I listen to Bob Dylan often. Especially when my mind begins to stir, confounding my heart with it’s foolishness. But a quiet mind is like a precious stone–all the world clamors and begs for just a moment in its presence. I find myself a seer in the midst of a loud a bustling city. Somehow, I’ve managed to cultivate peace in my home. While all outside hollers and sings, bachata and hip hop playing loud from cars and windows; barbershop talk spilling onto the sidewalks and the young people on my steps, some with their babies laughing loud, playing, drinking, smoking–I find stillness and hear the trees and birds singing, grasshoppers hopping into my apartment from the open window with no screen.
Two years ago my sister came to visit me from Atlanta. Not unlike her she had complained about many things. Namely the fact that she wanted two things: a husband and a daughter. Though it would likely kill her if she got pregnant again, she always longed for a girl–she already has two boys. A little over a year ago she met someone. Continue reading
“Quietly go to work on your own self-awareness. If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.” – Hua hu Ching: The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu
To begin there was nothing but happiness, joy and lightness. No deity, no sin, no reward, no punishment and no regulation. The hue of my mother’s skin and its softness–her perfect dark brown and my father’s rough hands. He would toss me around like I was a little boy–I was always the roughest, always a tomboy as a child. Even now from time to time. Mami told me he didn’t hold us often when we were infants because he thought he would break us. He probably would have; to me he was the strongest human on the planet. I remember being a toddler always with him and his friends. They would treat me like one of the boys. In Panama he and his best friend were so close and similar that I would call them both Papi–never distinguishing between the two. I would climb all over Papi and he would spin me around, pin me in his legs–which to me were like iron bars and hold me there for a long time as I struggled to get out as he watched TV in his bed–each time thinking I was stronger than he was, always growing fast and strong, like he used to say. I could never escape though, I couldn’t escape his love. Mami would sit me down every few days between her legs. She’s the epitome of femininity–like a hairless puppy. (Not like me, so much like my father in how I walk, sit, gesture and hairy everywhere–especially my belly.) No, Mami doesn’t have any hair on her legs or her chin, very little under her arms, skin as smooth as a baby, complexion perfect. Mami would pick out my afro first, grease my scalp, little braids with shiny clips or big plaits with bolitas at the base (Black American girls called them bobos, I used to think that was weird). There was only love between her legs where I used to sit. She made me beautiful–negra linda. She gave me comfort. She seldom lost her temper. She loved me when my actions would have made me unlovable to anyone else. She breathes tenderness and kindness, patience and beauty. As I child their love was my only religion. Continue reading
There’s nothing like a yeast infection to remind you how shitty everything in the world is. But a real friend doesn’t judge you when you take the day off work, cancel your meditation classes, lay up naked on the couch spread eagle with yogurt dripping all over your vulva and your breath smelling like garlic cuz you slept with it in your coochie–it take a down ass bitch to still be your friend after seeing that. Continue reading
Below are some of the most relevant, thought-provoking dialogues between my little sister Dani (ATL) and I. The second in an I’m sure endless series of SMS (also known as text) conversations, it’s sure to stimulate thought-provoking ideas and remind the reader of the insight, wisdom and unending love between sisters. To read part one click here.
Her: Ice Cube is such an alpha male
Me: That’s an understantement. Nigga sexy n he don’t age either
Her: He married the same bitch he mentioned in ‘it was a good day.’
Her: Yo she a real ass bitch! [referring to a trainer/nutritionist I’ve been learning from]
Me: She funny as hell be like ‘y the hell you ain’t eatin bacon?’ luv her
Her: East side nigga (one of her many lovers) told that there’s me and then everybody else. That’s not ok
Me: Look u need to learn how to take a real ass compliment as a lover even it if’s from a crazy ass nigga
Her: We was face timing. I awww/cheesed and told him that my two fingers was him n gave t a big kiss then licked it. Then he said there’s something wrong with me Continue reading
Today was one of those days where my energy circled en mass around my body. Up earlier than I’d wanted to be, I thought a weight training session at the gym might help put me at ease, but nothing can calm a violent love. The sun kept peeking through the clouds on this cold winter day. The remnants of the high I felt from yesterday surrounded by my little nieces and nephews, dancing in the room with them while the adults sat outside eating turkey and telling stories–they made my world bright and kaleidoscope again. We all laughed and they dressed up for me and I taught them old school dances–they didn’t know what the running man, the cabbage patch and the butterfly were was so we did it to Chris Brown and Justin Bieber songs. I left my family yesterday as I always do–with my heart ready to explode.
So I hopped on my bike, put on my favorite red lipstick and aviator shades. With the freezing cold wind at my neck and the sun kissing my cheeks, I made my ceremonious bike through Harlem–the east and west sides. When love like this calls to move my body and I’m not in a position to dance–I find pedaling calms my spirit. All day today I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing or Continue reading
In my life so far I haven’t found arms or a presence yet that makes me feel safer than those of my father. No one has ever made me feel as loved as my mother. Today, when I’m sick, when I’m scared or when I feel disconnected from the world around me, there still is no place more comforting than her lap, no smell more sweet than her skin. In three days she comes back and all I want to do is sleep next to her warmth. I could be dramatic and write about what an angel she is but it would only be the truth.
The last person I started falling for, I never got the chance to explain to him why his behavior was unacceptable. I just told him that I treated him exactly the way I wanted to be treated. On the night of a big blow up–during which he decided to scream me out in the street like a dog because he was in a bad mood (and so I left the scene mostly in shock and completely disappointed), he asked (screaming) didn’t you ever see your dad angry?! To which I answered he isn’t and will never be my father figure and of course I’ve seen him angry but he almost never raised his voice, and he certainly never talked to my mother like that–not once in my life have I seen them argue.
My father is a wonderful, hard-working, blue collar, family man. He’s a typical Latino man who isn’t the PDA type but he never, ever lets his family down. He’s never been rich or even middle class, he’s never had a fancy car (actually didn’t learn how to drive until 10 years ago), we lived in the projects my entire childhood and teenage years (not that it bothered me and I wouldn’t have had it any other way), he only went up to the 5th grade. In a capitalist society all of these things make him “less than” or “inferior” or not a “boss.” But his integrity and his love and his dedication and his patience is worth more to me than any material thing I could ever ask for. Continue reading