This is my suicide letter that nobody will read

I’m alone – quite literally. I live by myself and there is nobody in the country where I live that even has my address other than 1 friend.

I don’t have family. I don’t have friends and nobody cares.

I’ve wanted to die my entire life. I tried to kill myself once before when I was 21. It didn’t go well. I drank some rat poison and then turned myself in to the hospital. They pumped my stomach and then put me in the psychiatric ward of a hospital. It was Christmas. I was by myself. Alone. Like I’ve been my whole life.

What I learned from that experience is that if you don’t get it right the first time, the outcome is horrendous. As a result, for years now I don’t know how to do it to ensure 100% that I will die. I hate blood and have a hard time thinking that I would be able to stab, puncture or cut myself. I’ve looked into hanging but they say if you don’t correctly setup the noose, it can be a long asphyxiation and in the end you could survive with permanent damage. A gun outside of the USA is hard to obtain. Prescription pills seems like the ideal way to go, but I don’t even have a doctor, so where would I get them?

All this to say, why does it have to be so difficult to die? Some of us are clearly not meant for this world. For my part, I was brought into it as a bargaining chip for a mother that was trying to snag a man. I definitely do not belong here – I should have been aborted and saved 41 years of pain.

Instead I live. With pain. Unwanted. Disdained. Irrelevant to everybody and anybody. The family has all but disowned me, except for my grandmother who just sees me as the hurt 5 year old that she used to care for and my mother whom to some extent is plagued with guilt. I think my mother would be relieved, actually, if I were finally dead. No more relieved than I would be, but certainly it would ease her discomfort from knowing she has such a miserable, despicable child for which to some extent she still has to “worry” about.

I just don’t belong here, in the world, among humans. That is clear. I have no self esteem, no self-love. I am not self-aggrandizing; I don’t think that I deserve things and when I go after basic life necessities like a job, I am rejected, rejected, rejected.

This is not a woe is me, pity party blog. Nobody is going to read this, so I am writing the truth.

I want to die and I cannot for the life of me figure out how to do it so that I achieve my goal.

The Anti-American Rant

I absolutely abhor the United States of America. I’ve always felt this way, for as long as I’ve known that there is somewhere else I could be and would rather be. For as long as I’ve felt the struggle of being an immigrant in a country that feeds you lies about achieving success through hard work, only to find out no matter how hard you work  success is elusive and reserved for the elite few. For as long as I’ve felt with every fiber in my being that there was something wrong with not having access to basic rights like healthcare, education and job security. I’ve always wanted to get away from this country. My high school “most likely to….”  was “…live in another country”.

My current intolerance is as a result of having lived in Europe for 6 years and of making the fatal error of returning to the true “shithole” country, to Trump’s contradiction, which is this place. Never mind, how and why and I ended up back here. The details are complex. The fact is, I know what it is like to live in a country with better standards for its residents and my mind is in complete rejection of the USA that fallacies as the “greatest country on earth”. The paradox, the oxymoron, nay the mind-fuck that is that statement, blows my mind each passing hour that I continue to reside here. Who believes that shit? It is so illogical to me as an accepted belief, that I imagine it belongs to the American who is stupid enough to be complacent or whose ardent nationalism causes them to refuse to admit to the dysfunction in which they live. As Marx stated, religion is the opium of the masses and Americans are nothing if not zealot nationalists. Their religion is their pride in country and flag, regardless of the fact that their ruling leaders have actually created a country of struggle and not of equality. In fact, it is directly a result of who and how the group of religious heretics, known as the Puritans, left England. They escaped with the motivation that they were “different” and “unique” from their peers in the old country, to found a new world, thus why exceptionalism reigns supreme in this land. Americans are always right, and their world is always the best. They believe it is their God-given gift to be so. This messaging is reiterated over and over throughout time and found everywhere in this society. The end result is a people who are self-righteous, egomaniacal and and self-serving. Humility is not a trait of the people of this country.

WEALTH GAP

The fact that people moan and complain and yet do nothing or very little to address the gross injustices and inequalities that is there American system, has convinced me that this place is NOT WORTH A DAMN.  Most people in this country work multiple jobs, I find that this is disproportionately distributed amongst certain racial groups, age groups and of course immigrant minorities. Income inequality continues to rise and is at an all time high over the past 50 years. CEO pay has grown so exponentially compared to the lowest rank employees of organizations, the real heart and hands, that it is astounding that nothing has been done about it, but as most Americans still think that if you’ve reached such a high level position, you have the right to whatever amount of money you demand, this is no surprise. The top 0.1% of the wealth makes 342% more than the bottom 40%. Yet, everyday people are busting their ass and hustling to live paycheck to paycheck and make ends meet.

HEALTHCARE

As I’ve lived here for the past 12 months, I see how unhappy people truly are, paying out of pocket for egregious amounts of health insurance, which is mandatorily complied on them. As a contractor (freelance) employee, I pay nearly $1800 a month just for access to a healthcare plan for myself and spouse. The plan allows us to seek out providers that are in network and to whom we are responsible for paying out of pocket for visits, Rx, tests or bloodwork and of course any procedures or surgeries. These are not cheap. Depending on our state of health, we are minimally paying an additionally $20,000 per year and easily $10000 more, if we need specialized procedures and exams paid out of pocket to comply with our $4000 deductible. Since 1960, the cost of healthcare in America has risen faster than annual income. In 2017, it was estimated that the U.S. spent $3.5 trillion on healthcare or 17.9% of gross domestic product. Despite this egregious amount of spent, there are still, as of 2018, 27.5 million Americans without health insurance. You hear stories of people denied access to health in critical condition because they are uninsured or conversely admitted to hospitals who then are burdened with hundreds of thousand of dollars of debt for services rendered. Even for those who pay for their healthcare or whose employers pay, the services are poor, access is limited and it is always a struggle to navigate the bureaucratic nightmare that is finding a “PCP” primary care physician before being able to get any specialized or specific attention.

EDUCATION

Education is a business in America. It is pushed down every young persons throat as though they are to be shamed for choosing a different path. That is because “going to college” is an opportunity for big corporation to capitalize on every able-bodied human that resides in this country– even the undocumented ones. They may be undesirable to the government and extremist right wing groups, but at the end of the day, universities still want to give them loans in massive amounts for their higher education. That’s right, if you are an illegal immigrant, you can still get private student loans so long as you have a social security number and are willing to sign loan terms that could not be more unfavorable and border on unethical. People are tools in this faux-democracy, to be used and abused as entities of corporations to suck dry and straddle with debt. The cost of public education is on the rise and private universities have the audacity to charge as much $75K for tuition and fees in one year! Consequently the student loan debt in America has reach all time highs to the tune of $1.41 trillion or more. The average college graduate inherits roughly $33,000 in student debt, a sum which balloons over the life of its repayment, which could easily end up being 2 to 3 times that amount with deferments and interest accrued. This amount increases as society and the corporation continuously push for more and more education to qualify people from even getting a job. Not only is a Bachelors degree required for most jobs, but now without a Masters degree one is uncompetitive and stands very little chance of success, especially in the business world.

WORK AND NO LIFE BALANCE

Americans are obsessed with work. Arbeit mach frei, a slogan from the Nazi concentration camps in Auschwitz and Dachau, is the anthem of the bloody freaking U.S.A. I am one of the most hard working, diligent, efficient and meticulous people, thanks in no small part to having been raised as an immigrant in the America; however I appreciate that if you work hard you should be granted the privilege to relax and play hard. Americans have no idea what it means to take a breathe, pause and smell the roses and enjoy life. Unfortunately because of all the aforementioned inequality, they cannot know what work-life balance is. This is depressing. Despite the rhetoric and propaganda of corporations that they are establishing one for their employees, the truth is they are full of BULLSHIT. There is no balance, Americans live to work, their very existence depends upon it. The average full time American worker puts in minimally 40 hours per week and more realistically closer to 50. This is the norm. They receive 2 weeks or 10 days vacation in the entire year but as there is no federal legal mandate in the U.S.A requiring employers to provide their employees with paid time off, many people receive nothing; nada; zippo. If they take time off, then they don’t get paid. The frenzied energy of the USA is overwhelming. There is seldom a day of proper rest. The work week and the weekend meld into each other as businesses are open all days of the week. The few holidays that are officially a day where there is no business, primarily Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, are less and less observed as days when business shut down. Things never stop. It is a constant humdrum of work, work, work.

Despite the facts and the anecdotal evidence that I’ve lived, it is impressive how delusional Americans are; rather I would say they truly optimize the expression that ignorance is bliss. I suppose otherwise, you would have a country of depressed, angry people.

I’ve lived this horror story already once as an immigrant from a third world country who came to the USA as a child and had to struggle through discrimination, bullying, unfair access to education and scholarships. I had to fight from an early age to “prove myself” because I was a female, from a foreign country and whose parents spoke broken English. I was called names; we were told to return to where we came from; we were expected to fail. Yet, in my nature I took all the strife of the American life as an opportunity to rise! I was an excellent student both in high school and college. I graduated top of my class.  I came from a humble background, but I was wise enough to learn about the world and became fluent in multiple languages. I traveled and studied people and culture and what I observed from early on was that there was  world out there with so many more and better opportunities than America had to offer.

As soon as I received my EU passport thanks to my paternal grandfather, I was elated and felt a sense of freedom never before experienced. I left hurriedly from the U.S. because I had been waiting since I was 17 to go; I was 34 when I departed.

This return has me once again shackled. The greatest lesson is that once you leave here, you ought never to return. In fact, likely the reason Americans are so compliant is because they simply do not know any better. Sure, they are a rich country and many people travel, but they travel with a colonizer mindset; with an ingrained belief system that wherever they are going is exotic and different and although to be enjoyed on a holiday, is just never as good as “home”. Frankly, I just can’t care anymore why people here are so complacent with their situation, which is incredibly bleak. I can no longer empathize with a people that cannot help themselves, or actively choose not to.

In order to be freed, I need to leave the United States of America (again), as soon and as quickly as possible.  It is my path to sanity, recovery and some semblance of a life, and this next time I am NEVER coming back, not even to visit.

No Man is an Island……..

…..entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

I feel as though I am an island alone in the vast ocean of sea. I feel as though I’ve been abandoned in the desert to try and navigate across this barren land alone facing all the obstacles that such a natural phenomenon can devise.

We are not meant to be alone as human beings. We are individual but we are born into family, society and country. Some of us have had the luck of being born into a wonderful family; to be integrated into our society; to feel a belonging to our country.

Others, like myself, have had less fortune. We become either pillars of strength, learning to withstand of all the challenges and difficulties of life on our own; or we fall in the face of such overwhelming adversity which we are humanely not meant to suffer on our own.

Personally, I don’t know why I developed such inner strength. I think it is intrinsic to my very being. My godmother tells the story of my birth which was a tumultuous and scary time for my mother. I was born in Guatemala in the late 1970’s and as my mother lay in the hospital ready to give birth, the doctor’s discovered that I had managed to get her umbilical cord wrapped around my neck. Essentially, I could suffocate to death before even breathing life. In that time, in that place modern medicine did not exist and could not detect the precarious nature of the situation in time. So whilst my mother entered labor and reported to the hospital on the morning of the 28th June, I was not born until the subsequent evening on the 29th of June. That means I spent more than 24 hours being nearly strangled before they performed an emergency C-section.

My godmother says Eres una luchadora, siempre lo has sido. You are a fighter, you always have been.

I’ve carried this sense of strength with me my entire life, even saving myself from premature death by suicide at age 22. Even though I am strong, I am still vulnerable; I am still human and I still need to feel that I am cared for.

Yet that is the cruel and yet accurate dichotomy into which my life has entered. The unwonted truth to which I must reconcile myself and that is: when you are a strong individual, when you have had to develop a tough exterior to protect yourself from life, the world and those humans around you are incapable of seeing who you truly are on the inside. They are left only with the impression that you are completely capable of taking care of yourself, and they leave you alone.

This is the great travesty that comes with being not weak, but strong. That although I am capable on my own, I seek and crave the acceptance and care of others. I wish that I could be part of my family, belong to a society and have a sense of identity that comes with a greater group. Conversely, because I do not publicly or openly manifest myself as needing care, neither family nor society nor country ever sees my need or perhaps by the time they do they cannot believe it to be real.

I’ve spent so much of my time developing such a persona, that I have left myself with nobody but myself. I have very little access to my family whom I’ve left geographically at a distance; I have faded and distance friendships with few people who have actually cared to know me for someone deeper than the hard shell on the outside;  I have separated myself from any national affiliation and consequently and significantly void a sense of belonging to anybody other than self. No man is island, but I am at best an isthmus. Connected to humanity by own condition of life, surrounded by deep dark waters that surround me to exile from others. Nobody dare traverse the murky waters toward me, the firm mass of existence that sits amidst and I endures on uninhabited.

All Alone

I think I’ve felt alone and not belonging to anyone or anywhere for pretty much my entire life. I do not have any recollection of any point in my life where I felt comforted or secure in the people or place around me.

It started with my family. We are all brought and born into this world by a pair of people.  Stable and well adjusted people are fortunate to have been brought into the world by two loving parents who at some level, recognized that having a child meant giving of themselves. I was conceived unintentionally and then carried to term and brought to life to either be abandoned or to serve others. Literally. My mother had me because she wanted to fill the void that my father could not. She has explicitly told me that when she found out she was pregnant, she decided to keep me because she wanted to be loved by someone. Conversely, my father at a young age told me to my face that the reason he had never been in my life  was because he had never wanted to have any children. When he found out I was to be born, he was clear he wanted nothing to do with me and that included being completely uninvolved in my life.When I was 11, idolizing a father that I thought would some day come charging into my life on a white horse, he instead came unannounced to visit me and shared with me these pearls of wisdom that were the truth about how I came into being.

I grew up until age 5 an only child. I don’t recall whether I had a happy early childhood but I do remember succinctly the moment it became horrifically traumatized forevermore. My mother finally married and with it came the misfortunate of being at the mercy of an abusive alcoholic stepfather who decided that I was an excellent punching bag for all his own personal angst. From age 5 to age 12, I do not have a single happy memory. I remember tortured punishments, beatings, yelling, screaming, bleeding and feeling like how could I be such a bad person to deserve it all. My mother would try to intervene, but she would then just become the target of a pummeling fist instead.

I remember my stepfather would always reiterate to me “you are a worthless piece of shit”. It was his most favorite expression hurled at me. I heard it so much, I learned to believe it. There was no counterbalance of love, of affirmation of being told that what he said was not true. My mother never said anything to me at all.

The only person in my entire life from whom I have felt unconditional and true love is mi abuelita, my maternal grandmother. From a young age, on the rare occasions that I would see her over the summer or winter, she would just take me in her arms, embrace me and kiss me and tell me I was special and that I was her favorite. These were moments of pure bliss for me, of the tiniest hope in belief that I actually deserved to be loved, by someone, for no other reason than just because I was myself. Mi abuelita has been selfless to me.

At age 12 in one of those rare moments of extreme rage that signaled a severe beating by my stepfather, I decided to run away. I opened the window in the bedroom where I had been grounded and I just ran, convinced that had I stayed the next beating would have been the beating of a life and possibly death. After spending time in foster care and with an adopted family, at age 15, mi abuelita at the age of 68, came to be my guardian. She used her small welfare check to pay for an apartment for us to live. I started working full time that summer to pay for our food, my clothing and school needs. It was a humble existence and one which depended on me at a very early age making my way in life, paying for the things that most young people have parents to provide. I had my grandmother and myself. I remember she didn’t drive; had never gotten behind the wheel of a car. In that first year, she learned how to drive, just so she could take me to places we needed to go.

With the background of my upbringing, I became a person who does not know how to do anything but give a 150% at everything I do.  When I was young, I had no choice but to survive. In high school, I worked full time every day after school from 4-11pm. I also excelled academically pursuing honors and gifted classes and graduating in the top 2% of my class.

In college and grad school, I performed in pretty much the same way. Always taking on the challenging curriculum while maintaining a high grade point average and working full time. I graduated with distinction from my Bachelors and subsequently completed two Masters degrees by the age of 25. At one point in those years, I tried to take my life.  I was at the brink of desperation; alone in New York City, broke, 100lbs of anxiety, stress and bone and I just didn’t think I could take it anymore. I had to save myself, went to the ER alone, got my stomach pumped alone and woke up 5 days before Christmas alone in the psychiatric ward of a sterile New York hospital.

Nobody noticed my failure. Nobody noticed my accomplishments. Life just went on, as did I all alone. I never told mi abuelita about this  as I knew it would break her heart.

I’ve always felt I have to prove myself, to be worthy of the recognition of peers and as an adult, of colleagues. Despite this, I’ve never felt as though I were accepted, anywhere or with anyone. I was bullied in my secondary school years and in university I was only able to find some semblance of “belonging” by not fully being myself. Amongst my family, I was always the black sheep or the dark secret problem child that ran away from home. My father and I do not speak. My mother keeps in touch so that she can ask for money as needed, I have one younger sister who has ostracized me and decided that I damaged her as a child and one baby sister who has her own family to attend to.

The only one that remains as the only true love of my life is my grandmother. The truly only other soul who will forever be linked to mine. She is 94 this year. As I write this, I cry with the knowledge that when she is gone, I will literally be nothing to nobody.

The “friends” that I have made, are far and few between. Most of them I met when I was a young 20-something with some version of a foolish notion that I could be happy in life. I went out a lot, had a “good” time and thus made connections with others based on one version of who I was. As long as I could make people feel good, they were keen to be in my life.

Today, in the face of my turmoil and solemnity, they are nowhere to be found. When I’ve tried to share my pain and my woes, they have found it to be all too much and thus I’ve been left alone and isolated. They do not know why I am down and depressed. They suggest that I just get over it. I am after all an adult and as an adult, shouldn’t we all just overcome the childhood traumas that were inflicted on us? It seems I cannot. Where others have succeeded, I have regressed. I cannot blame others for not wanting to involve themselves in my life. Everyone has their own lot to deal with, it is only natural that your friends are meant to be your escape, the good time, the celebration of our existence.

I’ve been scarred by living a life completely void of my own self interests; instead I’ve been in self preservation mode for as long as I can recall that I do not know any other way to operate.

More recently, over the past 8 years, I’ve loved somebody who is tortured, pained and broken but whom I cannot help. Feeling a sense of identification with a kindred spirit, I dove heart first into this relationship; but it has run its course and on the way, I sadly fallen further into my own abandonment and self neglect. To be honest, I do not think I’ve ever really known how to take care of myself, to give to myself, to be good to myself. I do not know what that means.  I went to therapy for a period of 5 years once in my late 20’s to early 30’s. It was perhaps the most stable time in my life.

And so we come full circle, to understanding how deep my exile from any one or any place. In the light of the severe dysfunction that has been an unhealthy relationship, I find that I have become all but a mere shell of a person; a ghastly apparition of a human being.

Perhaps the only way to truly live, is to die to who I am today and hope that a better version of myself awaits me in the next life………….

Broken promises

I never thought it would happen to me. In fact, I specifically promised myself as a child that it wouldn’t. I suppose nobody imagines being in a long term relationship with an alcoholic; but for me it was so much more than that. It was a vow to not repeat the horrors of my childhood. Yet, at 38 years old I find myself despairingly living alongside the very poison that destroyed me as a kid and that continues to haunt me long into adulthood.

I grew up with an alcoholic and abusive stepfather. Mine was a traumatic childhood. I wouldn’t necessarily say that alcoholism and abuse go hand in hand, but in my stepfather’s case they most certainly did. There was my sober stepfather, who was an intelligent, hard working and professional human being. He invested in teaching me and educating me and pushing me to excel in school, instructing me with manners and how to speak impeccable English. Then there was my alcoholic stepfather, who was a completely different man. In fact, to me, he was a monster. He would drink, heavily, and then yell and scream and beat me. I was accused of being a brat, I was told I was worthless a “piece of shit” and then I was thrown against walls, pummeled in the head and made to bleed. From age 5 to 12 I suffered in this existence, until finally one day, I was convinced it would be the beating of my life, and I didn’t want to die. So I ran. I didn’t know where; I didn’t know what would happen; I just knew I had to escape.

From that day on, the day I liberated myself, I made myself a vow. I would never, ever again be around an alcoholic. The truth is, the illness ran in the family. My grandfather, who died before I was born, was an alcoholic as were both my uncles. One is many years sober, and the other, well he was never an abusive or violent alcoholic, but nonetheless the disease consumes him and pulled apart his family. I wanted nothing to do with alcohol. I left my family, my mother and my sisters at 12 years old, to save myself from its evil reach.

I spent the rest of my life without any further direct contact with alcoholism. Of course, there were years of counseling, therapy and psychiatry to help me with the trauma caused by my upbringing, but there was no longer any oppression from having to know or love someone that drank so heavily. I felt like I would make it in life, until as fate would have it at 32 I would meet and then later marry an alcoholic.

I fell in love. I met this kindred spirit who spoke to mine. We shared a strong intellectual connection and also emotionally we were akin. I thought I was lucky to find someone who would see me for who I was and love me nonetheless. I felt I would always do the same. Signs of his heavy drinking surfaced early on. One of the first dates we went on was a group house party, something I used to love to do, and of course there was plenty of booze at such parties. My spouse got so drunk that night that as I drove him back to his apartment, he stumbled out of the car and up the steps to his front door and I thought immediately “Damn, I really liked this one”. It was instinctive. My automatic response was that I could not continue in the relationship. It was clear to me that in order to get that drunk, there was something inherently wrong. Perhaps I should have stuck to my gut and just turned off the phone or ignored his subsequent text messages. I didn’t. I wanted to give him a chance. I wanted to be proven wrong and be told that his behavior was exceptional, that it was completely out of the norm. I talked to him and this is exactly what he said. He lied.

I’ve spent the last 6 years of my life with two people. One person is kind and warm and gets the inner most parts of me that nobody else knows. He is intelligent and articulate, well read and thought provoking. He understands me and listens to me and gives me great affection and love. The other person, is a monster. Not the same kind of monster as my stepfather, but rather one that is intent on his own self destruction and often unconcerned with the wake he leaves in his path towards that end. There is no physical harm done unto me,  but there is violence as the stupor of my husband’s drunken state leads to increased fury at the injustices of the world. The beating occurs to his own body as his fist makes contact, often with a wall, furniture, metal, mostly all inanimate objects and conversely himself.

The sad thing about this disease is that often, it plagues the souls of the most tortured and pained. My stepfather passed away when I was 31, he was ravaged by cancer and death took to him very slowly and without mercy. I remember crying profusely at his funeral. I cried, not because of my memories of him but because I knew the torment he inflicted on himself from his own unresolved and brutal childhood far exceeded any that I had suffered at his hands.

This is also true of my alcoholic husband. I don’t love that he is an alcoholic, in fact I hate that; I love him because deep down he is a hurt and conflicted little boy who is hopeless and despaired. He turns to drinking to mask the pain he feels inside, and deep down inside me the hurt little girl wants to reach out and hold the little boy’s hand and let him know he is not alone. I understand him so profoundly, I know exactly what it is like to grow up in a dysfunctional family. I mourn for his own tarnished childhood, perhaps even more than I’ve ever mourned for mine.

I am ashamed, I feel guilty and so depressed. I broke a promise I made to myself a long time ago. A promise that I would never again suffer in the hands of alcoholism; that I would never again see it’s horrendous face, mocking at me. Yet, it is that face that I see now several times a week, devouring my otherwise handsome husband’s visage. I hate that face.

Regardless of how much empathy and sorrow I share with his situation, I can no longer continue to enable him. I’ve done it now for far too long. I’ve cared for him and picked him up so many times when has stumbled inebriated at a restaurant, at an event, at the beach or any public forum. I thought it was caring for him, but now I realize it’s allowing him to never fully get the help he needs.

And so, although I love my spouse, I have to do right; right by me and right by him. Living like this is no longer right and I cannot keep breaking promises that I had vowed to keep.

Career Luck and Playing the Lottery

Do you like your job? Are you doing what you love? Are you doing what you studied or do you find yourself in a job wondering how you got there?

I think the difference between a job and a career is that the former is a means to pay your bills and the latter is a professional path that allows you develop your talent and skills providing you fulfillment, enjoyment and satisfaction while being appropriately remunerated.

Many people if not arguably most, have jobs. Some select people have careers. Those who have careers may or may not be happy or satisfied in them. It seems that a career should be a path that allows you to sharpen your natural skills and talents while developing competencies and capabilities that will make you better at executing the tasks and responsibilities of your role. Presumably most people in careers have gotten there because they’ve specifically sought out that particular career. However I think some of us fall through the cracks.

Personally, I had a very clear vision of the career I desired at age 22. I graduated with a B.A. degree and pursued my M.A. with a very specific purpose in mind. I moved to New York City with the goal of studying Communications and working in Advertising. I knew exactly the path I wanted to take which included working on the agency side initially in either account management or media planning. My medium term plans included exploring different functions in Advertising and potentially working client-side as well. My long term goals were to develop a global career where I could leverage my multilingual abilities and work internationally within the Communications industry. I had everything so thoughtfully planned out. I pursued (unpaid) internships in NYC that would allow me to gain the appropriate experience. I worked arduously nights and weekends to pay for school while pursuing a rigorous academic schedule. I worked hard and I believe that this alone would garner me my career objective.

It never happened, but life sure did. 9/11, a devastated economy which hit the communications industry particularly hard and my own social-economic limitations which forced me to work just to survive in the big apple shattered my young early 20’s something ambitions.

Fast forward 16 years later and I have instead accepted job after job based on necessity. Eventually I “fell into” the tech industry “career” in which I am today.

I’m incredibly gifted in public speaking, copy writing (in multiple languages). I have a lot of great ideas and I am very creative. I like to present in front of people, work in environments in which I am interacting with people directly to impart knowledge or brainstorm ideas full of imagination and purpose. I like to blog. I like to talk and socialize with others and I am very good at networking. I worked as an instructor and trainer and have enjoyed the interactions those roles granted me.

My day to day job responsibilities include working in isolation in front of a computer screen configuring technical solutions. I follow a specific process that does not allow for much creativity and spent most of my time solving problems by myself. I don’t talk much but instead listen to client demands via long distance phone calls. Based on industry demand, I organize, structure and define processes to support all the work that needs to be done. I used to have some opportunities to operate as a trainer and facilitator but more and more my role turns to an operational task manager.

I wish I could create a time machine and go back to my 22 year old self to warn me to never give up on my dreams even if it meant living as a “starving artist” for awhile. To have more optimism and hope that I could achieve my optimal career. To fight for my dreams because they were the one thing worth chasing.

Instead I am thinking that my best change at this stage in my life is to play the lottery.

The communication nazi….no talk to you

That is me, and just like in the famed Seinfeld episode- one of the best and most poignant episodes in television history – unless you fall in line exactly per my communication process you risk being denied any communication at all. We all know of course that the Soup Nazi’s soup was so good that it was well worth submitting to what some might call the “fascist” manner in which he ran his establishment. Well the analogy follows in my communication- it’s so good- that in order to achieve a relationship with me you must follow that style; yes I realize that this means that I think I am that fabulous, that worth getting to know so as to require such stringent communication protocol. When the soup is good the soup is good.

I love words- clear, direct, honest words that the emitter speaks with sincerity. I am supremely skilled in using words in such fashion. One of my friends- a frenchman  -and I initiated our friendship in this way. I was looking for a room to rent while living in Cambridge Massachusetts about 9 years ago. I found an ad on the famed craigslist posted by this guy Olivier, so I attended his open house to view the place. Olivier was charming in a geeky, fun loving, English-speaking-with-heavily-accented-French kind of way. His place, however, was a shit hole. My follow-up email after viewing the flat went something like this :

Salut Olivier, Merci pour me montrer l’appartement mais franchement c’était le bordel. Toi par contre je trouve tres sympa. Veux -tu te rencontrer pour prendre un cafe un de ces jours?

We are still  friends to this day thanks in great part to this email– so clearly my superior skills with words worked- I think he found my honesty refreshing and what’s moreover it is cross cultural.

I also like immediacy in communication and I believe the most direct way of sending and receiving verbal communication with a higher rate of immediate return is via text. I don’t really call people because seemingly very few of my family and friends pick up the phone when I call. I don’t leave messages because when people leave me a message I rather tend to ignore it- I just call back and ask what is they called about. Therefore I send  texts. If I send you a text I expect you to text me back. Today. Within the hour. Preferably within 5 minutes. Don’t worry I do not spend my time texting about banal topics. My texts are very specific, to the point and leave no doubt as to the intent of my communication.

Below a series to my friend Henrique.

Desaparecido, ¿cuándo nos vemos?

¿Hello? ¿Nunca me respondiste a mi texto anterior

¿Llámame ya!

He never replied.  I wonder how he has been doing? How am I ever suppose to know if he doesn’t reply to my texts???!!! Maybe he will get to reading this blog.

Hola Henrique, ¿verdad que me has abandonada? No te preocupes yo todavía te quiero mucho porque soy una gran persona.

Finally I like people to be precise and to the point in their communication, not need to go on and on with nervous dribble. When I ask people how their evening or weekend was I just want them to summarize in about 2-3 sentences max. Why elaborate? If I need more information I will prod you for it, in the meantime when the words coming out of my mouth are “How was the event” or “How was your weekend” an acceptable answer would be as below:

Great, I really enjoyed the concert because the artist is one of my favorite and he played all his old hits.

Good, I spent it relaxing at home with my (insert title of friend or family member) and I am feeling refreshed.

You can very succinctly express not only how but also  why   it was that way or what specifically was done while still keeping it short and sweet. In fact, in theory the question is really only concerned with the feeling, so the sample responses are even generous in elaboration, there is really no need to extend beyond into a description of the entire event or weekend. For that people should write a book or keep a journal! Waste not words, that is my motto. Somehow I am having a bit of a difficult time really making myself understood on this topic in Spain, but I am sure eventually people will come around to better communicating using my approach– after all it is cross cultural.

So there you have it. The communication recipe is mine and it makes for one fine tasting stew. I wonder what ever happened to the Soup Nazi? He must have gone on to open a whole chain of successful businesses, don’t you think?

Love is a many seasoned thing

Spring has been late to arrive in Boston- today as I left the house there were finally signs of flowers in bloom, cherry blossoms flittering through the air in unknown trajectory from whence they fell to their final resting place elsewhere on the ground.

Of course with spring, warmer weather, the intoxicating perfume of the flora and fauna in maturation  humans can’t help but seek out coupling. They search for that other member of the opposite sex or same sex who can warm their hearts and make the blood rush to certain nether regions. The flowers and bees are pollinating, birds are mating and we are overwhelmed with this urge to fall in love and seek companionship with someone with whom to share the birth of a new season.

Last Sunday- on Easter-  I purchased a bike in Jamaica Plain from one of those mom and pop hole in the wall shops. The guy that runs the place is the archetype hippy: a progressive, left leaning free loving JP fellow. His entire body is covered in tattoos, he is missing 3 or 4 front teeth, his hair could easily serve as nesting home to any of a species of small birds and he stinks profusely, probably due to his adamant refusal to wear deodorant. I’ve been told he is usually a relented curmudgeon and  not a smiling man. Sunday with the 70 degree weather and the sunshine poking through the perpetual bed of of clouds that has resided above the atmosphere in Boston I found him incredibly cheery, upbeat and more than willing to be helpful. His girlfriend was in the shop with him- and he even made direct mention to the generally amorous mood that many of the other fellows in the neighborhood found themselves in now that spring had arrived and many were coupling.

I wonder however– is love founded during this time of natures rebirth a state purely prompted by the biological path that she sets before us? Is this sort of love predestined to follow suite under mother nature’s guise, reaching it’s apex in the sweltering steamy months of summer,  maturing in intensity to shades of golden brown, deep yellow and burnt orange before perishing at the cold touch of winter’s kiss?

I wonder if anybody has ever done research to determine what percentage of relationships that initiate during the spring end in that same year’s winter months. It would be interesting to attribute a statistical mean to my theory.

I have friends who have found love at summer end and from what I can determine those relationships last well into at least a full year.  I think this is due to the fact that  the couple has not explored all of the seasons of love together and having begun their love at the end of summer they are curious to experience the full heat of their passion in the next summer.  They progresses through the charm of fall and into winter and when spring finally arrives they hungrily partake in the intoxication of the season and of course this propels them straight into summer again.  After which I think either these couples persist secure  in the knowledge that they have been together one solid year or having experienced the full cycle of emotions perhaps become disillusioned that having now spent an entire year together the passion they experienced the year before at the cusp of summer  is the full extent of what they will experience together as a couple and this leaves them unsatisfied.

And what of relationships that commence during the bitter months of winter? This is a time where from a biological standpoint even we as humans are inclined to hibernate. We may not go hide out like bears in a cave sleeping for 5 months however, I notice of myself that I sleep a lot more, don’t go out as often and seek the comfort of my home,  a warm cup of tea or hot chocolate and the embrace of a comfty blanket and a good book. At first the winter months are cozy even to spend by oneself, but as they prolong one craves, needs the heat of another human being to snuggle up against, a companion to spend the isolating weeks while the snow falls, the wind blows while the two find warmth entwined in each other’s arms. These relationships may stand the greatest chance of long term survival. As the time spent indoors during those fundamental beginning months permits for an increased time of intimacy, of sharing your thoughts and feelings that would not likely be as possible during other times of the year when the lure of  worldly activities and the favorable weather keeps you otherwise engaged and may not allow you as much time spent just one on one as a couple. Once winter concludes, and spring begins I think these relationships are more solid in their foundation. There may be a greater sense of knowing each other and in the spring the intoxication of the season further ferments the intensity of feeling that these two people share. They are propelled into summer with that strength of intensity and the heat of that season brings out their most passionate side. It’s possible therefore that as fall commences, these relationships are so well amped from the previous seasons and already accustomed to the impending winter that they are the most likely to succeed.

I am of coursed wholly biased in my perception because my own deeply felt, intimately connected and head-over-heels in love relationship began in winter. I met someone with whom I could share my heart as he shared his heart, his home and the warmth of his bed with me. As we progress now into spring our relationship blossoms from a state of cocooned intimacy into a intoxicating state of growth and self-assurance- from whence this theory stems.

Regardless, it is definitely in the spring when it is the easiest to find that love connection- if you haven’t already. Even if you don’t fall head over heels in love with the defining individual of your life– I am arguing that the spring time is the most susceptible time for finding love. It may not be a forever love but  it’s definitely the easiest for finding companionship and someone with whom to share your time in anticipation of all the wonderful activities that the await you in the warmer months. Maybe even for a lucky few true love can happen too.

Women in power….a smart idea?

Woman have been in power for a long time– if we think of the most ancient of times, Cleopatra was Queen during Egyptian rule and that was a long time ago.

In more modern days, women in positions of political power- heads of state, government ministers etc have certainly become more prevalent. If Americans continue doing their part they may well have a woman president next. Now as to the intelligence or competence of said woman candidate, well that’s hugely, hugely debatable. She is however pretty- -which is what makes men stupid. Alas I digress.

Women in the workplace seemingly still struggle to penetrate into executive positions- because let’s face it breaking the glass ceiling is all about climbing to that highest seat of power. According to the Harvard Business Review, of the top 100 Best Performing CEOs in the world only one is a woman- Margaret C. Whitman- CEO of eBay. That’s a 1% representation of power by someone of the female gender in the business world.

Personally from my  experience with women, both personally- and over the last few years profesionally- I think I have a good idea as to why this is.  Women are in constant competition with each other and this competition spawns jealousy. Jealousy is an emotion that provokes other senseless emotions- spitefuleness, selfishness and a ultimately a clouded sense of judgement. You can’t make the best business decisions if you feel jealous of another equally competent, intelligent and confident woman who happens to either be your colleague or your direct report. You feel jealous because they are a competitive threat. My current boss is a woman and my previous boss was also a woman and both manifest this behaviour. Especially given that I as individual– am someone that speaks my mind, is confident and assertive in myself, my work and my intellectual capacities, confident of the job at hand and always eager to contribute with innovative ideas, new ways of thinking or of doing things. The fact that I happen to be a woman reporting to a woman is  unfortunately the problem. If I were a man with the same skill sets, the same attitude or personality, I believe that my current boss would be not be as reactive. However because I dont’ have a penis between my legs, and she desperately wants one (whether self grown or just placed there) I represent a direct threat to her way of life.

Personally I’ve never been good friends with other women– or at least it takes a non-ordinary woman to be my friend. I do have a handful of women friends. Often they feel the same way I do about their relationships with other women. At the crux of the problem amongst women is that they are always competing with each other. They size each other up, they compare constantly in their heads. In the social world these questions arise:  is she thinner? is she taller? is she prettier? is her hair softer? does she have a better ass? I imagine that the underlying motive is woman’s biological need to attract a man. As a result most of the comparisons are of a  highly superficial nature. When you are not that concerned about competitively looking good then you are able to win my friendship.  I don’t make an extreme effort  to dress up, do my hair, put on my makeup or even  maintain a very thin physique. At times I wish I did, perhaps it would make me more competitive in my efforts to “catch a man”. Instead it’s not really a priority. Don’t get me wrong- I’m not a slob by any means. I make sure my teeth are brushed, my hair is combed, my socks match and that overall I am well coordinated in my attire. I am presentable and the rest is out of my hands- out of any woman’s hands really. It’s your genetically predetermined phenotype. Certainly there is some effort that women can take to improve upon the hand they’ve been dealt. Some women go further than others- thank goodness for plastic surgery right? All of this wouldn’t be necessary, however, if women weren’t in this constant state of competing.

Where in the social realm this competition is made evident via a comparison of beauty and the physical, in the business world it manifests itself by women achieving a position of power and then proceeding to cut down those other woman with whom they work. If in the social world the mean girls make fun of the pretty chick by spreading vicious rumours about how she is anorexic and bulimic and has had a lot of work done. In the corporate world women cut each other out of the work, deny each other the opportunity to participate in work or literally tell each other how wrong they are, what a bad idea that is how much more experience they have etc. After all if you are a woman manager and you hire someone that can execute a task or manage a project successfully on their own, without your direct participation then why are you needed, right?

Wrong. Women in the business world permit their fear of competition to blind them with jealousy to the point where they are no longer effectively getting things done. These women managers or executives  overwork themselves, place all of the burden of responsibility upon their own shoulders simply because delegating the tasks to their competition would imply that they are not needed. They hoard their work and when their women colleagues offer to assist, suggest another way of doing the work to help ease their burden the answer is always “no you’re not ready” “you don’t know enough” or “I have more experience than you”. A colleague of mine works for a woman who clocks 80+ hours a week, working late at night and on weekends. Recently my friends boss yelled at her for not doing something right and claimed she wasn’t “pulling her weight”. How can she? Miss I think I’m invincible does it all! In my case I received an obnoxious email from my boss asking me to “Flip my way of thinking” because she didn’t like the way I wrote something. Really? That’s all you’ve got? Actually it is because she hasn’t delegated much work to me. God forbid I actually do the job I was hired to do.

So I guess my point in all of this is that competition and jealousy amongst women make women stupid.  They don’t think clearly and from a workplace perspective they certainly are not contributing to getting more work done. There is no superwoman- -only superman and a fleeting remembrance of super-girl. If I ever reach a position of any sort of “power”  i.e. manager, I don’t plan on putting any woman down. I wouldn’t deny any woman colleague their participation or involvement. I wouldn’t come up with some cockamimi excuse about how I don’t like how they said or wrote  something- as long as it’s not offensive or inappropriate. If anything I’m would hire the smartest, brightest most competent women on my team and then I would delegate 80-90% of the work to them while I sit back and drink a caffe mocha. Because I don’t fear competition nor do I question my own sense of intelligence or contribution to my work. And any really smart woman in power  would do the same.

Blue Valentine on Valentine’s

I’m not one to openly celebrate mass produced holidays so you can imagine my take on Valentine’s Day. It’s the holiday par excellence for consumerism, commercialism and capitalism and I believe it is one of the reasons people  incorrectly equate true love with an exchange of some sort of commercial enterprise; i.e. fancy dinner outings, chocolates and flowers – which are significantly inoffensive as barter gifts. The worst offender is jewelry particularly in the form of diamonds. As DeBeer states a diamond is forever – I doubt most relationships that focus on such commoditized exchanges of love are.

Believe it or not,  even this cynic heart can be melted by love. This Valentine’s Day I went out to dinner and then to watch the film Blue Valentine starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams– which gets to the real purpose of this post. Don’t get me wrong dinner was nice and the company was great.

What a brilliant film– the narrative centers on the two main characters, Dean and Cindy– and their own highly dysfunctional relationship. The tale is told from present perspective with flashbacks to Dean and Cindy’s earlier days when they met and how they fell in love. Young, naive and very much in need of each other they marry and Dean takes on the responsibility of father to a then unborn child although you don’t discover this fact until nearly the end of the film in a flashback, all the while having been witness to the endearing relationship he holds with his daughter Frankie in his present life. Indeed the opening scene of the film is perhaps the only scene  in the present tense narration where you see a happy and beautiful exchange of love and it occurs between Dean and Frankie.We realize at the end of the film the foreshadowing that these first few minutes actually represent.

For me the film was such a powerful message of love, family and dysfunction portrayed in  a realistic, absolutely genuine fashion. In  recent conversations with my own family we had been discussing dysfunction and how growing up in a home were your parents hold a tumultuous, unsteady or even abusive relationship profoundly and subconsciouly impacts your own adult perceptions of what love between a man and a woman is and for that matter between father and/or mother and child. My cousin made such a simple  but astute point by declaring that it’s the easiest thing to fall into the same pattern as the one we knew as children and in order to break the cycle of dysfunction you must truly be conscious and aware of your own flawed notions of love and actively work to be  better. You have to achieve self realization, act upon agency and promote something different than is known to you.

This film exactly captured what happens when the cycle is not broken and dysfunction is perpetuated. Dean is a hopeless romantic, abandoned by his mother and neglected by his father he has little motivation in life. His greatest want and need in life is to love someone and to receive back the love, support and nurturing he unfairly missed out on as a child. He starts a young man full of romantic notions and with a tender open heart. He let’s himself go and in the course of his relationship with Cindy who does not fulfill his ultimate desire, becomes a waste of a man unmoved by much and relinquished to drink himself into a daily state of altered reality. Cindy conversely is an only child whose focus in life is limited by her lack of confidence or self worth. Her male model is her asshole father who emotionally abuses her mother who in turn is a defenseless weak woman with nothing to show of her own. Cindy’s own lack of self-esteem, joy or dignity is exemplified  in a  scene were we clearly see Cindy mid-intercourse  in a submissive position leaning against a futon couch not seeming to enjoy herself while her lover satisfies his own needs and irreverently comes inside of her.  It is from this act that she ends up pregnant shortly before meeting Dean.

The deterioration of their relationship is directly attributable to them succumbing to the dysfunction that has permeated their lives. They’ve permitted the damage caused in their childhood to impede upon their success as adults and moreover together in a relationship. Dean seeks a love that Cindy is unable to provide him– she in turn is left unsatisfied with the man he permits himself to become.

The culminating moment that fully embodies the severity of their dysfunction and crescendos into the end of their relationships is symbolically played out one night in a dingy hotel room. Dean seeking intimacy with Cindy, Cindy completely turned off by him by not being treated aggressively, by his passive desire for her. She lays herself on the floor, submissive — assuming a role she knows well in her sexual relations – assuming Dean will just take her and use her body  to fulfill his needs.  What he needs however is more emotional than physical and in turn he denounces her, demands to know why  it isn’t enough that he has been a loving husband and dutiful father to her daughter? It’s tragic, it’s twisted and sadly in that moment both characters destroy any remnant of the  love that may have once existed between them. What is most unfortunate is the ending. Although you see Dean and Cindy’s relationship unhinging, Dean was a loving and caring father to Frankie and at the end as his heart is left broken by Cindy he also walks away from his daughter. You  feel an ache in your own heart for Frankie’s suffering and for the vicious cycle she as a child is cruelly and involuntarily pulled into.

It may seem an odd choice of movie for Valentine’s day– a feel-good film it is not- but I’m a realist and this is a great movie. It pulls you into the story as if you were partaking in the lives of two actual people and not enough accolades can be given to Gosling and Williams for their performances. This is what good film is meant to do- prompt an emotional response and move you.  The  greater implication of this post however, is my own realization that despite my general disdain for V-day, how fortunate I am to go out and celebrate the superficiality of the holiday with all it’s romantic notions with that special someone  in a completely functional, normal way.  It took me a lot of work to get to where I am but I wouldn’t have it any other way and for that I am extremely grateful.