"What we do in this life, echoes in eternity."
Maximus, Gladiator
"Our creator would never have made such lovely days, and given us the deep hearts to enjoy them, above all thought, unless we were meant to be immortal."
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Thursday, May 27, 2010

So handsome!


They hold my heart! So much depends on them. Not only do we have the best players, but they're so good-looking!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hear Ye Mortals

... The sacred cry. Liberty, liberty, liberty. This is the opening line of the Argentine Anthem.
200 Years have passed since the first Argentine government was established on May 25th 1810, defying the motherland, Spain. For two hundred years, our people have been clamoring for liberty
and trying to forge an Argentine identity from as many cultures and countries as exist in this world. The Argentine newspaper Clarin made a poll in which it asked the people what it means to be an Argentine. The answers range from the very worst (unorganized, corrupted, lazy) to the very best (hard-working, imaginative, resilient, brave).
This is my definition of Argentina, or what comes to my mind when I think about my beautiful country,


The school, especially the ones out in the country. Where the teacher breaks a pencil in two so two kids can learn.



The maté and the gaucho. Asado and dulce de leche


                                                            The newspaper stand


                                                                    The bus
                                       
                                               Laughing in class with Clemente and Mafalda

                                  Beyond his ideologies, we had a famous revolutionary

When Las Leonas play hockey, or Los Pumas play rugby, Del Potro wins the US Open or Manu fights in the playoffs, we all cheer for them:
              
                                     The art of the written word: Borges, Cortazar, Alfonsina Storni

                                  One of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. El Ateneo


                                                  The mind behind the bypass: Rene Favaloro
                                
                  The art of music. Soda Stereo and Andres Calamaro. They sing the soundtrack of my life

                                                            The fallen soldiers of Malvinas

                                        Iguazu, Aconcagua and Perito Moreno Glacier
       
                                                                    Diego and Lio
          
                                                The people who cheer no matter what

                                                              Social unrest. Desaparecidos
                             
                                                                  Buenos Aires
   
                                                                      Rosario Central

                                                                 The Flag Memorial
                     
San Martin, the liberator. The general who helped us realize that fighting for freedom would only work if we were united. He died in exile, after all he did for the people not only of Argentina, but Chile, Peru and Bolivia. 
                                       
                                                                    My barrio

Argentina is the people who stayed, and the others like me, who for one reason or another left the country, but never abandoned it. No matter where I looked today, I saw the colors of my flag. Blue sky against the white mountains. In the car wash, blue soap against the white foam.
Fito Paez, a Rosarinian singer and fellow Scoundrel sings, "I'm not from here, or there."
That's exactly what I feel. When I'm in Argentina, I can't wait to come back home in Utah. When I'm here, I only dream of going back there. My heart will forever be torn in two. When I was a little girl, I loved to read the dictionary. In the back there was a spread displaying the world flags. My favorite ones were always the Argentine flag, and the USA one, even before I knew what a country even was. 
Being an Argentine, is being conflicted. Always. The land of our ancestors versus the land where we were born. The place where we were born versus the place where it is home. All tugging at my heart with the same force, for different reasons.
Happy Two hundred Years Argentina. May the future bring us stability, peace, and wisdom to choose who best represents us. May we be free from ourselves, those traits that pull us down.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Choices

Our life is made out of the choices we take each and every second. I used to love the Richard Bach books in which he talked about alternate universes. Sometimes I wonder about the choices that lead me to this life I'm living right now. What would have happened had my mom not enrolled me in a Catholic-all-girls school in the third grade? What would have happened had I not come to BYU? What if we stayed in Puerto Rico back in 2002? Where would I be now? What would have happened to me or my family? Would we be better off, or worse? There's no telling because all that matters is what is today and now.
Keane's new album, Night Train, just barely came out and I love all of the songs because of their lyrics. As is Keane's custom, the songs in their albums are connected through a common phrase or theme. This album's is Time, as in how we're always looking back over our shoulders to a time that is already gone. One song says something like, "They say life makes sense backwards, only you have to live it forward."
Today, the team that holds my heart, Rosario Central, descended to a lower division. I can't express how horrible this is for me, for my family, my city. It's been raining all day here in Utah, and to match the mood of the city, it rained in Rosario too.
My youngest brother lives in Argentina, not in Rosario though, so right after the game finished I called him to commiserate together in our solitude (our spouses can't understand what it feels like). He said his mother-in-law told him not to worry— there are worse things than losing a game or a category. And she is so right. She is. But. But it still hurts. For you see? A team is one of the things you can't choose. You either are born into one or aren't. At least in Argentina.
We should be used to losing, and —oh my!— how I wish sometimes I were born in a different team! True, I cheer for Barcelona, but it's not the same. If Lio Messi weren't playing in it, I could care less about it.
Even when I tell myself it doesn't matter, and avoid watching the games, or reading the news online, the truth is, when I look at the clock and see it's almost time for a game, my heart races, my mind flies thousands of miles south to where part of my heart is.
I confess. It's a disease; it's horrible. But in the good times? Like when we won the South American Championship in 1996?  The feeling is sublime. Central now has to play in the National B, and try to make it back to National League. We've been in this situation before. I know we'll make it out again.
I truly think it's a curse that we got just by being born in Rosario. Even the greatest player in the world, Lio Messi, always goes back to it even if it's only for a day or two. Though it's not the mos beautiful, modern, or safe city, I miss it. I want to be there with my fellow Scoundrels through this dark night. But no more looking back; we have to look at the future. And now, after this, I really need Argentina to win the World Cup. Nothing else will do.
I know by now I've already missed most of my followers and readers. I figured there's plenty of blogs that offer great writing advise, so what can I add to what's already been said? But Central and Rosario are the soul of my stories. I left the barrio, but the barrio never left me. Just to give you a glimpse of what the Scoundrel band is like, you can watch this video if you want. The Scoundrels cheer even when we lose (yes, it's "we" not just the players). Tell me it's not insanity?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Waving Flag

26 Days!!!!!!!!!! For what, you may ask? Only for the celebration of the most beautiful game in the world. Here's the South Africa 2010 World Cup Official Anthem by K'naan and David Bisbal. Worth your time. 




Give me freedom
Give me fire
give me reason
Take me higher
see the champions
take the field now
you’ll be fighters
make us feel proud

En las calles muchas manos (in the streets many hands)
levantadas, celebrando (raised, celebrating)
una fiesta sin descanzo (a party without rest)
los paises como hermanos (countries are brothers)

Canta y une tu voz (sing and join your voice)
grita fuerte que te escuche el sol (shout until the sun hears you)
el partido ya va a comenzar (the game is about to start)
todos juntos vamos a ganar (all together we will win)

Unidos! (United!)
Seremos grandes, (We'll be great)
seremos fuertes (We'll be strong)
somos un pueblo (we are one people)
bandera de libertad (flag of liberty)
que viene y que va (x3) (that comes and goes)

when i get older
i will be stronger
they’ll call me freedom
just like a wavin flag
Now wave your flag (x3)

ohhh ohhh ohhh ohhh
Danos vida (give us life)
danos fuego (give us fire)
que nos lleve a lo alto (let it raise us)
campeones o vencidos (champions or defeated)
pero unidos a internarlos (but united in trying)

In the streets
are exalted people
as we lose our inhibitions
celebration is around us
every nation all around us

Singing forever young, singing
songs underneath the sun
let’s rejoice to the beautiful game
and together at the end of day

Seremos grandes,
seremos fuertes
somos un pueblo
bandera de la libertad
que viene y que va (x3)

when i get older
i will be stronger
they’ll call me freedom
just like a wavin flag
Now wave your flag (x3)

ohhh ohhh ohhh ohhh
Unidos!
Seremos grandes,
seremos fuertes
somos un pueblo
bandera de la libertad

when i get older
i will be stronger
they’ll call me freedom
just like a wavin flag
Now wave your flag (x3)

ohhh ohhh ohhh ohhh
And everybody
will be singing…


My blue and white is ready to shine. South Africa is almost here!!! Vamos Argentina!

Monday, May 10, 2010

What's your price?

The Angel's Game
This last weekend I went back to my favorite author, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, to re-read the last pages of 
 The Angel's Game. I had read the last part so fast, and there were so many things going on, I had to go back to make more sense of the ending, which left me reeling, almost breathless, when I devoured it the first time.
Since you have probably noticed I'm slightly obsessed with this talented Spanish author, I'll just say in my defense that his writing is addictive. The Shadow of the Wind, with its wonderful, real characters, is still with me. And what can I say about Angel's? Well, the beginning hooked me and hasn't let go of me yet.
Judge for yourself:

  A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few
coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story. He will never
forget the sweet poison of vanity in his blood, and the belief
that, if he succeeds in not letting anyone discover his lack of
talent, the dream of literature will provide him with a roof
over his head, a hot meal at the end of the day, and what he
covets the most: his name printed on a miserable piece of
paper that surely will outlive him. A writer is condemned to
remember that moment, because from then on he is doomed
and his soul has a price.


Needless to say, after reading these words I was so invested in the story (involving David, a dark, tragic writer hero), I couldn't put the book down. It called right to my soul, being an aspiring author and all. I mean, who hasn't felt at least once that satisfaction of receiving praise for something we've created, be it words, images, a scrapbook, art, etc.
My writing will never tempt the devil to commission me a book in exchange for my soul, but there are things I pay in return for being able to write. I don't sleep well; I don't read as much as I used to; I don't scrapbook or garden or do any other things that may detract me from my writing.
On the other hand, I won't give up my time with my husband and my kids. Or my faith. Or my devotion for the Argentine national futbol team. Like I said, I wouldn't trade my soul for getting my book published (crossing my fingers it'll never come to that).  But, let's face it. The day only has 24 hours. There's a limited number of things we can do with it.
So, what do you give up in return for your writing, or photography, or other hobbies/interests you may have. What's the line you'll never cross?
I'm very much looking forward to reading your comments!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Beginnings

My son plays futbol in a field adjacent to a small hospital with a big maternity ward. Hospital security patrols the parking lot with the passion of a zealot, trying to catch those who break the rules and park close to the field in spite of the warnings posted all over the place. I never want to risk having my car towed away, and I want to make sure I keep my son in plain sight as he walks to his team's meeting place, so I just drop him off by the curb.
The other day, the day of the final, I was waiting for Gorgeous to reach his team so I could park in the allowed parking lot (awfully designed, crowded, faraway from the field). A young girl (a sign I'm getting old: people in their early 20's look like babies to me) cradled her swollen belly, barely able to walk. I assume it was her husband, another young one, who supported her weight as she took tremulous steps to the ER. My first reaction was outrage.
What was he thinking? Why didn't he just park right in front of the ER and took her inside and then took care of the car!  Why didn't he just lift her in his arms? She couldn't walk! She was obviously in active labor.
They stopped in the middle of the road. They looked like they were in their own little world. Her face, etched with concentration. Oh how I felt what she was going through!
And then I saw his face. He was so young. His arm, protectively circling the two people who needed him the most: his wife and his unborn child. How scared he looked. And then I felt bad for judging him.
 I was relieved when the security guard, for once ignoring the parking rules breaking people, found a wheelchair for the young mother and escorted them inside the hospital.
I prayed that their baby was healthy and safe. He was obviously loved already. And I also prayed for those young, young parents. That they may find confidence and strength. For the sleepless nights, for the scraped knees, the wounded little hearts that would come to them for comfort and confidence and strength.

Nine years ago, that young couple were Jeff and I. In spite of reading all the pregnancy/parenting books we could get our hands on, we had no idea of what we were doing, what we had gotten ourselves into. I remember the feeling on the drive to the ER. The clammy hands, the apprehension, the fear. That was it. In a few more hours, I'd meet my baby. My life would never be the same. And I also remember Jeff's eyes. Poor Jeff!

There's nothing like that first time. The day your child is born, and you become a father or a mother. There's no going back either.
The fear, the dread, the apprehension, the clammy hands, never really go away, not completely. I still don't know what I'm doing. My poor Gorgeous, my guinea-pig, has to put up with my inexperience for everything. From changing diapers to science fair projects, we're learning together. He teaches me all the time.
Another mother's day, another day to remember that beginning of this journey that has no end.
Happy mother's day, to all the mothers who everyday learn with their children how to be a better person, how to enjoy life.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Shadow of the Wind Contest Winners!

How my Gorgeous Boy agonized over choosing only one winner. He wanted all of you wonderful friends to win, but luck favored .... TAN, TAN, TAN, TAN......


Michelle Mclean!!!!! 

So Michelle, please email me your mailing address at
cheboricuas AT gmail DOT com, and I'll be more than happy to send you a copy of Shadow or The Angel's Game. Let me know your preference on the email.
I loved reading your comments and passing my enthusiasm of this wonderful author on to you guys.
"Mom, let's do this contest thing more often," my son said.
So check back for another contest in the near future! To my new followers, welcome to my blog. To old followers and friends, thanks for coming back. I won't promise mind blowing blog posts, but now that there's the promise of contests you might want to keep in touch.

Thanks to all who participated!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Spreading the Awesome: The Shadow of the Wind Review and Giveaway


Today, throughout the blogosphere, several hmm...bloggers are hmm... blogging about their favorite books (you thought I was going to say Blogs, right?) Check out Elana's blog for a complete list of awesomeness. There are several amazing contests going on.

Ever since I learned to read, I've devoured the written word. From Heidi to the dictionary, I read everything I could get my hands on. Once in a while, a book would hit me right in the heart, become part of me, marking me with its words forever. The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, is such a book.
The story starts in Barcelona. A father tells his son Daniel he can't tell anyone about the place they're about to visit, The Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

"Not even mom?" the boy asks.
"You can tell mom. We don't keep anything from her," says the father.

The boy chooses a book from the Cemetery, or the book chooses him. And since that moment, the story of Daniel and Julián Carax, the mysterious author of the book, intertwine over the following years, until they become one.

The Shadow of the Wind, a Gothic portrait of post Franco Barcelona, weaves romance, mystery, and suspense in a tapestry of plain beauty. I've read Eco, Borges, Marques, authors whom people compare to Zafón. Don't let these comparisons deter you from reading this wonderful book. Zafón is nothing like them. The characters are real, the dialog is superb, the descriptions are evocative. It's no wonder this book is an international best-seller.
I don't have a signed copy, but if you follow my blog and leave a comment today, tomorrow I'll draw a winner of a copy of The Shadow of the Wind or The Angel's Game, its companion book.
Last, but not least, Amy Holder has a wonderful review and contest in her blog too. Click on the links, they will connect all the blogs, or just go to Elana's main recommended reads page (the same link as above). Have fun!

Wow you guys! I'm going to have to do contest more often. Welcome wonderful new friends! I hope you'll stop by and visit after the contest too. 
My Gorgeous Boy won second place on his futbol tournament, and I told him he can draw the name of the lucky winner of a copy of Shadow of the Wind. We won't be home until after 5 today (Tuesday) so there are still a few hours to enter the contest. Spread the word and spread the awesomeness!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

May Day

Maybe I should get used to the idea that Spring skips Utah, or prepare my mind to the fact that Her ephemeral visit leaves a longing worse than looking at pictures of the Caribbean in January. Like the rest of Utahns, my family and I pretend winter is over, and after the morning snow melts from the sidewalk, we water the frost burnt flowers and head to the soccer games, outdoors birthday parties, and sporting events like watching The Real Salt Lake—bundled up like we're going skiing.
Even the trees join the pretend-Spring. They bloom in fragrant flowers. The white petaled clusters look like popcorn, just like the children's song says. The babbling creek in our backyard lures us to its side, but it's still too cold to venture out. At least for me.
"I can't live like this," I told my friend today, like I do every May.
So today, in honor of May Day, and to let Spring know we are ready for her to come and please stay, the kids tied ribbons in the ancient hawthorn tree in our secret garden. For a moment the sun came out, shining on the kids as they made their wishes. My wish was to let the moment last forever. But like Spring's visit, it lasted an instant. All that is left are the blue ribbons on the tree and the pictures I had the good sense to take.

                                                Chubbers learning how to tie her ribbon 

                                           Team work: she holds the branch, Gorgeous ties

                                                                                      Lovely hands
                                                       Making wishes is hard work

                                                                 My pagan kids