are certain, death and taxes. I’ve tried defining other certainties, aside from bodily functions, and this seems to be fairly accurate. Between all the baby announcements, weddings and birthdays, a few untimely and sudden deaths have sneaked their way into my life. After the dust settled and everyone was properly buried or remembered, I had time to think about the implications of it all. Why do we live to work? Why can’t people muster the courage to follow their true desires and develop their talents? Is all of it worth it?

Here’s what triggered my introspective journey: When someone dies, aside from the circumstances of their death, their passing requires that we define them. This exercise is harder than it looks because people mean different things to those that love and cherish them. Every day they had thousands of interactions that resulted in infinite versions of themselves. For many, they learn about the other dimensions of the deceased’s personality during the wake as people exchange anecdotes about the fallen comrade. The issue is that we are taught to not speak ill of the dead so many of their personal struggles will be kept quiet for the sake of propriety. In these unspoken words we can be letting their legacy slip us by. That is a shame because it should be up to the living to continue the hard work and good deeds of the dead.

That’s were I get hung up when going through my relationship inventory. Some of the memories I may have of the person may not be pleasing or joyful. After bailing out many people from emotional, financial and legal turmoil, I have seen how resilient people can become. I’ve seen them at their worst and at their best. I wish I could openly acknowledge that their struggle was not only real but not insurmountable; that they are the true heroes of the story. Not their parents, siblings, role models or heroes. They gor themselves through life as best as they could and that in itself deserves recognition.

The old adage sais “Perception is reality” and with so many perceived versions of ourselves, I can’t blame people for not knowing how to grieve and say goodbye in the most effective way. When it is all said and done, the departed are not here to judge their black parade and we will never be able to consolidate the many facets of a person into one cohesive picture of who they really were. We have to be content with knowing we can be everything to everyone and still not be known. No matter how hard you try others will project onto you and your deeds their own agendas and biases. This is the reason why it is so hard to define and appreciate others. You only see in them what you want to see; that to which you can relate to.

Whenever my time comes, I hope my family celebrates my life and the many faces of my personality. I hope they appreciate the good stories but also ask for the heart and gut wrenching ones. I want them to know who I was, what I accomplished and how much I contributed to make the world a better place in spite of however they felt about me. Since I cannot be there to plan, moderate and learn from my own demise, I sincerely expect that those left behind learn something from me long after I am gone. If not, at the very least I hope they knew me well enough to share my story and miss me for the right reasons.

Cheers! 🍻🥂🍾🥃

You Can Disagree With an Opinion and Be Wrong

I’ve spent the entirety of my life on this planet educating myself, and being educated by my peers and family, about every single subject that crossed our paths. Great care was taken by my elders to discuss any issue -past, present and future – that was deemed important and necessary to have a vetted view of the world and its realities. I took great pride in doing my best to become a productive member of society, and that included validating every opinion, angle and though about controversial and mundane subject matter.

Because of this my opinion is based on higher scrutiny standards and scrubbed of bias, to a degree. It is hard to keep my thoughts to myself when random people disagree with me because they feel like it. Being a woman, young, latin, a scientist, agnostic or whatever label you want to employ when categorizing me doesn’t invalidate my logic or reasoning. You will gain absolutely nothing by stating you disagree and you will have not convinced me you are correct either.

What does my rant imply? Glad you asked! When you post opinion pieces that are missing data, most likely you will hear from someone, like me. After all, we have no other way of knowing you did your due diligence because we did and we came to different conclusions. Most things in life can be boiled down to binary components: Yes or no. Gray areas are considered so because opinions range in comprehension but the facts are absolute and uncontested. Telling me you disagree doesn’t make your logic correct nor validates your opinion as sound. The onus is on you to open your mind and consider the opposing view to adjust your perspective. The data will set you free.

Don’t take these discussions personally, and take them as an opportunity to grow as a person and debater. Keep an open mind when people reach out to discuss controversial or deep subjects because it is supposes to be a difficult conversation. You can only give credence to what you can confirm, and sometimes your biases or convictions will get in the way of the bigger picture.

If thinking hurts your brain when you are discussing ideas then you are on the right track. Channel the passion you have about the subject in a rational way. Emotions can and will derail your train of thought if you haven’t considered all the angles. Don’t close yourself off to avoid a change of heart because sometimes you will have to adjust your beliefs.

The truth is out there…

Introverts Can Make The Best Historian

I have spent my entire life documenting events, observations, experiments and knowledge in general. Written articles, videos, pictures, social media posts and collectibles, each piece of information is catalogued and stored in the vaults of my mind waiting for the day they are summoned. Each neuron takes its job very seriously preserving, as much of the moment as humanly possible, linking it to all the tangible proof in my keepsake boxes.

My mastery of keeping records was born from a need to treasure those items that would remind an older version of myself where I had been and where I was heading. Shy and not as photogenic with my unruly hair and Hermione-esque demeanor, I didn’t feel fully comfortable in front of the lens. Pictures may be worth a thousand words but a ticket stub or graduation program can hold dates, times and the names of those present when a shot couldn’t. The more inputs surrounding a milestone, the more reliable the memory of it. What would be the point of retaining all this data if it was incomplete? Half truths can be as worse as a full-fledged lie.

Armed with my camera, now smartphone, and an eye for catching people off guard (al naturel), I was invited to document most of my early years. Many kids have pictures from the parent’s point of view, except me. Most of the prints we have at home were taken through the lens of my equipment. All the smiles, giggles and hand gestures were directed at moi. That was the funniest and exhilarating part of my job as a historian. Getting the right reaction to match the importance of the light caught on film. Later in life I was summoned to unofficially capture weddings, showers, birthdays, get togethers, Halloween costumes, trips, Christmases and holidays. My data store of pictures runs into the hundreds of Gigabytes. (Which are back up in quadruplicate just in case.)

Because of this extensive library of recorded facts, opinions and data, my friends contact me when no one else can recall a particular moment or action. You’d be surprised as to how easily I have been able to track down a teacher, friend or witness to any of their past deeds. Pals joke I should work for the FBI, NSA or CIA. For the life of me I cannot remember a single occurrence of someone thinking I didn’t know, even when I was clueless, because somehow they thought I had all the answers. (Google helps locate what I may be missing, solidifying the myth that I do know everything.)

My new house is decorated with many of those wonderful stops along the way. This blog is also wrought with many of the knowledge, wisdom, sorrow and joy of the events that shaped who we are today. An entire generation grew up with me, savoring the same morsels of technological improvement, and we had the opportunity to set it all in modern tech stone. Although some memories can be painful to relive and access they are all valued as part of our journey together. My story doesn’t stand alone which is why it was important to preserve as much of it as I could. Growing up is never easy but having recollection of how we got to where we are can help us steer the ship in the right direction.

Please back up your data in any way, shape, form and method you can think of. It is the only evidence that we have lived; that we endured.

Hugs!

And Then There Were Two…(and a dog)

When we got married, we thought children would follow quickly. Unfortunately, our first attempt to produce an heir was not successful and the road to figure out if we could become parents naturally was so uphill, and expensive, we decided to take a breather and enjoy the view.

During this stop I decided we needed to reset the countdown clock and start over. We married each other to share our lives together, not to make them harder by depleting our resources chasing after an impossible dream. Surely enough technology will prove me wrong and at some point it will become totally possible but for now, we needed to face our reality and improve it. Once my husband agreed, we decided to buy and customize a brand new home to start anew.

Deciding how to proceed was a source of constant disagreement. We had hosted countless parties the first ten years of our life together that my husband thought we would be disloyal if we didn’t take into account entertaining in the design. Although I agreed that the space needed to be functional for guests, it felt pointless to resume that hosting duty because it didn’t really go with our new perspective. It was hard for both of us to accept that the new living space should be designed for just two people, who happen to entertain on occasion. This required less seating space, more foldable or expandable furniture and much less consideration for children as part of the decor.

In a way we had to change the style of the home to functionally classy from family fun oriented. As adults we will still have fun but we didn’t need to flaunt it. Our collection of knick knacks moved to the newly created library space, and the frames around the first floor gallery held geek ark pieces instead of posters and souvenir pictures from vacations past. We moved the frames that mattered to us upstairs so we can enjoy them daily. The videogames moved to a dedicated audio/visual suite that does not interfere with my sleep, and the front room fits the ping-pong table easily, when it isn’t doubling as the curtain/cover for the new sideyard french doors. It looks more like us now, the grown up versions anyway, but it still screams: “Cool!”.

There are many more things left to settle and decorate but now we know what works for just us and what doesn’t. The dog loves this new space and its humble beginnings. No more tension oozes from the wall. No more ghosts and broken dreams haunt it. The energy in the rooms buzzes and electrifies everything we do, brightening our existence. We know now that by focusing on ourselves the rest will come in time, with no need to rush into action. This is our haven, our piece of heaven, and we have to finish its design selfishly and guilt free.

In the end, we hope it all comes together. If it doesn’t that will work fine too. As Zach, our pit/lab mix, sleeps in the middle of the family room floor, I smile and pat myself in the back for having taken the chance to let go of what did not serve us. The landscaping and interior jobs may not all be completed but we are a step closer to the new us. Let’s chase the bigger dreams now peeps! The best is yet to come!

Of Nerdaphores and Slacktivism

Most of my friends are nerds and as such, we come up with  nerd wisdom all the time. To properly convey the message of our philosophical sessions, made up terminology is employed. [Side note: Our employer is infamous for making up jargon and acronyms that no human can decipher so it rubbed off on us peons too.] Many of the discussed subjects are so intriguing and unique we end up baptizing them with a word mass-up worthy of a Scrabble war.

Nerdaphore – short hand for nerdy metaphor – was coined by one of my colleagues after I mentioned to him that some people need to chop off sides of their family tree. In the discussion, phrases like “let me take over the com”, “open a hail channel” or “make it so No. 1” came up frequently. My coworkers draw blank stares when I use this terminology  and with reason: only a nerd would understand what I was referring to and find it amusing. Hehe It is so hard to turn out examples for this definition because I barely notice when I am getting nerdaphoric. My husband, sister and close friends understand me though. The family that geeks out together stays together.

The second term in the title took a longer time to develop because the concept wasn’t as clear to us when we started examining the situation in question. The team was discussing the dynamic of showing solidarity to a cause in an unethical or inconsistent manner. For example, people who buy a hybrid but power it using electricity generated by coal and have no clue or care about the hypocrisy of their actions. Creating awareness becomes a hollow gesture if your actions don’t follow through fully. Boycotting to seem cool or aware solves nothing and doesn nothing to further your cause. It seems a bit convenient that people appease themselves and others by giving themselves a pat in the back for caring as if that alone effected change. You won’t fool the likes of us though. 

Caring about many causes while financially or physically supporting none is what we decided to call into question. Activism requires you to leave the comforts of your home to fight injustice, oppression and/or poverty. We opted to thus name the act of supporting a cause from the comfort of your high horse, half hearted activism or slacktivism. The terminology manages to give credit to those furthering and giving light to a cause, albeit passively, with enough disdain and disgust. This let them know they should step up their game if they want to be considered true agents of change. Be the change you want to see in the world, affect and effect change regardless of the obstacles. No one can do it but ourselves.

There are so many more terms we have invented through the years but aside from adorkable and nerdom, not many have gone mainstream. If you have a term that needs clarification submit it via the comments section. Nerds are observant creatures that seek to gain insight from every experience and exchange they witness and we are more than happy to let you know when logic and reasoning have failed you. Talk to a geek or nerd today. They will gladly open your eyes to the inconsistencies in your life’s narrative. At the very least they will brighten it up with explanations in their made up language, or in Klingon. 🤓 hehe

Stay thirsty for knowledge, my friends.

Se me hace difícil hablar español, hasta que me encojonan…

Despúes de doce años viviendo y trabajando en Estados Unidos, se me hace cuesta arriba acordarme de que tengo una lengua materna. Aunque las oportunidades para sacar a pasear el español son muchas, siempre termino pensando y escribiendo en inglés debido a mi entorno. La mayoría de las veces puedo “switch” entre los dos idiomas sin problemas, luciendo mi mas perfecto Spanglish con aquellos que conocen ambos vocablos pero de vez en cuando se me tranca la máquina inglesa y se me va el hilo. En esos momentos me endiabla tener que parar a enebrar la aguja para poder seguir laborando. Ugh.

Definitivamente, se me hace más fácil discutir en español. Este idioma tiene infinitas maneras finas de enviar a la gente al carajo, con todo el respeto que se merecen.

Lo mas “cool” de que me “saquen por techo” es que las palabras que forman mis oraciones cobran vida, y se entienden, por el uso del Spanglish colonial. Cuando voy a llenar papeleo oficial en cualquier estado de la costa oeste. Si no logro encontrar una prueba contundente para que el gringo entienda que Puerto Rico es parte de Estados Unidos, hay una ventana que me da la oportunidad de hacerlo en español, con un alma benévola que entiende nuestra situación de colonia. No sé porqué la gente le tienen miedo a latinizar a “América” pues eso ya lo lograron los conquistadores. Me da pena que vean hablar otro idioma como un insulto a la gran nación Estado Unidense. Nadie es de aquí, excepto los indios, y su lengua no se asemeja a la anglosajona ni por pura coincidencia. 

Quizás el que desea quedarse ignorante no entiende el valor de conocer mas de una manera de comunicarse, o no tienen la pasión necesaria para sobrevivir un argumento con una mujer u hombre de herencia cultural hispana. Por eso prefieren que todo sea en English. Igual les ganamos el argumento, la desventaja definitivamente la tiene la casa por ni siquiera entender que el que aprende inglés lo ha estudiado y tiene mejor vocabulario que el average Joe.

Hablar español es una bendición. Como es el tercer o cuarto idioma mas comúnmente aprendido (materna o de segunda lengua, Wikipedia), se escucha y lee a través del globo terráqueo. Los imperialistas y exploradores de España se encargaron de dejar su marca cultural hasta en el medio del Amazonas y no es difícil toparse con alguien que sepa castellano, en especial cuando se es Puertorriqueño. Estan hasta en la luna. Quizás por eso es más genuino el gesto de molestarme en Boricua. Nadie se mete con uno después de reconocer nuestro acento. La furia de los descendientes de Agüeybaná es legendaria.

Mandar a la gente al infierno en inglés no suena tan devastador como los chancletasos de una madre.

Ya quisiera yo poder argumentar con todos estos energúmenos en la oficina y la calle cualquier tema en mi primer y mas querido idioma. Mi computadora se conoce mis plegarias y ruegos en español ya, pero pues no tengo la dicha de que me conteste pa atrás. No tiene un Siri. 😂 Decirle a alguien “idiot” o “a-hole” no es igual ni se siente tan satisfactorio como decirles pendejos o huele estacas. Los viles mamaos se salen con la suya ¡Coño, ugh! A la larga “dropping the mic” nunca reemplazará un buen ¡Puñeta! 

Extraño la raza…

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