Mia: Shaken Not Stirred

The true life stories of a NYC female.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rapunzel's Days Are Numbered

My family has this tradition about hair of all things. It started back in Spain generations ago no one knows who started it exactly only that it the tradition has been a part of our family's documented history for as long as anyone can recall and the tradition albeit modified still continues today. The tradition was born out of religion. My mother recalls as a child her great-great grandmother telling her it was a “promesa” a promise an offering to God as proof of their devotion and faith. The women of the family were not allowed to cut their hair until they married and had their first daughter and then the daughter would continue the promesa . The boys of the family kept their hair long until they hit puberty. Once they got to this country the tradition was changed for the men because of intolerance. They got their first haircut when they started school.

My great-grandmother despite having four daughters never ever cut her hair in her life time . The day she died her hair was actually longer than her in length and at 5ft 10 a short woman she was not. When they were older her daughters would take turns helping her wash and plait it every day putting in her tortoise shell combs to keep the braids they wrapped several times around her head in place. It was only at night right before she went to bed when she unwrapped the full length of her hair to brush it 100 times that one could really appreciate the beauty of her hair. It it cascaded down her shoulders and ended at the floor covering her feet. With her white blonde hair and ice blue eyes my mother used to imagine that her grandmother had actually been Rapunzel and that her grandfather had been the one that rescued her from the tower she had been locked in.

The tradition has been modified since my mom was a kid but the important thing is that it still lives on. The girls are now allowed to cut it when their in their teens. My own mom's hair was down to her calves when she first got it cut when she was 18 . Mines was past my waist when I got my first hair cut at 13. The other day my 16 year old sister came to my mom and said she wanted to get her hair cut. I could tell my mom was saddened by her request and really didn't want her to cut it yet. Caitlin’s hair is down to her waist and a beautiful dark blonde with shimmering high lights . She’s been pestering ma to cut it for the longest. Ma told her she’d have to think about it. Caitlin of course went running to daddy so he’d take her side. Well she didn’t have to actually run because we were all sitting at the dinner table together. My dad was visibly uncomfortable at being put in the middle of the situation and its only for that reason that I think he picked up his cell phone when it rang in the middle of dinner. Usually he’ll let it go to voice mail and return the call after we have all eaten. This time it was different the phone call came just in the nick of time....

Dad: Hey little brother what’s up?

Mom glared at dad knowing full well why he answered the phone and dad shrugged his shoulders at mom as if to say , “What can I do? It’s my little brother on the phone.” One would swear that my dad and uncle rarely speak on the phone. Nothing could be further from the truth. They talk to each other every day , several times a day. After catching pa up on the latest doings of my 7 month old cousin uncle Mike asked about us...

Dad: Oh they’re fine Caity wants to cut her hair. Yeah Mike but you know Maggie’s family has this tradition...

Uncle Mike sided with Caity and then went on to add that at least she didn’t want to dye her hair in colors not available in nature and do a mohawk like a certain lady he knew...My dad started laughing and leaned over to mom and held the phone to her ear...

Mike: Oh man remember when she had it pink and yellow and it was shaved on the sides and she had that 3 foot rat tail hanging down her back? At least she doesn’t want to do all them piercings and shit. Ha ha at least Caity isn’t like that.

Mom: You talking shit about me Michael Angelo ?

He froze when he heard ma call him by his full name.

Mike: Na na na na Mags im just saying at least well you know you used to rock those crazy hair styles in your punk rock days and ummm all those piercings you had . At least Caity doesn’t want to do that.

Mom: Oh you remember my crazy hair styles huh Michael Angelo? What was wrong with a checker board pattern shaved into my hair? What was wrong with blue hair huh Michael A ngelo ? Stressing each syllable in his name. Huh mike-al an-jello? Then she started laughing it’s okay Mike I understand what your saying its cool. I’m going to let her cut it. I’m just going to take her in to the city and do it at one of those locks for love places that way it can be put to good use.

Uncle Mike relaxed while my dad giggled like the village idiot while mom handed him the phone. Then she looked up at an ecstatic Caitlin and said, “ well baby girl it looks like your Rapunzel days are numbered.

My sister and I both agree that when we have our own daughters just like our cousins we will continue the tradition. while my mom and her cousins have continued the tradition in honor of their grandmother my sister and I intend to continue it in honor of our mother.


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Posted by @ 10:17 PM
4 comment from: Blogger Mia, Blogger Crankster, Blogger Mia, Blogger DannieS72,

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bomb Scare

The other night after dinner Guay and I sat around the dining room table recalling some of the craziest moments of our lives. Trust me we've had alot of them since meeting up in college six years ago. The one that still makes us laugh until we cry is this one....

Back in the day when 9/11 was still an open festering wound in NYC and we were living life based on color alerts and every bag, brief case and knap sack were viewed as a potential bomb Guay and I were working as photographers at The Empire State Building. It goes without saying that as an office building and official home of King Kong the place is always packed with tourists.

Guay had the day off and had just walked in to pick me up from work when a “suspicious package” in the form of a book bag was spotted. The police secured the area while waiting for the bomb squad to arrive and the building was shut down and evacuated. As employees it fell on us to get the “civilians”(tourists)out before we left. All we were told was to evacuate there was a bomb scare. We were never informed that it was all going down on our floor I guess they didn’t want us to freak out.

When the bomb squad arrived they stormed the building with the precision of a military unit executing an invasion. We’d already gotten all the tourists off of our floor and were in the process of checking the employee areas for any strays when we were told to hang back for a second while the bomb squad checked everything out. Just as one of the bomb squad guys was approaching the book bag the door to one of the bathrooms swung open and one of our employees came out with her music blasting on her headphones. She was oblivious to what was going on and made a beeline straight to the book bag on the floor bending over to pick it up. The cops yelled, “NO!” but she didn’t seem to hear. It was all the hand waving that got her attention ...that and the fact a small battalion of cops was rushing towards her made her pull off head phones. She flinched and clutched the bag to her chest and in her thick Turkish accent she yelled out, ”WHAT?! This is my bag! I forgot it!” Everyone groaned and a few audible curses coming from the cops and bomb squad were heard. She stared at everyone around her and kept repeating, “ What did I do?” as she was led off the cops.

In the middle of all this some serious laughter could be heard.The laughter of two females laughing so hard that they gasped for air, and kept repeating “oh shit, oh shit!” as they slapped each other high fives and held onto each other for dear life to prevent them from falling over from the laugher. Yeah the females were Guay and me and the fact that we nearly laughed ourselves to death did not amuse the cops.

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Posted by @ 11:36 AM
2 comment from: Blogger christina/ohio, Blogger Mia,

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Angel On The Bus

By nature I am naturally a shy person therefore I can appreciate how hard it is to initiate conversations with a stranger. I would never have the cojones to strike up a conversation like that. That takes courage something I am seriously lacking. For whatever reason maybe it’s my eyes I dunno but it tends to happen to me a lot,strangers starting up conversations with me. Invariably and unintentionally I’ll say something that will make them laugh and next thing you know we’re talking to each other as if we’ve known each other forever.

I took the bus from the Bronx into Manhattan to pick up my significant other from work. Granted it would have been way faster if I’d taken the subway but when it’s nice outside and I have time to kill I prefer to take the bus and enjoy the ride. I was into my music checking out the scenery when my phone rang. I popped out one of my ear buds and lowered the volume on my iPod, it was the BF wanting to know my whereabouts. Just then I happened to look up and noticed a man staring at me. He smiled warmly at me and I returned his smile and went back to my conversation. Every now and then I’d catch him looking at me, specifically the tattoo on my left arm. My conversation over I slid my phone into the front pocket of my messenger bag and was about to put my ear bud back into place when the man approached me and asked about my tattoo. He wanted to know where I had gotten it.

He wanted a tat himself but was unsure as to where to get it from. I gave him the name and address of my regular tat guy and warned him not to be put off by the place. It’s in rough part of the Bronx in the back of a biker bar. My guy Michelangelo (name’s perfect for him) has a couple of rooms in the back of his bar that he and his apprentice work out of a couple times a week in between tending bar. Michelangelo doesn’t ink because he needs the money he inks for the love of the art and his prices are reflective of this. The only catch is you have to go at night after the bar is opened , the later the better Michelangelo doesn’t ink during the day. I also warn him that sometimes there's a long line of people waiting to see Michelangelo so be prepared to break night playing pool or come back another time.

The man asked to take a closer look at my tat and I hike up my short sleeve all the way up to my shoulder so he can examine it thoroughly. He’s amazed by the intricate tat and tells me about the tattoo he wants. He wants to tattoo the images of his wife and three daughters on his back. “Can I just talk to you?” he asks “Sure thing it’s not like I’m going anywhere, looking around the bus, “my stop is no time soon.”One thing leads to another and the next thing you know he is pouring out his story to me. He tells me his wife and kids died in a fire a few years back and he’s having a hard time, he can't seem to move on with his life. He talks for awhile. His grief pouring out like verbal diahrrea. He can't seem to hold anything back. The pain of it all is there on his face and in his words. I listen intently and ask questions about his girls, his wife. Little things. He loosens up a bit and begins to tell me about the little details of his former life. His girls loved french toast with raisin smiley faces on top;his wife had an identicial twin and he could never tell them apart and she'd always tease him about it. Things that back then were taken for granted but that today are treasured. The more he talks about them the more he remembers until he finally confesses what I'd felt all along; he feels guilty for having survived the fire. Finally he seems to be talked out exhausted and falls silent. I tell him that his wife would want him to live and to move on because after all when we love someone truly love someone we want them to be as happy as possible even if we are not a part of the happiness...still just to see them happy gives us joy.

After a couple of silent minutes he confided that he had never spoken to anyone about the way he felt not even his own family. He preferred to suffer in silence with his grief and with his survivor guilt. He said he couldn’t even understand what drew him to me what made him open up to me except that when I had smiled at him it had affected him, my smile he said stirred him. “ Do you realize you have an incredible smile? It has has the power to light up a room. ” "Thanks.I owe it all to my Oral B toothbrush and regular flossing." I reply and he laughed. He then adds that I should really be a shrink because I was so easy to talk to. I smile again and don't bother to tell him about the years of counseling classes or the shiny new psychology degree I recently acquired. Instead I suggested a couple of grief support groups for him to check into. He promised that he would.

We sat in silence for a few minutes and just before his stop came up he stood up kind of bowed to me and kissed my hand then headed for the exit. He looked back at me and just before he stepped off the bus added “ Who knew i'd find an angel here on earth. An angel right on the bus. Thank you.”

After he left I sat back and felt as if I had done something good that day as if all the years of hard work and studying had paid off. I had actually made a difference, I had actually helped someone . This at a time when I was doubting that i'd be able to put my degree to use when I was thinking it was worthless. I can’t put it into words. The feeling that came over me was indescribable and words can not possibly to it justice. He may have thought that I was an angel that day but in reality the angel on the bus was him. He gave me confidence that I was on the right track and that sticking around NY for another couple of years to pick up another degree had been the right thing. I often think about him while on my way to school now and just when the work load at school seems to be a little too much I remember his face and his words and it spurs me on.

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Posted by @ 12:18 AM
2 comment from: Blogger Jane, Blogger Mia,

Friday, October 19, 2007

Multi-tasking note taking smart ass

I’m doing some volunteer work at school taking notes for a learning disabled student. When I do my note taking I like to arrive early to class and scout out a seat that’s in close proximity to an electrical outlet just in case I need to recharge my laptop while I’m taking notes. Usually I have a few minutes before class begins to introduce myself to the professors but on this day the teacher was running late. As soon as he came in he started taking attendance. There was no time for introductions it would have to wait 'til class was over. As soon as he was done with the attendance the professor launched into a lecture on changes to the immigration act. He was into his lecture for a good ten minutes when he noticed me typing away.

He walked over to me and rested his eyes on one of my tattoos.

- Who are you?

my fingers paused in midair over the keyboard

-Name’s Mia

I then nodded towards the girl sitting next to me...

- I’m with Monica

- What are you her bodyguard or lawyer?

-Depends on the circumstances. Today I happen to be her note taker.

I guess he sensed a kindred spirit. Us smart asses can spot each other a mile away you know. He let out a small smile and decided to test me out to see if I really was a member of the SA brotherhood ....

- What are you a multi-tasker?

-Sir I’m a woman ... of course I’m a multi-tasker.

The professor then turned his attention on Monica...

-Monica you didn’t tell me you were bringing a note taker to class. Especially a cute smart ass one.

She looked a little nervous.I looked up at the professor...

-Sir my official title is multi-tasking note taking smart ass I’ve worked very hard for that title... it’s taken me all of (looking at the time on my laptop screen) ahhh 2 minutes to acquire it.I intend to defend it tooth and nail.

He let out a laugh and looked at me for a brief second before turning back his attention to Monica.

-Professor I told you last week Mia would be coming.

-Oh I’m sorry I must have forgotten. Welcome to the class Mia ...I think it’s going to be fun having you here.

-Thank you very much professor. I'll try my best. Next week I’ll bring my rubber nose and clown wig.

He smiled at me again and before turning around to face the rest of the class added, "Yeah it's going to be fun."

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Posted by @ 2:41 PM
4 comment from: Blogger christina/ohio, Blogger Mia, Blogger Mia, Blogger Ritardo "Gar the Conqueror",

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Waldo News

My aunt Nora is now seven months pregnant and her pregnancy has caused baby mania to spread like wild fire in my house and we’re all infected, no one however more than my mom. She’s already secured a carriage, swing, bassinet/playpen for the baby not to mention countless numbers of the cutest little Nikes, Converse and Jordan sneakers. The kid is set should he decide to emerge from the womb ready to shoot some hoops.

We pretty much know what the little guy is going to look like thanks to the wonder of technology in the form of 4 D sonograms. . Nora showed us her collection sonograms taken of the baby her and mom call “Waldo”. Mom ooohed and ahhed over the pictures and Nora beamed proudly especially when ma said,” Oh my gawd! He’s the spitting image of Dareem! (Nora’‘s youngest). The four dimension sonograms showed every detail as if it were a black and white photo. Waldo’s profile was oddly familiar...I had seen it before it’s the same as his sister’s. In one shot Waldo had his eyes open... in another he slept...I could see his face clearly even the curve of his bottom lip and the cleft in his chin just like his mother. The sonograms had a sci-feel to them. I think when the time comes for me to have a kid I wouldn’t want the 4D sonograms it takes the element of surprise away wondering who the baby is going to take after.

Potential baby names have been flying around like leaves in a tornado now that it’s been confirmed that Nora’s having a boy, everybody and their mama has an opinion as to what the new baby’s name should be . When her girls were born the name selection was pretty much left up to Nora but this time it’s different even my uncle Hassan’s taken an active interest in naming the baby since this is his first son and in all likelihood his only son. Unfortunately his taste in names leaves a little to be desired ...at one point he suggested “Jihad” we wont even get into all the jokes ma and Nora made about that one. I’ve even gotten into the act as well Nora gave me two rules ...number one it has to be a Muslim name, secondly it has to be a name that Hassan, Nora, and mom all agree on. I created a third rule; it must roll easily off the tongue since it’s going to be followed by the middle name Hassan. The way to test this is to hold your hand out sideways and move your hand to the rhythm as you pronounce the first, middle and last names. If the hand moves like waves in an ocean it’s a keeper if the “wave’ stops or jerks between names then it’s a no-no. So far it’s looking good for the name I chose. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Edit: That's NOT a 4D sonogram of Waldo.

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Posted by @ 1:41 PM
4 comment from: Blogger Mia, Blogger sexygoba, Blogger Mia, Blogger christina/ohio,

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Rose By Any Other Name

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet -
From Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, 1594

The nurse came out looked around the waiting room then at the folder in front of her. All eyes were on her. She was new she hadn’t been there long enough to memorize names to faces yet. For a non-Spanish speaker the nurse did a great job with the Latino surnames. She rolled the r’s and emphasized the accents where they needed emphasizing smiling at each patient when she was done. Suddenly her smiled faded and her forehead creased. She stared at the folder in her hand trying to mentally decipher the name written on the front. It was obviously a tough one. My mother smiled and said to the friend sitting next to her ...

“Any money bet it’s my name she’s struggling with.”

“Okay so your last name is kind of tough but what the hell is so hard about saying Maggie?”

“ My real name is not Maggie that’s my nickname.”

“Oh so Mags what is your real name?”
Mom whipped out her ID and showed her friend. She struggled to pronounce it.

“What the hell?! How do you say that ?”

“Like this...”

Mom called the nurse over and said. “ Excuse me Miss are you calling....” and her name rolled off her tongue like a beautiful prayer. The old nurse had been Egyptian so she had absolutely no problem with the name. The new nurse apologized for being unable to pronounce her name and mom laughed it off . “It’s okay don’t stress it. It happens all the time. May I borrow your pen?” she asked the nurse and added as she wrote on the folder “Here this way next time I have an appointment it will be one less headache for you.”

Mom’s used to people butchering her name. As a kid my mother got so tired of teachers mispronouncing name she would add the phonetic spelling to the heading on all of her school work which is what she did to the folder the nurse had been holding. My mom carries the name of a Berber ancestor...back in the day when her family immigrated from Spain to Puerto Rico my great-grandmother’s children all had Arab first names only the youngest born in Puerto Rico carried Christian names. When the family immigrated to New York and those children married and had kids of their own the practice of carrying on the Berber names was abandoned. Except when it came to my mother . My mother ‘s first and middle names are Arab and added to the linguistic twister is my grandfather’s uncommon and hard to pronounce Spaniard surname. She was nicknamed Maggie as a kid and it stuck much to the relief of her linguistically challenged American born relatives. When pronounced properly mom’s name rolls off the tongue smoothly and sounds beautiful. However when it’s mispronounced....oy vay! Disaster! It sounds awful like a bad “B” horror movie actress running and tripping yelling for help through the woods even though the audience knows full well help well not arrive and the girl will just be another slasher victim. T’aint pretty but it’s sure fun to watch.

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Posted by @ 10:09 AM
3 comment from: Blogger christina/ohio, Blogger Mia, Blogger christina/ohio,

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Elevator Ride

The elevator door opened and I jumped back scared shitless. There was a man... an old man crumbled over on the floor his walker inches away from him. I called out to him,”Are you okay?” He didn’t respond and from where I stood he didn’t seem to be breathing, not that I had any intention on getting close enough to check. Hey i’m a social work major people my heffa Jackie is the mortuary science major, dead people are right up her alley.

“Mia what’s wrong?” my mom asked several times. Despite the fact that in my mind I was screaming “DEAD MAN!” I was actually speechless, the mouth was willing but the vocal cords weren’t cooperating. Trust me people that is a very rare thing indeed. In fact there are quite a few people out there in the world that would pay mega dollars to see me struck speechless. I pointed towards the elevator, “Ma I think there’s a dead guy in there.” As mom stepped forward to check it out the door slammed shut and the elevator started to make its way up. Mom quickly reached over for the button to bring the elevator back down . Just then we were joined by a teen girl and a guy. When the elevator arrived ma stuck her head in called out to the man and when she got no response she got in and checked on him, she then instructed me to call an ambulance.

What happened next goes down in the annals of WTF history. Despite the fact that there was a dead man on the floor of the elevator the teen and the man got in and pressed for their floors. I was shocked WTF? When did people become so apathetic? They didn’t even take a second glance at the man as if dead men riding elevators was a common thing. Ma’s plan had been to hold the elevator until the ambulance arrived but these two people were having none of it. This was the only working elevator on our side of the complex and they weren’t about to walk up the stairs even if it meant having to ride with a dead man. Mom shrugged her shoulders and called my dad. She told him to meet us on our floor so he could shut the elevator down until the ambulance arrived . Years ago dad had been given the spare key to the elevator bank by management just in case of an emergency. Ma told him she didn’t want the dead man going up and down just to accommodate thoughtless people who were too lazy to take the stairs despite the fact that our elevator had become the dead express..

As she talked to my father ma gestured for me to come in. I hesitated and shook my head now shooting a quick glance at the dead passenger. "Get in here I’m going to need you to hold the elevator if you’re dad is not by the door. Besides it’s the living you have to be afraid of the dead are harmless.” ma said as she reached over and yanked me in. As I stepped past the dead guy I said sorry and excuse me. It seemed wrong just to walk by him and not give him the same courtesy I would to the living. By the time we got to the last floor our floor it was just ma, the dead guy and me. The other occupants had gotten off several floor below us.

It turned out my dad knew the guy, he was a tenant’s brother. The gentleman was terminally ill with cancer and had moved to NY to live out what life he had left in the care of his sister. My dad decided to take the elevator back down to the lobby to make it easier for the ambulance and then left my brother guarding the body while he took the stairs to let the man’s sister know what was going on. As the elevator made it’s way back down to the lobby my mom yelled out for “William hurry up that poor man must be tired of riding up and down. This elevator is not the express to heaven you know!"

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Posted by @ 5:01 PM
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