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The Art of Gifting
December 16, 2017
The worst two presents I ever got were a multi-carat diamond ring and a Mercedes Benz convertible car.
Before you slap me, hear this: The best presents I've gotten cost near to nothing.
My husband David is the best gift-giver in the world. He can bring me to tears of joy with a present that cost under ten dollars. What is his secret?
He pays attention.
Like a ninja of love, he sneaks into my thoughts through casual conversations and finds out something connected to my happiest childhood memories. The gift is only the tip of the iceberg of a love declaration that says “I care about you. I'm interested. I hear you.” He has mastered the art of seeing me. And for someone like me, who grew up feeling invisible and inaudible, that's the greatest feeling in the world.
IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO HAVE A HAPPY CHILDHOOD (GETTING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE)
November 25, 2017
“When we've finally learned the answers, God changes the questions.”
In the midst of my social rehab after my divorce, I'd gotten off my butt, got out of the house, and out to brunch with girlfriends.
I was proud.
But then, stretching me out of my comfort zone, my friend Mary invited me to join her group of hospital friends in their weekly Happy Hours.
(Sigh). Why is it that socializing with people has to mean drinking alcohol?
I have an embarrassing secret: I can't drink to save my life. I'm a disgrace for all Dominicans.
THANK GOD FOR GIRLFRIENDS! (SOCIAL REHAB)
November 11, 2017
I'd had a massive stroke and was bedridden, and now I was expected to go run a mini-marathon.
Not literally. But that's how overwhelming facing the world of dating––and even socializing–– felt after my divorce.
Like that stroke victim, when a patient is so debilitated that she's become bedridden, the physical therapists start their treatment right in bed. Through passive exercises––doing the work for the patient by moving their limbs–– they slowly encourage the muscles to recover.
I'd started started my own passive rehab for my social skills months back.
It was called Facebook.
Halloween Special: have you ever jumped into a grave
October 28, 2017
I'm not normal (self-love 1)
October 14, 2017
The ink hadn't dried on my divorce papers when people started asking me why I wasn't dating. Their pitying eyes seemed to say, “So, you don't have a man? Oh, there must be something wrong with you.”
Come on! I didn't need people insinuating I wasn't normal.
I already knew that!
I've always known I'm not normal. In fact, there's a very good chance that I'm not an Earthling. Life on Earth has never come naturally to me. It's as if everybody around me got a memo that I missed.
They're not evil, they're mentally challenged (changing perspective)
September 29, 2017
I used to enjoy messing around with the brains of racist people. That's why I started lightening my hair. And I'm not proud of it – it's not nice to make fun of people with mental challenges.
Wait, that didn't come out right. It sounded like an attempt to insult racist people, but it's not. My little girl, Lili, has autism. I have great respect for people with special needs and I'd never joke about mental challenges. But this is my scientific theory: Racism is a variant of autism.
Allow me to explain.
IN THE STORM's AFTERMATH (TAKING RISKS)
September 16, 2017
As I type these lines my neighborhood still doesn't have power. Every street and yard is a mess. Branches of trees lie everywhere. Fences and railings have blown over, and almost everybody is dealing with something broken on their house – from lost sidings, to leaky roofs.
And if we dare to complain we deserve a whipping. Because that's nothing compared to the losses so many people have suffered in the rest of Florida, in Cuba and the Minor Antilles Islands.
Do I wish to rewind time and change the moment when I moved to Florida?
Shopping is Good for you (Self awareness)
September 1, 2017
I owe much of my current happiness to the practice of the ancient art of Bargain Shopping.
I know what you're thinking. Every woman loves shopping for new clothes and shoes and we'll all find excuses to justify it. But I swear I'm serious. Bargain shopping was my brain-rehabilitation exercise for self-awareness. It lead me to reconnect with my lost inner voice.
WE ARE ALL FAKING IT (AND IT'S OKAY!) (STEPPING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE)
August 18, 2017
Sometimes a very small decision can change the course of your life. Especially if that decision requires stepping out of your comfort zone.
I was fifteen years old. I was afraid of needles and terrified of the sight of blood. Even the smell of isopropyl alcohol, which I associated with hospitals, made me shake. But I needed community service hours for high school graduation, and the fastest way to get them was signing up as a volunteer for the latest pediatric vaccination campaign.
Did I go crazy? (Finding Love Against All Prognoses)
August 4, 2017
“My poor friend Diely lost her mind. All that sleep deprivation and stress from Medicine and kids finally caught up with her and fried her brain”
I smile, imagining that's what many of my friends and relatives must be thinking right now.
Seriously! Why is a Board-certified physician with a bunch of degrees in dead-serious matters (from Hematology-Oncology to Clinical Investigation) writing about all this crazy stuff?
Overcoming Fear (Genes and Memes)
July 22, 2017
One of the biggest psychological triumphs of my adult life – which I'm convinced helped propel me toward finding love – was learning to eat sushi.
All my life I had a love/hate, fascination/terror relationship with sushi.
In the pre-globalization Dominican Republic, where I grew up, sushi was a joke. It proved that people in rich countries who didn't have to worry about hunger, water-borne epidemics, craters on the roads and lack of electricity eventually got so bored they lost their minds.
Amazons and Mermaids (Forgiving Men)
July 11, 2017
My grandmother Casilda once used her seamstress scissors to cut off a doll's little penis. It was the first (and last) anatomically correct baby-boy doll my cousin Medry had. For a while, my sisters and I jokingly called our grandma “Lorena Bobbit.” (If you don't get that reference, you're way too young, or I'm getting too old. Please Google it).
Mamá Casilda's excuse that day was that she tried to put a diaper on the doll and it kept falling down. But the truth is that for her the view of a penis —even if an innocent, four-millimeter-long, plastic one—was intolerably disturbing.
Getting married to America: A love letter to the USA
July 4, 2017
I’m not marrying you for your money, or your social position. I’m not marrying you because society is pushing me or because “it’s time.” I’m marrying you simply because I love you.
When I first started getting to know you, over a decade ago, I didn’t imagine I’d fall for you this way. I admit that you did impress me with your amazing skyscrapers and highways, your incredibly well-stocked grocery stores and your shopping centers — even the fact that electricity and water always worked amazed me. But back then, coming from a place where chaos and lawlessness are the daily bread, you felt too strict, so full of rules — so stiff.
Welcome to the boondocks!
June 15, 2017
Welcome to Melbourne, Florida! A charming town on the Space Coast, strategically located not-far-from-anything-yet-close-to-nothing. Melbourne is also known as “Melboring,” “Ten miles past where Jesus lost his sandals,” and, as they say in the DR, “Where The Devil howled three times and no one heard him.”
Moving to Melbourne implies becoming an expert in Florida geography – trying to explain to family and friends where home is. “It's three hours north from Miami, two hours south from Daytona Beach. Have you ever heard of Cape Canaveral? Do you remember that old TV series I Dream of Jeannie, happening in the town of 'Cocoa Beach?' No, it's not there, but not too far from there.” Eventually, I just gave up and simply said, “Close enough to Orlando.”
June 5, 2017
My mother used to say, “Daring the Devil isn’t the same as seeing him arrive.”
Her advice crossed my mind as I stood at the courthouse, pen in hand, staring at the still wet ink on the papers in front of me.
The documents had been signed. My divorce was official. I was single.
A single woman—in my thirties—living in the United States.
For a terrifying instant, I remembered watching Sex and the City for the first time, when I’d nearly died of embarrassment.
Was THAT what was expected of me?
Uh-oh. I was in deep trouble!
the naked man
The first naked man I saw in my life was a cadaver. I was sixteen and a precocious college freshman. Around that time I had second thoughts about the crazy idea of signing up for medical school and knew that, unless I could prove myself able to face the morgue without fainting, it was a lost cause.
“Either my libido is dead for good... or I'm a lesbian and I still don't know it.”
The conversation with myself had been ongoing for a couple of days. It was my attempt to find a logical explanation for the fact that I had been celibate now for a year and a half and the thought of having sex with a man did not turn me on and instead was vaguely unpleasant.