Friday, December 12, 2008

Jennifer, here's the survey

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper, definitely.

2. Real tree or artificial? Real. I love the smell.

3. When do you put up the tree? We get it around this time. My mom's birthday is Dec 11 so we make it a birthday thing.

4. When do you take the tree down? As the good Spaniards we are, we celebrate Three Kings Day on Jan 6. So after that.

5. Do you like eggnog? I echo Jennifer on this one: Never even had it! (That said, I did read the ingredients and egg yolk, corn syrup and milk sound absolutely repulsive.)

6. Favorite gift received as a child? My American Girl doll, Kirsten, probably.

7. Hardest person to buy for? My sister, Ana. She buys herself whatever she wants so it can get tricky.

8. Easiest person to buy for? I don't think I can really answer this one at the moment. It always takes me too long to think about what anyone would really like. But, for now, I'll say I really like to shop for Ylaria and Shayla. It makes me feel like a kid again.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? My mom worked in a Catholic school for 10 years-ish. The question is not do we have ONE, but how very many do we have? It's a little ridiculous. I insisted this year that there was only ONE Jesus, but we still put out all 5 or whatever.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Definitely mail. It's the only time of year I get letters in the mail that don't tell me how much money I owe.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Underwear all with the different days of the week on it. I'm not even joking. As a 7 year old, I was MORTIFIED.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Oh, I love the cartoon classics, like How a Grinch Stole Christmas, the Year Without a Santa Claus, Frosty, Twas the Night Before Christmas....

Where did #13 go?

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Most likely.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? At Christmas my family generally eats: shrimp, lobster, clams, octopus, cow, some kind of fish, some other dead animal, and an insane amount of desserts. I love to eat it all. Unfortunately. But at least it gives me a great New Years Resolution to start the year with, right?

16. Lights on the tree? Hand down yes. I love colored lights on the tree but this year we went with only white which was nice too.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Too many to count and it totally depends on my mood. Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas" is a favorite for very sentimental reasons. I love the classics, O Come All Ye Faithful, Joy to the World, Coventry Carol, Los Peces en el Rio, and John Lennon's War is Over is pretty great. Lastly, even though it's more an Advent song, I love "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel".

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Wherever my family is. Home for Christmas is my favorite.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen. But do you recall, the most famous reindeer of all? Rudolph!! (Jennifer, I just kept your response here).

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? We've always had an angel. My aunt made it for my mom years ago.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? We exchange family gifts on Christmas Eve at midnight (My family gets together on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day is usually for Mass and hangover recovery.) "Santa" (yes, my mom STILL insists on writing his name on gifts), gifts are opened on Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Too many people in NYC. I don't like to shop as it is...unless it involves a bookstore.

#23? What is it with this quesionnaire and 3s?????

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Please read response to #15.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? A few good books and iTunes music would be great.

26. Who is most likely to respond to this? Ummm....well, I'm not even sure if anyone besides Jennifer reads this blog, so I have no idea.

27. Does Santa wrap your gift or leave them unwrapped? Wrapped. Always. How could he ever leave them unwrapped??!?!!? For a man who works one night a year, that'd be ccompletely unacceptable.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

This is the House. This is the Memory.

There is a house a block away from mine that at Christmastime reminds me of my brother.

You may think this is odd, seeing as it's not our house and I don't even know who lives there and I had never even seen it until 12 years after Manny died. But, it reminds me of what our house looked like and felt like on his last Christmas with us. It's not because we had the same moving reindeer, or the same wreath or the same lights. To be honest, I have no idea what it is exactly that makes this house so special. But, for whatever reason, it reminds me of moments, memories and feelings. It reminds me of Manny.

I remember how excited Manny was that Christmas. He was home and we were happy. I remember how he kept asking dad to put up more and more and more lights on the house. And I remember that at one point while we were decorating, a neighbor came out to put up more lights and Manny said (to my sisters and me, not the neighbor): "You think you can beat us. We'll put up more lights than you." And we did. It was my very favorite Christmas.

And so, at Christmastime for the last two years, I have found myself standing in front of that house at night when all of the lights are on, and crying. Because, beyond all possible reason, I want it to be December 1994, and I want to be decorating the house with my brother, and I want to still believe, with all my heart, that a world without him in it simply cannot exist. That his death is, literally, impossible, implausible, and unimaginable. I want the hope that he will live. I miss that hope. I miss my Manny. So very, very much.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Advice Needed

It has come increasingly to my attention that I have a problem. This observation is not a new one, I know but I feel compelled to share it in the hopes that someone can shed light on a solution.

I'm addicted to books. Seriously.

Yesterday, I was waiting to meet up with my cousin to go to dinner and (as is my norm), I spent the 20 minutes I had to kill in Barnes and Nobles. AND, as is also my norm, I left with a new book in my bag. 20 minutes. TWENTY MINUTES.

I'm at a loss. This happens every single time. I was once only running into a B&N I happened to be passing to ask a question and grabbed an interesting looking book on my way to the Customer's Service counter. I kid you not.

Any advice provided will be greatly appreciated. My bookcase has absolutely no room left. Not to mention that fact that as a non-profit worker, my bank account cannot support this addiction.

To prove my point. I include the picture below. I'm the 4 year old smiling like it's Christmas because it's time to go to school...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

No, I love YOU!

Last night, Ylaria told me that she loved me. I don't think I could ever really explain what it meant to hear her say that.

It was so unexpected. We were being goofy at dinner and she started whispering "secrets" in my ear. It took me a moment to realize she had said "I love you". When it was my turn, I whispered the same to her, at which point she looked at me confused and said, "No, I love you." And I replied, "I love you too." Apparently, this was not acceptable because she turned to me and said in a loud voice, "NO, I (pointing to herself) love YOU!" (pointing to me). It was priceless. I laughed. And simply agreed with her, "Ok, Ylaria, you win. You love me."

But, I know I won too. And I still love you, Ylaria.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can. Yes We Did.

All I can say today is: YES WE CAN...AND WE DID!

It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation.

Yes we can.

It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail toward freedom.

Yes we can.

It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness.

Yes we can.

It was the call of workers who organized; women who reached for the ballots; a President who chose the moon as our new frontier; and a King who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the Promised Land.

Yes we can to justice and equality.

Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity.

Yes we can heal this nation.

Yes we can repair this world.

Yes we can.

Friday, October 31, 2008

He's Gone.

Dear Jennifer,

Last night I was having a ton of trouble sleeping. I was feeling sorry for myself about something so incredibly insignificant and stupid that it's not even worth mentioning here.

And then, I got your text. "He's gone" and just like that, I started to cry. It's all so incredibly unfair that the word unfair simply doesn't cover it. Because Ty should be trick-or-treating today and Christi should be picking out another costume and Manny should be decorating another pumpkin. We shouldn't have to celebrate Christmas in October because we know our son, sister, friend, or playmate won't make it until December. Today was one of those days I wanted to shake everybody and scream: "How can you be laughing?!?! Don't you understand they're gone."

I realize that this anger isn't what they want at all because they lived, laughed, loved and dreamed more than most people I know. I wish that I could be that strong. And more than anything, I wish that they had never left at all.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


So I am running 13 miles in three days and the only thing I can think right now is: CRAP.

I have to get up at 5am to work out tomorrow, so that's all I can share for now. I will be much less delinquent now. I promise!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

From Where You Are

I heard this song for the first time today and I just missed you so much more. Whoever said time heals all wounds was lying.

So far away from where you are
These miles have torn us worlds apart
And I miss you
Yeah, I miss you
So far away from where you are
Standing underneath the stars
And I wish you were here

I miss the years that were erased
I miss the way the sunshine would light up your face
I miss all the little things I never thought that they'd mean everything to me
Yeah, I miss you
And I wish you were here

I feel the beating of your heart
I see the shadows of your face
Just know that wherever you are
Yeah, I miss you
And I wish you were here

I miss the years that were erased
I miss the way the sunshine would light up your face
I miss all the little things
I never thought that they'd mean everything to me
Yeah, I miss you
And I wish you were here

So far away from where you are
These miles have torn us worlds apart
And I miss you
Yeah, I miss you
And I wish you were here

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Saying Names

I can't believe we're only two weeks to September now. And as I write these words, I can't help but feel sad because September (19th, specifically) marks two years since Christi passed away. Two years is such a long time. It's too long. It's too long for parents to miss their child and for a sister to go without her best friend. It's simply too long. Time can be so unforgiving that way. It just keeps right on going when you wish most that it would stop, even if only for a moment, to recognize this great loss.

I'm sorry that I can't be "cheerful tonight". I don't mean to be depressing, that's not my intention at all, but I need to be honest. I want to take a moment to share with you the wonder that is Christi- how one life could have such an impact on the world- even if she was only here for 9 years. And, more importantly, I wanted to say her name: Christi Thomas.

You see, when my brother died, we stopped saying his name. I whispered it among my sisters, carefully, when no one was around, but never out loud. I still have a lot of trouble saying his name today. And, for some reason, through Christi, it is easier for me to speak of Manny. Not only does she, and her entire family, remain an important part of my life, but they helped with something much deeper and for which I will never be able to thank them; I have not yet found the words.

I need to keep saying Christi's name because she deserves to be remembered. People are always so afraid of death (understandably) and it can be painful to speak of those important to us (trust me, I understand this), but they still deserve to be acknowledged. No one is ever truly gone until we have forgotten them. And I will never forget Christi.

This is what I think about as I run. It's what gets me up at 5am, and it is what convinces me that running 13 miles is worth it at all. While I enjoy running, I run as I do now for a purpose: to help keep Christi's memory alive and to share her story with others. In contributing to her Memorial Fund, it ensures that she will be forever remembered regardless of the time that may pass. It's a way, if you will, of winning over time's unforgiving pace.

I do all and any of this because I can. Because it is so very important to me to keep her name resounding in the universe. And for as long as I can, to whomever will listen, I will say her name, so that others can hear it, and understand her wonder, and keep her spirit alive.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sadly, I report that I did nothing eventful this weekend. I had many plans and nothing really came of any of them (other than the running and the two hour walk I did this morning) *sigh*.

Tomorrow it is back to work. We'll celebrate one of my co-workers birthdays over bagels, fruit, and sparkling wine, and then get back to work. I plan on getting in another run before my 1.5 hour reading session on NYC mass transit.

For now, I am going to run out to the supermarket for some last minute party goodies. And then I'll spend another few hours sitting in front of the TV watching gymnastics. It's my favorite Olympic sport. That, and watching Michael Phelps kick some serious swimming butt.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The First

I wish I had something insightful or witty to share on my first blog post, but sadly, I can't think of anything really.

I had a great run today. I was aiming to go out for 1.5 hours, but I got up late (9am) and only went out for an hour. I say 9am is late because in NYC, August can get hot and humid quickly. Running at 9am, I knew it would be hard to motivate myself to stay out much past 10am.

I stayed at my cousin's apartment in Manhattan last week "house sitting" while she was in Spain, visiting her parents. The 30 minute commute to work spoiled me rotten. My commute on Monday will go back to the standard 1.5 hours. But, at least I'll get more reading time in, right?

Besides, at least in Whitestone no one decides to ring your bell incessantly for 30 minutes at 4:30 in the morning. At times, there is a lot to be said for distance, and not so much for living right next to a bar.