Halloween Gives Me The Creeps

With today being "All Hallows Eve," It’s no surprise my mind has taken a stroll down the trail of the supernatural. I don’t care much for Halloween but I have found myself wearing a costume on a few occasions, mainly in the spirit of accommodation and participation. Looking back now, I wished I never swayed from my beliefs. But it’s kind of hard to deny Alex -- my baby brother loves all things Halloween and he loves it even more when I participate.
When I see the rows of frightening house decorations and the array of Halloween advertisements on television, I don’t feel a hint of the warm and fuzzies or “the spirit of Halloween,” as most people would call it. I’m only reminded of how our culture is willing to place a pink bow on any situation for monetary gains. I was watching the Halloween parade  today and saw a man dressed as Muammar Gaddafi and all I could do was shake my head. And no, It's not a case of "it's too early for this," the man was a dictator who terrorized and killed thousands of innocents and to turn something as horrifying as that into a light-hearted affair is disgusting and a huge slap in the face for all those who perished under his control. But I’m not going to get into a long drawn out discussion about international affairs, society or immorality because I’m exhausted.  
I’ve always felt uneasy on this particular day, after all it’s the day where spirits from the other side have been rumored to walk amongst the living. Today, I began to think about my loved ones who have passed on, not in a nostalgic way but in a “they’re going to haunt me until the portal of the underworld closes at midnight sort of way.”
This morning I high-tailed it out of bed because I was convinced someone was watching me while I slept. Throughout the day, I was constantly looking over my shoulder, trying to decipher every silhouette in my surroundings. I’m utterly fatigue from my paranoia. Thank goodness the day is almost over.


Fall Into Winter With The First Snow Of The Season

It’s a bit early for snow with it being only the end of October, but, here it is ladies and gents -- the first snow of the season. No tricks here definitely a rare treat!
I perched myself on the edge of my window and nearly dropped my camera down unto the sodden ground to take these photos. That would have put a damper on my entire day but I'm happy to report,  all is well. My red Nikon Coolpix is resting all warm and cozy in its case. It was a risk well taken because I absolutely had to capture this moment.

Looking back now, I don’t focus on major life events in periods of reminiscence but the little moments that take my breath away. Every now and then, stop and enjoy life's little moments -- they may be brief but will sustain you for a lifetime.
Happy snow day!



Public Lashing

My cousin Robino came over the other day, we all call him Nono for short. I hadn’t seen much of him after his…ordeal and missed him tremendously. Anyway, we were in the midst of catching up when he suddenly exclaimed “have you heard about Amber Cole?"  I told him I hadn’t and immediately demanded to know about this mysterious girl who had ended our conversation so abruptly. Shocked by the fact that I hadn’t heard of her, he insisted that I get online right away. A quick search revealed her harrowing story.

Apparently, Amber Cole is a fourteen year old girl who was videotaped on school grounds performing oral sex on her boyfriend. Unfortunately for Cole, the video was posted online for all to see. Since then, she has been de-friended by several of her friends on Facebook, relentlessly taunted via numerous social media and called every derogatory name imaginable. She tweeted about understanding the reason certain people commit suicide, a topic that would ordinarily raise a few eyebrows, instead her cry for help was met with very little sympathy and even more ridicule.
But what is the real issue here? Is it a young girl performing a sexual act on school property, the release of her illicit video over the internet or the fact that this young lady is the subject of a severe case of cyber bullying? While the release of the recording is nauseating and profoundly immoral, I choose the ladder. And no I’m not saying what she did is okay, it isn’t, not by a long shot. But she should not be chastised and ridiculed on every social media platform. This child’s punishment should rest solely with her school and her parents.
While Cole has endured an endless stream of humiliation, the boy involved in the sex act has escaped unscathed. Likewise, the one who recorded the act received very little criticism from the public. I detest the raging double standard, people would not be as cruel if it were a boy in the same scandalous situation. If that were the case, most would give him a pat on the back and possibly utter something that closely resembles a reprimand like, "don’t do it again," or worse, turn the situation into a boys will be boys tale.
This modern day Hester Prynne may not have woven her very own Scarlet letter, but her actions will forever be branded on the world wide web. No one should be devalued in such a heinous way. Everyone deserves respect. For the love God, just let Amber Cole be.

A Spoonful Of Nostalgia

With the holiday season approaching, I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic. Thus, I decided to take a much needed trip down memory lane. I stumbled upon a few pictures of the family on the Bryant Park skating rink on Christmas day, 2007. Mommy’s to the right (I’m right beside her), she must have been quite chilly that day because she’s always the first to remove her hat when the flashes go off. Her boyfriend is on the left, he’s such a lovely fellow. At the very center is my baby brother Alex, such a fearless little boy. I literally had to hold him steady because he was so busy slipping and sliding all over the ice.
Doesn’t it look like I have absolutely no eyebrows in these two pictures? Perhaps it’s from the flash of the camera or I must have been tweezer happy that week.

Alex is taking a break after being on the ice for like two hours straight. His head is smoking, a result of  his body heat and the chilly temperature, I suppose.
 I love this time of year!


My Special Little Tradition

During my teenage years, I would always be down in the dumps on my birthday, wondering where the year had gone. Boundless questions like, what have I done all year? have I accomplished anything other than take up space? or made a difference, even in some minute way would be ricocheting against the walls of my anxious brain. It was exhausting being so negative at a period I should have been celebrating.

So, about five years ago, I dished the Happy Birthday blues. Instead of relying on everyone else to place a grin upon my face, I decided to celebrate my birthday all by my lonesome before I celebrated it with anyone else.  
On the eve of my birthday, I would bake a cake (usually some variation of chocolate) and on October 21, at 12:30 AM (the time I was born), I would sneak to my bedroom and cut myself a sizable slice. Instead of making the habitual wish, I would reflect upon the year I left behind and be grateful for the one I was about to embark upon.

It’s simply a personal thing that gives me immense pleasure. Although I always celebrate my birthday with family, friends and great food, I cherish this little moment the most. It’s a celebration of self.
This year, I baked a decadent double layer chocolate cake with dulce de leche cream cheese frosting, garnished with fresh strawberries.
Here is a picture of my masterpiece!
Alright, it isn’t quite a masterpiece, the frosting is a bit too runny, and I continuously pinched the bottom layer of the cake with my greedy little feelers because I have an almost unhealthy obsession with chocolate (notice how the picture only shows the top layer with all the ripened strawberries? lol), but I’m sure it’s going to be scrumptious.
      And it was SCRUMPTIOUS!
Oh! did I mention that I have a thing for snow globes? I started a collection not too long ago, don't know what took me so long really. Check out my newest snow globe (a birthday gift from my mom)
She also gave me this darling little silver keepsake box with my name engraved on the elaborately detailed filigree cover.
In keeping up with the "celebration of self” theme, here is a picture of me from my birthday outing.
 Happy Birthday to me!


Our Not So Ambitious Generation

“I wanna be a billionaire so fricking bad,” these are the lyrics to the popular song “Billionaire,” by Travie Mccoy, lead singer of Gym Class Heroes. After listening to this song, I began to ponder about the future aspirations of America’s youth. Statistically, the United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy and births in the western industrialized world. I read an article a while ago which stated that minors have consumed 11% of all alcohol in the United States. These statistics are not at all surprising, but the fact that I’m starting to accept them as the norm is quite unsettling.
From what I’ve seen around my neighborhood, our youth view school as a mere afterthought, no longer an institution for self-betterment but a prison designed to keep them away from life’s pleasures. Of course, I do not speak for every child. For as many children willing to skip school to indulge in god knows what, there are also many others sitting in the classroom, waiting for their chance to seize the opportunities of the future. Still, at twenty five years old, I’m already shocked into abeyance over the lack of tenacity in today’s youth.
With a majority of adolescents heavily concerned with sex, drugs and quick money making schemes, the future outlook for doctors, lawyers and politicians is uninspiring -- to say the least. All of these professions require enormous amounts of passion and determination, all of which have taken a back seat to jail time, a stint in rehab or an unexpected pregnancy.
Over the years, I’ve seen many young boys and girls submerged in very adult affairs that shouldn't concern them. I’ve often tried to put myself in their situation but could not fathom walking in their footies. It’s unfortunate that sex, partying and drug experimentation has become an initiation rite for a majority of our youth. With these experimentations becoming reality, more and more promising children seem to be evolving past any earnest desire to achieve something of a greater scale. How sad is that?                                                                                                             


The Approbation Tango

There are a few people in my life, particularly my mother, whose opinion far exceeds any others. I’m by no means approval dependent but her perspective on certain matters, especially matters of the heart -- most often than not -- reinforces mine. This not only gives me a sense of comfort but more confidence to persevere.
While the need for approval is akin to human behavior, I’ve seen it transform from something as harmless as a confidence booster to something that is disturbingly unhealthy. Like any other drug, the stimulating affects one receives from seeking approval creates an urgent need for more, stroking, for a lack of a better word. A need, if not controlled has the ability to grow into full blown addiction.
I consider myself quite an independent spirit but that wasn’t always the case. During my adolescent years, I sought approval from the individuals I most admired as well as some unworthy few, like any child would. But as maturity sunk in and my personal beliefs reached an unalterable plateau, I took back the control I so willingly gave to others. The turning point for me was realizing that no matter what I did or how I behaved, there would most likely be those who approved of my choices as well as an equal amount who did not -- which begs the question -- why bother?
Many have fallen prey to the strings of dependency simply because it’s an easy web to become entangled in. There are so many people out there willing to come to our rescue that it makes it that much easier to fall into their clutches, especially when the concern that need to be dealt with  is of the life changing variety. But total dependency is a sinuous road that will eventually lead to resentment. Not all advice is helpful advice, most of the time the people you seek advice from is unable to fully comprehend your situation because, here’s the shocker, they are also dealing with their own issues. So for someone who lives their life hanging on someone else’s every word, the wrong advice can be detrimental. Interestingly enough, most approval seekers do not blame themselves when something goes awry, they blame the advice giver.
To always rely on another’s approval is to deprive yourself of the beautiful and sometimes heart-wrenching process that is self- growth. There is no feeling more satisfying than living life on your own terms.


Literary Terms Du Jour (Part Deux)

Hi there! This is a follow up to my previous post about literary jargons. As I explained before, my little brother Alex has been having some difficulties defining as well as incorporating certain literary devices into his English assignments. This is my way of performing my sisterly duties and helping him out a bit. I’ve assembled a few of the terms he’s currently learning in English class below. Take a look.
1. Antagonist- adversary of the protagonist of a drama or other literary work

2. Antithesis- contrast; direct opposite

3. Archetype- original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind are copied

4. Assonance- similarity of sound in words or syllables

5. Cacophony- harsh, discordant sound

6. Character- person in a novel, play, etc.

7. Cliche- a trite expression

8. Climax- a decisive moment in a plot

9. Context- the parts of a written or spoken statement that precede a specific word or passage, usually influencing its meaning or effect

10. Dialogue- conversation between two or more people

11. Genre- class or category of artistic work

12. Muse- the inspiration motivating a poet, artist, etc.

13. Protagonist- the leading character, hero, or heroine of a drama or other literary work.

14. Pseudonym-fictitious name used by an author to conceal his or her identity; pen name


Midnight Rambling

It’s Midnight, the in-between hour and I can’t shake the feeling that I’m being pulled in two separate directions. A lot has changed in my life during the last few months. Although the many changes that have occurred in my external world have hardened me to the point where I yearn for my naivety, it’s the gradual change manifesting within me that is so perplexing. Don’t worry, I’m not developing psychopathic tendencies or anything.

But, I do believe I’m at a crossroads or rather approaching one and  I fear that I will be forced to make a decision that will  not only forever change the course of my life but the lives of those closest to me. 

Sounds ominous, I know. Mind you, it’s just a feeling but like clockwork, it has been continuously ticking and the inevitability of its arrival leaves me breathless. Maybe I’m being a bit theatrical but my mind is racing a mile a minute and I’m scribbling down the remnants of what I perceive as coherent on this blog post. This is me, rambling at midnight -- filled with apprehensions about what lies ahead.


I Have A Deficit

Have you ever been attracted to someone but can’t stand to be in the same room with them? I currently find myself in the midst of this puzzling and utterly frustrating predicament. This man, who will remain nameless, is profoundly chauvinistic, superficial, judgmental, arrogant, brash and not to mention, disrespectful. Intellectually, let’s just say his wheel is still spinning but the hamster is dead but physically, well, you get my drift.
The fact that I catch myself making bedroom eyes at the man who is the representation of everything I loathe is disconcerting, to say the least. Loud attention seekers with washboard abs are usually not my type, in fact, they’re never my type. So why do I find this man that I want to strangle the majority of the time attractive?
There must be a psychological explanation for my condition, some Freudian theory I must have given the once-over from my psychology course back in college. Since my situation is too delicate to discuss with another, I’m left with no other choice but to self-diagnose. From my limited psychological expertise, I’ve concluded that I suffer from an acute case of... some form of  “self-deprecating deficit.” That’s the best I could come with. I’ll let you know when I'm cured.                                                                    


The Man With The Briefcase

I saw him again today, the man with the briefcase. For the past three days, around the same time, he has been standing by the flickering lamp post near the playground, always waiting for the same wild-haired woman.
I began watching him because I simply couldn’t help myself. I was curious by this recurring nightly meeting. I reckoned it was a romantic tryst. When I first spotted the mysterious duo, the man anxiously shifted his briefcase from hand to hand the very instant the wild-haired woman turned the corner. One does not get that fidgety over a friendly rendezvous. As she walked towards him, she played coy by scanning her surroundings and he capitalized on the gesture by doing a little scanning of his own. Only, he was not admiring the architecture but the sway of her hips.
There was something so devastatingly charming about his surreptitious little glances. It wasn’t the fact that he looked at her but it was the eagerness of his probing orbs. They were starved and she was the only meal capable of sating their appetite. After baring witness to that tender little moment, I went to bed feeling a bit lighter that night.
I was delighted to see the mysterious duo unite at the same location the following evening. With his trusty suitcase in hand, they made their way into the playground, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. They sat on the swings side by side. She giggled at something he said and he tucked one of the strands of her curly tresses behind her ear with a trembling hand. Well, I didn't exactly see his hand tremble but wouldn't it be sweet if it did? Anyway, I remember thinking how their cuteness was so reminiscent of a scene from an animated Disney movie. Thus, with chirping blue birds encircling my crown, I slept with the same ease as the night before.
The next morning, I walked across the street to the playground for some much needed fresh air. Naturally, when I sat on the swing, an image of the two love birds emerged. I felt a slight tug on my cheeks and realized I was grinning from ear to ear.
Suddenly, it occurred to me that the man wasn’t quite a stranger after all, going back to the night before, something about him seemed so familiar. I decided that I had seen him before, of that I was certain. But the woman still remained a mystery. I thought I’d met or at the very least seen all the women in the neighborhood. Was she new in town or was she an unwelcomed visitor? As soon as the word “unwelcomed” came to mind, I immediately wondered why. Ultimately, I shook myself for allowing my allusions to run as wild as Jane Doe’s tresses.
As I returned home that evening, I crossed paths with none other than the man with the briefcase. Without warning, memories tumbled upon me like an avalanche, lifting the diaphanous veil from my sight. As he waved at me in recognition, I waved back and hoped he didn’t stop to make conversation, he didn’t.
As I predicted, he waited for the wild-haired woman by the lamp post once more. Watching their lips make contact, the warm and fuzzies I felt from the previous nights dissipated into the nippy air. As my eyes glowed with holographic images of his wife and son, I turned away from the window, utterly sickened at the sight of the man with the suitcase and his wild-haired concubine.


Literary Terms Du Jour

Lately, my little brother Alex (my heart), has been having a bit of trouble in English class, mainly with differentiating between metaphors, similes and other literary jargons. So I thought I would start a blog post to define certain literary devices, techniques and elements in his honor.

Today’s terms are:
1.      Irony- the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of the literal meaning

Example: The irony of her reply, “How nice!”When I said I had to work all weekend.

2.      Juxtaposition- placing expressions or ideas side by side, for comparison or contrast

Common Juxtapositions: youth vs. old age, freedom vs. responsibility, city vs. country.

3.      Metaphor- A comparison of two dissimilar things which does not use “like” or “as”

Example: “A mighty fortress is our God" or, “my love is a red, red rose”

4.      Meter- A rhythm of accented and unaccented syllables which are organized into patterns called feet. The common meters are iambs, trochees, spondees, anapests and dactyls.


The meters with two-syllable feet are

·     IAMBIC (x /) : That time of year thou mayst in me behold

·     TROCHAIC (/ x): Tell me not in mournful numbers

·     SPONDAIC (/ /): Break, break, break/ On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!

The meters with three-syllable feet are

·     ANAPESTIC (x x /): And the sound of a voice that is still

·     DACTYLIC (/ x x): This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlock (a trochee replaces the final dactyl).

5.      Simile- comparison of two dissimilar things using “like” or “as”

Example: "my love is like a red, red rose"

I will be posting more literary terms soon.

Stay tuned!


Guilty Pleasures: Sinful Adult Hot Chocolate

What is it about a steaming cup of hot chocolate that makes you feel so at home?

Perhaps it’s that inviting aroma, the velvety feel as it coats the back of your tongue while blanketing you with its warmth or the sweet release of endorphins from the chocolate itself. Whatever the appeal, hot chocolate has remained one of the very few comforts with the ability to transport me to a simpler time. As a child, just one sip would give me the kind of relief that would sweep through me like a tidal wave, washing away the day’s problems. In a way, it’s like my own personal looking glass, where I get to relieve my fondest childhood memories -- sans the nonsensical wonderland part of course.
These days my palette has become a bit more refined because I no longer yearn for Nestle’s hot cocoa mix. When I decide to indulge my hot chocolate cravings, I do so dangerously.

Check out the recipe of my sinful adult hot chocolate below:
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 4 ounces good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • A dash of nutmeg
  • 4 to 5 vanilla beans or cinnamon sticks, for garnish
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  • A splash of rum or bourbon (optional)
Heat the milk and half-and-half in a saucepan on medium heat to just below the simmering point. Remove the pan from the heat and add the dark chocolate. When the chocolate has melted, add the brown sugar, nutmeg, vanilla extract, (you may also add the seed of one vanilla bean to the pan) and whisk vigorously. And for the element of danger, pour a dash of rum or bourbon to the pan. Add a heaping swirl of whipped cream to your mug or use a vanilla bean or cinnamon stick for garnish. I personally like to sprinkle a few pieces of dark chocalate shavings on top of the whipped cream.


Marvelous Creatures: Introducing The Spatuletail Hummingbird

The Spatuletail hummingbird (Loddigesia mirabilis) is one of the rarest and most endangered birds in the world. The species can be found in just a few locations in Peru, mainly on the eastern slopes of the Rio Utcubamba Valley.
These miniature beauties are about 10-15 cm in length. Their bodies are said to be approximately the size of a ping-pong ball and their beaks are about the size of a matchstick.
Spatuletail hummingbirds have predominantly green and white feathers. The male has blue crest feathers on the top of his head, an incandescent turquoise gorget (throat patch) and a black line down the center of its abdomen.
The male Spatuletail hummingbird has only four feathers on its tail, two of which extend far beyond the other two, fanning out into large violet-blue discs called “spatules.” These unique little feathers can grow to three or four times the length of the bird’s entire body. The males sport a far more spectacular plumage than their female counterparts. The females have white gorgets, they lack the defining black line that extends down the male’s abdomen and their tails are much shorter.
During mating seasons, male Spatuletail hummingbirds engage in elaborate and competitive mating displays to capture the attention of their females. They leap from branch to branch, forward and backwards with high velocity, while making snapping sounds. These sounds originate from their thin beaks instead of the reverberation of their tails slapping against one another, as was previous assumed.
These little romantic dynamos dine on nectar from a myriad of colorful flowers, trees and shrubs. They have the ability to lick the nectar up to 13 times per second. Insects, like small spiders are an important source of protein in their diet because they aid with the development of their young.
1. Spatuletail hummingbirds are capable of consuming about 10 times their body weight in food, which is about 14,000 calories per day.
2. With the exception of insects, hummingbirds have the highest metabolism rate of any animal on earth (high breathing rate, high heart rate, high body temperature).
3. Hummingbirds have skeletal and flight muscle adaptations that allow them to rotate their wings almost 180 degrees. Consequently, they are able to fly forwards, backwards, up, down, sideways, even upside down. They can also remain stationary while moving their wings in a figure-eight pattern.
4. Each hummingbird species generate a different humming sound in flight.
5. A Spatuletail hummingbird's heart beats 1,200 times per minute in flight and 200 beats per minute at rest, making it the fastest beating heart of all animals, except for the pygmy shrew with a recorded heartbeat of up to 1511 times per minute.
6. Male Spatuletail hummingbirds are killed by Peruvian locals because their hearts are considered an aphrodisiac.
7. Spatuletail hummingbirds go into a state of torpor (temporary or semi-hibernation) in order to conserve energy at night. During that time, their body temperature decreases dramatically from its daytime temperature of about 105° (40.5°C) to 19 °C (66 °F). The heart rate slows down from about 200 (average daytime resting heart rate per minute) to 50 - 180 beats per minute. Hummingbirds may even stop breathing for periods of time.


Why Nice Does Not Equal Dateable

So you’re sitting across from him at the dinner table, engaging in the habitual small talk routine, when it suddenly occurs to you that he has everything you would want in a mate. He’s respectful, family oriented, has impeccable manners and is a perpetual gentleman. You're on a date with the quintessential “nice” guy, just the kind of man from your girlish reveries you’ve always fancied bringing home to mom and dad. Except, your courtship (if you could call it that) is lacking that pivotal element so essential for an intimate relationship, chemistry.

Have you ever half-heartedly agreed to a date because you hoped that after getting to know him better, the dating gods would send a jolt of chemistry through your core, thus aligning what’s in your head with your heart? I have. My attempt to interfere with the decisions of the powers that be has taught me an important lesson, just because he’s a “nice” guy, doesn’t mean you should date him.

A while ago, I stumbled upon the "True Forced Loneliness movement" and I must say, it was by far the most shameless display of self-pity I had encountered in quite awhile. If you’re unaware of this movement, it’s basically about a bunch of pompous men who post videos of themselves online and relentlessly lament their permanent state of singlehood. Their raging double standards and misogynistic ways are palpable. I mean, these men can pick and choose who they want to date and when we women do it, we are permanently branded with these little gems, superficial, gold-digger or just plain ignorant -- which is why I’ve dubbed this notion  the “nice” guy’s cry for sympathy. If their dislike for women is so grand, why the burning desire to date them? Hell, why not play for the other team? All I will leave you with on this topic is that the reason why these so-called “nice” guys are single is evident the minute you click onto their video posts.

Back in college, all I would ever hear were the self proclaimed “nice” guys rant about the deceitful nature of females. According to them, women only say they want a nice guy to avoid looking shallow, when in reality, they secretly lust after their abusive counterparts. While there are some women who are wired that way, a majority of us really do like nice guys. “Nice” is wonderful, but “nice” will only get you so far. So you’re nice, should I bow down to you? Present you with an award? You’re supposed to be nice. In my opinion, nice is right up there with thou shalt not steal and honor thy mother and father.

What some men do not realize is that a “nice” guy is not the equivalent of the right guy. Just because you are nice does not mean you are entitled to be with every woman on the planet. Frankly, I’m tired of listening to some men praise themselves for being nice. It's always, "I’m a nice guy, go out with me, or I’m a nice guy, why won’t you go to bed with me?" Get over yourself. That haughty sense of entitlement is just one more thing that will keep the ladies away. And might I add, grouping all women into a single category, will not further your cause either.

There is a huge difference between being single and desperation. Like you, we have standards and “nice” is just one characteristic in a long list of other important qualities we hope to find in a mate. So you “nice” guys out there, stop resting on “nice” because you need a lot more than that to sweep a woman off her feet.
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