A quarter to eight

If you look at a clock you seldom ever pay much attention to the minute lines in between one and two. Nobody never really bothers to count the lines to make sure they know the exact time. It’s all an estimate. Whether or not your life has been good or bad is an estimate. If you take the time to look back you’ll soon realize that even if it hasn’t been la vie en rose[1] , it was at least entertaining.  Humor me while I recount some of the most seemingly frivolous parts of my life.

When I was four my father brought home our first computer. I was more than ready to learn its uses and functions. Unfortunately my father thought that I was too small to learn and decided to teach my nine year old brother instead. My questions went unanswered and I was blandly ignored various times. What was a girl to do? The answer was simple. My father was teaching my brother how to use it. In my mind if I just pulled a chair up and stayed quiet, I’d learn something without being “in the way.” This I did religiously. For every lesson my brother had I was right there. My presence went unknown while the men in the house played with the machine. Time went on and my brother was an “expert” on the internet. He decided to be nice and called me to play with it for a while. I remember vividly how he sat me down while he typed http://www.disney.com. Before my poor brother could tell me which button on the mouse to click, I was already with it in my hand and choosing a game by myself. I clicked and closed and switched back forth windows, all while my brother looked in sheer surprise/mind fuck. I remember his face: rejection was worth it.

When I was six I didn’t have a lot of friends because I wasn’t in school yet. My mother thought I deserved a childhood before throwing me into school, so pre-school for her was unnecessary. There was this one little girl who lived next door; she was so different from me. She had straight hair and white skin. I looked at my family (mother, brother, and father). They were all light skinned. I wondered why I was so dark. I thought my eyes were broken. I asked my mother if my eyes were broken, if I was really white and just couldn’t see it. She said “yes.” One day I was on the swings. I looked at my white dress and then my tan arms. What color was the freaking dress then? Something wasn’t right, I knew it. Why was I so different? Why couldn’t I be more like my friend? Then she walked up to me, I saw her bowl haircut knowing I could never have my hair like hers. I saw her pink cheeks knowing mines could never turn that hue. Then I remembered my eyes were broken.

When I was nine I was in the honor roll class of third grade. I guess my second grade teacher thought I was really smart (I was a master in computer skills by now). In this class I let myself loose. I talked to more class mates and never had a problem speaking in front of my peers. On the contrary, I loved it. With all that I don’t think my teacher appreciated my upfront attitude. She thought I was loud and talkative therefore not very productive. No amount of good grades proved her otherwise. Jesus, a classmate of ours, was different from me. In the sense that  he was lazy, had bad grades, and never participated. Despite all of that, he had the affection of our teacher. They were both Cuban immigrants (balseros)[2]. Jesus could do no wrong because she backed up all his flaws and follies. I don’t want to think she disliked me for being Dominican, despite making reference to my culture and nature. Maybe I wasn’t a good student. Jesus, bad English and all made it to the 4th grade honor roll class, I didn’t.

When I was fourteen I was staying at my aunt’s house in Dominican Republic because my own neighborhood was too boring and lonely for a newcomer. My parents would go visit me once a day which was fine by me because I felt an immense liberty. I would come and go as I pleased, with whom ever I pleased. My aunt (great-aunt to be exact) treated me like a princess. I genuinely love her with all my heart. She hadn’t seen me since I was two-weeks old so ignorance of my birthday went fine by me. I told everyone who walked in the door it was my birthday with this burst of joy. I was heading inside the house when my father had mistaken me for his niece and shouted “Sobrina”[3]. Its ok, he needed new glasses. After correcting him I stood there waiting for his own little burst of joy over my birthday. Five-minutes of silence didn’t refresh his memory. I guess liberty comes with its perks.

When I was nineteen I had grown close to one of my brother’s friends. My brother was no longer living in the same city as me so I was more at liberty to talk to his friends. Ever since I saw this boy I had a crush on him. The first thing I heard in DR was his voice through my bedroom window: he lived next to my grandmother’s house. This infatuation was never responded and over the years he became this unreachable person, almost like a celebrity to me. Each time he’d pass by I’d die a little bit inside. He would go over my house every day and every day I would sit nearby just to hear him laugh. Years had gone by and I had grown up and out. This he noticed. So we started talking, then dating. I realized I didn’t really like him. He was sweet and caring but not my type. The only thing I liked about him is that I wanted him for so long and finally had him. Without any pursuit or making so much as a peep he fell into my lap. He entered my life nonchalantly and out he went the same way. The heavens are truly overrated.

When I was twenty-one I read a book called “The Culture of Make Believe.” Our teacher warned us that the book would make us angry, sad, curious and all sorts of good stuff. In essence it was a hard to swallow book, at least according to him. Since we were encouraged to write our reaction to each chapter in our notebook, I, good student and all, complied. Something funny would happen when I would reach the next chapter: The author would somehow plagiarize my ideas.  This was strange in more than one way. Was I copying him? Were we a like? My goodness did this mean if I opened my mouth my ideas would be received as angry, sad, curious and all sorts of good stuff. So I made it my business to use the weekend to think and share my ideas with people. I’d rather be hard to swallow than easy to forget.

This morning at 7:45 am I missed my bus. I had an 8 am class and it would be at least 40 more minutes for the next bus to pass. Instead of walking around in circles wondering where to take another route, I walked inside of a McDonalds. I had never bought coffee there before but this morning I wanted one. I noticed before opening the door that the guy there was upset (maybe he isn’t a morning person). I smiled at him and ordered my coffee. I told him to make it how he likes his coffee. He smiled back. I left McDonalds the same way I walked in, with a smile on my face. I walked ten blocks until I reached the nearest bus stop. I walked those ten blocks like if it was Mr.Roger’s neighborhood. I didn’t rush one step; I never once looked at my clock. I kept saying to myself “I’ll get there when I get there.” At a quarter to eight this morning I decided that if the world was going to have such a fun time playing practical jokes on me I was going to start laughing with it. At a quarter to eight this morning I realized how amusing my life has been.

[1] La vie en rose is a popular French chanson that translates directly to “Life in pink.”

[2] Balsero is a Cuban immigrant who arrived by a small boat.

[3] Sobrina is niece in Spanish.



  1. Darline said,

    May 7, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    Ai Gigi you made me think of the times in my life lol. You’re the best!

  2. May 8, 2009 at 2:35 am

    Beautiful story, and so well written. I loved the way you explained your feelings regarding the boy you were crazy about..like a celebrity.

  3. Drake said,

    May 9, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Do it, live it, love it.

    Keep writing :D.

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