Candid Karina

I’ve missed doing Thursday Thirteens. A few weeks ago I decided I was going to start doing them again, but when I headed over to the TT website, it was GONE. GONE I tell you. And I? Was sad.

But then this week, Frances, the fearless and amazing leader of SheWhoBlogs discovered the new home for Thursday Thirteen. And I? Was so happy.

So, now, I’m happy to say that I will once again be doing Thursday Thirteens! YAY. Celebrate with me, this is a good day, because any incentive to get me blogging MORE is a good thing, right? Yeah, okay, whatever…just go with it, lest I’m tempted to have another conversation with myself…

Without further ado, let’s get on with this week’s Thursday Thirteen.

I thought I’d kick it off with Thirteen Mottos I live my live by:

1. Live like this is your last day on earth. – This is by far the most important one, because well…everything else stems from this.

2. Count your blessings every day. – Every single day take a moment or 20 to count your blessings. Literally, list them out, name them, count them. With our busy lifestyles, I guarantee you won’t have time to count them all. That’s the point.

3. Notice the little things. – Sort of the “stop and smell the roses” if you will. Don’t go through your day staring down at your feet, you’ll miss the whole point of life. See the bird up in the tree, that crack on the sidewalk shaped like a heart, the way the droplet of water makes its way down a windowpane…NOTICE.

4. Tell people you love them. – Always, every chance you get, let those around you know how much they matter to you, how valuable they are, that you love them.

5. Be silly. – Forget what “they” say you’re supposed to act like. Who the hell are “they” anyway? Life is way too short to be serious all the time, be silly, do stupid things, laugh at yourself.

6. Work hard – play harder. Yes, it’s almost the same as number 5, but it’s just a reminder that it’s important to be serious sometimes, to get stuff done, to do the responsible thing. Work, exercise, eat healthy, pay your bills, do all the right stuff. But when that’s done, HAVE FUN, indulge, spoil yourself a little, have a

7. Do good things. – work hard, play harder, GIVE the hardest. If you do good things then you know that there is no better feeling in the world than when you do for others. Do good things.

8. Never pay full price. – Hey, they couldn’t all be serious right? But seriously, if you want something, find it on sale, if it’s not on sale, you don’t need it yet. Yes, there are exceptions, but in general, never pay full price.

9. When all else fails, wear nice shoes. – There’s just something about a great pair of shoes to uplift your mood. Try it. I’m telling you, it works.

10. You really do decide what mood you will be in, so make the right decision each morning.
11. Smile at strangers. – That is all, just do it. (but you know, be careful and all that other stuff…lol)

12. Pray. When you’re grateful. When you’re scared. When you’re lost. When you’re lonely. When you’re happy. When you’re at your wits end. When you’re euphoric at your good fortune. Pray.

13. Allow yourself to have off days. We all have off days, and sometimes, it’s okay to succumb to them. Just don’t stay there too long.

I have to tell you, this list was actually a lot easier to write than I initially thought it would be. I probably could have written another 13. Turns out I live my life by a whole crap load of directives. What do you think? What are your tried and true “words to live by”?

Don’t forget to go check out other Thursday Thirteen participants here.

I haven’t done a Thursday Thirteen in quite a long time, but then I haven’t exactly been blogging as much as I used to either. Real life has sort of gotten in the way of blogging (imagine that?), but I have no complaints…real life has been great. Yet, this week I decided that I was going to attempt to blog daily, and so, I figured I’d take this chance to shamelessly self-promote some of my favorite posts that I have done in the last few weeks.
So, I give you my 13 recent posts I’d love for you to peruse:
1. Soul Sisters – In this one, just posted this week, I tell you about the girls in my life that are definitely invaluable to my every day.
2. All The Boys – The Soulmate – Since we’re talking about soulmates, you should meet the one that was.
3. The ABC’s of Me – just a little MeMe fun, but a way for you to get to know me just a little bit more.
4. All The Boys – The One That Never Was – Might as well give you another of my “All The Boys” tales.
5. Bacon Lollipops? – You have to read it to believe it.
6. Final Dance – A creative effort on my other blog, a new form of poetry, which I really enjoyed attempting.
7. This Kind of Love – yet another creative effort…there weren’t that many in July, but I really felt the few I did take on.
8. Tale of Two Squirrels – Because I cracked myself up writing it.
9 – 13. So You Think You Can Dance – The recaps. Okay, I’m totally cheating here…see, the thing is, I haven’t really posted enough lately to pick 13 posts you should read…but I have done weekly recaps of this wonderful show…so I think you should read them all! So I’m just telling you to head on over to Cafe Karina and do some browsing.
Yeah, yeah, I know…I cheated. I’m having too much fun this summer to pay attention to rules…The only rule I’m adhering to now when I blog is to enjoy myself, and hopefully I can write something once in a while that’ll make you smile.
So, that’s it for me this Thursday…but I have a little something up my sleeve for tomorrow, so don’t stray too far.

I haven’t done a Thursday Thirteen in a bit, but then again, I haven’t done a whole lot of blogging lately either. But I wanted to participate this week, and share some of my adventure at Nascar this past weekend. So, here are 13 things I learned at Nascar:

1. Having connections (or friends who have connections) ROCKS. My friend Traveller managed to get us not only Pit Passes, but also Suite Passes for the races thist past weekend in New Hampshire.

Yeah, we sat in the same suite as the guy who runs all of Nascar (or so Traveller told me, I wouldn’t know him from Adam, she’s the Nascar fan).

2. Hanging out in the Garage/Pit area, getting up close and personal with the drivers and the pit crews? That was so much fun.

3. Let’s talk about the pit crews for a minute shall we? HOLY EYE CANDY. Ladies, forget the drivers, it’s the crew guys that are delicious to look at.

4. Moving on to the actual racing…I had no idea it could actually be that much fun to watch a bunch of cars go round and round in a circle. Who knew? Turns out there’s a whole lot more to it than just racing around in a circle, and it’s those little intricacies that make it such a fun sport to watch.

5. Who knew also how freakin’ loud it would be? I mean, I was forewarned, but it was still louder than I thought it would be.

6. And do you have any idea how hard it is to photograph a car going 180 mph?

Not quite…
Almost… AHA! Gotcha!
7. Race cars are REALLY low to the ground…which makes getting in and out of the cars pretty hard. But oh so fun!8. I’d never really watched a race before this, so I’d never really understood the significance of the phrase “quick pit stop”. When they say “quick”…they’re not kidding around. It takes them all of 8 seconds to change four tires, gas up the car and perform whatever other necessary “fix us” may need to be done.
Even more props to those hot crew guys.
9. Speaking of hot guys…David Stremme:

Kinda hot, don’t’cha think?

10. Also hot? Clint Bowyer, who never met a good pose he didn’t like:
11. I learned that you must wear comfortable shoes when you go to a Nascar event, especially if you’ve got pit passes, because you will do A LOT of walking around. We saw every square inch of that place, I’ll tell you! But it was great fun.
12. Nascar fans don’t mess around. Talk about a wide variety of fan…we’re not just cheering for two teams here, so you get all walks of life, all different support teams in the stands. With their wagons and coolers full of beer, and they’re trailers and grills and bbq pits, these are some real fans. And if they don’t like you (Kyle Busch), they’ll let you know, loud and clear.
13. Traveller and I? We are total Rock Stars. This:

The view from our VIP Suite…free tickets, free food, free alcohol…what a fantastic time we had. And you know what? On Sunday, while at home recovering from my wild weekend…I watched the race on television…I think Nascar has gained a fan.

Thanks for stopping in!

And I know I owe some posts, some memes, a story about bacon lollipops and so much more…they’re in the works, I promise. In the meantime, I’ve got Fun Monday, the Bachelorette, The Two Coreys and So You Think You Can Dance to tide you over…

Before we get into Thursday Thirteen, I had a Blog Re-Design Launch Party yesterday, click on over to get your ice cream cake (recipe included) and sign up for the give-aways, won’t you?

In case you haven’t heard, I started my new job this week as the executive assistant to the president of a local financial organization (yes, I’m being intentionally vague here). I have been a paralegal for the last eleven years, so this is a bit of a career change, but one I am excited about, I was ready for a change.
Anyway, I have received some amazing support from all of you, my awesome readers, during this time of transition in my life, and I know a lot of you are excited for me, and waiting to hear how my first few days at work have been. So, without further ado, here are thirteen “first” impressions” about my new job:
1. My new boss (who from here on out will be known as The CEO here at Candid Karina)? Rocks! I know it’s early yet, but from what I’ve seen so far, he is a genuinely nice guy, and pretty laid back. Just from watching his interaction with other employees the past few days, I can see what kind of leader he is, and I like what I see.
2. My new co-workers? Good grief, there are so many of them, I’ll never be able to keep them all straight. I went from The Firm where there were 5 of us, to this place, where just in my location I believe there are about 100 (and we have three other locations).
3. Still, even though it will take me months to learn even half of their names, everyone I’ve met so far has been absolutely friendly and extremely welcoming.
4. Overall, there is an extremely convivial atmosphere. Everyone seems to enjoy being there and working with one another.
5. I spent the first day helping The CEO prep for the monthly board meeting and think that we will work really well together.
6. I also learned that The CEO is the kind of boss that says “thank you” and “good job”, and I’m grateful for that because “The Boss” at The Firm was that type of boss, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever be lucky enough to have that type of boss again (they’re hard to come by, the appreciative types, aren’t they?)
7. My new office? Pretty posh. Well, it’s large anyway, and has these great floor to ceiling windows that face one of the main streets in the downtown area. A pretty decent view.
8. I love working in the downtown area. Just in the last two days I’ve been able to sit outside in a nice little park area and read my book while enjoying some sunshine, and have lunch at a fun little diner with a friend. There is always something going on downtown, and there are so many people to watch, so many new places to eat, and things to see.
9. I know you’re all going to ask, so…No, no eye candy/dating prospects that I have seen yet. I know you were thinking it, so I figured I’d just throw it out there.
10. The work itself so far seems interesting but pretty easy and not nearly as stressful as my responsibilities as a paralegal…but it is early yet.
11. My commute? Kick-Ass! It takes me 15 minutes or so to get to and from work. This is a vast improvement over my last job, and I am loving it.
12. What I am also loving are my hours. I now work 8:30 to 4:30 and have been informed that when they say 4:30, they mean it. Today, at around 4:30, the place was pretty much cleared out, everyone was gone. I was used to working way past my “regular” 5:30 clock out time at my old job, so this is a welcome change, for sure.
13. Um…yeah, I don’t have a thirteenth…Overall I am just glad that it seems my impressions at the interview stage are proving to be correct, and this seems to be a great place to work, with good people, a great environment, and good perks. I’m looking forward to it.
Thanks to everyone for all their well wishes…as you can see…so far so good!
For a mini-recap of “So You Think You Can Dance” and a recap of Monday Night’s episode of “The Bachelorette” (find out how my old college buddy is doing), please stop by Cafe Karina, won’t you?

No time for chit chat today, I’m off to a graduation in a few minutes. So, I leave you with Thirteen photos taken last Friday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

Happy Thursday.

I swear, I haven’t been holding back…well…maybe a little bit, but only because I was saving the news for today’s post. So, without further ado…I GOT THE JOB! I am once again among the land of the employed, and it feels good. I want to thank EACH and EVERY one of you for your words of support, positive vibes, prayers, and encouragement during the last few weeks. This time of unemployment, for someone like me, who is self-sufficient and self-dependent could have been a horrible time, but you all made it much more bearable. I think overall I handled this situation pretty well, but it was only AFTER I was offered the job that I realized how truly stressed out about the whole thing I was. Now I can breathe a sigh of relief, and enjoy my next two weeks of vacation, because I don’t start my new job until May 27th. Yay me.

So, here are Thirteen Things about my new job:

1. I will be the Executive Assistant to the CEO of a local credit union. I’m not, nor have I ever been, someone who gets hung up on “titles” when it comes to career, but I have to admit that I’m a little bit proud of the fact that I landed a job that is pretty high profile. CandidMama is calling me “Big Shot Jr.”, and we’re getting a lot of laughs out of it, but I am a little proud of myself. I’ve worked hard, and it’s kind of nice to feel a sense of accomplishment, ya know?
2. The CEO seems to be a genuinely nice guy, very down to earth, and actuall reminds me quite a bit of The Boss at the The Firm. This is a good thing, because I had a fantastic working relationship with The Boss, so I’m hoping it’ll be the same with The CEO (I believe for now we’ll make that his name here on this blog). When I went in yesterday, for what I thought was a “second interview”, it turned out that he just wanted to offer me the job face to face. I think that says something about the kind of place he runs and the kind of guy he is.
3. The organization I will be working for is a fairly large one in terms of credit unions, and they offer fantastic employee benefits and perks. Besides my friend who works in HR (who got me the interview) I know of one other person who works there, and they both love the company. It seems to be a professional but very laid back and convivial atmosphere. While I was sitting there waiting (both times I went in) random folks would walk by and they would all smile, say hello, etc.
4. Yesterday, after being offered the position, CEO introduced me to a few folks and then went to show me my office. He was all excited, it was kind of cute, and upon showing it to me, he said “Go ahead, have a seat, try it on for size”. So I sat behind my desk and he was all happy. It was cute. The office itself? Very nice, much larger than the one I had at The Firm, with very large windows overlooking a busy street in the downtown area.
5. Let’s talk about the location for a minute. I will be working 5 minutes from my house. With traffic in this city (which is pretty hectic) it’ll probably take me closer to 15 to 20 minutes to commute, but that is still about 30 minutes less than I delt with for the old job. I will be, approximately 2 miles from home, however. With gas prices as they are, I’m pretty happy about this. The office is in the downtown area of my hometown, which is a busy, bustling place. Not quite Boston, but good enough for a bit more of a social experience, which I seriously am looking forward to.
6. Parking in the downtown area is quite a commodity, and as one of the employee benefits, the company pays for employee parking in a local garage. However, as an executive member (they called me that, not I), I get my very own gadget to open the gate to the private lot behind the building. I get happy about silly thingslike this, because, well…it’s just kind of cool, right?
7. The job responsibilities themselves will range from the usual stuff (fielding phone calls and correspondence for the boss, etc.) to all sorts of projects that he seemed excited I was willing to take on and brainstorm about, etc. The organization is in a growing stage, so there’s potential for all sorts of new experiences there, and I’m looking forward to those.
8. There are, I believe he said, about 120 employees at the moment (though that may just be at the one location, I’m not sure), but regardless, I’m going from a place with 5…so that will be quite a change and I can’t wait for that.
9. Think of the blog fodder I might have with all those employees and working right in the middle of downtown. So, YOU get something out of the deal too.
10. I realize that this will be a “job” and therefore it won’t be all roses and sunshine, and there will be negative aspects at some point, but at the moment, I’m just focusing on the good things, and I really do get a great feeling about it.
11. I feel like this job was tailor made for me. I was looking to get out of the legal profession, but wasn’t sure I could afford to do so. I was out feeding the poor when I found out about this opening from my friend. I prayed that the CEO woud be a nice guy, and I genuinely like the guy. I wanted to stay close to home, and not have to go work in Boston, but I kind of wanted the “city” feel of my old Boston jobs, and this is CLOSER to home, but in the city. The whole thing hs just felt right from day one.
12. When I went to The Firm yesterday, after my interview, because I’m still helping out there part time a bit, The Boss came into my office and said “SO?” and when I told him I got the job, he kind of did that “YES!” motion with is body and actually said “YES!”. He did his own version of the happy dance for me. I really will miss The Boss, he’s a great guy, and genuinely cares for me and was concerned about me and truly happy that I got this job and am happy about it. I get a little emotional thinking about it, because it’s not everyone who’s lucky enough to have that kind of relatioship with their boss, you know? Plus I feel badly for him that The Firm is in such dire straits. It sucks.
13. That’s all I’ve got on the new job for now, but I’m certain there will be plenty more stories once I start working. For now, I’m going to enjoy my vacation, and thank God I’m once again employed.
So again, thanks everyone for all your prayers and stuff the last few weeks, I have no doubt that they helped me land this gig, and I’m truly appreciative.
Happy Thursday!!!

I didn’t know about the “alphabet theme” going on at TT today, but we’ll just call mine S, for Shoes…For today’s Thursday Thirteen, we’re going to go back. Back into my archives and a request I made of my readers to ask me questions, so that I could have some blog fodder for NaBloPoMo or something like that. I’ve managed to answer most of those questions, but there was one that I was saving for a special occasion, because it was all about shoes. And you all know how I feel about shoes. And then, the question got lost somewhere, and I recently unearthed it, and figured it was time.

The question, posed by my friend Qualcosa Di Bello was: “What is your absolute favorite pair of shoes, past and present?

Well, if you know me, then you know that is pretty much an impossible question for me to answer. Asking me to choose a favorite pair of shoes is like asking a mother to tell you her favorite child. No way I can do that and risk offending the feelings of the others. So, in lieu of giving a straight answer, I give you today’s Thursday Thirteen, all about my favorite shoes:

1. We’ll go to the past first. As I mentioned in this post, I don’t actually have really strong memories of “shoes” in my childhood. My love affair with shoes began a bit later in life. But I do remember one particular pair of turquoise blue “jellys” that I was completely in love with. I wish I could show you a photo, but I don’t have any here…I should have borrowed one of CandidMama’s photo albums. But you remember jellys, right? Boy how I loved mine.

2. Then, in about the 7th grade, I had this fantastic pair of imitation hi-top chuck taylors in baby blue and pink. Laugh if you want, but I loved those things. They earned me the nick-name “Punky” (after Punky Brewster) and I was so darn proud of that.

3. I went to college during the grunge and gangsta rap stage. My style was a mixture of both, so on any given day, you could find me in some serious “shit-kicker” boots, but I had them in all colors and styles, to go with the rest of my eclectic wardrobe.

4. It wasn’t until after college that I discovered my love affair with “girly” shoes. And I have never looked back. Here are some (just some) of my current favorites. I’ve put away my boots (thinking the summer was here…HA!) so of my boots, I have only these to show you:5. Currently, I’m all about the stilletos. These I searched for high and low because I saw this color shoe on some celebs last year, and I just HAD to have them. I love them, but they might just be the most uncomfortable pair of shoes I own…
6. I just LOVE my black and pink ones, how cute are they, seriously?

7. Every woman should own a pair of pink shoes. The picture doesn’t do the color of these justice, however…I couldn’t get the color to come out right, but they are a very pretty, girly, pink.

8. I’ve shared these recently with you, they are my brand new “interview” shoes, which I bought to wear with my brand new “interview” suit. They will both make their debut on Friday. OH, did I mention I have a job interview on Friday? Because I do. And it is for a job literally 5 minutes from my house, so if you could all keep me in mind with positive thoughts and all that, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. Okay, back to the shoes:

9. And what’s a shoe collection without a pair of red shoes?

10. And soon enough, I’ll be able to break out the open toed shoes. These are my absolute favorites i that category:

11. Or maybe it’s these:

12. Hmmm…could be these sketcher flip-flops,actually, because I practically live in them all summer long:

13. But when all else fails, you can always just go barefoot. Just make sure to get a nice pedicure first. You can thank Sognatrice for the shot of my newly manicured toes, as I was complaining my BFF treated me to a pedi, and then the weathe got to cold to show off my toes, and she suggested I post a photo…so here you go…In all my OPI “I’ve Red The Script” glory:

Don’t you just love my pink jammies?

M&M and I took Brainiac and Lil’K to the New England Aquarium on Saturday. It was an outing to celebrate Lil’K’s 15th birthday. For those who don’t know, Lil’K is my “lil’ sis” through Big Brother Big Sister. We were “matched” seven years ago, and in that time, she has obviously become a part of my family. Lil’ K was 8, Brainiac was 2 when they met, and they took to each other like little girls at that age will do. They are very much like cousins now, and although they don’t see each other quite as often anymore, whenever they are together, that bond is apparent, and it is a joy for both M&M and I to watch our “little girls” together. Saturday was no different. The girls had a blast, and M&M and I got to act like giggly little girls as well, while checking out all the magnificent creatures the ocean has to offer. Below are just SOME of the photos I took:

1. Right outside, greeting us as we walked in, was this little guy:

I thought he was an otter, but was informed by Brainiac that he was, in fact, a seal. Either way, he was adorable and friendly.

2. The Jellyfish exhibit was fascinating and I couldn’t take my eyes off these critters:

3. These guys were pretty cool too:

4. This little guy brought out the pinstrip suit, as well as the eye make-up for the occasion:

5. His friend chose to go with a more “70’s” inspired look, however:

6. This dude was not feeling all that sociable, but I think that was probably for the best…

We were all a little bit freaked out by him, even if he was behind glass.

7. The seadragons gave us a bit of a dance routine to watch:

8. And Myrtle the Turtle (really her name), came right on over to say hello, managing to scare the living daylights out of the girls when she snuck up on them against the glass.
Myrtle weighs over 540 lbs., and is about 70 years old. I think she looks pretty good for her age, don’t you?

9. This little guy looked like a miniature next to Myrtle. He’s coming up for air here, and we were all kind of ga-ga over him.

10. Ever watch Fraggle Rock? Remember that talking rock, or pile of trash, or whatever it was in the back yard?

I think this fish was doing an impersonation of it.

11. This pretty lady in her colorful spring dress gave me my favorite shot of the day:

No, not the above shot…this one:

Well, hello there!

13. And finally, in a rare moment of self-disclosure, here’s a photo of M&M, yours truly, Lil’ K and Brainiac at the end of a very long day:
Hope you enjoyed your trip through the aquarium with us. Have a great Thursday everyone.

No, I wasn’t fired. But that was a much catchier title than “You’re laid off”, you know? And besides, it has pretty much the same emotional impact. As in, “Holy crap, now what?” And that was just one of the thoughts that ran through my mind when I received the news last Friday that as of NEXT Friday, I’ll be jobless. I have had a job of some form or another non-stop since the age of 16. I’ve never been unemployed since then. I find a new job before I quit the old one, even if I am miserable at my current position. That’s just the way it is. So this, seeing my future with no set job ahead? FREAKING ME OUT.

Here are thirteen other thoughts that have gone through my mind since I received the news:

1. How will I pay my mortgage? Am I going to lose my house? Damn it, I was thisclose to wiping out all my debt too. How much of a setback is this going to be?

2. Well, I do need a vacation.

3. Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit…(sorry mom, desperate times call for desperate language).

4. I wonder if I can figure out a way to live off unemployment for a while and stay home and work on the next great American novel?

5. Holy crap, I’m going to be destitute.

6. This is a blessing in disguise, I’m gravely underpaid anyway, so now I’ll go earn what I deserve.

7. I can’t live off unemployment, who the hell am I kidding? I’ll love my house. That’s not an option, get it together Karina!

8. Maybe I can find a fun new challenging job, something that will have me excited about learning new things and stuff.

9. Oh, I really don’t want to have to go work in Boston again and add that commute to my life…damn, I thought I was done with that insane lifestyle.

10. Working in Boston again could really be a whole lot of fun. I hated the commute, but I loved that crazy lifestyle. I met a lot of great people, hey, maybe I’ll even meet a man or two…or ten… WHAT? It could happen.

11. Man, the job market sucks, there’s nothing out there, I’m never going to find a job. And UGH, I hate job interviews.

12. Hey, I get to go out and buy a really kick-ass interview suit, so I can look and feel like a million bucks. Because if you feel good, you look good, and you project the right attitude and that’ll get me a good job. That and my 11 years experience in this business.

13. No more Whisper Wednesdays!!!

And oh, I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.

Last week in my Fun Monday post, I alluded to the fact that I was born in Africa. That little nugget of information seemed to spark some interest with my readers, so, as promised (although a bit later than originally intended) here is the story of how I came to be birthed in Africa…in a handy little Thursday Thirteen format:

1. Let’s start with a bit of a history lesson. Don’t worry, I’ll keep it short and non-boring. This:

is Africa, with itty bitty Portugal above it. Okay, yes, that’s geography, not history, we’ll get to the history in a moment. This:

Is Angola. And up on the left coast, is Luanda, the capital of Angola (and the city I was born in). Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, onto the history. Angola was at one point a Portuguese colony. Back in the days when Portugal actually had some holdings and some power and influence…those days are gone. But, that’s neither here nor there. In those days, a whole slew of Portuguese citizens relocated to Angola.

2. Among those folks, were my parents. My mom, Candid Mama, who was about 10 or 12 years old at the time (she’ll correct me on this, I’m sure), with her family.
3. And my dad, who I think was slightly older when he moved there, with his family…I think. Though, I know he was in the military, so maybe he went on his own…I really need to sharpen the facts on their stories, but I’ll let mom tell you those in her own time.

4. My parents tell tales of the paradise Luanda was in those days. (please click on the photo to be taken to the Flickr page for the incredible photographer who took this and many other shots of Luanda): The fun they had, the people they met, the beaches, the nightclubs, the lifestyle in general.

5. Anyway, when mom was 18, and dad was 25, they met, and in the only story of true “love at first sight” that I know, and believe in, fell in love.

6. They were married, and quite immediately, mom got pregnant with yours truly:

That’s me in her belly.
7. Unfortunately, as much of a paradise as Luanda and Angola in general where when my parents were growing up, as the years progressed, a nasty political civil war broke out. The tales my folks tell of the curfews, the military checkpoints, completely shock and amaze me. Amaze me that they managed to survive those days pretty much unscathed.

8. I was born in the middle of this war, stories of gun shots being fired right outside the hospital, my parents coming home to find my grandmother huddled with me underneath the stairs because of the sounds of gun fire or bombs goin off, are tales I’ve heard my whole life.

9. Eventually it all got to be a bit too much. My grandparents had left for Portugal, as had most of my parents’ friends and families. And the time came for us to leave as well. In true refugee fashion, mom left first, with me in tow, as if she was simply going on a vacation to Portugal, leaving most of her worldly possessions behind.

10. Only recently I learned that my dad stayed behind for another month or so before he too left, with a suitcase and nothing else.
11. In Portugal my parents moved several times (we moved about 8 times in the first 9 years of my life), finally settling in a neighborhood where there were several other refugees. I grew up with the food, the music, and the culture my parents had adopted in Africa.

12. When I was 10 we made our move, as a family, to the U.S. All these cultures, mixed together, have made me someone who sees no color, no race but the human race. I find myself constantly wanting to learn more about different cultures, experiencing new ethnic cuisines, and surrounding myself with individuals from all walks of life.

13. I have never been back to my homeland, and as much as I would love to, I know I never will. I will hopefully one day travel to Africa, but never to Angola, never to Luanda. I have a vision of the paradise my parents speak of in my mind, and I know the reality of the war torn land would shatter those images. It breaks my heart whenever I see images such as the ones I saw on American Idol last week. The poverty, the disease, the inequality are just too heart-breaking. And yet, it is my home land, and there’s something in the connection I feel to that place that can’t quite be explained in words.
Click here if you want to know more about the history, struggles and present situation in and about Angola, it’s a pretty good source of information.

Have a great Thursday everyone.

et cetera