Monthly Archives: December 2012

Lost and Found

Daily Prompt: Was there a special gift or toy you wanted as a child but never received?

The view from the Brooklyn shore

I like to think I have a great memory, but for some reason I can’t think of anything that I really wanted and never received. What immediately comes to mind is my first bicycle–though I did receive one eventually, after years of begging.

I was around twelve years old. I remember being quite sick and on antibiotics. I don’t get sick very often, so I am able to recall every bad cold or infection. This particular time stands out for several reasons: First, I completely lost my voice; second, it was my first time taking medication in pill form, which I dreaded; and last, because despite my illness and the fact that it was freezing out, my parents kept their promise (I made sure of it!) and took me to Toys ‘R’ Us to purchase my first bicycle. It was purple and pink, and perfect. With it being a harsh winter, I didn’t actually get to ride it for several months, but I admired it every day.

Unfortunately, “my precious” was stolen that summer by someone in our building and never seen again. I never got a replacement–at least not from my parents, who probably thought another bike would be a waste of their money. I mourned the loss of that bike for years, and I dreamed of the day I could afford to get one exactly like it. That day came in college, when I was offered a free gift just for signing up for a credit card while I wanted for Intro to Psych to start. (This is no longer allowed inside schools.) I was given a credit line of about $800, and I knew exactly what I wanted.

I named it Steve, after my first love, because that bike and I were inseparable. I would spend entire days riding back and forth along the southern shore of Brooklyn, just Steve and me. Some of the most peaceful moments I’ve had were on that bike, with the summer sun and the cool ocean breeze on my face. It was lovely.

Cruising in Newport Beach, CA in a rental

Cruising in Newport Beach, CA in a rental

Though it’s become harder to find the time and the energy I had at 19 to devote to biking, it is still a part of my life. I am fortunate to have found a partner who is much more of a bike enthusiast than I am, and who encourages me to ride more. David and I have shared some great rides all over New York City and New Jersey. In fact, last year we completed the TD Five-Boro Bike Tour, a 40-mile, incredibly fun car-free ride through New York City.

I am happy to report that I still own Steve, though I recently made the decision to trade it in next year for a lighter option better suited for city riding (I’ve hired David to build it!). And I also still own that credit card, plus a large chunk of debt that I am still trying to pay down.  My advice:  Say yes to bikes and no to credit cards.


Live to Eat

Daily Prompt: How far would you travel for the best meal of your life?

Ecuadorian food porn

I have no shame in professing my love for food. Is there anything more pleasurable than a delicious meal? I think not. Food was a huge part of my life growing up, and I associate it with joy, laughter, celebration, family, and love.

In my native country of Ecuador, the most popular dish is ceviche. If you haven’t had it before, it’s essentially your choice of seafood (my favorite is shrimp), marinated in a ton of lime juice, red onions, cilantro, and maybe some tomato. (Sometimes, the seafood is actually “cooked” by the lime juice itself, but to me that just sounds… fishy.) Ceviche is a simple dish, usually served as an appetizer, but it surprises you with a burst of flavor. I’ve never introduced anyone to the dish who didn’t immediately love it.


Our “Good-bye, Ecuador” shot (I’m in the yellow)


My mom makes an excellent ceviche here in New York, but there is something about the ceviche in Ecuador that makes it out of this world. Maybe it’s because the seafood is so fresh–my family is originally from Guayaquil, a coastal city where there is quality seafood in abundance. Or maybe it’s that the produce is locally grown–the climate is tropical, and the soil is rich and fertile. But, maybe it’s also the company–my extended family, and Ecuadorians in general, are warm, generous, infectiously happy, beautiful people. And I miss them all the time.

How far would I be willing to travel for the best meal of my life? Right back home.


Guilty Pleasures

I got stood up, but I'm smiling because I learned how to create a smokey eye.

I got stood up, but I’m smiling because I learned how to create a smokey eye.

All right, I confess: I’m kind of addicted to beauty products. Okay, maybe not actually addicted, but it’s definitely a habit. I can’t pass by a Sephora without feeling like a junkie passing by a crackhouse. And I have my own mother to blame for it!

Though her shoes may be from Payless, my mom always has Clinique and Estee Lauder on her face. Growing up, we were a “working class” family, and money was always tight, so she would take advantage of “Gift Time,” when she’d buy one product and get five smaller products for free; new face creams, mascaras, lipsticks. Several times, she asked me to pick them up for her while I was out, and she was as happy as a kid with ice cream when I came home with her free gifts.

When I was around 12, she tried to get me to wear makeup. “You’re too pale!” she would say, “You need some color on your face!” I thought she was nuts. I didn’t feel the need to impress anyone, because I had no interest in boys, so I really fought her on it. As boy-crazy teens, my sister and I often borrowed my mom’s products, so much so that she had to buy us some of our own. I knew I was hooked when, upon losing my first job, I spent my last bit of money at Macy’s on a new facial cleanser, moisturizer, and foundation–and instantly felt better.

I find my thrill for beauty products so ridiculous, because, like my mom, I couldn’t care less about clothes, shoes, handbags, jewelry. I have to force myself to shop for these things, and I dread doing it. If it were up to me, I’d wear T-shirts, jeans, and sweatshirts to work, if not pajamas and slippers. But I’d probably still feel amazing when I have Dior on my face. And, hey, no one has to know….

Forever Young

Daily Prompt: Forever Young: Would you drink the water from the fountain of youth?

While I was walking into my office building this morning, a high rise in Midtown Manhattan, I overheard a conversation between the UPS delivery man and one of the building facilities custodians. UPS mentioned that it’s been 27 years since he started at UPS. Facilities said he started working here as a teenager, and look at him now (a bald man with a pot belly). “Where has the time gone?” said UPS. “It flies.” said Facilities.

Their conversation reminded me of yesterday’s Daily Prompt, regarding which question you hate to be asked. I had a response for it: “Where do you see yourself in X years?” I don’t like this question because it forces me to lie. My real answer is that I don’t know. If you had asked me five years ago where I saw myself in five years, I would not have guessed my current situation, especially considering how challenging this past year has been for me.

But would I take it all back for the chance to be young again? No, I think not. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t mind sprinkling a few drops from the fountain into my moisturizer, perhaps, but I wouldn’t want to be young again. Though I sometimes miss simpler days (who doesn’t), I wouldn’t want to relearn all the life lessons I’ve struggled to learn. Plus, I like myself much more now than I ever have, and it took me a long time to get here. These are things I value more than youth.

Time travel: Now that’s something I’d be interested in doing. I’d absolutely love the opportunity to go back and change some of the things I’ve done. But change myself? No thanks!

Look, Ma! I Can Cook!

I almost didn’t participate in today’s daily prompt. My intention is to write content that is lighthearted and fun to read. Writing a letter to my mom seemed like such a loaded topic, and I was afraid I’d lose all my followers. There is, however, something I’ve really been wanting to write about but haven’t found the right segue… until now!

This week, my boyfriend began working as a server/bartender, a big change from his usual 9 to 5 in the engineering field. With David not around to do all the cooking (Yes, I know I’m spoiled.), I’ve had to step in and–gasp!–do some cooking myself. And since we have committed to eating healthy, whole foods, I couldn’t just whip something up in the microwave or order some takeout.

Unfortunately, I never learned to cook at home. My mom did all the cooking and never seemed to want help, even though she complained every single day about how much she absolutely hated it. I remember her telling my sister and me that she was forced to help my grandmother, who practically lived in the kitchen, with the cooking at the age of five. Perhaps she wanted to spare my siblings and me from the “misery” of cooking, or maybe she is just one of those people who don’t know how or when to ask for help. I will never fully understand her reasoning, but the bottom line is that I was never taught how to cook.

As an adult, living on my own, I’d say the fanciest meal I made is rice with beans. And by that, I mean I threw some rice and water in the rice cooker and warmed up a can of beans. I was convinced (perhaps through brainwashing?) that cooking is a tedious and unrewarding chore, so I avoided it as much as possible. But here I am in my 30’s, living with David, who is a great cook and actually enjoys it, and I have to tackle the challenge of preparing wholesome, satisfying meals for us both. Yikes….

In this past few days, though, I have made several dinners, all surprisingly easy. And–dare I say it–I may have actually enjoyed the process. I’m proud of how well they turned out and proud of myself for having created something delicious with my own hands that I could share with someone I love. David, as expected, was super appreciative and happily ate every bite. In fact, we had an argument this week because he didn’t save any meatballs for the next day’s lunch.

What this experience has taught me is that, though I may never be the kind of girl obsessed with cooking, like my grandma, I also don’t have to hate it the way my mom does. I can have my own relationship with the kitchen.

In lieu of writing a letter, I would like to send the following text:

“Look, mom! I made it myself!”

Baked rosemary sage chicken legs, roasted carrots, and a kale and mixed greens salad with homemade lemon-tahini dressing.

Baked rosemary sage chicken legs, roasted carrots, and a kale and mixed greens salad, avocado, and homemade lemon-tahini dressing