My song of praise


St. Dymphna is not here for it.

Psalm 118: This is the Day

by Michael Joncas

(Refrain) This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad.
This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad.

Give thanks to the Lord,
for he is good,
His mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”


The Lord’s right hand
has struck with pow’r;
the Lord’s right hand is exalted.
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the Lord.


The stone which the builders
rejected has become the cornerstone.
By the Lord this has been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes!


It’s not every day I sing a psalm.  Over the years, I have heard, both at LA Congress and from different homilists, that to sing is to give praise to the Lord. Now my voice isn’t that of a singer. I can somewhat harmonize when I have other voices with which to combine.  But I don’t sing solos nor should I.  So I make a joyful noise.  Earlier this week, I sang one of my favorite psalms, Psalm 118, out loud in its entirety. True, it was during my morning commute, so I was in my car. I sang my heart out, con muchas ganas.  The commuters who saw me probably got a good laugh.  No matter. Yo estaba feliz.

It’s Lent, a time to reflect on the Lord’s Passion. Yet I was singing a song of joy and victory. This is a song for weddings or Easter. What happened that led me to Carpool Karaoke this particular psalm?  I learned that someone I encountered in the past was held accountable. Others recognized patterns of behavior I saw. That is cause for celebration. I know we shouldn’t take joy in others’ struggles. In my personal and professional life, I have worked to move those who are a negative force in others’ lives, particularly the lives of young people, away.  Anyone who hurts a young person’s opportunities to move forward to become the best version of herself or himself has got to go. I feel vindicated and validated. I always knew that what I and my colleagues experienced was not a figment of anyone’s imagination. Sadly, this behavior went on for years before me to many others. It is high time for this person to be held to high expectations. Por fin, se va.

“The Lord’s right hand is exalted.” I believe that things happen as they should.  Whether you credit the universe, the Lord’s right hand, karma, or however you view the world, what is right, good, and just eventually happens. Wrongs will be made right.

Every day is a day the Lord has made. But that day I felt, along with many people, that justice had been served.

I can’t sing but this young woman can. This is her version of my song

Party girl

M turns 8 in two months but I’m already planning her party.  Actually, we started planning her party in April, a full five months in advance.  I have a list that breaks down guest list, location, and favors.  No, no soy one of those Pinterest moms.  My gluing skills are limited to dance and Carnaval costumes.  While I love to cook, this year we’ll be offering all-American burgers and chips.  Like every frazzled parent I know, I sigh and say I’m done with the big birthday parties every year.  Then the cycle starts anew. 
As a child, my parents always threw us huge parties. My dad’s entire soccer team and their families, my godparents and my brother’s godparents and their kids, and any relatives would come. There would be tons of Peruvian food, a giant sheet cake, a piñata for the kids, and dancing to salsa and merengue.  Because I was an introvert, I found all the people and activities overwhelming. But memories were made.  Like the time the big boys decided to tightrope walk around the fence in the backyard and were threatened by the mean next door neighbor  Or the time we realized we could Tarzan swing across the garage.  I especially like how happy my mom and dad always looked. And still look. Because you best believe mi mama isn’t letting a birthday go by without some sort of gathering. 
Celebrating my 44th. Notice the look on my mom’s face(she’s on my right). 
Unlike me, M doesn’t seem uncomfortable at her birthday parties. In fact, she says she loves the attention, the little diva. Ever the assertive leader, M has helped pick a theme for her celebration from the time she was 4.  They have been often been tied to a favorite TV show.  Lately they also incorporate her Halloween costume (yes, we are a family of planners.)
Yo Gabba Gabba  Dancey Dance Party
Princess Costume Party 
Wonder Woman party 
Wizard of Oz theme. Notice her tee. Her dance recital had the same theme. Why not stretch out a good theme? 
So while I may balk at the work and expense that goes into planning birthday parties, I do love the memories we’ve shared.  They are moments that remind us of what truly matters.  

My youngest dance teacher

When she steps out on the stage, she smiles widely and shows off her dimples. She looks out into the crowd with such joy and love that I often wonder if she can’t see her father or her grandparents through the stage lights or bright sunshine. She is dancing in the moment.

These past four months haven’t been easy for M. She has struggled with behavior issues at school. She has pushed back at home. Focusing and listening have been challenges.  As much as we have wanted to shield her, M has had to deal with the new normal in our household.  Most nights, she prays for Mommy to feel better. Though she nicknamed the Wound-Vac, she looks forward to its departure so she can give me a real bear hug.  It is both inspiring and heart-rending to watch her deal with these changes. She is one tough little girl.  I learn from her daily.  
I am grateful she shares my love for dance. She can forget her worries when she dances.  She deserves those moments.  

Choosing sides

“Well there’s a dark and troubled side to life
There’s a bright and a sunny side, too
Though we meet with the darkness and strife, 
The sunny side we also may view”  From “Keep on the Sunny Side” 
“That crazy needs to stay on the other side of the room from this kind of crazy.” Me, in conversation with Blues, circa 2012

Happiness is hard work.  Life doesn’t turn into the finale from Hair in which everyone sings and dances to “Let the Sunshine In” simply out of personal desire. I spent a significant part of my life unhappy, both because of my choices and because of my nature.  My journey towards my present state of happiness took effort, emotion, time, and, yes, lots of money.  So I fight to stay happy. 

Blues says I am a chameleon. I can blend into my surroundings.  I adapt to different situations. He says these qualities make me likable and appealing to all kinds of people.  He also says it renders me rather passive and complacent.  I argue that I may be non-confrontational but that, first and foremost, I will focus on survival.  Analogies aside, I will stop being congenial and approachable as needed for my own safety. 

I have lost a few friends in recent years. Once I would have loyally hung in there through someone’s failed attempts at recovery or someone’s refusal to take personal responsibility to seek healing. I would have rationalized or ignored my own feelings and fears.  Eventually I would be dragged down with my loved one, my own battles exacerbated, intensified, and deepened, theirs never fully resolved. Thankfully, and with great pain, I learned to value myself over others. I accepted that I could walk away from unhealthy behaviors and situations and still be a person of integrity. I took responsibility for my own illness and chose to be healed. 

The birth of my daughter cemented my commitment to happiness. My child is a constant reminder of all the beauty and joy in the universe. Through a hug from her little arms or the lullabies sung in her thin little voice, she is the embodiment of grateful mindfulness that I aspire to and also enjoy.  She teaches me that a life of happiness is truly living. 

Happiness can be ephemeral, fleeting, and tenuous.  Daily life has its complications. I cannot control anything but my own response to what happens. So I choose happiness. 

Hard knocked up life?

There’s something pathological about giving and giving without promise of reciprocal returns. Child of immigrants who grew up watching my parents support other adults a.k.a. childlike dependents? Check. In the business of helping others? Check. Middle manager pressed by the higher-ups and the masses to do more in eleven hours than time or energy will allow? Check. The only person I don’t begrudge her dependence on me is literally taking up residence in my body. She can take all the food and energy she wants; she is my solace during these hectic days of standardized tests, award ceremonies, end of school year preparation, and stress.

Evenings and weekends have become blissfully domestic and cherished. I get home, eat, watch TV or read, lie on my side so I can feel my baby kick and stretch. I giggle at her movements, smile when she responds to her father’s voice. Blues got in after a midnight run with stories of fellow runners following in step with his Army cadences. Our daughter seemed to enjoy a PT run of her own until we would down with talk about my strange dream of a hyena with a hunchback and crooked teeth. I resented the alarm, my obligatory return to the too-demanding pace of an understaffed office. I resort to to-do lists and thoughts of my comforting womb to get me through the workday.

It could be worse. I make good money, have a new car, should be done paying my school loan in a few months. My daughter and I are maintaining our health. I’m praying the Liturgy of the Hours on weekday mornings. My blessings still outnumber my burdens.


So funny, the look on Beautiful’s face as he stupidly says I’m planning for the distant future, picking out baby girl names, before he looks down to where I’m pointing, where my little Mexican/Peruvian princess is slumbering in my womb and I tell him I’m having a daughter in September. He is busy being a toxic bachelor, squiring a hottie whose name he forgets to the Grand Canyon.
So ironic, the congratulatory hug I get from Elbow because I know he knows that this is all I’ve ever wanted, to grow my very own true love.
But the best part is knowing that my daughter will be the first of a trio of autumn arrivals, babies that will wear blue and gold, sleep through football games and watch as we big kids drink and laugh and gossip just like we’ve always done.

Mothering my daughter

I’m having a baby girl. I can’t even begin to describe the feelings that overwhelmed me Monday afternoon as the Genetics counselor told me my baby was healthy and then revealed that she was a girl. I cried, even sobbed, after I got off the phone and then again when I told my own mother. How wonderful to know more about this little person, to know that a pronouncement I made to someone who has long since disappeared from my life has come true. “I wil bear a daughter and she will be strong.”
Just like her mother and father and all her loved ones before us.

No longer the cruelest month

January hasn’t always been a good month for me. Many moons ago, when I was still at Cal, it meant basketball season, but for the most part, it has meant very cold temps and the beginning of the blues. This year, as I keep alluding to, is so different.

I am 10 days into 08. I am feeling happy, whole, nurtured, grateful, and strong. I embrace the fact that I am not alone. Every hour of deep sleep, every sip of water, every meal is a cherished moment.

January marks the beginning.

Settling in

I am a creature of habits, routines, and home-is-where-the-heart-is thinking. Though I rarely have time, given my job and tendency to overschedule myself with activities I love, I enjoy cooking, cleaning, and hosting in my home. I love a made bed and stocked kitchen cabinets. I like to feel cozy.

My new relationship with Blues has been a natural progression into safety and security. Despite our various differences, we complement each other in temperament. We refer to one another as boyfriend and girlfriend and it doesn’t feel too soon. My sis in law wondered when we became “official.” All I could say was it just sorta happened and that I like it. I especially like the coziness of it all. How refreshing to argue over a can of soup than over some bullshit comment babymama posted on friggin myspace or some depressing blog entry. Blues makes me laugh. He likes to wrap me in blankets and tuck me under the covers. He likes to take care of me just as much as I enjoy nurturing him.

I did my share of wandering this year, both mental and geographic. But there is no place like home.

Platinum Morning

I just slept in an additional two hours after my first night in since mid-October. Last night, I wanted to check out live Brazilian music in Berkeley or have some drinks with the girls. Instead I was chillin with a glass of cab and vintage Degrassi. I haven’t run since the Vegas Half-Marathon but my limp went away. The Christmas gifts have been bought and await the tree. I have an orchestra seat to today’s matinee of Madama Butterfly.

Life is as it should be. I have my health, a job/career that I treasure, loyal friends, a wonderfully supportive boyfriend, strong family relationships, deep faith, a cute little house of my own, and lots of wintry blue sky.

I am happy. Wish fulfilled. I don’t want to be anyone else. I am exactly who and where I want to be.