Thursday, August 18, 2011

Books, Poetry, and Stories worth Browsing (HHM edition)...

Growing up I always loved escaping somewhere, in or outdoors, and curling up with a good book. Nowadays with my super hectic schedule I don't get to read as often as I'd like, but I make time to get lost and take a break from reality whenever I can. Here are some of my favorites, just in time for Hispanic Heritage Month, I hope they provide you with some peace, serenity, and maybe a few laughs.

Jubana! is by far one of my favorite books and has singlehandedly inspired my popular nickname as well as many other aspects of my life. Gigi Anders talks about growing up as a Jubana (Jewish Cubana) in Cuba and then the United States and how she adjusted to being a Cuban American. Her story is filled with anecdotes, laughter as well as some sadness, and touching prose that reinforces my love of all that is the Cuban Jewish culture.

 Acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught  everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero. Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become.

Warning! Make sure you have a box of kleenex with you before you start reading this book. In the Time of the Butterflies is a tragic and inspiring story of Las Mariposas, a group of sisters living in the Dominican Republic. In this extraordinary novel, the voices of all four sisters—Minerva, Patria, María Teresa, and the survivor, Dedé—speak across the decades to tell their own stories, from hair ribbons and secret crushes to gunrunning and prison torture, and to describe the everyday horrors of life under Trujillo’s rule. Through the art and magic of Julia Alvarez’s imagination, the martyred Butterflies live again in this novel of courage and love, and the human cost of political oppression. 

As a first generation Cuban American, I've always been enamored in all that is Cuba and Cuban history. This novel is one of the most telling and similar to the stories I've heard from my Abuelos.  Dreaming in Cuban is the dreamy and bittersweet story of a family divided by politics and feography by the Cuban revolution. It is the family story of Celia del Pino, and her husband, daughter and grandchildren, from the mid-1930s to 1980. Celia's story mirrors the magical realism of Cuba itself, a country of beauty and poverty, idealism and corruption.
It's a long way from Santo Domingo to the Bronx, but if anyone can go the distance, it's the Garcia girls. Four lively Latinas plunge from a pampered life of privilege on an island compound into the big-city chaos of New York, where they embrace all that America has to offer.
In this addicting, can't-put-it-down novel of six friends-each one an unforgettable woman in her late twenties-you'll meet: --Lauren, the "caliente" columnist for the local Boston paper whose love live has recently led her to her boyfriend's catch him in the act with someone else --Sara, the perfect wife and mother who's got it all but who is paying a high price --Amber, raised a Valley girl without a word of Spanish but who is becoming a huge rock en espanol star --Elizabeth, the stunning black Latina whose TV anchor job conflicts with her intensely private personal life --Rebecca, hyper-in-command in the world of her glossy magazine, Ella, but totally at sea when it comes to men --Usnavys, fabulous and larger than life, whose agenda to land the kind of man who can keep her in Manolos almost prevents her finding true love.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Words of wisdom when times get tough...

75 Reminders for Tough Times

Reminders for Tough Times

When life gets stressful, we often forget the things we should remember, and remember the things we should forget.

Here are 75 reminders to help motivate you when you need it most.
Tough times never last, but tough people do.
- Robert H. Schuller
  1. You never know how strong you really are until being strong is the only choice you have.
  2. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.
  3. You cannot change what you refuse to confront.
  4. Nobody is perfect, and nobody deserves to be perfect.  Nobody has it easy.  You never know what people are going through.  Every one of us has issues.  So don’t belittle yourself or anyone else.  Everybody is fighting their own unique war.
  5. Crying doesn’t indicate that you’re weak.  Since birth, it has always been a sign that you’re alive and full of potential.
  6. No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.  (Read Unstoppable.)
  7. Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.
  8. Grudges are a waste of perfect happiness.  Let it go.
  9. Making one person smile can change the world.  Maybe not the whole world, but their world.  Start small.  Start now.
  10. Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.
  11. Never let success get to your head, and never let failure get to your heart.
  12. You have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your life.
  13. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
  14. You can learn great things from your mistakes when you aren’t busy denying them.
  15. Give up worrying about what others think of you.  What they think isn’t important.  What is important is how you feel about yourself.
  16. When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.
  17. When other people treat you poorly, keep being you.  Don’t ever let someone else’s bitterness change the person you are.
  18. You have to accept that some things will never be yours, and learn to appreciate the things that are only yours.
  19. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one in the world who’s struggling, who’s frustrated, or unsatisfied, or barely getting by.  But that feeling is a lie.  And if you just hold on, someone will find you and help make it better.  Because we all need a little help sometimes – someone to help us hear the music in our world.  To remind us that it won’t always be this way.  That someone is out there right now.
  20. Don’t be afraid to move out of your comfort zone.  Some of your best life experiences and opportunities will transpire only after you dare to lose.
  21. Sometimes we accidentally allow small problems to escalate and dominate our lives.  If we get overcharged a few cents, it is irritating, but don’t let it ruin your day.  There will always be small issues that irritate us; the secret is to be able to give them the miniscule level of importance they deserve.
  22. Giving up doesn’t always mean you’re weak, sometimes it means you are strong enough and smart enough to let go.  (Read The Dip.)
  23. Ask yourself whether each of your relationships drags you down or lifts you up.  Surrounding yourself with positive, loving people is half the battle of living a happy, successful life.
  24. Spend more time with those who make you smile and less time with those who you feel pressured to impress.
  25. There are few joys in life that equal a good conversation, a good read, a good walk, a good hug, a good smile, or a good friend.
  26. Don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future for too long.  Right now is life.  Live it.
  27. No matter how cautiously you choose your words, someone will always twist them around and misinterpret what you say.  So just say what you need to say.
  28. In order to be creative, we must lose our fear of being wrong.
  29. Not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of good luck.
  30. To be great does not mean you have to dominate others.  It means you have to dominate your own potential.
  31. If you are passionate about something, pursue it, no matter what anyone else thinks.  That’s how dreams are achieved.
  32. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.
  33. Forgiveness is one of the primary keys to happiness.
  34. The best revenge is happiness, because nothing drives your adversaries more insane than seeing you smile.
  35. Stay positive when negativity surrounds you.  Smile when others frown.  It’s an easy way to make a difference.
  36. If a person wants to be a part of your life, they will make an obvious effort to do so. Don’t bother reserving a space in your heart for people who do not make an effort to stay.
  37. Don’t regret intimate relationships that don’t work out.  Because they will only help you find the right partner for you, and better appreciate them for everything they do and everything they are.
  38. What lies before us and behind us are tiny matters when compared to what lies within us.
  39. The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists.  It rewards people who get things done.  And the only way to get things done is to be imperfect 99% of the time.
  40. Never lie – not even a white lie!  When you steer away from the truth, you steer away from your soul.  Be honest, be real and tell the truth.  This awareness forces you to make better choices and be a stronger person.
  41. Feelings, good and bad, always come and go.
  42. Don’t get caught up in wasted potential from years past.  Potential is all we ever have.
  43. We are not alone.  No matter how bizarre or embarrassed or pathetic we feel about our own situation, there will be others out there experiencing the same emotions.  When you hear yourself say “I am all alone,” it is your mind trying to sell you a lie so you will continue to feel sorry for yourself.
  44. It is okay to be angry.  It is never okay to be cruel.
  45. Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.
  46. Mistakes teach you important lessons.  Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal.  The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake.
  47. Money is a renewable resource.  If you lose some money, don’t sweat it.  You can always make more.  However, if you spend valuable time stressing over money, or lost opportunity, you’ll never get that time back.  Time is more valuable than money – time is the greatest constituent of life.
  48. Never let people know that they got to you.  Ignore them.  Hold your head up high and pretend all their negative remarks don’t even phase you, and someday they actually won’t.
  49. There is nothing to hold you back except you.  And there is only one question to ask yourself: “What would you do if you were not afraid?”  Think about it.
  50. Life is way more enjoyable when you stop trying to be cool and simply focus on being yourself.
  51. It’s often hard to tell just how close you are to success.
  52. When you spend time worrying, you’re simply using your imagination to create things you don’t want.
  53. No matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be.  Either you succeed or you learn something. Win-Win.
  54. You must see things how they are instead of how you hoped, wished, or expected them to be.
  55. Even when you feel like you have nothing, someone else likely has far less.  Find them and help them.  You’ll see why.
  56. Laughter is the best medicine for stress.  Laugh at yourself often.  Find the humor in whatever situation you’re in.
  57. If you want to feel rich, just count all the great things you have that money can’t buy.
  58. Forgiving yourself is far more important than getting others to forgive you.
  59. If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.
  60. You can press forward long after you can’t.  It’s just a matter of wanting it bad enough.
  61. It’s not about getting a chance, it’s about taking a chance.  You’ll rarely be 100% sure it will work.  But you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work.  Sometimes you just have to go for it!
  62. If it were easy everyone would do it.  This is why get rich quick schemes will never be true.  If it was so quick and easy then everyone would be millionaires.  Accomplishing great things is hard work, but well worth it.
  63. Notice and cherish life’s surprises.  Just because it’s not what you were expecting, doesn’t mean it’s not everything you’ve been waiting for.
  64. Be vulnerable.  Allow yourself to feel, to be open and authentic.  Tear down any emotional brick walls you have built around you and feel every exquisite emotion, both good and bad.  This is real life.  This is how you welcome new opportunities.
  65. You must create and look for opportunities.  Opportunities rarely ever come knocking on the door of someone who’s not seeking them.  You have to create and seek opportunities for yourself.  You have to take the initiative to get the ball rolling and the doors opening.
  66. If it’s out of your control, why fret about it?  Concentrating on things you can control is how you make good things happen.
  67. Saying “no” to right people gives you the time and resources required to say “yes” to right opportunities.  (Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.)
  68. No matter how much progress you make there will always be the people who insist that whatever you’re trying to do is impossible. Or they may incessantly suggest that the idea or dream as a whole is utterly ridiculous because nobody really cares. When you come across these people, don’t try to reason with them. Instead, forget that they exist. They will only waste your time and energy.
  69. If you spend 80% of your time focusing on the problem and only 20% on the solution, what do you think is going to happen?
  70. No matter how badly you think your life may be going, or how messed up you think you are, there is at least one thing you are doing right in your life or you wouldn’t be alive reading this.
  71. A problem is a chance for you to learn.
  72. The greatest struggle is to be something different from what the average man is.
  73. In times of great stress, it’s always wise to keep busy, to plow your anger and frustration into something positive.
  74. One thing is for sure: Regardless of the situation, life goes on.
  75. Everyone wants a perfect ending.  But over the years I’ve learned that some of the best poems don’t rhyme, and many great stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, or end.  Life is about not knowing, embracing change, and taking a moment and making the best of it without knowing what’s going to happen next.
Oh, and…
You wanna know who’s awesome?  Read the first word of this line again.  ;-)

Kids say the darndest things!

Some Children Are Quick

Written by:George's Humour

TEACHER:    Maria, go to the map and find   North America   .
MARIA:         Here it  is.
TEACHER:   Correct.  Now class, who discovered   America ?
CLASS:         Maria.

TEACHER:    John, why are you doing your math multiplication on the floor?
JOHN:          You told me to do it without using tables.

TEACHER:  Glenn, how do you spell 'crocodile?'
GLENN:      K-R-O-K-O-D-I-A-L'
TEACHER:  No, that's wrong
GLENN:       Maybe it is wrong, but you asked me how I spell it.  
(I  Love this child)

TEACHER:   Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?
DONALD:     H I J K L M N O.
TEACHER:   What are you talking about?
DONALD:    Yesterday you said it's H to O.  

TEACHER:   Winnie, name one important thing we have today that we
didn't have ten years ago.
WINNIE:       Me!

TEACHER:   Glen, why do you always get so dirty?
GLEN:          Well, I'm a  lot closer to the ground than you are.  

TEACHER:     Millie, give me a sentence starting with '  I.  '
MILLIE:         I  is..
TEACHER:     No, Millie..... Always say, 'I  am.'
MILLIE:         All right...  'I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.'      

TEACHER:    George Washington not only chopped down his father's cherry tree, but also admitted it.  
                   Now, Louie, do you know why his father didn't punish him?
LOUIS:           Because George still had  the axe in his hand....    

TEACHER:    Now, Simon , tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?
SIMON:         No sir, I don't have to, my Mom is a good cook.  

TEACHER:       Clyde , your  composition on 'My Dog' is exactly the same as your   brother's.. Did you copy his?
CLYDE  :         No, sir. It's the same dog.    
(I want to adopt this kid!!!)

TEACHER:    Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer  interested?
HAROLD:     A teacher

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ode to Mamas Cubanas


The great things my Mom taught me:
My mother taught me about RELIGION -
 "Pídele a Dios que yo no te agarre."
My Mother taught me about ANTICIPATION - "Deja que lleguemos a la casa, coño!"
My Mother taught me about my ROOTS ?
"Mal-agradecido, cuando yo era chiquita no tenía nada!"
My mother taught me about LOGIC ?
 "Cómo que por qué? Porque Si!"
My mother taught me about INSPIRATION-
 "Si llegas con malas notas te voy a hacer comer la chancleta"

 My Mother taught me about WISDOM-
 " Tú crees que te lo sabes todo y no sabes ni limpiarte el culo!"
 My Mother taught me about CONFUSION -
 "Me cago en la Madre que te parió!"
  (Wait, isn 't that her?)

Que vivan las Madres Cubanas!!!

About Mariam

Life is sweet

Life is sweet

And they lived happily ever after

And they lived happily ever after

One day a beautiful Jewish girl met a nice Jewish boy and made their mothers very, very, very happy

One day a beautiful Jewish girl met a nice Jewish boy and made their mothers very, very, very happy

About Me

For those of you who know me, writing has always been one of my passions, with the exception of my Masters or any ridiculously long testament within the wide world of Academia. I've only had the pleasure of blogging a couple of times, mostly for a few classes in graduate school, but figured it was time to organize my numerous thoughts and musings with all of you out there in cyber land. I created this page because my mind is always running and often times my thoughts get lost in the hubub. Plus, my friends have always said that I'm a great storyteller, so I'd love to share them now with you. In the meantime, I'll leave you with this... Throughout the past 33 years of my life I've seen, heard, and experienced so many different things as well as had many adventures and dream of so many possibilities. But in short, what it comes down to is this..I'm just a little Jubana trying to make a difference in the world. Everyday I live my life to the fullest and have fun doing it. Life can't always be about work or how much money you make. There's so much more to life than that.