Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mi Libro de Poemas, or as you say, My Book of Poetry is now available

My latest creation is in Spanish and contains some of my poetry.  Sorry for all of you non-Spanish speakers but I will have something in English out soon.

A todos los Latinos aqui le presento....

Para Cuando Te Pierdas

by Josephina Ferrer

Poemas para Recordar

A través de la vida y sin saberlo dejamos huellas que nos ayudan cuando estamos perdidos. Huellas que nos hacen recordar quien somos y de donde vinimos. Nos ayudan a ser valientes y resistentes aun cuando nos sentimos, aparentemente, indefensos. Este libro de recuerdos en forma de poemas viene de una Nuyoriqueña que creció en los barrios de Williamsburg, Brooklyn y que anda con las lecciones que aprendió adondequiera que va.

Available thru

or copy and paste these links:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Decluttering Your Mind

I like to sort closets.  Maybe it's a symptom of having grown up in a tiny New York City apartment.  I also should absolutely be feared when I play Tetris.  And I am a tad OCD.

So I learned to apply my closet sorting tendencies to the mess I have going on in my ever spinning noggin.  Does your head still spin while you are asleep?  Mine does.  No. I have not seen the Doc about it.  Should I worry?

Well the rules of decluttering apply in life as well.

#1.  If you haven't used it in a year, GET RID OF IT.
I have things rummaging in my head that have no use. Worries that have no foundation and negative thoughts that appeared out of no where, and misunderstandings that I came to when reading too far between the lines.  These things surface at weird times.  Like when I'm having a bad day.  I have learned to say, "To the Garbage Pile with that!"

#2.  If you don't absolutely love it, Get Rid of It.
Basically, if it's not working for you, be gone with it.  Maybe it worked for someone else, but you clearly have held on to that thought for too long.  Long enough to know it's not you.  Throw it away.

#3. If you don't know what to do with it, give it a trial run.
There are some thoughts we don't know how to classify.  Are they Useful for us or Not?  Allow that thought to be and play around with it.  Examine it closely.  But don't give it a permanent residence yet.  It's OK to not know something right away.  Let it all play out in the calm of your mind.  Put it in the Maybe Pile.

If you come upon something in there that boggles you a bit examine it to find out why it is there. Don't ever be afraid of what you may find because it just might shed some light on the reasons for your inner workings and help you become a better you.

Have fun sorting your marbles.

What is Your Worth?

If I let myself breakdown right now I might never recover.  That's how I feel, broke down.  But it is my own fault.

I can be my own worst enemy when it comes to worth.  Worth is a word I arrived at as I sat down and meditated on my life.

Why do I do and say and think the things I do?  Because some of the people around me treat me and my family unfairly and cause me to react in a way I wouldn't otherwise. They make me feel lower and less.

And why do these toxic people cause me to go against my nature?  Because I don't value myself enough to control the influence they have over me.


What am I worth?  We don't ask ourselves that enough as women.  We know the worth of our husbands if we are lucky enough to have a good one. We protect our children with our lives because they are worth everything to us.  We help our other family members when they are in need because, "If they can't count on us, who can they count on?"  We help others because we appreciate what they have done for us.

But when we need help we try to be as self sufficient as possible so as to not bother anyone with our worries and not to put an extra burden on anyone.  And we bend ever so slightly more under the weight of all we have piled on ourselves so that those we love don't hurt or want or suffer. Our worth is not so much in our eyes because we don't care enough to say, "Hey this is getting unfair. And my back hurts. Will someone take back their issues? I have my own."

Some of the toxic people are easy to cast off as jerks and you can easily separate yourself from them.  It becomes harder when these people are in your family, circle of friends, "adoptive family", or at work. And if this person is really good at heart but just very, very misguided.  What do you do then?  You have to see these people often and it becomes an unpleasant experience, over and over again.

I just try to play nice. And I make a game plan.  One that involves my escape, if that is an option.

But it isn't always an option.  So limited exposure becomes the way.   Limiting the amount of time you allow certain people to be around you will eventually breed suspicion on their part.  They will wonder why, all the sudden, you are no longer putting up with what they dish out.  They get antsy and uncomfortable.  I love this part because it's subtle revenge.  "Why isn't so and so not jumping when I bark?"  Because SHE FOUND HER WORTH.  And they will move on to some other unsuspecting victim.

It takes great patience to live this way. On the positive side, if I can live this way, exercising great patience and being civil, then I would have increased my worth in character.

This is what I tell myself.  I am building Character.  Until I can find that place where no one knows my name.

Then there comes full-on-confrontation.  I hate confrontations, not because I'm a wuss, well... maybe I am a little.  But I usually regret what I say in defending myself in a confrontation.  I can go from calm to cruel in .08 seconds.  It is not something I am proud of... although it can come in handy in some throw downs.  But that part of my life is in the past.




If you forgot how much your worth ask a good friend to tell you or just remember how much you are worth in HIS eyes.

With Love to all my brothers and sisters,


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Voices

Trying to be the perfect suburban housewife is an idealistic, unrealistic, delusional notion.   Here is why it doesn't work for me.

Insight #1:  Easily distracted by the critical voices in my head.

Calling me a housewife would make my friends back home double over in peels of laughter. Don't get me wrong, I've gotten pretty darn good at my home skills. 

Men like to think that because you iron their shirts then, by default, you must 'love' to iron.  No I hate ironing. It just makes me mad to see you walk off and into the world in a wrinkled shirt. And you don't seem to care that you look like a raisin. Then everyone - as in the other women, would be all - "So she lets her man walk around like that.  Poor thing.  Wife needs an ironing lesson."  And I would have to zap them with my laser eyeballs. It creates chaos if I don't iron.

Women in the suburbs have to do all sorts of inhumane things that I was just not prepared for.  How, as a woman, do you hold down a job and take care of a house that size with a yard that size with everyone and everything in it and still make dinner?  I am a simple apartment gal who has more interesting pursuits. I cannot be bothered with all this nonsense.  And yet they say we need to have it all done by 7pm and not look disheveled and smell like garlic.

The voices of those we love, those of other women and the voice of society telling you what you should be doing can drown out your own.  Don't let them distract you.

Hence, we have insight #2 - The voices in your head are sometimes deceitful and manipulative little minions. Don't let them bully you into trying to be something you are not or do things you simply can't do for lack of time.  Learn to say NO.

Which leads me to Insight #3 - Those voices are part a collective conspiracy and Martha Stewart is their leader.  

Insight # 4 - I speak in tangents, deal with it.  When I was younger my grammar teacher would have frowned upon this tendency.  I am not in school anymore and I don't care.  I'm 30 people. This is what I sound like and I love it.  My life is one big tangent.  Professional housewives frown at tangents.  They swat at them with wooden spoons. 

Insight #5 - Don't buy into other people's interpretations of YOU.  They don't know all about you and your life, so how can they tell you what you need to be doing.  And if you must, tell them so.  Take care of what YOU need to take care of.  Hold as valuable the opinions of a small group of close friends and family but remember they are opinions.

Insight #6 - The life expectancy for women is 70 which means I'm almost halfway there and I don't have time for triflin' people. Ain't nobody got time for that.

Insight #7 - Celebrate your good traits and your 'truth'.  Don't criticize yourself and add to the nasty voices in your head.  Your truth is yours and you will know it when you see it.  Stand by it. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Left our manners at home, did we?

Has anyone else ever had to deal with a person who brings up money at the dinner table?  He doesn't just bring it up, he actually gets snippy about it.  

This is one of my pet peeves.  But this one makes me feel especially peevish.  As in - I start to squirm and my eye twitches.  I may suddenly lunge out in anger.  

This is why.

When the waitress asks how we are going to pay the tab at the restaurant - don't emphatically volunteer someone to pay the whole tab.  As if you knew their financial situation was the same as say, Donald Trump.  Then they say "well you never pay the tab for everyone".  Maybe because we can't and that is why we always go dutch.  Not nice. 

Also realize that the person you just volunteered is now, understandably, mortified, embarrassed and about to crawl under the table.  Thank you for that. 

Let us not forget the other people at the table.  All who have now, in a state of panic, proceeded to look down aimlessly at something in the same way a drowning person looks for a float.  And then...

Everyone looses their appetite.  

This is when I order a big plate of barbecue ribs - which I may or may not be able to fully digest. I make an effort to control myself.  From jumping across the table and planting this person headfirst in the first pot I find.  

In reality we stayed put and ate despite the urge to leave.  There was a family guest at the table and we didn't want to seem as bad mannered as the obnoxious guy.  We asked to go dutch and pay for ourselves and the guest, like was originally intended.  

But I have a regret.

My husband and I should have said that we were going to powder our noses and quietly ditch them all.

What irritates me more is that this person thinks of himself as a sophisticated individual.  

Bloomingdales doesn't sell manners. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Connecting in Retrospect

We are all guilty in some way or other of being a bad friend.  It happens.  Especially in adulthood when so many things get in the way and daily life is a challenging maze.

Our American culture has a little to do with it.  We live fast lives where we work and work towards... really nothing.  

You probably love your family and friends very much.  But you ignore them and regularly forget to call.  Confusing right?

And the answer to your dilemma is probably: simplify and make time.  Because it is important to keep the connections.  

When you have a great group of friends life seems different.  Lots of bad things can happen to you but you don't allow yourself to BE your situation.  Your job may stink but after work you have plans and by then the 9 to 5 was like a nightmare you forgot about come morning.  And your friends know that things will get better for you so you believe them and, eventually, they do because they 'believed' it to happen.  That is the power of having a support system.

Maybe like me you left all your childhood friends 1800 miles behind and slowly this one got married and moved there and the other one got a job and moved here and the other had a baby and you don't hear from them anymore.  Or maybe you had a fight with one of them years back and they made you feel like a bad influence, so you retreated from your group of friends.

It happens gradually.  You lose touch.  And then one day you hear from a family member who knows someone close to your friend that she did indeed give birth two weeks ago.  Two weeks and not even a picture.  Then you get an email string from one of them and in reading down the trail you realize just how much your long lost group of friends email each other and don't include your name in the address bar.  But you aren't mad about it.  Just sad because you finally realized, acknowledged the deterioration of a friendship.  

Or maybe a good friend of yours, one who you looked up to, suddenly had a midlife crisis... in her twenties, and took off without a word to her family or you.  First you feel guilty that you couldn't do more to change her mind.  With time and experience you realize you could've done something but , at that time, you wouldn't have known what to do if it hit you in the face.  Then you go on with life and try to ignore that she is no longer around.  This can work for years.  Everything is seemingly normal.  But then every friend you make along the way is somehow temporary.  Mostly it's your fault because you made a point of not letting them get that close.  You know, just in case they decide to have a midlife crisis in close proximity to you and you end up with - schrapnel.  

But when you finally wake up from that little dream world you've been living in - pick up the phone, send an email, visit if they are close but don't let your friends go.  Especially those you met when you were a geeky kid with eccentricities and going thru a weird growth spurt where your nose was bigger than your face and you didn't know the importance of deodorant.  'Cause if they stuck with you then, they'll forgive you for anything.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

And Yes, I Quit

In this horrid economy where the nightmares of unemployment are all too traumatic, I decided to quit my job.  Any sane person would have stayed till something better came along, giving a splendid example of the long-suffering martyr.  Not I.

When was the last time I waited for anything?   I blame it on being raised by pushy city people.

Well I did. I quit.  And not because I was mistreated or underpaid.  I mostly liked my job.  But it was just too far from my house.  On average I would spend 9 hours at work and 2-3 hours a day commuting.  And I rarely had time for anything else.  Worth it?  I think not.

Today I spent half of my day calmly scanning the clothes racks at Macy's and casing the clearance racks.  I used to find deals in Manhattan like a superhero.  And I had gorgeous shoes.  My current collection is made up of hasty choices.  I basically picked them in a fit of crazyness because I had a wedding to run to and here I was, stuck in rural Texas without a single decent shoe that would say "pretty", "intelligent", "Urban".  So I picked out of desperation.  My closet if now full of second rate shoes.  Nightmare.

I've had the time to calmly look into every nook of my house.  I've cleaned and organized and pulled out things I had forgotten about.  I found tons of pictures here and there.  Funny ones. Sad ones.  I found my collection of greeting cards given to me by my friends and family over the years.  I never throw any out. Ever. 

It's amazing how many things you forget you had.  Especially if you've moved and sort of piled a closet up with stuff you were to organize later.  I love organizing.  I do, it's true and yes, I am crazy.  The thing is that I am good at it and I do it fast.  Yesterday, I tackled my mom's house while she went shopping.  I must've unloaded thirty moving boxes at least.  She has been here more than 6 months!  

My mom has what she calls an organized mess.  The office supplies are piled in  a drawer with household odds and ends like curtain pulls and screws about two rooms removed from the office but that makes sense to her.  There are books and papers piled all over the house.  It makes me crazy.  

She has a collection of encyclopedias from 1991 in English and Spanish,  a VHS collection of 100 or so movies,  80 cassette tapes and telephone books for the past three years.  You know about DVD's and the Internet, don't you?  I found about 15 blizzard worthy coats.  We live in Houston.  We don't even get a winter.  WHY MA, WHY?   

But you never know.  Yes, you never know when a freak Noreaster is gonna come barreling down to Texas.  When a wayward blizzard will dump 3 feet of snow right on Houston, palm trees will be buried and all.  Then we can break out those 15 Alaska coats and pull on those Thermo gloves and wool sweaters.  And roll right out the door with nothing but our eyeballs showing.  Makes tons of sense.

But I ask, who in Houston wants to buy 15 winter coats?

I give up. You can keep your junk where it is and one day when we come to visit you and we have to dig for two days to rescue you from your hoarding collection, I will rent you a storage container, park it in the backyard and you can live in it. At least you'll never have to give anything up.

By the way thanks for the box of goodies I snagged from you. That vase will look great once I find an available surface to put it on.

Love, Jo

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Monkeys, Fried Chicken, Laundry, Check

Since late August my life has been an all-consuming black hole of work and yet I have not accomplished much.  You ever feel that way?  Exhausted to the point of disgust and desperation, yet, as you look back, you realize you haven't accomplished a thing of value.  Well of value to you, anyway.

My weekends have blown by in a haze of errands and catching up with tedious tasks, like food shopping and picking up the dry cleaning.  There are people and plants in my life that are screaming for attention.  I feel dehydrated, tired, malnourished, gray, draggy, a bit cranky at times and bloated.  Maybe I need more fiber in my diet?  Maybe I should sleep?  Right now me and my loofah plant could join a look-a-like contest.  All wilted and pathetic.

I little note to those who depend on me:  do you not fathom yourself capable of doing anything YOURSELF?  Does anyone know were anything IS?  Yes I know you can't find the scissors to open the coffee packets in the lounge - it's not a conspiracy, they were just placed in a drawer.  They have been removed from your view!  But are they actually there? YES.  I will get up and stop working on that important project just open all the drawers for you.  Will you require anything else?  Should I stir your creamer in with my finger seeing as some vile creature has made away with the stirring sticks just to spite you.  Come back after brunch and I shall burp you myself.  

In a desperate attempt to get back to my life and take care of my family I took to the task of making dinner.  Since I got home at 6:30pm we actually started eating around 8pm.  By eight I wasn't hungry anymore.  I'm not supposed to eat at that time.  The food floats in my stomach while I sleep when I eat that late.  But I was determined to make southern fried chicken and mashed potatoes.  If you want to see someone torture fried chicken, come see me sometime.  

Last night I dreamed of monkeys hurling giant buckets of fried chicken at me from the trees as I ran through the jungle with my laundry wrapped around my legs.  I was screaming, "Don't forget the organic almond milk!"

Friday, September 17, 2010

Great Places in NYC

 The fork in the road bridge at the Ramble, Central Park

 It's amazingly peaceful at this part of the park.

 People hanging out and rowing at Hernshead, Central Park

 The drive back after a day in Long Island's beaches.

 Little Italy

 The Flatiron Building

 Sunset on the Hudson River from the observatory, Empire State Building

-All photos by Josephina

New Yorkers Tour New York as Tourist

There were a lot of fun things we did on our trip to NYC and, like I said before, it is more fun when seeing things through the eyes of a couple of real tourist.  In this case we brought a couple from Houston with us.  They had been on 'quick' trips to NY but never got to see much.  This is just a little of what we learned and saw.

1.  The Brooklyn Bridge is the No. 1 NYC attraction.  It never fails to amaze me and holds some of the best views of both sides of the river.  The tourists were mesmerized.  We brought them there at night when all the lights of the city are on.

Must see and do:  Fulton Landing Pier (on the Brooklyn side) while eating ice cream from the old lighthouse ice cream parlor and walking through the still unfinished park.  It's going to be beautiful. Also: Walk the Promenade above and see the Historic Brooklyn Heights area where my favorite movie Moonstruck was filmed.  It is accessible through Columbia Heights.

2. My new favorite route through Central Park is, as always, one I found by accident.  I am so glad we got to show them all the best parts of the park at once.

Must see and do:  My new idea of a perfect day is a tour through the Metropolitan Museum of Art followed by a little rest on the Museum steps with a hot dog while watching the street entertainers, who are usually excellent.  Especially the guy who does the human helicopter stunt, you gotta see it to believe it.  Then we walked south of the Museum into the park via the foot path before the 79th Street transverse (that's the path for the cars). You taken' this down?  Follow a winding path a little similar to the ones found in Alice in Wonderland.  You should end up at Belvedere Castle.  If you don't then you weren't paying attention.  Then go down the old steps to the left of the observatory of the castle and into a charming old country path with wood linked fences and benches.  Note: Do not chase the rabbit in the overcoat.  You should shortly find yourself in a beautiful butterfly garden.

Must Do: Take 70's LP cover-style pictures of yourself frolicking among the flowers in the sunlight.  
Find your way into the Ramble: we came across a fork in the road were there was a marsh and a nice old Japanese looking bridge and we took to the left.  Note: Do not go into the Ramble at night or by yourself especially if you are female.

We followed the Ramble to Bow Bridge where there were a band of angry squirrels collecting a bridge tax, only in New York, and we took more goofy pictures which I can't share.  
Follow the bridge and go to the left into the area known as Bethesda Fountain.  Either lounge about like the other lazies and watch the people go by or rent a row boat and test out your rowing skills.  We once ran aground almost had to abandon ship.  The turtles laughed and swam away shaking their arrogant little nubs at us.  My mom rowed us to safety.
As the sun was lowering we walked up the grand staircase and to the right making our way past the bright Imagine collage in Strawberry Fields where I always get the munchies. And we walked right out of the park, down 72nd street and end up at Gray's Papaya's.  Note to self:  Tourists don't get Gray's Papaya. They will wonder why on Earth you walked them ragged through the park just to get a cheap hot dog at a standing room only hole where the homeless ask you for change while you eat.  But you make'em do it anyway.

Central Park is the best park in the world.  I admit I haven't seen the whole world but I dare you to prove me wrong.

3.  I've never see the Statue of Liberty.  And on this trip I found that I still have no desire to see the Statue of Liberty.

4.  Trying to explain to a tourist that Hell's Kitchen is not all that bad anymore is a lost cause.  Just takem' there, run away and come back later.

5. Brooklyn Heights is my second home and if I could afford to live there, I would.  A note: Keep the tourists and their cameras away from the curtain less brownstone windows as they walk the Promenade.  People actually live there.  Yes, their decorating prowess is amazing, but we aren't peeping Toms.  

Must see and do: Shop and eat along Montague Street, especially the Chinese food at Andy's.

6. I don't even recognize my old neighborhood in Williamsburg anymore.  The Puerto Rican ghetto I grew up in now looks like Soho.  I am having all sorts of mixed emotions. Is this good or bad?  Either way I hear the music scene is now a great draw here.  Buildings have cropped up in all the old abandoned lots and I hear you don't have to duck, tuck and roll anymore.  The condemned McCarren pool is now open and the site of summer concerts?  There are trees lining the streets.  What is that all about?  One thing that hasn't changed is the food.  Whatever you want, at any time of day, just a minute away.

Must do: Explain the concept of duck, tuck and roll to a tourist. It was vital to survival back in the 80's and 90's.  Check out the concerts days of summer at the McCarren Pool.

7. We, the citizens of the five boroughs, DO NOT do karaoke.  You can't make us.  And there is a reason why there are only a handful of karaoke places and those are all in the Village.

But please DO: Visit the Caracas Arepa Bar in the East Village. Another delicious hole in the wall. 

8.  Sit in Madison Square Park across from the FlatIron Building and take black and white pictures.  
Note: Do teach the tourists how to jay walk. Preferably before you see them running and screaming across the street all the while being honked at by a angry yellow cab driver.  Taxi cabs don't brake.     They play chicken to win.  Beware.  BTW, the best roller coaster in NYC is a taxi cab ride.  Just tell them you are late.

9. Go to Washington Square Park, feed the pigeons and the black squirrels and eat at any or all of the restaurants in Bleeker Street.  Determine which is your favorite.  I love the cannoli's at Rocco's Bakery.

10. Buy and eat directly from the Union Square Farmers Market.  Have a cannoli breakfast at Ferrara's on Mulberry Street in Little Italy. Haggle a bag in Chinatown and take pictures of the plucked ducks and barrels of live frogs at the food markets.  Then buy steamed dumplings and try to eat them with chop sticks.  Take in all the giggles from the locals as a friendly sign.

The tourist wandered into Columbus Park where there was an spirited game of Majong going on.  When the locals caught on that there were strangers amongst them they stared them down and hid the money.  We caught up to them and saved our beloved tourists from being chased by an angry mob of senior citizens. Then we laughed endlessly about the fun adventure.

11.  Going up to see the Empire State Building's observatory is too expensive and a lot like going through airport security but on a clear day the view is beautiful.  Go at sunset and don't be afraid to elbow people out of the way for a good look.  Say excuse me and smile, of course.

12.  New York has some of the best beaches.  Surprise!!!

To see what I am talking about, get a car and drive out to Long Island on a Saturday in the summer.  Make sure you pass Jones Beach, it's always overcrowded although popular.  The beaches I'm talking about are worth the extra time behind the wheel.  I will keep my favorite spot secret till the day I drop dead.  But I hear Robert Moses is the best of the closer spots, $10 to enter till 4pm after which it is free.  Beaches in New York open on Memorial Day and close after Labor Day.