Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Hello Miami!

It's been a bit since I posted, but honestly, I haven't really had anything to post about. The one thing I've been wanting to post about is my trip to Florida. Since it was a surprise, I've had to keep my fingers away from the keyboard.

Today is my mother-in-law's and niece's birthdays!! Happy Birthday ladies!! My nephew's 1st. birthday was on Saturday. Definitely, a celebrating weekend. On Saturday, my sister threw a little party for Bryan and Jacquelyn. It was so cute to see Bryan trying to hit the pinata! I can't believe how old they're getting. Time flies by.

The surprise trip to Miami was for my mother-in-law. And boy did we get her! We surprised her in the backyard. I felt so bad that she started crying! I also felt like a criminal sneaking into the house. My heart was racing so much. Dan and I were like detectives scoping out the area, sticking close to the walls. Sandra (my sister-in-law) was helping us, which made sneaking in a lot easier. She covered her mother's eyes and told her she had a little surprise for her. When she uncovered them, we were standing in front of her. She's very happy that we're here. It was nice.

As for our trip, we're staying here until Sunday. Dan wants to do something we've never done before (especially since we lived here for two years). We haven't figured out what it is, yet, but I'm sure we will. As for the two of us, I think we needed the time off more than we realized. We've been a bit stressed out and the thought of taking it easy this week is very pleasing. We've both been very calm, enjoying ourselves.

As for Miami, with all the construction going on, things look different. We don't miss it, but we didn't miss leaving NJ either when we moved down here. I think Dan and I will adapt to pretty much any living situation as long as it's beneficial to the two of us. Now I must go. It's time to go back to sleep!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

People, People, People

Some people get so caught up in thinking that their way of thinking is so right, they forget that sometimes they might actually be wrong. This is especially true when you're going to say it aloud. I'm glad that I've become calm in my old age. I'm glad that shit doesn't bother me as much as it use to. I'm glad that I could laugh at stupid shit and not be offended by it.

As I always say, "You can't control what other people say or do, but you could control your reaction." I do admit that there are certain circumstances that are a bit more difficult to control. We're human. I'm not perfect and neither is anyone else. So that leaves some wiggle room for errors.

Anyway, tonight was one of those post mothers' day shift where not much was going on. Everyone that was going out to eat, went out yesterday. I got sat with these two very affluent older ladies. They were out to dinner for some chatting. One of the ladies mentions that she's from Florida. Now I am going to quote how the conversation went.

Lady: "I'm not use to American cuisine." (this is after I explained the features to them)

Me: "Oh, no?"

Lady: "No, I live in South Florida."

Me: "Oh, really? Where in South Florida do you live?"

Lady: "Key Biscayne. Are you familiar with it?"

Me: "Actually, I am. I lived in Miami for two years."

Lady: "Well, you won't like it anymore."

Me: "Really, why is that?"

Lady: "Because it's full of Latin people."

Me: "Oh."

Lady: "They are everywhere. There are a bunch of restaurants, but not even the waiters know English. Everyone speaks Spanish."

Me: "Oh."

Lady: "I refuse to learn Spanish. They are in this country and they should learn English."

Me: "Hmm, Ok."

If this would have happened to me, let's say, ten years ago, I would have cursed off this lady to no end. To tell the truth, I wasn't offended. I found the situation to be quite humorous. This lady had no clue that I was "Latin." This is not the first time this has happened to me, either.

Even though I wasn't offended, I did have to somehow let this lady know that she should think before she speaks. So, I grabbed one of the bussers and let her in on what this lady told me. We both agreed that we would go up to the table together and try to clear it, which at that point I would speak Spanish. Man did that work! The lady was kissing my ass before the end of the meal. I love it!

To be honest, this table made my night. It was such a boring night that I guess I needed something to spice it up. Not only was I laughing at the situation, but I had all of my coworkers laughing right along with me. So, thank you ladies for being so ignorant! You made my night!

Monday, May 08, 2006

See You Soon!

After spending a week sight seeing and meeting the family, Hector is heading back to Miami. He's not sure if he'll move up here or stay down there. Of course you know that I'm hoping he stays up here. A week is definitely not enough time to get to know your cousin, but I'm so grateful to even have that much time. He seems like a genuinely nice guy, a bit overwhelmed by everything going on. My parents are very sad that he left. I think they quickly adopted him as their own.

Here's one last picture of us:


We were at Foxwoods Resort. He had never been to a casino before. We had a blast! In this picture you could really tell how much Hector looks like my father. It's freaky!!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

First Cousin

I grew up with no extended family. My mother's family lives in Spain. I've met my grandmother, my aunts, and my mother's cousins. One of my aunts has a son, which would make him my first cousin. I've never met him. I believe he's a teenager now, but I could be wrong.

On my father's side, I have met all of his cousins that live in Florida, the aunts, which have since passed away, and my grandmother. I actually only met my grandmother for a week when I was around 11. She passed away a few years later from ovarian cancer. My father has a brother, a niece, and nephew in Cuba. He hasn't seen his brother since 1971 and has never met his niece or nephew.

That was until yesterday. My cousin, Hector, just came from Cuba three months ago and has been living in Florida at a friend's house until he decides whether he wants to stay down there or come live with my parents. He came up to meet us all. I can't begin to tell you how happy my father is. He is gleaming and so are we. Hector resembles my father when he was younger. It's just weird to meet someone else that resembles my father besides me.

It was so incredibly nice to sit down as a family at my sister's house last night. We watched a video that was sent to him by his parents that showed where my father grew up. My uncle, aunt (his wife), my other cousin (Hector's sister) and her husband took turns talking to us. Each one had a message for everyone of us. It was very touching. It was also the first time that my father sees his home since he left. My father seemed very touched. We laughed a lot and also sat there in amazement watching this video. It was a bit surreal.

Hector had a tough time yesterday meeting all of us. We aren't the only family he has up north, either. He has another uncle that lives in Union City that my father took him to meet. As much as I was nervous to meet him, I could only imagine how he feels having to meet all of us. He really seems like such a great guy. I'm glad that we finally met. It's unfair that we never had the chance to grow up together, but meeting him now is better than later.

I snapped some pictures so you could all meet him.

Here's Hector and my father:


This is of my father, Hector, nephew, Jose, and niece, Jacque:


This one is of the cousins. My sister Amy, Hector, myself, and Jacque:


As you could tell, we're very happy. I really hope that he decides to move up here. I want to be able to spend more time with him. It won't make up for all of those years lost, but it will make a difference.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Great American Boycott

The Great American Boycott is a pro-immigrant demonstration where supporters will not work, go to school, or purchase anything on May 1st, which is today. This was set up because of recent demonstrations by illegal and legal immigrants nationwide. Illegal immigrants are being targeted because of the lax laws the United States has with border security. According to this article, there's approximately 12 million illegal immigrants living in this country.

Many want them out of the country because they claim they are breaking the law by entering illegally into this country. I say "Who cares?" The majority of these people are entering this country as a last attempt to better their lives and the lives of their families. They are mostly poverty stricken people that are looking for a better life like other immigrants have done in the past. Are they breaking US laws? Yes, but the US is allowing that to happen. There is very little border security. If there was better control of the situation, we wouldn't have 12 million illegal immigrants.

I saw a report the other day, which talked about the problem with immigrants. They don't assimilate to the American culture, they live in bunches, they take jobs that Americans should have, and they don't speak the language. Well, let's discuss all of these points because I find them very interesting.

Illegal immigrants aren't assimilating to the American culture. This is actually an argument that Cuban Americans have posed, but that's a whole other post. Every single immigrant, from Italians, Jews, Irish, Puerto Ricans, and etc. have all retained a part of their heritage. They become completely American by retaining some of their own culture and mainstreaming it into American culture. If that weren't the case, then we wouldn't be eating Italian food, having Matzo, eating pasteles, listening to different types of music, and the list goes on. Cubans wouldn't be Cuban Americans if they didn't offer un cortadito, arroz con pollo, cigars, and etc. We also wouldn't have the influx of latin beats into American music if it weren't for Latinos.

Everything that I just mentioned is what makes America, America. The reason for this is because America is a country based on immigrants. There is no mistake in that when you come to NYC and go to Little Italy and Chinatown. Does this mean that the Italians and the Chinese aren't assimilated? No, it just means that they are bringing a different aspect of being American. Diversity people, diversity.

These illegal immigrants live in bunches. Well, have you tried renting lately? The majority, if not all, of these immigrants are working low paying jobs in which they end up sending money to their families back at home. I can't blame them for doing so. Their families are living in poverty. As you see, they don't have much of a choice. If they live together, then they'll pay less rent and more money will be sent to their families. Again, I can't blame them for doing so.

So the illegal immigrants are taking jobs that Americans should have. Well, if Americans wanted them, then they would have them. Obviously the jobs that these immigrants are taking, aren't jobs that are desirable by Americans. Are they driving wages down? Yes, they are. Again, if more Americans were willing to take those jobs, then that wouldn't be happening.

The language part is my favorite. Now, I'm a big proponent on learning English. You're in this country, you should learn the language. It is in your best interest to do so. The problem is that most of these immigrants work many, many hours. If your main worry is to put food on the table, then you really don't have time to learn the language. I will use my father as an example. My father use to work from about 7 or 8 in the morning to sometimes 8 or 9 at night Monday through Friday. Then on Saturday and Sundays, he would work 12 hour shifts. He did this for many years. Do you think he had time to learn English?

I also challenge all Americans that only speak English to pick up another language. I find that many are very proud of knowing English like if that makes you better than other people. I know two languages. You don't see me boasting about it. In fact, I'm kind of embarrassed that I never fully learned French while I was in college. I know English because I was born here. I know Spanish because that's the language that was spoken in my house, but I never made much of an effort to learn another language. I had a hard time with French and decided to take Spanish in order to write better. Europeans learn more than one language. Why isn't it that important in the US to learn more than one language? The fact of the matter is that learning another language is difficult. English is also a particluraly complex language. It does not make much sense like Spanish, French, and Italian do.

There are many valid arguments on both sides of the spectrum. I happen to think that it is impossible to kick out these illegal immigrants. Grant them amnesty. Let's think about being humans and not Americans and illegals. These people are here just like everyone else that came before them to look for a better way of life. You can't blame them for that. The United States needs to have better control of the border situation. We are allowing them to come into the country. Don't turn around and call them criminals for breaking our laws. We are not doing much to stop them.

To show solidarity with the illegal immigrants and all immigrants, I will not be going into work today. All Americans should participate in this because we were all immigrants at one point. Like it always happens when a new wave of immigrants come into this country, we tend to critise them for being different or for changing the face of America. That's what makes immigrants great. They add a new flavor into this country. For a country made up of so many different cultures, we sure aren't tolerable to new people. What does that say about us?