Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sunday Learning – my history

Cuba is near and dear to my heart. I often say that I was born with Cuban blood on American soil because, indeed, I would have been born on La Perla de las Antillas had it not been for my family’s exodus. When I was younger, I dubbed myself Cubanito, a nickname that stuck among certain friend circles, and a name that still resonates with me. The history of the island and my family have always been of keen interest to me and I hope to one day write a book of short stories, essays, poems, and other forms of expression in order to capture my feelings. This book concept has been floating around in my mind for years, and I think the inspiration is ripe for action.

So now, naturally, I’m in research mode.

I wanted to learn a little bit about El Malecón. Before performing a quick search, I thought about what I already knew about it.

El Malecón is Cuba’s famous seaside avenue, first named Avenida del Golfo, and now named Avenida de Maceo. It runs for 5 miles along the northern coast of Havana and is a popular destination for locals, especially those with less means, as a way to seek out entertainment and as a popular fishing spot. One website referred to it as an “outdoor lounge” of sorts, which fits the image I’ve always envisioned. Wikipedia yielded some additional information, most importantly a link to a Spanish-language encyclopedia source that I found even more illuminating: Malecón Habanero , via Ecu Red. I’ll be investigating this source more in the coming months as I continue my research.

Quick bit: for those using PCs, click here to access symbol codes. I can remember Alt + 164 (on the number pad) for obvious reasons, but the rest seem to slip away.


Sunday Learning

Today I learned about something fascinating, and was reminded about someone extraordinary.

A patron at the library came to me and told me about his father, Leo Leoncio Rojas Cruzat, who was a famous cartoonist in Chile. The conversation began with him asking me about devices that had access to Photoshop, and continued with his telling me about the project he was working on – digitizing a book his father had begun, preserving the history of an illustrious career. He showed me a photo of his father Walt Disney, who had apparently traveled to Santiago to meet Leo, as well as a digitized version of the signatures of the Alianza de Dibujantes de Chile (The Alliance of Chilean Cartoonists), that included Mr. Disney’s signature. According to his son, Mr. Rojas Cruzat’s work was apolitical, and free of any sort of discrimination, and could be read by anyone, regardless of their age. His son’s plan is to digitize his father’s work, and so his goal was to use Photoshop to touch up the portions of his father’s archives to which time has not been kind. I sincerely hope he is able to publish this work, and will periodically check online to see when this testament to a creative legacy can be appreciated by everyone.

Today’s Google Doodle featured a beautiful illustration commemorating what would have been the 122nd birthday of María Rebecca Latigo de Hernández. The name rung a bell for me, and with good reason – the Mexican Civil Rights Activist was an outspoken champion of equality, dedicating her life to end school segregation and to ensuring that Mexicans knew their rights. The timing of this dedication is perfect, especially in light of the crisis facing many immigrants today. Who will succeed in her legacy as a powerful orator and a voice for the voiceless?

What interesting things have you learned about recently? What ideas have fascinated you? Share them in the comments.

An audiobook you can’t miss

I struggled with an audiobook earlier this summer: Michael Scott’s The Alchemyst felt more like a slog than a book that, given all of its elements, should have been right up my alley. Such has not been the case with The 5th Wave.

I’m about 1/3 of the way into it, and I’m absolutely captivated. Yesterday I stayed in my car to finish a chapter, and even listened to it while making a fire pit and handling some other yeardwork (and now I can’t help but think of the terrifying descriptions of the various waves that hit every time I look at the round pit.*) The 2 voices read with conviction and sound like real teenagers would sound, without pandering.

Long has this nontraditional alien invasion novel been on my to-read list, and I’m happy that I’ve waited until now. It’s no doubt a page turner, but this audiobook has me hankering to find time to listen; I’ll even admit that I raged against the midday sun yesterday so I could at least be productive while I listened.

The story itself is quite original, referencing other alien invasion stories and proving its uniqueness time and time again. It’s almost like an alien invasion version of The Walking Dead, only told through the eyes of believable teenagers. The protagonists are not remorseless heroes, but young adults who happen to have witnessed atrocities and world-shattering events, and are forced to grow up too quickly. Difficult choices are not easy, and the loss of loved ones are not overcome in tidy ways. The elements of the alien invasion are solid science fiction, regardless of your age, and really are quite scary.

Suffice it to say I can’t wait to get back to my car to listen!


*Like I said, I was mowing the yard while listening, and even went towards an oft-neglected section just beyond the fence. It was like I was encountering a wasteland while I listened to Cassie describe the various waves, especially the 3rd wave. Gruesome. But when Cassie and her family got to the survivor’s camp, I got to the thickest, most neglected portion of the yard, and noticed a fleeing praying mantis. I worked hard and successfully avoided killing it, but I couldn’t help but notice the similarity to the novel – I was the big green eye in the sky, it represented humanity in the novel.  The terrain I was working on, however, was just too eerily similar to the feeling that gripped me while listening.

I’ll also go ahead and throw this out there – I paused while walking Marice for her pre-bed break when I heard a low hum overhead. Creepy.

Back @ It

Summer is (essentially) here again. The school year hasn’t quite finished, so in teacher lingo summer is just around the corner; the weather would prove that the season has indeed arrived. For me, however, the start of summer is marked by a return to Chapel Hill Public Library as a summer employee. It’s only the first shift of the summer, but I hope to make this a yearly tradition – part-time work means extra money and a continual drive to manage my free time towards the pursuit of my passions.

So, to kick things off I’ll keep this brief.

Here’s a (partial) list of books I plan to read and activities I plan to pursue, in no specific order: Continue reading Back @ It

Summer of Gaiman

Summer has yielded something unexpected for me – additional responsibility! I’m working a part-time, temporary position at the Chapel Hill Public Library while also raising and training a puppy – Marcie (pictures to follow). Oddly enough, these new layers of time restrictions have helped motivate me to read even more, to eek out time and use all my resources to read as much as possible!

Thanks to my public library position I’ve taken advantage of Overdrive, and now, on my 15 minute drives to work and my multiple walks of the aforementioned fur baby, I can enjoy books while my hands are busy. Ms. Marcie Monster has also taken quite well to a morning routine that suits my need to read: wake up crying for a walk, come back inside and spaz out in the second bedroom, eat her breakfast, and then pass out. What has this meant for yours truly? Reading time.

And it’s in those morning hours, as well as my customary half hour or so before sleep whisks me away, that I devoured two of Gaiman’s classics: American Gods and The Ocean at the End of the Lane.  Neverwhere was my first foray into Gaiman, and I was hooked ever since. Friends and strangers had recommended him to for years and years prior, and I quickly understood why. I followed that with his Sandman series, and although I haven’t finished it yet, I found enough of myself in it that I plan on inking his countenance on my back once the money and the perfect image make themselves available.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane found its way onto my online body via a series of quotes on Instagram.  I really could have flooded my profile with page after page from the text, but at some point quoting and praise infringes upon copyright enough that my librarian soul knows I’m doing the wrong thing. Magical realism, fairy tales, and the imaginative sheen of childhood observations* color this story. Equally appropriate for adults and teenagers, Ocean allows for interplay between memory, dreams, and interpretation, something that either of the aforementioned audiences would have the life experience to appreciate. American Gods, a tale of the old gods fearing replacement by the new gods to whom we dedicate so much time, thrilled me with its intricate network of myths pulled into the modern era – a bleaker, grittier Percy Jackson, although that comparison barely does it justice. The protagonist, Shadow, is a man between multiple worlds: prison and freedom; the past and the future; his memories and reality; the old gods and the new. Each of these is a layered duality, and inexorably connected to each of the others. Prison, for instance, is one of the mind and the body, and incarceration in the form of actual jail, servitude, debts, and a contrite perspective on past decisions serves as but one of the vehicles of his journey.

*This post was left as a draft somehow. :/ July 17th was the original writing date. Whoa! Well, time to resume my writing.

Summer Reading!

It’s been a busy summer! Between training a puppy, working at the wonderful Chapel Hill Public Library, and getting some wedding planning done, you would think (or I thought, when I realized how much time puppy training would take) that I’d have no time to read! Happily I was mistaken.

I’ve had the most rewarding experiences reading this summer, and have even found time to work on my writing. Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and The Ocean at the End of the Lane made my list, and I was elated to find myself wrapped up in his fantastical worlds, laden with messages that hit surprisingly close to him despite the fantastic circumstances. The Girl with All the Gifts, a read inspired by the upcoming film’s trailer’s “Based on the book by…”, was surprisingly entertaining, and a fresh take on zombies just when I thought the monsters had reached their over-saturation point. Continue reading Summer Reading!