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Virginia – January 2020

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

– Lao Tzu

Happy New Year!

If you’re reading this we’ve made it to another year of trying to write more, lose the same ten pounds and drink water that’s not entirely from melted ice in our margaritas. Good luck and God speed!

If you make New Year’s resolutions then I hope you’re better at sticking to them then I am. But ever the optimist I made some this year for the hope that they keep me grounded and motivated. I did try to stay away from superficial resolutions and stick to things I thought would make me a better person or just make me happier all around. My goal for 2020 is just happiness.

And so I decided to take a trip the first weekend of the new year to visit my best friend Rebecca in Virginia. I enjoy solo trips because, unlike my husband, I like long drives. It takes about 5 hours door to door to get to Rebecca’s apartment in Sterling. That’s 5 hours of not having to talk to anyone, listening to whatever music you want, and just letting your mind wander. I really enjoy that part of the trip. The only thing that sucks is my small bladder and the need to stop at least twice just to pee. But some things can’t be helped.

I left for Virginia at around 11:30 am on Saturday Jan 4th. Matt and I spent the entire night before binge watching Power so I was running on very little sleep. Which probably wasn’t the best idea but I was too excited for it to really effect me. The one thing that did kind of dampen my spirits was the fog .

Regardless though the drive wasn’t bad at all and I only stopped twice. I got to Beccy’s apartment at around 5. The last time I visited she had just moved in and was still buying furniture so it was pretty bare. But this time her apartment was like a Pintrest dream!

First things first, we hugged and poured ourselves a drink and decided to get ready slowly and go to dinner. This is always my favorite part of seeing someone after a long time. You’re just so excited to see each other and there are a million things you want to tell each other and you’re jumping in and out of stories. Once the Christmas gifts were swapped, make up on and outfits changed we headed out.

For dinner we put our name down for True Food Kitchen, an organic, whole food restaurant. This place is a chain but the one by me is not opening until sometime this year so when I visit we like to go here. The hostess gave us an hour estimate for the table so we gave our names and I suggested we find a bar somewhere to grab a drink (True Food’s bar was full). We headed down the block and found two seats at the bar at BarTaco. Honestly, both places have pretty solid vegan options but we were both looking forward to True Food so we settled in at BarTaco and got a drink while we caught up on all things 2019 did to us. I forgot to take a picture of the drinks we got but they were super yummy. Beccy got a Mojito and I got a drink called the reviver but I asked them to swap the gin with tequila and just WOW!

Once we finished our drinks we headed back to True Food and our table was ready when we walked in the door. I love great timing!

I got this amazing noodle bowl with tofu and I wish I got four and took three home with me, it was so good! Beccy got a chicken pizza and our drinks were also made from organic whole materials and I don’t really remember what I got but I believe it was a vodka drink with pomegranate. It was pretty good. Light, refreshing and had actual pomegranate in it but I would’ve rather paired this meal with a nice deep red wine in hind sight. But I’ll save that thought for next time.

So after dinner it was off to find a good time. The last time I came to visit we had said we were definitely going out dancing somewhere but we ended up spending so much time on Yelp looking for places that I fell asleep on the floor of her living room. Tonight was redemption night! I didn’t care if we went to some place specifically for dancing but I told Beccy we should just find a bar with some type of music. She explained that there was a bar she goes to sometimes after going to concerts at the University nearby. Perfect! Lets get crazy!

What we didn’t know is that it was karaoke night and we had walked in right when it was getting started. So this place was like a legit college bar. Everyone in there was either questionably 21 or wayyyy too old to be here. Somehow Beccy and I fit right between those two groups. We found a table by the stage and grabbed some drinks. I stuck with red bull and vodkas. 1 because I was starting to crash and 2 because this wasn’t the type of bar that made more than rum and cokes. The karaoke was hilarious and ended up being the perfect thing for us to just let our hair down to. We also kept getting hit on by these college students who would admit to us that they are underage. (Like does this strategy work for them?) Also one delinquent (another 20 year old) introduces himself to me as Matt to which Beccy screams “That’s her husbands name!” and we both died laughing. Apart from the boy and all the young girls who kept coming up to us and telling us we were pretty (thank you drunk goddesses) we did end up dancing to off key karaoke and having a good time. Our plan was to have one more drink at a bar down the block from Beccy’s place but there was construction or something on the highway on the way home so we didn’t make it before they closed. We ended up heading back to the apartment and having a hard seltzer while eating leftovers and dancing to youtube videos. All in all a successful night.

I passed out on the couch somewhere around 3 am and Beccy (who was driving and a bit sick, so was not as drunk as I was) she took a shower and went to bed. Like the Queen she is! Beccy and I have been friends since we were 10 so in the past 18 year (2020 is our 19th year of friendship #goals) I’ve learned a lot about her. Specifically I know for a fact that Rebecca can sleep until 3 pm if you let her. It’s a talent she has that I have always been envious of. My internal clock will not let me sleep past 6 on most days regardless of how tired I am. Sunday was no exception. I woke up around 6:30 am and Surprise! Suprise! I wasn’t feeling amazing, Luckily no headache though just a bit of nausea. So I got up used the restroom, filled up my 24 oz travel cup with ice water and laid back down on the couch. I spent a couple of hours just drinking water and reading until I felt a bit better. Matt called me at around 8 am and I was still a bit of a sleepy hungover mess. Once I did feel a bit better I hopped in the shower, got dressed and poured myself some more water.

At this point it was about 9 am and Beccy hadn’t so much as rolled over. So I had time. I was getting hungry but I didn’t want to overload my stomach so I had some hummus and pretzel crackers that I bought at a rest stop on the drive over and didn’t get a chance to eat. But honestly once I had that in my system I felt so much better. I was clean, feed and hydrated. So I cuddled up on the couch, grabbed my book and enjoyed the silence. At home I never set my alarm clock because the dogs will bark at me any time between 5-6 to wake up. So I enjoyed the quiet time to just read by myself. Matt face timed me again around 11 and Beccy crawled out of bed shortly after.

Once Beccy was up and dressed we made our plan for the day. First stop food! We found a ramen spot which was perfect because they had a vegan ramen and Beccy was feeling sicker today. I got a tofu appetizer and a vegan ramen with fried mushrooms (amazing!), corn, seaweed, and bamboo. It was perfect and I didn’t finish it so I got to take some home for later.

Our next stop was to a home goods warehouse store called At Home which is apparently in Jersey as well but I’ve never been there. Needless to say, Beccy and I have no business going to home goods stores because we just obsess over everything and cry into our empty wallets. I did end up getting quite a bit of stuff but all things that I already needed. We were very conscious of not buying random things because they’re cute. Which was very very very hard.

I ended up getting a set of marble coasters with gold A’s. A set of gold and white kitchen towels. a couple of white bowls a bit smaller than a soup bowl. A couple of oils dispensers. Potpourri. Storage bins. And a giant wicker basket. I didn’t get a dinosaur skeleton head statue that I really wanted to get for Matt’s office or this fake giant potted tree. So I think I did pretty well.

In the spirit of just having a nice relaxing day date together we stopped by a local coffee shop and got a couple of chai’s to take back to the apartment while we relax a bit before dinner and a movie later. Beccy was drawing pictures in her foam because she wanted it to look cute but she wasn’t satisfied with her first design so she redid it. All to put a top on it anyway. Friends are weird but I would still recommend them.

Once we got back to the apartment, Beccy went to work setting up all the things she bought from At Home and I laid back down on the couch to keep reading. This is weird to write but I loved having no housework to do and not having to worry about any of that while she finished up. The rest of the afternoon was spent laid out and just moving slowly through the apartment and tons and tons of girl talk. It was the perfect day.

We had tickets to a 6:45 movie so at around 5 we got our coats and shoes on and headed out to dinner. We had dinner at Cafesano a quick casual Mediterranean restaurant that we both adore. You walk up to the counter and place your order and they give you a number to put on the table so they can find you and bring your food over. They also serve beer and wine. I was so hungry I forgot to take a picture (sorrynotsorry). But I got a prosecco and a platter with grilled veggies, falafel, brown rice, and pita bread. Beccy got a chicken and broccoli Alfredo and a glass of white wine. Cheers! To an amazing new year.

After dinner we went to the local AMC and watched Jumaji. I had already seen it but Beccy didn’t so I wasn’t mad at myself when I fell asleep part way through but don’t worry Beccy woke me up once Nick Jonas showed up on screen. All in all a great night. We got back to the apartment and I introduced Beccy to The Circle on Netflix. I fell asleep after the first episode but apparently she watched three of them before calling it a night.

The next morning I was up early as usual and got myself out of bed (aka the pull out couch), showered and dressed so I could start the 5 hour drive home. I Ubereat’s some Starbucks so Beccy would have something warm to drink when she woke up and she ended up waking up just as I was closing the front door. Good thing too because she woke up worse than ever and had called out of work sick. I gave her a big bear hug and instructed her to stay in bed for the rest of the day and I was on my way back home.

The weather was a lot better than it was coming so I had a great relaxing 5 hour drive back home. I was excited to get home and get my new purchases in the house but also just to be with my puppies and my husband.

I’m so glad I started the year with a solo trip. I think it was necessary for me to get my thoughts together and to prepare myself for what is sure to be a busy year ahead. I’m finishing my bachelor’s degree this year and I can’t wait to finally have something to show for all these long hours and hard work.

Until next time…

-Besos! XO.

Am I Really Doing This?

So today is different.

Today I am working my last day on a job that I never liked very much on an island I still have not found my sea legs for.

I had planned this post as a farewell to an ugly chapter in my work experience but unfortunately it got uglier before that could happen. I left my job a day earlier than expected because shit happens and people can be horrible sometimes.

It’s been a rough year and a half here but it was necessary in order to keep moving forward.

Let me explain:

I took this job as a way to be closer to home in the event that Matt and I got pregnant and, this was a way to be able to attend night classes at Queens College. All of this leads me to the next big starring role of my life. Quitting my job and going back to school full time. This is incredibly scary for me. Not even gonna lie. This will be the first time in almost ten years that I won’t have a full time job.

When I first dropped out of school in 2010, I went straight to work. Full time work has been my backbone, my sanctuary and my source of pride (and income) for such a long time. Giving this up, willingly, has been a source of many anxious nightmares the past couple of months. Being the recipient of a generous scholarship for the upcoming scholastic year I had the option of going full steam ahead, quitting my job, and going to school full time and completing my English is degree. OR taking a couple of night classes like I have been doing (just for free this time) and continuing the slow move towards a 10 year bachelors degree. (Yes babe I’m exaggerating).

You would think this was an easy decision… but its not. Shit has been hard AF.

So here we are again at another crossroads with me changing up my entire life. I feel like every couple of years I do this. Change up everything around me and start over from the bottom. Mainly because I don’t think I’ve been feeding my passions in a way that keeps them alive and healthy. I thought moving to Long Island would end all my creative instincts but the opposite happened. They’ve become louder! Begging for attention and whining for quality time.

So I’m going to write. And I’m going to act. And I’m going to do whatever it takes to feed my soul. And I’m going to do my best to not to feel guilty about doing this because holy shit! you could be making 6 figures as an accountant! What are you doing?!

My ten year high school reunion is next month. I haven’t really decided if I’m going to go because “I’m unemployed and following my dReAmS” doesn’t seem like the glow up I wanted to have at this point. But! BIG BUT! Looking back on this ten years I’ve come to the realization that I could have fucked this whole thing up so much more. And for that I’m proud. This next journey is going to be interesting to say the least but I think I’m pretty lucky.

Until then Matt and I are taking some much needed time off and traveling a bit so be on the look out for those posts! Either way, there are still a couple of things up in the air at this point so I won’t share all my plans but if you do wander onto the Queens College campus, bring food, because ya girl is always hungry!

Thanks for sticking with me. I hope I don’t disappoint you.

-Besos! XO

Where Have I Been All This Time?

Hey there! Hows it going? How have you been?

Awesome!

Where have I been?

Well where do I start?

First I had school.

This past semester was my first one as an English major and let me tell you! I was definitely put to the test. I had class Monday and Wednesday nights, for 3 hours, after a full work day. I was reading and writing in bed, in my car, on the way to family events, and so on and so on and so on. But I loved it! I didn’t miss a class, and I made sure I was up to date on all the readings. I was actually excited to go to class every night. Even if it meant not eating dinner some nights or going to bed super late other nights. I haven’t gotten my grades back yet but I’m pretty confident I did well. My Creative Writing Professor even asked me to take his poetry workshop class next semester! Ladies and Gentlemen, I am on my way! Given I still have like 13 classes I need to graduate but I’m on my way… slowly, but surely. 

Secondly, I had an epiphany.

It started with a pizza run. In Long Island the Vegan pizza game is pretty limited. So one night we’re leaving the movies in Levittown. If you don’t know me and Matt by now, we go to the movies every weekend and we switch between theaters by our house because sometimes the one close to us doesn’t have every movie. Levittown is about 30 minutes away and is the only theater that has a bar and dine-in option. Unfortunately not many vegan options but we make it work. So, we’re leaving the movies and Matt suggest we go to That Pizza Place, or heaven on earth as I call it. A pizza place with both vegan and non-vegan options about 5 minutes from the movies and it closed in about an hour so we had just enough time. We grab some slices to go and on the way out I see a new awning had gone up on a store front right by the pizza shop. The Actors Workshop of LI. When I saw it a thought immediately entered my mind that it’s either now or never. Throughout the years I have looked into taking acting classes but I always had an excuse or a reason against it. This time, with the support of my husband, I decided to give it a try. I went in for a free trial class and right after paid for 6 more classes. I’ve already had an audition with an agent (set up through the workshop) and even though I didn’t get the call back i feel like I’m learning so much! I have two more classes left and then I don’t know what I’m going to do but I’m so happy getting to express myself creatively again. One of my biggest hang ups about moving to Long Island was not being able to be creative the way I was in the city. I feel like I’m starting to figure it out now though. 

Thirdly, life happens.

When I started this blog I was so sure I would be posting all day every day but you know shit happens. I’ll do my best and I hope you’ll still follow along for the ride. 

-Besos!


1 Year Vegan!

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Today is an amazing day! Today I celebrate my first year as a vegan! It’s been incredible and confusing and I’ve learned a bunch along the way.

Why I went Vegan.

I went vegan for so many reasons. If you asked my husband, I saw a documentary on Netflix while he was gone for the weekend and by the time he came back I was a full-fledged Vegan. Not so simple but sure. It started out, very much, as a health decision. I wanted to cut back on meat, specifically red meat, and I wanted to incorporate more veggies into my diet. Especially since I have pretty bad asthma and the healthier I am the less at risk I am for having attacks. I also had this idea that eating vegan meant I would lose a shit load of weight. It’s progressed, since then, to so much more than health. I am very conscious and aware of the animal abuse, the environmental influence, and the wastefulness that comes with not being vegan. I mean, growing up I always had the idea in my mind that “damn I’m eating a cow right now and that’s pretty fucked up.” And any Dominican has been to a cook out where the whole pig is just chilling on the table, all roasted up, and you have that split second thought like “wow this is not right.” But I always kept eating meat because everyone does it so why should it be a problem?

How I went Vegan.

I celebrate today as being Vegan because today was when I made the conscious decision to go fully into this commitment. However, I didn’t do it cold turkey. Actually, when I went Vegan I kept the attitude that if it doesn’t work out its fine I’ll just go back to eating meat. We’ll see how it goes. I honestly didn’t think I would make it to one year. My new years resolution for the year was to stop eating red meat. By the time July started I was already not eating red meat, pork, and was very rarely eating chicken and turkey. This weekend last year, Matt was away in Atlantic City and anyone who is married to a man knows that this meant I finally got the remote control to myself! This was around the time What The Health was all over the place so I decided to watch that. Then I started watching a bunch of other documentaries. And not just on veganism but on the effects of drinking and smoking on your body, what eating more vegetables can do to your body, the meat industry, the prescription drug industry and so on and so on. By the time Matt got home I was so motivated to just live a healthier life and I knew I wanted to start by going vegan.

Pitfalls of my journey to Veganism. 

Not eating meat is not hard. It really isn’t. You just don’t do it. Being vegan is so much more than just not eating meat though because it’s not consuming or using any animal products. Things that you don’t even think about are not vegan and the random stuff that has milk in it is pretty insane. I remember I bought a big ol’ bag of dark chocolate covered almonds thinking they were safe. Then one day I actually looked at the ingredients and of course it contains milk. Another time I was buying the Morning Star mock meat products. Totally safe right? Wrong! I realized they contain milk and eggs. This happens pretty often actually. I’ve gotten a lot better at being able to spot things that I cannot have and reading the ingredients carefully. So has my husband. Some times people get my order wrong and I have to send it back which really sucks. I try to be as flexible as I can but sometimes it’s out of my hands. Like the other day we went to get bagels and I ordered a whole wheat everything with tofutti (tofu cream cheese, it’s delicious you should try it!) onions and tomatoes and Matt ordered an egg everything with cream cheese. They accidentally mixed up the bagels! Now, if it was any other bagel I would have eaten it but the egg bagel is just not an option. So, I sent it back and I felt bad even though it wasn’t my fault. Another time I ordered veggie dumplings and they sent me pork ones and I took a bite not knowing. I spit it out and kept it moving. I’ve learned to ask for no cheese even if the dish doesn’t say it has cheese. I’ve found that 90% of foods have cheese in it at most restaurants. For. No. Reason. I don’t know why but I’m telling you we put cheese on everything! It’s insane! There are times when me and my husband will be eating out and I’ll get something and he’ll go be all like wow I can’t believe you made a meal out of all of that. Nice! And then there are other times when we just sit there laughing at whatever is put in front of me. Like one time I ordered avocado toast without the egg. I got literally two slices of bread and a whole avocado cut down the middle. They didn’t even mash it! No salt or pepper, or anything! I was like CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! I mashed that baby up, put some salt and pepper, some tomato and onion slices and ordered a side of potatoes. I actually got a compliment on how healthy I was eating that day from some random woman in the restaurant! Not everything is in your control but where there is a will, there’s a way and I don’t mind making a meal out of sides if I need to.img_0572.jpg

Hardest part about being Vegan.

When I first decided to go Vegan I thought the hardest part would be finding something to eat when I wasn’t at home. I mean I went vegan in July and in August I took a trip to Cuba. It wasn’t like I could pop into a Cuban supermarket and pick up a Beast Burger or something. Honestly, it has never been an issue.

What I do struggle with is the social aspect of being a vegan. I live with my husband and my two dogs. My dogs have currently been switch to vegan kibble. They still eat cheese and bones and things like that but their main food is vegan. The kibble they eat helps because they have pretty sensitive stomachs and their poop is amazing on the vegan kibble (sorry TMI but dog parents understand the struggle.) My husband eats meat and so does almost everyone else in my life. I am also a people pleaser, I love to host, and I want everyone to leave my house happy. When we have a big party I struggle with the fact that in order to serve my guests I have to include meat and other non-vegan options. When I cook dinner for my husband sometimes he wants a steak. So how can I protect my morals and my decision and still host and serve the people I love without shoving my own beliefs down their throats and/or making them uncomfortable? I don’t really have an answer to this. It’s something I am still working through and figuring out on my end. I’ve made this choice in my life and that doesn’t mean everyone else has to follow suit. Also I may change my mind one day but how do I live now? My opinion on veganism in generally is that I will always be a work in progress. And that’s okay. Don’t let the twitter and Instagram thugs convince you that you’re not doing enough or that you’re doing something wrong.

Misconceptions about being Vegan.

I had this idea that being vegan meant being the healthiest person ever. That I would be immune from junk food due to lack of options. I was so wrong. Between the vegan burgers, vegan chicken wings, and vegan pizza the options for vegan junk food are endless. Meaning gaining weight as a vegan is not hard at all. Also there’s pasta. No waistline has ever survived the undeniable pull of pasta. I’ve learned that you can be a vegan in many different ways. You can be a junk food vegan, a raw vegan, a whole foods vegan, a social vegan. Shit you can be a meatless Monday, once a week vegan. There are so many more options to being vegan now than there was 15, 20 years ago. Being vegan has never been so easy. Like all other eating habits, being vegan means there needs to be moderation. There are delicious deserts and plenty of fattening food. My biggest misconception was that being vegan meant everything I am eating is super healthy. That’s not always true.

My favorite part about being Vegan.

My favorite part about being vegan, aside from the fact that I don’t have to kill any animals and it’s better for the environment, is that I am trying all these new foods and flavors. I had never heard of jackfruit before and once I became vegan I found out how crazy flexible this one fruit is. I’ve learned so many different ways to cook and eat tofu I could probably write a book. Then there is the excitement of finding a vegan version of one of your old favorite foods. Eating vegan is an adventure!

Goals going into my second year of Veganism.

I spent all of this past year focusing solely on eating vegan but veganism has so much more to do with your lifestyle than just eating. It’s the clothes, make-up, and everyday supplies that have random animal products in them too. My goal for this next year is to continue to educate myself on using vegan products. I also want to look into living a more eco-friendly, waste free lifestyle. I’ve been reading a lot about it lately and even with this new movement to go strawless I’ve been really interested in exploring that lifestyle.

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One year down and who knows how long to go. I’ve definitely had some missteps in my journey but I am truly dedicated to being vegan. For now that’s all I need.

Have you ever considered going vegan?

-Besos! xoxo

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The story behind my tattoos

It’s no secret that I’ve gotten a tattoo .. or ten. So today I’ll break down my tattoos for all those inquiring minds. Really I’m doing this so that next time someone is like “oh wow! Nice tattoo! Why did you do that?” I can be all “link in bio”. Just kidding!

My views on tattoos are pretty simple: to each their own. You may like tattoos on other people but could never imagine them on yourself. Dope! You may love tattoos and get them everywhere on your body. Nice! You may just want a little bumble bee on your wrist to remind you of someone special. Sweet! You may get your girlfriends name on your arm just to have to cover it up when you break up. Sorry? Either way your views don’t effect my views.

Almost everyone in my family has at least one tattoo. My husband and my underage sisters are the closest people to me that don’t have any. I feel like soon though my husband will be on that island alone. I have ten. All gotten between the span of about 9 years.img_0550

1. Familia

This was my first tattoo and like so many people before me I got it in my parents basement by my cousin. Said cousin went to a world renowned art school and was a couple years into this whole tattoo business at this time. My brother got the tattoo first, on his wrist. The idea being that all of the cousins would get the same tattoo and it would be a sort of bond. I was here for it. I love the idea of us sharing something so intimate and always having a piece of each other. None of my cousins ended up getting it but now its means so much more to me. Being that it was my first tattoo I decided I didn’t want it on my wrist like my brother. I wanted to be able to hide it if i needed to. Also I was, I think, 18 or 19 at the time and I was super worried that I wouldn’t be able to get a job with a tattoo (HA!). I settled on getting the tattoo on my back, right in the middle, because my family is in my spine, they hold me up and keep me strong. What I didn’t know then was that my cousin was a very heavy handed tattoo artist. I would say out of all of my tattoos this one hurt the most. The shading alone killed me! If you’ve gotten a tattoo before you’ll know the artist usually draws up a sample so you can see what you’re going to get and approve. With words its usually typed up on a computer in the font you picked and in various sizes so you can put it against the spot you want and decide what works best. I specifically remember there being three sizes; small, medium and large. I wanted the medium one, I thought it was huge and it would go by quicker than the large size. My cousin fought me tooth and nail about this! He went on to tell me that since it will be my only tattoo I might as well go big or go home. So we went with the large. Looking back I know that it was a good choice but I still giggle at the thought that he truly believed I would stop at just one tattoo. To date this is the only tattoo in the back of my body and I don’t really have any plans to get anymore done on my back. But who knows?!

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2. Monster

You ever see that Mary-Kate and Ashley movie Billboard Dad?  In the movie the Dad calls them Munchkin and Monster and I sort of adopted those nicknames and used them for my sisters. Amanda calls me Billboard in return. It’s cute, ok?! This was always supposed to be a set but I was still so scarred for life  nervous about getting another tattoo so I did this one first. It’s shorter..

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3. Munchkin

See #2. Also I always wanted these on my wrist for two reasons:

  1. I wasn’t so worried about my tattoo’s being seen at this point.
  2. I wanted to be able to see these names when I prayed and know who I was working my ass off for every single day.

My only regret with both 2 and 3 is not getting them bigger. Now they have faded a bit and the words are blending. I’m thinking of getting them redone but bigger. Maybe. We’ll see.

4. Double hearts

This was my first really bold tattoo. Its not very big but its on my chest so it’s pretty noticeable.

When I was 16 I had a breast reduction surgery. It was a pretty serious and dangerous surgery. I had to sign all those hospital forms pretty much saying hey! if you die its not our fault. It was really scary at 16 to have to go through that. What was even scarier was when I woke up and the attending nurse told me I was so lucky I had a great doctor because my heart stopped on the table! I immediately cried out for my dad and the rest is history.

This tattoo, to me, represents second chances and living my life to the fullest.

5. “Llorando de alegria y no de meido”

I was 19 when my grandfather passed away in hospice. I was there watching him take his last breaths. He was in this specialty hospice home that was decorated to look more like a home than a hospital. That meant in his room he had his own shower and toilet and no roommate. It was not in a hospital at all. He had a pull out couch so we could sleep there with him. He had table and chairs and big windows with a view of all the snow that was coming down at the time. And he had a TV and sound system. At first we didn’t really know how to interact or what to do but eventually we started looking through the room trying to find some music to play. My grandfather loved music! He was the life of any party.

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This place had a bunch of soothing sounds for the soul and waves of the ocean type CD’s and because we were literally stuck in a blizzard we couldn’t go out and get some real music. (This was before the time of Bluetooth music and cords and things. It wasn’t so easy to share music like it is today.) Someone opened the CD player to see if anything was inside. I think it was my father but I can’t really remember. And you would’ve never guessed it but there was a Spanish CD in the player! Not just any CD either. It was Jose Jose!! My grandfathers favorite singer! We all thought this was God’s last gift to my grandfather before he passed. So we played that CD over and over again. One song in particular really stood out. Lo DudoIt’s a very very sad song about a man losing the woman he loves and about how what once was is no longer. And this line stuck out to me – “llorando de alegria y no de meido” – Crying of happiness and not of fear.

This was the last song I ever got to listen to with my grandfather. So I hold that very close to my heart. I left that hospice crying of happiness for all the love I was lucky enough to share with him and not of fear for a world without his light. I got this tattoo a couple months later up my elbow on my left arm. A reminder that he is always holding my hand and guiding me.

6. I love you O.K

The same day I got the tattoo for my grandfather I also got one for my grandmother. My grandfather was my mothers father. My mothers mother passed when I was in first grade so I have only a few memories of her. This tattoo was for my father’s mother. My Abuela Nina.

Growing up my grandmother’s took care of me, so for a while I didn’t speak any English. Then I went to school and stopped speaking Spanish all the time. Well, my Abuela Nina doesn’t speak English at all. She understands some things and will repeat words sometimes but for the most part she speaks Spanish only. (She called my Husband Mall for awhile before understanding his name is Matt.)

My grandmother also has pretty bad handwriting so it was already hard to read her birthday cards. Now add in that the cards are in Spanish and when we were younger me and my cousins could speak it but we couldn’t read it. So, she learned how to write I Love You O.K. at the bottom of each card so if we couldn’t understand all of it we could understand that part.

7.  Amen

These next three I got on the same day and are my most spontaneous tattoos ever. Let me set the scene:

23 year old Reena, working in the city, spending her nights competing for a spot on the Jersey City Slam team to make it to The National Poetry Slam being held in California that year. I had been doing so well at work I won a wheel spin – a free trip to Florida. (Pretty much they nominate 7 people each quarter and pick out two names out of the 7. If your name was picked you got to spin this big wheel of prizes. The prizes were everything from cash or Broadway tickets to two tickets to some where in the world.) One of my oldest friends had just gotten engaged and he lives in Florida so a couple of us decided to take a trip to Miami and meet up for a long weekend and just have some fun.

The night before my 5 am flight I was at Jersey City slam trying out a new piece. The piece, called “Dear God“, won me my very first slam that night. I don’t think I slept at all before going to the airport I was so excited.

Since my then boyfriend didn’t want to go with me I was able to get a room in a hotel right on Miami beach by myself. My friends all stayed at different hotels depending on what they could afford and what not. So the first night we went so hard. Staying up late and drinking and just having an overall good time. I left them while they were still in party mode but like I said I barely slept so I was exhuasted. So the next morning I woke up way before everyone else. I had breakfast on the beach and did some writing. It was very peaceful. I found myself walking around and I saw a tattoo shop. I did a quick Google search and found out the place was actually really really good.

Originally I had wanted to get the words “Lord hear my prayer” on four of my fingers but after talking to the tattoo artist it just wasn’t worth it because it would probably fade quickly. So I settled on a line I say over and over in “Dear God” – Amen. It is what we say at the end of every prayer and it means “I believe that it is so.” I got it on my right hand to remind me that as long as I believe in Him, God will always reward me.

At the same time I got the letter B and a cross on my middle finger on my right hand. My family and my faith are always the center of everything I do right.

8. B

For my maiden name. My family name.

9. Cross

For my faith.

10. King Leo

My latest tattoo has been four years in the making. Up until now I’ve only had words on my body (not counting my heart). I wanted a specific looking lion and specific looking roses. I reserved the right to be very picky. So when my husband gifted me a tattoo for my recent birthday in March I was prepared.

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This tattoo is for my father. My rock. My king. My Leo. (He actually is a Leo, he was born in August.) Ever since I can remember my father has been rocking the lion and claiming it for himself. I see a lion and I automatically see my father. Following my tattoo’s for people I love theme I’ve got going I knew I wanted this one. Its my largest tattoo to date on my right forearm. The roses represent my great grandmother Rosa (means rose in Spanish). She’s, I think, 96 now and lives in the Bronx still regulating all the men in the family.

So I have a King Leo on a bed of roses. My father’s dynasty.

My opinions on tattoos pretty much have stayed the same over the years. To each their own. I haven’t had any trouble finding jobs because of my tattoos or being judged by them. I think the most I get are some stupid comments if people don’t know the meaning behind them or I just get asked who I went to for them. I also get grabbed a lot by random people who want to see my tattoos. There is like this my horse is bigger than your horse thing that happens when other people with tattoos try to compare tattoos. Like if my work is less than theirs if I didn’t use their artist. I don’t fall for that. I love all my pieces. Can’t nobody tell me nothing! HAHA!

What are your opinions on tattoos?

– Besos! xoxo

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My Miscarriage

Whew! This is gonna be that post. Settle in because this is a tough one for me.

Today in my due date. Unfortunately for you, me, and what would have been a perfectly curated baby Instagram I am not pregnant.

On Saturday October 29th, I was a couple of days late. I didn’t think I was pregnant at all. I was on this cleanse style diet and I figured it was messing with me. Matt on the other hand was 100% sure I was pregnant. So while I was at Rite-Aid picking up candy for Halloween (our first in our house and the first time we would be getting trick or treaters) I picked up a couple of test. Guys, I took all three tests in the box to make sure. I remember the test showed the plus sign instantly. I know the box says wait 3 minutes but it was very very clear like 30 seconds in. Now I’m in the bathroom freaking out and crying and feeling so happy and scared at the same time. I called Matt in and told him to look and then he comes out all “Is this real? Does that mean you’re pregnant?” And I’m all like “I think so.” We were crying and hugging and Matt turned to me and said “I’m so happy right now.” And it was true. I wish I could bottle up that moment and take a shot of it on tough days because in that moment nothing could hurt us.

We immediately did a couple of things.

  1. Made an appointment to see a OBGYN. I didn’t even have one in Long Island yet so it was harder than usual but luckily we found one and made an appointment for Monday.
  2. Made myself a pizza. Diet be damned.
  3. Agreed to hold off telling anyone until after we saw the doctor.

That night we were celebrating my brother’s birthday at a bar in New York so I guess the paranoia hit me like I hope no one notices I’m not drinking. It ended up working fine though. I ordered a ginger ale and if anyone asked I told them there was whiskey in it. At one point I left to get some food because the place we were at didn’t have any vegan options but it just so happened to be right next door to a vegan restaurant. My mom came with me so she didn’t have to sit in the bar the whole time. When we came back Matt thought I had told her because he said he would have. So we decided to pull her aside and let her know what was going on so at least we had someone to talk to about it and ask questions and stuff. She was so happy! Here we were standing in the rain outside a bar just being all happy and shit about this baby. It was incredible.

That Monday we went to the appointment and the doctor confirmed we were in fact pregnant. She did an ultrasound and told us we were about 4 weeks along and our due date was July 2. We went through what to expect going forward and made an appointment for a week later. We ended up really hitting gold with this doctor too, she is young and sweet and really put us at ease. She started telling me all these thing that I can’t eat like raw fish and processed meats and I’m just like LOL I’m vegan. She told me to just be careful and make sure I wash all my veggies thoroughly. Since I had already been taking prenatal’s for a couple of months I was already on a good track and diet so she just prescribed me better prenatals. We left feeling on top of the world.

We went to TJ Max after that and bought our first baby thing to celebrate. A pair of baby Timbs. Very New York. Very Bronx. It was perfect. We called Matt’s step dad and let him know the good news. I wanted to tell my dad that day too but we decided to wait because we were worried he would tell my grandmother. And once my grandmother knows everyone knows. We also decided we would wait until the 3 month mark to tell everyone else. But that day we went home and took pictures for the announcement. Matt even insisted on taking picture of my belly! He wanted to do those monthly updated pictures that you put all together and see the progress of being pregnant. We told my father and my siblings the next weekend and swore them to secrecy.

I had downloaded this app that told you what changes to expect each week with pregnancy and compared the size of the baby to the size of some type of food. At this point the baby was the size of a peppercorn. We spent all week saying good morning to our little peppercorn and “good night little pepper corn!” Until the next week when the peppercorn grew to the size of a blueberry. They it was all “how’s my baby blueberry doing today?”

Our doctors appointment came up and we excitedly go in ready to see our baby. See what differences we could spot in this weeks ultrasound. When you go in for these things, your doctor is not in the room. There is an ultrasound tech who takes the pictures and measurements and all of that and then your doctor tell you everything you need to know and answers any of your questions. The first time we had gone in this woman was chatting us up the whole time and congratulating us and stuff. This time she was silent. The whole room felt stale. I was panicking from the moment she started looking into me. Matt asks her if everything is okay and she says the doctor will be in to speak to us. The doctor comes in and moves the images around a bit and try a couple of different things but you could tell that overall things were not going good.

She explained to us that there was something concerning her in the ultrasound. Something she believes would make the pregnancy unviable. Normal pregnancies have an oval sac that houses the baby. I had that but my oval sac had a sort of lump growing in it. Like extra tissue or something that wasn’t supposed to be there. We asked if it could go away on its own and we could still carry the baby to term. Our doctor told us yes that could possibly happen but in all the cases she has treated that has never been the case and the baby has never been carried to term. I remember feeling my whole body go numb. Like I was hearing everything from underwater. We set up an appointment for a week later to do another ultrasound and go from there and Matt and I went home.I cried so hard and so long that day. I even told Matt I wasnt strong enough to deal with this if we lost this baby. I can’t not be pregnant.

That week was the most excruciating week of my life. Matt and I spent the whole time googling everything and anything we could find on this type of situation. Holding on to stories where this one person saw this and the baby survived and look! They’re now 15 and on the basketball team. Or the doctor made a mistake and they went back for a second ultrasound and everything was fine and there was a heartbeat and they lived happily ever after. The worst part of all of this was my pregnancy symptoms were ramping up. Smells were becoming unbearable and I was nauseous all the time. I was also having a very stressful time at work picking up a pretty difficult client. A lot was going on.

We went back the next week, November 16th. The minute the picture came up on the screen I knew that I was not going to have a baby. What was once a lump was now just a bunch of lumps filling that space. A mass of tissue where my baby was supposed to be. They couldn’t find anything that would give us hope that a baby was in there. My doctor came in and looked, another doctor came in and gave his opinion as well. But it was unanimous. I was having a miscarriage and would not be having a baby. I was just beginning my 7th week of pregnancy at this point. My poor little blueberry.

It was decided that I would undergo a D&C, a surgery where they remove the unviable pregnancy and then test the remains for any type of issues in the parents genes. We left with the surgery scheduled for Monday. Matt and I were completely broken.

What’s worse was this was probably the busiest couple of days for us. We were leaving the next day to drive to Boston for a friend’s wedding on Saturday and then Wednesday we were going to Miami for Thanksgiving and then onto Orlando afterwards. To put a surgery in between that just raised all types of stress levels.

The next day, Friday, we’re getting ready nice and early to make the drive to Boston. Our friends wedding was not in Boston but in a suburb about an hour away so a bunch of us decided to go to Boston on friday and do a bit of sight seeing and eating and then go to the wedding the next day. As I was coming out of the shower I get a call. The hospital that is performing my surgery would like me to come in that day at 3pm to run pre-surgery test. They said it would take about an hour to an hour and a half. I was a mess. I called them back and said I can’t be there at 3pm because I had to be in Boston by then. I don’t know if it was because I was literally crying on the phone to the woman or because she knew why I was having surgery. She somehow managed it so that I could get the testing done at around 10 am instead but I would have to hurry and get there as soon as possible to fill out paperwork. I remember falling apart and this point. Thinking everything is going to shit and I have no control and the last thing I wanted to do was be asked a shit ton of questions about my pregnancy.

We did the testing and I had to explain to three different nurses the same thing about my pregnancy and how far along I was and blah blah blah. They took my weight and height and blood. And right before we’re about to leave they asked us if we had any questions and Matt asked if I could drink. For some reason I wasn’t allowed to have herbal tea but they said I could have alcohol as long as I didn’t get dehydrated. Well okay then. We finally left for Boston super late and ended up only really having time for dinner. We didn’t get to do any sightseeing. Also, Matt had to tell his friends why we were going to be late, so knowing that everyone else knew made me feel weird. Like people were waiting for me to explode or something. But my body hadn’t gotten the instructions that I wasn’t supposed to be pregnant anymore so I was still super nauseous and super tired.

At the wedding I got drunk. At one point everyone at my table was passing their champagne flutes to me and I was putting them down one at a time. I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t really feel like celebrating but it was the only way I could think of putting a smile on my face. Matt and I took a picture together that night and I hate it so much. I feel like I can see my body giving up on itself. I remember getting ready that night and feeling like nothing was going right. My hair was wrong. My make up was wrong. I didn’t like my dress. I was over it. I’m thankful though that Matt didn’t try to stop me or get very upset with me. He was mourning too and we both didn’t know what to do.

That Monday I went into the hospital at 5 am, checked in and was prepped for surgery. In the bed next to me was maybe the cutest baby I’ve ever seen with his mother, father, and sister. Across from me was a boy, maybe 8 years old. The rest of the room was older people getting prepped as well. Luckily I had both doctors present that day so I really felt I was in good hands. They gave me the anesthetics and my doctor asked me where I wanted to travel to. I told her I really wanted to go to Italy and she agreed. That’s the last thing I remember before waking up again. The nurse came over and told me to take it easy and that she’ll let me rest for a bit before moving me off the bed. Before I was allowed to go home. I immediately asked for my husband and she told me he’ll be in in a minute once I’m a little more rested. At that moment I lost it so bad. I started crying and I felt that shit in my soul. I even made the nurse cry. And she hugged me and told me that she had a daughter my age and that I’m strong. I didn’t feel strong at all. When Matt came in I told him how sorry I was and I meant it.

When we left the hospital Matt stopped off to get me a tea and I spent the rest of the day resting in bed while he worked in the other room. Although physically i wasn’t in so much pain after a while, mentally I was a disaster. I had made the mistake of declining pain meds and a couple days later everything started to hurt. I took off that Tuesday from work and on Wednesday we flew to Florida. The recovery was pretty rough. I was physically tired and drained most of the time, I was bleeding for a little over a week on and off and I still had the nausea. I still felt very pregnant for a couple of weeks after, which made it pretty hard on me. At one point we were on line to get tickets for Universal and I had just used the restroom but I felt myself leaking. Any woman who has ever gotten their period will understand what that means. I reached down and realized that I was bleeding through my pants. I had to go back to the bathroom and I was trying not to make it obvious but my husbands step fathers girlfriend decided to come with me to the bathroom. It was not a good time.

A couple of weeks later my doctor called to let me know that there was nothing genetically wrong with me or my husband. I had what they called a hydropic abortus. I still don’t really understand it so much but its similar to a molar pregnancy where the cells develop too quickly and overtake the embryo. My doctor doesn’t think this should affect our ability to get pregnant in the future.

We haven’t stopped trying or praying for a baby one day but it’s a blow every month when we find out we’re not pregnant. There was one month where we were so positive we were pregnant. The starts were aligning, we were getting signs from God, I was late. Everything added up. But 8 pregnancy tests later, and one phone call with the doctor and I wasn’t pregnant.

I’ve gotten to a point where I am hopeful but I’m done trying as well. My husband on the other hand can tell when I’m ovulating by looking at me at this point. He tells me I have to change my mindset and be more positive.

Remember back in high school when they would tell us to never let ourselves get pregnant and to be careful and take all these precautions? And now I would kill for it.

I’m not sure how to end this post but if you are suffering, or if you’re sad, I’m sorry. I hope you find peace and happiness soon. I hope we both get that happy ending we are praying for.

-Besos xoxo

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Why We Had Two Weddings

 

I’ve mentioned this a couple of times now but in case you haven’t read this before, Matt and I had two wedding ceremonies. We had a catholic ceremony in the church I was a member in for a majority of my life (until we moved) and we had our kinda of sort of Jewish ceremony on the beach in St. Lucia.

When we got together I was very much involved in my church. I went to mass every Sunday, I volunteered as a Confirmation catechist and helped out with the peer ministry – what we called the Discipleship Team. Matt did not have a temple he regularly visited and was not part of any sort of religious group or activities. He does celebrate major holidays and made it a point early on to address that this was important to him. Celebrating religious holidays for both of us were not optional and in deciding to be together we learned to blend our cultures and religions together. Sometimes this was not easy, like when Lent and Passover overlapped and I decided to give up something like wine.

Planning a wedding to us was not so much about whose religion was more important but about us coming together as one family. Matt knew right away that he wanted a beach wedding. The only way to have changed his mine was if his mother was still alive and wanted a different type of ceremony. The only problem with that is the Catholic church does not recognize beach weddings. Not without special permission which is usually only given in life threatening conditions. So, having a beach wedding would mean giving up one of my sacraments. I’m not one of those women who dreamed about their wedding day in excruciating details. I only knew that I wanted to get married in the church. Ok that’s a lie, not just any church; I wanted to get married in St. Patrick’s Cathedral! I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone that but yeah, that’s the only detail I ever thought about for my wedding.

We had a decision to make. What kind of wedding can we realistically have and afford? For those who are wondering, it can be up to a thousand dollars just for the church and the musician for the day of your wedding. This is just the basic of basic ceremonies. Plus add in precana (pre-marriage counseling) and the rest of the cost of dresses and flowers etc. With a lot of help from our family we were able to afford both wedding ceremonies. Together we decided that the catholic ceremony would be for us. Nothing crazy fancy, he wore a suit he already owned and I had the privilege of wearing my mothers wedding dress. The ceremony was something sacred and private that we can hold on to years from now. A ceremony devoted to God. You know that saying “Your marriage is for you but your wedding is for them.” That is what our beach ceremony was. Complete with the breaking of the glass and the hora. It was a time to truly celebrate and enjoy each other.

Simply put, we had two ceremonies because we love and respect the things that make us different. I would never do anything to change my husband’s views on God or his religion and he gives me that same respect. We never put ourselves above eachother. We’ve both have been open to learning each others faith and celebrating it. It made sense to start our marriage on that path and continue to follow it in the years to come.

All we do we share with love. And “He who does not know love, does not know God. For God is Love.” 1 John 4:8

Besos! xoxo

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