I Wanna Thank You . . . (Fly On, Baby!)

Happy Friday, All!  Yep, you bet we got another week under our “spiritual” belts!  TGIF, then!!

In moments when you feel like something far greater than oneself has taken the reins of your life, spread your wings and fly!!  Don’t ask why … just FLY, Baby! Well, Monday coming July 12th, I will be doing just that … flying to Ft. Lauderdale to handle some business and visit some great friends.  And as the quantum field coupled with the cosmos has provided, I will be flying on to Hartford, CT where my Only Child will pick me up from the airport there and stay a week with her and my grandson, Caleb Isaac!!!  Can you say, “Fly on, Baby!!  Fly on!”?  My response is, “I Wanna Thank You …”!  

So yesterday, I got my second and last partial placed in my lower jaw!!  I mean, this was another “impromptu” project that fell in my lap when my $600 post and crown fell out of the front of my mouth and in to the toilet!!  Yep, that’s what happened … no sh@t, Sherlock!  So when I went to visit the dentist here in Puerto and asked if he could replace it, he smiled and said, “I can replace most of them using bridge and partial technology.”  I agreed!  Now, both the top  as well as the bottom jaw have been completed!!  “I Wanna Thank You!” 

While I haven’t “sold” many books yet, I still have a feeling of accomplishment for completing a more than five year project.  I would like to continue my journey here in Costa Rica, maybe even visit some natural springs or view a volcano … from a distance!  Needless to say, improving my health, both mental and physical, remain at the top of my “projects” list.  Drinking curcuma tea with the ginger base each day as well as some “Noni Juice” (cold pressed) which I take a few teaspoons of each day is a must.  The “full spectrum” CBD oil, if you will, is still a part of my daily natural supplements, too.  Keeping my health “front and center” is a main goal for me.

I hadn’t heard back from a long time recipient of the blog/newsletter, Coach Blake from New Hampshire.  So, I reached out to a few of the guys who graduated from St. Paul’s who live near him and touch base with him often.  The guys mentioned that they receive my e-mails and that Coach is okay, yet struggling with some vision issues in his mid-90’s!!  They all said, “He’s still sharp mentally and enjoys a phone call or two from folks as reading and replying to e-mails has become difficult!”  I’m going to give him a call when I get back Stateside.  He would often respond to my e-mail messages honestly and with his ageless experiences and let me know just how he felt about a topic!!  He was a big part of my positive experiences at the boarding school where he served as the athletic director and head coach of American football, lacrosse, basketball and other teams!  Thanks again Carl, Bill, Art and the rest of the guys.  We love you, Coach Blake!

Incase you would like to help with my “grassroots” effort to market my book, visit the link, browse, buy, and share a copy of “Cooking With Life!” with your friends, family and loved ones!  Click on: https://www.amazon.com/Cooking-Life-Cookbook-John-Cook-ebook/dp/B08Z7FRKCX/ref=sr_1_6?dchild=1&keywords=cooking%20with%20life%20cook%20book%20iii&qid=1621607433&sr=8-6&fbclid=IwAR3z9QZfQT6KhKedNnz41kMeb0asMPGcAJkiP90OOKH_ZGFkg2_PT1y6AmM

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Thanks for  reading, sharing and caring!  Have a great weekend!


John I. Cook, Director

“All That Glitters Ain’t Gold!”

Happy Fridaaaay, Y’all!  I hope you got a look at the Full Moon this past week!  So, TGIF with me then!!  Okay, that was cool!

We’ve all heard that expression before, right?!?  Every fancy, shiny, glittering … maybe even “beautiful” object is NOT what it seems!!  Can you say “over rated”?  Life is full of “tests and failures”.  Yet, once YOU figure out who YOU are, things go better for guess who … you bet … YOU!  Now this life is not a competition thing as some foolhardy folks focus their time … yes THEIR time … not mine or yours … on criticizing who YOU are rather than tightening up their own activities!  Those are the people with “too much time on their hands”!  They pretend that they are perfect as they criticize others while they tout some religious or spiritual affinity!  (THEY will never tell you that they work … maybe part time … for the devil!)

There’s another anecdote that I remember from my days “growing up” is that “what one does in the dark will come out in the light”!  Pretty cool, too!  Now THAT particular anecdote is for those who think that they are so “superior” or “intelligent” that they can fool Y.O.U.!  Who wants a friend that tries to “fool you” and convince you to do something that is not in ones best interest?!?  Not me!  There is wisdom to be learned from “following other people’s advice”:  “Be yourself because you are YOU!!”  Now, there are folks out there who try to tell “me” how to be “me”!!  Isn’t that funny?!?  Those kind of people are jealous of you or me and our “lifestyle” and actually wish others “ill”.  My father used to tell me that when I was growing up in “The Projects”.  I am glad that I started so young and had such a great teacher!  Thank you, Dad! (RIP, my Man!)

When I decided to try to stick it out here in Costa Rica, I established some goals.  The first one which took me on this leg of my “journey” was to finish my third book.  Now, there were folks who didn’t know (nor care!) about the first and second books!  So, “the haters” were surprised and of course, those who didn’t want to “accept who I am” decided that now is the time to criticize MY BOOKS!!  Of course, they haven’t written any books and probably have a hard time forming a good paragraph.  I would sometimes mention to folks that “I would rather tell my own story” than have some hater running around trying to describe my life to their liking.  Oh … hell no!  Don’t make me say it!!  I’ll just write it.  My health was the third project which is an ongoing thing.  Between taking “full spectrum CBD” and regular consumption of curcuma and ginger, the range of motion and even the muscles in my back and hips are improving!  Now, I am not going to try out for the NBA but I can still get around on my own!  Blessings!

Now in all my activities, fun and learning while here, I haven’t seen my ONLY child – Ayanna Lynne – and her son, Caleb Isaac in five years now!  So, I got my second Pfizer shot yesterday and sent the forms required for the national registry through the Costa Rican Ministerio de Salud.  My arm was a little sore. But since the first vaccination about three weeks ago, I have noticed that I expectorate a bit more to get the phlegm out of my scarred lungs, which occurred when I had “walking pneumonia” while I lived and partied … oh yeah, I taught, too … in Cali, Colombia, South America for five years!  So, after Ayanna told me that it might be difficult for her and my grandson to visit me in Ft. Lauderdale, I decided to check flights to New York while I am stateside.  And once again, as the “universe” has shown me over and over, I found affordable flights from Ft. Lauderdale to New York (actually the airport is in Hartford, CT which I learned from my daughter!) and back!  So, I think I am going to saddle up, get the necessary documents (tests, vaccinations, etc.) so I can travel to see my immediate family members …

I kept in mind that all the negative comments of the “naysayers” were not helpful in achieving MY goals and I stayed focused on what I am doing!  You see, when you actually focus on improving yourself, things go better!  I won’t waste my time “slaying dragons” and convincing “haters” that MY life is worth living the way I want to do it.  So far, so good!  I am feeling the most relaxed that I have felt in my entire life … anywhere and everywhere!  And I am not hurting ANYONE and continue to spread the unconditional love that I experienced with my mother first and now I experience the blessings of the universe!

Stay focused on your goals once you have made a few!  I had the chance to attend an incredible wedding last weekend here in Puerto Viejo of two “new” friends who are “leaders” in the growing “ex-pat” community here in Puerto.  And remember, everything that glitters ain’t gold!


John I. Cook, Director

In the Name of Friendship . . .

Happy Friday, Y’all!

It’s time for another one … TGIF, then!!  Thanks for joining me in raising some positive vibrations!!

You know, when you are traveling and arrive at a “new place”, we ALL want to make “friends”, if possible.  I think back to some of my most challenging times when “friends” came through to help out … even though there were episodes of failure from my end.  I think of a really wonderful God-powered couple I met at church in Ft. Lauderdale – Karen and Steve … two of the nicest people I have ever met.  Thanks for putting up with me, guys! Here in Costa Rica … Puerto Viejo, to be exact … I’ve made a few “really good friends” … Davia and Greg stand out a bit!  There are others, but Davia took the time to make some splendid photographs of me for my book covers. I had to use them elsewhere since I had to change the book’s format.  Tomorrow, Davia and Greg are getting married … yep, here in Puerto Viejo at a cool resort called Banana Azul!  And guess who is invited?!  Yep, ME!  Again, thanks guys.

One of the most important things for me is to be understood … not by everyone … but by those closest to me.  And that’s a tall order for both parties involved … you know … being close!!  I am looking forward to the wedding because not only was I invited with a bunch of other folks, but it is going to be the “spread of the year”!  These guys really know how to entertain!  Davia is a mother of two girls who look just like her and she is straight out of California.  Davia is also an exceptional business woman … and I’ll leave it at that.  Meanwhile, Greg is an attorney originally out of Miami, if I am not mistaken, and they met here!  How romantic is that!?  It’s an all day thing starting at like 1pm and ending with a shuttle to the “after party of your choice” around 8pm!!  I am attending alone but there will be a bunch of people there to keep me company!!  I am sure that I can make a friend or two more … not to mention salute the happy couple.  I didn’t comment on the menu because I don’t want anyone salivating on the post!!  But I have requested either Red Snapper or Portobello mushroom … I forgot which one I asked for!  It’ll be a great culinary surprise, not to mention all of the other gourmet foods they have for guests.  I think of a room mate I had at Princeton, Randy, who also just got married to a lovely lady … Carol!

Friendships are delicate.  Make them last if you can.  Say “thank you” and “I’m sorry for that” when appropriate.  I open my heart and home to people as I was raised that way by both parents.  They used to invite people over for dinner at our tiny apartment in the Winbrook Apartments after church … and we went almost every Sunday!  I am glad that I did go with them as I learned a lot about spirituality and a “power greater than myself” whom I often call God!  Be good to your friends …  And people, be kind to those who offer you friendship with no strings attached.  Of course, one has to be careful even here.

I have been in a bit of a “tizzy” lately as I am organizing a trip back Stateside for a few weeks around the time of my birthday.  I am looking forward to taking care of some important business with my small sole proprietorship, Educational Excellence, as well as a family “reunion” of sorts with my best friend in Ft. Lauderdale, Johnny Ace and our running partner, Joel Valencia!  If all things go as planned, I may get to see my grandson, Caleb Isaac, whom I haven’t seen in person in five years.  He and his Mom, my daughter Ayanna, are scheduled to meet me in Ft. Lauderdale.  I have been working hard on making the trip a success … and of course, return here to Puerto Viejo … for now.  Remember, “it’s the journey, not the destination”!

A huge thanks to all of the friends who have helped me throughout my life … you know who you are!  I’m trying to make good on your investment in our friendship!

If you haven’t looked at the third manuscript, check it out!!  

https://www.amazon.com/Cooking-Life-Cookbook-John-Cook-ebook/dp/B08Z7FRKCX/ref=sr_1_6?dchild=1&keywords=cooking+with+life+cook+book+iii&qid=1621607433&sr=8-6Cooking With Life!: Cookbook IIIamazon.com


John I. Cook, Director

Happy Juneteenth, America!!

Yes, yes!  It’s that time again!!  You know … Friday … TGIF Time and ALL!  Hit it!! “TGIF!”  I know, I know … I am not only “friendly” but corny sometimes!!

Isn’t it sadly interesting that some fellow human creatures want to “take your/our kindness for weakness”?  I mean, how can we disseminate good vibrations without being kind with and to each other?!?  It can’t be done with “egotistical envy” or “brute force” aka “violence”!!  Don’t get it twisted.  Find the balance … like “Stonehenge” or the Great Pyramids … maybe Machu Picchu!!  Many of us, in particular in the West, have adopted such extremist views … just because they “can”!!  No matter how “incorrect” and “inaccurate” the viewpoints and talking points of these “people and politicians they follow” are, these other “extremists” find solace in embracing things that are actually “detached from reality”!  Extremism Gone Wild!!  It’s a sad commentary on the state of human intelligence ….  “I can’t …”  In fact, one political representative in the US Congress has family members who say publicly that his denial of reality has disgraced his family’s reputation!  This GOP representative denies that anything dangerous happened on January 6th, 2021 at the US Capitol …  His family members say that he keeps perpetrating this “fraud” because he is helping to get more funds in for the GOP!!  Believe it … or not!

So, shall we deduce that some “people” will embrace AND advocate an untruth for M.O.N.E.Y. and some make-believe “power”?!  What about the “fool-hardy” followers of this nonsense who get NO money and NO power?!?  They get an imaginary “fist bump” from an imaginary “creature” who never had any business pretending to be the president of anything!  The worst part is that these “frauds” also known as lies are destroying the very fabric of an increasingly diversified US of A!!  Now THAT’S what frightens the average moron!!  If you don’t believe that then maybe you can believe that the FBI is having dress rehearsals for their next “insurrection at the Capitol”!  Come on now, folks, why won’t some of us focus on a “common reality”?!?

Anyway, enjoy the newest Federal holiday of “Juneteenth” as it has found its rightful place amongst democratic decrees in the States.  It is actually proof of the notion that the two party system might just work again if the “nutcases” can get their heads out of their buttocks!!!  Happy Juneteenth, America … in my “Bernie Mack” voice.  Comedian D. L. Hughley said it best:  “Now if only they ALL could agree on giving the Congressional Medal of Honor to those “police” who actually saved their a$$es!!”  Or … is that too hard to comprehend, too?!  

However you like to do it, seek balance and harmony in your daily endeavors!


John I. Cook, Director

“Be Yourself Because You Are YOU!!”

Happy Friday, Y’all!  So let’s show some gratitude right about now!!  TGIF to keep it movin’ this mornin’!  Don’t let the haters make you hate!!  Be YOURSELF!  And the best version of you that you can be!!

Most of us have had “parents” though I am sure in many places on the Earth, like the Gaza Strip, the situation requires quite a bit of flexibility and human resilience …  I was fortunate and I like to be a light of hope for those less fortunate.  This world seems to have literally become a battleground for “the good” vs. “the evil”.  It has become a world in which it is not only paramount to “know thyself” but to BE YOURSELF!  How comfortable is it for a human to be told over and over to “be like so and so”!  Growing up in The Projects was interesting because one had so many choices!  Yet, my Father who never graduated from high school raised a family in New York after escaping the harshness of the “Dirty South” and a raw brand of racism that we can FINALLY SEE today … with your OWN EYES !!  Still, keep in mind that there are some of “us” who are fit to lead and be great examples, perhaps, for others to follow …

Here at Educational Excellence, I encourage folks to “be yourself”.  Find out who you are and as I mentioned before … what makes you “tick”, so to speak.  I have exposed MYSELF to different things and situations so I can learn MORE about myself and share that “goodness” with others.  While I don’t mention my Father “Big Ike” aka Isaac Henry Cook often, he was the family’s advocate for “being who you are”!  He would always tell me as I was growing up in the Winbrook Apartment Complex, “Don’t follow people around, boy!”  He would continue, “Get a hobby or something and stay out of trouble!”  His tough love advice was something I carry with me to this very day.  I know after so many “dress rehearsals” that I have a sound mind, a great heart and an ability to perceive and understand things and lead!!  So, why would I “follow” just anyone who attempts to make me follow THEM?!?  It’s the kind of thing that makes me wonder …

Trust YOURSELF!  Be YOURSELF …  And finish that thought however you wish!  Find your “motivation” to live a great life!


John I. Cook, Director

Truth And Communication

Happy Friday, y’all yeah!  It’s that time again!!  Let’s put together a big “TGIF” for “the Universe” then!!  TGIF!!  There you have it!!

Sometimes in our lives, we come across that “moment” when communication with someone “close” to us is difficult.  It’s even more challenging when that “someone” is NOT so dear to us … like a co-worker or someone we met “in passing” or just “hanging out”!  Why?  Because it’s that much MORE difficult trying to communicate well with someone who “doesn’t have your (or their own!) best interest in mind”.  In other words, “they” may just be “acting” difficult towards your attempts to communicate with them just to get a “rise” or reaction out of you!!  Enter “action mode” … don’t simply “react” … and think through your options first!  It’s a similar thought process as used when playing chess!  This is why we here at Educational Excellence advocate “knowing thyself”!  Know what makes you “sick” as well as what makes you “tick”!  For example, lies are tiresome to keep up with and make me sick.  On the contrary, “love” and kindness attracts me and makes me blossom to the point where I want to share it …

About twenty years ago, Educational Excellence was born.  After overcoming a few challenges, I got enrolled in a course at “Nova Southeastern University” at the campus in Davie, FL.  The course was designed to help participants in setting up their own “small business”.  The course introduced us to the various forms that a small business could take, be it an “LLC”, a non-profit 501(c)3, or even a not for profit sole proprietorship like my little” business”!  I had also looked at getting involved in another “self-help” program in Broward County that coached its participants through the process of buying their first home!  If “one” completed THAT “course”, a local bank would deposit like $2,000.00 into an account that they set up to help towards the purchase of that first home.  I chose the first option which waived the cost of the course for each of us that completed the classes, activities, trips, and workshops.

Once getting “on my feet” with “EE” and working a few jobs, I began to actually “knock on doors” of the colleges and universities located on Las Olas Boulevard in Ft. Lauderdale to inquire about the possibility of me working with them as a tutor, motivational speaker, and a resource person.  I got my “feet wet” by volunteering services for organizations like The Urban League of Broward County, The Boys and Girls Club of Broward in Lauderhill, FL, a Big Brothers Big Sisters Program in Miami, and several other opportunities to market my first book and EE with The Brahma Kumaris in Miami and the African American Research Library and Cultural Center there on historic Sistrunk Boulevard named after the first Black doctor in the FTL.  My first book was released and my Mother was with me there at the AARLCC at my very first “book signing”.  I am EE and EE is me … and this is the blog for Educational Excellence!  We focus on learning and communicating the truth about ourselves and others.  I know, I know … it’s a tall order and I’ve been on this particular journey for 20 years now!  Happy Birthday Educational Excellence!

Thanks for reading …


John I. Cook, Director

I’m Having A Moment …

Happy Friday, All!

So, here we have more incidents of pure “human folly” from rockets, bombs, and planes in the Middle East and the Gaza Strip to whichever gun-related mass shooting you’d like to choose from Stateside!  I mean, damn … So, see if you can join me in a Friday salute to “still being here …” TGIF!

I enjoyed this year’s celebration of my Mom’s birthday.  Of course, the month of May also has “Mother’s Day” in it!  So, I get a double dose of “how much I love my Momma!”  She struggled with Alzheimer’s for her last few years.  After Hurricane Wilma had caused so much destruction in South Florida where she lived with her daughter, my sister, and her adult kids, she fell in the darkness and suffered a brain hemorrhage on TOP of the Alzheimer’s condition.  Peace be still …

For many years after her passing, I experienced some tough “moments” around the time of “Mother’s Day” and her birthday.  That’s pretty much because I wasn’t able to do as much for her as I wished and I watched her struggle with that hideous disease.  Yet, I was somewhat happy, strangely so as she passed quietly in her comatose state.  There was no visible suffering nor pain as I was the last family member to see her breathing until slipping into darkness, so to speak.  I recall on some days of the past in May when at work in a call center, I would suddenly remember her “unconditional love” for me and what seemed to be “the whole world” as she knew it … and my face would fill with tears … emotional sobbing type stuff!  I would occasionally ask for an early “break” so I could pull myself together.  Most of my “bosses” understood ’cause everybody is supposed to love their “Momma”, right?!  This year, as I have been focusing on healing and the rejuvenation of my mind, body, and spirit, I handled those “May Days” with more skill.  Last week on Friday, which was the day after her birthday, I had my last tooth pulled!!   My jaw was swollen and I had to cancel a dinner pizza with friends.  Instead, I went out to eat some calamari, my favorite, with rice, veggies, and a nice salsa … alone.  I was in “heaven” with her, if you catch my drift!!  All in all, I felt I did well mildly mourning her while counting my blessings … from HER!

Even right now as I compose this message, I am feeling a tremendous calm as May closes!  I feel stronger, emotionally more “complete” and excited to continue “the journey”.  I also want to thank “Maureen”, another long-time supporter, and “CO” from boarding school for getting copies of “Cooking With Life!”  I know there are others and I thank youse, too.  If you haven’t browsed it yet or gotten your own copy, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Cooking-Life-Cookbook-John-Cook-ebook/dp/B08Z7FRKCX/ref=sr_1_6?dchild=1&keywords=cooking+with+life+cook+book+iii&qid=1621607433&sr=8-6.  Share it, give someone like “me” a “helping hand” in your own orbits, and share the love, respect, and peace from me and Educational Excellence!  The non-profit, sole proprietorship business known as Educational Excellence turns 20 in June 2021.  We’ve been around!


John I. Cook, Director

Something Special … Someone Special …

Happy Friday, All!

Once again, I think we can do a T.G.I.F. together to start things off, so TGIF!  “Thank you very kindly!”  It seems that the world’s leaders have lost the social etiquette necessary for us to “live together peacefully” on this planet.  Money, wealth and obsession with power have taken the driver’s seat in this “suffering” world!  The “followers” of this world have absorbed this character defect and spread it too far and too wide!  That’s why I focus on things like love, peace, happiness … even RESPECT in my pieces!

Yesterday was my Mother’s birthday!  Thanks for your wonderful and uplifting thoughts and comments!  She still is the world for me, my main motivation even!  Last night, I began to see snippits of news videos of a murder two years ago by the Louisiana State Troopers.  If you haven’t seen it yet, pay attention.  Yes, again and a year BEFORE Mr. Floyd’s public assassination by  Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis Police Department, an unarmed African American male was murdered.  But this time, there was no “video taken by the public” and the one taken by the Louisiana State Troopers was concealed for TWO YEARS!  Mr. Greene had taken the troopers on a high speed chase one night as he traveled from Louisiana to Florida to see his mother …  According to the video which finally surfaced because of someone’s conscience in the trooper’s ranks, he could only say that he “was afraid and sorry” and they were “his brothers”.  The troopers heard none of that!  They were so angry and had lost self control and responsibility for their jobs and became as barbaric as they could be!  Mr. Greene was taken from his car while being tased, pulled onto the ground, punched and kicked incessantly until they could get the handcuffs on, and even dragged by his ankles while handcuffed and face DOWN!!  Who does that?!?  Imagine if I had gotten so upset with a student in my class and done something like that!?!  His Mother who appeared on the news channels said that she couldn’t even watch it completely!  It was truly sadistic!  One of the troopers was recorded as saying, “I beat the ever loving f–k out of him!”

I am so glad that I made it to retirement and intelligent and perhaps was even lucky enough to have avoided such a fate!  Now, trust me, I have been stopped by law enforcement in Florida many times but never allowed myself to panic and run and be dragged from my vehicle.  There have been some close calls but, as one of my motivational talks that focuses on “Driving While Black” suggests, I have always maintained my own self esteem and self respect.  I had one incident in my apartment in Oakland Park, FL when the Broward County Sheriff’s department had come to contain me and I was on the phone.  They didn’t want to wait until I finished my conversation with a family member and had no warrant for my arrest yet.  It got physical and I know that a “guardian angel” was watching over me.  I came out alive.  I am glad that I can celebrate my Mother’s birthday in freedom and alive … pretty much well, too!  “Something special” indeed that I learned to appreciate because of someone special in my life – my Mother.  My heart literally cries for Mr. Greene’s mother who appeared on several news programs …  His mother said that she will miss his endless positivity that he often shared with her.  He was on the way to her house and the troopers told her that he had “died in a car crash that he had with a tree” …  She was heartbroken when two years later, she actually could see what REALLY happened to her son … Peace be still …

There’s nothing more special than love for one another!  What’s so hard to learn about that?!?  We humans have tried everything else and us hippies did a “Woodstock” thing for y’all!  People, especially “public servants”, should employ much more respect, love and understanding in their work!  I know I did it as a teacher …

As I continue my weekend with a “kudos” to my Mother, enjoy your weekends as well!  Feel free to visit: https://www.amazon.com/Cooking-Life-Cookbook-John-Cook-ebook/dp/B08Z7FRKCX/ref=sr_1_6?dchild=1&keywords=cooking+with+life+cook+book+iii&qid=1621607433&sr=8-6 to get your copy either in e-book or paper back.  The book is dedicated to the memory of my Mother … Marietta Dolores Cook … “someone” very special!  Thanks for reading!


John I. Cook, Director

“Meet ‘Karen’ . . .”

Happy Friday again, ALL!  How are y’all feeling about the world “we” live in today?!  Do you think “life is fair”?  Do you BELIEVE that you even “deserve” a fair life?!  I certainly hope you believe you do!  Keep in mind, you might have to “fight” for what you deserve in a most tactful way.  So, TGIF, then, will you?!!

Have you folks heard of the term “a Karen” by now?  It’s a word for a “white skinned woman” who feels that she is entitled to preferential treatment because of the color of her skin.  These “Karen” types usually seek an opportunity to utilize this psychological phenomenon that exists ONLY if the purported “privileged” and the subject of the “privileged action” BOTH agree on this fabricated phenomenon.  Let’s be clear, I don’t play that, and the ONLY thing that I will do when challenged is “represent my talents” to the fullest!  Be aware of who you decide to “disrespect” because that’s ALL that is … “disrespect”!  Let’s continue with “Meet ‘Karen’” from my perspective with the help of “The Wizard and his Wife”.

So, where I was living before here (people like to do 3-month agreements), I had asked the property owner for a copy of the agreement.  Cut to the chase, after weeks of unpaid dog-sitting WHILE I was working on my book and occasional UNPAID house-sitting for the electric/light company for the property owner and NEVER receiving a ‘thank you’ from this ‘property owner’, the “Bruja” produced a copy of the agreement … 2 months later.  It was like 8 or 9 in the morning and I was working on my laptop on the deck with my earplugs in when the “Bruja” came with a copy of the agreement and started to “talk”.  Mind you, no message was sent to me to ask me … that’s what I said … ASK ME if I have time to talk.  The rent of $850 was due for my last month and the “Bruja” also still had possession of MY $400.00 in the form of a security deposit.  So, I wasn’t about to trust a “property owner” who took 2 months to produce a “copy of an agreement” to return $400 of MY MONEY 16 days after I was to depart the last day – June 4th.  I had seen multiple examples of “tardiness”, lack of concern for me and more concern for her pets, and complete unprofessional rudeness as she displayed this same morning!

After I took my earplugs out and simply looked at her, she began telling me that here was the contract and I was to sign it and give it back to her …  It was ON!!  Not only does NO ONE simply order me to sign something, but NO ONE will get my WELL DESERVED PENSION monies without providing a “successful service” for ME!!  Basically, we went back and forth, her speaking in Spanish and trying to get the upper hand on MY MONEY until I took the contract, placed it on the deck and told her that I was not going to sign it 2 months later.  She, “la diabla”, got upset and started to make a case for me to “have to sign” this faulty, dishonest, property owner biased so-called “contract”.  The agreement had 2 clauses that I refused to acknowledge as they were LIES … and I don’t sign LIES.  One clause said that “ALL of the furniture was in excellent condition and that the leasee/or I would have to pay for ANY damages to the floor (which had several cigarette burns with one in the front doorway) or the furniture!  The lamp right next to my bed was a “second hand store” fixture that was clearly broken before I arrived.  The property owner aka “la Diabla” told me when I complained, “Oh, I won’t charge you for that!!” which brought me quite a “furrowed brow” and a look of disdain that could clearly be understood by ANYONE!  I laughed, put my earplugs back in and continued working.  I took a moment to tell her to “get away from me” while I was working.   “La Diabla” was shocked that I spoke to her that way just as much as I was shocked that she even “tried me” like that!! WT@!!

She left for the time.  Like a week before, I had met a gentleman that I will call “The Wizard” and “His Wife”!  This was no coincidence because “The Wizard” and his wife not only KNEW “la diabla” but had helped her by renting their second home to “la diabla” at a tremendous discount while she rented the same house I was renting but for $950.00 per month!!  “La diabla”, and I call her that because while “it” had a unique eye color, her expressions with me were sinister as she tried to “suck” my self esteem with her insistence on her being right and that I was in “her house”!!   Cut to the chase again … The next night, “la diabla” came back demanding that I pay her $850.00 and that I follow her instructions to get my $400 back!!  I refused, she entered the house and … “Meet ‘Karen’”!  She began to walk around in the house … yes “her” house with more than $2,000.00 of MY dollars having been paid to a negligent, rude and unprofessional property owner!  The conversation went back and forth until I told her again that I would ONLY pay $450 since she had $400 of MY dollars already so we were “good”!  I walked in to the bedroom and to my surprise, she entered behind me saying, “Es mi casa!”  She started looking for my possessions to touch and found my laptop case IN THE BEDROOM!!  “Karen” was trying to get me into as much trouble as she could.  Fortunately, the police in Costa Rica can’t get involved in domestic issues unless a “woman is physically touched and injured”!  This was a “landlord/tenant” issue which must be taken to court as I found out with the previous “property manager” that I had to put in check, too!  At this point, I exited the bedroom for my safety, walked into the kitchen and dropped a bowl on the floor, which got her attention finally.  “La diabla” exited the bedroom and headed for the deck to call the police.  “Bingo!” I thought.  When she walked out of the front door to the deck, I grabbed the door and securely closed it behind her … locked it in other words!!  She was in shock and immediately thrust her foot up and kicked the door!!!

In that short amount of time, I realized that this was out of control … “la diabla” in particular.  She called the police who came  half hour later.  One officer spoke with her while the other spoke with me on the deck of the house.  I explained what happened and the other officer spoke to “la diabla” for what seemed to be an eternity!!  Finally, since “la diabla” just likes to talk people to death, I told the officer assigned to me that if she would simply give me my $400 back, I would leave at the crack of dawn!  I had had enough of this and wasn’t looking to experience any “Derek Chauvin” tactics used on me in Costa Rica … Puerto Viejo, to be exact  Finally, it seemed that she agreed but again, did NOT give me back my security and the police are NOT authorized to get involved in ANY financial disputes in Costa Rica!  I called my new friends, “Mr. Wizard” and his “Wife” and explained to them what happened.  As I watched the police ride away both on motorcycles, I wondered who was supposed to get my money back from this creature!!  I agreed with Mr. Wizard that I didn’t need to spend another month in “hell” so we agreed that I would pack everything up and be prepared to leave when he arrived the next morning to do a “walk through” with “la diabla” and get as much of the deposit back as possible!  Mrs. Wizard had spoken with “la diabla” and tried to convince her to be more amicable in solving this “situation”.  I could care less about any freakin’ house … I wanted OUT!!

Mr. and Mrs. Wizard (now do you see why I call them that!?) used their “relationship” with this creature to not only help me get the deposit back … all except $90 which she claimed I owed her for 2 nights and the electricity bill which she never produced for the 2 months that I was there.  They had also spoken to the manager of this lovely bungalow at “Bamboutel” to reserve a unit for me!  The next morning went as planned and I was out with the help of Mr. Wizard who did exactly as he said, by midday!  His wife, “Mrs. Wizard”, had promised me that Mr. Wizard would “get my money back”!  They BOTH are pretty incredible!!  Thanks guys … “Good-bye, Karen!”

Enjoy your weekends, please, and beware of the “Karens” and “Chauvins” out there amongst us!


John I. Cook, Director

A True Love Story . . .

Happy Friday again, Y’all!

We know what we’ve got to do today … like most days … a TGIF might suffice!!  Yeah, Baby!

Well, it’s that time again …  my Mother’s birthday in a few weeks!  May 20th, 1917!!  While I can say that she left this physical realm on November 6th, 2005, she has remained a spiritual pinnacle in my life today.  We always seemed to connect though she did most if not ALL of the unconditional love part with me.  Now, I wasn’t the only recipient of her unfathomable care for fellow human beings as there were many other organizations of which she was a part and still others that she actually led.  She served as president of the PTA (Parent Teachers Association) for several years while I was in elementary school before it – Rochambeau Elementary School – closed down due to anti-segregation interests in the fair City of White Plains!  She was a girl scout troop leader as well as a member of the Flower Club at our home church – Bethel Baptist Church – located there in the Projects.  Should I add here that with no formal post high school education, she cleaned houses for a living for many years in Westchester County, NY for well off clients in Scarsdale and White Plains.  She and her “lady friends” would often cater dinner parties for some of the same clients whose homes she cleaned.  Oh yeah, she was my mother as well as a mother to three others of her off-spring … and a wonderful wife for my Father – Isaac Henry Cook.

I have been able to overcome several situations with her help before the dreaded Alzheimer’s Disease set in to make her life more confusing for her.  It sent me for a loop, too, when I finally realized how much she and others struggled through the memory portions of their lives … Peace be still!  As most of the readers of my work know, the third book in the series of “Cook Books” entitled “Cooking With Life!: Cook Book III”, is dedicated to the memory of my Mother – Marietta Dolores.  She and my Dad were both there when I needed them … when I graduated from St. Paul’s School in 1972; and then again at Princeton University in 1976.  She, too, taught me how “to go high when they go low”, a la Michelle Obama!

Thanks for reading and enjoy your weekends!  There’s more brewing up right now in my life but I fill you in later!


John I. Cook, Director

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