Use It to Your Advantage

The comfort zone is a place where we feel taken care of; we’re figuratively wrapped by a big fluffy blanket keeping all the monsters away. My big blanket was my house. My mom and I lived alone. We would share stories about our day, boys, troubles, and planned our life ten years ahead of us. Then he came along.

I wouldn’t want to lie and say I was forced to accept a stranger into my domain but the course of events did happen fairly quickly. They met, they dated, I was introduced, he stayed over there, and we stayed over here. I will say he was a fairly good person, but don’t get me wrong; he is a good enough person, depending on one’s definition of good and enough.

My mom started sleeping over and I – for the first time in my life – found myself sleeping on an empty bed. Night after night I awaited her arrival with tears in my eyes and chills down my back. I was an only child and there was never “someone else” in my mother’s life to distract her attention from me. Inevitably, resentment grew. Jealousy filled my thoughts like beer quenched a drunk’s thirst (which he happened to be).

Shy of a year after the first introduction big news come bearing down on the Vivo household. She’s pregnant. Now I knew there was no hope of ever being free in my own home. They would stay together because the child bound them together. In a traditional household this would be looked down upon. Unmarried, not living together, merely a year of a relationship and here she is carrying his child. But no, this is the twenty-first century. Regardless, there were other obstacles besides social acceptance. He lived two cities away and in a one-room apartment. My mom and I also lived in a one-room apartment. If only we could’ve played Sims and joined the two.

Fast forward nine months and we’re living in our own house in Miramar. His true colors start to show. He’s a demanding sexist slob and he doesn’t know it yet. Spends nights out while my pregnant mother stays home bent over the toilet and crying due to painful hemorrhoids. He has the audacity to complain because dinner isn’t done at the time he arrives home from work. He has the cojones to ask why she doesn’t want parties inside the house. And he’s such a poor enough dog to seek advice among foreign doors.

Time passes and the household that was once full of hope and welcoming grace for a new baby is dreary. “Watch your mouth, we don’t want to make him mad.” Fights stem from miscommunication, quixotic expectations, and trivial remarks. It was a pattern. My mother is not the type of woman to take this sort of disrespect but in a country where friends might as well be enemies, she had to clench her jaw.

Thank god the perfect child was never the source for any of this. I didn’t want to feel culpable for their separation even thought it was imminent. Turns out “teen angst” and built up resentment don’t make a good combination for a prideful, bossy, and stressed out fifteen-year-old girl. I didn’t know I was acting the way I was until the consequences bit me in the behind.

“No, sorry. I either pick you up now or you have to wait for your mom until six.” Sigh. “Okay, alright. I guess I have no other option.”

Thirty minutes later I receive a text message.

“I’m here.”

I peek out of the window and see no sign of my stepfather’s car. I reply: “LIES, I DON’T SEE YOU!” and four seconds later pulls up a honking grey Chevy like it had stuck and there was no stopping it.

My blood instantly boils. I come outside fuming and ready to scream the words at the tip of my tongue. I circle around the small sedan, swing open the door, and throw my stuff inside.

“What the hell are you doing? Don’t you realize there are people here? People could hear your honks ten miles away! Why do you have to be so obnoxious? I swear you are the most annoying person I have ever met!”

In my rant I barely notice the car has moved a mere ten feet before swerving to the right in an empty parking lot and braking so fast I have to reassess what has just happened.

“Get out.”

“What do you mean? Lets just go home.”

“Get out.”

He stumbles to unbuckle his seatbelt but rapidly opens the door and circles the car in long strides to reach my side.

“Oh please you have to be kidding me.”

He opens the passenger door and screams until all the air has left a vacancy in his lungs.

“I SAID, GET OUT NOW!”

“Alright, alright.”

I picked up my book bag and laptop case off of the car floor and exited the car as if nothing had happened. I felt like any sudden movements would make the beast go on another rage.

“Tell your mother she can start picking you up from now on because I am DONE!”

I jerked at his voice and in what seemed like half of a second he had circled back to the driver’s side of the car and it was speeding off, leaving screech marks behind. My mind tried to organize what had just happened. He kicked me out of the car and now I could barely notice the curly brown locks of the little girl in the back seat and her voice calling me “tata” as the car sped away.

“But…but”

That was all my mind seemed able to formulate. Tears pickled at the edges of my eyes and I walked back to my friend’s house, book bag hanging on one shoulder, laptop case hanging onto my fingers by a sliver and the thoughts of what chaos this would bring upon an already troubled “family”.

For the first time ever, he screamed at me like men scream at each other before a fistfight. He kicked me out of the car and drove away with my little sister (even though she was the source of our predicament I love her with all my heart). For the first time, the inculpable and invisible teenage girl acknowledged she had an attitude problem. For the first time, she had to swallow her pride and ask for forgiveness. For the first time, she lost a bit of her integrity and asked for forgiveness from someone who had nothing to forgive because he behaved just the same. Nonetheless, needs surpass any type of dignity, integrity, or pride.

He seemed to forget just how much I had done for him at the time he had an excuse to act out. Regardless, this journey of resentment, miscommunication, fighting without a cause, taught me I needed an attitude change if I wanted to get farther in life. I had no other choice but to grow up and fight the battles that come after being raised as an only child. I want to be honest so I will admit; a good attitude will get you far in life at times when favors need to be paid up but being forceful and insistent has gotten me to where I am just fine. I realized I had to make a little amend in my personality and now I know how to use it to my advantage.

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Chasing a True Life

“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” 

In this millennium, today’s generation, how many people die wishing they had done more? Energy and time is spent trying to reach a goal that’s more important to our peers than us. Real value isn’t inculcated in children anymore; people are taught it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there.

It all starts in the home. I believe this is like education and respect, it starts all the way in the beginning and then builds up. Nowadays little kids just yearn for that new toy and for that sweet candy and to win at the little baseball leagues. Very little times infants get sad because grandma forgot to give them a big smooch on the cheek or mom forgot to lick her finger and fix their hair. From the very beginning, today’s kids ask and ask away for Christmas presents and birthday presents and that toy their daycare friend has that they don’t.

My daily routine: wake up, go to school, do homework, eat, sleep. I focus all my attention on grades because that’s what I’ve always been taught to do. I understand there is a goal I should be working towards. The common goal for everyone with big dreams – to go to a renowned university – but it’s always been my mother who drilled it in me. Morrie talks about doing the things that are really important like loving yourself and loving others but how can we do it if we’re constantly working to reach newer and bigger places?

I have always been taught to strive, sometimes no matter the consequences. I myself am one of those kids that was taught it’s a dog-eat-dog world and to not be scared to reach high. I am guilty of caring about myself more than others. I don’t give to the community around me just because they might get smart enough to surpass me on my way to the top. Giving love isn’t something I make time for and if I get some from my mom from time to time I guess that’s enough. I’ve always been a little independent woman since my diaper days and that’s made for a little harsh personality. I work towards a goal and tell myself after this I will be free and able to be a little more giving, heartier. The truth is, the cycle never ends.

“More, more, more” seems to be everyone’s mantra these days. The more we achieve the farther we want to go. It’s all about testing limits and seeing who we can beat in the process. From one perspective, this is what we were born to do. The Darwinian form of natural selection says the strongest and biggest survives and no animal ever thrived by devoting themselves to the community. Ambition can drive people crazy but it’s also what drives us and what makes the world go round. Because we chase these jobs and gifts and expensive materials is why the whole economy and work force exists.

All the time all around the around the world people are leaving their family and their quality time together with the thought that “if I just finish this one more and then I can have this wee bit more money then I’ll be fine”. Honestly, this never happens and so it never ends. I believe it takes a real detached and relaxed person to achieve the point of tranquility and purity that is essential for this mentality of giving to take on. I also believe 95% of the world isn’t capable of such things.

Future Reunion

We’ve been going over some sentence patterns with my English teacher and he wanted to see them in use so he assigned us a paper.

We have to write a letter as if it were 10 years from now at our high school reunion while using 10 patterns in the book The Art of Styling Sentences. (great book by the way, really has helped better my writing and all of Mr. Walpole’s classes have had great success with it)

Dear Jennifer,

It’s so sad you weren’t at our ten year Cambridge reunion. Please tell me all the babies are okay and you’ll be able to make the next one. We all missed you; the whole gang was there. So, tell me how New York’s been. I hear the winter’s been pretty aggressive this year but I know you rocked it with your fabulous heels and stylish dresses. I’m so glad you came out of your shell like Mrs. Borges predicted. Congratulations on getting together with that hunk of Hollister model husband. I’m delighted that you have a man who makes you happy like you’ve always deserved.

Well, let me tell you. You missed a heck of a reunion girl: there was drama, gossip, and laughter. Everyone arrived and made their entrance unique, fashionable, unforgettable. Cesar was late (as expected by all) but made a grand entrance with a modern time Evan Peters by his side. Girls in all corners of the room awed and sighed, screamed and screeched, tapped and trembled in amazement at his Adonis-like appearance. On the other hand, Tagoe got there fast and punctual but unaccompanied. Everyone wanted to ask but pity made them hold back. What do you think happened with his wife? We all made bets on whether she kicked him out of the house temporarily or for good. It must be all his late nights, perfumed shirts and lame explanations that got him to this point.

Let me fill you in on everyone else. Laura Romero – Mr. Walpole’s favorite student – married James Rodriguez and moved to Africa. She had two beautiful babies atop of a Tarzan style tree house and has lived among the gorillas ever since. Money, fashion, beauty, – these are the components of Christine Romero’s current lifestyle. She waltzed in with two sugar daddies, one for each arm but she wasn’t happy. She kept saying if she had the love, if she had the attention, if she had married a wonderful man she would be jovial but the wrong decisions in youth had lasting consequences. Some say that man was Mario but now we’ll never know. Carolina finally became a dentist after fighting it – fighting her calling to be in the health atmosphere. Getting all she ever wanted, Juanita now lives in the Hamptons with her NBA player of a husband and two precious mixed babies. A white husband everyone knew Juanita would never have.

Kaitlyn turned her life completely around but for the worst. She was a disgrace: a meth cooking addict who couldn’t hold it together. She lost her job at Apple Inc., the most prestigious of electronic companies with the pickiest of executives. All participants at the reunion made a silent prayer for her to become the intellectual Cambridge student she once was. Aisha went on to play professional tennis and be a basketball wife. The pictures of her at her husband’s games and vice versa are to die for.

Andres, just like Max and Anthony, built humongous companies based on the manufacture and software of drones. After the tension of competing between former friends they joined forces and took over the world while taking down Kim Jong-un, Vladimir Putin, and Raul Castro. Jeffrey on the other hand, realized engineering wasn’t the thing for him and moved into the food industry. He currently owns a chain of Chinese restaurants all around Florida.

As for myself, I also strived and achieved my dream of being a lawyer. In the meantime I married Brooklyn Beckham in France on a wonderful spring afternoon. We had a marvelous honeymoon in Greece and Italy exploring different cultures and customs. Oh, I almost forgot. We also had two little kids in England and have lived in London ever since. I travel a lot to Miami because Brooklyn’s father hosts so many soccer games there and we’re always invited. Don’t worry, I haven’t lost touch with my roots. I don’t think any Cuban can ever forget where they came from.

XOXO,

Daniela Morales.

What It’s Like to be Fifteen

Being fifteen is like being in coming of age hell. All those movies and books about it being the most dramatic point in your life are right; tears and emotions overcome you like an unstoppable ton of bricks. It usually feels like parents and friends and teachers are all against you. No one really understands how you feel and why you feel that way. Grades, family, college, social life – these are all things that need to be handled while in a state of overwhelming stress. In reality we’re all working towards one common goal: an easy way to pass high school.

Unwanted Feelings

I could say it was a one-time thing, and then maybe I’d actually be able to get over it and stop thinking about him but I can’t because he made me fall for him like I never have before.

It was a Saturday night and one of our mutual friend’s birthday party; a night to celebrate her advancing and enjoying teenage years. The last thing I expected was to see him there, especially because the reason things ended was him not having enough time to maintain a girlfriend and go out with said girlfriend, a.k.a me. It all started as a simple fling mainly because I was skeptical of his beautiful words and stunning compliments. He and his feelings seemed too good to be true and I had gone through these situations before to be so easily fooled. I mean really? A hot guy: nice clean haircut sitting on the head of an almost perfectly symmetrical face followed further down by strong, built arms and a perfectly toned stomach with that V shaped line at the bottom of his hips that could drive any girl crazy, and it did. Out of all his options and possibilities he picked me to talk to? Me to start sharing emotions with? It was an unbelievable thing but at the end the charming way in which he carried himself and the enormous amounts of flattery got the better part of my judgment and I didn’t even realize it.

We started going out to the movies, mall, sharing feelings and future goals, enjoying coffee in each other’s company and it was a gratifying feeling; at least for me. Somehow someway in those little moments he made me fall for him, his thoughts, his smile, his touch, and I was head over heels with no worries in my mind because I let myself think he felt the same. But then realization came down, at times it was hard to combine both our schedules with school and his tennis and my divided time with mom in one house and dad in another but we made it work, for about a month. Suddenly I noticed, two days had passed and he stopped sharing every detail of his life with me like we had both done since the beginning. Now he wasn’t telling me when he has busy, he just didn’t respond my texts, he saw my snapchats and didn’t reply; he wasn’t the same and I felt him distancing himself more every passing minute but I let it go because I knew he didn’t lead an easy life. Then, from one moment to the next he texted me “we gotta talk”. I instantly knew something was wrong and seconds later he just spills everything he had been brewing in his mind. “I have been very busy lately and barely had time for you and it’s just gonna get worse because I have tournaments coming up and I really don’t have time for a girlfriend”. At that point I accepted everything and didn’t blame him for what was going on. I had perceived the struggle with free time too.

Merely two days later he texted me again “ I miss you, I don’t care what I have to do to make time I will do anything, you have just become a too important part of my life to just keep you out like that, I need you with me” . I was skeptical once again but after a little debating I decided to let him back into my life and give myself a chance to be happy. Our friend Aisha’s party was that Saturday and just the thought of seeing him gave me butterflies in my stomach; I missed him so much after two weeks of anticipation.

About three days after our reconciliation my world falls down once again. “We’ve got to talk haha” as if the matter of ending what we had was funny business.  He quickly explained how he just couldn’t maintain both his social life with me, sport life and school life all at once. With every single text I received filled with excuses I became even more enraged. “Ugh go to hell, you are so bipolar and indecisive, I give up”. Those were the last words I ever directed towards him and he didn’t even take a bit of his precious time to respond.

Saturday comes around and it’s Aisha’s night; her time to be the focus of everyone’s attention. I arrive and the World Cup themed party is alive with people dancing everywhere, chit chat and loud music crowding everyone’s thoughts. My closest friends and I have a little photo session and a tiny skirmish about what soccer team is better, Colombia or Brazil.  Just as I’m dancing and letting go the birthday girl approaches me and whispers in my ear “so you’re not caught off guard, he’s is coming tonight”. In a matter of seconds I lost my breath, my stomach turned, my saliva got stuck in my throat and my mind reeled with feelings not exactly knowing which one to feel at that specific time. After I took a moment to recompose myself I thought “let’s just take this one step at a time”.

I was dancing with my back turned towards the door but suddenly everyone walks out of view and I notice some commotion going on behind me, he had arrived. I try to act all cool and collected but who was I kidding? All my closest friends instantly noticed my agitation; they could read it all over me, my heart beat had quickened, my palms got sweaty and I was jittery. After that moment caught me off guard I decided to forget about him and have fun. I danced, sang and jumped around with all my friends, at one point dancing closely with one boy in particular just to make him feel a ting of jealousy. I kept telling myself I didn’t care, he wasn’t worth it but somewhere along the way this beautiful boy made me fall for him and I found myself thinking about him now even more than when we were together. I saw him dancing with one of my friends and even though I tried to push it away I just couldn’t help but feel envious to the point of disliking her a bit. I could’ve been the poster person for a party kid but the way I saw him interacting with my friends I felt like he had trespassed into a new part of my heart, a dark one. We exchanged a few glances and even made eye contact which made me as happy as it made me sad; the consciousness that that was all there was, a simple glance. I was emotionally unstable and the sight of his hands hugging the waist of another girl as they danced bachata infuriated me.

As I headed home with my face plastered on my phone screen while I responded to my friends but really hoped that every “ping” the phone made was a notification from him a wave of awareness came over me; he didn’t care, we didn’t share one word the whole night, he was over me, he was a coward most of all but my heart still longed for him and the more the time passed the more I realized my heart literally ached for him.

The Things She Carried

As a sophomore in Cambridge, Kaitlyn was always on the move and being unprepared was not an option. In her book bag of endless depth she carried a five pound laptop with a red cover, a Stephen King fiction book, another fiction book, a notebook, a workbook, a black work folder, a black school-year agenda, a black cardigan and yet, there was more space. Inside one of the pockets there was a little bag with cosmetics, Kaitlyn cared about her public image more than was necessary. The little black and white bag inside her black book bag carried eyeliner and lipstick and lip gloss and lip balm and foundation and mascara and eye shadow primer but no eye shadow. Inside another pocket Kaitlyn’s book bag held she stored a smaller array but still school essentials such as two pencils, one red pen, one blue pen, one black pen, one yellow highlighter, one orange highlighter, a hair tie to keep them all together, a flash drive, an eraser, and dry white out to rapidly take care of the mistakes. She also had earphones, a wallet and keys. Kaitlyn’s life all together was a giant mess with family, school and teachers thrown in the mix but the one thing she had control of was her book bag. As organized as could be she held on to it for dear life in hope one day her goals were achieved and her life was as organized as she.

My Hands – A Detailed Story of the Things We Don’t Usually SEE

            My hands, rings, nail polish, scars, experiences and all, they’re my hands. Chipped black nail polish decorates each long and unevenly filed nail and even over the outlines, showing the little time in my life to keep them polished and lady like. Two rings on two of the five crooked fingers I possess, one on the promise finger and one on the index. I could be philosophical and psychological and say there’s an ulterior meaning hidden behind this (maybe I expect a great marriage in the future and maybe I know exactly where I’m headed) but even as a not so simple girl with intricate thoughts I can reassure you it’s just a sense of style. Scars on two knuckles which don’t necessarily represent the effect of anger or frustration but simply a type of fragile skin that’s sensitive to even the softest scratch. Green and blue lines, visible from a couple of feet away illustrate the blood flow, showing it is alive and it is me, a human being like any other. Then again, the little crooks and crannies grown bigger and noticeable as my hands strains and curls in exasperation brought upon by daily mountainous piles of schoolwork and high expectations proclaim I am a single and unique subject, only one in existence. A little hole here, a little bump there, those are the things that make my hands original and one of a kind, a part of me no one can replicate. These same hands are the same ones which once tightly held on to a passport and visa as they one day left everything and everyone they knew behind in search of a better future. My hands, my palms, sweaty when in an anxious and nerve wrecking situations, help me get to know myself better, a part private to the rest of the world where feelings and emotions are free to roam. These same hands are the ones which two years after dropping everything they knew, suddenly held a railing on a cruise ship on its way to a tropical island in the middle of the Caribbean. Enjoyed every delicacy the sea had to offer and then some more while the ocean water of a privately owned island washed up on the hands exploring the simplicity and serenity of the white sand that kept the sea’s every secret. These are the hands that on a warm summer day in Miami stayed inside the whole time to enjoy the turn of a page of any fiction book in close enough range. Blue pen marks, sometimes faded and confusable with veins are evidence of my passion for writing and its power to take me away to a world where there are no responsibilities and magic is an everyday occurrence as crime is in this devilish world. As my hands guide my writing they take me away in such a form that I don’t recall the moment when the ballpoint pen left the surface of the paper and introduced itself to my tanned skin. Smooth hands, a product of daily moisturizer creams, have attempted to play most sports known to man and equally failed but once protected my face from an ugly encounter with the floor of a hot basketball court while trying to steal the ball. Hands which have had their fair share of healing crash wounds whether it was a slip off a rock in a river on vacation resulting in such a scratch that little me thought death was just a couple of drops of blood away or a missed step down the stairs of freshman year on my way to last block or a simple broken heart, these hands have been there to wipe away the tears and to clap at every achievement and overcoming. They were the ones that along with my arms hugged and held family members after years of separation and longing. They were the ones to guide me through my first driving lessons and have, till this day kept me safe on a road where people spend more time texting than actually driving. These are the hands that I will hopefully take to my grave and until then they will continue to define me and the things I’ve been through.

“The Stranger on the Corner”

A strange person stood on the corner of the room. I spotted him, or her, as I walked by through the barely lit abandoned house. It was a man, distinguished by his buzz cut haircut and growing veins in his left forearm which pulsated every time he made the slightest movement. A black shawl covered his back, up to his elbow and down to his knees, the man clutched it as if it were his life. In a brief motion, it was revealed, his right arm was bleeding profusely. Drop after drop slid down his holed khaki cargo pants, one by one being absorbed before reaching his knees. Once, a droplet of blood fell down to his raggedy shoes and the strange man cursed as if his only problem was a blood stained boot. With the bit of breath I had, a gasp escaped my mouth and I was discovered as I stumbled for words to explain why I was creeping on an unknown man. I proceeded to turn on the lights as he turned around to reveal his true appearance. A grimy face was disclosed, worry and age lines dancing around his features as he processed the fact that he had been uncovered. A fine nose was at the center of an almost perfectly symmetrical visage, a harsh jawline shaping his face and full pink lips to complement it. Daunting blue eyes, almost green from the reflection of my blouse, sat right under thick eyebrows which seemed to almost want to curl into each other as he bombarded me with questions. As soon as I had time to compose myself I noticed his muscled torso covered by a green camouflaged shirt also perfused with blood stains and holes. His collected manner made it hard to assume all the blood spread throughout his clothes was his own. As he reached to turn the light back off his shawl slid off and there was revealed, a gunshot wound on his right shoulder with no obvious exit wound. His shirt was cut off at the arms, publicizing his commitment to a rigorous workout and colorful ink drawings. Various inked markings depicted an ensemble of crying women all around his bicep with names written across their foreheads and roses in their hands. I left, knowing I had encountered a broken man with no way to fix him.