Blackout With A Book Out

Hello, readers.

Today is Thursday. Day two of an island wide blackout. There was a fire at one of the power stations and they shut the entire grid down. That happened yesterday, around 2pm. While some towns have gotten their power turned back on, most of us are still without electricity. So, what can we do? Read. That’s what.

I hadn’t read a book since the end of summer. So, you can imagine how excited I am to finally have an excuse to drop everything and read. I decided to pick up Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix. And man am I glad I did! The book is nothing like what I expected. Somehow I thought it would be all parody and social commentary, and there’s some of that, but mostly it’s just gore and oozing all over self-assembled furniture.horrorstor_final_300dpi

The book follows Amy, an employee at Orsk – a furniture store much like Ikea. She’s 24, broke, and probably about to be fired. Except she’s not. Instead, her boss asks her and another employee to pull a graveyard shift so they can monitor the store and figure out who’s been defiling the furniture and breaking all the merchandise on display. What starts as an easy way to make money, turns into a giant shit show. There are ghosts, people get tortured, they nearly drown.

Suddenly you realized that the bright lights and the pre-designed shopping experience have turned into a darkness that’s crawling with bodies intent on murdering you. Holy. Shit. You guys. It’s unexpectedly horrible, unexpectedly engaging. My only disappointment has been having finished it. It leaves you wanting so much more. The book got a lot of buzz when it first came out and I can really see why.

On a day where the heat and humidity have made everything sticky. Where it seems like the entire island is on pause. Where there really is very little to do but read and drink (that comes later). I’m thrilled to have picked up a book that effectively made me forget my surroundings. It’s still early though, so now the question remains. What will I read next?

Until next time, readers.

Destination: Christmas #21

This Christmas series is brought to you thanks to Book Riot’s Literary Advent Calendar. It’s a combination of poetry, short stories, and essays. I’ll be posting every day, some days twice to keep up with my regular posts. Click the story title for the full text. Now, let’s get this Christmas show on the road!

Day 21

The Three Kings

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Hello again, readers!

It’s been a mildly productive day. Although, if I’m honest, the most shocking part of it was eating a Mac N’ Cheese Hamburger. That happened. Words cannot describe the awesome, so I won’t even insult you with paltry descriptions of what transpired. Aside from that I got paid, which is also a pleasant surprise seeing as I was meant to get my check a little under a week ago. So, you know, shit happened today you guys.

Today’s selection is all about the Three Wise Men who visited Jesus on the day of his birth. Led by the North star, the three kings brought gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense. Sometimes I’m surprised when people don’t know this story. Being Puerto Rican, it’s something you learn when you’re very little regardless of whether you’re religious or not. As the world celebrates Christmas, many countries, including Puerto Rico, celebrate the Three Kings’ Day, where children everywhere await the arrival of these Wise men who leave a trail of gifts in their wake.

I remember being a kid and pilfering shoeboxes, so I could fill them with grass. Just as you’d leave cookies and milk for Santa, you leave a box full of grass and a bowl of water fro the Wise men’s camels. Families here in the Island celebrate both Christmas and the Three Kings’ Day, making the Holiday season something to truly look forward to. Especially when you consider the fact that we start our celebrations with Thanksgiving and they end somewhere around the second week of January with a massive street festival that lasts three days. Definitely worth looking forward to.

Although it’s a simple retelling of this age old story, the poem brings to mind all the traditions I’ve grown up with as a Puerto Rican. The things we do here that you don’t find anywhere else. It reminds me that no matter what happens or where I go, this beautiful Island will always call me back like the beating of a very persistent heart. Because, even though shit gets crazy here and there are times when I feel like I’m ready to burst from wanting to leave, I love these traditions. Nothing feels like Christmas in Puerto Rico. And that’s just the way I like it.

Have a good one readers, wherever you are!

Getting there

Hello everyone! 

My apologies for leaving you hanging on Wednesday! These past few days have been pretty crazy. One of my best friends got home after months of traveling, I’ve been spending time with family and friends before the trip, and don’t get me started on all the errands! 

My mo12139745_164446200567810_1189307091_nrning started out like any other…. That’s a lie. I woke up anxious at 3:42am, feeling slightly queasy and possibly congested. I had a last minute technology Q&A with my mother about what happens when phones don’t have data. I feel like I was very informative. Perhaps a future in explaining things to people should be in the cards.

At the airport everything was fine, until that terrible moment when you have to say goodbye to people. My mother always starts sobbing, which makes leaving hard because I hate having to walk away from her like that. Everything was made infinitely more amusing by the fact that after swiftly moving through the TSA screening I, just as swiftly, had to run back when I realized I’d left my computer behind.

In this back and forth I met a cowboy comedian. We kept crossing paths as he tried to find a Starbucks and I tried to find my gate. The airport was under construction, I’d like to think Cowbow Comedian and I are not as clueless as we sound.

As it stands, I’m currently writing this from an airport in Toronto as I wait for my third flight of the day to board. I look like a crazy person carrying around an unnecessary amount of bags which just accentuates how not smooth I am. With anything.

Before leaving Puerto Rico, I asked a guy if he was hungover and he replied that he’d just come from his grandfather’s funeral. Just a small example of my lack of finesse. We then proceeded to talk about The Walking Dead, so I’m guessing he wasn’t terribly put off. In the end we went our separate ways, but I’ll never forget that one guy I said inappropriate things to at the airport.

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I’ve left Canada on what is to be the final leg of my journey. All I can say is, so long and thanks for all the hot men at the airport. You’re doing good things on that front, Canada.

I fell asleep as soon as the plane started moving on the tarmac and woke up to find a WHOLE hour had passed. I’m trying to make it seem more thrilling than it actually was. So, armed with delicious cookies and entirely nondescript tea, I’ve decided to be productive and write this long overdue post.

I decided to put the Around the World Challenge on hold as I actually visit bits of the world. I’ve been feeling like reading very particular things, so I’m taking this time to satisfy that literary craving. I will however, finish Colorado before I put it on hold. So, look for that post sometime next week!

I’ve brought with me Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics, a collection of 34 short stories that combine science and myths (origin stories?). I’ve read the first two so far and they’ve been amazing. Not what I expected at all and so much better than anything I could’ve predicted. The stories are funny, clever, and really inventive, so I’m looking forward to reading the rest.

The other book I brought with me is the Accidental Universe by Alan Lightman. This one is a collection of essays, rather than stories. Lightman writes about science and the universe from a more human perspective. He creates a marriage of the objective and factual with the beauty and wonder that is being a human part of the cosmos. At least, that’s my understanding of the text. I haven’t started reading it properly yet.

The rest of the books I read will come as I gleefully buy them during my travels. I’m going to try to post as often as possible, rather than on a set schedule in order to share as much as I can of this trip with you. Remember to check out today’s Alphabet Soup, as well!

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I’m now in Scotland, but with a limited internet connection so bear with me folks!

Of Droughts and Mormons

Good evening, everyone!

Today has been an insanely long day and not for any particular reason, the time has just passed very slowly. This was probably aided by the fact that it’s been an entirely uneventful day where all I did was watch tv, do a small amount of work for a group I belong to, and read.

On the bright side, today we got our water back! It’s possible you don’t know this, but Puerto Rico is experiencing one of the most severe droughts in the past decade, at least. Due to the infinitesimal amount of water, we’re smack dab in the middle of a rationing process. Initially, they would turn the water off for 24 hours, but as the water level decreased they increased that to 48 hours. Today marked the end of the latest 48 hour period and, for the moment, we have running water. According to the “experts” the water levels will take months to get back to normal, which means we will most likely be rationing water for a few more months.

If I weren’t already excited to go to Europe, escaping the drought alone would make the trip worth it. I can’t lie though, I’m stoked to finally visit Europe on my terms, without tour guides or a group to determine where I should be. The first time I set foot in Europe my mom and I went with a tourist group where everything was pre-organized. The second time, I went as part of an English course offered by the university; we traveled following in the footsteps of American writers who based themselves in Paris, like those of the Lost Generation and the Beat Generation. As a group we had more freedom to explore than I did with my previous group, but because it was a university course there were things we needed to see and places we needed to visit in order to complete our final project. This upcoming trip is a chance to finally visit the countries that I want, without the hassle of timetables or preordained stops to make. It’s quite liberating, if I’m honest.

As part of my absolutely lazy day, I’ve been getting acquainted with my new book, Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. I usually have a difficult time reading non-fiction because it takes me longer to dig through the facts and find the narrative. I haven’t had that problem so far with this book, it invites me to keep reading and I can’t help but feel excited about that. In the small amount I’ve read it’s already explored a few subjects in a really concise and direct way. I like that the writer found a way to explain things that could be potentially complicated and made them seem simple without dumbing them down. I’ve never read anything else by him, so I don’t know if that’s his style in general or if it has to do with the nature of the book itself. So far, the way he’s approached the narrative works with what he’s trying to say.

One of the first things he touches upon is the difference between Mormons and Mormon Fundamentalists. They both follow the same scriptures and believe Joseph Smith to be a prophet similar to Moses, for example. However, Mormon Fundamentalists firmly believe in polygamy, to them abandoning what they consider to be one of the religion’s pillars means that the rest of the Mormons have strayed from the true teachings of Joseph Smith.

According to the book, only about 1% of Mormons are Fundamentalists and yet, at least in my experience, we have a tendency to equate Mormons with polygamy. I’ve never really been exposed to the Mormon religion, so I’m not sure if it’s a general tendency to equate Mormonism with polygamy or if it’s just me. I’ve been trying to find out what percentage of Puerto Ricans belongs to the Mormon religion, but I haven’t found anything satisfying. It looks like I have homework!

Hopefully I’ll have some information by tomorrow. Don’t miss my continued journey into Mormonism! Until next time, readers.

Fun in the Sun(day): Dancer’s Market

Happy Sunday! I hope you guys had an excellent weekend.IMG_0093Today my morning started out with a visit to the farmer’s market, which turned out to be full of dancers! That’s not the best picture to showcase what was happening, but it was pretty cool. A dance studio did a short demo of bomba and plena, which are folkloric Puerto Rican dances. It’s really gripping to watch, not only because the drums are like a call to arms, but also because there is a really direct connection between the dancers and the musicians. When dancing Bomba, it’s actually the dancer’s movements that direct what the musicians will be playing. They have to be completely in synch with one another,FullSizeRender otherwise the dance doesn’t work. As a spectator, one can see the connection between dancer and percussionist, it’s really quite lovely.

This rustic and folkloric experience was followed by something completely opposite, the Ant-Man movie. Although, to be fair, it was in a very small, indie theater. The tickets were less than $4, the popcorn less than $2, the whole experience was kinda nice! The movie theater is located in the middle of a neighborhood, right in front of a baseball park and it makes you feel like you’ve just found something no one else knows about. Of course, that’s bullshit because it’s a fully operational business, but still. Moving on from the theater’s charms, Ant-Man was definitely enjoyable. Someone told me it was “Antastic!” and I’m inclined to agree. Then again, I have a severe weakness for Paul Rudd so I might be slightly biased.

On a final note, I started reading my pick for Utah! Drum roll please………..! It’s Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. It’s a non-fiction book about the Lafferty brothers, Dan and Ron, who claim they received an order from God to commit two murders. I haven’t read something non-fiction in ages, so I’m excited to dive into this one. So far I’ve read the prologue (I know, I know, not exactly a prolific amount of reading) and I’m enjoying Krakauer’s writing style. The prologue is actually really helpful because it gives you a basic understanding of the case.

I’d never heard of these murders before and I’m the first to admit I don’t know the first thing about mormonism. I’m hoping this book helps me learn a little bit about the religion, although I’m well aware it’s a highly biased account and not necessarily the most flattering source of information. However, I also know that every religion has fanatics who have taken their beliefs to the extreme and done terrible things in the name of God. I think that when learning about a religion it’s important to acknowledge the good, but also not be afraid to acknowledge the bad. So, this book will certainly be an eye opener  either way!

As always, I’ll let you know how the book and I get along. Stay golden, readers. Until next time!

Let’s Play Catch Up

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I’m back! The mini vacation is officially over and I’m back, fully refreshed and ready to get back to writing for you beautiful people. As promised I come with stories and pictures, of varying quality since I took pictures with a bunch of different cameras and phones. That’s dedication, folks. Or laziness. It’s a very fine line, that isn’t a line at all, more like complete opposites. That’s how I roll. *shrugs*

We woke up fairly early on Monday morning, early bird gets the worm and all that. We didn’t get worms, but we did get 12 inch turnovers, pretty crazy right?! The place is called “La Casa de los Pastelillos”, it’s located in Guayama. If any of you are ever in the area, it’s definitely worth a visit, if only to say you ate a 12 in. turnover! They were actually good though, and the place was really cool, it had hammocks strung up everywhere. Also, we had a surprise visit by a duck, which was unexpected to say the least. We didn’t stay too long, because we still had a bit of a drive left to the rental place. Happily, we managed to get there in time to get some pool time in, so heading out quickly after eating proved worth it!

One of the reasons we wanted to take that mini trip was to go to a small island off the South shore called Gilligan’s Island. So, on Tuesday, we got up packed a cooler and went off to find the ferry that would take us there. What we didn’t know, perhaps a bit naïvely, was that you need to be in line for the ferry before 6am when they open, otherwise it’s pretty hard to get a ticket. We got there at around 10am and by then they didn’t have any more tickets. Because the island is so small, they usually try to control the amount of people they bring over at any one time. It’s a shame because, from what I’ve heard the island is a prime spot for snorkeling. Feeling a bit defeated, we spent the afternoon at the pool and capped the day with some home made Mexican food. Not a bad way to get over a disheartening morning, if you ask me!

Wednesday was our last day down there and it did not disappoint. We rented a small boat for a few hours and took it out to all the cays in La Parguera, which is the area where we were staying at. There was a lot swimming and basking in the Sun, but my favorite part is always being able to go snorkeling and seeing the fishes. There were strong currents in between the cays, so we would walk up the canals, then put on our snorkeling masks and let the current take us back to where we started. It was so much fun, not to mention a pretty incredible sight. Floating down we’d be surrounded by schools of tiny silver fish – close enough to touch, but always out of reach. We saw crabs and pelicans and thousands of tiny silver fish, it was great. Wednesday definitely delivered and, although we didn’t get to Gilligan’s island, we had a great time just driving around the boat and swimming around the cays.

You might be happy to know that I finally finished St. Urbain’s Horseman! My trip provided me with ample time to catch up on my reading. I’m looking forward to sharing my final thoughts on the book with you before closing up shop in Canada and moving down to Utah. I know it’s taken me a while, but I finally made it through. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the many detours along the way!

Keep it classy, readers. Until next time!

That one time Tinder worked

IMG_0059I tend to post late, but today I’m posting a bit later than usual because I was out an all day kind of date thing. I met this guy randomly through Tinder and we just clicked. This is particularly exciting because I’ve been on other Tinder dates that have been complete disasters. You know a guy is a keeper when he has nearly perfect pun timing and delivery, like comedic timing, but specific to pun usage.

I started my day out with a delicious cup of caramel coffee at Caficultura in Old San Juan. I met up with him afterwards and we spent the day drinking (of course) and checking out all the touristy spots in Old San Juan.  I had such a great time hanging out with him. This was partly due to the fact that we had a lot of interesting things to talk and laugh about, but it also had to do with the fact that I hadn’t done the touristy thing since I was a kid. It was nice to have an excuse to revisit these places with someone who had a different perspective on it all.

One of the things we did was take a self-guided tour through the El Morro, one of the forts in Old San Juan. I showed him a image000000 3few places, like Barrachina, the restaurant where Piña Colada is said to have been invented. We had good alcohol and even better food! We also went down into a small cemetery in the city, which sounds really morbid, but it’s actually a nice place to visit because of all the sculptures used on the tombs.

It’s curious to me how technology has made meetings like this possible. We matched, we had chemistry, and we met up, but that wouldn’t have happened without all these different social apps or sites. Had we not both been using the same app, we would’ve never met, like ships passing by in the night or something equally cheesy. We did meet though, if for a very short amount of time. He leaves tomorrow and we might stay in touch, but we might not.

There’s a certain transient quality to it all. You meet with the knowledge that it’s not meant to last, that’s it’s a moment you’re exploiting. I think there’s something pretty powerful there; it’s not the one that got away, but rather the one that was meant to get away. It’s a really curious way to go about it. For my part, I’m happy with moments like these because I’d rather have met the really cool guy for a little bit, than never have met him at all. That might just be me, though, what do you prefer readers?

 *PS: The last two pictures were courtesy of Bob, my date, who took it upon himself to document his experience while I talked his ear off. Fair trade, said no one ever.

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