the outsider.

El Cuco (Folklore Demond): “why were you so quick to accept my existence?”

Holly (investigator): “An outsider can always recognize another outsider.”

Last weekend was my sister’s birthday. I asked her many times what she had planned to celebrate and if we [the family] were going to do anything. She was not sure… The day came and went and I never heard from her. A few days later I learned that her boyfriend threw her a surprise birthday party. I was not invited because it was only for “close friends.”

This got me thinking about how I am an outsider. I have friends and I have family (blood relatives) but rarely am I included in life events; weddings, birthdays, holidays, game nights, etc. It’s actually one of the reasons I always wanted kids, because I figured if I wanted to be part of a tribe I had to make it. That’s not to say I don’t have friends that include me – I do. I am lucky to have some close friends who have now become my chosen family, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that even with them I sometimes feel like an outsider. And most of the time, I am fine with it. I have become accustomed to my alone time; I actually prefer and enjoy my alone time (I don’t think people appreciate alone time as much as they could or should). But sometimes, some days, I do stand outside looking in and wonder why I didn’t get to live in a world where I felt like a full fledged member of your life [you: the abstract you].

This disposition as an outsider is my biggest strength and biggest weakness. It gives me such a unique view on life but also exposes an insecurity that many have tried to exploit. Some people have succeeded and some very hard and painful lessons have been learned. Let’s just say I definitely have some scars AND some secret wisdoms to life. This is all to say, Reader, if you ever feel the way I do just know that you are not alone and, to me, you are imperfectly perfect just as you are.

Never be fooled into thinking that you aren’t unique or special just because you are an outsider, like myself. Know yourself and know that even if the whole world doesn’t understand you, it does not mean you are not worthy. I may be an outsider but I know my worth. I know my intelligence and my character. I know I’m not willing to behave unethically because I’m asked to blindly follow the decisions of a bad boss; even if everyone else does. I know I will listen to the same story over and over again just to keep an elderly woman with dementia company. I know that I will always drive with dog food in my car just in case I see a homeless person with a dog because I know that’s their furbaby [their family]. I know that I would wait in line for an hour and then drive seventeen miles to bring a friend a chicken sandwich from Popeyes, just because we share a love of Popeyes. I know that talk to my dogs too much, and I sing to my daughter probably too much too; songs I make up – including a song about playing with her toes. This is me. And for a long time I was made to feel like it was wrong; feel ashamed. But now… if who I am makes me an outsider, then I’m okay with that.

What I’m watching: Netflix cartoons (well, most adult cartoons) are my jam and I’m glad Paradise PD is back. It’s fun and a good distraction from the dramatics of the current state of things going on in the world.

Another show that I’m in love with for it’s serious yet light hearted approach is All Rise on CBS. This show revolves around the life of judge Lola Carmichael, a new judge navigating the world of the law, unique cases, friendships, and professional relationships (which sometimes clash). The cast is filled with diverse characters that provide depth to the story lines. I seriously hope this show sticks around past this first season.

Tech specs: I’m still a huge advocate for the Speck Presidio Grip Case. It’s a sturdy case that provides a low profile so it does not feel bulky while still ensuring drop protection thanks to its unique construction. But the truly best part of this case is the grip part – the lines on the back of the case provide a texture and design that truly create a grip for your hand. This is especially important since smartphones are now both big and delicate. Oh and Not to mention EXPENSIVE! This is a great investment for a secure outfit for your $1k+ smartphone. Best of all, this series of cases is available for most of the leading brand phones – not just Samsung and Apple, but also Motorola and LG, etc.

Random thought: more of a plea – please please please EDUCATE YOURSELF on the COVID-19 coronavirus BEFORE joining the many many people who have flown straight into blind panic and hysteria. I won’t give you statistics and scientific facts because I am not a doctor and therefore would come off as just another opinion, but the cases speak for themselves. People recover from this virus. Only those already compromised are at risk of fatality. You don’t need to stockpile like it’s the apocalypse, just simply WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY AND PROPERLY.

Doggy pic of the day: I’ve been working on my back yard as much as I can lately (you have to work slowly with a busted hip and ribs), and Walter and Charles have been my wonderful assistants!!

Hi, my name is Teddy, and I’m a recovering villain.

It is no secret that I used to believe I was meant to be a villain. I was cruel in a way that leaves permanent scars. A lot of my reasoning stemmed from self hatred. Other from being bullied. Classic tale of damaged gay kid. You see, Reader, in the 90’s it was not cool to be LGBTQ+. It was scary and misunderstood. I often imagine how much better off I would be had I not suffered so many concussions growing up (I also wonder if my eye sight would be better if I hadn’t gotten so many black eyes).

Whether you believe in God or not, is not important to me, but I will tell you that I did encounter divine intervention often. Every time I came too close to permanent villain status, something happened to stop me. Not to mention, I should have died a dozen times by now but something always intervened.

On one particular day, villain plan in motion, the salesman at a store pulled me aside and told me the story of how he used to be a pastor, and when his daughter came out of the closet he told her it was a sin and disowned her. She left and he never heard from her again. He left the church because he resented ever turning her away; he regretted it deeply. He told me this as he cried and then said, “now every time the phone rings, every knock on the door, my heart skips a beat hoping it’s her. I don’t know if she’s dead or alive, if she needs help, or if I have grand babies.” I had just been disowned for coming out of the closet the night before. I had not shared that information with him.

Another time, in a hotel room in Los Angeles there was a weird television that turned on by itself. As I sat in the dark room with tears streaming down my face the television turned on to a movie I did not recognize. The scene was a pastor who said, “it’s okay to feel down. It’s okay to be hurt. It’s okay to let your head hang low. But never ever give up.” I was in a dark and angry state of mind at the time.

Those are just a couple of examples of times in my life when the universe stopped me from villainous behavior. The truth is, I thought I was born a villain but in retrospect I was made into one. I believed it so much for so long, that it became my natural state of being; and you’d be surprised what you are okay with doing when you can justify it in your head. I was a selfish asshole who did not give a fuck about anything or anyone. It was liberating, but also lonely as fuck.

Little did I know that I had it in me to be a good person. When my beloved Lori got sick with cancer I didn’t know I would want to be there for her. I always imagined myself a runner from serious situations. Villains don’t stick around! But Lori made me a better person. She was kind and selfless in a way that I didn’t understand. I will never forget when she said to me, “when I first met you I thought to myself, “this girl doesn’t even know how special she is.’” Lori died of cancer, and I didn’t understand how someone so sweet and caring could die; while a cruel and angry villain like myself could still be here. The guilt and loss broke my heart in a way I didn’t know possible. And I couldn’t be a villain anymore.

I have since then worked hard to make amends for my wrongs. I even reached out to those I hurt to personally apologize. It was and has been a rollercoaster. Needless to say, when I found out I had fertility issues and I would likely never get pregnant, I figured it was my punishment; I deserved it and I hated myself for it. Peanut is my miracle baby. And in a way, given me a sense of forgiveness from the universe for my previous life as a villain.

What I’m watching: I’ve been catching up on my network tv with Modern Family (which is in its final season). You can definitely feel the end of this show in every episode this season. There’s a transparent attempt to give a “happily ever after” ending to each character. Nonetheless, it had a good run with some epic episodes throughout the years. If you want some wholesome comedy, I definitely recommend a binge of this show.

I’ve also been catching up on The Conners. Now, my friends know I got into a twitter fight with Rosanne Barr a few years back resulting in her blocking me (one of my favorite life events), but I do think her crazy ass added something to the show. Instead of watching this show with its predecessor, Roseanne, in mind, look at it as it’s own show. Once you give it that fair shake you will see it’s a very clever show that we need in this political climate. It navigates through social issues within a lower class white American family in a way that feels organic.

Tech specs: I was given a Google Pixel 4 to test and play with – so far the interface has not impressed me because of my previous knowledge and love for Motorola phones which also run on a pure version of Android. What really brings the Pixel 4 above the rest is the price point below the other flagship phones combined with great hardware and an extremely impressive camera. Additional side note: I personally think this phone has by far the best haptics I’ve experienced with any handheld device. The feel of holding the phone and the touch response when typing on it is pleasantly and noticeably superior to its competition.

Random thought: I want cake and ice cream. Not sure why. Anyone having a birthday party I can crash? I just want the cake and ice cream. I’ll even bring a gift. Just can’t by a whole ass cake and ice cream for one, so I need one serving of each please.

Dog pic of the week: dog butts.

let’s talk about nature’s horchata…

I was at dinner with some friends and found myself in a ton of awkward discomfort because of (what my good friend Anthony cleverly referred to as) nature’s horchata. What is that, you ask? Breast milk! I complained about the pain I felt because I hadn’t pumped all day. The general consensus seemed to be that the topic was gross. Later, as I drove home, I wondered: why is the topic of breast milk so taboo? Why do people automatically say “eww” or “gross” about breast milk?

WHY is breast milk something gross I should be ashamed to talk about? I should NOT need to learn the hard way or be ashamed to discuss leaky breasts from breast milk, Engorged discomfort, Painful nipples, etc. I have heard my friends discuss gastrointestinal issues, medical concerns, sexual situations, and gory descriptions with comfort and ease. If blood, bowels, and boners are okay to discuss freely, why is breast milk different? Talking about your BM (bowel movement) is free game, but my BM (breast milk) should be a hidden shame? I can’t help but be offended that Dr Pimple Popper is socially acceptable but breast milk is socially detestable. After all, some of you survived your first year of life off breast milk. It provides sustinance and nutrients. It is not toxic, contagious, or even viscous (unlike some of the other things that come out of the human body!). It baffles me that I should be willing to listen about diarrhea and mucous but my breast milk grosses some out? Guess which one of those three bodily fluids is healthy to consume and clean? Not your shit. Literally.

Fuck the shame. Breast milk isn’t gross. And you know what, I tasted it (as I’m sure most moms do) and it was not gross. And it leaks. Sometimes everywhere. My boobs hurt and feel uncomfortable. And sometimes I pump and sometimes I breast feed and I don’t like either sensation. Sorry not sorry. To all of you who think it’s gross: I guarantee you are much more gross than breast milk.

What I’m watching: on brand with my current “fuck you I will talk about all women’s issues we pretend don’t exist” mood, I am watching Netflix’s Grace & Frankie. If you haven’t seen this show, you are truly missing out! This show is magical because of the strong female leads of a certain age (who happen to be two of the best actors Hollywood is lucky to have grace the small screen), combined with story lines that consist of clever comedy and courageous characters facing challenges of change and chaos later in life. I am currently watching season 6 and like the previous seasons it is highly bingeworthy!

Tech Specs: I was recently at Target and saw the latest and greatest in 4k smart TVs. If you are like me, a bitch on a budget, you don’t have a smart TV because all your older TVs work just fine. If that’s the case, I want to show you my fix for my favorite streaming – the Roku. I’m sure you’ve seen it or heard of it, it’s an easy way to plug into your TV and stream all the popular streaming services. BUT I am adding this nugget of commentary: you do not need the newest and best versions of Roku! I am still running on a second generation Roku and it’s working just fine. I watch all my shows on Hulu and Netflix without a single issue. I mention this because an older model will cost you a third of the cost of the newest versions with minor bells and whistles upgrades. Save your coins, kids! Streaming doesn’t have to break the bank!

Randomness: I’m in this weird (nesting maybe?) mentality where I feel I need all new blankets. I just bought a “sweater style” blanket. I don’t like the super fuzzy ones or the Sherpa lined nonsense. I don’t know what type of blanket I want but I want it to be warm without being too heavy or having an awkward texture. Maybe something knit? I don’t know. But I sure have spent far too many hours looking at blanket descriptions online…

*New section* Doggy pic of the week:

(Vinny refuses to sleep in his own bed and insists Charles should share)

Broken Bones & Baby Blues…

When I was pregnant, I carried Peanut very high and could literally feel her putting tons pressure on my rib cage, making it difficult to breathe or move my upper body. It came to the point where I sneezed and heard a loud POP! – Busted my ribs. I’ve broken ribs before but not being able to take meds or relieve the pressure made the rest of my pregnancy extremely painful.

The last time I broke ribs, I will admit, I relied heavily on opiods. I don’t have an addictive personality so although I did take a lot of pills on a daily basis, I was able to pull myself out of the fog without the unfortunate reprocussions that many others have suffered.

This time around I am in massive upper body pain and pushing through without opioids; instead slowly working on repairing the damage through physical therapy (along with my busted hip injured during delivery). I am not gonna lie, it’s been very difficult. The pain triggers my anxiety and PTSD. Sometimes I can’t even sleep from the pain and anxiety, but I am committed to taking the proper route of recovery for Peanut. She is the motivation that gives me strength to push through.

Does postpartum baby blues by proxy exist? My little guy, Charles the terrier, is really struggling since before the arrival of Peanut. When I went to the hospital to deliver Peanut, Charles did not sleep. The entire time I was gone – over 5 days – he waited anxiously hoping I would return and wondering where I was. When I finally got home his eyes were so heavy from sleep deprivation that he could barely stand. He stayed by my side for days after; getting nervous every time I was getting ready to walk out the door.

Since Peanut’s arrival, everything has been constantly changing to meet the needs of the household. I’ve had to manage keeping her in a separate extra clean environment with the dogs at a bit of a distance for the time being while she is still so small; balanced with ensuring that the dogs aren’t suffering too greatly from all the changes. Walter is stubborn but adapts quickly – though he gives you a dirty look the ENTIRE time. Vinny (bless his heart) is dumb as a bag of rocks and just does what he’s told. But Charles, the sensitive boy, struggles the most. He is sad and cries and I try my best to be there for him while still tending to Peanut’s needs first. Any of you experienced postpartum problems with your pups?

What I’m watching: I have randomly found myself watching Life with Fran on Hulu (Fran Drescher pictured above). I had never heard of this show but figured it can’t be too bad – I was a Nanny fan. There was only 2 seasons made, and it is essentially Nanny 2.0; Cheesy PG wholesome family comedy. It seems silly but with the current state of politics and crap like overdramatized reality tv and documentaries, this show is a good palette cleanser for the tv viewer soul.

Tech specs: ANY Motorola smartphone! From their budget E series to the mid-range G series, up to the high quality Z and X series. I have one of each series and these have got to be the most underrated underestimated smartphones. They pack a solid aspect ratio even at the budget series level, solid speeds and hardware, and run on the latest Android version. I will have to do a blog devoted to all things Motorola. But if you need a budget or midrange phone, DEFINITELY go to Motorola FIRST. And if you want a high end phone that isn’t exactly like everyone else I recommend the Z and X series, or their new One series. Of note: They are also bringing back the Motorola Razr smart version but I wouldn’t get in on the first go at it – first run is always a buggy mess!

Random thoughts: Not so random – my heart goes out to my fellow Latinos in PR and the struggles they are facing after these natural disasters. Please HELP! Donate to send aid to Puerto Rico:

Hispanic Federation

https://www.hispanicfederationunidos.org/

American Red Cross

https://www.redcross.org/local/puerto-rico.html

Ghosts, Germs, and Grey skies…

A ghost is now more than an apparition of people from lives past. A ghost in the 21st century is a way to describe someone who disappears on you; they have “ghosted” you. Ghosting has become a social norm with the advent of tech and text messages typically used as the most common means of communication. Honestly, I usually do not care if someone ghosts me. That may sound callous but when it comes to those close to me, I create close connections or cannot carry on. But I have ghosted people, and people have ghosted me.

There is only one person in my life who truly broke my heart when they ghosted me; a friend who was like a brother to me. I wish I could say that I forgot all about it and let it go, but when I invest in a person I do so with my whole heart. And with this friend of mine, I still am hurt, so angry, and sad.

As luck would have it, I saw him while shopping for Christmas decorations. The most sentimental time of the year for many, the holidays, is when I see him; after not seeing him all year. And it seems silly except I used to spend every Thanksgiving and every Christmas Eve with him, so for years he was my family for the holidays.

Of course, I saw him 4 or 5 times throughout the store because that’s how the universe works. And of course, I survived. Duh. But Reader, let me tell you… it still hurt. My heart raced and my anxiety went through the roof. I didn’t want to see him or talk to him because he is the one that left our friendship. He did. I was the injured party. And I didn’t want him to see how much it would upset me to see him. At one point we were about 5 feet from each other at the check out stands, but he didnt even look in my direction. Do you have someone like this in your life? Or I guess, no longer in your life?

So here’s the thing, I’m a bit of a germaphobe. Not all germs; I have three dogs and a baby so I deal with cooties all day. But grime. Grime has this effect on me where I can’t see it, or touch it, or even think about it. I have a complete physiological reaction to it – I cringe, get tension in my hands, knot in my throat, and slight gag/dry heaves. I wish I could explain it. It makes me feel so awful that I tend to bleach everything and still feel like nothing is clean enough. Why am I disclosing this? It has slowly been increasing in severity and I’m tired of being embarrassed about it, so I’ve decided to do something about it.

I have started talking to my therapist about my germaphobia. I’ve had it my whole life, but it was under control for many many years until my hostile work environment went from bad to worse, and after I had a baby I want to protect from all the cooties in the world. Is it a control thing? Trying to control my environment and focus on what I can control? Maybe. But, Reader, I in no way feel under control” when cleaning [sigh]. My hope is that in therapy I will learn tips and tricks on how to overpower this phobia and put it back in check.

On a brighter note – the weather has been gloomy grey skies with random rains and fabulous fog. It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year! Fall and Winter weather in California is like a watered down version of any extreme weather elsewhere. Reader, it is always tshirt weather in California (except for some of my chicken friends who get cold easily lol). It’s been so lovely that even in the worst of days I am happy to look up at the sky and enjoy the weather. Just this week I have gotten to enjoy the crisp feeling of being outside first thing in the morning in 40 degree weather, the rain, fog, and rainbows!

What I am watching: Murder for Hire and 90 Day Fiance are my not so secret trash tv indulgences. Murder for Hire is a program on Oxygen that tells stories of real-life people who are hired to murder someone and turn the information in to the police. It’s an entire story in just one hour, from the plot, to a sting operation, to the take down. Best of all, at the end of the day, a life is saved and the people who put a stop to the scheme are real-life heroes.

Now, 90 Day Fiance is a shit show that cannot be described in a short paragraph. It is about people who come to the United States on 90 day fiance visas and the journey of those 90 days with their partners. Sometimes it is true love, sometimes it is true lust, sometimes it is a green card scam. Essentially, it is international dating russian roulette, aka trash tv GOLD!

Tech Specs: I still can’t get over the loss of my Plantronics Voyager Legend 5220 bluetooth ear piece. Yes, I have other bluetooths, but this one is the holy grail of ear pieces. There is a reason why it has stood the test of time within the tech community for YEARS (which is UNHEARD OF in regards to tech). It is comfortable, long lasting, and the sound is crystal clear HD – it’s like the caller is sitting right next to you! Unfortunately, along with the test of time in tech terms, this little bluetooth has also lasted the test of time in pricing and will run you a cool $80-120. BUT it is worth it if you can swing it (and I just replaced my lost one for a lucky eBay auction at $65).

Random thoughts: In general, I want to give people the benefit of the doubt (though dont mistake my kindness for weakness – I will crush someone who does me wrong without giving it a second thought)… BUT I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and I just wish I could understand the people who choose to take the path of most resistance. Those people who have something negative to say about other’s success. Who claim to be your friend but then feel the need to criticize everything you do. Seems like we all have one of those. Or sometimes, we just have one of those around that for one reason or another we can’t get rid of.

Be kind to people. I’m speaking to YOU, the negative nellys of the world! Life can be beautiful or life can be ugly, it’s up to you which path you choose.

the six Ps…

Post partum physical pain and parenting Peanut.

When I became pregnant I had a general idea of the unique obstacles I would face given my medical history. Socially, that’s the part everyone talks about, the stress of being Pregnant; being large, limited, and lugging a little one. What no one discussed with me, and I naively failed to research, was postpartum physical pain while parenting Peanut.

I carried Peanut high, so it was no surprise when I broke and bruised ribs by simply coughing or sneezing. Combine that with a natural child birth, and post partum physical pain was at an all time high. As a single parent with mental health problems, this had to be a very delicate balancing act. I could not let the post partum pain and preexisting problems prevent Peanut’s proper care. I know myself well enough to know what triggers my anxiety and depression, and what can keep it at bay. But when you throw physical pain in the equation along with being a new parent, things get more complicated.

I am not ashamed to admit I enlisted the aid of my primary physician, obgyn, pediatrician, physical therapist, and cognitive therapist to manage this. One thing this experience has reaffirmed for me is: being strong does not mean doing everything on your own, being strong means knowing when you need to ask for help.

Peanut just recently turned 4 months old, and at my most recent doctor’s appointment my doctor pointed out that Peanut was wearing a very color and theme coordinated outfit. As I held Peanut and rocked her back to sleep, my doctor said, earnestly, “you’re a good mom.”

This caught me off guard. She then continued to explain that most people who suffered the trauma I did during pregnancy and especially during my delivery, would have postpartum depression or worse; struggle to bond or connect with their baby. But I seemed connected and comfortable caring for my little cutie.

Now, I know that postpartum depression happens. It is actually pretty common. But it never once occurred to me. Negative thoughts about my Peanut never once crossed my mind. Even though I was certain it would be one of my obstacles.

It seems like there’s something about my preexisting depression and anxiety that helped me. I was so conscious of the possibility of postpartum depression that I made a strong effort to circumvent it in every way possible. I checked in with my doctors, enlisted a therapist for weekly sessions, and adjusted my medications. I was so afraid that it was inevitable, that I made it impossible.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky. And yes, even with all the work I put in, I consider myself lucky. But between the postpartum physical pain and parenting Peanut, I wish I had been told about the recovery problems. The bleeding, the pain, the swelling, the crying… Had I known about the physical pain and recovery as well as I was warned about the postpartum depression, I would have prepared as much as feasibly possible.

So why dont we talk about it? Why dont we openly talk about the bleeding, and the pain, and the tears, and the God damn swelling! We need to be more comfortable and open with discussing the ugly parts of postpartum. Not emotionally ugly, but literally physically disgusting and ugly. We are so bogged down with the stigma of losing our appeal if people see our struggle.

I struggle. I have scars. Emotional and physical scars. I get help. I get depression. I get anxiety. But I get HELP. I’m so tired of the stigma. The taboo of it all. Tell me about your ugly parts. I want to hear it. All of it.