Humor as a tool for revolution and coping mechanism for the current Puerto Rican situation  

Puerto Rico no se deja - Natalia Benitez

Photo credit: Natalia Bénitez

My friend said that if memes could be properly monetized, Puerto Ricans right now would be making bank. In the midst of a political crisis and arguably the start of a revolution for change, Puerto Ricans have shown no fear manifesting their beliefs with creativity, both physically and virtually. From divers underwater showing their protest signs to yogis leading a peaceful yoga class in front of the governor’s mansion – our creativity knows no bounds. If you are Puerto Rican, I bet you are receiving a constant flow of memes from family members, friends, and even coworkers. You have to admit they are good! 

How can a country that is undergoing what has been said to be a historical manifestation have the strength to continue to fight, while also entertaining millions with constant hysterical remarks?

The two coexist as part of a conscious or unconscious strategy, as one of the obstacles that important education and political messages often face is the ability to reach those who need to know said message. From a basic communication standpoint, humor is easy to share, it even strengthens interpersonal relationships. I have seen memes circulating social media that have encouraged me to do my own research to further understand the jokes and/or claims being made. In a culture where we are so overwhelmed by information and opinions from every device imaginable, researching has become key. I have had conversations with my grandma in which it is evident that solely relying on one TV station for your news is never going to be enough again. It is simply impossible to properly capture an entire movement when it is happening virtually and physically, EVERYWHERE.

Puerto Ricans are loud and proud, and it is in our nature to find humor in all situations, for some, in too many situations. You can blame the tropical climate for our “warmth” but perhaps, it is more accurate to look at years and years of situations (political or not) that are so beyond ridiculous that all you can do is laugh. People often say “hay que reír para no llorar” (essentially, you have to laugh to keep yourself from crying) and although that shows our resilience and spirit, it uncovers another big issue that Puerto Ricans are facing: a vulnerable mental health state.

After Hurricane Maria, the suicide rates reportedly went up in the island. The entire nation lived day after day full of worries, desperation, and angst. Those in the island were too busy surviving to have the time to call out shady government actions or even worse, lack of action. Those in the diaspora essentially dropped everything they were doing to desperately try to find feasible and effective ways to help, overwhelmed by the inability to connect with family members on the island. I am no medical professional, but I think it is safe to say that the island has gone through trauma. By definition, a coping mechanism is an adaptation to environmental stress that is based on conscious or unconscious choice and that enhances control over behavior or gives psychological comfort.

Interestingly enough, you could argue that this “humor as a coping mechanism” strategy was the governor’s own downfall. He claims the expressions said on the controversial leaked Telegram chat (charged with sexist and homophobic remarks) was his way of “releasing tension” from the pressure of his job. So while humor is a powerful tool for awareness and joy, it can also be poisonous and dangerous. Nonetheless, it is undeniable that the majority of the humor utilized lately in public conversations has been positively fueling the right for people to manifest themselves and hold the government accountable. It has also been key in the spreading of information and unification of a country that had been divided for far too long. Now, nothing will ever be perfect and while I can assure you there will be future memes mocking the fighting spirit of Puerto Ricans these days, it is important to remember what fueled the humor from the beginning: indignation and the overwhelming feeling that Puerto Rico has had ENOUGH.

SUMMER IS NOT OVER

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It’s the day after labor day. Yes, it feels terrible, but it’s not the end of the world. I saw people wearing boots and scarves today. GET IT TOGETHER, PEOPLE.

It’s still 90 degrees out. The sun is still shinning. Just because football officially starts this Thursday it doesn’t mean we have to bury summer away in its entirety. It’s not like all of the sudden we need to rock out pumpkin spice lattes (I’m speaking to you, Starbucks) and bring out the Christmas decorations.

I think summer should be enjoyed until you have squeezed every single drop of joy out of it and you’ve faced the inevitable sadness that is winter. Let’s be real, fall is just here to make the pain a little easier. Winter is coming.

*Photo blissfully taken at Morgan’s Pier this summer by yours truly*

Can I make my own art?

I remember when buying “art” meant going to the poster sale at the student center in college. You had an array of choices, ranging from Bob Marley to Audrey Hepburn. I remember my friend had a poster with a baby monkey with sunglasses that was a total hit. I guess when you get older you can no longer get away with those choices and you are expected to buy real “art”. Whatever that means.

I moved into my new apartment in May and I’m still looking at blank walls in my bedroom. Nothing less to be expected from the girl that bought curtains over 2 years ago and never hung them up. Furniture is in, of course, but I haven’t done much decorating. Sure, my mini giraffe collection is up, but that’s obviously to be expected. The lack of decoration has been mostly due to lack of time, but I feel like it’s time to spark things up.

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First of all, I must warn you, I have very limited knowledge of what people call “art”. I go by my gut feeling of what I think looks nice and what makes me smile, that’s the kind of “art” I like. I first learned about Gustav Klimt through my art savvy roommate in college, although I didn’t realize who’s work I was really looking at until I saw “The Kiss” in Vienna.

So here I was, navigating Art.com because I was scared away from Amazon.com after I read a review that said “there is a thick slab of painted “goop” bordering the entire picture”. I found this lovely painting by Gustav Klimt, it made me happy and calm and it was just $37.98 for the print. Not bad, not bad at all. I’m prompted to answer if I want to frame it. Sure, why not, I’m being an adult and buying real “art” so let’s do it! Boom, it will be $229.99. I’m sorry, I don’t get how this “art” thing works. I just want my walls to look pretty. Do I need to get some finger painting and get creative? Maybe I need to start going to those wine and paint studios, that way I make my own art and drink wine too. Yup, that sounds like a plan.

Just like that, I’m back to square one. Empty walls, crushed “art” dreams, yet another crude realization that being an adult sucks and a thirst for wine that can at least be remedied soon. Cheers!

Dear Summer

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Dear Summer,

I miss you. I miss the warm rays of your sun that never quite tanned my skin. I miss the warm breeze that caressed my face, as opposed to feeling like small knives are puncturing my lovely cheeks.

Where are you, Summer? Why do we have to be apart for so long? I’m sorry if I ever said I was tired of you, it was my empty bank account speaking or you maybe caught me sweating at the Subway, it wasn’t the real me. The real me loves you with a never ending passion and I anxiously await your return.

You see, Summer. When you’re away, everything is a little colder, a little gloomier. People are not as cheerful as they are around you. It’s only ok because I know they are all secretly missing you too.

Summer, remember when I used to be with you all through the year? Back in the day only a few rainy days could keep us apart. Why did I move away from you? A few months a year are not enough for all the love I have for you. I don’t think humans are meant to be apart from you for too long.

I can’t wait to be reunited with you and get sand in every corner of my apartment, even after you think you have cleaned it all. I can almost taste the fried coconut shrimp I will be enjoying by the sea or the Miami Vice I will be sipping by the live band outdoors. Yes, outdoors. I know my bank account cringes when she knows you’re approaching, but my heart leaps with joy.

My dearest Summer, we can’t be reunited soon enough. Until then, I will try my hardest not freeze in this dark, murky winter and I will look at countless summer pictures to get me through this endless wait.

Forever yours,

Cristina

Holiday Wish List, Just Because

I like to eat, drink wine, travel and take pictures. Nowhere in my resume can you find fashion, but I do like pretty things and I like to go shopping.

The inspiration for this post came right after I was able to finish all of my Christmas shopping within 24 hours (Thank you, Cyber Monday). I thought I did this so well I should share some of my great finds! You see, the thing about creating a gift guide is that you may be giving away what you are getting some of your loved ones.

So to avoid any confusion or spoil any surprises, I’m going to be selfish and play around with a list of things I would love for myself. This way, I can still share a little inspiration and my holiday gift plans are not ruined.

Again, fashion is not my thing and I’m just playing around, so there’s that.

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1. This lovely bracelet has been on one of my Pinterest boards since forever ago, but I still like it and for some reason I’ve never bought it, go figure. * LINK *

2. I have no need for these Frends headphones, except that they are so cute! I personally would never spend that money on headphones that I can lose, break or God know what else, but they look pretty. * LINK *

3. If it were up to me, I would have a purse in every color possible. Since it’s up to my wallet, I stick to basics. I LOVE this bag and if any of you want to give it to me for Christmas, be my guest! * LINK *

4. I love scarves, can’t have enough (definitely have enough). *LINK*

5. Another high reach item. Here’s my train of thought is that if I pay all that money for boots, I want to use them every day… if I use them every day in New York City, they are going to die… if my boots die, I will be sad. * LINK *

6. Ugly sweater, you say? I think it’s awesome! I really think I can totally rock this sweater at my company’s Holiday party. I can’t think what’s cooler, the neck decor or Rudolph (Rudolph, duh). * LINK *

7. My coworker introduced me to Baublebar and I must say, I am obsessed. I ordered a few things from there during their Cyber Monday sale and I can’t wait to see them and try them on! * LINK *

8. Last but absolutely not least, these skates. How safe are they? I’m not sure, but I would love to rock ’em around and find out. When I first found them I must admit I was a little disappointed that they were from Urban Outfitters, but I can get over that. *LINK *

Enjoy!