Five things I learned living in the east (and a bonus)

Five things learned living in the Northeast

When I put out my call for blog topic suggestions, one to the topics suggested was five lessons I’ve learned living in the east. As someone born and raised in LA (county and city), I had more than five quick observations.

1. Winter is long and a 40 degree day is nice.
Northeast winters aren’t actually about three months. It’s cold from November to April. Fall and spring are nice albeit rather short. I honestly didn’t have difficulty adjusting to cold weather, I just found it difficult to adjust to the fact that I’d be experiencing it for 5-6 months. Also, my scale of what is cold and what is nice/not that bad has totally shifted.

2. It’s easier to be a sports fan on the west coast.
Time zones suck. I lost sleep during the playoffs and World Series because so many games went into extra innings. I love my Dodgers, but I also need sleep!

3. Northeast states are tiny and geography is funny.
And west coast states are BIG. From LA I could drive five hours north or west and still be in California. If I drive five hours from Ithaca I’ll be in one of a few different northeast states or even Canada. I still find it funny that the quickest route from Ithaca to my MIL’s house in Long Island takes us through Pennsylvania, New Jersey and back to New York.

4. There’s a lot of diversity within Latinx and black communities.
In LA my world was dominated by people like me: mestizo Mexicans and Central Americans, often 1st or 2nd generation immigrants. Although I knew it existed, I didn’t critically think about the racial diversity within the Latinx community. My time in Ithaca has coincided with more awareness thanks to people on social media and podcasts.  I’ve become a lot more aware of anti black and anti indigenous sentiment among Latinx people and more specifically Mexicans. In my work I’ve seen this diversity somewhat. There are students who identify as Latinx and can pass as white, others who strongly identify as Afro Latino, and some who are like me.

My concept of who was black expanded beyond simply African American. In LA I knew some people who were immigrants or children of immigrants from African and Caribbean countries. In New York, that’s changed. I’m around my husband’s Jamaican family much more and at work I’m around many students who are 1st or 2nd generation immigrants from African or Caribbean countries.

5. We are on indigenous land.
Well, duh. I’ve known this. I knew there were Tongva springs just a few miles from UCLA and was well aware of the many indigenous tribes in California. However, there’s something about being surrounded by names and reminders that in many ways center the original peoples of this land. The first street we lived on was named Seneca, Ithaca sits at the foot of Cayuga Lake, and when I drove in to Syracuse I saw signs for the Onodaga reservation. Seneca, Cayuga and Onodaga are part of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (aka Iroquois Confederacy). In my role I’ve been around students and staff who begin meetings and other events with the reminder that the university is located in the traditional homelands of the Gayogohó:no (Cayuga Nation), one of the six Haudenosaunee nations. The other five nations are: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca and Tuscarora.

6. Bonus: Racism doesn’t stop at the Mason-Dixon Line.
Ithaca is a very liberal college town. Despite this, I’ve seen confederate flags in the city and just outside in the surrounding counties. It’s a bit jarring to see a pickup truck drive through the main route through town flying a giant flag on an otherwise nice Sunday. In Sean’s job he also comes across people with hats, shirts, and sweaters featuring the confederate flag. Of course, I know racism isn’t limited to regions or symbols. But I never expected that the first time I saw one of these signs in the wild would be in New York. I was wrong!


A life update

Coming back to blogging means having things to write about. I did what anybody living in 2019 does, I crowd-sourced topics through Instagram questions. I got a lot great ideas, promised I’d use my writing muscle and then I got stuck on how to tackle one of the topics:

Life update, career goings on, how [I] stay connected to Latinx roots away from fam.

Zoey and Lori

Of course that’s a few topics, but I thought I could easily knock out the life update post. And then I struggled with writing about the birth of my niece Zoey in August 2017. I’ve always been close to my sister Lori, but seeing her become a mother strengthened our relationship.

Zoey is a joy and I wish our kids could spend more time together. Zoey’s birth was the impetus for us to take a fall trip to meet her. I got to repay my sister in a little way for all the help and support she offered when Xavi and Archie were newborns. I wore her in the same sling ring I used with my kids too and got more than my share of newborn snuggles and chest naps.

Zoey baptism and padrinos

That was the first of four trips I’d take over the next eight months (1 solo, 3 with the family). We typically don’t get out that much just because flights are expensive, but we managed with help from friends and family and a little luck.


In March we visited for Zoey’s baptism. Sean and I had the honor of being her padrinos and it was a nice respite from the endless winter weather (we came back to snow). In April I got lucky and won a trip to LA during Mother’s Day weekend thanks to the Super Mamás podcast. The contest included a hotel stay in Downtown LA which Sean and I used for some time to ourselves.

Other things in the last 18 months:

Xavi and lego train

My kids insist on growing and checking off milestones. Xavi is now in kindergarten, has had a haircut (just one!) and is still all about trains.

Archie at 2.5

Archie is almost 2.5, has strong opinions and is way stronger than you think someone his size could be. With new milestones comes new challenges and opportunities for learning about this parenting thing.

I got to meet 20+ of the moms in my online mom group in LA last January. These women became friends as we all had babies due in summer 2016. They’re a great source of support and having some time to connect with friends was fun. During this trip I got to surprise my sister for her birthday which was amazing.

I stayed up way too late to watch the Dodgers in the World Series (twice). I should feel lucky just to be able to say this, but now I just want a championship. Being an LA sports team on the East coast is hard.

I’ve always been a fan of podcasts, but I used to be able to balance them with other forms of entertainment like books and music. That dropped off with my newfound interest in true crime podcasts. At least I can doodle and work on my bullet journal while listening.

After about four years in Ithaca I’m still trying to make it feel like home by finding my community (read: friends). I have made it a point to explore more of my surroundings and am slowly checking off things.


Sub zero

When I was in my early 20s I became good friends with a guy who was born and raised in Chicago. It was through him that I learned that what really gets you in the winter isn’t the actual cold, it’s the windchill.

Of course I had little knowledge of what that meant. I was from LA, land of 60 degree and sunny January. My Chicagoan friend called it summer and summer light.

Winter fun

But in my fourth and coldest upstate New York winter, I know what windchill means. I know that I can’t just look at the highs and lows. I need to know what it’ll feel like. Do I need to cover up my face like a ninja? Will the pea coat do or do I need the full-length down coat?

Today I was thankful for that coat, a gift from my in-laws the first Christmas after we moved. And for heat in my home and job. And daycare that was open on a day when local schools were closed due to the cold.

It’ll be cold until April. I’m used to that aspect, but hopefully I won’t need to break out the long coat much in the next few months.


Don’t call it a comeback

Winter piñata

Late 2017 I got the reminders to renew my domain registration. I didn’t do it. I couldn’t justify spending the money when I wasn’t doing any blogging. In 2017 I wrote less than 10 posts and they were all in June and July when I made a concerted effort to blog thanks to a challenge from some of the veteran bloggers I’ve come to befriend over the years.

So I let it lapse. I didn’t pay. I lost the domain name I had used since 2005 and removed the link from my social media handles. Occasionally I’d get questions and explain why I just went away.

But I missed what my blog represented. It wasn’t just about writing newer thoughts, but the archive represented the majority of my adult life. I could point to so many momentous occasions and go back to find the words and photos that I wrote to share that experience. I sometimes went in to the Wayback Machine and checked the posts that hadn’t disappeared in Feedly. I could still find everything with a little bit of work.

On a whim, I decided to import 8 years of posts. I forgot I still had access to a free WordPress site. It’s the one I set up in 2006 when I got hacked and ended up moving hosts. Once again, it’s here for me to share and go back to what I’ve loved.

There are tons of bad links and picture files that won’t load. I’ll try and fix those with time. But for now, I’m back. I guess I still have something to say.