September 21, 2010


Photo Courtesy of

Be good to
my inner and outer body
Be kind to
Devotion to
small things
Lost balance
I seek to tilt scales
Back to transcendence
To living in the moment
To erasing guilt
To being honest
To remember my beginnings
To be better
To always try
To energize
My self and purpose questioned
I drowned in the moment
Loathing every second
I dwelled in the moment
And owned self pity
Felt eaten whole
He was my only salva vida
Now, I can save my own life
By living by striving by stirring up
What brought me joy when I needed rescue
My mantras
My praying
My poetry
My sacred time and words
My ability to create whole cloth where nothing existed before
So I redevote myself
To me 
Mi espiritu,
Mi alma,
Mi creatividad,
Mi intuicion,
Mi destino

With my salvation by my side
(always a comforting and constant presence)
I reinforces what the inner me always knew: 
you are already complete, 
you bring your blessings to you, 
you change landscapes, 
you craft dreams, 
you bounce back, 
you weave words that become scripture. 
You ...

August 4, 2010

Till Death Do Us Part

Death and I are friends. Always cool but never tight. In fact, we barely spoke. Definitely weren't peoples like that. But every couple of years, Death would appear to remind me of his existence. Sorta like that outta the blue phone call from a lover you haven't seen in years or a neighborhood playmate you haven't thought of since junior high.

The first time I knew Death was more than the boogeyman or diving into the deep end of the pool, I was 8 and a half years old. Papa, my father's father, swiftly lost his battle with cancer and six months after being diagnosed was at Rodriguez Funeral home for a two day stint surrounded by black clad mourners, weeping sons and neighborhood heroes who recalled Don Jorge. Soon after he took permant residencey at Bushwick Cemetary. 

In the decades after I saw Death steal high school classmates, work colleagues, friends of short no one I was close to or called family. I pushed Deaths presence to the back of my mind, like a date you say you'll make but never do. 

Then on the cusp of turning 30 years old, Death rudely showed up on my front porch. My Titi Gloria-- a church-going-chain-smoking-sunshine-smile-wearing-woman-- met her demise from cancer a few short weeks after being diagnosed formally. It felt like bricks fell on my head; worse than any two-timing heartbreak or screaming macth I'd ever had. Mortality was real and my elders--my parents,aunts, uncles, cousins,family friends--were ready companions.

The issue with being the youngest child of youngest children, means I will continue to go to funerals, wakes, memorials and burials with every passing year. 

The three years since Titi Gloria passed have been like Death's got my name on his permanent rsvp list. My mother's sister unexpectedly passed on in September 2009. Family friends, beloveds of my beloved, siblings of my sisters, and just months ago, another one of my mother's sisters.  

In the past nine months I've been to more burials than I've ever attended in my entire life. Cloaked in sadness. Immersed in grief. Or worse, numb to it all. 

The more spirits, lives and families are lost, the more Death manages to live by my side like a close friend rather than a distant acquaintance. I am almost grateful that it has come to reside by me, preparing me for its frequent visits rather than being a surprising reminder that he exists. Almost. Not entirely. Because when I stop to consider what is left when he's gone--the emotional exhaustion, the physical pain of longing, the dull ache of depression--I prefer to rarely see his face than be familiar with its contours and expressions.

Para Lolita Lebron

Lolita Lebron passed from this world on Sunday August 1, 2010. I will never forget where I was, who I was with or the non-emotive response I had. It literally didn't make sense in my brain. Although this space I created-- Love, Lolita -- was inspired by her and my ability to share my feelings with the world. It has taken me an entire two days to even begin to understand what occurred, to feel, to grieve.

Having spent most of her adult life in a prison, I have benefits that Ms. Lebron never did. But they exist in part because of her actions in 1954. A Puerto Rican woman, chose to sacrifice her life for what she believed was right not just for herself but for an entire nation--for me, for my people, for my tierra. She did so at a time when women weren't allowed to be heard or acknowledged. She demonstrated that women can take a stand, can sacrifice, can be revolutionaries, can be agents of change when and how they choose.

And because of that I pray her spirit rises to light, and am grateful to and for her existence, courage and strength. Que sigue la revolucion, la evolucion y un Puerto Rico libre.

June 9, 2010

It's Not You, It's Me! Citibank's Bad Break-Up

It's been a while since I've posted (and Lord knows I've got several things I need to get off my chest) but this whole issue sparked some annoyance and I had to sound off asap.

By this point, I'm sure most folks have read about, heard about, seen about Deborahlee Lorenzana, the woman banker suing her former employer, Citibank, for firing her over (for lack of better word) being "too hot." They allege that her clothing was "distracting" male employees. In a nutshell, she was harassed and ridiculed for wearing clothes that they deemed were too tight, inappropriate and unprofessional. Most recently (as seen in the above video) there are critiques arising that insinuate she somehow "deserved" her treatment because she opted for cosmetic, plastic surgery.

So, her decision to enhance her body, somehow merited the negative attention? Or, my other fave, her clothing was distracting? Since when are turtlenecks and Ann Taylor suits risque?

Hold up...why aren't we talking about the real issue here?

It's not about Deborahlee or her surgeries or her gear. The woman, while attractive, isn't "too hot" or distracting from her work environment. The real issue? Men who don't know how to control themselves or act around attractive women. And I wouldn't be surprised to learn that group of complaints includes women she formally worked for and with.

None of them--male or female-- knew (or know) how to act or deal or feel with having an attractive woman who didn't mimic a man's professional attire or posture in a workspace aka wore form fitting clothing and didn't de-feminize herself to maintain her professional position.

In short, it's not about her or how she dressed. It's about them and their own issues and stereotypes of what they think corporate women should look and dress like. Not to mention what role and level they believe feminine and attractive women are supposed to occupy.

And no, I wouldn't be surprised if women at her office were on board with the men. I love my sisters, pero I know quite well how catty and spiteful we women can be towards one another. The stares, the gasps, the "no she didn't!" hisses that follow when you see someone wearing or presenting themselves in a way you personally deem inappropriate.

I'm just saying, this is a classic case of the "it's not you, it's me!" break-up scenario. Except in this case, it's not a romantic relationship, it's a professional one. But here's the big mistake, you're dealing with a protected class of people and a big, fat lawsuit. Guess the split won't be as easy as they thought...

April 6, 2010

Regaining My Swagger - About Face

When I was a teenager and started wearing make up I wouldn't leave the house without it. I had this complejo about the dark circles under my eyes. I thought they were so obvious and the second my moms allowed me to wear make up I bought coverup to make them lighter. Even when I wore nothing else, I made sure those dark spots were as invisible as I could make them.

When I got to the end of my freshman year in college and found sleeping and engaging in 3am conversations more important than what I looked like with no sleep, I stopped caring about what was--or wasn't--on my face before I left my dorm room. That stage lasted about two years (depending on my mood) but was pretty much my m.o. along with overalls and hooded sweatshirts.

When I entered the working world I quickly realized that being "low maintenance" (little makeup, little fuss over my clothes) was still my favorite option, but I dressed for the role I wanted to have: a successful New York writer/editor. Because despite my preferences people were still going to judge me for what I looked like. So I dutifully did my hair, put on some color and bought my best business casual at local stores.

As I got older, more confident/competent/comfortable, with my skills, my gifts and my me, I struck a balance between "cute" and "comfortable." I wore clothes that flattered my figure but were less trendy because let's face it, just cause it looks good doesn't mean it will look good on you. I tried hairstyles and makeup that required little upkeep and nothing more than a washing and a swipe of color while I rode the train from home to office. So as my love for fashion, adornments and all things "girly" grew 10-fold (I swear accessories cure all evils) I kept the see-saw level between my need to be me and the "me" I liked presenting in plain sight.

Lately I have foresaken even this balance, especially in my professional environment. Splitting my time and self into various facets has made sleep more important and jumping into whatever is clean and weather proof priority. I've even scaled back on my jewelery (something I literally feel naked without). I didn't think I missed any of it. Sure I still love getting dressed up, but I'll take a pair of jeans and kicks over tight skirts and heels any day. Or at least that's what I thought.

Recently I was asked to speak on a panel about "powerful women" to college students. Since it was a formal event, I planned out an outfit, grabbed my favorite necklaces and bangles and painted on my favorite colored eyeliner. I felt amazing. I literally walked with more swagger that day. I knew it had been toned down a bit, but walking in my heels and hearing my them clack against the ground was like a personal alarm clock. "Get up and move!" "Stay motivated!" "You are presenting the you inside to the world outside!"

I felt so dag on good that I kept up the routine for a whole two weeks. It added some zest to my day and reminded me that my evolution is ongoing; I need to present myself for me, not just for other people.

Something about choosing to put on decor is so personal. And for months I had abandoned it in favor of simplicity or mood; sometimes I feel like rocking all my glories and sometimes I don't. It's almost like body armor. Not always for protection (well maybe sometimes), not always for attention (well maybe sometimes) but for me. To fortify who I am, remind myself that I don't just occupy "a role" but that I am the person I present myself to be. Or as I like to put it: "me, only better." =)

March 10, 2010

Mujeres: Presente y Fuerte

It's women's history month and I was inspired to compose a short and sweet something for my XX chromosomes. It's dedicated to women everywhere. Specifically to the women who are my foundation: mami Rosa Robles Rodriguez, abuelas Camilla Santiago, Aliz Victoria Galarza Rodriguez.

We break backs and bruise hearts to raise generations; toil at day jobs to connect ends; feed and nourish partners emotionally and physically.

We selflessly sacrifice to shore up and protect those we love; rise to defenses when others don't dare; keep sorrow whole and move forward fluidly.

I'm grateful and humbled by the women who came before me to clear paths, push cielings and defy definition.

Luz pa'toda ellas que nos guardan.

January 14, 2010

L'Union Fait La Force (For Haiti January 2010)

Rise Above
All that has been said, and continues to be said, about who you are or aren't
Rise Above
Knowing that the world stands with you, waiting to lift you above broken sidewalkes

"A nation accustomed to misery..."

Not what Touissant or Dessalines ever imagined when they fought to get you from beneath oppressors thumbs

Rise above
Petty differences, stereotypes and misgivings
to send love, light and positivity

Rise above
Those that don’t understand or believe you “deserve” this for you chose not to stand about being ruled by people who saw you as property

Pat Robertson can suck my nuts
There was no deal with the devil
Perhaps with Bondye and the Loa and Papa Legba
who pledged to protect as long as you served
But human frailty and pride and greed overruled all

But none of that matters now
not when the ground opens and swallows people, or
leaves others trapped beneath the earth
and still many more swept away to the skies

My heart breaks to look at babies snatched before life ever started
The pain and suffering so many endure in a land that is completely theirs

Rise above
While others pull you up from beneath slabs, sand and stone
to stand in sunlight instead of being cloaked by darkness
Now and always

December 9, 2009

32 Thank You's

Laying awake in my bed this morning, I listened to rain on my windows and relished the fact that I got to sleep in on my 32nd birthday. My typical morning ritual of recounting my lessons, my goals and blessings, is somewhat different since I decided to start a day early. And rather than just think about or consider those things, I decided to recount what I'm most thankful for this year. Mostly because of how hard it was. I had serious milestones, unexpected and wonderful high's along with heartbreaking lows. I doubted myself, I questioned my purpose and I even allowed it to bring me down at certain points. But I recognize how fortunate I am to have the things, people and experiences that I have in my life. Without them, I would not be the resilient woman I am (like a basketball I always bounce back). So I am focusing on the positives that uplifted my life through this trying year and using them as a source of power and strength for the new one. (I say this because my birthday is my 'new year' versus the calendar one). Enjoy...

I am thankful for:

1* My patience which is infinitely greater than I ever realized. It grows a little stronger everyday and I couldn't get through without it.

2* My mami Rosa and my papi Willie for raising me the way they wanted to, not the way they were expected to.

3* My brothers Will and Alex for being bedrocks of knowledge, laughter, and ninja-like strength. They were p.i.t.a.'s too, but I'm focusing on the positives here people...

4* My BFF Mel. She shares my core like a split apart. Which explains why we've had each other's back for 20 years and counting...

5* The universe for bringing me my partner. Eight years after we met, we came together at exactly the time we were meant to and ready to be in each other's lives.

6* My Angel. For being who he is and teaching me so much about life and love and partnerships. I love you PB.

7* My humility. It reminds me of how much I don't know and how much I want to know.

8* My late blooming. I don't think I would have appreciated/enjoyed my life and its experiences if it had been thrown at me all at once or I tried to rush through it.

9* My sensitivity. It colors everything I see and do. It makes me infinitely more humane and empathetic. That is truly priceless.

10* My little daily lessons that remind me that I know nothing/everything/something.

11* The protection and love of the orishas, mi ile, my elders and especially that of my padrinos.

12* For ride-or-die-know-me-and-still-like-me-double-digit/two-hand-friends that I've grown with.

13* The so bad they're good for me treats that I can't live without: cupcakes, french fries, sangria...

14* Thoughtful people who understand the world is bigger than they are and their contribution is but a small piece of the greater whole.

15* Intellect; my own and that of others.

16* Chase the Bear.

17* Conversations with thought provoking people. It keeps my brain moving and creativity flowing.

18* Rediscovering books I once loved and those I've never read.

19* Finding old friends (there are many from various times in my life) who I can reconnect with effortlessly no matter how much time has passed since we've seen or spoken to one another.

20* A good red wine

21* Splurging on meals that cost more than they should. Something about eating and enjoying different tastes reminds me that life is here to be enjoyed.

22* My many families (blood, spiritual, chosen)

23* My CC's

24* Unconditional love

25* My inquisitiveness. It is what pushes me to question and ask questions.

26* A great mani-pedi. Nothing like your digits and tootsies looking stellar. And the massage that comes with each doesn't hurt.

27* Knowing that what I want isn't always what I need.

28* Laughter because it cures everything.

29* Silence

30* Music

31* Another year that I can look back upon and be grateful to have lived

32* The gift of using/shaping/sharing words. Without it I would be lost.