Tag Archives: Dominican Identity

Ghost Town

The one thing that I always wonder about is how do people persevere on The Island. As Islanders become frugal consumers (meaning that they order their stuff via internet) it is impossible to imagine that businesses on the Island do survive . However, since the constant chant is that esto ha cambiado muchíííísimo and at the risk of being mugged on the streets, I decided to document two of the many exclusive plazas comerciales so that you can be witness of all of the “action.”

Warped in the Wrapping

Something Islanders are known for is their inability to do something for themselves or the more popular term: cogerlo suave. Of course when Islanders come to NYC a dar una trabajaíta, they find themselves shocked at the notion that in The City you actually have to not only work hard, but be efficient, sharp, punctual or you get the The Donald. I have heard uno que otro Islander say that allá se trabaja demasiado when speaking of the work dynamic in The States. But the pinnacle of Island laziness is the merger of lethargy and the Olympic gold of the cogerlo suave jobs: Gift Wrapping.

Gift wrapping is a win-win trade. The Islander, too lazy to wrap his own gifts, will drop off a box full of bottles for los clientes, toys for los ahijados, and cariñitos for the angelitos. In turn, la muchacha que envuelve gets paid for a hobby that is hardly a job, although Islanders consider it a talent in it of itself.

Gift wrapping starts with the selection of gift paper. This requires a tremendous amount of time and consideration for you have to answer the pre-wrapping questionnaire about the gift receiver: ¿Para hembra o varón? ¿Adulto o niño? ¿Liso o estampado? ¿Con brillo o sin brillo? After a good fifteen minutes, the gift wrapper then proceeds to “measure” the exact amount of paper to be used. This is done by unfurling some paper off the roll, placing the box on the uncut piece, folding the paper over the box, and then assessing whether or not she will cut. Upon her approval (which involves retracting the extra paper or unfurling some more) the gift-wrapper will cut the piece of measured paper. She will then carefully and painstakingly begin wrapping origami style, cautiously folding and delicately placing small amounts of tape on the gift, stopping at intervals to contemplate if the process is going well. This will take about twenty minutes. Then comes the placing of the ribbon or la moña. Ribbons are not ready-made, so you should feel very special that you will get a custom-made ribbon based on yet another questionnaire. ¿De qué color quiere la cinta? ¿Cómo la quiere, un lazo o una moña?  ¿De uno o dos colores? ¿La quiere rizada? Once you have answered all of these questions, the gift-wrapper will once again ever so delicately make a moña of about twenty buclés, again stopping at crucial intervals to make sure that the process is going as expected. One false move, and the gift wrapper will quickly toss the half-made moña to make a new one. Of course, this does not happen to veteran gift-wrappers. Finally and ceremoniously the gift-wrapper ties the ribbon onto the gift, fixing each individual buclé, splitting and curling the extra ribbon which result in about ten to fifteen individual curled tendrils of ribbon. The wait has been worthwhile because what Islanders hope for is that the receiver mesmerizes on the wrapping so, that she will forget how cheap the gift inside is.

Another day of Island life observed. I hope the cold isn’t hitting you guys too hard, but just in case, I send you some Dom-York love laced with some Anís del Mono. Oh! and a very special shout-out to my Eurodoms, Phillydoms, Bostondoms, and D.C.doms! Thanks for following!

Vini, Vidi, Vici

As the last stop on the A train says… “At Long Last.” I was hoping to do a daily travelogue, but at a whopping US$6.00 for snail Internet per/day, I think I’ll keep it sporadic. I will not do much writing about what I’ve seen so far. I’ll let the NualaCam speak for itself. Until the next entry, keep it warm Dom-Yorks in NY, and keep it patient Yorkies on the Island.


A Christmas Card For You!

Thanks to the age of technology, I am able to send a very special greeting to my dear Domi-York readers. May your holiday season be filled with health, prosperity, but most importantly, the continued patience to deal with Islanders.

(click on the image to read the thread)

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!

School’s in Session

A la clase, que ya es hora de empezar nuestra labor, están haciendo la suya, las abejas en la flor. Y si trabajan las abejas, y acaban en miel su labor, trabajemos en la escuela y haremos algo mejor.

I remember singing this song as a young student attending primary school on the Island. Oh the innocence of childhood! That is of course, until you get excluded from birthday parties and play dates because your parents simplemente no cuajan con el perfil de la urbanización (whatever that means).

For September, I plan on providing some profiles on Dominican Yorks that are uplifting our community by doing amazing things, because lord knows that we just can’t leave it up to Islanders to sing our praises (not that they would anyway).

For starters, I offer you the recently published book titled: Tracing Dominican Identity: The Writings of Pedro Henríquez Ureña by Juan R. Valdez, Ph.D. McMillan, 2011.

Juan R. Valdez is a friend and colleague. The first Dominican to obtain a Doctorate in the area of Hispanic Linguistics at the CUNY Graduate Center for Doctoral Studies, he has done extensive research on the construction of language and identity in the Dominican Republic. In addition to this publication, he has also conducted important research on the English speakers of Samaná who are descendants of emancipated slaves.

School is officially in session! Let’s not forget those long hours of debriefing and deconstructing the lesson over some birras.