Recordando mi papa, dos anos despues y todos los dias

Hoy era el hombre mayor tan tierno empujando un andador junto con su mascota mientras estaba corríendo en Central Park. No era el perro (mi padre no era el mayor fanático de los perros), sino el uso del andador, y la forma en que el hombre tenía la cabeza inclinada ligeramente mientras caminaba lentamente.

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En otros días, es música de mi lista de canciones favoritas, o un plato que mi madre cocinó, ya que mi padre siempre adoró como cocinaba. Pienso en mi papá todos los días, y especialmente hoy, dos años desde que murió.

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Pienso en él con tanto cariño cuando estoy manejando mi bicicleta en el parque para hacer ejercicio, o mientras viajo en Citibike para recorrer la ciudad y tal vez le grito a un automovilista que se acerca, como mi papá se imaginaba a sí mismo un conductor y ciclista muy defensivo.

Él inculcó en mis hermanos y yo un sentido del humor (ver lo gracioso en todo), un amor por los parques y la recreación, y la música, por supuesto. Una cosa que mi madre siempre dice sobre sus últimos años es que a pesar de pasar por momentos muy difíciles con complicaciones debido a la enfermedad de Parkinson, nunca se quejó. Él nunca preguntó: “¿Por qué yo?”

¿Puedo decir con certeza que él nunca se preguntó sobre eso? Por supuesto no. De hecho, a veces, cuando visitaba a mis padres en casa, entré en su habitación y lo encontré pensativo mirando por la ventana, o tratando de garabatear su firma en un cuaderno (los efectos de Parkinson su capacidad para escribir / sostener un lápiz ).

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Dad in the red shirt and a look that says he just told a joke.

Pero él nunca se quejó. Él prefiriá hablar con nosotros, y preguntarnos cuándo era su próxima cita con el médico, ya que quedarse en casa no era divertido para él, ¡porque tampoco es realmente divertido para mí! Las mariposas sociales somos nosotros.

Debido a que estaba confinado en su casa, hospitales y hogares de ancianos en sus últimos años, y perdió su capacidad de hablar, escuchar sobre la familia fue una de sus mayores alegrías y estoy seguro que esta mirándolos con cariño. Estaba tan alegre cada vez que mi sobrino, RJ, o mi sobrina, Bella, estaban cerca. Incluso en la UCI en su último mes, ver a Bella lo hizo sonreír.

Descansa en paz, papá. ¡Te amamos y te extrañamos!

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Remembering dad, two years later & every day

Today it was the most adorable older man pushing a walker along with his yellow labrador while I was running in Central Park. It wasn’t the dog (my dad wasn’t the biggest fans of the four-legged), but the use of the walker, and the way the man had his head cocked down slightly as he walked slowly.

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This adorable man reminded me of my dad today.

On other days, it’s music that shuffles onto my Spotify from my favorite song list, or a dish my mom will make, as my dad always worshipped her cooking. I think about my dad every single day, and especially today, two years since he died.

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My dad on the exercise bike when he still lived at home.

I think of him so fondly when I’m riding my bike in the park for exercise, or while on a Citibike to get around the city and I maybe tell a motorist who gets to close to “Watch it!” as my dad fancied himself a very defensive driver and cyclist.

He instilled in my brothers and I a sense of humor (see the funny in everything), a love of parks and recreation, and music, of course. One thing my mother always says about his last few years on this earth is that despite experiencing some very tough times with complications due to Parkinson’s disease, he never complained. He never asked, “Why me?”

Can I say to certainty that he never wondered about that? Of course not. In fact, sometimes when I’d visit my parents at home, I’d walk into his room and find him pensively looking out the window, or trying to scribble his signature in a notebook (Parkinson’s effects your ability to write/hold a pen).

But he never let on to us, instead choosing to talk to us, and ask when his next doctor’s appointment was as staying home was NOT fun for him, as it is not really fun for me, either! Social butterflies are us. 🙂

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With family from Colombia (and me, my brother Rich, and nephew, RJ) and my mom in NYC during Christmas time

Because he was homebound, and later in and out of hospitals and nursing homes, in his later years, and lost his ability to speak, hearing about family was one of his biggest joys and I’m sure he’s looking down on them lovingly to this day. He smiled SO WIDELY whenever my nephew, RJ, or my niece, Bella, were around. Even in ICU in his last month, seeing Bella made him smile.

We’re thinking of him lovingly today, and every single day. Here is a piece I wrote about him in 2015, and an obituary post I wrote a couple of days after he died in 2016.

RIP, dad! We love and miss you!

My Suicide Week

Reliving hell in the 24-hour suicide news cycle.

When someone famous, especially someone who means so much to so many, dies by suicide, a voice in my head screams at me to get out of my own thoughts and do something. This is the consequence of having had intimate experience with suicide. To know suicide is to be obligated forever to give witness, not just as an act of communion with people who’ve experienced something similar, but also as a sort of activism — haunt the conscience of people entertaining thoughts of killing themselves, act as a stand-in for their loved ones, show them what wreckage might be left in their wake.

Every suicide is personal. I watch as the entire internet begins talking about this thing that I carry with me every day, this thing that nags and pulls at me and that I know I’ll always feel crouching in the corner even on my best days, even when I’m mostly able to forget. And I read about the circumstances of the death of this person I’ve never met, and it’s tragic and sad in its own right, but I’m also reliving where I was when I found out that people I loved and needed chose to no longer exist. I read about the devastated family members they’ve left behind, but then, I’m also just reading about myself. And when I talk to someone about the tragic loss of this person who was so sick and in so much pain, I’m also talking about my loss and my loved ones who were so sick and in so much pain, whether anyone else realizes it or not. It’s exhausting.

TWITTER

 

Earlier in the week, a tweet from TMZ popped up in my feed advertising the suicide note that Kate Spade had left for her 13-year-old daughter. I was also 13 when I read the suicide note my dad left for me, so my stomach dropped and my pulse started to race and it felt as if I was being exposed for something I couldn’t put my finger on. But I clicked the link and I read the words and I felt sick imagining thousands of strangers reading the words my dad left for me, so I got up and went for a walk and tried to do anything I could to clear my head, but it didn’t really help. So instead I embraced it.

I don’t remember exactly when I last read the note he left me, but I know I’ve read it a lot. Hundreds of times. So many times that the paper has become worn and fragile and dotted with smudges from old tears I can’t remember. I know it mostly by heart, and it’s mostly seared into my memory, so I surprised myself when I decided to get it out on Friday and, two lines in, I wept. I’m not sure I was crying for my father, whom I continue to miss every day. And I’m not sure I was crying for my sister, whom I continue to miss every minute. I think I was crying more for the time I’ve lost to the grieving process and the laughter that used to come easily and how much more difficult I know days like this will always be.

 

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.

I tattooed my eyebrows. Here’s why.

Permanent makeup has been around for years. I remember the first time a friend told me she was going to get permanent eyeliner done in the early 2000s. I thought she was insane, but then again, as a person who doesn’t wear makeup every day, it’s not surprising I didn’t see the need.

Fast forward to years later. With the advances made in the area of false eyelash extensions, and eyebrow tinting, I happened upon an Instagram page of an eyebrow threading place that did eyebrow microblading. I then did a simple search on Instagram, and was exposed to so many different microblading artists.

What is microblading? Microblading is a treatment where a technician tattoos pigment onto your face using a small tool with tiny blades so that it looks like tiny eyebrow hairs! It takes two visits under the knife for your brows to be complete. Learn more here.

So, since I’m STILL someone who doesn’t wear makeup every day, why the interest?

Well, when I was 19, I had a bad car accident which left a scar on my left eyebrow. While I have eyebrow hair, my left brow couldn’t grow hair in the inner part (beginning of the brow). On top of that, when thinner brows were in, I plucked or waxed quite often (a la Drew Barrymore below). And, these days, thick brows are in. So I wanted microblading!

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Via InStyle: 1990s: Drew Barrymore
The grunge era also saw some interesting shapes, similar to Drew Barrymore’s skinny, ultra-dark arches.

One of the first things I started looking for was style. Big, boxy brows are in, but I didn’t think they would look good on me because I’m not one to draw them in every day. So I started eliminating artists who tended to draw that style.

Price was also a factor. Microblading can range anywhere from $350-1200. I found someone in New Jersey who was in the $400 range and did some nice work. But when I saw her for my consultation, she was very concerned about scar and told me she insisted I do microshading (see the difference here), which would look a bit darker. I decided to pass on her services.

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This look, which appears to me like more microshading than blading, was not for me.

She got me thinking about my scar and I decided I should look for someone who did great work and had experiences working with scars or tougher cases.

My awesome assistant director at work started researching for me and found a place with BEAUTIFUL work on their website and an artist who worked in the $600 range. I went for a free consultation and decided to book with their artist, Jessie.

The name of the salon? Six & Ait.

What I loved about their work is most of their brows were very natural looking. And that’s what I wanted. Also, their space in midtown on 5th Avenue was immaculate.

When I went for my first session, Jessie decided I needed a hybrid combination of microblading with some shading since the scar caused my one brow to be slightly higher than the other, and some balancing was going to be needed. She did this using a microblade that has a tight row of 14 tiny needles, and then a microshading tool.

Now, no two brows are ever identical. They’re more like “sisters.” And, after my first session, I was pleased. But I’m not going to lie, the first few days are hard. It takes about a week for the color to lighten. In the beginning, just like when one gets a regular body tattoo, the pigment is VERY, VERY dark. I could see people at work squint while talking to me in that “Why does she look different?” kind of way. I almost didn’t want to leave my office.

As for pain, there was none. However, one CANNOT work out for 7-10 days because sweating can cause the pigment to get pushed out of the skin. Those who know me know I love to work out, so it was tough and I was relegated to long walks. That was challenging.

But it was worth it.

Five days later, I was super pleased with how they looked. In fact, four weeks later, when I was ready for my second appointment (the touch-up), I almost didn’t want to get them done (and go through the very dark brow treatment again). But I am glad I did. By day five (when I had a gala to attend), my brows were perfect.

The photo below shows my brows before microblading, after session one, and then the touch-up.

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Brows by Jessie at Six & Ait. Btw, in case you’re wondering why I’m so well-lit, they use these amazing ring lights.

I’m on day eight after my touch-up, and my brows still have about a week or more to fully heal. I should avoid sun-tanning and makeup on the actual brow for at least a month. Check out the entire after-care process here.

They’ll lighten a bit more and should stick around for at least a year to a year and a half, or even two years! I highly recommend Six & Ait and if you mention my name when booking, you’ll get a little discount!

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This low maintenance gal is happy with her brows by Jessie at Six & Ait.

Good advice for the Class of 2018 .. & You

Let my misfortune be some advice for you

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Image via Psychologies: https://www.psychologies.co.uk/always-losing-stuff

I keep losing things. And double-booking myself, having to then cancel on friends. I have too much on my mind!

It’s the busiest time of the year at work and there have been some staff changes in that I have a new editor working. None of this is bad. The new editor is great, and she’s not “new” in that she was promoted from another department. Also, I love this time of the year: spring lectures, conferences, award ceremonies, and, of course, Commencement!

But I have a couple of medical appointments coming up that I keep thinking I CANNOT FORGET ABOUT and a trip coming up with my mom that I have yet to finish making all the arrangements for.

So, it’s one of those things where my mind is always swirling, and I feel I’m always in a rush. And let’s not forget sleep. This overactive mind hasn’t been letting me catch my Zzzzs.

Adding to this is the fact that some friends I don’t see often have been giving me the guilt trip because I can’t come to events here and there. And that’s not wrong on their part. The way I’m reacting to it, with slight anxiety and guilt, is what’s wrong here.

It’s why I walked out of the gym last week leaving my wireless earbuds in the locker. It’s why I just walked off the bus without my super practical yoga bag, which had my very beloved and less than two months old Jade yoga mat and Manduka hot yoga towel, makeup and other accessories, and, perhaps most important, my breakfast and lunch.

Here are some things I should keep in mind, and so should you, if you’ve been a bit overhwelmed and forgetful as of late via Bustle:

STRESS

Stress’ tentacles can take hold in pretty much any of your brain or mind’s functions, and that includes your memory. A study in the journal Science found that stress can activate an enzyme called “protein kinase C” in the brain, which can short-circuit our short-term memory (not news to anyone who has ever had their mind go blank right before a huge test or high-pressure wedding toast, of course). The enzyme deflates our ability to focus — especially when we’re coping with multiple stressful situations.

A single stressful situation can make us have tunnel-vision focus, which is why you may forget your house keys on a day when all you can think about it a big meeting at work. But if you’re trying to navigate your way through multiple stressful situations? Forget about it (literally).

MULTITASKING

I’m sure you’ve read about how multitasking ten projects forces you to do about one-tenth of the job you’d do with any of them if you just focused. But it turns out that that spread-thin focus isn’t just bad news for anyone trying to do a decent job — it’s bad for your memory, too. Overextending yourself with too many tasks can cause stress, which can cause your memory to fail you, and frequent interruptions can make it hard for your brain to form new memories.

So only one tab open at a time from now on. Ha ha, sorry, just messing with you. But maybe try to keep it at somewhere under 10?

LACK OF SLEEP

In case you were somehow not already obsessed with your chronic lack of sleep and all the health problems it can lead to, it can also cause you to forget important birthdays, bat mitzvahs, and dental appointments (OK, maybe you forgot the dental appointment on purpose). Missing sleep can lead to stress and anxiety, which in turn can lead to forgetfulness, which can then lead to more stress, which can then lead to more forgetfulness.

It’s kind of like the circle of life, if the circle of life was only made out of things that are horrible.

WHAT ABOUT MY YOGA BAG?

I already left a message on the bus company’s voicemail. They’re kind of an informal company, so I’m not hopeful I’ll get it back. So I’m doing that thing where I’m trying to be positive and I am thinking that if the bus driver keeps it, and gives it to his wife (if he has one), maybe she’ll be curious about the yoga mat and start to practice. Namaste!