Questions and Lessons

Some things are easier to learn than others. In 20 (almost 21!!!) years the people I love have taught me everything I understand about life and who I want to be as a person. The world really isn’t so scary when there are people around who have already experienced it. If you ask nicely they’ll even tell you all about what it has to offer and some of the ways to make it better.


My whole life I have been reading books to try and figure out the right way to ask questions. I wrote down all the answers I could find in my own handwriting and always tried to say I had it all figured out. My entire life has been spent learning and through journalism, I can keep asking questions and figuring out the truth of things. When I decided to try and spend the rest of my life writing, my Dad was the most supportive. He always wants me to do whatever makes me the most excited. Whenever I felt like I didn’t have a voice, he would sing with me in the car and always asked me for mixed CDs. My dad taught me how to argue and how to cry in front of people without feeling ashamed. I Whenever I need to be inspired I always just call my Dad.


In August we talked about his graduation in December. I told him how excited and proud I was, but to be fair I was more annoyed that he had to beat me in getting a Bachelors. Truly, I can’t believe how he does it. He’s an actual superhero and I am so inspired by his ability to choose joy in all things.


Whenever my brother and I throw a pity party, my dad likes to remind us that we are MexiCAN and Puerto RiCAN. He’s mostly a dork, but I think about this a lot when I need a reminder of where my family came from. He means that his dad came to America at 19 years old to make a better life for himself and his kids. My Grampy worked in a factory his entire life so my uncles and father wouldn’t have to. My dad means that my Abuelita (Ita) came to Chicago when she was 16 because she wanted a future. Growing up she always told me to stay in school so I wouldn’t have to work like she did. My dad means that if my grandparents can do all these things then so can I because I have their blood.


Out of all the lessons I have learned so far, these are what matter. My Dad always has the best answers and without him I wouldn’t know how to be hardworking and loyal. I would be lacking a mentor in the art of comedy and I wouldn’t know how to be bold or daring.


And to think we are both students.

Oxygen is overrated

Under the water, screams and shouts are muffled. Other people no longer exist because all you can really hear is the bubbles from your own exhales and splashes as your body moves through the water. If you pay close enough attention you can hear your own heartbeat and sometimes it feels like you can even hear your muscles straining.

The first time I raced another girl in a pool I was 10 years old. I probably cannonballed into the water and leisurely floated down the pool as my Dad yelled at me to kick my little legs faster. Swimming competitively in all its miserable ups and downs and it’s heartbreak and victory is something that I stopped doing three years ago. And to be honest it was quite easy for me to decide not to swim in college. I knew pretty early on that I wanted to have a more ‘normal’ college experience. I wanted to be able to focus on accomplishing my academic goals rather than continuing to pursue my swimming ones. But wow I miss it more than I thought I would.

It’s been a long time now since my identity was largely defined by my sport. Now, it’s mostly defined by my majors and what I hope to do with them.

I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I do think it is interesting how much we, as humans, so closely connect the things we do with our identity. Labels and finding ways to define who we are is such a crucial part of this crazy process of life and losing a part of that definition is particularly melancholy.

Swimming entirely shaped my life. It made me boldly unafraid of early morning after early morning (even if I still despise them). It taught me the hard way how to manage anxiety and recover. Best of all it taught me that sinking is what happens before you break through the surface. I trained underneath a retired Navy Seal and he taught us to simply focus on the next step. Climb onto the blocks and focus on having the best dive of your life. Then streamline. Recognize the ache in your lungs, but hold it for just a second longer. Finally you’re allowed to breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Breathe.

These are a few of my favorite things

Lately my lovely mother has been demanding my famous and highly anticipated 15th annual Christmas list. However, this year as a financially unstable college student I have formally requested tuition reimbursement and a Wal-Mart gift card. I am also very clearly aging because without even breaking into a smile I also wrote down “Socks (but not cotton because those make my feet sweat)”. As President Trump would comment: Sad!!!

In order to ignore the depressing reality that I, at 20 years old, really, really hope Santa brings me a nice vacuum for Christmas here is my feeble attempt at a “lifestyle” blog post. So, for those of you who need a “Gift giving guide for the fun and flirty college aged gal” here are a few things that are ~hip~ and I particularly like this season.

  • To be honest the entire Anthropologie website is a good place to start. Just pick anything and there’s no doubt in my mind your girl will be more than content with your incredibly thoughtful gestures. Wow. Good job you’re done. More specifically, I’m a huge fan of their Volcano scented candles:capri-blue-candles-imageHoly guacamole. Now I’ve never seen or smelled a real volcano but there’s a lot of doubt in my mind that this is what it would be like. It’s described as “tropical fruits, sugared oranges, lemons and limes, redolent with lightly exotic mountain greens (FRESH)”. All I’m saying is that one time I literally wanted to smell this stupid candle so badly I got legitimately upset that I didn’t own one. I know it’s better to smell candles and perfumes before purchase, but if whoever you buy this for hates it just tell them they’re wrong and keep it for yourself or send it to me. Thanks.


  • Fair warning for this one: sometimes I am not very smart. I requested this book for my birthday last year thinking it was B.J. Novak’s autobiography. It is not. What it IS however, is a delightful collection of short stories from (arguably) one of the greatest comedic writers of our time. It’s no secret I LOVE The Office and good ole B.J. is one of the mastermind writers behind that jolly good show. I’ve been reading this book over the short little break from school I have been blessed with and it has done the trick in helping me laugh and view life in a more simple and lighthearted way. It’s short, easy, but probably not for the whole fam. 10/10 would recommend.BJ
  • Betsey Johnson has a lot of crazy purses and handbags, but I LOVE her stuff. When I started college I bought one of her backpacks which is still going strong three years later. People I’ve never talked to have actually recognized me because of how cute my bag is… just sayin *hair flip*. It’s seriously one of my prized possessions because it’s massive and incredibly sturdy. This one is clear which I think is pretty neat. It’d be nice to be able to look through my bag to check if I packed my phone rather than dig through it and why yes I am lazy.


  • Anyone that knows me knows that I am a lampy person. Fluorescents and I definitely don’t get along. This seeps into the candlelight category, but it’s a stand alone. Although this is very college-dorm-like, Christmas lights are shamelessly my preferred source of light. They’re hanging up in my living room and my bedroom and they are absolutely not just for the holidays.  Luckily they’re pretty cheap and last a while too!!! Upgrade your fave girl with a set of these cool string lights from Crate and Barrel. 




A Paradox


Part of the reason I got into journalism is because I want to chase headlines for the rest of my life. Before I wanted the things I want now, I thought I was going to be a front-line photographer documenting the horrific tragedies of war. I imagined myself on Iwo Jima snapping flag raising photos of sweat stained men and dodging bullets on the front line trying to get the perfect exposure. (Am I young and naive? Why yes. Yes I am).

But the real adventure for me lies in the people. God, the people. I love them. The good, the bad, the annoying. People never fail to amaze me because each person is too completely full of multitudes of complexities and amazing feats. Journalism has given me this special and unique opportunity to talk to so many, vastly different and incredible people.

My main man Carl Rogers, father of humanistic psychology and all around good guy (probably), once said, “When I look at the world I’m pessimistic, but when I look at people I am optimistic.” This is just me being selfish though. When I produce decent journalism, either by luck or painful hours of labor, it doesn’t really matter what I got out of it or how fulfilling of a story it was for me to tell. What I actually want is for this world to make me feel just as optimistic as individual people do.

See, I like truths. I like living in the black or the white. It’s too easy to get lost in the grey of foggy, early mornings. Things would be a lot simpler if human dealings could be explained through two colors. Light or dark. The problem is that things are messy. I like to believe that fact-checkers and professional researchers can help make things more clear.

Somewhere along the way I got convinced that the best way to do this is by fighting for the good in the world through words and far, wide reaching stories. The idea that messages in a bottle can now be discovered at the click of a link or the unfolding of a paperback. As connected as we are, it seems we are more divided than we should be.


to be heard, one must listen

I’m starting to like this whole blog thing more than I thought. I pay $50 a year to have my very own shiny website and I finally like how it looks. Even though my mom and my professors are the only people who glance at this, I have something of a voice, even if it’s not listened to very often.

I wrote an article about being heard at the end of my absolutely incredible summer internship. (Which I posted last week on my updated work page!) I wrote about journalism and stories and I could go on and on about how great it all is, but in light of Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, Terry Richardson, etc. etc. etc. having a voice is almost not enough.

Anyone affected by sexual assault absolutely deserves every single platform available to share their story if they want to. However, it doesn’t seem like there is enough focus on how difficult that is to initiate in the first place. I can’t even begin to imagine the bravery and courage it would require for a victim of sexual assault to tell their story. For some perspective, DOZENS of women claimed Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them over the course of decades and still the judge declared a mistrial in July after the jury spent six days deliberating. I do understand how difficult something like sexual assault is to prove in the courts, but I still find it absolutely ridiculous to believe all those women are lying.

Imagine for a moment being one of those women and being told “Well, no one will believe you anyways.” Having a voice should honestly be enough. If one woman is strong enough to stand alone and say ‘this happened to me’ as a society, we should listen, have a conversation, and try to understand. The fact that victims require strength in numbers is a massive indicator on how the value of human life is skewed.

Those women dared to speak out against one of the most influential and respected celebrities of our time and a lot of people don’t believe the allegations because of Cosby’s artificially constructed public image. People seem to forget that the character of a comedian or actor or musician is far more important than their work. The world is full of equally, if not more, creative people who are actually decent human beings.

For another perspective; Amber Rose did an interview on one of my favorite podcasts last year regarding this topic. Don’t let the title scare you, it’s good to be openminded.


Generation 3

I come from an entire family of strong women. Women who are kind and intelligent, loyal and caring, but definitely above all strong. My family explodes with an almost annoying amount of love and joy at every single holiday and all of the overwhelming support began with my Grandma Elizabeth. 

Elizabeth was a giant. She’d be embarrassed if I called her an icon but she was absolutely the center around which my family spun. Even as friends and family began taking care of her more than usual, the candy bowls stayed filled and still, she was never too tired to hear about other’s complaints which were way less serious than hers.

She loved and outlived at least two men in her lifetime, witnessing firsthand the acute profoundness and magnitude of love. She raised seven incredible and unique babies all on her own and I always say it’s a miracle that none of them ended up as serial killers. My aunts and uncles are the most amazing people I know starting with my Aunt Teresa and ending with my Uncle Greg (who will try to tell you he saved my life if you ask him). Sixteen grand babies and five great grandkids later, my Grandma is a woman who was loved so unconditionally, she was given back the love she so freely spent. Which seems like the best return investment I can imagine. She honestly could’ve murdered someone and the lot of us would’ve defended her sweet little soul.

I always wished my Grandma could’ve been there when I had my own kid. My mom always described how calming Elizabeth was in the delivery room and I always pictured having my warrior of a grandmother by my side. She would’ve made me feel silly for being in pain, telling me to knock it off and push. I always wanted to see my own little fourth generation meet the first, but sometimes lives don’t get to overlap and we just slightly miss each other. Almost as if by accident or a bad luck of the draw.

The truth is that I’ve never been very strong on my own or by myself. My mom sometimes says that it takes a village to raise me because of how much I rely on my people to cheer me on and dust me off. After a cry, she likes to remind me that “You’re German! Germans are strong,” but I’m a little too much like my father. I also got the Puerto Rican genes in that I am way too emotional to function and I feel things way too deeply. I grew up noticing these differences in my parents and how, in some ways, I got a pretty even serving of their genes. And I love that. I think that is incredible and perplexing. The honest truth is that I’m not sure if I will ever feel completely balanced between who I am, who I probably should be, or who I am earnestly striving to be. But, in some ways I think life is all about finding that balance and figuring out how to be okay when the scales are tipped in one direction. 

Maybe that kind of wisdom and grace comes with age. I am starting to understand that, truly, some things are impossible to understand without time on your side (as much as I would like to think that I already understand the secrets to life). My grandma is the oldest woman on my mother’s side of the family and she has seen parts of the world I’ll never be able to touch. I’ve always associated distance with knowledge, but Grandma lived her entire life within 50 miles of my hometown and yet her perspective on love and family are already unachievable in my timeline.

Catholics believe that the soul is an infinite creation. Each is unique and there are no expiration dates, but infinity is quite the concept. There’s a lot of focus a lot on how this little concept applies to us unspectacular humans. What I don’t like is how language doesn’t comply with this. As much as I know her soul is still somewhere, writing in the present doesn’t make sense, but neither does writing in the past. Words have always been my first true love and will always mean much more to me than they should, but I’ve never before been this angry or frustrated at how they can often fail us.

She’s here and she’s not here.

All I really know is that life ends and the only thing to do that makes sense is to start the process of moving on, but honestly the heartbreak is worth it. Elizabeth is gone and she deserves every tear her absence brings. A professor once told my class after her mother’s death, “I may never be as happy as I was before, but I will be a different kind of happy. My suffering was a tribute to my mother and if I wasn’t going to be sad then, when would I be?”

My Grandma deserved her own soliloquy. I guess I just keep wondering what she might’ve said if I was there.

things i know to be true

  • Life is greater than materialistic matters. Love and kindness and God and ideas are far more important and immortal.
  • Every person has to belong to multiple people. There’s a high chance that a single person is important to multiple people and I have to be alone even when I feel lonely.
  • Life isn’t worth living if you don’t have people to share it with.
  • Up north is as close to Heaven as you’ll ever get.
  • Trees are underrated.
  • No matter how hard I try, I will never be able to tame time or gain an understanding of how or why it seems to pass slowly and quickly all at once and on separate occasions.
  • Miracles happen everyday if you look closely enough.
  • Rudy Francisco once said, “It doesn’t matter if your cup is half empty or half full, drink that shit and stop complaining.” Poetry and words can change the world.
  • Coffee should never be drunk in mornings and is much more satisfying on cold afternoons. Haley always says I abuse the milk. This bitter bean juice needs to be at least a little creamy.
  • The future doesn’t exist yet. You can paint that picture however you want it to look like. There’s no point in getting caught up on what you have or haven’t done.
  • Liquid dinners are not recommended by physicians or professional adults for a reason. It’s not a bad idea to shut up and take some advice every once in a while.
  • Home can be in more than one place. Whether that’s near cornfields, close to city streets, or right by B, home is definitely wherever you feel loved.