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domingo, 17 de febrero de 2013

I moved on

In December 2012 I became a brain cancer survivor in remission. I am no longer writing about my struggle with cancer.  However, cancer opened me the possibility to express my love for literature and culture beyond the classroom and the rigid rhetoric of academia.  Beauty is inside, around, and above us, but sometimes we don’t have the space or time to understand that it is “in the eyes of the beholder.”  I hope my writing can expose cancer patients and the general public to enjoy culture as a life experience and experience as a work of art in progress.  

My blog was published as a book under the title Crónicas para matar el cáncer, and some of the entries of this blog were also published in News Papers and digital magazines. I was eventually asked to contribute with my writing for two of these magazines.  I am including here some of the pieces published so far.  I have no intention to close this blog, since I belief that it might be helpful for brain cancer patients who are now struggling with the same situations I went through during the past five years of my live.  However, I am not writing new entries for this blog. From now on, I will add the links of my articles as soon as they are published in 80grados  and  Cruce: Crítica Socio-Cultural Contemporánea .  Here are some of the articles I published in these magazines:

§ En memoria, el olvido”.   80grados.  Web.  8 Feb. 2013.
§  “Confesiones peligrosas”.  Cruce: Crítica Socio-Cultural Contemporánea. Web. 22 Oct. 2012.
§ Cartas desde la sanación: Testimonio”.  Cruce: Crítica Socio-Cultural Contemporánea. Web. 17 Sept. 2012.
§ No nos queda ni el aire.”  80grados.  Web.  29 Jun. 2012. 
§ Sobrela prudencia.”  80grados.  Web.   20 Apr. 2012.
§ Coraje II.”  Cruce: Crítica Socio-Cultural Contemporánea. Web. 6 Jan. 2012.
§ Un día nada extraordinario.”  80grados. Web.  27  Jan. 2012.
§ Satyagraha:  cuerpos, imagen y acción.”  80grados. Web. 25 Nov. 2011.
§ Diseminados”(parte 2)Cruce: Crítica Socio-Cultural  Contemporánea.  Web.10 Aug. 2011.
§ Diseminados”(parte 1). Cruce: Crítica Socio-Cultural Contemporánea.  Web.  3 Aug. 2011.
§ Dos 9/11.”  80 grados.  Web. 10 Sep. 2011.

jueves, 16 de agosto de 2012



Huracán Azul vs. Rojos: The Wrath of Gold 





El partido entre el “Huracán Azul” y la selección española, anunciado como juego “amistoso” para el cual se invirtieron sobre dos millones de euros del erario público, del bolsillo de los ciudadanos contribuyentes de Puerto Rico, con el propósito de fomentar el turismo, requiere una evaluación ponderada. 



Este magnánimo evento ha de ser medido a partir de sus resultados a corto y largo plazo. A juzgar por la opinión vertida en periódicos como El País, ABC y El Mundo, el turismo puertorriqueño se ha beneficiado sustancialmente con este evento. Miles de europeos correrán a comprar un billete de avión para visitar esta isla por tal de no perderse el próximo "bodrio", "farsa", "simulacro de partido", "besamanos de los gerifaltes locales y hasta el respetable", además del césped "mitad sintético" en las "catacumbas del fútbol" con un público que pagó 400 euros por "cantar goles que no entraron" y "pasearse por los pasillos sin descanso" como si se tratara del “Yankee Stadium”. 


Sin embargo, hay que considerar que mientras unos ven el vaso vacío, otros lo ven medio lleno. Noticel hizo una cubierta destacando algo que no sabíamos ni parece interesarle a los medios españoles: “el 30% de lo recaudado en el evento será destinado a formar un Centro de Capacitación de Autismo”´[sic.]. Entiendo la buena intención de la noticia. Espero que se trate de capacitar a los autistas, y a que los ciudadanos nos eduquemos para sobrepasar nuestra ignorancia sobre el autismo. 


En cuanto a quienes les preocupa una inversión de dos millones de euros en un país que no invierte en la cultura, pienso que hay maneras de abrir nuevas avenidas que integren ambas cosas. El fútbol es cultura y nuestros hermanos latinoamericanos tienen una larguísima tradición en este aspecto. Pero ya que empezamos con un juego contra el seleccionado de España y en vista de que cruzar el Atlántico nos sale más barato que viajar al Brasil o a la Argentina, podríamos pensar en llevar a nuestros mejores equipos de los niños de Cantera o Quintana a jugar contra un equipito de barrio de Madrid o Barcelona y que, de paso, la gira incluyera visitas guiadas al Museo del Prado, al Museo Dalí, al Reina Sofía, la Alhambra, la Mezquita de Córdoba, el Alcázar de Segovia. 

El turismo local también podría beneficiarse trayendo niñitos españoles o de Latinoamérica a jugar en Puerto Rico y sacarles fotitos en el Morro, el San Cristóbal, el Parque Ceremonial Indígena Caguana o educándolos sobre el medio ambiente con una gira de Explora para que conozcan nuestras aguas subterráneas, la importancia de la conservación del carso y de la biodiversidad de nuestro ambiente. De hecho, el intercambio cultural tendría mucho más sentido si se llevara a cabo en Latinoamérica, dado que han sido los emigrantes de Centro y Sudamérica quienes más han fomentado el “soccer” en Puerto Rico y de quienes tenemos tanto que aprender. No hay más que pensar que mientras el gobierno español lleva a sus ciudadanos por el camino de la amargura, Brasil y Argentina están en un periodo de resurgimiento verdaderamente envidiable. 

Como profesora de literatura, este evento me ha interesado fundamentalmente por el goce de un sarcasmo periodístico de enorme gracia caricaturesca. Este “partidazo” de fútbol no atraerá turistas españoles a la isla de Puerto Rico, a menos que les haya surgido un repentino interés por jugar fútbol sobre un “césped mitad de plástico”, que los aplaudan hasta por patear pelotas fuera del arco y comenzar el juego después de saludar a los funcionarios locales descritos como si se tratara de quemar una estatua de cartón en las Fallas de Valencia. En realidad, lo mejor de este partido ha sido leer la prensa española quevediando con sarcasmo del bueno, en defensa de las delicadas rodillitas de sus jugadores. Que se dejen de llorar y le pregunten a JLo cómo aseguró sus nalgas. 

Que quede una cosa clara. Hay que felicitar a Maritza Casiano y al secretario de turismo de Puerto Rico por enseñarle a los españoles que el Huracán Azul no era un pronóstico del "Weather Channel" y darnos la excelsa oportunidad de rememorar otros “encuentros amistosos” del pasado. Cuando nuestros taínos de “fermosos cuerpos” le dieron a Cristóbal Colón oro a cambio de cuentecitas de vidrio, mostraron más astucia: le dijeron al italiano aquél que el oro se podía encontrar bien pero que bien lejos. Técnica que emplearon también los incas para que Aguirre se tirara río abajo, en una expedición suicida, en busca de Eldorado. Aguirre, the Wrath of God, de Werner Herzog, es la mejor lección que un país latinoamericano puede aprender de un europeo antes de hacer trueques de oro a nivel transatlántico. 



martes, 20 de septiembre de 2011

Dos 9/11



Picar dos veces aquí  para acceder al enlace.

viernes, 29 de abril de 2011

Esta lengua no le debe al futuro

Pensar que acabadita de operar en MD Anderson mi hinchado cerebro decía “s'il vous plaît” y “merci beaucoup” hasta para pedir un café. Cuantos buenos modales salían entonces de mi cabeza casi moribunda. Ahora que se ha controlado el crecimiento del cáncer por casi cuatro años, ni la pulcra lengua de Cervantes ni la obscenamente decorosa de Luis Rafael Sánchez me parecen suficientes. Hoy, después de pasar por el busto del rey Juan Carlos, la banderita puertorriqueña entrecruzada con la de España, la placa de agradecimiento por la aportación del rey del antiguo imperio al Centro de Cáncer, y tras haberme persignado al pasar frente a la Virgen con fuentecita y azulejos celestes del Hospital Auxilio Mutuo, lo único que pensaba era demostrar mi curación parcial o total del tumor cerebral del lóbulo temporal izquierdo recurriendo a la más cutre gama del repertorio lingüístico español mandando a los cobradores del hospital a coger por….., jo…, ño….. Y no es para menos.

El 11 de marzo de 2011 recibo un cobro de $370.00 por un servicio que se me había ofrecido el 24 de abril de 2011. Sí señores, como oyen, ahora se han dedicado a cobrar por servicios recibidos en el futuro. Al parecer han contratado a cobradores con bolas de cristal y conocimiento exacto de cómo cobrar las deudas antes de que se produzcan. Segurísima de que en Auxilio Mutuo no te dejan comprar una coca-cola por $2.00 sin pagar $2.00 más por botar los gases, decidí contestar la carta de cobro de la manera más escueta y precisa: “No le debo nada al Hospital Auxilio Mutuo y mucho menos por un servicio que no se ha realizado”. Indiqué, por supuesto, el error de las fechas.

La cantidad de dinero que he pagado a Auxilio Mutuo por el espacio de 4 años hubiese requerido no una carta, sino el cajón de papeles del mercado toledano donde Cervantes dijo encontrar los manuscritos de Cide Hamete Benengeli. Los folios amarillentos contienen pagos que sobrepasan las decenas de miles de dólares. Como vivo de mi cabeza y específicamente de la enseñanza de la literatura, he estado pagando religiosamente cada MRI de mi cerebro con la American Express y juntando el dinero necesario para saldar cada mes mis cuentas. Es vital saber a tiempo si no ha vuelto a crecer el tumor que amenaza mi más preciada herramienta de trabajo: el lenguaje. Puse a mi hija en la escuela pública de ciencias y matemáticas de University Gardens y a mi hijo en la UPR porque los $24,000 al año que gastaba en sus colegios privados había que invertirlos en la supervivencia de esta lengua viperina.

De modo que aunque un cobro erróneo y a futuro de $370.00 no parezca nada, para mí es una afrenta; son gigantes, no son molinos. Mis años, como mi carnet de impedida, tienen fecha de expiración. Mis escritos, por otro lado, también tienen fechas límite. Por eso cada minuto y cada palabra cuentan. Perder el tiempo con papeles que se desvanecen en el aire y van a morir en un archivo de un hospital o de un plan de seguro médico, son páginas de sobra; excesos que carcomen el tiempo con más rapidez que las células del cáncer.

Como el argumento de las fechas por cobros a futuro era incuestionable, muestra total y verdadera de que me habían vendido una vulgar bacía y querían cobrarme por el yelmo de Mambrino, la dama que contestó el teléfono trató de convencerme de que quizás había leído demasiados libros y se me había secado la mollera olvidando pagar algunas cuentas. “Mire señora, le ruego a vuestra merced que me diga exactamente qué deuda pueda tener la Dra. Rabell porque le puedo jurar por la virginidad de la madre que a usted la parió y por la frente de su padre el caballero de la frente cornuda que me acerco en 10 minutos con los pergaminos que prueban la nobleza de mi pago fiel por cuanto cobro me han sacado por intrusear en mi tan mancillado y casi extinto cerebro”. “Pues, según los anales históricos de la computadora, usted debe la interpretación médica del MRI del 1ro de mayo de 2009”, dijo la ventera. “Con la Iglesia hemos topado”, pensé para mis adentros: “otra vez sale la desaparecida orden de la Cruz Azul”. Era improbable, pero si estas bestias gigantes de Auxilio Mutuo se hubieran equivocado y no me hubiesen cobrado la interpretación del médico en el 2009, ¿cómo iba yo a pagar una deuda para pedirle luego reembolso a una compañía de seguros fantasma? ¿Enfrentarme en una segunda batalla con el caballero de la Cruz Azul, el mismo con quien había lidiado desde el 2008? Hacía apenas un mes los había obligado a pagar a MD Anderson , pero necesité de Dios, de Luzma y su ayuda… “Hay que ver el lado positivo de las cosas”, me dije. “Debo estar definitivamente curada porque, primero, no me ha dado una convulsión y, segundo, aunque quiero escribir un ensayo sobre el monstruo de la naturaleza y archienemigo de Cervantes, todavía no me sale espuma”.

Llegué a mi casa entre viva y muerta, más lívida y sudada que paciente en quimioterapia. Me hundí en los archivos amarillentos como si estuviera en busca del santo grial. Encontré el santo trío de los milagros: el recibo del MRI, el recibo de la inyección de yodo para lograr la imagen del contraste de mi seco cerebro y el recibo del pago por la interpretación del médico, todo por la suma total de $1, 320.00.

Llegué a Auxilio Mutuo con la triple evidencia en una mano. En la otra cargaba la carta insolente de la Transworld System Inc., compañía de servicios de cobro a la que este hospital había tenido la osadía de contratar para amenazarme por un cobro a futuro y a todas luces inexistente. El nombre les viene al pelo: están fuera de este mundo y en el negocio de cobrarle a muertos-vivos con seguros médicos ya fallecidos. En el hospital me dijeron lo que yo sabía: se trataba de un error. “La culpa es del nuevo sistema de computadoras” y no del programador que los puso a cobrar deudas a futuro e inexistentes. Cuando les dije que era una soberana falta de respeto y consideración no leer mi inmediata respuesta al primer cobro a futuro y venderle una deuda inexistente a una compañía de fuera de este mundo para que se dedicara a joderme con amenazas, tuvieron la desfachatez de explicarme que ellos habían enviado simultáneamente el primer cobro a los pacientes y el contrato a la compañía para que cobrara a los que no pagaran. Contuve mi repertorio lingüístico más cutre y les dije: “solo les aviso que si ustedes no arreglan esto de inmediato los voy a demandar por andar inventando cobros a futuro que muy bien podrían haber sobrevivido a los pacientes de cáncer y pasado en herencia a sus hijos y nietos”. Me pregunto cuántas familias con seres queridos ya difuntos habrán recibido cartas similares y cuántas habrán perdido la triple evidencia que colocó a estos zafios ante la balanza de su cadena de embustes.

Supongo que las deudas a futuro de un muerto no se heredan pero los sobrevivientes ya tenemos suficientes problemas para tener que aguantar tanto trasmundo de malevolencia desalmada. Los hice firmar su error en el mismo papel en el cual la compañía de cobros me daba un plazo amenazante de un máximo de 30 días. Terminaré de escribir ese ensayo sobre Lope en el cual había dejado las palabras con las espadas en alto. Leeré mi conferencia en Francia. Actuaré civilizada y profesionalmente como sólo se puede hacer en un país donde la medicina no se explota ni se vende. Auguro, sin embargo, que si de regreso a la Isla del Espanto en el Hospital Auxilio Mutuo no han arreglado este entuerto, yo misma les daré la última estocada.

lunes, 19 de julio de 2010

We Shall Take Wings as Eagles


My daughter is 14 going on 15. I am 49 going on 50. She was only 11 years old when I was diagnosed with brain cancer. When I was told that I was going to die within one year unless I had surgery and follow-up treatment, perhaps chemotherapy and/or radiation, I immediately asked how many more years I would survive if I follow the whole treatment. “You have between 5 and 7 years of survival,” but some people live longer than that. At age 47, I had lived long enough to see most of my dreams come true, but leaving my sixth grade daughter under the supervision of my 71 year old husband and my 18 year old son was definitely something I never thought about.

If I did not follow the treatment I would skip all together those difficult adolescent years in which all daughters hate everything about their mothers. Not too bad, I thought. But, then, I would have deprived my daughter from the pain of figuring out her own self image while trying to escape from her dreadful mother. Dying while still being the adorable mom of a little girl was probably easier. She would have remembered all those birthday parties we shared together, her soccer and basketball games, reading, dancing and swimming together. She would probably remember how fascinated she was with the images of Virgin Mary at Museo del Prado in Madrid, or her disappointment when she did not find any Virgin Mary at Musée Pompidou in Paris. We both enjoyed Museo Miró in Barcelona, and Museo Dalí in Figueres. Would she remember that she needed my hug when she got scared while listening the story of the Nazi attack in Museo Guernica, or while entering to the attic where Ana Frank wrote her diary in Amsterdam? Was she going to remember our life together before being shattered by cancer?

Sometimes I was so weak, that I did not know if I was going to make it. After my first surgery, I needed therapy to be able to walk again. Once I was able to walk, I was informed that I could not drive because the pills I needed to take to avoid seizures could actually provoke a seizure. Soon after my second surgery at MD Anderson, when I was still in chemotherapy and trying to recover my ability to remember words, my daughter asked me: “Mother, when are you going to get better? Do you see, if I need to depend on daddy and Danilo, my social life is over.” I had to tell her the truth that I did not know when or if I was going to get better, but I was going to do my best so that she could go back to having a normal life. She was still mom’s little girl, but I needed to trust the mothers of her classmates so that she would not miss a basketball game, a musical or birthday parties. I needed to delegate on other women so that my husband could help me at home during my recovery process.

My husband, my son, my aunt Tati, and so many people helped so that I could go back to “normal.” But sometimes I felt so weak and sick that I wondered how much easier it would had been if I just gave up and forgot about those 5 to 7 years of survival. I prayed, and asked for an answer, because I needed to know if it was worth the trouble of surviving. I soon found an answer: “But they that hope in the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall take wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).” While in doubt, I chose to hope and have faith that my strength would be renewed, that I would take wings as an eagle, that I would run and not be weary, that I would walk and not faint.

It might sound childish, but I decided that I should have some input in this whole renewal process. So, I choose a happy picture of myself when I was at my best, hanged it right in front of my bed, and decided that if God wanted to renew my life, he should rather make me look closer to when I was 26 years old. Without even knowing it, I had spent the last 10 years of my life suffering terrible headaches. So, I wanted to go back to the strength I had 21 years before, when I felt a lot better. To be frank, I would spend a week in bed while I was in chemotherapy, followed by three good weeks in which I would walk to the next door gym so that I could regain some energy. For a whole year, I did nothing else than recovering my health, my memory and just trying to get better.

Every morning, I looked at that picture in the hope that I would sometime “walk and not faint”. On my way to the dinning room, before having breakfast, and after looking at my old picture of those happy days gone, I would say “thank you Lord, for another beautiful day, and all those wonderful days still to come.”

I have survived cancer for two years and a half. My daughter is now 14. Yesterday, she had one of those difficult adolescent tantrums. She was crying because her school uniform is a little tight and she would not look good unless she looses at least 5 pounds. She then looked at me and asked for help. I told her that all what she needed to do was eating healthy food every three hours, exercise every day, and hang a picture on her wall so that she could see every morning how she wanted to look like. “I don’t know, Carla, how do you want to look like, perhaps like Lady Gaga, Penélope Cruz, or Jennifer López? It doesn’t matter, the important thing is to focus on a goal and stick to it.”

Then, I told her: “don’t forget to thank God for being so funny, smart, beautiful, for the wonderful life you have lived so far, and for the great days to come.” “It works,” I told her. “Do you see that picture on my wall? If I can feel so well after two brain surgeries, a year of chemotherapy and a strict diet to get out of diabetes 2, you can easily fit into that skirt within two or three weeks.” She stopped crying and went up stairs to her bedroom. After several hours, she came back to show me her chosen picture. This time around, I was the one crying. I saw my own picture hanging on her wall. Perhaps my cancer made her grow-up faster. She is supposed to hate me now and love me later on. We need more than five more years to survive adolescence. I still hope for the best: we “shall take wings as eagles.”

sábado, 6 de febrero de 2010

Living la vida Kafka


I am almost there, but not quite yet. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Honestly, I don’t know anymore if I am dead or alive. Perhaps I died and was sent to the purgatory until my soul is purified or definitely melted to be thrown right into heaven or hell. I am not speaking here about surviving cancer, but about surviving the fake security of a HEALTH INSURANCE.

Having two brain surgeries, a year of chemotherapy, a whole year of self-taught language and memory therapy, and a second year of a strict nutritional and fitness program to deal with the type two diabetes developed as the side effects of the steroids and medicines I took to kill cancer cells were a piece of cake. What no one told me was that Health Insurance Companies are the mirror image of Life Insurances. One makes its profit if you die soon, the other if you live forever. Now that I have proven been stronger than Cheer, and cockroaches, health insurance companies are throwing atomic bombs on me.

My original plan (Blue Cross of Puerto Rico) was bought by Triple S and after I thought I was in heaven already, I was sent back to daily misery. Although Triple S agreed to follow Blue Cross original contract till 2010, they systematically denied every single brain M.R.I. for different reasons. The first one because their reimbursement procedure was different to Blue Cross and nobody explained the difference to me even though I specifically asked about it. I had to file a second claim and my money was reimbursed one month later, just in time to do my second M.R.I. Even though I asked again for the specific procedure and I followed it, this time the assistant who pre-approved my brain M.R.I. put the information on the computer screen but forgot to send the information to Saint Peter so that he could give me the microchip needed to get into heaven. For a second time, I had to fight against the axis of evil. Thank God, an angelic soul who happens to be my cousin, another Carmen, helped me navigate this struggle. This time around, on March 1st 2010, right before teaching my classes at the University, I will be waiting right in front of the door of the M.R.I. Center of Auxilio Mutuo Hospital, with a number at hand that proves beyond reasonable doubt that my M.R.I. had been pre-approved and even though I have to pay $1, 215.00 for it out of my pocket, hopefully, Triple S will return a portion of the money in a timely fashion. Hopefully, I will be able to focus only with the normal anxiety of having my veins being filled with fluids while I mentally review my class notes at the same time as my brain is screened for an hour. That’s better than handling a health insurance company.

I was told by another angel who works in the other side of the coin of the insurance business that only one out of the five health insured patients whose claims are denied actually go back to the process of submitting a second claim. Health insurance companies actually make money out of the four patients that are so sick to fight that they decide to die in peace rather than dealing with them. I am here with a number written on the palm of my hand, I am a number, branded like a slave or a cow, waiting to survive this third time around, trying to learn how to navigate the intricate map of Triple S’s bureaucratic procedures. But this was never my idea of true meaningful knowledge.

You might think that I am just an ungrateful complainer who does not appreciate this second chance to be alive. Well, maybe my understanding of living did not include spending hours on the phone fighting to get the procedures that I obviously need to maintain my survival. Now that I feel great I want to enjoy life, and life for me is having time to help others (my family, my students, my community), and to broaden my horizons through all kinds of spiritual, intellectual and leisure activities. I know there should be time for everything, but this is just plummeting down, draining away all my concept of time.

Well, instead of reading, writing, preparing for my classes, research and community service, I have to spend hours fighting with two demons that are constantly sending me back to the purgatory: one is called Triple S and the other is Blue Cross. This second is a powerful one. I have been fighting for NINE MONTHS to make BLUE CROSS pay for a Psycho Linguistic Test performed at MD Anderson on April 2009. Doesn’t matter that I submitted a copy of a letter in which BLUE CROSS pre-approved this “service,” they are still denying to pay for it. I can sue them for not paying, but hey, I am in purgatory right now, afraid to deal with a lawyer that might send me right into hell. If lawyers come in, they will probably suck all the money that these two blood suckers have left me. More over, just when I thought that eventually Blue Cross will submissively accept that it is better for them to pay in order to avoid being sued (after all, I have a paper in my hand with a written pre-approval of that darn procedure), MD Anderson sent me another new bill statement in which I now have to pay double the previous amount reported by them. I immediately called them to find out the source of this change. Well, now BLUE CROSS has also denied the same Psycho Linguistic Test that they performed the day right before my surgery, on February 18 2008. Well that’s a shot I don’t know how to fight, since, although I explained to the Hospital that every procedure needed to be pre-approved by Blue Cross and I have a witness that back me up on this one, I don’t have the time or desire to fight against whoever the idiot was who did not follow the proper procedures. After all, another idiot at MD Anderson scheduled for me two breast enhancements, and another one scheduled my anesthesia pre-evaluation for the day AFTER surgery. This shit has happened before. As the joke goes, a Catholic will think that if shit happens, I deserve it. Well I am that naive protestant who thinks that if I work hard enough, shit will not happen to me. But I have gone far beyond those three mental thoughts. However, I am not foolish enough to ask why this shit happens TO ME. It happens to everyone. WE JUST HAVE TO BLOW THE DARN SHIT and destroy this system even if we kill all our energy in the process. This is surreal. I will like to throw some of this shit to those tea party throwers. They actually have time for a lot of shit.

Going back to my story, since Blue Cross was bought by Triple S, Triple S is not responsible to pay for services previously “provided” by Blue Cross, and Blue Cross is just not paying out of their whimsical knowledge that, after all, I might not ruin my years left to survive fighting with an almost none existing ghost that resides somewhere in main land USA. For those who have followed this blog, you might understand how necessary it is for a brain cancer patient who happens to have a tumor in the left lobe of the brain to know whether or not some language skills were there both before and after surgery. Moreover, this test evaluates whether or not I am succeeding in creating new shortcuts to cope with those old connections that were lost forever. My work and means of survival depend on my ability to think and express thoughts through language. Here I am, with a number and a paper at hand, waiting for someone to read my pain.

jueves, 10 de diciembre de 2009

Just an Ordinary Day







December 9th of 2009 was just another common day, nothing out of the ordinary. At 6:00 AM The Golden Mile, the business district of the Metropolitan area of San Juan, was still quiet, but the smell of cars approaching were enough to wake me up in El Monte Sur. I prepared breakfast and lunch for Carla at the rhythm of more cars approaching our building. At 7:00 AM, Carla, my brother Gami and I had breakfast, just before joining the stream of cars and horns on our way to El Condado, the tourist area of San Juan where Robinson School is located. While parents drive through the parking lot at the back of the school, pedestrian tourists enjoy the view of the school’s water fountain, the landscape at the front yard and if they are just waking up, they can see the open sea through their hotel room’s windows.



I did not have time enough to drive through Ashford Avenue as I usually do on my way home. So, I missed my morning opportunity to have a glimpse of the sea at “La ventana al mar,” the only little spot of Condado were a hotel or Condo had not yet interrupted our visual access to the wide open sea. Indeed, I also skipped my daily exercise routine at Gold’s Gym, my second private morning ritual. The first one helps me open my eyes to the infinite world beyond me. The other is an inward experience through the molding, contortion and masochist punishment of my own body. Whenever driving through Ashford Avenue, I hope to have a glimpse of the sea, but I avoid any eye contact while exercising. Whenever I dear to raise my eyes, I have the feeling that, right in front of the gym, people driving through Muñoz Rivera Avenue look at us as urban zoo inhabitants, a bunch of good for nothing playing at their monkey bars.

Yesterday I skipped my game of seen and being seen. Instead, I accompanied my brother Gami to pick up my parent’s cat at the vet’s office at 8:30 AM. Congo scratched my mother’s right leg, something very dangerous for a diabetic patient. We took the cat to a vet in order to remove its nails so that my mother could keep it inside the house. That trip to Roberto Clemente Avenue and Rolling Hills was an odd exchange. We returned the cat to our parents while at the same time they said good bye to Gami who was heading back to Boston, his own jungle habitat. At 11:00 AM, I drove back to my home at El Monte Sur. I wished Gami to have a safe trip to Boston and Jaime drove Danilo and I to the university around 11:20. My son went to his class. I stopped in front of the tower to attend for a little while to the peaceful demonstration against violence organized by the students from the School of Business.


I wore a white shirt and skirt as everybody else; a theatrical expression against the darkness of violence created by our own institutionalized evilness: injustice, greediness, and alienation from anything beyond ourselves. I stood for a while in front of the Theodore Roosevelt Tower, a Spanish “Renaissance” building which main hall has the emblems of all the Latin American Countries, the American eagle at the center of the front entrance, and the emblems of the oldest university of South America (Universidad de San Marcos), the oldest North American University (Harvard) and the University of Puerto Rico. The sculptures of a man holding a book and a woman holding a diploma represent the promise of education. Lady Justice is at one of the bases of the four columns at the front entrance of the tower, accompanied by Arts and Sciences, Education and Pharmacy. The dream of modernity stands still and petrified at that Spanish-American minaret tower, while the peaceful demonstration taking place right in front of the building still hopes for a better future, one in which a young female student can walk openly besides the walls of the university without confronting the cross fire of drug dealers that dropped out of middle school to play with guns. Lady Justice, Education, Arts and Science cannot compete with Lady Pharmacy. Harvard, UPR and Universidad de San Marcos are nothing to those kids who see no other light, but pharmaco-“blimblines” at the end of the tunnel. We have all failed in this world with so many open eyes seeing and being seen, and so many other walking in the shadow. I wonder if some day those teens playing with fire have even had the chance to look beyond the walls around the campus of the university, just as I struggle to have a glimpse of the sea that has been covered by condos, hotels and casinos, all of them so tall and brightened by electric flashing power. The Roosevelt Tower at the University of Puerto Rico with two statues holding a diploma and a book are pale icons difficult to sell in Disney or Las Vegas.

From 1:00 to 7:00 PM, I taught three undergraduate classes while Jaime drove Gami to the airport and picked Carla at Robinson School. It was the last class of the semester and I discussed "Candide," by Voltaire. I spent some time comparing the common grounds of different narrations, from Genesis, the Golden Age, El Dorado, and Trapalanda, to the myth of modernity. Needless to say that Candide’s adventures were widely enjoyed by my students precisely because it reminded us of our own fallen world.

At 7:00 PM, Jaime drove Danilo and I to El Monte Sur, and I took the wheel to drive towards Punta las Marías for the last 2009 Council meeting at the Union Church of San Juan.
All the documents of my committee were approved, and I drove back to El Monte Sur around 10:30 PM. It was raining cats and dogs and I decided that I will not return home through Ocean Park, my last chance of the day to have a view of the open sea. I returned home through the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge. It was so dark that I could not see the lagoon. Back home, I opened my Facebook and found out that Jaime was celebrating with Carla my second year as a cancer survivor drinking a glass of Chilean pisco sauer. Two years ago I was unconscious for six hours. I have to admit that although I might never recover those six hours, I have gained my ability to live, enjoy and remember every detail of an ordinary day, nothing extraordinary.