Monthly Archives: November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear Fellow Dominican Yorks:

I want to take this opportunity to wish you a bountiful Thanksgiving. May your holiday be full of joy in the company of all your loved ones. To my confused Islander brethren: please be aware that Thanksgiving is indeed an American holiday (see history here). We don’t mind that you celebrate, but don’t claim “nacionalismo dominicano” while you are wishing all on the Island Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias. Just let us know if you will be celebrating the 4th of July with us as well.  On that note here are the things I am thankful for:

I am thankful for my Dominican York girlfriends. This blog is their seed planted in my little head about fifteen years ago, when we moved back from the Island and started sharing our anecdotes about our adventures in La Isla.

I am thankful for my Dominican York family. Hardworking and resilient, they represent the true American dream of perseverance and tenacity.

I am thankful for my New York crew. They are my safety net, and no matter what decisions I make, I can always count on their 100% judgement-free support.

I am thankful for Islanders, for they are the annoying relative that I just can’t deny.

Cheers!

Thanks, But No Thanks

My mother has this philosophy of living life as the eternal agradecida. She wants to me to throw a parade to that uncle that gave me a ten-dollar bill when I was seven porque hay que agradecer. She wants me to schedule a yearly visit to my aunt whom I have no affinity to simply because she once visited me in the hospital while I was getting minor surgery done, porque hay que agradecer. If it were up to my mother, every day of my life would be Thanksgiving because I can always count on her finding someone who did something for me at one point in my life that would compel me to live in perpetual agradecimiento. 

Okay, I get it. One must be appreciative. However, I find myself pondering on some important questions when it comes to showing agradecimiento to Islanders. What is the limit of agradecimiento according to Island standards? Is there such a thing as too much agradecimiento? Will Islanders ever say ya ta’ bueno de agradecer? In The City, when you do a favor  you get a “thanks” maybe a thank you card. That’s it. Done deal. Don’t expect anything else, because in our culture, if you agree to do a favor for someone, you shouldn’t expect anything in return. However, it seems that Island statute of limitations for agradecimiento borderline on sense of entitlement, what I call the yo me lo merezco attitude

While in China, I learned that the mandarin translation for “you’re welcome” is “no thanks necessary.” My life as a York has taught me that Islanders are masters at taking this philosophy quite literally. Meaning that whatever the circumstances, you will find yourself complying with an obligatory request without the slightest hint of a por favor or si no es much molestia (See Tit for Tat). Because such behaviors are reason enough to strangle someone, I offer you the evidence.

Exhibit A: I know of someone who announced going to the Island this Christmas, only to find out that an Islander relative had ordered a computer online and shipped it to his house unbeknownst to him. A phone call was followed to ask if in addition to the computer, was it possible to also bring a thirty-pound inflatable mattress.

Exhibit B: When a friend of mine got married, her cousin was the one who helped her with all of the preparativos from driving her around the capital (called choferiando) to picking up the flowers. As a thank you, my friend bought her bridesmaid dress, filled her tank as necessary, gave her a bottle of champagne and sent flowers to her office after the wedding. My friend’s mother stipulated that she should take her cousin a gift every time she goes to the island porque hay que agradecer.

Exhibit C: I once put this “sense of entitlement” to a test. I took out an Islander out on the town to see if he would ever take out his wallet in a gesture of agradecimento to reciprocate all that I would cover on that evening. After paying for dinner, cocktails, cab fare etc. never did he offer to chip in. I gather that my expense for that evening was a fee paid for the pleasure of his company.

Here is some advice if you plan on going to the Island this holiday season.

(1) Treat your departure date as classified information to avoid getting that brown nosing phone call from your prima (who rarely calls you) for an encargo. If somehow your trip information is leaked, then say “yes” to all of the encargos and “accidently” leave them back in NY. Sell them on eBay in retribution for el pique que hiciste when Islanders had the cojones of asking you for such favors.

(2) When on the Island, lock all your belongings in a vault. Better yet, wrap them in electric barbwire. This will avoid the ever so common ¡Ay que bella tu cartera! Tú como que pudieras regalármela, or the more shameless and infuriating, Como tú tienes tantos pintalabios, te cogí uno.

The verdict is in. If you must entertain an Islander in The City, don’t go overboard treating Islanders to “the best night ever.” Remember that while on the Island it is YOU who have to pay, y de ñapa when in The City, it is also YOU who have to pay, for Islanders have become greatly desensitized to a point where the one-way agradecimiento (meaning the only person showing gratitude will always be YOU) ultimately becomes a sense of entitlement to them.

Happy Thanksgiving! Let’s raise our spiked cider to fellow Yorkies (myself included) who are thankful for learning the most important skill in the world: Saying NO.

Status Symbol

The early snow, the crisp autumn breeze and daylight savings time remind me that the moment has come to do the yearly apparel exchange where cashmere sweaters, fur coats and wool scarves start occupying our closet spaces, as we bid adieu to lazy summer days and the attire that goes with it. This reminds me that by now, Islanders are probably planning their holiday vacations in hopes to frolic in a winter wonderland. Aside from the mere excitement of coming into contact with matter that is completely foreign to them, Islanders’ lover affair with snow and winter stems from the eminent fact that they are indeed, status symbols.

As we Yorkies already know, Islanders thrive on the culture of arribismo: the climbing of the social ladder. At any given chance, they will go above and beyond their means to attain anything that indicates advancement up the echelons of social mobility. With winter pictures as markers of travels, Islanders have it made when they brag about hobbies that are completely unaffordable to the masses. But let us not detain ourselves with snowflake sprinkled pictures. Here are other items considered to be status symbols that might be good to buy as Islander gifts this holiday season:

Coats: To have a coat is a must for Islanders because it will be understood that not only do they travel, but they transport themselves to places where it snows! However, there is another reason why Islanders would shell a third of their monthly salary on a wool coat from Zara, and that is to attend the annual Fiesta de Hielo de la Presidente (see the slideshow here). I thought that since the country ha cambiado muchíííííísimo, it would be okay for me to arrive at SDQ last winter fur coat in hand because afterall, the recorded temperature at JFK at the time of my departure was 19ºF.  So when I heard the mutter under some Islander’s breath say ridícula, I thought to myself that perhaps bringing my faux fur would have been more appropriate for an Island with faux people who tote faux values.  Of course the same type people who would mock my necessary fashion item are the same ones to would caress it as if it were a newfound pet.

Winter equipment: The fondness for a winter sport is key for Islanders. More important than boasting about travels; hockey sticks, snowboards, skis  and other equipment ownership put Islanders at a step above the poor bastards who have no choice but to rent. Of course, now that La Sirena and Blue Mall has ice-skating, we might as well  help them stock up on ice skates.

In age of Facebook, as Islanders enter the picture-posting winter Olympics of “who went where wearing what,” all I can think about is basking in the Island sun this December. I am also wondering if it would be okay for me to leave my house in a tank top to appease the Islanders’ fury over my winter social faux pas.

Black Friday is approaching. Stock up on the holiday bubbly!

Grand Slam!

I love how our passion for baseball transcends culture and language barriers! Is there a translator in the house? Dale Dale Dominicano…  Until next season. Go Yankees!