Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Making a list, checking it twice...

Who knew going on vacation could be so stressful and fun, all wrapped up in one.

I have so much to do between now and the date we leave. It seems every time I think of something, another thing puts into my mind. I'll give you an example. We are going to fly out of New Orleans (because it's cheaper). Do we want an early flight, or a later flight? Earlier flight would mean we would have to spend the night close to the airport, but we would get to our final destination earlier. It would also mean getting 3 kids up at wee hours of the morning...
The later flight would be nice, except the airports would probably be more crowded, specially when our connecting flight leaves out of Miami.

Decisions, decisions.

I have also been thinking about taking souvenirs for some of our family/friends who will be letting us stay at their house. But I have not been able to come up with something original. I don't want to get anything that they could purchase there (there are a lot of American goods sold in Panama). I want something original, from MS.

Ideas? Please share with me your ideas of souvenirs I could get.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Home Sweet Home

The last time I visited my family in Panama was Christmas of '97. I had graduated college the year before, had a new job, and this was my first trip home as an "adult".

Ten years have passed without visiting home. I guess life got in "the way". I worked full time and started graduate school at night, later on met my husband, got married, had kids. Before I knew it, ten years had passed.

Not a day has gone by I haven't missed my family, my home. It's always there, in the back of mind, reminding me of those I left behind, of where I come from. It's a way of life for those of us who emigrate to another place.

I am finally going home after all this time, and this time I won't be alone. I am taking my husband and three children who have never seen the place of my birth, or the family that helped me become the person I am today.

Lots of planning and preparation that I wouldn't normally worry about: where to stay, should I rent a car or use public transportation, should I stay with family or in a hotel? There is a lot more to worry about when you are responsible for making this trip memorable for those you love.

I want this trip to be perfect, still I know nothing ever is. I want my husband to fall in love with the place of my birth, to meet the family that considers him one of them even though they have never met, to see the places where my childhood memories were made.

I want my kids to meet their family and to feel a part of them. I want them to embrace their heritage, to appreciate the sacrificies of those who came before them, and to feel a part of that country where their mom came to be.

Most of all, I want to go home and find that teenager, full of dreams and hopes, who left her home at 15 without knowing if she would ever come back, or if she would ever reach her dreams.

I want her to see the person she became, and the legacy she will leave on this planet in the lives of her children.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

If you had 6 months...

to live, what would you do?

I know, that's not exactly something any of us wants to think about, just bear with me. There is a method to my madness and what I'm going to share in this blog may change the way you answer that question.

Just about a week ago, I settled down to watch TV before going to bed. I was not really sure what was on that particular night. As a matter in fact, I couldn't even tell what night it was.

I settled on Primetime on ABC. I like Diane Sawyer and I figured I could pseudo-watch as I worked on the crossword puzzle for that day. Little did I know...

That particular night, Diane was talking to Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon. If you didn't watch that show, you are probably wondering who he is and why am I blogging about his interview with Diane.

The story is simple. Randy is a computer science professor, 47 yr old, handsome, married, father of 3 kids, and has pancreatic cancer.

He gave a lecture based on a question about what he would do if he knew he was going to die and wanted to sum up everything that was important to him. The lecture was taped, later made it to the internet, millions saw it, and voila, he was famous.

I watched his interview with Diane and was immediately taken by this man. He is funny, and so positive, even though he knows his disease is winning. You can read the interview and watch a video here
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=4614281&page=1 I should warn you, you may cry.

I cried watching this man enjoy every minute of his life, and then realizing how many times I've taken for granted the moments I've been given to be with those I love.

As I watched him talk about his kids and the things he wants his children to know about him once he is gone, I wondered, what would I want my kids to know about me, about my dreams, about the things I wanted to do before I left his earth? What bits of wisdom would I want them to carry with them thru life? How could I make sure I was with them in spirit through the difficult times ahead?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Always "evolving" list

this list started as a "50 things about me" project. Free time is a luxury these days and this is as far as I've gotten on my list.

1. I was born on January 22 and my parents’ anniversary was on Jan 21. My mother tried to convince her doctor to change my birthdate to the 21st, so that I could be their “anniversary present”. Thankfully, the doctor said no.

2. My oldest memory is my 3rd birthday party. I had a huge bunny pinata, and I was mad because I didn’t want anyone to hit it. It was MINE after all! Needless to say, I still get teased about it.

3. I hate being late, and most of my family is “in time” rather than “on time”. Growing up, I fought with my sisters every morning because we were always late for school because of them. To this day, when I plan things at my house, I tell them it’s scheduled for 1 hour earlier than it really is. That way they can always be on time.

4. I have an irrational fear of the ocean. Can’t explain it, I just get very anxious when I’m near it. No cruises for me!

5. I had my first job when I was 13, wrapping presents during Christmas at a store back home. December in Panama = HOT. The area where I worked was outside so I spent the entire month wrapping presents for $5.60 per day. Yes, per day, it was minimum wage. I thought I was rich.

6. I chose my career early my senior year in high school. Never hesitated. My junior year in college, I was feeling burnt out so I went to the career counselor. Took the test, and the counselor told me I had chosen the one that matched me the most. The only other option would have been chemistry. It figures.

7. I absolutely loved school. I looked forward to going to school and learning new things. Yes, I know, I’m a geek. I’d love to go back and get another degree on something completely opposite of what I do now, like English literature, or History.

8. I want to be a lawyer one day when I grow up, probably environmental law. That way I could use all my degrees.

9. I was in Panama during the American invasion (Dec 89). Years later while in college, I met Robb, who had been in the army, and had been deployed to Panama for the invasion. The stories he told me about it plus my memories of it paint a very different picture from what was reported here about it.

10. When I was 15, my family moved to Costa Rica because of the political turnmoil. We were considered “political refugees” while we were living there.

11. A year later, my family was homeless. We had lost our home in Panama, and didn’t have a home in Costa Rica anymore. We met an Episcopalian priest and his family, and they gave us a place to live in a small apartment adjacent to one of their chapels. I learned then God is always looking out for you, and help will come from places you wouldn’t expect it.

12. The day I arrived in New Orleans, everything Glenda and I owned fit inside one medium size suitcase. Many years later, the same size suitcase isn’t big enough for one week worth of clothes. I’m truly blessed.

13. When I was seven, I wanted to be an astronaut.

14. My first car was a ’79 Montecarlo. It was a great car, and I proudly parked it for 4 years alongside BMW, Mercedes, Acuras that were prevalent at my college campus.

15. I worked 2 jobs the summer before I entered college so I could save enough to take with me. I had $700 to my name the day I arrived at Ole Miss. I had no clue how I was going to make it, but I knew I was not leaving campus without a degree.

16. I was a resident advisor in college, to help pay for my food and other college expenses. I worked in a freshman dorm, and the other RAs became my friends and to this day, we still keep in touch.

17. I have very few close friends, but once someone enters that category, they will be my friends for life.

18. I have not spoken to my father in 10 years. I love him and understand his silence to an extent. Forgiveness isn’t easy but I have my kids to thank for teaching me to forgive my father’s shortcomings.

19. I have 3 other siblings from my father’s first marriage. A brother who is a policeman, a sister who is a SAHM of five kids, and a late sister, who died before I could meet her. I have a bunch of nephews, and some of them are old enough to have kids too so I’m a great aunt!

20. I didn’t know I had other siblings until I was 15. I had a dream I had a brother and mentioned it to my mother. That’s when she told me. My brother and living sister say I look a lot like my late sister. Even her sons were taken aback when they saw me for the first time.

21. If I could talk to one person who has passed, it would have to be the first one of my ancestors who came from Spain. I'd like to know why he/she made the trip.

22. When I was growing up, I was part of a dance company that performed traditional Panamanian dances. I enjoyed it very much, and often wish there was a regional group nearby so I could still participate.

23. At the age of 10, I participated in a public speaking competition. All the kids from 4th-6th grade were allowed to enter. My dad and I wrote the speech, and I still remember the first line from it "El respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz"-Benito Juarez (Peace is respecting someone else's rights). I won that competition.

24. I played basketball and softball in junior high, and played in an intermural basketball team in college.

25. I do not know how to swim.

Friday, April 4, 2008

About me

Got this interview from Sandi Beason at Mississippi Moms.

1: What is your favorite childhood memory?
Summers spent at my grandparents' house. My cousins and I would sit outside, under the stars, and tell stories.

2: Describe your personality?
Quiet, reserved, fiercily loyal.

3: What is your most embarrassing moment?
Nothing comes to mind at the moment. I guess I have blocked them out of my mind.

4: if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Spain, so I can trace back my ancestors

5: If you could change jobs, what would you do?
I would be a teacher.

Now it's your turn. If you want to be interviewed, leave me a comment including the words "Interview me." I will respond by e-mailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.