Paula Fletcher was my mother’s best friend since they were in sixth grade. They grew up around the corner from each other in New Jersey and celebrated various life milestones together- she was the maid of honor at both of my mother’s weddings (to my father and then, her second husband). A couple of years back, I traveled to Dallas to spend Thanksgiving with Paula where we jammed out to the Purple Rain soundtrack and burned a turkey. The last conversation I had with her was back in April, asking her if she needed anything, any help through the COVID-19 pandemic. She said that she was fine and hoped that I was doing well in Austin. Paula recently died of heart failure. She was 58 years old.

I’ve been helping my mom sort through her funeral details. It’s been a challenge with COVID-19 but somehow, we’re making it work. Paula didn’t have much of a family life- my mom was considered her family, and Paula was never married. I asked Mom about this. Growing up, I remember Paula being around often but without a boyfriend or a partner. She said that Paula dated quite a lot but never found “the one.” She focused on her work and her friends. I’ve been thinking a lot about that these past few days, how Paula didn’t have a significant other in her life. She never seemed lonely. Paula had her friends, my mom especially. I can’t help but compare her story to my own- dating around but never settling on one person.

I’ve been floating in and out of relationships this year. My relationships lean more towards a sexual gratification which is great- it’s what I need, and I’m finding myself more alone during the hours that I’m not working. I’m really enjoying this alone time, catching up on books and painting. Perhaps I’m bitter from my last break-up but I struggle with seeing the purpose of a partner. I’m doing great without one. This time, being quarantined, has taught me that I am all-encompassing and I very much enjoy being alone. I don’t want to be with anyone.

What are the benefits of being partnered? Do the benefits of being single outweigh them? I think about Paula and her free spirit without the need to answer to anyone (although my inner feminist says that you don’t need to answer to a partner to begin with). She didn’t need permission or to check in with anyone. She didn’t have children. I asked my mom if Paula ever expressed desire to have kids and she said that she was fine being to the “cool aunt” to me and my siblings. I however, unlike Paula, aspire to have children. Lately, the only benefit that I can come up with to having a partner is to have someone to raise children with (I like to note that I do have several sperm donor options for when/if I choose to have a kid on my own). I have read the benefits of raising a child in a traditional mother/father household. But then again. I know of so many women who are raising bright and well adjusted kids alone, by themselves, as well as great people who were raised by a single parent.

As always, my thoughts eventually venture to death. I like to think that it would be nice to have someone hold my hand on my death bed but then I ask myself if it is the worst thing to die alone? Don’t we all die alone anyway? There are many benefits to being single (I know… I just Googled a bunch). I used to think worst thing in the world was being alone. So much so that I’d chase these awful relationships with awful men who destroyed me emotionally. I once heard that your 20s is when you make the mistakes and your 30s is when you learn the lessons from them. Now at the ripe age of 34, I’ve been reviewing such past mistakes of mine and I came to this conclusion: I’m really good at being single and I really enjoy it. Same as Paula.

Rest in peace, Paula. We miss you and will love you forever. And you, dear reader; even if you’re alone, I hope you don’t feel alone. Being single isn’t a curse- its a gift.


My little sister is pregnant and I’m having a hard time being happy for her. I have to admit that I’ve always been jealous of this particular sister. In high school, I was envious of how she was skinner than me, had a cute boyfriend and seemed to be known and loved by everyone. She eventually pursued a career that I thought about chasing myself, got married and resided in city that I have dreamed of living in. As I’ve gotten older, I sat with these feelings and learned where they came from (my own insecurities, unnecessary parental pressures and judgements, etc). These days, I’m wise enough to know that I can’t compare my life to anyone else’s but this news still hurts. I want that life. My life is supposed to look like that… but it doesn’t.

I’m still in the middle of job hunting and I spend each morning asking myself interview questions to prep. My “favorite” question (and note the quotation marks) is where do you see yourself in five years? As much as I practice the answer to this questions aloud, I still have no solid, concerete idea. If someone asked me this question in 2015, I would have never have thought, “I’d be in quarantine from COVID-19.” Although I can’t exactly see where I am, I can imagine the way I feel in 2025- I’m feeling supported and successful with my job. I’m happy and in love in a romantic relationship. I’m enjoying the comforts of my apartment, the companionship of friends and feeling mental and physically strong.

It’s halfway into the 2020 and I know that the majority of the world threw out their yearly plans with the rise of Coronavirus. I know that I have. I feel like I have thrown away most of my plans since arriving to Texas almost two years ago (ask me why I call Austin, “the curse”). I recently figured out while it is good to have plans and keep planning for the future (especially financially), life happens. Epidemics happen. Job loss happens. Break ups happen. Bullshit happens. And that’s okay. I had this exact plan of how I wanted things to develop this year. None of those plans came to fruition so I’m just letting all of that go. As much as I love planning every single detail of my life, I’m just going to be for a while.

I know what I will- one day- get the job I’m desperately seeking, that dreamy relationship, my future family, etc. It will most definitely won’t go the way I plan but I feel like I’m half way there to what I’m envisioning for myself- I’m here in Austin where there are a lot of opportunity and I have a solid group of friends here and around the globe. Regardless of what my life feels like it lacks, my life is full at the moment and it’s only going to feel fuller. I just need to relax, be patient and keep ever so slowly pushing forward.

How are you taking a step back, dear reader? Do you have a five year plan?


It’s okay if you don’t see “i2i…”

The last couple of weeks have been difficult ones. We are angry. I’m furious. I feel helpless. I started posting images of the various Black Lives Matter protests around the world on my social media accounts. Signs that spoke truths. Fists in the air. Looks of exhaustion from the participants. As I expected, I lost some followers and Facebook friends after I posted. What I didn’t expect was some of the direct messages and comments that followed. 

It is a tense time in the Untied States and during times like these, we all need a reminder of how to stay respectful and kind to each other. It’s okay to express your opinion. It’s okay to stay quiet. It’s okay if you don’t have an opinion. These days, I honestly tell people that I don’t have an opinion about current topics because I haven’t been following the news (it’s okay to be a self-called “news junkie” but stop listening to/reading the news for self care). I want to be able to make the most informed opinion possible but I’m not staying up-to-date to do so. It’s okay have conflicting opinions with your loved ones. It’s okay to think someone’s wrong. But it is not okay to send harsh words and threats. I have to admit that in my past, I’ve sent some mean messages about what I strongly believed in, political or not. While it felt good to get those frustrations out, I now know it was wrong to do that. It’s okay to be wrong. It’s okay to learn new information and form a different opinion. And it’s okay to seek out forgiveness for these past judgements that you’re unlearning. 

The world is a mess right now. It’s a lot between the protests, COVID-19, the uptick in unemployment and other issues that I can’t fathom right now. Fear and anger are running rampant and it’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling at this moment. It’s okay if we all don’t see eye to eye right now. But we all need to do our best to respect each other- our bodies, our rights, our thoughts and our feelings. 

And yes, dear reader, Black Lives Matter


This week was hard. George Floyd. Christian Cooper. 1 out of 4 Americans are unemployed. My low-key but nevertheless painful break up. News from my family. Stress about my job and other future work opportunities. Expectations. All of this on top of COVID-19. A lot of people feel like they can’t win- myself included.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. May coincides with one of the most complex and challenging periods in United States’ recent history and we know that mental health is more important than ever- its recognition shouldn’t be limited to a one sole month. For those going through mental health struggles, life is especially difficult at this moment and it’s okay to mentally feel like garbage.

It’s okay to feel hopeless and not know what you can do to help. It’s okay to cry (I have done so multiple times this week). It’s okay to be angry, mad with yourself and upset with others. It’s okay that you don’t know what to say- I certainly don’t. It’s okay to be numb. It’s okay to feel hurt and bothered. It’s okay to be envious. It’s okay to feel lazy and unmotivated. It’s okay to sleep. It’s okay to be confused and not pick a side. It’s okay to feel lonely and alone (even though I promise that you’re not). It’s okay to feel low and depressed and anxious. These are not bad feelings. They are human feelings and they are allowed to be felt and examined. They are meant to be shared and talked about. If you are struggling, there are resources out there to help you. If you are struggling, I am with you AND am here for you.

So, tell me truthfully, dear reader… how are you taking care of yourself mentally during 2020? Continue to fight the stigma and fight for your happiness and well-being. Just remember to take a deep breath- I’m along side of you.


Puerto Rico siempre…

I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos throughout quarantine. ASMR soft chats. Snipets of Gabriel Iglesias’s stand-up. And at least once a day, I watch this year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show featuring Shakira and Jennifer Lopez. I get especially excited to watch Jlo’s performance. My chest puffs up with a sense of pride when she shows off the Puerto Rican flag to the audience, reminding viewers that Puerto Ricans are Americans too.

I’m a proud Puerto Rican. I have to admit that this pride that I feel is relatively new thing, starting in my late 20s/early 30s. In high school and my early college years, I wished that I was White for its “beauty standards,” as well as for the convenience of it. As I’ve gotten older, I learned to love my bigger nose and rounder hips not just as attractive features but as things that connect me to my identity. Growing up, I never knew of Afrolatina roles models to look up to (#RepresentationMatters) and thought that White beauty was the standard to aspire to. I had to essentially look like Barbie and I hated the fact that I wasn’t skinny and my dark eyes surrounded by my darker eye circles.

I tried my hardest to emulate Whiteness while I still never felt “Black” enough, nor ‘Latina” enough. Both races had their own expectations to live up to and I was never going to play for either side. I thought Black culture limited to hip-hop culture, something that I always found mildly offensive and misgonistic. I also thought Latino culture was primarily wrapped around the Spanish language, something that I could barely understand and never fully get. I also never knew the nationality of my biological father. While I have Black features and celebrated my adoptive father’s culture (his family is Jamaican), I floated around without a true and genuine racial identity for years.

I have to admit that I do feel like a terrible Afrolatina sometimes. I learned late in my life that Puerto Ricans come in various shades (soy una idiota). Even though I minored in Spanish in college, my Spanish these days is terrible. I started practicing more since the start of the new year (of course, I’m nowhere that I want to be in fluency but I’m getting there). Hair is a big discussion when you’re a person of color. I straighten my hair most of the time. While I know this is damaging,  having straight hair is easy. I never could master my natural curly hair and now, I don’t like to be bothered with it (I’m impatient to test out products for my hair). I don’t know cultural things like music, important figures, historical events. All that aside, I question myself if I just feel connected to the culture, connected in a small bit, am I part of the culture? Or am I just admirer from afar?

I think about the children I hope to have one day and how I would raise them to celebrate that those sides of them- how would I be a positive role model of Afrolatino culture? I’d like to be fluent in Spanish so I can passed down the lanuagage to my children when they’re young. While I love my straight hair, I think about wearing it this way and natural to show my future babies that it’s beautiful to do both. The one cultural identity I hold dearest is my American one. The definition of who is an American is both broadening and deepening every day. My version certainly is… and this loyal and patriotic writer is an Afrolatina American.

How do you identify, dear reader, and how do you celebrate that identity?


Who wouldn’t want Michael B. in their corner?

I have a few dating rules; even more so for a breakup. One of those rules is that I can’t stay friends with an ex. Once we break up, I delete their number from my phone and remove myself from each other’s social media accounts. Okay, I do make a few exceptions to this rule but I’m firm most of the time. Que in my most recent breakup: I’m ready to wipe him from my life but he asks me to stay friends. I shook my head, knowing that he knew about my rule. Rules exists for a reason and that reason is to protect myself. I get severely attached in relationships, and a swift and clean break has always been the best way for me to mend my broken heart.

Amit was adamant about staying friends. He wanted more friends in the Austin area and he needed support from one of the few friends he had recently came out to. I thought about his rationale, us staying friends. I asked myself that if he wants to be my friend so badly, is it bad having another person in your corner? I never had anyone insist that we stay friends before. If Amit was so eager to stay in my life, what would be wrong with that?

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship this past week, especially after reading this quote from David Whtye:

In the course of the years a close friendship will always reveal the shadow in the other as much as ourselves, to remain friends we must know the other and their difficulties and even their sins and encourage the best in them, not through critique but through addressing the better part of them, the leading creative edge of their incarnation, thus subtly discouraging what makes them smaller, less generous, less of themselves.

I think about the people I’ve had the longest relationships with- my “ride and dies.” In my experience, most relationships fizzle out. They ebb and flow. We grow apart which is fine and natural (just a little sad). But it is those other friendships with the people that continue to thrive and flourish. They see the darkness in you but continue to love you and grant you grace, give you kindness, flood your soul with peace. COVID-19 and the past couple of years have done a number on my heart and my body, tearing out chunks of myself. But my friends have picked back up the broken pieces and made me whole again. Today, I write this post for the people who have always rooted for me. I write for the ones who have fed my spirit with positivity and love:

Nancy. Courtney. Annie. Peter. Nick. Ashley W. Lisa. Marla. My countless coworkers. Eric. Hallie. Hector. Valerie. Chris B. The riders with the Sunday Social Ride. The ATX Biking  Betties. Lupe. Christina. Trenna.  Linda. Emma. Ryan. Jay. Ellie. Ashley B. Jerald. Joy. Tara. Tyler. Chase. Tom. Saffeya. Nathan. Clarissa. Maggie. Sarah. Cece. Amit. Thank you for being my friend.

Who is in your corner, dear reader?


What can I do for you? is a question that I’ve asked a little too much in my life- and it’s starting to bother me.

I realized that most of my relationships are transactional. Not necessarily in a financial way but I’m always trying to do something that counters my partner’s kindness. Example: My ex took me out to a really expensive dinner one evening on his dime. I ordered the cheapest thing on the menu but still felt bad. Later in the weekend, I deep cleaned his kitchen as a way to say “thank you” despite saying the words a thousand times over dinner. The same has happened with friends- when I was in college, I didn’t own a car but I hated accepting rides from my friends. I always insisted on paying them back for their time or for gas money and did everything in my power to return the favor.

Perhaps it’s the guilt that I feel most of the time. I have a hard time accepting help and generosity. Maybe it’s my lack of self-confidence and my constant questioning of why people want to be my friend or date me (even though my feelings of positive self-worth have steadily grown over the last couple of years). But I don’t have the ability to just let a relationship be and evolve from that.

I’m trying to rewire my brain into rethinking my relationships and its benefits (or lack of benefits). Old Andrea used to think if a relationship is not mutually beneficial and not close to a 50/50 give and take, it’s not a true relationship. A transactional relationship is one where both parties are in it for themselves, where partners do things for each other with the expectation of reciprocation. People tend to date a person because of what they get out of it (sex, date nights, whatever). There are some relationships reach where people do things for each other just to make the other person happy. Some relationships transcend selfishness and reach a place where both partners are happy in large part because the other partner is happy without getting anything else out of it. So, how do I do that? How do I fix my brain to be more accepting?

This makes me wonder if these relationships are genuine or are we all just using each other in some way. I like to believe the former because I truly care about the people in my life and I would do just about anything for anyone. So, why can’t I believe that those same people would do the same for me just out of the kindness of their hearts?

How are your relationships, dear reader? Do they feel transactional or more genuine?


Public Service Announcement: Save the USPS.

I have always loved the United States Postal Service. Receiving letters (excluding bills and unnecessary weekly mailers) in the mail has been on of the biggest joys of my life. I’ve relied on the Postal Service’s office to get my passport and send money to loved ones. USPS has been hit hardest by COVID-19: while package deliveries are up, mail volume is reportedly down by almost a third compared to this time last year. Businesses around the country have made cuts to mail advertisements and solicitations. As a result, the USPS’s revenue  has tanked.

Last week, Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney, the chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform and Gerry Connolly, chair of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that COVID-19 is threatening the future of mail service.

“The United States Postal Service is in need of urgent help as a direct result of the coronavirus crisis,” the Representatives said. “Based on a number of briefings and warnings this week about a critical fall-off in mail across the country, it has become clear that the Postal Service will not survive the summer without immediate help from Congress and the White House. Every community in America relies on the Postal Service to deliver vital goods and services, including life-saving medications.”

USPS is not a government agency. Instead, it relies on fees rather than taxes (think of the extra dollar fee that is added on when you ship a package). Maloney and Connelly proposed a bill that would provide emergency funding (roughly $25 million). They said the funding would save the jobs of more than 600,000 Americans. 

There is speculation why President Trump doesn’t want to fund the USPS. 2020 is an election year. With the rise and unpredictability of COVID-19, we could be quarantined for months which could lead to a lack of voting poll workers, accessible locations, etc. People will not line up to vote (see what happened last week with the Wisconsin Primary). The next best option is to vote by mail but… You can’t mail-in vote if there is no mail. Sure, there other mailing options. However, FedEx, DHL and UPS won’t deliver to some rural neighborhoods. The USPS is also a more affordable option- many low income Americans still depend on it for checks, services and other documentation.

So, dear reader, continue to use the USPS’s services- buy stamps online, send love letters in the form snail mail and thank your mail person for their commitment of service during the COVID-19 outbreak. Also, contact your US Representatives and Senators and let your voice be heard. Let’s not imagine a world, our country without the United States Postal Service. 

(Oh- and I do love Postal Service, the band.)


Can we talk about another C word? Comradery.

I’ve been running a lot in my boyfriend’s neighborhood since the start of COVID-19. He lives in a part of Austin where a lot of senior citizens live. Usually I blast my music through my headphones but lately, I’ve been running without tunes and try to say hello to those I run by. People are friendly and thank me as I stay the mandated six feet apart as I sprint by. I always see this older gentleman walking his toy poodle every morning. The first day I met him, I screamed from across the street, “Good morning! OH MY GOD-  you have the cutest dog! Aren’t you the fluffiest fluff in the world!” Now the man lets his dog run across the street so I can pet it and give it some quick loving.

We’re living in the strangest timeline with the Coronavirus but I’m trying to make the best of it. People are scared and anxious. I know when I feel that way, I need to be around people. But because that isn’t safe to do, I’m exploring other ways to reach out and be kind. I’ve been on Zoom and Houseparty chats almost daily with friends. I text my besties almost every day, checking in on their mental health and levels of boredom. The USPS is still up and running so I’ve been mailing postcards and love letters. I signed up for Table Wisdom, which pairs mentors and mentees together online to chat, as well as the People’s Dialer. When I’m at the grocery store, I thank the staff for working (I also tip when I can). I seek out that level of friendship and gratitude, that level of comradery that makes people feel good (even an introvert like me).

Thank God for the internet. If you look, there are a lot of ways others are reaching out and giving back online. Celebs are lending their voices, reading children’s books aloud online. Prestigious colleges and universities are offering free online courses (check out courses from Coursera and Harvard University). Museums, galleries and zoos around the globe are offering free virtual tours. One of my favorite things that has come out of the Coronavirus is the live sets my favorite artists are doing- DJs, producers and bands all over the world are live streaming from their own living rooms (I highly recommend D Nice’s Club Quarantine, sets by my “husband,” Diplo and Kayper and Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard’s cover sessions). Sure, it doesn’t make up for being in a club but their sets remind us that we will be at concerts, venues and cook outs together again soon.

Living in the time of COVID-19 has been a lonely period for some. I texted one of my friends in Philly who lives alone. He hasn’t been out of his apartment for weeks and misses touching people- shaking hands, giving and receiving hugs and and fist bumps.  Even those in relationships are being tested. I truthfully thought that being quarantined with my boyfriend would lead us to being more physical (especially since our relationship is so new) but I was wrong. We spend a good chunk of our day alone, doing our own thing which can be pretty lonely.

If you are feeling alone, I do encourage you to reach out. There are a lot of resources out there (including things like free therapy apps like Youper and Moodpath. If you’re looking for professional help, check out this NPR article for a list of affordable resources). This is a difficult time right now but the entire world is in this together. You may be by yourself but you are not truly alone.

What are you doing to reach out to your friends, loved ones, even strangers, dear reader?



I’m in a bit of pickle. I’m trying to determine if I’m settling (or not) with my boyfriend.

Quick back story: we met in the beginning of March on a dating app. The first couple of dates went great and we decided to quarantine together, jumping feet first into a relationship and holing up in his apartment. Flash forward to today: we celebrated our one month anniversary and now, I feel lost.

I like to preface what I’m about to write with that I always find something to sabotage my relationships with. I have to fight my desire for instability. I suffer from perfectionism– I need my relationships to be perfect and can’t accept them just being good. The relationship that I’m in right now is good– he is sweet, smart and unbelievably handsome. He thinks that I’m amazing. We get along well. I should be happy. But I’m not. We don’t have much in common. I’m learning that he doesn’t have much hobbies outside of dining out. We have opposing views on serious topics like immigration. I’m questioning if I’m settling because of the current state of the world. Would we be together, as a couple, if we weren’t stuck being inside and alone due to COVID-19?

But I should give him and myself some slack, right? We didn’t expect this (COVID-19) to happen and we are both trying to the best that we can. It’s difficult to jump into something brand new during this time. I keep seeing this Instagram post floating around that says, don’t feel bad about not being productive during the era of Coronavirus. Productivity aside, I shouldn’t feel bad if everything in this relationship isn’t perfect. The world is far from perfect. I don’t want to put that much pressure on our new relationships during this strange time nevertheless. We are not our best selves at this time, right?

I think about this scene from “The Five Year Engagement,” where two of the main characters talk about choosing the right life partner. Emily Blunt’s character is unsure about her partner while her sister (played by Alison Brie) argues that you just chose someone and see what happens. I used to think that there was that one special someone that you were destined to be with for the rest of your life- I don’t think that anymore. I think people come in and out of your live for certain reasons and that most people have a lifetime of soulmates. But I do think that if you want to make a relationship work, you have to choose that person every day and let your actions reflect that choice. We choose to love and be in love. We choose to settle.

The older I get, the more I feel like I’m okay not being in a relationship. What is the benefit of being in a relationship these days, anyway? I can get companionship from my friends and something physical with a friend-with-benefits (which I have done in the past). I think about the elderly version of myself without a spouse or children to take care of me- if I got my finances in complete order, I wouldn’t need to think about a husband or a family as I could afford a nursing home and hospice care. I could make it through life alone and maybe without any disappointment caused by interpersonal relationships.

I think I’m just bitter. Or depressed. I should just ask my boyfriend for a snuggle. Or maybe I just need some alone time with my cat.

How is your relationship surviving in the time of COVID-19, dear reader?