Happy New Year?

I know… I’ve been away. After Fall quarter, I decided I needed a writing break and thought I would pick it up at the beginning of 2016. The holidays are stressful; so much pressure since everyone has such high expectations. I knew the beginning of January was going to be busy (since my Winter quarter started January 4th). This year, like every other year, I have New Years Resolutions, in hopes that it will make me the ideal adult. Here is the kicker: Expectations of resolutions, like the holidays, are too high. There is so much pressure to lose weight; be debt free; buy a home; be nicer…that people get burned out. (You know that if you’re reading this, you agree!). So… in honor of the busy “beginning of the year” gym days (and school starting; my extra subbing and making detailed lists of what I want to accomplish and how I am going to accomplish this…) I decided to wait. Yup… Wait! At first I thought January 15th is the perfect day to start my Resolutions, but due to the Gym still being full; unexpected company and a random foot dilemma, I decided to push back until the 21st. So today it begins: “The List of What Johana Hopes to Accomplish this Year”… Ready?

Be Healthy

I’m 31. I don’t know how I got here and most of the time it’s so automatic for me to resent the idea of getting older. I want to drink like I’m 21; smoke like I’m 18; jump and run like I’m five and stay up all night like an infant. It’s time to Adult. My goal is the never ending struggle I have with losing weight. Not because it’s the trendy goal, but because it’s important for my heart, for my knees, for my future un-conceived children but most important because I love clothing! I need to take vitamins, watch what I eat, sleep more.

Read…MORE

My best friend Jill says she admires how much I read. I read a lot of: blogs, art books, articles on art and culture, travel articles and text books. I hardly get to read books that I want to read or any books I will grow from. This year I’ve decided to read Bustle’s “20 Classic And Important Books That Will Make You Feel Well-Read, Even If They’re The Only Ones You Read”. Some of these I have already read, but I know there are a few that I have never even touched, that I should have read, like “Moby Dick” “Tale of Two Cities” and “Beloved”… Shame on me.

Clear Shitty Debt

Debt is inevitable. Realistically, like other 30 nothings, I have school loans and car loans, but you know what I mean by shitty debt. Shitty debt: Store cards that give “30 percent off on the first day of use” but then bite you in the ass with a 23.99% APR. WTF was I thinking? I want to pay these suckers off! Instead, I want to have one credit card for Emergencies (and preferably one that will give me miles! I have places I want to see…Amsterdam, Korea, Machu Picchu, India)

Write…MORE

I don’t write enough for myself. I write a ton for school, but I never find the time to write on here or short stories or ideas of my own. I need to write more, without constantly being given ideas. I have ideas; maybe they aren’t all panned out, but they could lead to great ideas.

Be Happy

Finally, this is the most important one. All of the above will help me, but I need to stop letting irrelevant people, doormat me. I want to be surround by people who are going to praise me. For the individual I am; for the individual I am striving to be. I don’t need toxicity.

So… here is to a year of No Fucks Given. To a year with better health, more money and more literature & compositions.

What are your goals? Have anything new panned out for 2016? Share it!

Ciao!

Johana

Dia De Los Muertos

Artist: Monika Suska
Artist: Monika Suska

Learning about our culture is essential. As a Salvadorian-American, we don’t get to learn about this in school in America. Most of these teachings are based on what our families teach us. I can say this in all honesty, I know very little about Salvadorian history, but I know even less about El Dia De Los Muertos (The Day of The Dead). Most likely because my family does not celebrate this holiday. This year, I feel different; I feel as though it’s necessary. My beloved deceased family members need it. Not because it’s expected from me as a Latina, but because my soul needs it. Maybe since Judy recently passed but most importantly because my grandfather and I did not have a close relationship. I suppose you can call this a sense of complexed guilt, remorse and even having difficultly recollecting our time together. But at least, I can admit that shamelessly.

The people I will remember on this Dia de los Muertos are those that Jaime and I have loved dearly and profoundly.

Somehow I can’t help but question: Who are we suppose to blame when we aren’t close to those who are living? I blame timing; distance; money but above all…life!

Ciao,

Johana

Judy

The phrase “You’ve got time” is a double-edged sword. It has recently been added to my short list of hated phrases.

I have time.

I have time to travel; time to read everything that has been on hold since I’ve been in school; time to be published; time to become a great writer; time to save money; time to find Myself and a career that will combine passion and financial security. But this way of thinking is what keeps me from accomplishing these goals. Worse of all, it keeps me from focusing on what is important. I’m writing this post, on the basis of feeling grief, sorrow, sympathy and remorse.

When Jaime and I moved back from Germany, we both thought, “We have nothing but time now”. I have time to work on Grad school, get a job, save money to buy a house and this has transpired. I’m not complaining, but when everything is going to plan, we forget about the unexpected. As I write this, I feel a bit silly because I’m writing about how much time we have, but how much time do we dedicate spending it doing something important or visiting the ones we love?

On August 12th, Jaime’s aunt, a woman who he considered his second mother, but most importantly a woman I considered my friend, passed away. Judy Richter was a brave woman; she lost her legs and half of her abdomen as an adolescent. And although this occurred, this privation was not enough to keep my strong willed friend from pursing a college education or from following her dreams of working with children. Doing all of this, while commuting on public transportation.She truly was an inspiration, she had a positive outlook and did not allow anyone to have pity for her and these were all qualities that I admired.

Judy

On our way home from the hospital after Judy had passed away, Jaime admitted to me that he believes Judy cheated death on more than one occasion. I believe this conclusion gives my husband comfort. Judy not only lost her legs in her youth but was also a cancer survivor…not once, but twice.

Judy, it’s almost been a month since we watched you leave us and I still have a hard time believing it. I wanted to take an opportunity to say Thank You. Thank you for supporting us; Thank you for accepting me; Thank you for supporting my writing and loving it; Thank you for supporting my crazy endeavors, but most importantly for being such an amazing woman in my husband’s life. Thank you for always setting him straight when he was out of line; for hearing him out whenever he needed to talk and thank you for always letting us know, that no matter what, you loved us. We love you too.

So…Time. It’s precious and we often take it for granted. We focus on being connected with Facebook, phones at dinner tables, etc. I get it, spending time together,  but not really together. I know what needs to be said is “Yeah, you got time”,  just don’t forget about the unexpected.

Ciao,

Johana

The Beatles: A Rant

I’m not exactly sure when was the first time I heard them. I know that the first time, their voices stuck. Their tunes were catchy and their words were comforting. Growing up The Beatles were a big deal in my household. Well, that maybe an exaggeration…I mean, I know my mom is going to read this and think… “I don’t care about them”, but My uncle Juan Mario admired them and as a 6 year old, I loved them and they were (and still are) a big deal to me. Their songs “I Want to Hold Your Hand” “Love Me Do” and “Can’t Buy Me Love” were a few of my favorites. Not really understanding what the full concept of these songs were, I sang them, not knowing that these men had played decades before I was born. The Beatles were my first taste of music. In my home, The Beatles played as often as you listen to anything that plays on the radio now. I enjoyed their music so much, that I sang their songs constantly, I would sing their songs as if they were my own and guaranteed to have the best show in my neighborhood if you dared come pay a visit!

As I grew up and at different stages of my life I have been attracted to different songs and have learned new facts about them. For this I am grateful, I mean, can you imagine a six year old Johana asking “What is LSD?” and “Why is Lucy in the Sky and where did the Diamonds come from?”. This also gave me the opportunity to learn about other songs with time. As a teenager, my favorite songs were “And I Love Her” “If I Fell” and “All My Loving”. Things are different now, their music sounds different now. I listen, analyze and critique different parts of different songs now. Now as a grown up, I have fallen in love with songs like “Blackbird” “Hey Jude” “Don’t Let Me Down” “Let It Be” “ Happiness is a Warm Gun” “Sexy Sadie” and many more.

But one thing that has never changed is: I always have and always will associate my uncle with their words, their instruments, their music, with them. Primarily for his lengthy knowledge of their music and admiration of John Lennon’s musical abilities. In all honesty, I have always favored Paul. (If you see my uncle, don’t tell him! He may be disappointed and we don’t want that…)

To me, The Beatles represent a simpler, more complicated era, (I know what an oxymoron) a time where artists had the power to tackle social issues. A “Simpler” time because audiences didn’t have cable tv, cellphones, traffic, internet….FACEBOOK! But the sixties were complicated, tense, and unpredictable as well. With the Coldwar; the Cuban Missile Crisis creating the realistic fear of nuclear warfare and with the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. there was complete fear for the future.

To many young people, The Beatles are these four young men with funny hair cuts and Edwardian matching suits, that appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, got famous, drove girls crazy and wrote a few good songs. In my opinion, this isn’t how we should be teaching future generations about them. We need to discuss how “Beatlemania” was considered a feminist movement; how they used their popularity to boycott segregated arenas during the Civil Rights movement and most importantly how their music influenced a postwar era of teenage Baby Boomers, who later became activists, protesters, and hippies that are often discussed.

I constantly feel pity for  young people who don’t know who the Beatles are, but have  stated that Kayne West is going to make a man named Paul McCartney famous or how great the drummer on the Sketchers commercial is referring to Ringo Starr. This is not how we need to remember these men; The Beatles need to be remembered as the intellectual foursome that changed America and the world.

Ciao,

Johana

My Mom

 IMG_0883
I know that Mother’s Day was Sunday. I know I should have written this two days ago (or prepped it ahead of time). But on Mother’s Day I was busy. In addition, to waking up at 3 am to finish some homework, researching feminism and The Beatles, arguing with my kid brother about splashing water around me, I spent time with my mom. I didn’t say Happy Mother’s Day on Facebook or write this blog that day, because I was too busy spending time with Maria…My mother. (Sorry Mom).

About a month ago or so, my mom and I were driving back home from our new favorite store, HomeGoods. (I LOVE THIS PLACE SO MUCH!) I began to tell my mom that school was wearing me down. I was exhausted and many times I stop to think “is this really worth it?”. I love my school program, don’t get me wrong, it’s perfect, I’m the REAL problem. I told her that many students in my class were already published writers, Children’s book authors, Ballet Dancers, Opera Singers or teachers and I feel like I pretty much do not bring anything to the table. My mom took the time to hear me out and give me one of the best motivational speeches I have heard. She began with what I thought was going to be negative, “Johana, maybe this art/museum thing is not for you…” I immediately thought “Oh HELL NO!” but she continued on by saying “…I feel like you would be a better writer. Maybe doing something like Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed but about travel or food or about museums.” In addition to telling me that, she told me  I need to get over those insecurities, she said “You got in! You got in on your own and didn’t have any of that, that doesn’t mean you can’t do those things, you just haven’t been able to yet!”. I drove back a bit shocked. At this point I thought, “if she thinks I could do it…. I could do it”.

My Mom is a wonderful woman. She works hard and has one of those personalities that lights up a room, but don’t piss her off because just as fast as that light was given…it will be taken away. She is my inspiration to be better, to be kinder and to be less whiny. In all honesty, she is a cool parent. I know this, because on many occasions, people say “You’re so lucky! You’re mom is so cool!”

Mom and Me  1

Mom,

Laura, Mario and I are lucky to have you! Thank you for everything you have done, everything you have had to sacrifice, and for putting up with our crap.I would not be the grown woman I am today, if it weren’t for you. I Love You.

(I don’t like that people say you look like my sister…but I guess for a couple of days, I won’t correct people!)

Ciao,

Johana

SO…I have this Friend…

DSC_0120

Photo Credit: ME!!!!!

Danielle.

Danielle and I met August 7th, 2014. “How does she remember?” You may be asking…. Well, I remember because Danielle and I met on the Last Day of My Twenties. It truly was an introduction by chance. If I would have left our friend Pamela’s home 5 minutes earlier I would have missed her, if I hadn’t been stuffing my face with a drunken Dr. Seuss cake in the kitchen, I probably wouldn’t have met her. You get my drift.

 Photos by: Danielle

She has been a huge inspiration on how I view mankind. Although, our time together in Germany as neighbors was very brief, I have to say she is one of the kindest-quirkiest women I have ever met. Danielle, has inspired me to be a better person.Things are not black and white in the world I live in. Being an over thinker makes me immediately think the worse of every situation. With that, at times (to people who do not know me well) I sound like a narcissistic asshole. The truth of the matter is…I am. I only care about my close family members and close friends. Danielle, doesn’t. She cares about everyone…literally everyone. This is most likely why she will be an amazing social worker. Danielle has made me rethink about the way I view humanity. I have always believed that I need to worry about myself and the people I care for. But when strangers are horrible and selfish, I have a hard time understanding why. I’ve realized that I, too, am part of that problem. I mean, let’s get real…I’m not going to be over the top too friendly, but maybe just enough to make a minor impact on society.

This has been a harsh reality to face now coming back to America.  When I lived in Germany, I never understood why so many Germans stated that Americans were rude and obnoxious. Being back home now, I get it. What happened to us?

I hope that one day, I can be as empathic, kind and stylish as Danielle. I hope that I can see both sides of every situation and try to make the best judgement, not based on emotion but based on rationale; I hope to one day be as optimistic as my dear friend Danielle. And I pray that I have the strength to always voice how I feel, even if it won’t be the favorite opinion. In most cases, I usually don’t care enough to even create a thought if it doesn’t pertain to me. (Fun Fact #7: The Kid does not read the News. Only bad shit is ever reported)

Danielle, you have made a bigger impact on me than what you think. I am so grateful to have met you. Thank you for being amazing!

Ciao,

Johana