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Some Things From Colombia

1. Many toilets do not have seats and only a thin porcelain rim.
2. Bring mosquito repellent and bring more, if you can, shower in it daily.
3. Thumbs up are used to greet people, but they are cocked to the side and arm out stretched, and a "Todo bien" is added.
4. Girls of all sizes wear wildly printed leggings with shirts that don't cover their butts as they walk with wide strides down the street in Converse. Men watch as they jiggle down the street.
5. Everyone has a dog and they walk the everywhere or even have them ride on their motorcycle pink tongues waving "Todo Bien" to oncoming traffic.
6. Children are sandwiched between adults as they weave in out of traffic on motorcycles.
7. Did I mention there are a lot of motorcycles?
8. There is traffic everywhere at every time of the day and motorcyclist weave in and out traffic with a buzz like bees adding to the never silent city noise.
9. Everyone greets one another all the time, if you don't it's ru…

Crepuscular Rays: Rays of Sunlight that Appear to Radiate From the Point in the Sky Where the Sun is Located

When I was a child, between the ages of six and eight, I remember trying to stare at the sun. My mom and  grandma Ita, told me, "Don't stare at the sun, you'll go blind!" But still, I tried to stare.

I stared through warm red flesh tinted eyelids. They trembled as I tried not to open them against the sun's heat, knowing if I did I would squint and my eyes would water.

I stared on cloudy days as the sun's arms poked in and around light gray puffs of teasing rain clouds.

I stared as close as could on cloudless days until my eyes stung and watered from the brightness. The small muscles around my eyes contracted into one another as if hugging my eye in protection.

"Mom, I can look at the sun with sunglasses on!"
"No you can't! You'll go blind!" she said exasperated.

I stared through tinted sunglasses but tried to look in and around the brightest spot, well, because I didn't want to go blind, but I wanted to see the sun. This big my…

Super Secret Single Behavior

This weekend I was on  my own, and I noticed two things.
1. My house feels empty with just me and the pets.
2. My house feels empty with just me and the pets.

Now, I know those two things are the same, but they mean very different things. See, my house never felt empty to me when I lived by myself, and now, it feels empty as if something was missing. Even Sami, the dog, looked around wandering what was missing before jumping into my arms and snuggling down for a nap.

On the other hand, the emptiness felt lovely. Things I had done before living with someone came back to me. Things like lounging in bed longer than usual, not cleaning the kitchen immediately after eating, staying in pajamas, not washing my hair for two days, going to the bathroom with the door open, not brushing my teeth immediately after waking up, and simply just melting into the couch, watching all my shows I never get to watch and becoming a part of the couch for an evening. (For the record I blame this on the cold f…

Rough and New

her Voice was like
a warm blanket in
a cold room

soothing as it
surrounded me cuddling
against her

Voice calms me in this
white, sterile, space
where she

comforts me even
after I press buttons

play click
rewind click
play click

on the tape with her  
Voice


Memoirs, Relationships, and Rigoberto González

When I write I don't think about anything else aside from where my story is going. Where will it take me? Do I like where it's going? Does it like where I'm taking it?

It's not until much later and many edited drafts past the original that I think about reading it aloud. Last, night I read two pieces I'd never read aloud before. "La Trenza" which I'm excited is about to be published in the latest edition of Cream City Review and "Dimming Lights" which is a small heavy piece I used to divide my memoir into sections of before and after my grandmother Ita's, death.

Last night, I read them in front of an author who I read when first figuring out how to write my own work, Rigoberto González. I read his memoir Butterfly Boy: Memoirs of a Chicano Butterfly amongst others when I was still undecided on what shape my book was going to take. It was interesting because I felt as if I knew him, already had a relationship with him, and I wanted to sa…

Halloween Means Fall

In El Paso, the month of October means fall is here.

It seems almost as if from the first of the month the city starts to shake off the summer heat. The snake waves of heat dissipate instead of lingering and multiplying. I love this time of the year because it means winter is coming. And for me, winter means scarves and boots, coats and hats, it means fashion and not burning up with flushed cheeks while simply walking across campus. It means cold nights tucked under heavy blankets, costumes, and holidays with family.

Most people complain about the cold in El Paso, because well, it's filled with desert rats that need a sweater when it's 75, but for me it's my favorite time. It feels as if because of the cold we all bundle up and somehow end up closer. Some of us more fashionably than others.

Flashbacks, Forwards, and MetaFiction Attacks

In a week where everything has gone up and down and all around. I want to pause a la Woody Allen and tell you, "This has been a very odd week, indeed."

"What are you talking about? What happened?" asked the reader. 

I had a visit from my prior life in the shape of an ex-regional manager now friend. I loved talking and seeing my now friend, but moments of surreal flashbacks of my prior life popped in and out. I heard the language I used to speaking fall from her lips, "Yes, we made the day with a 12% increase," only now it sounded foreign.

For many years before I moved back to El Paso, my Spanish slowly shrunk down into a tiny space that almost didn't exist because of lack of use. I understood when people spoke in Spanish but couldn't always communicate with them. I felt the same shrink effects on my business language, the phrases she said, "SIM, LY, Decrease, Increase, Rally, were all familiar, I understood, but I couldn't quite communicat…

Eavesdropping

In my prior life, when much of my time was spent in a food court, I used to frequently eat lunch alone. Although, many times I ate lunch with my "work friends," sometimes I just wanted to eat alone, mostly because I needed silence. Towards the end of that life I found I needed a lot of silence.

It's hard to be silent in a food court, I know, because the mall people stare at all the options unsure of where to eat and ask each other, "What do you want? I think I want Chick-fil-A, or maybe the Chinese place. What about Snappy Salad? Ooooo, or Tin Star? I love their tah-cos." Teenagers push and shove, giggle while they try to flirt, but still haven't mastered it, some of the boys may never. Mom  mall walkers push strollers with their crying babies, but still continue to hold conversations over the red-faced hollering bald headed beast strapped into the latest edition stroller as others wince and stare.

The cacophony of noise intensified as it echoed off the ho…

If Everything Were Like Riding a Bike

Yesterday, I went for a bike ride. It was the early evening, when the sun is still out, but the nighttime sky is already creeping up to wrap us in its cozy dark blanket. I hadn't been on a bike since my childhood, and until yesterday I wasn't quite sure if I could still ride one well. The well is still debatable.

I pushed off on the right peddle, swaying from right to left for a bit like a child first learning to walk, but after a few moments I was zooming down my block. I looked straight ahead, the black asphalt wide open to me, ear buds in my ears with a hint of music so I could still hear cars, and relaxed. Then, I wobbled again. For the rest of the bike ride I tried to remember my form to maintain my balance. As I peddled the crunching sound of ashalt accompanied the noises of my ride.

I rode around for about 30mins, and in that time the old saying, "It's like riding a bike," came to me. I was on a bike of course I was going to remember it. I thought about m…

The Things About Friends

The things about friends is that, well, it's complicated.

Family can drive you crazy, but you can't get rid of them. You can say mean, low, evil things, (as can they) and usually, they'll forgive you, at least after while. When it comes down to it, at least in my case, you fight and love with a passion, because as the saying goes, blood is thicker than water.

With friends, there doesn't seem to be the same weight, I suppose. Because you can get rid of them, you can say mean, low, evil things, and they don't have to forgive you (or you them), and friends break apart, grow, and drift away like icebergs from one another. Although friends are the family you get to pick, sometimes it's best to let them go (or them you), because as in a romantic relationship, in order for it to work you both have to make an effort.

I'm blessed with having many great friends in my life, the kind who drink away heartbreaks with you and let you cry till there's no more tears, th…

In the Words of David Bowie

This summer has been hard, bumpy, and filled with a kaleidoscope of emotions: tired, grumpy, angry, embarrassed, shame, self-doubt, happy, confident, relief, loved...when everything seems to be shifting, the world feels like the proverbial earthquake, and you feel like you can't find steady ground, it's important to remember change can't be controlled, forced, hurried, slowed down, it comes when it comes and forcing just makes everything along the way a little harder and a lot less sweet, a plump peach with no flavor.

Along the bumpy road it's important to remember:
You can't make everyone happy. Sometimes it's hard enough just making yourself happy.
Running away means you'll just have to deal with it later.
Smiling all the time is tiring; sometimes you just need to be.
The people you have in your life, the ones that matter, won't always be there, enjoy them.
It's okay to be comfortable, sometimes what we need is comfort,

I'm writing this becaus…

The Heart of a Writer

Yesterday I submitted a story for a contest. As I typed in my credit card information for the entry fee. I said a prayer over and over in my mind, "Please God let me win something. Please God let me win something."

After the culmination of days and months rolling down a hill and snowballing into years without stepping foot into a church, my Catholic upbringing of spending every Sunday on a hard wooden pew with my grandma Ita, has not left me.

I sat in a noisy coffee shop quickly rereading a story, I've read 100 times, one more time to make sure it was really ready to send out. I attached it quickly to the email, exhaled, let my fingers hover over the keys and finally hit enter, sending a piece of my heart into cyber space for someone to look over, read, and hopefully connect with it.

The heart of a writer is both tender and calloused. We pour pieces of ourselves out onto paper for people to judge. Perhaps I should say the heart of the artist, but I can't think of oth…

The Thing About Labels

Three years ago I transitioned from saying, "I'm a Department Manager at Nordstrom," to "I'm in Grad school." Each time I said it I felt a little less naked, careerless.

A year in, I took a trip to London, and in getting to know two people I'm now lucky to call friends, I was asked what I was going to do. "I'm a writer. I want to write," I replied. The words were still new to my mouth, sticky like caramel, resistant to dissolve and sticking to the back of my throat. I imagined the stickiness in my words wasn't apparent as I chewed them out.

Three years have passed and I'm now left with the label, "I'm a writer," and I find that this is one of the labels I've enjoyed the most. I want to wrap myself in all its letters and cozy into them like an over-sized blanket. I want to knit the multi-colored blanket larger with my own words and stories until I'm completely surrounded by them. I want to breath and live with …

The Smell of Books

Hardcover, paperback, wrinkled corners and cracked spines.

In an age of e-readers, smaller screens, quicker reading...
well,                         I don't want quicker,
I want to sit back

ankles resting against one another, book opened to a perfect 45 degree angle as not to break the spine, and
                                         breathe
                                                the
                                                      words
                                                                  in
                                                                       deeply

The Thing About Waiting

The thing about waiting, for anything, whether in a line at the 24-hour Walgreens or the drive-thru at Starbuck's waiting for your morning Skinny Mocha, is that, well it sucks. No one likes to wait in lines, and in a world where we can do multiple things at once at all times and post how we're feeling to the world in seconds, the waiting seems worse. It seems like, well, we're waiting that much longer.

We're standing behind the guy with a shaved head and tattoo's who's moist pasty skin rolls peak out from the rolled edges of his cut dingy t-shirt waiting to get the birth control that will keep us from having his three noisy kids that keep grabbing the bottles of vitamins off the shelves as ten people stand in line try not to stare at the kids like they are monsters.  It's also sitting in our cars Tweeting, Facebooking, Google +ing, Instagraming, What's Apping, all about coffee, then wrinkling ours noses as we notice we forgot to hit the re-circulation b…

Downtown El Paso

Yesterday I went for a walk in downtown El Paso. The older part where they are trying to turn the hood into a postcard where everyone is smiling brightly and sunlight reflects off chemically whitened teeth. 

I won't get into how I feel about parts of it: disappointed and choked with things being forced down my throat as the city officials place their hands on the back of my head. Or how I feel about the other part of it: nostalgic with it's restored beauty and I remember my childhood, clasping my grandmother's sweaty palm as we walked the downtown streets.

As I walked by Firefighters Memorial Park, a small corner hidden behind tall buildings and homes, I snapped some photos. The sun was bright and unforgiving--it must be called that in El Paso because it's the best description--but I still wanted to look around and get close to the vintage light posts which have replaced the tainted silver ones that used to be there. Beads of sweat were already beginning to surface acros…

A Summer Schedule

1. Set a schedule
2. Stick to it
3. Read lots of books. The trashy kind you haven't had time for because of school
4. Work out. Beat him in the P90X challenge
5. Take long baths and stay in until your fingers look like pink little prunes and you think you might drop your book
6. Wake up at 9am everyday, even when you don't have to
7. Write, but only things that don't have anything to do with the memoir you've been staring at for the last year
8. Go see bands, even if they might be bad. El Paso is full of free summer concerts to go to, sit on prickly crab grass and enjoy the cooler evenings
9. See your friends, the ones who have stood by the sidelines cheering as you wrote and wrote for the last few months, the ones who checked on you, gave you the love you needed to finish, even if from a distance
10. Celebrate being married, finishing your thesis, and being at a giant crossroads marked Future
11.  Purge things: all the things that clutter and get in your way, clean yo…

The Thing About Blogs, Beginnings, Middles, and Ending All at the Same Time

I have not written in this space since March when I was bleeding words and had to hold whatever was left in reserve. I'm not sure if I have words now, but my hands so used to flicking at keys demanded I write something.

In the background the TV hums, Salome the cat dozes, Drew the cat bathes, and Sami the dog sleeps. Today they all smell of aloe and their fur is soft from their turn in a tub filled with warm water. I sit on my white leather couch in a soft blue cotton gown, typing and smelling of cucumber from my turn in the shower.

Many things have happened in the past few months, more than even I think I realize. I am no longer a student, but a master. I keep waiting for my light saber to be delivered. My home has become a cozy family of 6. (I forgot to mention Federico the fish swims, earlier.) I lost some things: baggage, friends, Luna the dog, fear, and my mind for a bit. I found some things: comfort, closure, friends, and my mind. (I left it in the closet).

One thing I am re…

Bleeding Ita

Hemingway once said, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." Until this week I think I only understood that quote figuratively. 

It's Thursday, and I have revised 13 stories of my creative non-fiction novel/thesis.
I have been bleeding all week. Yesterday I wrote for 12 hrs give or take, and when I went home, I felt as if I had just run a marathon. 

I am not a runner. 

This week I am bleeding through my finger tips, bleeding the words, I am to afraid to say, the feelings I didn't know were still there until they appeared on the page. 

Before medicine evolved doctor's used to bleed the sick, they thought it healed them. I think right now, I am being bled by a phantom doctor who is trying to save my heart, by pulling these words from me, so that I may love without the tenuous fear of betrayal, and so that I may miss without feeling the weight of guilt curving and bending me until I am an unrecognizable figure, like my mom. 



How to Live with a Man

I have never lived with a man, (as I typed I wrote loved).
He staying over, sleeping over at his place, you still have the drive home, the option of staying, more importantly, perhaps, the option of leaving.

I hate sharing rides with people to an event, a party, a dinner, because the next few hours are dictated by their decisions. "You wanna go?" they ask, when you both know you wanna stay. "You wanna stay?" they ask, when you both know you wanna go. Given the option I will always meet people. "I'll meet you!" I say and make up an excuse as to why I have to do this.

I no longer have that option. I cannot leave, to sit on my couch alone, scratching at places not allowed in public. Now, I live with a man, my husband. I live with a man who sits with me quietly as we watch T.V. I live with a man who helps me make dinner and also helps me clean up. I still take long baths until my fingers are pink prunes and he watches soccer while gaffing at the T.V. I re…

Mac Red Lips

Red lips, bright, distracting as her mouth moves. She laughs big, head thrown back, teeth shining whiter than they really are. She is uninhibited for a moment as she moves and talks without thinking. Swings her arm vodka cranberry in hand. It is the red lip, they give her power, the weight in her words as they tumble from glossy red lips onto the table bounce once and into your ear. A confidence which will be wiped away later.

naked

no text, or poem, or short story blurb, just me.  me who is tired of writing a thesis i just want to be over with me who is already tired of moving me who needs some space  me who is tired of people opinions, because really they just tell you what they would do,  me who is starting a new adventure me who eloped, because, well because yes me who sometimes has trouble letting go of people and  me who sometimes lets go too easily.  stubborn, unforgiving, with standards some can't live up to
i sit an office in a warehouse, trying to write about a life that i have a hard time remembering and sometimes just don't want to remember. 
"You're just scared," He said last night.  and that's just it, i think He is right.  me who needs to face & let go of people and things and junk, and put it in a box not to have it fester later,  but to just deal with it and be done, with them, it, all of it.

The Things Which Float to the Top

I am a soup on the stove, blue orange gassed fueled fire heating me up slowly, until  gradually I start to simmer. The tiny bubbles which disturb the smooth liquid surface are the things I cannot control. They are the tiny irritations in life which can't be avoided.  The great moments which are needed. As quickly as they began  they are lost in the movement of the liquid that is life. 
Tiny bits of chicken from the bottom of the soup surface  at times  and bounce off the bottom of the pot. Those are the things I wish to avoid.  The problems which are so heavy they sink back down to the bottom of the murky soup not to be seen for awhile. They are things like my dad, who deserves to be compared to chicken. And things like my grandma who died without letting me say good-bye. How selfish of her. 
The heat increases   and I bubble. 
I am a soup on the stove.  The blue orange fueled fire has not increased. Only the heat in the soup has.  I bubble and boil and these, these are the thing…

Bob Marley on the Radio

I like reggae because I grew up with it on the islands.* It reminds me of the sun shinning on my brown arms. Skin getting browner by the minute because of the moist heat. Green trees and their leaves hang everywhere as if trying to give shades to the natives, but we are all still the color of dark molasses, and always shiny. 

Cars drive by slowly on my busy block with their windows down,  their beats overlapping with the radio of the corner store, Monty's, playing Bob Marley, "I shot the sheriff..."

I sit on my porch, drinking watered down Coke from the ice that's melted quickly from the warm blanket heat, and wait for my mom to come home from her job as a tour guide to tourists who think this island, this place we call home, is exotic and strange. 



*Prompt used from a ForWord Session. The first line was not mine.

My Future's so Bright

We were sitting on the porch overlooking the city. Our house came up against the edge of the mountain. The view, a thousand twinkling lights in the night sky like lighters at a concert asking for an encore."I see my future way brighter than it will probably be. Sometimes when I look toward the horizon the light is so bright I have to turn away," I paused and looked out into the warm night air, "I have to squint to make sure I don't go blind, you know?"I licked my lips, unsure, and turned to look at him. His arms were hugged around his calves as if he was cold on this swampy summer night even though he was wearing jeans cut off at the knee."Well, can't you just wear shades?" he asked.

Two Weeks Late and a Dollar Short

It's been two weeks and I have neglected my dear blog. During the two most eventful weeks of my life, I found myself the most disconnected from the world, with only infrequent contact with those nearest and dearest to my heart. The only constant was perhaps my trusty camera which was there to document everything, when my words couldn't