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Remembering and being grateful

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“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” ― Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

I forget…a lot.  The good and the bad.  Out of sight, out of mind.  But some things are not meant to be forgotten. Some things need to be remembered.

Two days ago, September 11,  I arrived at JFK from my trip to Brazil.  I was feeling blessed for having had an uneventful, but still amazing trip to Brazil.  It makes me feel good that I am able to bring my mother to NY twice a year and provide her with a comfortable and fun time this late in her life.

This flight to NY was unexpectedly better than previous ones.  Mom and I were upgraded to first class.  To be able to lay flat and sleep on a 9 and a half hour flight is just amazing. The Brazilian cheese bread and Brazilian corn biscuits for breakfast were the icing on this champagne filled cake.  What I loved most is that my Mom was able to experience the comfort of first class.

“Human beings do terrible things to each other and the tragic thing about it all is the way the remembrance of past hurt can rob us of our future and become the narrative of our lives.” ― Richard Holloway

Life was unfolding as it normally does whenever I arrive from Brazil with unpacking and catching up on work stuff when I realized it was September 11.  I should have remembered it.  I felt silly for celebrating flying first class when so many were remembering and mourning a tragedy.  I felt tone deaf and disrespectful.  I am embarrassed that I didn’t remember it earlier.  I didn’t think of it when I booked the ticket or even when I checked in.

I personally knew and worked with several people that died that day.  I worked for Euro Brokers Inc for several years in their Stamford, CT office.  Their main office was on the 84th Floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center.  I quit that job on a spur of the moment when they decided to close the CT office and move everyone to the NY office. I had no interest in working in Manhattan and I also felt I was done with the commodities brokerage world.

A year later, and still to this day I am working in Manhattan in the same industry I was tired of 20 years ago.  

“The living owe it to those who no longer can speak to tell their story for them.” – ― Czesław Miłosz

I was late remembering the date but I often remember details and moments lived with some that have passed, in other occasions also. There are so many memories of the people I knew that perished.  I remember one for his kindness, one for his laugh and one for his readiness to help. Then there is another that loved life so much he never missed a party or a trip and only dated models.  There were so many people, so many different stories, so many lessons to learn.

I said prayers for their souls and their families.  I also paused for the ones that I didn’t know and also the survivors  that are still dealing with survivor’s guilt. I remembered the true heroes of that day, both dead and alive.

I am remembering and trying to honor their memories the best way I know how: being kind always, being helpful whenever I can,  laughing aloud often, enjoying life fully, and being grateful for all.  I am no longer feeling guilty and embarrassed about talking about flying first class.  Enjoying life is the best way to honor the dead.

I am grateful for the gift of memory, even though late and faulty.  For having my parents still here, for being upgraded and feeling luxurious for a moment, for having life while many were taken too soon.  For all the blessings small and large. For every moment and every breath.

“I could have.What does this phrase mean? At any given moment in our lives, there are certain things that could have happened but, didn’t. The magic moments go unrecognized, and then suddenly, the hand of destiny changes everything.”― Paulo Coelho

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Brazil here I come again, and again, and again

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  “Chaos is merely order waiting to be deciphered.” ― José Saramago

Time and time again I am being taught that nothing is under my control and not everything can be done according to my clock.  I have to wait for people and things and waiting kills me.  At this moment life feels chaotic and I am learning (kicking and screaming) to be okay with it.

I like order and everything organized, but messy is becoming my new normal.  The work I am doing in my apartment is not completed yet and at this point has no completion date.  I wanted to have it all done before I brought my Mom here for her biannual visit.  It will not be the case.

“You may delay, but time will not.” ― Benjamin Franklin

Time got away from me.  All of a sudden I realized that September is here and I still hadn’t scheduled a date to go to Brazil.  So last week I got tickets for tomorrow.  My lack of planning resulted in paying an arm and a leg for the tickets. I will try to plan things better in the future, but it seems that there is never a right time to leave work.  Since this trip is so last minute I will be taking my laptop with me and will be doing work from there. I am already regretting having said I was going to do that.

I will be in Brazil for 10 days, bring Mom here for 3 weeks, then returning to Brazil to take Mom home.  After Mom turned 80 and her health has declined a bit I don’t like to let her travel alone anymore.

In the meantime I still haven’t planned my skiing trip.  Perhaps there is a Ski Trip Fairy that will come in during the night and put an itinerary under my pillow.

One can hope.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin

That man in the corner is my brother, not my fiance

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“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” ― Plato

I hadn’t seen Matthew for a while, perhaps because I have been getting to work at 7am and he arrives at the corner of Madison and 34th later than that.

I have mentioned him on different posts. My heart breaks for him and all the other homeless people.  I try to stop and talk to them if I feel it is safe. Unfortunately a lot of them are afflicted by mental illness.  I know what is like to feel invisible (I have never been homeless, but I will always be a 17 year old immigrant).  The hunger oftentimes is not for food.

We talk about everything. We talk about our families and plans. He asks about my dating life. Even he can’t figure out why I am still single. He probably thinks what everyone thinks: “There must be something wrong with her”. 🙂

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”  ― Leo Buscaglia

He is so upbeat, specially this morning. I want to believe that he really believes everything he is saying and not just telling me what I want to hear. Listening to him speak one would think he will be off the streets in a day or two. Not the case, and I fear we both know it.

I tell him to keep positive, pray for guidance, trust in God – all the things I tell anyone going through any hardship.  I want him to go to his father for help, but he always has some excuse why not yet.  About a year ago he mentioned visiting his father, but according to him, he returned here to get his life together.

“More smiling, less worrying. More compassion, less judgment. More blessed, less stressed. More love, less hate.” ― Roy T. Bennett

Today he told me that he worked with someone washing awnings a couple of times this week and there is one lady in the hotel industry that promised to get him a job cleaning hotel rooms. Fingers crossed.

He made a point of showing me his nails and saying: “Look how clean they are. I am the homeless guy with the cleanest nails in NY City”.

We also talked about that video he appeared on. I mentioned it here: https://blessedwithastarontheforehead.com/2018/12/28/more-good-more-light-more-love-in-2019/

He was upset about it. He says he found out it is not really about philanthropy but a commercial for Amazon Prime Now. I don’t know if that is true or not. He mentioned had he known that he wouldn’t have signed the release.

He was worried most about his father.  He said: “Can you imagine if my father sees it?”

I pacified him by saying: “If he hasn’t seen it by now he probably never will.”

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” ― Dalai Lama XIV

Isn’t that amazing that some of us, no matter our ages still care what our parents think? I have been living on my own in another country since I was 17 years old and it is extremely important to me that I am as good and generous as my parents think I am. It is important to me that my family is proud of me.

Unfortunately sometimes is tough going through life with my mother in my mind watching my every step.

I gave Matthew an apple and $10.00. Oftentimes by the time I get to my office and look out the window I see him in line at the coffee cart, specially in the winter. I like seeing that, but really I give to him and others with a good heart and good intentions, but once the money leaves my hands it is no longer mine. It is theirs and they can do whatever they want.

I walked away waving good bye and wishing him a good day. He yelled back: “Marry me!”

… and I thought I would never hear that in my lifetime! 🙂

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”  ― Albert Einstein

Pizza for Peace and Regenerating Gums

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For the ones following up on my office saga:

Yesterday, the guy I had the argument with bought pizza for the office.  I knew about it but I didn’t get up to get it.  He then send me a chat message saying: “I got pizza for the office if you would like some”.

I could have ignored his message, but instead I replied: “Sure, Thank you.”

I am not sure if our fight had anything to do with his sudden generosity. I want to believe that something I said was heard.

I think pizza was his olive branch.  I accepted it.

“Man looks very coward and extremely primitive with an ostentatious big sword and he looks very brave and tremendously sophisticated with a humble olive branch!”  ― Mehmet Murat ildan

***
After lunch I went to the dentist to get a cleaning and to get an x-ray on that dental implant problem I have written about it.  Last time I was there after the laser surgery I had had a few months earlier to try to save the implant the x-ray showed that the situation had gotten worse.

At that time his recommendation was to remove one of the implants, otherwise I may lose all 3.  It is the last one in the back so according to my dentist I would not feel too much of a difference.  Still I think he felt my despair at the idea of removing it that he offered to redo the laser surgery for free and go in deeper this time.

The second surgery was done in February. It was painful but I am used to painful dental surgeries.  Since February I am doing all I can to make sure that the surgery would be successful.

On Friday when he looked at the x-ray I braced myself.  He studied it for a second and then gave me the good news. Not only it didn’t get worst, it actually showed a little improvement.  That was enough for him to decide that I can hold off on removing the implant for now, and perhaps for good.

He said:  Continue doing what you are doing because it is working.  Here is what I am doing:

  • Eating less sugar (this is good for overall health)
  • Brushing my teeth after every meal, and specially after having sugar
  • Flossing at least once a day. Often twice.
  • I alternate among different toothpastes.  I am not sure why I do this, but I don’t like to use the same one every day. Some of the ones I use are: Sensodyne, Total, Arm and Hammer and CloSYS.
  • Gargling with CloSYS mouthwash or with Tree Tea Oil Mouthwash every night.
  • Doing Oil Pulling at least 3 times a week.  I should do it every day, but I don’t always remember it.
  • Using a dental tartar scraper once a week.  That is like a metal toothpick to scrape the tartar off the teeth.  The same one dentists use.
  • Massaging my gums with my finger as often as I remember.
  • Having a positive and grateful attitude towards my teeth and gums.

I believe that anything in our bodies can be regenerated, and that includes my gums.  I am not sure what is really working from the above list, but I will continue to do it all and continue hoping for good news at every visit.

“As wave is driven by wave
And each, pursued, pursues the wave ahead,
So time flies on and follows, flies, and follows,
Always, for ever and new. What was before
Is left behind; what never was is now;
And every passing moment is renewed.” 
― Ovid, Metamorphoses

 

Another dysfunctional day in a dysfunctional industry

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Some of you may wonder what happens in a small office when there is a big blow up as the one I had the other day with that co-worker.  Or specifically what is happening in my office right now.

In this industry yelling and screaming among the brokers are normal and par for the course.  Sometimes their arguments get so heated I fear one is going to hit the other. By the end of the day or by the next day they are speaking as if they are best friends.

Similar to them when I have any issues with any of the guys normally we are back to normal in a few days.  The normal for this guy and I is tricky.  He is a complainer and I don’t deal well with people that only complain and never has a positive thing to say about anything. He is not happy that I don’t allow him to brush his teeth in the kitchen sink and that he has to wash his own plate after lunch, among other things.

Our normal is just being cordial to each other. He is like one of those dogs that look inoffensive and cute. You let your guard down, you get close, you pet it and then it bites your hand off.

Time and time again I get bitten. Yet I never learn. Professionally and personally I don’t hold any grudges.

The ball is his court. But it seems that he will take longer to get over being called out for his behavior.

Yesterday when he needed something from me he asked one of the other partners to come and ask me. Later when he needed additional information he sent me messages via chat.

Today I walked in and there was a note on my desk (pictured at the top).  I blocked the client’s name on it.  It is childish of him to avoid speaking to me, but it is so expected. It would have been classier and more gentlemanly  if that was a note of apology but I don’t believe he ever said “I am sorry” in all his life.  I am sure that writing “pls” almost killed him.

I want to know what he is going to do next time he needs something personal notarized or scanned.  Well, I know what will happen, he will come and ask.  And I will do it because I don’t know how to say no. If I can help, I help, no matter what.

I don’t get the boss involved.  He has asked me to let him know if he needs to get him involved, but I rather fight my own battles.  Plus he goes a bit overboard so I like to avoid that.  I was glad he was not in the office when it happened.

“Give, but give until it hurts.” ― Mother Teresa

How early in advance is too early to book a vacation?

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“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin

Is August too early to book a vacation for January or February?

When I think of paradise I picture a snowy mountain.  I love skiing, or I should I say, attempting to ski. I took up skiing late in life and I struggle with it. The fear of heights, of gaining speed and falling paralyzes me.

On some skiing trips I do well, I even get to blues, and on others I end up on the bunny hill. Still I am not giving up. The beauty and feeling of freedom is just too enticing for me.

I have heard countless times people say to me that at my age I should be stopping and not starting to ski.  I feel everything in my life follows a different clock that is normally much later than everyone else’s.  I bet I will hear my biological clock ticking when I am 60 🙂

I pay no one any mind.  Only I know my heart and my desires.

At the top of a mountain is when I feel the freest, the most in tune with nature.  At the top of a mountain I am able to turn off my mind.  I just breathe in the beauty of nature and feel the gratitude in my lungs.

Since 2010 I have taken a skiing vacation a year. I have been to Whistler Blackcomb (3 times) and Mont Tremblant in Canada. I have been to Snowmass (Buttermilk and Aspen) and Breckenridge in Colorado and Park City in Utah. I have gone on a couple of short trips to Vermont and a couple of places in NY.

I am always in search of a location that is fun and welcoming to beginners. I think I will forever be a beginner. And I am okay with that. I don’t have lofty goals of ever skiing blacks. I just want to feel more comfortable on skis.

For the past 2 seasons (2018 and 2019) life happened and I didn’t go on my yearly trip or even a day trip. I am not even sure what prevented it. I guess it was a combination of different factors in my personal life and deadlines at work.

This coming season I want to make sure that I will not let things get in the way. I was thinking that the best way to accomplish that was to book the trip now. That way I would be forced to go or lose a lot money.

Do you think is it a good idea to book a trip this far in advance? Any suggestions of where to go and where to stay? I welcome any tips and suggestions.

And if I end up in your neck of woods perhaps we can have a drink. Crazy enough idea I think!

“Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” ― Maya Angelou

All it takes is one overgrown baby to mess up an otherwise great day.

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I am shaking. My hands are trembling so bad that I can barely type. And yet I don’t feel like crying…progress!

I am shaking because I just have been through a not so very lady-like screaming match with such mentioned man-child.

It never fails to amaze me the entitled whiny attitude of some of the men I work with. There is one in particular that my assistant and I have nicknamed “only child”. Clearly his parents did everything he wanted when he wanted so now he wants the rest of the world to cater to him also.

Not on my watch!

He doesn’t know how to hear a “No” or to be asked to do something or comply with some rule. I don’t make the rules I am just the enforcer. I do everything here, from Human Resources to Compliance, so I need to interact with the brokers and make sure that they are doing what needs to be done. I am often the bad guy, but I do it well and often work with them on getting things done. I look the other way on minor offenses and give them second and third chances. I often go out of my way for them and that is why I get so annoyed when someone that I keep going out of my way for has the nerve to attack me.

I expect to get what I give, respect and not a condescending tone. I don’t care who you are. I expect not to be told how to do my job when my job is performed beyond reproach, plus I don’t tell them how to broker, even though I would probably do a better job than some here. And I especially expect not to have this firm compared with prior places of employments. If those places were so good why didn’t he stay there? Because we pay a better commission and at the end of the day there is nothing he likes more than money.

I am in the Wall Street/Financial world. Here money rules, and more than once I have been told by the brokers here that their job is to make money as if that is an excuse not to follow rules and regulations and not do what I need them to do.

About once a month for the past 3 years every time I need certain receipts this broker whines about it and starts to tell me that certain receipts shouldn’t be required, and that the distrust level here is too much. Do you think I can use that line with the IRS?

Today again he started giving me the same speech, he raised his voice and upgraded his tone to an even more condescending one if that is at all possible. Again, calmly, I explained that those were the requirements and no matter how many times he questioned them they wouldn’t be changing. Again he used the “distrust” line and started telling what his prior employer use to require. I cut him off and he said: Can you let me speak? I said no. I am done with that subject.

He left my office mad saying how this place is this and this place is that (really meaning me) and went straight to another partner yelling and complaining about me and how I do things. I don’t remember exactly the order and all that was said, but I pretty much went out on the floor after him and said I was not going to be talked to in such tone. I said I was tired and done with him, and that if he wants to get paid he better produce receipts.

He asked if I was really saying I was done with him in front of everyone and on tape (everything that is said on the floor is recorded). I said yes. He said: Don’t speak to me. I said: gladly!

Normally when I get upset with one of the brokers I may regret it later and I will tell them I should have handled differently. Especially since I am one of the partners here I think I should not stoop to their level and not engage in the back and forth shouting. But this time I think he got what he deserved. I only regret not saying more.  Enough is enough! I don’t care who he thinks he is and I don’t care how much money he makes.

This was mostly about his tone of voice and attitude and not necessarily about what he actually said today, as I am used to hearing all sorts of things from all brokers.  But I will never get used to being talked to as if I am of an inferior kind.

Thanks for letting me vent!  I feel better already!

“Create boundaries. Honor your limits. Say no. Take a break. Let go. Stay grounded. Nurture your body. Love your vulnerability. And if all else fails, breathe deeply.” ― Aletheia Luna

the bad, the good, and the past

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After a couple of days of silence, my phone now rings once a day.  No, it is not Prince Charming. The caller hangs up when I answer.  Each time is a different phone number with my same area code.  I stopped answering. Problem solved. For now.

I had been feeling unwanted but Delta Airlines came to the rescue with an email to inform me that I have been promoted to Gold Medallion Member.  I don’t think it means much more than my old Silver status, but I still feel special.  I am easy.

“Just as a snake sheds its skin, we must shed our past over and over again.” ― Gautama Buddha

On Friday I got an email from an email address I didn’t recognize.  This person called me by name and wanted to reconnect.  As I searched my inbox I was able to find one email that we had exchanged in 2015 that didn’t say much but it seemed that we had exchanged a lot flirtatious messages in the past.

After a few back and forth emails where I kept asking for more information it was clear that he was intent on not telling me who he was.  I was curious and didn’t like being in the dark and feeling vulnerable.  I was tempted to continue emailing to try to figure out who he was.

There was curiosity, but there was also hope.   Hope as in the idea of romance and fairy-tale.  It goes like this: this charming admirer from the past realized that he cannot live without me. He comes back, sweeps me off of my feet and we live happily ever after.

I was curious but had no interest on playing his one-sided game.  I stopped replying.  The real power is not in having the last word, but in fighting the urge to engage.  I no longer need to have the last word. I refuse to waste my time, energy, heart and hope on stupidity and distractions.

There is a reason this guy was left in 2015.  I don’t need to be reminded of what that reason was.  It is always tempting to revisit the past.  Even if dysfunctional it is always comforting and familiar.  Happily, this time I am choosing the future, not the past.

As I often say:  Let’s make new mistakes, learn new lessons!

“Can’t you give me brains?” asked the Scarecrow.
“You don’t need them. You are learning something every day. A baby has brains, but it doesn’t know much. Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge, and the longer you are on earth the more experience you are sure to get.” ― L. Frank Baum

When every call is an annoyance

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Today I have been inundated with phone calls of people trying to talk about refinancing a mortgage.  Inundated is an exaggeration, but by 12 pm I had received 8 phone calls and 2 texts. It has been quiet now for the past 2 hours so perhaps this is it.

I only answered all the calls because I am waiting for a phone call from my condominium’s board and I am not sure what number they are calling from. Incidentally they haven’t called yet.

On the last call I was told that someone probably wrote the number incorrectly when they requested a quote from Lendingtree.com.

That is a plausible explanation, but I have an alternative one. Perhaps that is still the result of giving my number to that guy (or girl or robot) that disappeared.  Perhaps he put my number in some mailing list somewhere, or still, a third explanation is that somebody did this on purpose to interrupt my day and annoy me.

I am probably overthinking it! But that is what I do.

Why can’t I get a call from the Publishers Clearing House saying I won a million dollars? Why can I get a call from a headhunter offering me an amazing job with 6 weeks vacation and signing bonus? Why can’t that one special guy that is perfect for me call me?

I never entered those sweepstakes. I am not in the market for a new job. That guy is just delayed somewhere or I have been looking for him in the wrong places.  Or perhaps he has arrived and I missed him.  I could go on and on about that last one. 🙂

The rest of my life feels overwhelming, so I am breathing in and out slowly.  Just putting one step in front of the other.  Not complaining, just stating a feeling. Still blessed beyond belief!!

A Joe, a Jerk and an Unapologetically Aries

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“We are all hypocrites. We cannot see ourselves or judge ourselves the way we see and judge others.” ― José Emilio Pacheco

Joe. He is one of the Joe’s I wrote about the other day.  I was not sure I like the idea of being asked out just because it was convenient.  I was not excited about him romantically either. For those reasons I didn’t think a second date would happen.

But it did! It happened because it was convenient – oh the hypocrisy of it all! Shame on me!

Here is my reasoning:  I was not excited about him romantically, but I did have a nice time on the date.  I figured a second meeting wouldn’t hurt, especially since all I had to do was to walk across the street to the same restaurant from the first date.

We had a good time, as we had had the first date.  We talked and joked the whole time but there was no romantic vibes.  Third date?  no, but I am open to meeting as friends.

***

“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”  – ― Abraham Maslow, 

The jerk and the unapologetic Aries

The jerk is a 57 yr old attorney and the unapologetic Aries is me.   We made plans to meet a couple of times and he flaked.  When I said I didn’t want to meet him anymore he asked for another chance and I said ok.

I met him at a Mexican Restaurant near my home. It started off fine with us making some small talk.  He did some complaining about the ex-wife, which is a huge turn off for me, but I was able to change the subject.

Then he mentioned that Aries people are very difficult. He proceeded to tell me all the ways people born under the sign of Aries are extremely difficult to get along with, specially with a Sagittarius(him).  He said that I showed how difficult I was when I had decided not to meet him because he had canceled last minute twice.  He went on and on.

I agreed with him.  I don’t think he expected that.  I think he expected an argument.  Why would I try to disagree with him?  It wouldn’t change anything.  It would just make me not enjoy my food.  I ordered the skirt steak and I was looking forward to it.

Aries people can indeed be difficult people.  We are impatient and opinionated.  We are impulsive and think we know it all.  We are also great leaders, fiercely independent, passionate lovers and generous to a fault.

Instead of defending Arieses (is this really the plural of Aries, just seems such a funny word), I asked him questions about Astrology.  He seemed to know a lot about it.  I did ask him why did he want to meet me since, according to him, we were not a match?  He said he was open minded.  I laughed.

Certain traits are definitely more distinguished among people of a same sign, that is for sure. I have been able to guess some people’s signs just by the way they conducted themselves.  Every sign has its good and bad traits, but to generalize and make assumptions like he did is troublesome and unfair.

Two of my favorite people are Sagittarius. We have an amazing relationship. So Sagittarius and Aries can get along.

I am so happy to be an Aries!  I think it is the best sign in the zodiac!  🙂

He came in ready to dislike me.  He succeeded in that and more.  I didn’t like him either.  The skirt steak however, was divine!

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” ― Isaac Asimov