Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In My Dictionary, Pt. 7

The seventh in a series of vocabulary lessons from me to you. I know it's been a while but better late than never...

This particular entry can no longer be claimed solely in my personal collection of vocabulary words because I've seen and heard people use it since it first came to my attention via Mari. I still wanted to include it, though, because well, some things just need to be said.

Caught In Your Feelings- being too emotional to see a situation for what it really is; i.e. acting like a whiny faced bitch.

How to use it in everyday conversation:

Girl #1: Did you see Claudia today?
Girl #2: Nah I'm on a break from that heffa; she stay getting caught in her feelings to the point where you can't disagree without her taking it as an insult.

People need to learn the difference between a personal attack and someone just voicing a dissenting opinion. The problem a lot of people seem to have is that their ego and pride take everything to heart and then get all huffy about shit that didn't even have anything to do with them. Chill the fuck out. Not everything is about you and no one was talking about your momma behind your back.

*smooches...educating whiny bitches as much as I can*
because honestly, I ain't got time for you and your ego...sheeeiiittttt I barely have time for MINE!

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Lazy Days Of Summer: A Picture Post

One of the selling points of Mami's house was the pool in the yard. That was until she got her first electricity bill after plugging in the filter. And had to purchase countless amounts of chemicals & replacement parts. Then of course the nail in the coffin- a pool guy told her the pool was on its last legs, and it's a wonder it hasn't collapsed. Le sigh.

So after the Labor Day weekend, she's having it dismantled, and has no immediate plans to replace it. N almost cried as she left with her father for the week. I got choked up a little myself, so much so that I jumped in there for the first (and probably last) time. And damn it if it wasn't the best time I'd had all summer.

We're going to miss that pool. Still, we'll always have August 28th...

*smooches...getting more and more accustomed to suburbia*
OH GOD! did I really just say I LIKED suburbia??? *falls down dead*

Friday, August 27, 2010

Write What You Know

A bit ago Mari bought me this great book, Room to Write, and it has oh-so-many writing prompts to get your creative juices flowing. Of course, because I'm the awesome person I am, I decided to share its contents with you, hoping it will light a fire under your writer's block.

One of the age-old words of wisdom for writers is "Write what you know." But I understand that it can be difficult to compartmentalize, organize and layout your life into one story. This next prompt aims to aid you in this by tapping into your memories.

According to the book,
"Memory is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes. One memory sparks another. Each time you write from memory...a creative shift takes place."
Ready? Play along with me...

Room To Write Activity #2: Memory Is Imagination

Begin with the phrase "I remember" and start writing...

I remember lazy, hot summers spent leaning out of the barred windows of my grandparents' third-floor walk-up. I would watch all the neighborhood children riding bikes, playing tag or just sitting on the stoop. Enjoying the break from school and all its rigors. I hated the playground that was just out of my line of sight; whenever the other kids left the block I sat there alone with nothing to watch and nothing to do. It was during one of these balmy August days that I met that shadow that lived behind the mirror in the living room. We've been inseparable ever since.

See how that works? Your turn! You can leave it in the comments or keep it to yourself. Either way, happy writing!!

*smooches...doing what I can for my fellow creatives*
I know life gets in the way but we MUST push through all the bullshit and gift the world our art!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Jaded Empire Business Meeting, Vol. 1

Hello my lovely minions. This here is a virtual meeting of Jaded Empire Media, Inc. so grab a note pad, pencil, highlighter and a beer from the fridge. We have some work to do.

1- I've been delinquent in naming prize winners from my "Thank You" post last month and I apologize. I was probably in the middle of a Pity Party and didn't have time. But whatever, I'm on my game now and the winners are:

Irene, who gets a FREE book from the Jaded Library
Don, who won free EXCLUSIVE Jaded Greeting Cards
Smarty, who won a Jaded Tee, and
Brother Omi, who won a Jaded Mug

I will be reaching out to all of you individually to give you your prizes; thanks again for your continued support of my Empire!

2- I wrote an article for XI Magazine on a great musician, Jerzy Jung, and you all need to read it and leave a comment so that the editors know I can draw a crowd. Cool? Cool. Also, feel free to subscribe to XI and check in with them often; I'll be contributing regularly from now on.

3- La Pluma y La Tinta, my Latina Writers Group, will once again be hosting the New Voices Reading Series starting in September. All we need is a fresh batch of readers...and a venue. The place I want is unavailable (mostly because they won't return my calls or emails...rat bastards) and the place I can get is charging us $50 per event. So get on out there, minions, and find me a performance space AND some kick-ass writers to feature. PRONTO!

4- Your favorite online radio show (and mine!!), Monday Musings, starts back on September 13th to kick off Latino Heritage Month and you won't want to miss all the new goodies we have in store. But again, my lovelies, I will need your help to spread the word. Let's make Season 3 the one that puts us on the map as THE show to listen to every Monday night. Join my Monday Musings Street Team!! Email me for more details (rpenzo@thejadednyer.net).

5- To date, I have submitted 4 short stories to 5 different journals/contests, because I'm super serious about OPERATION: Published by 2011! And I have to admit that I got a bit of a boost from my unemployment, but mostly from this awesome movement, Field Of Dreams-ing, started by my sister from another mister, Bangs and a Bun. Click HERE to read more about it and then get out of my way...I'm on a mission to make my dreams come true.

With a little help from my friends, of course!

*smooches...checking out Manhattan real estate for our headquarters*
unless, of course, you know of a place with a great view of the skyline in Brooklyn? I'm open to some ideas...can we get something with a panic room, tho? I've been obsessed with having one since I saw the film!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Our Tragedy Is Not Your Tour Stop!!!

I've been spending a lot of time in the Wall Street area lately and I've noticed something that I didn't think would bother me as much as it does. Tourists swarming around the World Trade Center site as if it's the freaking Met.

I can't tell you how many foreigners I've had approach me and ask in their broken English, "World Trade Center, please?" At first I would point them in the direction of the site. Then I started to really get disgusted with them. Really? Taking pictures and peeking through the fence to see the rubble? Now, just for kicks I'll respond with a "It doesn't exist; the buildings were BOMBED!" or a "No speekee dee eenglish" or a simple side eye and walk away.

Fuck you and your morbid curiosity! Are you kidding me with this bullshit? And while you're at it, tell Bloomberg and all the rest of those assholes to sit on a crab-infested dick for allowing this tragedy to become a tourist attraction. What the hell do you hope to see over there? A skeleton? Bomb remnants? WHAT??? Just go ride the ferry or annoy people along 5th Avenue trying to shop for things you can't afford and LEAVE THE WORLD TRADE CENTER ALONE. I totally want to go all Julia Sugarbaker on them for real:

September 11, 2001 was a terrible day. I was all the way in the Bronx TERRIFIED that those two buildings were not the only targets, knowing that my mom and aunt were working in midtown and unable to get to them. I knew Irene was close by in the Chase building and I couldn't reach her, either. Phone lines were fucked up and I couldn't reach anyone and I was freaking out because I just KNEW they weren't done. I just KNEW the Empire State building (two blocks away from my mom) and the Chrysler building (a few blocks away from my aunt) were next and I wasn't afforded the opportunity to freak out because I was at work, starting my new job at a private school in Riverdale. And that's just one story from someone who was far, far away from all of it up on W242nd Street. There are much more horrifying, first-person accounts of that day. We all STILL have nightmares about it, and to this day loud noises in Manhattan make me jump and fear for my life. FOR MY FREAKING LIFE!

Is THAT what you're hoping to get from visiting the site? Well lookit there, I just saved you the trouble. Now you can avoid a Jaded beat-down and NOT GO TO THE WTC SITE AS IF IT'S A STOP ON YOUR WORLD TOUR!

And don't even get me started on this mosque nonsense I keep hearing about! Give me a freakin' break already! Now you want to control what religious institutions get built? Today it's a mosque, tomorrow it's a synagogue... When will it end?

*smooches...so done with tourists & politicos it's not even funny*
let one mo' fool ask me how to get there and see if they don't get assaulted right there in front of Trinity Church!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Too Logical For Her Own Good

While waiting around for my favorite "TV" website to upload my favorite Canadian Teen Melodrama...

ME: My Degrassis aren't up yet? What kind of Mickey Mouse operation is this?

K: Why do you call it Mickey Mouse? Disney World is actually very well thought out.

*smooches...wondering why I taught her to speak*
but she got me good, y'all. she got me real good...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Original Mommy

On Sunday, despite the incessant rain and my lateness, we had a great birthday party for N's 10th. Food was great (thanks, Derci!), friends and family were awesome and most importantly my baby girl had the best time.

Right now I just want to give a shout out to Mami for being the hostess with the mostest, K for being a great helper and big sister, KarrieB for trekkin out to Jersey with me, Cathi for driving all the way down from Western Massachusetts in that nasty weather to be there, her beau Mike for manning the grill and N's friends from camp for braving the rain and being adorable. It was awesome.

Initially I was worried about the party, about how I'd react and behave once I had to encounter my ex-husband and his new wife in light of all their less-than-stellar behavior lately. But once faced with them I knew Mami would not tolerate any poor behavior on my part, and you best believe that my fear of Mami's reprimand trumps any disgust I'm feeling for this man and his old lady.

I still let it be known that I'm stank with what they've been doing (behind Mami's back of course!), gave THAT heffa a sideways hello and kept it moving, still courteous but not going out of my way to do shit for them. KB said she could sense their awkwardness and a part of me was glad- the only reason they feel awkward is because they KNOW they're wrong and are trying not to stir the hive. So in my mind I was all "To hell with them and their awkward feelings!" It was N's day, though, so I just concentrated on her and her friends and making sure she had a smile on her face all day.

Besides, I'm kind of over them, you know? I can't spend another minute fussing about whatever pussy-hypnotization she's put over C to make him disregard his daughters. That is an issue between K and her dad at this point (thanks to everyone for your advice on that) and I let her confront her dad and THAT heffa and just let it go.

Plus K let me in on a little bit of information: she approached N about the whole wedding debacle, and N expressed her disinterest in her dad's decision to get married without inviting them. When K asked her why, she said because she didn't want to go anyway. When K again asked her why, N, bless her little heart, said, "Because I like my original Mommy."

So there you have it: Raquel-1, THAT Heffa-0

Not that I'm keeping score...

*smooches...being petty online because I can't in real life*
I so hate having to be a grown up in real life. HATE IT.

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Hair Has Always Been Her Nemesis

ME (to Mari): I want you to twist my hair, too!

MARI: Okay, but you have to wash your hair.

ME: Oh I can't today, I got dreadlocks.

Mami: ¿Y que es? Every time you come here you have dreadlocks!

*smooches...still cracking up at Mami's outburst*
she really has had it with me and my dreads... let me untangle my hair this weekend, maybe even blow it out, just for her

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Networking Game

This unemployment shit is getting old. Yeah, I have little gigs here and there that pop in sometimes but I have real debt (student loans) and high expenses (Brooklyn rent, SON!!) that require a salary position with benefits n shit.

So I've been trying to turn up the networking dial: reaching out to friends who are employed and asking for referrals, attending different events where I may meet someone with connections and casting a wider net...if I have to get coffee and collate reports then so be it. Just make sure you pay me enough to stay in my apartment, pay all my bills and save up for a rainy day. I don't even know how to make coffee but I will learn and make the best damn coffee you ever tasted. People from neighboring offices will stop by for some coffee I made, watch. All you have to do is hire me.

On Monday, as I rode the train into the city, a man was walking through the train car handing out his business card to people who could help him find someone to teach him origami. As he did so I kept thinking, would that work for a job seeker? What kind of response would I get walking through the train car and, instead of asking for money, I handed out my CV and business card and asked for referrals to lucrative positions? I swear this bleak economy has me strongly considering it.

But I think first I will appeal to you here, on my blog. Basically:

I need a job. Full time or temporary (at least 6mos). I have experience as an administrative assistant, office manager, tutor, teacher (but am not certified...something needed in most NYC schools), program assistant/event planner and of course a writer/editor, for the education, publishing, entertainment/lifestyle magazine and public relations industries. I speak fluent Spanish and my English, well, you already know. I type pretty fast and have a great phone demeanor (aka my White Voice). I'm GREAT at organizing other people's lives and calendars and let's face it, with me sitting up in your office the property value will increase and everything will all of a sudden be more beautiful sunshiny happiness.

What else? Oh, I am self taught and pretty much an expert at MS Office Suite, Adobe Creative Suite and all that crap. I even know some older outdated shit like FileMaker Pro and desktop publishing stuff like Quark Xpress. And believe it or not, as much as I hate computers and they hate me right back, I'm pretty good at troubleshooting IT issues and office problems in general. I'm great with kids and pretty decent with deadlines. And I'm willing to give an employer at least two years of my life, maybe three, while I keep working on The Jaded Empire.

Know anything I'd be good for? Even if it's just a freelance, telecommuting type gig, I'll consider it. Times is hard n shit. Skip the comments, for real, and just straight up email me: rpenzo@thejadednyer.net

First person to hook me up with a job that I actually get will get one item of their choosing from The Jaded Bodega + drinks on me.

*smooches...hoping this works because I really like my apt*
I don't want to move, y'all. my 'hood is so nice and safe and the school district is excellent. I need this job like nobody's business. anything you can send my way...I'm not afraid of hard work!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Today, fellow readers, is my sweet little munchkin's TENTH birthday. TEN YEARS AGO TODAY she (literally!) ripped her way into this world and promptly stole my Jaded heart.

Look at that sassy little face! Awwww... I miss it!

I knew she would be a little spitfire when she was born and she did not disappoint. These gray hairs? 95% of them are from her!

But I regret none of it... (there is a thing called HAIR-DYE, you know!)


*smooches...only for my baby girl today*
feel free to leave your good wishes in the comments

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I'm That Student You Were Warned About In Teacher's College

Since my undeserved unemployment began, I've been looking into teaching again- on the grade school, HS and college level- and, well, it's funny that I should keep coming back to the one profession that I really never wanted to pursue. I mean, I do but I don't. Does that make sense? Like, I want to help learners of all ages do better, but I wish there were a little pill I could give them, something called INSTA-SMART, that they could just take once a day for a month and be smart for life. Because remember that the Waco School for Girls and the online teaching gig were disastrous and this current language instruction gig is alright but still...UGH...like I care about the preterite or the future conditional tense? WTF are those things anyway?

I was also reminded of the type of student I was, and wondered what my teachers must have thought of me. I don't mean in grades k-8 because I was an absolute DOLL; I did all my work and earned high marks and never talked back. The only time I ever had detention was for chronic lateness (SURPRISE! SURPRISE!). Well, maybe there was that ONE TIME I tried to get smart in Religion class, only to have Mr. Coughlin shut me down. But that hardly counts. It was Religion class. No one takes that shit seriously.

But once my freshman year of high school was over I started to cross over into the dark side of missing homework assignments, cutting classes and straight up not caring about grades. But to show you what a nerd I was, MY idea of not caring was getting Bs. Senior year, tho? LAWD... however did I manage to graduate?! I'll tell you what- if it wasn't for the fact that I test extremely well, I would have had to repeat a few classes. That's how often I skipped out and disregarded assignments. Once I had that college acceptance letter I basically phoned it in.

How FRUSTRATING it must have been for my teachers! I know for a fact my Civil Engineering teacher, Mr. Peemoeller, was DONE with me. D-O-N-E. Because he told me so on a daily basis. And my wood shop teacher TOLD MY MOM that I was getting the boys in my class to do my work for me. BITCH, WHAT?!?! Talk about HATERRRRRR! And please- in that class where we were using AutoCAD? Pssshhhhhh! My days were pretty much spent torturing the instructor and leaving subliminal messages in hidden layers on others' projects. Muahahahahahahha!

And then college. Let's have a moment of silence for all my potential...


Yeah, in college I went to a few classes, looked over a few books, turned in an assignment here and there, but mostly I napped in the back of the lecture halls and PARTIED like everyday was 1999. And when I say partied, I mean PAR-TEEEEED. Basically I borrowed thousands of thousands of dollars from Uncle Sam to go to keggers and drop acid. FUN TIMES. I can only imagine my professors in the lounge, talking shit. "You have Raquel in your Intro to World Religions class? Well good luck seeing an assignment from THAT one!" smh... I was the WORST!

So I'm looking back at all this and think- am I ready to deal with students like me? Smart kids with the ability to go far who piss it all away for one dumb reason after another? Will I be able to resist the urge to strangle these lazy mofos? Or will I go off on them in the hallway, like Mr. Peemoeller did to me that time he told me I should just skip college because I'm not disciplined enough for it?

I'm almost afraid to get callbacks...

*smooches...wondering if education is really ready for JADED*
or should I just steer clear of other peoples' kids altogether??

Monday, August 16, 2010

...And Then I WIll Watch Oprah Cry...

In the last few weeks, I've been pulling away from the internets more and more: my tweets have quieted down, the blog world is hardly a priority and please- facebook has never been my cup of tea. I don't want any of you to take it personally, though, especially if you've noticed I've been avoiding the real life social scene, too. I've just had other things crawl to the top of my TO DO list.

At the tippy top are the babies. Last year I was hardly home, telling myself they were old enough to be without me. But then I noticed K would scrunch up her face whenever I said I was going out and N would give me the puppy dog eyes with a, “you're going out?” So I slowed it down. They actually want to spend time with me and who am I to say no? One day they're going to loathe the day I was ever born so I need to take advantage of this time right now.

Then there's the writing. Because I've given up on trying to find a gig that will pay me to write I've refocused my energy into my own creative projects. Basically the things that will help get the Jaded Empire off the ground sooner rather than later, like getting published (2011 is THE year, folks. I ain't playing!) and finishing my scripts (for both film & TV. Hey, if Oprah can do it, sheeeiiitttt...). That means I have actually set aside time when I sit and write and don't get up until my wrists hurt (carpal tunnel, you limey bastard!).

That said, those of you vying for a place in the Jaded Empire need to start preparing yourselves, too. When the time comes I will need all you creatives, accountants, agents, etc to have your shit together and be ready to make the Empire fuckin' awesome. You need to get published. You need to have reputable clients. You need to have some movie and TV projects under your belt. I'm not trying to be Tyler Perry up in this bitch and distribute a bunch of mediocre work. Nah, son, not the kid!

When a product is released under the Jaded Empire umbrella, it needs to be the embodiment of excellence every time. No men in drag cooning it up on the screen and no glossy-covered paperbacks with ghetto-esque titles. Not on my watch! The world will look at the art we create and say, “Damn! How can I get a job there? They STAY turning out quality sh*t!!” There will be no negotiating on that.

Won't the powers that be shit themselves when I take over? HA... I can't wait!

Get on board or get cut shot out of the way.

*smooches...so ready for this*
feel free to start lobbying for corner offices and such; I need to know how big of an office space I will need to buy or lease.

Friday, August 13, 2010

In Awe!

I consider myself a pretty kick-ass writer, and I imagine that when I'm published people will absorb my words and just not believe the beauty they were blessed to have read. Because I'm the shit. No, really, I am.

But I'm reading a book right now, Little Bee by British author Chris Cleave, that just SHAT a huge, smelly turd all over my literary dreams. Not to say that my words are any less because he's great, but, damn, I wanted to be first.

Every other sentence is poetic. Every other paragraph evokes a picture in my mind. Every other page awaits with another cleverly weaved occurrence that makes Little Bee such a page turner.

#sidebar: because I'm slightly hatin' on Chris, let me point out that he is taking AWFULLY LONG to get to the meat of the story. but I'm going to forgive him because the scenic route ain't so bad.

I love this book. I love that Cleave can write a woman's voice so brilliantly. I love that he's writing for TWO different female protagonists and does so flawlessly. And I love that his use of the Queen's English is so bloody amazing I can't help but step my game up.

He's basically SHA-LUNGED me to write a better book. I bet he thought I'd back down. Foolish mortal...he must not be familiar with El Generalissimo. I come from warriors and soldiers and militia men that SCOFF in the face of Blanquitos. We eat dudes like him for almuerzo, and when his cronies come looking for him we'll just be all, "Perdon, pero no speeky dee eenglish."


Meanwhile, even though I'm only on page 97, this is already the best book I've read all year.


*smooches...happy that I've started reading again*
special shout out to Mari who, by inviting me to join an impromptu summer book club, helped me reignite my reading addiction.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Is It Better To Know?

I love movies that make me think. I mean, Super Troopers aside, I prefer my entertainment force me to flex my cerebral muscles. And I especially love it when I choose a film hoping it will be dumb and mindless and instead find it deep and though-provoking.

That's how I felt after watching Timer (starring Emma Caulfield...Anyanka from Buffy, the Vampire Slayer). The film creates for us a world where science has been able to determine when a person will meet their soul mate, right down to the second, by means of a timer that is implanted on your person and counts down to D-DAY. Our protagonist, Una, is obsessed with finding her ONE from the beginning of the story, and what unfolds is a very witty and clever romantic comedy that begs the questions: How do you know if the person you're dating is the one? Would you want to know? And when you know, are they the one because you were told or because they ARE?

Think about the person you are with. Do you feel in your heart that you love them? Now what if you got this timer implant and it told you someone else was your soul mate, and you'd be meeting them in three days? Would you love your somebody any less? For a commitment-phobe like myself who's afraid of getting hurt MORE than I'm afraid of anything else, it initially seems like a dream come true to have all the guess work taken out of love.

(But then again, I'm the same person that would like to have certain people erased from my memory ala Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind!)

I identified with Caulfield's character as she fought with the guy she was dating- he didn't have a timer, she did and it had yet to activate. She was looking to leave him because in her eyes continuing the relationship was pointless if they weren't soul mates. And in the midst of this fight, he drops some KNOWLEDGE on both of us:

"Jesus, Una, what do you want?"

"A guarantee!"

"No. Your problem isn't that I can't give you a guarantee, it's that you can't give me one."


I can't give the guarantee. Just LIGHT BULB all over the place.

When I sit and think about all my "gone bad" relationships, I was never unsure if the guy liked me. For the most part, they all liked me. They said so often and showed it and pursued me. The common denominator in all this? Me. Pulling away. Not committing. Always uncertain.

So then I wonder, would this timer solve my problem? Would I be willing to give up the butterflies that take over my stomach with every kiss to have science point me in the right direction and decide for me? Am I that much of a control freak?

Or do I (we) heed the words of fake scientist Dr. Ian Malcolm (YES I'm about to quote from Jurassic Park!): "Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."

Throughout the film we hear both sides- those that swear by the timer, those that find it a burden, and those that don't believe in it at all. In fact, Una's father has a timer that has yet to go off. His girlfriend? Well, she removed hers when it told her HE wasn't HER one. "I love him. Fuck it," is all she offered as an explanation. People, SHE GAVE UP HER SCIENTIFICALLY DETERMINED SOUL MATE TO STAY WITH THIS DUDE!!! Does that NOT blow your mind? Is it just me?? Who does that? Would I be that strong in my convictions?

Would you?

*smooches...unable to finish this post because my brain exploded*
with every question I asked myself three more arose. I think I need to keep reminding myself this was just a film and move the fuck on...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

September Is Right Around The Corner

This means that Monday Musings will begin again. The babies will be back in school full time. Also, my literary readings for La Pluma y La Tinta are starting up again.

Which of course means schedules will have to be made, promotional materials and marketing plans will have to be put into effect and lots of networking will need to be done. Like NOW.

*looks at busy ass calendar*

So, um, slavery ended, you say? Are you sure? There's no place in NYC where I could get me an educated slave real quick? Preferably one that is web savvy and has exceptional phone skills?

WHAT?! Don't look at me like that! It's not like I was going to make them sleep in a closet, feed them slop and whip them if they end sentences in prepositions. I promise- neither El Generalissimo NOR Lady Estrogen will be in charge of the slave, okay? NOW will you tell me where I can find one???

Because otherwise all of you who are waiting to ride the Jaded Empire Media gravy train will be waiting a loooooonnnnnnggggggg time!

*smooches...totally not joking about that slave thing*
wait- what was that? they're called INTERNS now? OH! well why didn't you say so! Right. so replace the word SLAVE with INTERN in this post, and proceed to find me one. Please and thank you.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Five Truths About Family

No one brings more drama into your life than your family- the blood relatives and the friends you love alike, and it's a carefully choreographed dance you must learn in order to deal with all of their bullshit. Well let me tell you- I'm tired of dancing. I came to some realizations recently and being the loving and self-less person that I am I figured you deserved to be in the know, too.

1- They are sometimes the first ones to take advantage of you. Sad but true. They'll borrow money and then make you feel bad for wanting to be repaid. They'll move into your house and then drink your OJ but refill the container with water as if you won't notice. Stupid shit like that.

2- They will insult you and then try to cover it up with a, "I only tell you this because I love you." REALLY? Then please, by all means, NEVER have hate for me in your heart.

3- They will belittle your hopes and dreams. "A writer? What kind of money do you expect to make?" "What are you going to do in England? Please, girl, your family is here." Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence!

4- Their approval will not make or break you. You trick yourself into thinking you need them to back you in order to pursue something but really, you just need YOU. Especially if they're pulling a #3 on your ass.

5- You don't have to like them, love them, spend time with them or revere them just because you share DNA. And this applies to about 90% of my biological paternal parental unit's family. In fact, two weekends ago I made the executive decision NOT to attend my Penzo grandmother's 87th birthday BBQ, and I stand by that choice 100%. Why? As if you have to ask...

Trust that I understand the importance of family in one's life but honestly, sometimes these are the very people who are keeping you down. Not The Man but family. The trick is to scope out the good ones early on and stick with them. For me, it just so happens that most of the good ones are on my mom's side... *kanyeshrug*

*smooches...apologetically telling it like it is*
and call me cold-blooded if you want, but I'm not going to her funeral either. The Jaded NYer don't DO funerals, yo, and nothing anyone says will get me to go. not even mami!!

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Mommies

Yesterday I had the most traumatic experience of having to send K and N to DC on a bus by themselves. I've never sent them on such a trip alone before but I figured K is 15 now and she's really good with her sister and it's a non-stop bus and Mari would be waiting for them on the other side. I made K fully charge her phone and advised them to sit near the bus driver. I packed them a hearty lunch, some groceries for the week and all was set.

We get to the line for the bus and everything is cool; I bought them some donuts, we'd been joking around all morning and it was a beautiful Sunday. Then, as they were boarding, N breaks down in tears. "I don't want to go without you," she says to me and I died inside. If Mari hadn't spent all that money on the tickets and set aside this very busy week to spend private time with her nieces I would have canceled the trip RIGHT THERE. She was crying so hard that I almost cried.

Then this woman got off the bus- a lovely woman named Diane- and informed me that she had two daughters, too, and knows "what it's like." She promised to sit behind them and make sure they were alright all the way to Arlington. That almost made me cry, too. This stranger, angel, really, came out of nowhere to assure me my babies would be OK, and she said the magic words: "I have two daughters, too, so I know what it's like."

This older white lady that under normal circumstances I would have made fun of made me feel better about a bad situation: I was too broke and unemployed to accompany my kids to DC like I wanted to. And N's birthday is only a week or so away and I still don't know how we're celebrating it. And I was unable to send K off to sleep away camp this summer so DC had to happen.

Because The Mommies understood. And they've been in my shoes. And everything will work out fine because The Mommies have my back.

This was especially evident when Diane waited with my kids in Arlington until Mari, who was running late, came to pick them up.

Wherever this woman is now, in whatever she's doing, I wish her a million-trillion blessings; I cried a little less when I got home knowing that my babies had a safe trip because of her.

*smooches...thankful for the random acts of kindness*
I like how my world just seems to balance itself out- right when one person is acting very douche-like, another comes along and overshadows the douchiness with beauty

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Let Me Tell You What's Wrong With This Country, Vol. 356

No one is compensated accordingly. "They" say capitalism breeds competition which breeds efficiency, etc, but if one isn't compensated accordingly, it kills the entire concept.

If you're on a soccer team, and your team loses, and you SUCK as a player, should you get a trophy and a pat on the back? HELL FUCKING NO! So why do they do that for kid leagues? That's that bullshit we're teaching kids from the beginning. Only the best should be rewarded and the rest will be given something to aspire to.

If your grades suck or are mediocre, should you be allowed to take someone's seat at a prestigious school because they want a diverse student population? WTF kind of logic is that? "Oh but they didn't have the same advantages..." *sigh* Where there's a will, there's a way. It's capitalism, see?

If you're the CEO of company X *cough*VERIZON*cough* and under your leadership company stocks drop dramatically and continue to do so no matter what the economic climate in the nation, should you get a huge bonus and golden parachute? Where's the reasoning here? And why aren't shareowners more up in arms about this BS?

Sometimes I wonder why I live here...oh yeah, that's right- I can't get Atomic Wings anywhere else.

*smooches...giving you a random rant just because it's Wednesday*
I should send this post to Obama, so he can add it to the trillions of complaints I'm sure he gets every day :)

Friday, August 06, 2010

Alex Out Of Context, Vol. 1

"It's innocuous...until I tell you what to do with it."

*smooches...bringing you only the BEST of my inappropriate conversations*
even if they weren't inappropriate to begin with

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Woman Law: She Ain't Heavy, She's My Sister

My homies and I are embarking in a series of posts we are attributing to a list of Woman Laws. Previous posts can be found at the sites of The F$%k-It List, Smarty Jones, Bangs and a Bun and Rei..., err I mean, Volde..., um I mean She-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named (and right about now I'm waiting for Muireann's brain to explode because I referenced Harry Potter). Read them at your leisure. Here's my contribution.


I have a Penzo cousin who is two months younger than me, and growing up her mother used that as a spring board to launch some ill-advised competition with my mother called, "Whose Daughter Is Better?"

We were sent to the same school, forced to play together and compared to one another by my Penzo aunt at every turn. I specifically remember her saying that I was accepted to Brooklyn Tech- a school my cousin most certainly did NOT get into- because it was a lottery. Not my intelligence but rather chance. My name was pulled out of a hat and her daughter was not so lucky.

#sidenote: I do believe the competition ended when, at the ripe old age of 17, while I was filling out college applications, said cousin had a baby. Game. Blouses.

I never really understood why my aunt was so hard-pressed to have her daughter be "better" than me and why it was even something she should have aspired to. We are FAMILY. Shouldn't we be encouraging one another? Supporting each other's dreams and whatnot? And more than that, as women of color, hell WOMEN, PERIOD! shouldn't we have each other's back?

It's no secret that a big huge difference between men & women, especially in the professional world, is that more often than not men will vouch for and mentor and help each other. Women, instead, keep other women down. Why is that? (Please NOTE: I don't have specific data and I'm not saying this is EVERY WOMAN, just the business women I've observed myself. And TO HELL WITH YOUR SENSITIVE ASS for making me write this disclaimer!)

Given all the strikes already against us, wouldn't you want to help all the women in your field do well?

And while we're on it, would it kill us to genuinely compliment one another? Instead of being mad that someone has on the latest Prada slides you can't afford, be happy for her and the fact that she's able to treat herself to such luxuries. Tell her her shoes are cute and keep it moving. Stop cutting down every woman you see in the street because deep down you're jealous and feel that pointing out HER flaws will make YOU seem better.

Don't be my Penzo aunt!

Love your fellow woman. Take her under your wing or seek out her advice. Disregard what's wrong with her lacefront and admire what's right about her accomplishments. Don't begrudge her the promotion or opportunity you wanted for yourself when she clearly earned it, and just promise yourself to work harder.

Honestly, no one can pull off green all the time.

*smooches...too busy striving to be a hater*
well, not anymore anyway. it doesn't happen overnight, it has to be a conscious choice to STOP COMPETING and before you know it, it's old hat.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Jaded Empire: Line Of Sight

Every time I sit at my computer to create the genius you read here and elsewhere, this is what I see:

Each piece is essential to my motivation. Whenever I'm at a loss for what to write next, something on this board will speak to me and push me through.

My Favorite Musicians. No, these aren't all of them, just some of the ones featured in the "Who Shot Rock n Roll?" exhibit I saw at the Brooklyn Museum last year. Jimi, Kurt, Iggy and His Purple Majesty, Prince Rogers Nelson. Not only do I channel their creativity but I'm often moved by the moment in time captured by the photographers. Look at Kurt losing his shit backstage; that dude had PASSION, man! Yes, it killed him but still- RAW PASSION!!

The Quotes. I'm not one that likes to be inundated with inspirational sayings all day, but sometimes one will jump out and stay with me. Those are the ones that get a place on the wall. My favorite of the bunch? Ani's lyric, "I am an all-powerful, Amazon warrior, not just some sniveling girl." I remind myself of that every time I feel defeated.

Grandma. I keep the little keepsake prayer card given out at her funeral on the board, to remind myself that what I'm trying to do here is for her and Papi, to say Thank You for all they did to make me what I am today. It takes a lot of courage to just up and leave your home for a scary new one, but they did it, and I'm ever so grateful.

Mi Bandera. Yes, I know I was born in Brooklyn. I am aware of it and will rep this place for all eternity. But I am also a part of a bigger and beautiful heritage and culture and history, and having that flag there where everyone who enters my apartment can see it and KNOW is very important.

The Serenity Prayer. Do you know anyone who needs to repeat this mantra everyday more than I do? If so maybe you don't want to get too close to that person because they are apt to explode any second. Y'all know I'm a dweller- I just dwell on shit too long. Sometimes I just have to read this prayer a few times in order to shake off and let go of the thing that's plaguing me.

The Other Stuff: The Tibetan prayer flags (got them in the mail & thought they were pretty); pipe-cleaner stick figure made by N; Korean bookmark string art thingy (given to me by a student at Waco); my Oaxacan sculpture in the most beautiful shades of blue you ever did see (purchased from real Oaxacan artisans); a postcard of the Julio Valdez painting Mar Abierto, one that I wanted to purchase but was wayyyy out of my price range, so I settled for the poster; a monkey and a mermaid from some drinks I had someplace and was going to leave behind but they were all, "Hey, don't leave us here. Take us home!" So I did.

All of these things help me create all that I do. They all have something to say to me. A memory they evoke. Importance.

(And YES, that's a picture of me and Mari above the board... She's my baby sister and I love her to death and has always been my target audience since she was born and I dressed her in my doll's clothes, but don't make a big deal about it or she'll get a big[ger] head.)

*smooches...not sure if I've shared too much*
like are you LITERALLY picking up the phone to call Bellvue to come get me or am I safe for another day?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Road Not Taken

One of the perks of living in NYC is people-watching. Sometimes I'll throw on a pair of sunglasses and keep them on while riding the train and just observe my fellow straphangers, and the best is watching them watch somebody else.

Last night, as I rode the R train back to Wall St. after another Spanish lesson with my favorite Portuguese student in Midtown, I found myself in a car with a family yucking it up and having a silly ol' time. They were clearly tourists (Italians, I believe) probably returning to their hotel after a long day of sightseeing. The father was having a sort of staring contest with his daughters. You know, the kind where you try to make the other person laugh first? Normally I roll my eyes at such a disturbance during my commute but, well, I've been ultra-focused on trying to beat my own time (9mins and 1sec) in Sudoku and really just welcomed the distraction.

As I began to look away from the family, having had my fill of their silliness, I noticed a man in a suit standing by the door poised to get off at the same station as me. As I. UGH you know what I mean. Anyway he was standing by the door, dammit. And I noticed he, too, was watching this family as intently as I had just done, except he had this worn, sad look in his eye that made me look at the ring finger on his left hand and sure enough- bare.

I immediately created a story for him: He worked in finance, long hours, too. He traveled a lot for work and it was part of the appeal of his job. He lived alone in a beautifully spacious one bedroom apartment on Pine Street that he'd bough after deciding that NY would be his home base from now on, but also had property in London and a little place in Barcelona where he liked to go to relax.

It was an ordinary day for him. He got to work at 8, sealed a few deals by 10:30, had lunch with his racquetball buddies at noon at Balthazar's- he had the roast lamb sandwich and watched one of his friend callously devour the sauteed calf's liver- and then returned to work to do some more important stuff that made him feel on top of the world, enough that he kept working through to about 7 o'clock.

He would skip the gym tonight- memories of the calf's liver still fresh in his mind- and head home instead. On the train car he noticed a man sitting with his wife and three daughters on the train, and they were causing a ruckus with their booming laughter and insistence upon moving about the train car instead of staying in their seats. "Damn tourists," he thought, but couldn't help but stare at the life he hadn't had the time to choose. The beautiful wife. The rambunctious children. He was the star in the office, but at home no one cared. Because there was no one there.

Normally he wouldn't care, but on this night he watched the father with a disturbing mixture of admiration, jealousy and longing. He calculated in his head how many years before that could be him if he focused on having a family starting tonight. Maybe ask out the woman who usually smiled at him at the coffee truck in the mornings. She looked nice. They could have beautiful children together. They would take amazing vacations and his daughters would engage him in silly games and love him and consider him their hero.

But he was already 43 and decided, sadly, it would take too long. He would never be that man on vacation with his beautiful wife and three equally beautiful daughters. Tonight he would go to his immaculately sterile apartment on Pine Street and after a glass of bourbon (or four) he would utter, "Fuck it" and resign himself to the life he chose.


Unaware of the fact that as I watched him walk towards Pine Street, I had resigned myself to the life I'd chosen, one that did not include a fabulous apartment in lower Manhattan, the ability to eat lunch at Balthazar's with my racquetball buddies or a vacation in Barcelona whenever the mood struck.

*smooches...sharing a moment with a stranger on a train*
yet another reason why my city is better than yours...and why I'm such an amazing writer. go ahead. you can admit it. I won't make a big deal out of it.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Turning Up The Mommy Dial

I think I've been doing a pretty good job raising K & N almost-kinda by myself since I left their father in 2005. At first I was all, "What do y'all eat for breakfast?" and "Why are you waiting for ME to cook dinner?" but now we're pretty much comfortable in a chaotic routine that works for us.

There are a few things I wish were different, though, and never were they so evident and in my face than this weekend.

C went ahead and married his girlfriend in a private ceremony, and then called K to inform her. Yeah, go ahead and let that marinate for a minute...


Right. K came out of her room and said, "Daddy just called. He and B got married this weekend," and then went back to her room. Needless to say I was seething, and began tallying up the million trillion ways he's been pissing me off all summer:

1- quitting his job w/out having a new job in place
2- moving in w/his fiance; a home w/no extra room for my daughters
3- mouthing off to me when I demanded he give me his DEFINITIVE plan for providing support and a place to live to my babies
4- making ME out to be the bad guy here for not understanding his decisions
5- marrying his fiance in a private ceremony that DID NOT INCLUDE HIS DAUGHTERS.

Of all the asinine moves he's made to date I take THAT ONE personally. So, what... my kids aren't good enough to be a part of your wedding? WHAT THE FUCK??? So I discussed it with a few people, just to gauge if maybe I was overreacting, as I'm wont to do. But everyone I mentioned it to was also pissed and disgusted. I was then ready to retaliate, but first I thought I'd check on my babies.

I asked K if she was alright with her dad getting married without her, and that's when she dropped the bomb on me: he'd already told her he was planning a small, private wedding in early July instead of the big wedding they had initially planned in September (one guess as to WHY!). K also informed me that when he told her she was very upset because she (and rightly so!) felt it was going to upstage her 15th birthday, and that's probably why he waited until the end of the month.

Then she uttered the words that really broke me, "I already talked about it with my friends and I'm over it."

Her friends?!?!?! What about ME?? Her MOM?????

It felt like she'd turned my own machete against me when she said that. What is it about me that she feels she can't come to me about this stuff? I was (and still am) so hurt by this slight that I really had to reflect on it that night. Clearly I dropped the ball along the way, but I don't know where and I don't know how to fix it. ME. El Generalissimo Mommy of Brooklyn. Having parenting problems.

Perhaps she thought I'd go off on her dad and was protecting him against my wrath? Or maybe I really am the LAST PERSON she'd ever confide in. I don't know. But during my self-reflection I decided that maybe I need to be more accessible to these girls. Be home more. Not so attached to my computer/blackberry/cellphone/iPod and spend some real time with them. Reinstate our family cooking nights and take more day trips with them. Just be PRESENT when we're together.

Especially because I'm getting this nagging feeling that their father is ever-so-slowly becoming more and more absent.

I will NOT have my daughters turn out to be anorexic, meth-head prostitutes because they weren't parented properly. Not MY babies!

*smooches...looking for mommy and daughters activities in the city*
I'm on a new mission. get on board or move out of the way!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Jaded Photographs 2010: August Edition

Not From Concentrate

These women remind me that not everyone is fake online, and more often than not you will meet some really awesome people through the world wide web.

*smooches...appreciating the good stuff in my life*
Can we take a minute to appreciate the white dude in the back with the white feathered wig and the bright red lipstick, too? In his defense, it was his birthday *side eye*