Browse Author: sunnyglobaldiva

We can’t be friends.

In early January, I logged into Facebook and noticed the status of my good friend “M” that struck a chord. She said:

Trying to remind myself that just because a cause is important for me, it doesn’t mean it will automatically be important to my friends. And that their choices are their own even if they go against my fundamental beliefs and I have to respect their decisions, but it’s not easy.

Hers is an astute statement, and one of the most important truths one can–and arguably must–face about one’s friends and relatives. But it seems to be getting harder and harder. We are more unapologetic than ever about our standards and beliefs; we hold our ideals close to our hearts more fiercely than ever. So where does that leave a friendship when one party makes a move or statement that completely goes against the other’s ethics and standards?

My friend M is a staunch defender of animals. She is adoptive mother to a beloved rescue dog to whom she devotes much care and affection; she also uses much of her free time to further the cause of mistreated animals, always encouraging people to adopt animals if they are looking to grow their clan with four-legged cuties. After M posted her Facebook status, she later explained her sadness and frustration to me privately: on a day that she was running an adoption event for rescued dogs, one of her best friends went to the mall, and decided on a whim to buy a dog from a pet shop that sources its dogs from puppy mills, hence promoting and perpetuating inhumane treatment of animals. Sadly, this friend has volunteered at some of M’s animal rescue events, and is aware of the shop’s bad practices. So the friend posted pics of the new puppy on Facebook, and M, surprised to see the new dog, messaged her and said, ‘pleeease tell me you adopted the puppy.’ Friend’s response: ‘Oh, sorry girl, we were in the mall and it was a spur of the moment thing.’ For M, the spur of the moment aspect is one of the worst things about the whole situation, being that most people get cats and dogs on the “spur of the moment” then get fed up with the work several months later and get rid of them, contributing to an already uncontrollable situation for animal shelters. I feel my friend’s pain: that flaky buy-and-ditch behavior with animals has soured me on several people I know personally.

To M, the treatment of abused animals is wholly important and an issue of ethics and morality; to her friend, it’s kind of nothing. Where do you draw the line? After all, this wasn’t a disagreement about where to eat for dinner. When you truly don’t see eye to eye with a close friend or relative about something that “counts,” are you able to forget the difference of opinion easily? In the spirit of honesty, I admit that I can’t get past certain differences, even with people I love. For instance: I have felt a dramatic roller-coaster-stomach-dropping sense of disappointment during conversations that revealed certain friends of mine to be genuine bigots. Did I begin to feel a toxic hatred for them? No, because I don’t like to feel toxic hatred for people, but the truth is that I never thought of them in the same way again, and I ended up distancing myself emotionally from those friends. Was this judgmental and harsh of me? Should I have tried to change my former friends’ minds? I’m not a confrontational person, so that wouldn’t have been my style. Should I have had a mindset of “friends can disagree, let’s move past this”? That wouldn’t have worked for me–my memory’s too clear to ignore and forget that type of thing.

My friend M? Though thoroughly disappointed in her friend’s on-a-whim pet store purchase, she didn’t want to dampen her buddy’s happiness and excitement of having a new puppy in the house, so instead of criticizing, she chose to insist that her friend put the dog in training school to avoid a future “this dog’s out of hand” situation. She also offered to lend her books on dog-rearing. Her friend didn’t show interest. In the weeks that have passed since that day, she has not had any further contact with her friend, and confesses that she can’t help but feel disengaged from the relationship.

What constitutes a deal-breaker for you in a friendship? Are you able to disregard major differences with your friends?

**Photo: “We’re not friends anymore” by JMParrone

Thank you, John Barry.

I woke up this morning to a tangible sense of loss upon hearing of the passing of the great John Barry. This composer’s music (and a composer is what he is–we needn’t qualify the title with descriptions like “film” or “movie” or “soundtrack”) has been an integral part of my life since I was a little girl. Most of my favorite composers have been dead for 200 years, give or take a few; Barry, though of a different generation from mine, is a contemporary–his passing affects me differently. I’ve known and loved his music for as long as I can remember, and felt excited that music of this caliber was written in my lifetime. There is not a single instance that listening to his music didn’t move me, melt me or amaze me. My husband knows better than to try to strike up any conversation with me when I’m listening to “We Have All the Time in the World,” or the theme from Frances, or the Dances with Wolves soundtrack or his great jazzy 90s album, The Beyondness of Things. As with all great music, none of this is background noise; listening to it is the activity and the goal. Zulu, Midnight Cowboy, Goldfinger, From Russia with Love, among dozens of others…his contribution to music and film will be fondly treasured.

For some biographical info and a nice little tribute to Barry, check out this article posted on The Guardian’s website, “John Barry: The composer who was as pop as The Beatles.”

When Convenient Is Inconvenient: Smartphones

I’m not someone who changes her gear all the time. The iPod Mini that my husband gave me for my birthday the first year that we started dating still looks brand new today six years later; I’ve had my laptop for over four years; I patiently used the same bright pink Motorola RAZR cellphone for over four years before finally making the switch to an iPhone. I love my phone and all that is has to offer, but the truth is that its “conveniences” and features sometimes….inconvenience me.

1.) I forget to reply to emails. I don’t forget to read emails–the phone’s with me at all times, so I have access to all my email accounts. But for the sakes of good posture, occasional arthritis in the hands and politeness should I be in the company of others, I don’t reply to emails from my phone. I don’t want to sit there hunched over typing out long messages on the phone, so I tell myself, “I’ll respond to that later.” Unfortunately, the reality is that I’ve already read that email and mentally mulled it over, so I end up forgetting to respond later because I feel like I’ve already “dealt” with it, so to speak.

2.) (This one’s an iPhone issue not necessarily relevant to other smartphones) I’m married to iTunes, for better and most often worse. I like iTunes; it serves its purpose. It lets me buy songs without having to buy entire albums. But I hate having all my goods tied to one program that gets more and more restrictive with each iTunes “update.” Yes, I know iTunes lets you register up to four computers and blah blah blah. Still a pain. I don’t know how many times I’ve been one click away from sending the 5,600 songs on my iPhone (roughly 1,000 of which were purchased on iTunes) into oblivion after hooking up my phone to a computer.

3.) Instant communication. Convenient. And not. My husband has a Blackberry, so he gets instant messages (BBMS) all day, making communication as instantaneous as a live chat program. We both hate it. Who wants to be accessible at all hours of the day? The worst part about it? The phone tells the sender that the recipient received and opened the message, so if he doesn’t respond within 55 seconds or so, there’s this drama of “I know you got my message! I know you read it! Why haven’t you responded yet?!”

4.) A phone, mp3 player, daily planner, computer, game machine, eBook reader, address book & phone book all in one. My phone has everything I need. In fact, it has lots of life-or-death information, the loss of which would send me up that fabled creek without a paddle should I be without it at some point. It’s nice to have all my important info compiled into one machine. Unfortunately, if I forget that machine at home one day, or if it runs out of battery, I’m screwed because I rarely write down dates, directions, phone numbers and addresses anymore. On the contrary, my smartphone is a way for me to carry a less-cluttered purse–I no longer have to carry a planner and an address book (I confess that I still carry a notebook). But there’s obviously still a need for these tried-and-true items. Phones get forgotten at home. They get lost and stolen. Battery power runs out. 3G and 4g and WiFi give out in plenty of spots. Then what?

5.) Last but not least, this isn’t really the phone’s fault, but my own–the hundreds of conveniences themselves all bundled into one tiny little hand-held machine makes my smartphone, well, something that’s impossible to do without these days. I love that when I’m on my way to somewhere, I can whip out the phone and use some sort of GPS to get me there. I love that when I’m at the wine shop, I can look up a bottle and read about a vintage. I love that I can look up the nutrition of a menu item before ordering it at a restaurant. I love that looking up a phone number or an address takes 3.5 seconds. I love having Facebook and Twitter at my fingertips. But the fact is that I’m too plugged in. The convenience of having Google at my fingertips is driving me insane, and making me feel like I’m ultra-connected…to things I don’t really want to be connected to. But like I said, this isn’t the phone’s fault, but my own.

Hopefully we'll start to see giant smartphones set up in public parks and on the streets, for those times when our phones go dead. Photo credit below.

Photo Credits:
Photo #1: Cell Phone by daryl_mitchell
Photo #2: World’s largest cell phone by alice_mercer

Separate beds, please.

The husband and I arrived recently at a hotel for a quick getaway. We got to our hotel room, and he sighed, confessing that he regrettably forgot to ask for a king bed; this room had two queen beds. I shrugged and replied, “Eh, so what? No biggie.” Truth be told, his regret was a bit perfunctory. We’re married–we sleep in the same bed. All the time. It’s nice to make use of the two beds and sleep separately every now and then.

My mother-in-law finds it hilarious that when we visit her in Canada, my husband sleeps in his old bedroom, and I sleep in his brother’s old bedroom. I like my brother-in-law’s old room better; it’s where I slept during my visits while my husband and I were dating and while we were engaged–we weren’t married yet, so sleeping in the same bed would have elicited inescapable disapproval from the in-laws. Well, I got used to “my room” over the years and it’s the only place I’ll sleep when I go on my twice-a-year visits to the Great White North. My husband hates his brother’s old room. “I hate Cris’s mattress,” he often tells me. “It hurts my back. I’m gonna sleep in my room.” I chuckle and respond, “It’s fine! You know I don’t mind. Why are we even discussing this?” See, in the beginning after we got married, we used to have that same song and dance when we visited as husband and wife: I was adamant about sleeping in my brother-in-law’s room, and my husband adamantly refused. We didn’t want to hurt each other’s feelings. Fortunately, we’re open with each other and agreed that sleeping separately sometimes doesn’t mean we have a doomed marriage or that we don’t like each other’s company. Rather, it means getting to stretch out completely once in a while. It means that he can watch TV until late while he falls asleep (I dislike TV in the bedroom), and I get to enjoy reading until very late in peaceful quiet (he dislikes silence).

So sleeping in two beds when two beds present themselves may be funny, but it’s not weird. It doesn’t mean we have poor communication, or a relationship rife with insecurity. We like to think of it as a rare opportunity to get the type of cryogenic sleep that we used to get as teenagers before we were saddled with life’s tough decisions and challenges. Separate beds? Yes, please. Every now and then.

People with significant others, do you ever sleep separately by choice?

**Photo credit: Two of absolutely everything except the cat and the wall at grandpa’s house in florida by boltron

Haitian superstitions

I discussed superstitions on my blog once many moons ago–I find the history of how different ones came about fascinating. All cultures and countries have them; my motherland is no exception. Some are hilarious and appear random. Some are probably the result of some idiot’s action-gone-awry (#11) Some had purpose: clearly devised to protect overworked, under-cared-for slaves and maids (see numbers 2 and 4, maybe 5). Some were undoubtedly born of a harsh time when untimely death was an everyday occurrence (#7). However outdated superstitions seem, they are an indelible part of a culture’s psyche and personality; that is to say whether tragic, silly, or humorous, all of these listed below are quintessentially Haitian in spirit. And if you’ve spent any time on that one-of-a-kind island, you know that tragedy, silliness and humor all abound.

A Dozen Superstitions Many Haitians Grew Up Hearing About

1.) Don’t walk around with only one shoe on; doing so will bring about your mother’s death.
2.) The floor mustn’t be swept at night; if done so, the mother of the head of household will die.
3.) Don’t crawl on your knees or walk on your knees, or your mother will die.
4.) Don’t eat the top of a watermelon or a grapefruit; if done, the mother of the head of household will die.
5.) Don’t sweep at a person’s feet; the person whose feet get brushed by the broom won’t get married.
6.) Don’t point at a rainbow–doing so will bring you much bad luck.
7.) Don’t attend your child’s funeral, or you’ll bury more of your children.
8.) Don’t gift someone a handkerchief or knife–the hankie will make him cry, and the knife will cause some misfortune. If someone gives you one of these things, then you have to give him/her money to symbolically turn the gift into a voluntary purchase.
9.) When you cook cornmeal or rice, expand your cheeks with air so that the food in the pot will also increase and multiply.
10.) Don’t put things down with your left hand, or you’ll forget where you put it.
11.) Don’t cut your nails on Fridays, or you’ll cut skin under the nails too.
12.) Don’t point with your index finger at a fruit-bearing tree; the fruit you’re pointing at will be a good-for-nothing, bad fruit. I actually did this quite innocently as an adult some years back–I pointed at my aunt’s lychee tree while asking her a question about it, and she actually slapped my arm and said, ‘What are you doing?!?

Any superstitions you’re familiar with? Care to speculate on the origins of some above? Please share!

My sister--a young birthday celebrated in Haiti. Hope that knife wasn't a gift!

Haitian eats

Because we’re nearing the one-year-later mark of my motherland’s massive earthquake, I’ve decided to make this week’s blog posts Haiti-centric. I’ll begin with the all-important subject of food. I love my people, but admit that a majority (not all, but many) are close-minded about non-Haitian food. When feeding baby-boomer-aged Haitians, there may be a spread on your table large enough to feed Alexander the Great’s army, but if there are no Haitian dishes on there, you may as well have a table full of marshmallows. The other stuff isn’t “real food.”

Thanksgiving ’09, one of my aunts came over. “Lise made the turkey this year,” my mom told her, gesturing towards my roasted bird in an offering manner. My aunt’s response: “OH! Ou konnain mwen pa nan ‘turkey breast’ sa! Mwen pote oun ti dinde en sauce pou ou!” (‘Oh! You know I don’t eat that roasted turkey breast. I brought you some Haitian dark meat turkey fried in sauce, though!’)

Another occasion:
Me: “I’m thinking of doing a brunch.”
Mom: “What’s your menu?”
Me: Some pancakes and a compote, a quail-egg-tomato-cheese pastry recipe that I want to try, some breakfast meats, some hot chocolate from scratch, maybe some smoked salmon or trout…”
My mom: “I’ll make a riz cole.” (Haitian rice with red beans)
Me: “That’s okay, mom. I’m trying to stick to breakfast foods…”
My dad: “Il faut un riz. Mummy fera un riz.” (‘There must be rice. Mom will make a rice.)

I get it. Haitian food is great, so I’ve taken the liberty of compiling some of my favorite Haitian eating spots in the South Florida area that I feel are well worth checking out. Don’t expect smiling service, chatty employees, high-gloss marble floors,  the safest neighborhoods, or that the meat you want will always be in stock; do expect generous portions of good Haitian food. Please feel free to add to the list, whether you’re in South Florida or not! Happy eating!

Chez Le Bebe (114 NE 54th St., Miami, FL, 33137)
A spot in Little Haiti. Excellent deep-fried whole snapper, paired with banan peze (fried plantains). Has good downhome Haitian fare, i.e. legume (stewed veggies), griot (fried pork chunks), stewed goat, stewed beef. Dishes come with beans, rice and fried plantains.

Chez Madame John’s Restaurant (975 NE 125th St., North Miami, FL, 33161)
Favorites here: griot (seasoned fried pork chunks); turkey and goat tasso (fried turkey, fried goat);  poisson gros sel (which translates into fish with rock salt); this dish is poached whole fish–usually either snapper or kingfish– with sour orange and seasonings; they use snapper here.

Tap Tap Haitian Restaurant (819 5th St., Miami Beach, FL 33139)
A well known Miami Beach fixture. Haitian art all over the walls, ultra colorful, feels like Haiti. Their menu boasts plenty of traditional Haitian dishes, like akra (malanga fritters), kabrit nan sos (stewed goat), and stuff like corn, chicken, goat and conch prepared boukannen (over charcoal)– the way you’d find it on the street by a vendor or shoreside at the beach in Haiti. Also one of the only Haitian spots that serves spaghetti–spageti kreyol avec aranso (Creole spaghetti with herring)–which plenty of people in Haiti cook at home, but just about never serve in restaurants. Dear husband loves spice, and loves this dish, but he couldn’t finish it–mouth and body were literally on fire.

Chef Creole Seafood Takeout (200 NW 54th St., Miami, FL)
Well known for their Haitian seafood dishes: conch, lobster, fish, shrimp–stewed, fried, steamed, etc. Featured and well liked by Anthony Bourdain in his “No Reservations” series, Chef Creole’s chef/owner was hamming it up like crazy with Bourdain’s cameras around.

Haitian eats

*Photo by Kthread

Misadventures in the kitchen

Many express frustration over difficulties in cooking and baking. Not surprising–we put so much stock in food and when it doesn’t turn out, there’s either disappointment, shame, embarrassment, or self-doubt (I usually experience some combination of these).

Such kitchen-failure-induced self-hatred is unwarranted, of course. Any number of things can mess up your food. Sometimes, the culprit is an outsider of the backseat-driving kind. This past Thanksgiving, my husband and I were preparing the turkey, as we’ve done for the past few years. My mother and one of my aunts kept expressing doubt over our cooking method, even though it’s tried and true, is well-liked, and is often requested for social gatherings. Worried that I intended to serve raw bird to the family, my aunt kept insisting that we “check to see whether it’s cooking properly,” which elicited an eyeroll from me several times. “I’ll check it at 11:00, it’ll have been roasting long enough by then, stop worrying” I reassured her several times. My husband and I ran out to the store to buy something and when we came home, we found the turkey with a big gaping hole where my aunt had decided to cut into it during my absence without my permission, the roasting pan now full of liquid–the precious juices that had completely run out of the bird, never to go back in. I was livid, and didn’t look at or speak to her for the rest of the afternoon.

Sometimes, the culprit is you. Sometimes you just…overthink it. Way too much. Two weeks ago at my book club meeting, my best friends and I were laughing hysterically and gasping for breath, listening to our dear Monica tell us about her recent baking disaster. She wanted to cheer up her husband who had been under a lot of stress lately, so she decided to make him cookies. She bought ready-to-bake dough and some big I LOVE U shaped cookie cutters. She laid out her supplies and studied them. Red flag #1: (which she was not aware was a red flag at all) she had three packs of the wrong kind of dough–the one pictured below, which is already perforated and cut into rows for pull-apart-and-bake-right-away action:

Though she didn’t realize she had the wrong kind of cookie dough for cookie cutter use, she did figure that this already-perforated dough had to be altered in some way to fit her vision. Her solution? She opened the three packs of dough and balled and kneaded them all together to make a giant, perforation-free ball of dough.

Problem #2: The cookie cutters…. What do you do with them? How do you use them? Monica thought the issue over and over. Her (over)thinking led to the conclusion that cookie cutters are meant to be used as molds. That is to say, shapes that ought to be filled with dough. Satisfied with her thought process, she placed the giant cookie cutters on a baking sheet and began to stuff them with chunks of the dough. Once the three cutters were completely filled with cookie dough (roughly thirty-six-cookies-worth), she carefully removed the cutters, doing her best not to mess up the tall I-LOVE-U shaped stacks of dough. She popped them into the oven.

She checked them about fifteen minutes later, and was puzzled that the cookies weren’t cooking properly. She added more and more time on the clock until baking eventually took up the better part of an hour. The shape of the cookies wasn’t very apparent when all was said and done–her husband had to ask her what the cookies’ message was–but he was touched nonetheless and ate his cookies, which proceeded to give him 24 hours of awful digestive ailments, most likely because the dough was essentially raw, and because he ate three bags-worth of cookies.

“My next attempt is a cake!” Monica told us cheerfully. My best friend is a brilliant woman with two master’s degrees who works at an international bank; (sh)it happens to the very best of us. Her response to our raucous laughter? The following disclaimer with a smile: “I never claimed to be Betty Crocker.” She remains undeterred and well intentioned. And so should we remain in 2011 with all our endeavors in the kitchen.

***Photo credit: “Cookies gone wrong” by xikita

2011 love

Dearest readers, Happy 2011. I wish you many pleasurable moments, both great and life-changing, as well as small–like my January 1, 2011 noontime spent eating a cupcake in my pajamas on the balcony.

The gift


Prompt #30: Gift; this month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year? (Prompt by author Holly Root)

The most memorable gift I received this year came from my blog. As I stood full of self-doubt at a crossroads for most of 2010, my blog was something steady, a genuine expression of myself, and the gift I got from it over and over: human connection. A common ground and shared understanding with someone else over a simple story, a photograph, or an issue to which someone else can relate.

The blog is another self. When I speak to friends or relatives or acquaintances in person, they invariably mention or ask me about something I’ve written; it warms my heart. Starting the blog has been the most rewarding project of my 2010, and I’m eager to see what adventures 2011 brings. Thank you from the bottom, middle, top and sides of my heart for reading Sunny Global Diva.


Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Check it out here!

Hands up!

What is it about this song that literally makes me put my hands up? I actually want to plan a gathering just so we can dance to this song together. Refreshments, strobe light and pyrotechnics will be provided; foam hands, vuvuzelas, dogs and babies welcome.

A 21st century German TV show performance of the 1981 hit “Hands Up (Give Me Your Heart)” by French disco act Ottawan, a song that was ultra popular in a bunch of places around the globe… I will make it a part of my rabble-rousing karaoke repertoire.