Goodbye, My Friend…

It’s hard to acknowledge you are gone. Another car accident claims the life of a good friend. Receiving the call about your precarious condition at the hospital had the medical engineer in me terrified because most people don’t come back from DAI trauma. You were most likely unaware of what was happening in your induced coma state. Such a waste! Such a shame. I’m sure the self proclaimed voices in your head were not thrilled to be silenced so early in the game.

It was heartbreaking to deliver the news to unsuspecting peeps. Everyone thought this was a routine accident. It wasn’t even covered by the news teams because it felt innocuous. So weird. I had hopes that as one of the younger members of the crew you would outlive us all.  😭😭😭 “La hierba mala nunca muere.” Guess you weren’t that bad after all. 🤔🤔🤔

We joked we would meet up at the VIP section of the underworld, the Machiavelli in all of us making fun at the next life proposals, and I guess now only time will tell. We lived fully, with no regrets and no false love for the gods. Warriors waiting to be taken to Valhalla after watching the world bow to our mercy. I promise I will keep up the good fight for as long as you act as my devilish guardian shoulder angel. You are one of my brain voices now…

Ufff! Five pictures on my walls. Five. Out of a hundred pictures in frames that stop time and make us eternally fierce, and young too. I had to count them after my husband, another pal, said there were only 4. He missed Captain PhD’s wedding shot. Hehehe So many memories! It didn’t surprise me because you have been there for the better and worse parts of all our lives. Sometimes we make others up to be the best, the closest, the most important, but we fail to acknowledge the ones that have always been available, the ones that really cared. That was you. The one that knew when to call out of the blue even if the introvert in us was afraid it was bad news. It was never bad news. Not from you and your nerdy ways. A book, a recommendation, a chance to unleash our demons to one another. Never a doubt that we would meet again.

I can’t really think of moments when I passed up the opportunity to share my thoughts with you or to listen to your stories. The narratives of our lives intersected in many points; we always found the perfect excuse to see each other whenever afforded in some cool destination town. A testament to how well you loved us. Culebra. Barcelona. Universal Studios. Seattle. South Carolina. The destinations proof that we didn’t let distance get in the way of our friendship. Only seven months into 2017 I had already seen you twice, once in Orlando and once in South Carolina for my Man of Honor’s wedding. He had made you his best man too. 😎🤔😁 Wonder if you had to hold his hair as he puked during his bachelor party, as you did with me during mine.

Speaking of which, what we remembered most about the SC wedding was you escorting one of the young drunk ladies – who had been left in the 4th floor foyer to fend for herself – to her room. We watched your son while you talked to the hotel staff to get her a spare key and the room number to deliver her to safety. While other guys made fun of her predicament, you came to her rescue. That was so you. Although to be fair, if it had been any of us, you’d be egging us to perform a happy dance first, laughing hard at our inept moves. Mischief managed with a little of The North Remembers. 100% raw and real.

If I had to place a bet, I would have never bet you’d leave us so soon. Words fail to describe the grief we all feel; the love that is lost and left unspoken as we type our social media farewells. The parade of pix in your wall showing the world that you were adored. I recall hearing you cry when we lost K+J to the murderous fire of his uncle’s greed, and here we are 6.5 years later wishing we could hear you shed a tear one more time. Life has this cruel desire to take from our lives what is good, kind and lovely. The anger and the pain of knowing this burning brightly, fueling the passion within me.

I toast to your name and smoke a cigar to reminisce…

Forever in our hearts, cheers!


One last thing: MrEnginerd misses you dearly. Every cigar and booze run reminds us we won’t be able to share any of our new adventures with your physical form. I wonder how you would have wanted us to remember you. Party? Scholarship fund for your son? So many unanswered questions of the adulting kind. Love you. Hugs!!!

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!

 

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!

On The Day of Fathers…

My life was filled with many dads that took up the responsibility of raising and loving me when my own father couldn’t. Every day of my childhood was filled with the support and lessons of my male role models, who ensured I knew the difference between a good, caring, kind and intelligent man vs those who would want to use, abuse and harm me. From train sets to repairing carburetors, my uncle and grandfather made sure I knew how to fix anything and solve problems that I was yet to have. In the periphery, my father worked hard to build on top of the educational foundation these great men had given me to be worthy of the moniker of dad.

My sister’s relationship with my father is strained because the environment had changed by the time she, 8 years younger, came into the world. My mother didn’t need him to be a constant in her life and ended their 16 year partnership. Through her developmental years, my uncle and grandpa were there for her, and as luck would have it my aunt’s boyfriend also became a strong positive presence in her life. She had three dads that would encourage her to reach for the moon and stars, a sentiment she desperately needed to get over her own child development issues. (She was one of the ADHD/anxiety generation, and her life didn’t really get any easier after she graduated high school.) It was their undivided attention and tact what got her through her darkest moments. We were blessed to have such great trainers in our corner teaching us how to jab, cover, and throw in the towel.

Because my dad is usually missing in action or with his first family (we are the second set), Father’s Day is just another commercial holiday. We will answer his calls and seek him throughout the year, but we won’t make a big deal of celebrating him. Unfortunately, my grandpa and Papo (aunt’s BF) passed a few years ago so we celebrate them in spirit. It is hard to remember what we lost when everyone is hanging out with their dads but the pain is worth it. These men went above and beyond the call of duty setting a high bar for what a father and husband should be to their daughters. We were blessed to have had them for as long as we did. May they rest in peace forever.

My uncle is the last surviving male role model left and we make sure we call and text as often as possible to remind him about the good awesome children he helped mold. His own daughter adores the idea of having surrogate sisters, and we make sure we treat her as such. Hehe. She gives him the hugs and kisses we can’t send via mail, and that is good enough repayment for his sacrifice. He was 21 when I was born and didn’t have a need to become someone’s guardian angel. As my godfather, he taught me how to do my pigtails in braids and showed me how to combine colors when dressing up. My favorite dresses were gifts he bestowed upon me when my mom sent him out to get my portraits taken. Pizza, Dunkin Donut holes, M&Ms and Baskin Robbins ice cream will always serve as reminders of his love and dedication to us. Hehe

To all the dads out there in difficult situations, please hang on and don’t give up. Long distance or up close, you can make a difference in your progeny’s life and emotional health. I grew up without my father and managed to “stay off the pole” because of all the effort my own absentee dad put in to help me aspire to a greater life that he could ever give me. Knowing when to step back and let the other men take over was a task he mastered a few years into the arrangement and it must have crushed him to know he wasn’t the only dad I had. He never took it out in us or on our mom, who to this day reminds us to give him the respect he deserves.  It took a village to raise us. We raise a glass to all the villagers out there too.

Happy Father’s Day everyone! Keep up the good work.

Cheers!

What I Do Is Not Up To You

Diana turns to Steve and exclaims: “What I do is not up to you”. This phrase has been around for a long time and it defines Wonder Woman perfectly. She doesn’t need anyone to tell her what she can and cannot do, and most importantly, is an independent agent who is capable of brokering her own decisions and will. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to viewers and fans that this Amazon is a strong and resilient individual that will stop at nothing to pursue justice, doing was is right and not what is easy.

My husband got me a shirt with this slogan (link from The Tee Warehouse) after I won the “we are moving to a custom brand new house a few blocks away” argument because he realized there was no stopping me when my made was made up. I’m sure many spouses can relate to this dynamic, especially when their partner is headstrong and entrepreneurial. Backing down is never an option for me, and I attempt to achieve a win-win every time I am up against a situation in which many people would yield or compromise. This gift conveys how much he appreciates my will power and since he ordered it, by mistake, in a guy’s size he gets to see me wear it to bed or around the house although he keeps insisting I could wear it outside.

Vanity, thy name is MrsEnginerd. LOL

Women are told every day that they can’t do what they do or know what they know. In business and in society, their decisions are questioned, scrutinized and taken lightly. Congress is making bills to legislate over their rights to reproductive coverage and/or abortion because “their virtue must be protected”. Ladies can’t state that they like the pleasures of the flesh or the satisfaction of a career without being accused of being sluts or selfish, and even worse, inconsiderate of their husband’s and family’s needs. Heck, their hard work is devalued so much that they even get paid less because their performance in many fields is considered to be inferior to men. Sexism is alive and well folks; we need to make an effort to eradicate it.

If you have little girls or young women in your family, or love a very wonderful and impressive woman, take this message to heart. What they do is not up to you and furthermore, does not represent you. The men and women in their lives must support and build up their confidence and pride so they can reach their goals and enjoy their very well deserved achievements and accolades. Don’t sell yourself and themselves short. With an open mind and a courageous heart we can all live up to our full potential. My grandparents believed in my mom and she retired as a Colonel or Full Bird from the Army. I have a Masters and BS in Engineering. Someday my daughters, adoptive or by proxy, will be able to go to Mars and beyond. We need more Wonder Women in our lives. Let’s build a better future together!

Hooahh!😎💪🏅

There Is More To Life Than A Good Origin Story 

We are born. We die. What happens in between is a magical, mysterious, and emotional rollercoaster ride. Sadly, many believe their origin story seals their fate, that they have no choice but to be a victim of their circumstances. The decisions our parents and ancestor made shaped our arrival but these choices and their outcomes should not cloud our future and the opportunities presented to us. It is up to us to challenge our environment and ourselves to become better than the sum of their parts in our story. We have to grow, mature and improve regardless of our hard or easy starts in life.

If all there was to Bruce Wayne, Diana Prince or Clark Kent was their origin story, we wouldn’t have Batman, Wonder Woman nor Superman to save the day. Even though their pain, birth and uncertainty about their lives motivated them to seek the truth, justice and inner strength, they refused to be defined by their grief and apprehension. As they evolved so did their understanding of the world, giving them an opportunity to make a difference and become advocates for those who had no one else to rely on. These heroes were blessed to have protectors and guides that helped them become greater than their parents’ legacy and expectations for their well being so they felt the need to return the favor in an extraordinary fashion.

Dwelling on the past can be beneficial as long as we fully comprehend the lessons and experiences that made us who we are. To move forward, we have to cleanse our subconscious mind from the biases, rules and limitations put upon ourselves by either society, our upbringing, religious organizations or those we consider authority figures/worthy of emulation. Our mistakes do not define us, and it is up to us to get back on the proverbial horse and joust once more until we emerge victorious. Without a goal in mind we cannot achieve. Good self-esteem and image depend on our ability to feel and believe that we are worthy of love, success and glory after we sacrifice, work hard and execute on careful and effective planning. Letting go of the past comes with great introspection and responsibility: We will gain the power to become who we must be to make our own fate.

No love story is truly original even though they can be unique. In the same fashion we must understand that our story may not be original but it is unique because it affects us. We are balls of clay, molded for a purpose, once we have to assign ourselves and execute to become genuinely successful. Death may define us, and time will determine if we lived up to our potential. In the meantime, we must continue to stretch our horizons and see beyond our current situation and predicaments to find the hope necessary to leave an everlasting legacy. Children, inventions, new tech or scientific breakthroughs; literature, poetry, art; whatever our impact quantifies and qualifies itself we have to be willing to step up and perform.

Take a chance on yourself and remove your own mental roadblocks from your way. We can be our own worst enemy and a new appreciation of your origin story may help you jettison unnecessary regret, resentment and anxiety. We are all heroes in our own right. Be brave and bold enough to redefine your own story.

I Was A Mom (Poem)

I was a mom once,
A loving, nesting, pregnant mess of surreal possibilities,
And my husband, a dad, that couldn’t stop smiling.
Glee poured out of his pores.
We couldn’t contain our happiness.

For twelve weeks you brought us joy,
The only kind a parent to be can feel.
We were proud to call you our own,
Making plans to spend our lives trekking the world with you,
To not spoil you too much or too little,
To give you a sense of purpose and belonging.

Even though we will never hold you in our arms,
We carry you in our hearts everywhere we go.
It hasn’t been easy, and people have been unempathic to our loss but we have persevered.
Your departure made us stronger, wiser,
More resilient.
Kinder, gentler,
Awake to opportunity and change.

For now we, your parents, walk together the path less travelled,
And vow to love each other as we did you.
The wonder of expecting you,
Our first born and heir,
Will be one of our most beautiful and sad memories,
One we wouldn’t trade it for anything this life could offer.

We are who we are because of you.
Thank you.
Rest my angel, rest.
Love always,

Mom and Dad

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