Friday, September 2, 2016

It is ok to Give Hugs and be Hugged

Hi every one welcome to my blog

let me start by introducing myself should I? 

My name is Elizabeth Anel Diaz and I am 27 years old college graduated and a current Portland State University student majoring in Thetre Art and minoring in Business and International Studies. If you have the time and want to know a little more about me, read below! if not, be sure you come back and visit this blog again; I promise you'll learn some good stuff, but today, you are going to learn more about me.

I was born in Cuba where I was raised by my mom until that I was 10 years old, and then I was raised for my Paternal Grandmother (who passed away last February) until that I was 17 years old. I think that overall, I had a  good childhood thanks you to my mom and my paternal grandmother. The only regret that I have from my time in Cuba is being extremely shy and not being more outgoing.

Why I was extremely shy in Cuba?

One of the reasons why is because I was bullied in Cuba in the school all the way throught 9th grade. 9th grade in Cuba is the equivalent of 12th grade here in U.S.A. (You see, you guys are already learning stuff!) When I was at preescolar ( the equivalent to Kindergarten in here) I was called "Radio" because apparently I cried a lot. Fast forward to 7th, 8, and 9th grade and the name-calling continued; "Chorizo" which is a kind of sausage, and  "Granizado" which is like Slurpee or Icee. I finally finish the 9th grade and I was in the process of deciding of what career to choose in Cuba, but at the same time, I was in the process of coming to the United States through The Reunification Program, so I decided to stop the process of looking for a career in Cuba and just wait to come to United States.

In December 2006,1 years later  after that I finished the 9th grade, my dream of coming to the United States  to meet my mom, my sister and my dad's sister  became a reality, but it was not all gold stars I was happy that I was finally going to be with my mom and my sister, but the first few months were really difficult. The first weeks in the USA I woke up in the middle of the night and locked myself in the restroom and I cried. I was happy to be with my mom, my sister and my dad's sister, but I was also missing my family in Cuba. I left them behind and didn't know when I was going to see them again.

The people that I left behind my Paternal Grandma Maria del Carmen who  passed away last February as I mentioned earlier, my dad Ernesto and his wife Niurka, my younger brother Ernesto who was 6 years old when I left and will be turning 16 this year. Also my Aunts and  3 younger cousins Jorge Alejandro who will be turning 21 this year, Lianet, who will be 20 this year, and Laura the baby of the house, who recently just turned 15 years old. This is mostly my Dad's side of my family. On my Mom's side of the family, my Grandma, my Uncle and my only older cousin. My Mom was able to bring my Grandma and Uncle to United States a few months after me, and a few years later, my older Cousin arrived to the United States with her daughter throught her own methods.

My maternal grandma still have her family at Cuba, like her Sister, Brothers, Nieces and Nephews, but that is her history. As I was saying in the paragraph above, it was really difficult the first week or two weeks in Portland, Oregon. On the top of missing my paternal family who I left behind, I moved to a different country where I needed to learn a new language. Plus, I was 17 years old when I arrived, a much different experience than people who had come at a younger age, like my younger sister who arrived when she was two years old.  Basically her first language learned was English, even thought she was born in Cuba. Even when you come to the U.S between the ages 5-10, you are still growing, so you learn new things more quickly, but when you arrive at an older age, your brain process different, and even thought you might learn the language eventually, you might have a noticeable accent. Nothing wrong with that right? Well, fast forward to January 2007, I saw my first snow! As you can see in this picture I was so exited.

A few days after, I started in High School and I was just as excited as in the picture above.

High School was great and the only regret that I have is similar from when I was in Cuba, not being involved more in the school, partially because of the English barrier and also because I was still really shy.My life basically was going to High School and then going back to home and watching Spanish TV (  No, I don't watch any Spanish TV anymore). I loved to got to school even more because you didn't have to wear uniform. When you go to school in Cuba, you have to wear uniforms.  I did 3 years of High School basically 10, 11, 12 and all of 3 years I took ESL classes with my favorite teacher. I wish that I could remember her name, but unfortunately, I don't. In June 2009 I graduated from High School and that September, I started school at Clackamas Community College. I didn't realize until a few years later that I wasn't ready for college yet, so my first years there weren't great. My English wasn't good enough and classes were extra difficult, so as result I got really bad grades and I lost my scholarship along with my financial aid, so I couldn't afford to go to College anymore. In  2010, I took a long break and went on a month vacation back to Cuba to visit my family.

 The time to come back to the reality arrived and I came back home to the U.S. Leaving Cuba again was difficult and I think that while we were waiting in the airport my Brother asked to my Dad why I was crying. I think that it was noted that I was sad even though I tried to hide it. My dad answer something to him, but inside my head, I was just thinking that I might not be able to go back for a long time. As an American or any other nationality  you can go to Cuba as a tourist, but if you were born in Cuba, you can't go as a tourist and you have to take the Cuban passport with you. In my opinion that is ridiculous because you can go with you American Passport to any other country. except Cuba. It is  even more difficult for Cubans  to go to Cuba if the Cuban passport is expedited and you have to get a new one or renewed it. Let's just  say that is not cheap for Cubans to go back to Cuba to visit, but that is enough politics for today. The only reason that I can't visit Cuba is because of its politics.

When I went back to Cuba, I figure out what I was going to do with my life and I decided that I was going back to college and take some classes. My Mom and my Grandma weren't necessary supportive of me going back to College because supposedly, I wasn't college material and College wasn't for me. Eventually they realized that I wasn't going to give up, so in 2013, I went back to College, first paying with my own money and taking just one class at a time to try getting  my GPA up and then taking 2 classes. Eventually, I got my GPA up, and got my financial aid back and I was able a Full-Time student again, taking serious class like writing and math, but at the same time I started to explore other classes. I took a newspaper class for two terms where I was the photographer, and also acting classes with an amazing teacher. I remember one day in the acting class learning about CCC's Imptov Group and I was really curious, so the next term, I signed up for Improv class. It   taught by the same teacher that teach the acting class and there is when my shyness started to fade away. I took that class for 6 terms and I also started taking Stand Up comedy class who was taught by  another wonderful teacher, and I took that for 4 terms. Yeah, I did stand up. Are you curious about my material?  Well, here you have it! Check below ( my Mom is not gonna be happy about this, but oh well) In the video below you are going to watch one of my Stand Up sets; it was my 4th time doing it, so I was a little more confident that the first time that I did it. 

This video was shot in the Fall 2015 when I had the great idea of  co-enroll in PSU and Clackamas Community College, so that I could finish my Associate degree in CCC and started my journey in PSU. One term later I realized that co-enrolling wasn't a good idea. I mean, if you are going to co-enroll in two different schools better have a car because going to two different schools while dealing with Public Transportation is not a good idea, but back then I thought that  it was a good idea, and that was my way of dealing  with saying good bye to my college and adapting to a new school as I was just  taking 5 credits at CCC, but was taking full time in PSU. I was taking 17 credit in total going to both schools and at the same time trying to get more invloved in PSU, going to church and trying to help there while at the same time looking for a second job. So let's just say that academically, Fall 2015 wasn't easy and my grade weren't great like they had been at CCC. Academically, my first term at PSU wasn't good, but the past is the past right? We might not be able to fix the past, but we can learn from it right? and I learned a lot and even though I'm just 27 years old I had my share of mistakes, but I  learned from those mistakes and that is the difference.

Anyway, Fall Term 2015 wasn't all that bad because I definitively had some awesome times and I did meet some awesome people. Some of you might figure out  what the next section of this post is going to be about just for reading the title above, but just in case that you haven't figure it out or you are not involved in this wonderful addictive community (who would  going to tell me that socializing would be so addictive?), I tell you  how I was introduced to this wonderful community. 

 One day after one of my classes in PSU,  there was an event going on outside and I decided to take a look around and see what was happening and I found out that it was a Club Fair, and I signed up for 3 different clubs; Chess, Step of the Rhythm and PSU Tango Club. The Chess Club didn't work with my schedule, but I was able to participate in the other two and I decided to try it for just 3 months and during all the Fall term I went to the Step of the Rhythm where you learn different kinda of dance like Hip Hop, contemporary etc, and I also went to PSU Tango Club where you learn Argentine Tango (by the way I am still dancing and learning Argentine Tango) Well, the 3 months goal was only the beginning as I was texting myself because I had this bad habit of starting something new and never finishing it, but I passed my own text because I am writing this post and opening this blog 11 months after I started dancing Tango. I can't say too much about Tango because technically I am still pretty new to this dance and I am still trying to figure out why it is so addictive. However, I can say why enjoy this dance so much and what I learned from it.

What I enjoy are the events called Milonga ( Milonga is an event where people go to dance tango).   The beginning was difficult, and took me a little time to adapt, but the welcome environment of this wonderful community make me even more curious and as the result well, here I am now! when people ask me if I dance much I just answer, "sometime!", but of course I'm being modest. If it was for me I would go dance the 7 day a week, but life happens, and yes Tango is that addictive or at least for me as everyone is different. Other thing that I enjoy are the classes. I enjoyed the classes at PSU Tango Club and other classes and workshops that I had the opportunity to take outside of PSU Tango club. Festivals and Marathon are awesome and I am actually really excited for the next one that will coming pretty soon. There are a  lot of Festival that I may go or not go to depending of my schedules between my two jobs and school. The music there is something about the music that you can't stop to listen to it. Another things that I enjoy about it is Live Music, even thought it is the same music or mostly the same, it feel different dancing to live music that when dancing to the djs playing their music, I don't know how to explain it, but it is just different. 

Now, what  I had learned from Tango? I learned to ask myself this question "What to wear tonight?" I ask myself that question daily now, but now in all seriousness, Tango has taught me to socialize. As I wrote in the beginning of this post, I was extremely shy, so I wasn't known for going out with a group of  people, but now I wish that I knew about socializing before. One again the past is the past and the only thing that we can do is keep looking forward as we can't change the past. I learned to wear dresses and skirts in 60s degree weather; seriously, before Tango I never wore dresses and skirts, and I was always in jeans, I learned that I want to travel to different countries, but I think that the most important thing that I learned from the Tango community is that it is ok to give hugs and be hugged.

 When you dance tango the dj play a Tanda that normally is like 4 songs sometime just 3 songs. A the end of that Tanda is played a non-tango music called Cortina ( curtain in English);  during the Cortina each partner hugs one another and then get out of the dance floor to find the next dance partner. Some people don't just hug when they are on the dance floor or when a Tanda finish; they hug other people when they arrive to the Milonga or when the night is over and it is time to say goodbye. It took me a little time to get used to the hugs, but in the end I got use to it because it is definitively,  ok to give hugs and be hugged. I don't know how long I am going to be dancing Tango, but at least for now I am not planning to stop dancing Tango any time soon. 

I hope that you enjoying reading my first post on my blog, and if you know me personally and had or had question about me,  I hope that this post answered some of those questions, but if you still had question comment below and I will answer those question as soon as I can!