Attitude is everything

I remember when I got a shirt from my Dad’s work, he used to work for Successories, that said just that, “Attitude is Everything.”

That holds true in almost every single situation in life, not controlling the outside world which is impossible, but how we see and respond to it. If you constantly think that the worse is going to happen it will, if you believe in the power of positive thinking it will also have an effect in your life.

I have been scared this week with the impending prognosis of my ear condition, but I have stayed positive. With the help of my wife, family and friends I have been casting doubt out and in the end what is the worse that can happen? Being deaf? I already started to learn sign language in the past and I am sure I can learn to read lips. While I don’t believe that will be the outcome, I know that there are plenty of people leaving in this world that are deaf and are completely happy.

My trip to Colombia was once again life changing. I saw how people with a lot less than I have seem to be much more content and that gave me hope. I know with a great attitude I can make people smile, now I just have to be positive a let that be the driver of my life. I believe there is a God and that to him nothing is impossible.

Colombian restaurant again

Having blogger friends is awesome, Toast gave me a little information @ last weeks meet up that has made Kansas City my favorite city again, El Rincon Colombian its still Colombian owned.

When Bea and I had the shock of being greeted by “Banda” when we entered the Colombian restaurant in our last visit there, I was devastated. I have nothing against Mexican brass music, I even like some of it and will dance to it… but it is like walking into your favorite piano bar and being faced with a dude playing the banjo.

A lot of the traditional Colombian plates require either a deep fryer or long preparation. While I have made some of those dishes from scratch before, it becomes a game of picking which ones you have time to do.

Back in Chicago my Mom gets together with my sister and they make awesome Empanadas, but they take them hours of preparations to do. The only thing Bea and I get to do at home in a regular basis is Arepas, which we got Mike addicted to during his visit here.

Having a place where I can go and satisfy a craving for comfort food from my country is important. One of the many reasons why living in Michigan sucked so much was the lack of good restaurants, specially not a Colombian one unless you drove all the way to Chicago.

Think about living in a country, I know Melinda can probably relate, and craving good old KC BBQ and baked beans, or even just a plain old thick cheeseburger with fries. Just the cornbread made here in the US is completely different than anywhere in the world. Think of not being able to be reduced to craving Dominos pizza because it is the only thing available overseas that is even close to what you are used to savoring when you think pizza.

I am happy to inform you all the the owner is back from being out of town. It is a new owner, but he is Colombian and was out of the country getting married. He apologized for my experience when I went to visit my favorites spot on the west side, and assured me that he will take care of us if we go back as a blogger group again. Wookie does not know it, but he will be dragged out there soon, and I know Average Jane is ready for a trip back, we need to set that up… but just let me know when you are ready to get your Colombia fix.

FREEDOM

Imagine that the crazy Michigan Militia was not just the bunch of nutbags that produced Timothy McVeigh, but an organized guerrilla group that had taken control over the whole state of Michigan.

Then imagine that a presidential hopeful, and even though I want to use Hilary but I do not find her as eloquent or as loved as maybe Obama is, is kidnapped for 7 years. Then imagine the U.S. military rescuing the presidential candidate along with 14 other people that had been kidnapped without firing a single shot. That is what happened yesterday in Colombia. No big Hollywood production with a Rambo mowing over rebels left and right, just a well planned operation were everyone left alive.

Que Viva Colombia, Que viva la Libertad!

Missing home

When I say that I miss home, I refer to Chicago the most. That is where I have spent most of my time as a reasoning being. Even though I spent my childhood in Colombian, most of my forming years were spent in the U.S.

While that makes me very American in some of my thinking and the way I approach things, I never forget my heritage or where I come from. When I came home every night from school, I remember that Colombian food was always on the table. The weekend barbecues always had Colombian music playing in the background, and it was even here in the U.S. that my Mom taught me how to really dance Salsa and Merengue.

I am Colombian, that is where my roots are and it has been five years since I have been back to my country.

The first time I took a trip back I had to go visit the grave of my best friend who died in a tragic car accident. The last time I took a trip down, my Grandpa was sick… this time he is no longer with us and I will most likely go visit his grave. That was one of my biggest fears about going back, that people would have changed so much or just not be with us anymore.

Life is about that, it is about that change. Two of my closest friends are pregnant right now and the cycle of life begins once again. Our families seem to shrink and grow with every passing year, and life continues its course.

I am not nostalgic, I am very excited about the trip I am about to take to Colombia in the coming months. I am visiting my country of origin with my wife, someone that happens to be from the same city I am from, someone that I met here in North America but with the same South American roots I have. I get to meet her family for the first time and make my family instantly double.

I admire the people that move away and come back to the place they were born, I even admire those that stay right where they started. I feel a kinship with those that have moved away and had to adopt other ways of living, because it is not an easy thing to do. The world alien bothered me at first when I moved to the U.S. but slowly but surely it felt very fitting to what I experienced when I got here. I am not an American and not an alien anymore, but I still hold my days as a non English speaker close to my heart.

Even though Kansas City is slowly becoming our new home faster than any other place I have been, I still say I am from Chicago or Colombia. Having great friends come into my life make that transition to calling this place home a lot easier… at the same time harder to leave if we ever chose to do that in our (my – my wife thinks she is a penguin) quest to live with no snow.

I am missing home, I am missing Colombia, partly because my little escape place has been taken way… but mostly because I cannot way to be back there to see so many people that I have not seen in a long time… it has been more than 15 years since I saw some of my classmates… even 20 when you count the grade school ones.

Stuff White People Miss

I have been laughing at Stuff White People Like for like a month now. The site is pretty hilarious and IMHO very well written. I would give you some of my favorite posts, but I think it is worth just reading several of them if you have the chance. Reading that site has made me think of one of the first essays I wrote in my first English class. People that do not associate with other races miss a lot. So after a weird conversation with a couple of Mexicans I decided to write, Stuff White People Miss.

To most people in the US, Mexico is just a dirt down south of the border where you can go see a donkey show. It is also the place everyone runs to when the law is on your tail. Some more sophisticated individuals have actually travelled to our friend to the south and been to Cancun or Puerto Vallarta and think it is an awesome vacation destination and they could totally see themselves living there. What people don’t realize is that the country is huge and it has many different groups of people. Just like the people on the coasts look at midwesterners, people from the capital aka Chilangos look at the rest of Mexico.

One little known fact about hispanics is that overall people from different countries have stereotypes about each other. It goes from the joke that Colombians are just drug dealers to the point of not associating with each other because of their country of origin. When living in Chicago I was told a reason Puerto Ricans do not like Mexicans is because they come to work for lower wages, Puerto Ricans being American citizens take that very personally because someone in their family might have lost a job in the past. Mexican people are not the bad guys of this post, but they do seem to be center stage. I think it is mostly because it is the predominant country of origin that people think of when you say hispanic.

We buy calling cards to make calls to Colombia. It is cheaper than have a plan through a phone carrier still. It is almost a fun trading card game to see which one will give you more actual time when you are making a phone call. I ask the attendant at the store which one is working better recently and most of the time he will have a suggestion.

While waiting in line to buy my card a group of Chilangos was in front of me. They kept on looking back and later I found out that I looked a lot like one of their brothers… not sure if that was true or not. I am not sure why but they thought I was from Guadalajara. I took it as a compliment because the people from Guadalajara I have met have been pretty nice, but I am not sure it could have been an insult. They were young and were just being very open about what they said. I corrected them and told them I was from Colombia and this is when the difference between white people and hispanics begin.

Even the most ignorant person in the US has seen a couple of movies that tells them that Colombians are the drug dealers of the movie world. Just like the Russians are the nuclear arms dealers and the British are the cunning villains. Colombians worst representation comes from Scarface where they are portrayed as savages that want to use a chainsaw on Al Pacino.

The hispanic world has a “better” source for information, Telemundo. There Colombians are painted as violent kidnappers that will kill you if you look at them wrong. While it is true that Colombia has its issues and it is dealing with the FARC, most of its people is very removed from kidnappers, murderers and drug dealers.

The Chilangos took a couple of steps back almost looking scared and started joking about how they should be careful or they would get kidnapped. It was half joking, half kind of ignorant behaviour but I did not do much more than just smile. They confirmed they were Chilangos and told me I look a lot like one of their brothers.

Its funny when people put all of hispanics or even every Mexican into one stereotype box. Even within Colombian there are many cities and we are not all alike. If you like, or dislike me it means nothing when you talk to another Colombian. Even though we might have a lot of values in common, we could also have nothing in common. I just would love for people to drop the labels and start looking at people in an individual basis, but I guess that is still kind of a crazy dream at this point.

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