Ambition…or lack thereof.

Something I haven’t mentioned recently is that I started a new job in June. I’m not quite sure if I mentioned it in previous posts’ but I had been applying for work since February. I had a few interviews but nothing ever panned out.

Then in May I had an interview for a company I had heard about but didn’t really know much. (Not really sure if I’m allowed to mention it so I’m going to play it safe and just not). I went into the interview kind of ambivalent. I had already gone to a few, the companies hadn’t even bothered to send me a rejection letter, and I figured the same thing would’ve happened here. But to my surprise they called me back by the end of the week and offered me the job.

I’m glad I took the job. I’m working for a popular big box store in the States–my gosh do I miss big box stores–as a Help Desk Agent for their employees, dealing with things like security cameras, office computers and printers. I like the people I work with. I love getting out of the house and talking with people my own age. I think the decision to get out and work was great for my mental health. But the longer I’m there, the harder it is for me to find an incentive to stay there long term.

Like most companies, getting a promotion here is dependent on whether or not a position NEEDS to be filled. I won’t go as far as to say that promotions, when they happen, aren’t reward based. But they only happen based on when a position opens up. Again, that’s understandable and it happens in most companies, especially the higher up someone gets in a company the harder it is to move from position to position. Unless you’re in IT, but I don’t feel like I’ll be qualified for an IT position any time soon.

In most of my past work experiences I’ve always been ambitious. I’ve always done my job well to get promoted quickly or have been able to find better jobs at other companies based on my customer service. I wanted to be someone “important.” I wanted to be able to do something at more than just an entry level position. But in my current position, both within the company and also in Uruguay, I’m feeling like my only options will always be at a call center.

Which leads me to wonder if we should move back to the States in order to find better paying work. But then I think about health insurance and how difficult it would be to come by unless I have a full time job and I start having a panic attack. I know that us moving, anywhere at this point, is unrealistic.

Before I had kids I would always be the first one into work and the last one out. I worked extra shifts and wouldn’t mind if I didn’t get paid for them. I always figured that my dedication would be noticed and appreciated, eventually being merited. But now every afternoon I make sure to clock out at exactly the precise moment my shift ends to get home and be with my child. I don’t offer to take my coworkers shifts when they need a day off  because it means more days away from PJ. I show up, I clock in, do my job, and leave.

I’m at this point in my life where I feel like I have no ambition and no direction in my life apart from loving and caring for my family. I don’t know what I want to do for ME. I look at my husband and his passion for his art. He’s so driven to succeed. He works tirelessly to promote himself, to put on shows, to get recognized by publications, anything that will get him a step ahead.

I miss that burning desire to succeed, you know, the one that feels like a roaring fire in the pit of your stomach being fed with each and every “Good job!” and “Great work! Keep it up!”

I’m hoping that in the coming months I’ll be able to find what fuels me again. Who knows, maybe I’ll find it in this job. Or maybe I’ll find it in something totally different like writing, baking, or outreach! I just know that in order to ignite that fire again I have to start looking for a match.

 

**I’ll make a post soon about how we’ve transitioned from two stay-at-home parents to one!

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El Prado Expo

I haven’t updated in what seems like forever. First, I didn’t know what to write about. Then, I didn’t know how to formulate my thoughts into words. And lastly, my computer died last week. Thankfully my mom is letting me borrow hers until I get it back from the repair shop.

My aunt is currently visiting us from Miami so I’ve been quite the busy tour guide!

This post is dedicated to our day at Expo Prado last Thursday. I’ve been wanting to go since we got to Uruguay two years ago but something always came up during those days. The expo is a agroindustrial fair where the country’s best animal farmers bring their prize animals for auction. It’s also where merchants come to show off their latest farm inspired goods ranging from machinery to fashion.

Walking into the fair grounds I quickly got nostalgic for the yearly fair that takes place in Miami. The smell of churros quickly hit my nose, balloon vendors were bombarding us and I just knew it was going to be a good day.

Hereford bull being brought out of the pen to spread his legs.
Hereford bull being brought out of the pen to spread his legs.
Hey Mr. Cow! Be nice!
Hey Mrs. Cow! Be nice

I’ve seen my fair share of cows before but never like this! Prior to moving to Uruguay I literally thought cows came in the black and white variety and that was that. Very small minded of me but hey, I’m a city girl. Carlos was showing off by telling me all about the different breeds, where they originate from, and how they came to Uruguay. I swear sometimes it feels like I don’t even know who my husband is!

We were separated from my mom and aunt for a bit so we decided to check out the goat pen. We used to have goats on the farm but after four died from their mischievous antics, we decided that while we love goats we weren’t suited to own them. Turns out that we have our own little goat seeing how PJ decided to climb into the goat pens.

After walking around aimlessly for a bit we came across an beer stand. For those of you that don’t know, Carlos is an avid beer drinker. As for me, as long as it has alcohol in it I’m almost always in. The beer selection was the usual Uruguayan Patricia selection along with some imported beer like Budweiser and Corona. We decided to try some Argentinian beer called Patagonia. It was delicious and I’ll definitely be looking for it at the exotic beer shops in Montevideo.

Patagonia.
Patagonia.
La Oriental Beer Company
La Oriental Beer Company

We found a little playground area in the back of the park and let PJ run around and release some steam before we decided to keep walking around the animal pens. It was nice to take a break and let her enjoy herself. After awhile we kept exploring and found a little alleyway of sorts that led us to a tiny amusement ride area. PJ originally wanted to ride the teacups but she is still too small so we coerced her to give the carousel a try. As you can see in her photo she’s just a little ball of sass.

Hi Mom!
Hi Mom!

Past the rides, there’s an area of artisanal shops selling things like leather boots, purses and even cheesy tourist keychains. My aunt ended up buying herself a mate cup along with some souvenirs for everyone in Miami.  From that point there were more alleyways leading to different parts of the park but PJ was getting cranky so we left.

Overall, we had a very nice day together and I definitely plan on making this a yearly tradition.

If you ever find yourself in Montevideo in the month of September I would definitely take the time to come to the expo. It’s a nice for a family outing with good food, animals and rides for the kids.

Would you like a kiss?
Would you like a kiss?
My own little mountain goat.
My own little mountain goat.

it’s the little moments

Every day that passes I am in awe of how much PJ has grown. Whenever I close my eyes, I still see her as the tiny bundle we brought home from the hospital. I still hear her newborn yawns in my sleep. And when I try to get an unwanted hug in, I can still smell her newborn smell on the back of her neck.

A few days ago Carlos and I were discussing second birthday plans. I was rattling off about Care Bears versus Lady Bug themed parties for CAIF when he stopped me and told me to look at PJ. She was sitting on the floor in the living room just rambling in her own language playing with her Cinderella doll and this pink cat I’ve had since I was a kid. When she noticed our silence she looked at us, smiled and ran over to give us each a kiss.

This past week we were on Netflix and she saw the Curious George icon and started pointing at it and said, “ooo ooo oooo!” (that’s my way of writing monkey noise). It made me beam hearing her tell me that she wanted the monkey as opposed to her normal jelly flop and tears routine.

Last week she started eating with a spoon by herself. It’s something we had been working on for months but just one afternoon at CAIF and watching her friend Micaela eat with a spoon and now she’s a pro. She even offers us some of her food if we’re not eating at the exact moment she is.

It’s in these small moments that it truly dawns on me that my child is not going to be a baby forever. She will one day converse in full sentences, be able to serve her own food, use the bathroom by herself, and even go out on her own. Eventually she will be a full fledged adult and not NEED me anymore. I know that this is what growing up is, this is what being a parent is. She will always be my baby though.

At the end of the day when my husband and I are in bed talking about what cute thing Paloma did while we were alone with her we look at each other and know that moving to Uruguay was the best decision. We get to be here for her 24/7. We’re the ones that are able to raise her, attend to her, and love her. We talk about where would we be had we stayed in Miami and know deep down that she wouldn’t be the same effervescent and lively tiny human she is today.

I’m so thankful for the life we are building and all the blessings that God has given us.

Two years in Uruguay!

This past weekend was our two year anniversary of being in Uruguay! I can’t believe it’s been two years since we embarked on the craziest journey of our lives, but here we are.

Things are finally starting to come together. We’re starting to decorate the house, the boxes are slowly starting to diminish, and our town is really starting to feel like home.

We celebrated this momentous occasion by heading to the Ministerio del Exterior to pick up our approved residency papers! When we first moved here we started our application at the immigration office on Misiones and 25 de Mayo in Montevideo. But this past election, some laws were changed and our application moved to the exterior office due to Paloma’s Uruguayan citizenship. Essentially because we have a Uruguayan daughter, our residency was expedited.

Stopping for a quick selfie at Plaza Constitución.
Stopping for a quick selfie at Plaza Matriz.
Plaza Matriz.
Plaza Matriz.

After a not so pleasant encounter with the front desk manager and two hour wait period, we were taken in the back to sign the finalized papers and given the necessary documents to update our cedulas.

Since we made it all the way to Montevideo we decided there were a few other things we wanted to do before heading back to Sauce. We walked along Colonia and found a new art supply store for Carlos. He’s pretty excited to find some Windsor & Newton paints in Uruguay. I wanted to go to the baking supply store but as my luck would have it, closed for inventory. They do have other stores but they were out of our way. Oh well…off we went to buy our kitchen table and chairs.

Carlos posing with our new kitchen set.
Carlos posing with our new kitchen set.

Bazar La Iberica is like Pottery Barn only 10 times prettier and just as expensive. Most of their stuff is way out of our price range but a few weeks ago I noticed they were advertising Eames chairs and table set. I’ve always loved the look of them but found them to be too expensive in Uruguay. I couldn’t believe my eyes when the table and four chairs were $13,800 pesos! Based on todays exchange rate it was US$483.00. What a steal! We purchased them and set off to find a place for lunch.

We were lucky to be in Ciudad Vieja for lunch time. There have been a lot of new restaurants opening in the area and they’re only open at lunch time. We debated for awhile but decided on this place called Camelia. From what I could tell most of the food is prepackaged. Pick what you want from the cooler, bring it to the counter to pay, and sit and enjoy! If you want coffee or the soup of the day those behind the counter would provide that for you. Carlos got a ham sandwich while I grabbed myself some sushi. I had been craving it for weeks and decided time to treat myself.

We enjoyed our lunch and decided to visit Marcelo at the gallery before heading home. After receiving the surprising news that he was moving up Carlos’ show date to September, we rushed home to process everything. I’ll save the details about his show for another time.

Repurposed furniture at Roggia Gallery.
Repurposed furniture at Roggia Gallery.
Camelias.
Camelias

It was a day like Monday that made me happy to be here. I love the architecture of Montevideo and how things look when it’s overcast. That I’m finally knowing my way around and don’t feel like a tourist every time I step foot in the city. Uruguay has become my home and I can’t wait to see what it has in store for us.

Thankful for this country and it’s people, that while we may have our rough days together, you always find a way to pull me back in.

Feliz Día del Niño!

Oh Uruguay…How you’ve managed to bring more holidays into my life is ridiculous. But here we are celebrating our second día del niño!

You’re probably wondering what the día del niño is, so let me explain. According to Wikipedia–my source for all things unknown–it’s a yearly holiday celebrated across the world to unify and celebrate childhood, bring light to the wellbeing of children, and promote child rights. It’s celebrated across the world in countries like Nicaragua, Albania, Argentina, and Paraguay just to name a few.

In Uruguay, the día del niño is celebrated on the second Sunday of August. For kids, it’s bigger than Christmas. There are events and festivals dedicated to it.

I don’t think it’s a holiday we’ll adopt until PJ is in school and she mentions it. I will say that I take advantage of the sales and buy her birthday/Christmas presents now. Much better discount now than at Christmas.

Most towns, churches, malls, and schools have celebrations in honor of the day. Something to get the kids out of the house. But our town canceled it’s event due to a weather-related power outage. I was looking forward to the bounce house and the firefighter show/thing they were going to do. Hopefully next year we’ll be able to take her.

Somewhere in the middle: My cultural identity

A couple of weeks ago Carlos and I were invited to a dinner party thrown by the gallery owner Carlos is set to show at in October. A small get together to meet up and coming artists in Montevideo along with local art buyers. I’ve been to a few things like this back in Miami, always the same pretentious art talk being thrown around, where I normally spend half the night trying not to throw up from all the bullshit. 

But this time, there was something different. Very early on the group divided between the art buyers and the art makers, those of us falling into neither category floating in the middle. Right at the beginning we met Juan, a Cuban artist that married a Uruguayan and has been living in Montevideo for a little over a year, and Nathalia, a psychology student from the department of Artigas living in Montevideo for over 11 years. In true man fashion Carlos and Juan pulled out their phones and started showing each other pictures of their work, leaving Nathalia and I to “ooh” and “aah” at every picture. Shortly there after we noticed that Juan did not have a typical Uruguayan accent leaving us to ask, “Where are you from?” Cuba. I quickly got excited telling him that my parents are Cuban including the towns they hail from but not before he asked, “Were you born in Cuba?” “Well no,” I responded. “I was born in Miami.” Juan, very politely, responded with, “Bueno entonces no eres cubana, tus padres si, pero tu eres estadounidiense.” (translating to: So then you’re not Cuban, you’re from the United States.)

My husband looked at me, waiting to see how I would respond, knowing that hearing that stung. I wish I could say that was the first time I had heard it. He’s not wrong in saying that I am in fact not Cuban but American. but as with everyone else who has told me that it was as if I was hearing, “You aren’t worthy of identifying yourself as Cuban. You are not one of us.” 

Growing up in Miami you would expect the melting pot of Hispanic ethnicities to create a warm and welcoming environment. The idea that they’ve all immigrated to the United States in search for a better life would bring them together. But it never really worked out like that. I grew up in an environment that divided Cubans from everyone else. Miami Cubans—and yes I am generalizing here—overall had this air about them that because Miami is known to be a Little Havana, that Cubans are THE best and all others are second class citizens. 

But I remember growing up and while I identified as a Cuban-American I never really fit in with the Cubans in school. I hadn’t immigrated to the States and while I may have spoken Spanish at home it wasn’t as if I was fluent. You would think that I would have found a place with other Cuban-Americans or Hispanic-Americans going through the same plight but I just didn’t. I didn’t listen to salsa or reggaeton, I didn’t watch Sabado Gigante or telenovelas on weeknights, and I didn’t go to loud family get togethers on Sunday afternoons. 

Then there were the American kids telling me that I was too brown to be their friend. That I wasn’t American enough to be American. “You came to this country for the ‘American dream’ well you’re not welcome here go back to your people.”

I spent most of my youth listening to bands like N’SYNC or the Backstreet Boys. I watched T.G.I.F. religiously and read Judy Blume books. Even when I did manage to build my tribe from 6th to 12th grade I didn’t have the same Hispanic experiences as them. Their parents made their culture known but apart from delicious Cuban food and my parents speaking in Spanish to each other, it wasn’t something that was common for me. My friends spent their summers in Cuba or Nicaragua, they only spoke to their families in Spanish, and they strongly identified as whatever their nationality is.

But me? I didn’t know what to identify as. I come from a blue-collar family. My dad worked three and four jobs at a time while my mom worked a steady 9-5 with good benefits but lacking in decent pay. We wore used clothing, had used toys, and my sister and I were constantly reminded that we needed to be better than our parents. I don’t feel like this struggle is a Cuban struggle or an American struggle because this is a human struggle; making ends meet, putting food on the table and providing for loved ones. At home we listened to oldies and classic rock. We watched English programs and my mom was active in my school work. If you asked me who Justin Timberlake was dating I could tell you Britney Spears in two seconds flat but ask me about whatever popular hispanic power couple and I would be as quiet as a country mouse.

It wasn’t until I met my husband that I had found someone other than my sister that felt the way I did. He was born in Nicaragua but raised in the States. When we go to Nicaragua they don’t consider him one of them, rather he’s a “gringo.” But if you ask any American if my naturalized husband is American they make it a point to differentiate themselves from him. 

The easy way to deal with this is to say, “I identify myself as a human. I have no cultural patrimony.” But that’s far from realistic. I think for right now I am comfortable knowing that I’m currently in-between cultural identities. My parents are Cuban, each with their own eclectic cultural backstory, I was born and raised in Miami but now I live in Uruguay. There are parts of each currently embedded in who I am and how I interact with others. I hope that one day I can figure it out, that I can give an answer that can please myself and not offend others. 

I’m thankful that I can have so many cultural influences, and that while my daughter may come across the same issues, that she will be proud of where she comes from. 

A break through the clouds.

Keeping Paloma entertained is hard enough when I have tons of different options but with the dead of winter upon us it’s getting harder and harder to keep her entertained. Our days usually consist of emptying out the toy box, placing things back in, emptying it out, screaming, running, and trying to trip me in the kitchen.

You would think that living on a farm PJ would have a sufficient amount of free space but until we fence the houses off from the animals her grass space is pretty limited. The animals poop any and everywhere, the dogs are constantly tripping her and the ground is uneven. I try to take her to the park in town at least once a week but I haven’t been able to do that in awhile. I also get a break during CAIF but July is vacation month in Uruguay so no playgroup until August.

The last week we’ve been dealing with cold rain but today we were blessed with SUN! Sure, the wind was brutal but we had sun making it the perfect day to head to the park for half an hour. Luckily today was Carlos’ day off and I didn’t have anything major on my to-do list for him so we got to go as a family.

Ever since I posted about putting my phone/computer away while enjoying time as a family I’ve been able to really take in the little moments. I notice the small things, the quiet moments. Like when Paloma plays with her Little People and gives them little kisses. Or for instance the hilarious moment we had yesterday at breakfast. I was playing music from the iTunes radio on my iPhone when Maroon 5’s Sugar comes on. Paloma drops what she had in her hand, gave me the dirtiest face and slowly raises her fingers to her ears to cover them. She didn’t move them until I changed the song. I got a stitch on my side from laughing so hard.

Anyway, while at the park I made it a point to take pictures with my DSLR as opposed to using my phone. I knew that if I had my phone out I would be distracted by social media or tempted to play a level of Dots.

I was surprised how Paloma now LOVES to go down the slide by herself. She normally wants us to go down with her or hold her by her waist as she scoots down. But today she was a big girl! It made my heart hurt but simultaneously swell with joy seeing how much she’s grown.

I love days like this. Days where smiles and giggles flow freely.It’s these little moments that I live for. All the tough to get through moments are worth it when I get to experience days like these. My family is my everything.

Climbing the stairs to get on the slide.
Climbing the stairs to get on the slide.
Moments like these melt my heart.
Moments like these melt my heart.

*I wrote this post on Tuesday before we took PJ to the hospital. Didn’t have a chance to post it then.