March 2007


I pulled up to the Salvation Army parking lot today and removed from my car the long white garment bag that held my wedding dress. For a moment I hesitated before making my way towards the drop-off area. I wanted to peek inside the bag, run my fingers over the embroidery one last time, and say goodbye to a piece of my past.

I’m not usually emotional about material things; living like a nomad for over three decades has taught me to let go without looking back. However, that dress and I have been through quite a lot together…

I became engaged to R. in November 2000. He proposed in the bathroom of his studio apartment, surprising me with a diamond ring as I emerged from the shower with mascara still smudging my face. We moved in together two months later and chose September 15, 2001 as our wedding date. Yes, that September. With more than two thirds of the guest list required to fly into Miami. Thank God for unanswered prayers, is all I can say about THIS wedding! But I digress…

I didn’t have any friends in Miami, only acquaintances from work. I asked one of them to accompany me to a wedding dress store, where I tried on five dresses and left with the first one I was shown. My mother, who lived in Mexico City, was disillusioned that I hadn’t waited to go dress shopping with her. I have always been and will always be the anti-bride, which is surprising (or completely understandable) considering my line of work. I just wanted to get the dress, find the venue, and be married. Hey, accomplishing two out of three ain’t bad…

Four months before the wedding, with the dress bought and the venue booked, I arrived home to find R. smoking pot in his underwear in the middle of the afternoon. My fiance had been dismissed from his job as a financial adviser for failing to convince old people to invest in a volatile stock market with empty promises of impressive returns increase his client base, and with this defeat went all his self-esteem, determination, and ambition. While I worked 60 hours a week and commuted three hours every day to keep up with the mortgage payments, and at the same time cooked, cleaned, and cheered R. on, he spiraled into depression and waited in his underwear for the opportunity he felt would soon arrive as if by magic, because – dammit! – he felt he had it coming.

What he had coming was a postponement of the nuptials by yours truly. I secretly found an apartment close to my job and I confirmed my move only when he discovered an Apartment Guide in the glove box of my car. I didn’t return the ring immediately, because he promised he would shape up and regain control of his life. Two months went by and his emotional and financial situation only grew worse, so I returned the ring and broke off the engagement. The wedding dress hung in my closet, a sad reminder of what would never be.

In October 2001 I lost my job in direct correlation with the September 11 attacks. I left everything behind: my apartment, my car, my career… I took two suitcases and a white garment bag containing the wedding dress, and moved back to Mexico City.

Almost a year after returning to my hometown and swearing up and down that I would NEVER marry a Mexican, I met the man who was to become my husband. He was Mexican. He proposed on our first date and I accepted (go ahead, groan all you want, I deserve it). Six months later I married him wearing the wedding dress originally intended for my previous wedding. Does that make me a bad person? Is there some sort of bad karma involved? I’ve always wondered about that…

Throughout my rocky marriage, the dress hung in my closet. I would look at it from time to time and remember my wedding day, when all seemed perfect and the future was bright. We moved five times during our almost three years of nightmarish hell marriage, and with each move I left behind furniture, clothes, books… But I always carried the dress with me. Why? I don’t know.

I separated from my husband on Valentine’s day 2006. I took two suitcases, my computer… and my wedding dress. Why? I don’t know.

The dress has been hanging in the closet of my apartment for over a year. Last week, I pulled it out and looked at it. This time, instead of reminding me of that perfect day where the future seemed bright, it made me realize how naive, careless, clueless, and self-destructive I had been in my twenties! It was the same dress, but I was now someone different.

The confused girl who, at 25, bought the embroidered ivory dress with the long train and pearl buttons is long gone. And, may I say: Good riddance! In her place is a woman who has learned the hard way that wedding dresses, diamond rings, and wedding receptions don’t lead to happily ever after if the things that really matter – respect, shared values, true love – are absent.

Today I walked up to the Salvation Army drop-off area and was greeted by a friendly man. He took the garment bag containing the dress and jokingly asked, “Is this for me?”

I replied, “It’s my wedding dress, but if it fits you it’s all yours.”

“Your wedding dress?”, he asked with a smile. “Well, congratulations!”

I smiled back. Congratulations, indeed.

Advertisements

This morning, my friend R. sent me one of those funny e-mails about what women say and what they really mean. It went something like this:

FINE“: This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.

FIVE MINUTES“: If she is getting dressed, this means a half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.

NOTHING“: This is the calm before the storm. This means something, and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with nothing usually end in fine.

GO AHEAD“: This is a dare, not permission. Don’t Do It!

((((Loud Sigh)))): This is not actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about nothing. (Refer back to #3 for the meaning of nothing.)

THAT’S OKAY“: This is one of the most dangerous statements a women can make to a man. That’s okay means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.

WHATEVER“: This is a women’s way of saying F**K YOU!

I forwarded it to Mr. T with a smiley face and a message: “Consider yourself warned.”

This evening, Mr. T called me to tell me that although we had plans to spend the weekend together, he had just been invited to climb Mount Whitney with some acquaintances.

Mr. T: I’d really like to go, if it’s o.k. with you.

Me: (((sigh))) Sure honey, go ahead.

Mr. T: I just don’t want you to be upset, because we had talked about spending Sunday together but you have your writing class on Saturday afternoon, so I thought I could leave Thursday to go climbing and return some time on Sunday.

Me: Sweetie, that’s fine. It’s just that I never get to see you more than five minutes during the week but mumble, mumble…

Mr. T: What did you say?

Me: Oh, nothing.

Mr. T: So you won’t be upset if I go?

Me: Darling, it’s O.K.

Silence on the other end of the line. Then, noises like Mr. T typing on a keyboard.

Mr. T: Uh oh.

Me: What’s wrong?

Mr. T: I just re-read the e-mail you sent me this morning and translated your responses. I’m in trouble, aren’t I?

Me: Whatever.

*******

(For the record, I really do think he should go.)

According to WordPress, 34 people have found my little blog today by doing an Internet search for the term “thank you“.  I wonder what all these people are thankful about, and why they would launch a search for their gratefulness.

If you’re one of the lucky individuals who found me through this odd search term, I have one thing to say: Thank you for stopping by. 🙂

I did it! On Sunday I gave my first cooking class and it was a hit! I made it very interactive (so that if something didn’t come out quite right it would be the students’ fault and not mine.. ha ha), and my six pupils had a blast making quesadillas, stuffing peppers, and baking a pie.

Here’s what made the 90 minutes of grocery shopping and 2.5 hours of prep time worthwhile:

– The look of accomplishment from one woman who claimed that she “always burned everything”, when she saw her perfect pie emerge from the oven.

– The looks of admiration I received when I answered culinary questions that had perplexed them for years, like: “Why are my tomatoes mushy and watery after I cut them?” (You don’t seed them and you don’t use a bread knife to cut them), and “How can you keep from crying when chopping onion?” (Use the right cutting technique and keep your onions in the fridge). One of the students even said: “Her answers alone are worth the price of admission!” 😀

– The “Oh my God, you make it look so easy!” comments.

– The realization that I actually learned something at culinary school, and the empowerment of knowing I could make a living doing this if I wanted to.

– The big hug I received from a lovely lady at the end of the meal, with promises to bring her friends the next time she visits.

You’re going to think I’m nuts, but realizing that I don’t have to be a wedding planner made me appreciate my job more. It made me look at it from a positive perspective and appreciate all the reasons why I do enjoy it (although it’s hard to come up with any on Monday morning after working all weekend and still having to work today. *sigh*)

I’ve been tagged by Karen to come up with my five fave songs (Which is fabulous because it was either this or a post about menstrual cramps. So please thank Karen). After browsing through my iTunes list, I present to you:

1. Easy Silence, by the Dixie Chicks. When I met Mr. T my life was beyond hectic, and he was the “easy silence” in my life. It’s become kinda like “our song”. Ok, gag all you want… It gets better.

2. Goodbye Earl, by (who else?) the Dixie Chicks. This one goes out to all the chicken-shit men who try to prove their manhood by beating up the only person in the world who demonstrates some sort of affection towards them. In what warped universe does that make any sense?

3. By Your Side, by Sade. Soft, sultry, seductive. Sigh.

4. Te Amo, by Nicho Hinojosa. A bohemian love anthem. My friend R. thinks I should play this one at my wedding, and I’m inclined to agree with her.

5. Shyam Rang Bhar Do, by A.R. Rahman. Uplifting love song (not that I can understand what they’re saying, but I know the Hindi word “love” is in there and damn it, the song makes me dance!) from the movie “Water”.

Well, there you have it!

2×4 and Constant Evolution, you have been tagged (stop grumbling and hop to it!). This should help you assemble your music list for the wedding!!

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the entire staircase, just take the first step.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

I finally realized what I want to do with my life. All my passions, life experiences, hardships, triumphs, and education came together as I meditated on Friday, and SOMETHING hit me on the head. Hard.

I decided that I want to dedicate my energies and talents to helping at-risk young girls (especially minorities) and underprivileged women (especially immigrants and battered women) discover their full potential and rise beyond the circumstances that hold them hostage to poverty, abuse, and lack of opportunities for personal development. I see myself studying the social, cultural, and emotional reasons these women arrived at their predicament, writing books, giving talks, creating partnerships with local businesses, structuring empowerment programs, and continuing the great work of many brave and determined women who came before me.

I’m not sure how I’m going to accomplish this, but I held tight to this vision and took the first step in faith on Monday morning. And as usual, the Universe delivered by the bucketful.

After finishing my meditation and visualization exercises, I returned to my computer to research Master’s degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy (Julie, I have you and your brother to thank for the inspiration). I found an amazing program at San Diego State University, which offers a strong focus on bi-cultural issues. I read the application requirements on their website and realized that before I could apply I would obviously need some field experience, as well as recommendation letters from professionals in related fields.

I decided to find volunteer opportunities in the San Diego area, and quickly came across an empowerment center for underprivileged women and children. I sent them a quick e-mail expressing my interest, and received a positive reply from the director of the center, Lorraine Bowman, not five minutes later. She explained that she needed assistance promoting a national female empowerment conference, and asked if I had marketing experience.

I replied with a brief description of my educational and professional background, and on a whim I added what my long-term goals were. Her almost immediate reply left me breathless, as I marveled at the MAGIC AND ACCURACY of the Universe.

Here’s what she responded with:

– She wanted me to be a presenter at “Girl Talk”, a motivational program for at-risk girls.

– She wanted me to assist her with the marketing and P.R. for her national conference.

– She just recently finished a book and was having a difficult time creating the market analysis her agent was requesting, so she wanted to know if I could offer her assistance with this.

I could NOT have asked for three more PERFECT opportunities to begin my new quest with! Two days – days!! – after visualizing myself giving inspirational talks, I am being asked to be a presenter at a motivational program. My involvement in the marketing of the national conference will put me in contact with hundreds of like-minded associations across the country and will provide invaluable industry experience. Additionally, the assistance I can provide Lorraine in creating a market analysis for her project will open my eyes to the process of publishing a book.

But most importantly, this unbelievable opportunity will allow me to begin touching the lives of women and girls who need all the encouragement and empowerment they can get!

THANK YOU, UNIVERSE!!!

What would you do if you called your parents to tell them some wonderful news about a new development in your life, and they informed you that they are flat broke? And I mean, “We ain’t got no money, honey” broke. Like, they can’t even pay for the toll road broke.

I don’t have much in the way of savings, as I am just now recovering from the divorce. I can send them several hundred dollars, but that won’t solve their long-term problems.

What really, really irks me is the fact that they squandered their money on needless luxuries. During my college days and beyond, I remember they would eat out at elegant restaurants five and six days PER WEEK! Their bills were usually in the $100-$200 range, and that was just for the two of them! My father had a passion for Italian shoes and clothing, and it wasn’t out of the ordinary for him to spend $400 on a pair of shoes.

Even more destructive than their personal spending habits was my father’s business philosophy. He thought nothing of supporting a string of down-on-their-luck deadbeat “friends” by giving them low-responsibility, high-income jobs. Additionally, they allowed my brother to spend two years at an expensive private college, drinking it up and charging $2,000 per month on the AmEx while failing his classes.

My mother has told everyone who would listen how much she and my father spent on my college education, and how their entire business capital went towards funding my studies. That’s the biggest load of bull I’ve ever heard, and I’m tired of listening to their shit and feeling guilty. I graduated from college in 2000 and mostly paid my way through my last two years. I have been independent ever since. Meanwhile, they continued their stupid spending spree until they started to realize, just last year, how dire their situation really was.

I’ve calculated how much my parents could’ve saved if they had curbed ONLY their restaurant habit, and the amount is staggering: $36,000 per year. If they had saved that amount every year since 1996, they would be able to retire in Mexico with a comfortable income. DON’T I HAVE A RIGHT TO BE MAD? I mean, seriously: Who’s the adult now?

Next Page »