Friday, August 31, 2012

For My Trini Massive

I won't be partaking of the Labor Day festivities in and around the Parkway, but trust that my soca fascination is still going strong. Here's the fun mix I listen to at work when I'm in heavy editing mode:

You all be safe this weekend; don't let any Guyanese gang members shoot at you during the Parade. Trust me- it's not as fun as it sounds...

*smooches...jumping and waving in solidarity*
I'll be sure to make up for missing this weekend by attending the very next soca jam that comes my way; you're all invited to join me.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Things That Are President Obama's Fault, Vol. 1

  • My depression
  • The car accident that killed Sen. Robert McCallister on "Brothers & Sisters"
  • The U.S. men's gymnastics team losing the gold at the London Games
  • "Call Me Maybe" being stuck in my head all the time
  • iPods' short shelf-life
  • Mr. Marcus knowingly spreading syphilis to other porn actors
  • People who speak loudly into their cellphones on the bus
  • Cloudy days
  • The new Barclay's Center at Atlantic Terminal
  • Snookie

*smooches...scapegoating like a mofo*
when in doubt, blame the Black man; isn't that how it goes? 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"A Real Person, A Lot Like You"

A few weeks ago, one of my biological father's sons sent me a private message on The Facebook essentially cursing me out for 1- being mean to his dad, 2- not allowing his dad to be a grandfather to my daughters and 3- not being a good sister. It was very jarring to read his drunken rant first thing in the morning, especially because, besides the validity of his accusation that I was not being a good sister, he was directing his anger at me without knowing the real story.

I mean, hell, even I don't know the real story- that's something that Mami and my biological father will probably take with them to their graves. All I know is what I experienced growing up: Knowing who my father was, attending his family's events, but having him pretty much disregard my existence (unless he had an audience in which case he's try to act like the doting, misunderstood dad done wrong. BOOOOO, negro, BOOOOO!). That was my reality. I'm not remembering it wrong and it's not, as my brother said, something I was told. That was real.

But the point of THIS post (because I don't want to get bogged down in the details of our exchange; he wrote me a private message so I'll not put all of our dirty laundry out there) is that his note, which I read early in the morning, set the tone for the rest of my day and week. Plain and simple, it hurt my feelings; I even cried a little bit. Not because he and I have this loving relationship or anything-I barely know the kid-but because this scathing note attacked me, my character and confirmed the someone out there didn't like me. ME! It was a slap in the face to the person I try to be every day.

And although he swiftly apologized for coming at me all wrong, the bad feelings had already taken root, all because he took to his phone or computer and decided that telling me how much he hates me would fill some void in his life. Which brings me to this:

I witnessed a pretty nasty exchange on The Facebook yesterday among some Penzo cousins, and although I initially gobbled up the drama unfolding before me, I was saddened at the underlying hurt that was hidden in the mean and nasty words being hurled electronically.

We really have to watch what we write, whether it be to strangers or family. This machine we're depending on for communication is not a buffer for meanness, it's an accelerant.

The next time you get infused with a dose of keyboard courage, please, stop and think: what is this going to do to the LIVING, BREATHING, FLESH-AND-BONE PERSON on the receiving end. I'll be sure to do the same.

*smooches...refusing to fall prey to Big Brother and his ilk*
the Rise of the Machines has already started...don't let it get you!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"I Sell My Soul But At The Highest Rates."

I could add a whole bunch of other words to introduce this video, and then follow-up with an comprehensive litany on the ins and outs of my life as a freelance writer and the mistakes I've made in knowing my own worth and that of my words, but dude right here (Harlan Ellison, writer; The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Babylon 5)? He got this.

*smooches...deciding today- no more freebies*
I think I've earned the right to charge for services. EDITORIAL SERVICES, pervs! smh

Monday, August 27, 2012

"And The Daffodils Look Lovely Today..."

Every day I long to be a different woman than I was the day before, one that doesn't waste the day on frivolous things and works relentlessly toward her goals. That's who I want to see in the mirror as I brush my teeth in the morning.

Somehow I manage to disappoint myself at every turn.

But at the very least I do get the opportunity to wake up with a clean slate and let go of yesterday's sloth.

Today is a new day and I'll make it count.

I hope.

*smooches...trying to break ties with laziness*
unfortunately that bitch won't quit me!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Awesome Things To Help You Waste Time Online

What have I been doing all week instead of working on my novel? Throwing the ultimate of pity-parties for myself. And surfing the internet like a true web junkie.

In case you're dealing with something you'd rather avoid, too, here are the sites where I've been spending all my time lately:

Hidden Heroes -Bangsy! It reveals the inventor of FLIP FLOPS!!

100 Life Ruiners -People who remind you of what a failure/how ugly and useless you are...

Suri's Burn Book -Snark at its absolute best!

What Should We Call Me -I mean, who doesn't enjoy a good GIF??

99 Problems But A Pitch Ain't One -For all my PR/media/communications folks

*smooches...sharing the procrastination tools I love the most*
nevermind that laundry; it'll get done. later.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Vagina (Uterine, Actually) Monologues

Am I still a woman without all the parts that biologically make me a woman?

This is the question that has been plaguing me since last week when I left my gynecologist's office, right after she said the word "hysterectomy" to me. I'm only 37 and she was so quick to snatch my uterus out of my life.

Let me backtrack.

A few years ago I was told I had three very small non-cancerous fibroids growing in my uterus. No big deal, it happens to a lot of women and we just needed to keep an eye on them. This year's exam made my doctor say, "You uterus seems enlarged," words I did not want to hear. I knew those words would end in surgery and a loss of my reproductive abilities, something I'm too young to deal with.

I guess what made it worse- besides the self-deprecating thoughts of being useless and possibly undesirable because of a missing part that signifies ones mortality and old age- is the cold and callous way in which the doctor, excuse me, RN, delivered the news (plus the fact that there's a cyst on my ovary, "But those come and go so no need to worry about that just yet"), as if she had better things to do and I was in the way of those better things. As if my uterus and all the psychological repercussions attached to losing said uterus didn't matter.

Well it does matter, to me. Maybe I don't really want more kids or maybe I do. What if I'm with someone who has never had kids? What future family can I offer him? What if I don't want to lay on a table and put my life in a surgeon's hands? I've had surgery before and it didn't go so well.

And then thinking of that messy ordeal reminded me of all (well, the two) pregnancies I had that I so cavalierly discarded and walked away from without remorse. My latent Catholic tendencies couldn't help but think this was my punishment.

I don't know, I'm rambling at this point. All I know is that for a week now I've been walking around rubbing the area on my tummy where the fibroid is growing out of control, making me look three months pregnant, and feeling sad. K is going off to college next year and N is following in her footsteps faster than I care to think about. Maybe I didn't want any more babies but maybe I do. And I suppose I was prepared to lose my uterus to menopause but this...this just doesn't seem fair.

You'll excuse me if I tend to be a bit more attitudinal these days than usual. I'm trying my best not to fall apart.

*smooches...still pondering what to do next*
but shout out to Cathi who really talked me down off the ledge about this whole thing and gave me some really good and practical and loving advice; it helps to have a friend who has studied medicine. love you girl!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

When Life Tests You

This morning I forced myself out of bed at 7am to shower and prep for work. I wanted to get in super early and knock out a few assignments that are best completed when the office is empty. To cut back on prep time I decided to take with me a protein shake for breakfast and an apple with almond butter for a snack. I lovingly mixed coconut water, a banana and a scoop of vanilla whey protein in my mini-blender and told myself, "Drink it when you get in while you're finishing the exhibition labels."

I woke the babies up, gave instructions for the day, told them I loved them and walked out the door at 7:45am ready to make Wednesday great.

Life, however, had other plans.

When I stepped out of the subway I felt a drop of something fall on my leg but I ignored it and continued walking along 7th Avenue. The the bus came and I decided to hop on, only to feel a great big drop of something wet when I placed my bag on my lap and sat down. Yeah, you guessed it- my entire bottle of breakfast shake had overturned and spilled out onto my belongings in my bag and was leaking out the bottom.

Everything was soaked: my manuscript; files I'd brought home from work; my dayplanner; Post-It Notes where I'd written semi-important dates and information; MY USB DRIVE WITH DIGITAL COPIES OF EVERYTHING I'VE EVER WRITTEN; and my already almost dying iPod mini. Soaked. And reeking of banana and vanilla. And sticky beyond belief. It wasn't even 9am.


Once in the office, I cleaned up as best I could and asked K to bring me a new bag later on. And even though I could feel my cramps kicking in (oh yes, my period had just arrived as I desperately tried to wipe all the traces of banana from my USB drive!), I popped two Advil (which I never do but felt it was necessary today) and was ready to start my day.

When the office manager arrived and said she was going to the cafe to get breakfast I said, "You know what? Me, too. My breakfast was ruined and I deserve a sinful treat." Downstairs at the counter I asked simply: egg and cheese on wheat toast, no butter. As the guy began to write down the simplest of orders I should have known this wasn't going to go well. Turns out he was the only one there this morning, taking orders, taking money and cooking, too.

He mixed my order up with someone else's and when she brought it back he tried to hand that manhandled sandwich to me. Insert the stankest of cramps-induced side eyes here. After all was said and done, I had been waiting nearly 30minutes for a simple sandwich that I hope and pray he didn't rub on his ass crack or spit in.

It was now 10:30am and I was late for creative review. This was how my day began.

But as I'm typing up this crazy-yet-docile diatribe for all of you to have a good laugh at the Jaded NYer with sticky hands and a distinct banana smell, the sun is shining through my office window and I have a lunch date with Irene and my babies.

What's a little spilled shake when you're alive and employed and loved?

*smooches...looking at the silver lining*
of course I would not be this chipper if my USB drive had not survived the ordeal. nosireeBOB; this would be an entirely different post, for sure.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Excerpt From "Enfermos: A Novel"

I fumble with my keys, looking behind me in terror. I’ve practiced this terrified look in the bathroom mirror many times. C’mon, c’mon, I whisper. The jingling of my keys will give me away if I don’t get this door…OPEN! I’ve used the wrong key, and the lock refuses to turn. I can feel Pop, the creepy guy from next door, peeping through the door at me. “You okay?” he says through the door. This heightens my anxiety. I have to get out of the stairwell. Pop may be one of the bad guys. Maybe I shouldn’t have taken those caramels from him last week?

This is Day 3 of practicing my serial-killer-victim, mad-dash-to-the-door. The keys are new. Yesterday, I banged on the door screaming, “Let me in, let me in,” but Nana didn’t appreciate it. “Niña,” she yelled. “¿Estas loca?” She had sweat dripping from her brow from the heat of the stove, and a crazed look in her eye. She hadn’t had time to put on her shades. Her brown eye glared at me in frustration. The green, bruised one was confused.

“Sorry, I was just playing,” I mumbled to myself.

“Play-ing?” she asked in her broken English, mocking me. “This no funny! Entra, ya, before they call police!” she whispered while pointing to Pop’s door.

So today I choose the classic horror movie key fumble. I thought for sure no one would hear, but I forgot about our nosy neighbors; they hear and see everything we do.

I finally get the door open, slam it behind me and lock it. I brace myself against the door taking quick victory breaths. Made it! “¡Niña, por Dios! ¡No estrayes la puerta! ¿Que te pasa?” She’s getting fed up with my entrances Tonight she will tell my mother. I feel it.

I walk down the hallway toward her, head down, whispering, “Nothing’s wrong with me. I’m just acting.” She puts her hand up to stop me.

“Oye, Yadira ees esleeping here, okay? So callate la boca.”

“What’s she doing here?” On a Thursday? Didn’t she go to school today?

“Esta enferma.”

I nod at my grandmother and tip-toe into the den. Yadira is laying on the full-sized bed, the one that used to be Elenita’s, the one that used to be in Nana’s bedroom before the bunkbeds took its place. She is on her stomach, her face buried in the pillow. Her orange-red hair is spread out across her back, just reaching her naked upper thigh.

Yadira is wearing Elenita’s “Ice Cream is Brain Food” night shirt. I recognize the lavender trim on the cap sleeves. This is going to be a problem later, for sure. If I know my cousin, she’s gonna catch a fit that Nana allowed Yadira to wear her clothes.

I follow Nana into the kitchen, putting my book bag on the little brown school-chair that is also Elenita’s. It occurs to me, suddenly, that nothing here is mine. "What’s wrong with her?” I whisper to my grandmother as she stirs the beans with one hand, and adds flour-coated eggplant slices to a pan of hot oil with the other.

“No te preocupes. Go do you homework,” she instructs.

This smells of a scandal. Whenever I “shouldn’t worry myself” over something, it means the grown-ups will discuss it later. I hear Nana curse under her breath in Spanish, something about ginger.

“Agarra aqui,” she says, calling me back and handing me the spatula. I despised fried eggplant, and now she wanted me to help her cook it? Nana wipes her brow on her housecoat, the white one with the blue flowers and the missing buttons. A few stray salt-n-pepper strands of her soft hair remain pasted to her forehead. “I go to the store” she declares, and leaves me in the kitchen.

“Going,” I call after her. “I’m going to the store.” She sucks her teeth, walking through the long hallway towards her bedroom to get dressed and go.

When she is gone, I transfer the eggplant to a plate covered with layers of paper towels and turn off the flame. The rice, beans and London Broil smell done, and I turn them off, too. Quietly, I inch over to the entryway of the den. Yadira is now lying on her side. Sections of redness have fallen over the side of the bed. I notice that she’s blinking, staring at the white molded ceiling of Nana and Papi’s third floor walk-up. Even her eyelashes are orange, seeming almost like they are not there. She is covered in red freckles all over her pink skin.

Yadira is curvy, with large breasts for her age. The first of us girl cousins to grow up. She is fifteen now, but had been this voluptuous for three years. Voluptuous. I learned that word last week. I liked the way it rolled off my tongue. I long to personify the definition. Personify was yesterday’s word. Elenita and I are still in training bras.

“Are you awake?” I ask her quietly. Wherever Nana is, her senses are telling her that I have awakened her patient.

“Yeah.” I walk over to the bed and sit next to her hair, gently running my hand over it. It feels rough, like straw.

“What’s the matter with you?”

“You’re too young to know,” Yadira doesn’t look at me. She stays fixed on the moldings. A tiny roach crawls up the wall next to the bed and we both follow it on its path up to the ceiling with our eyes. “Goddam this fucking house and the fucking roaches!” she complains. She covers her face with a pillow and sobs.

“Don’t cry, Nana will make you feel better. I think she went to get ginger for your tea.” It was her cure-all: ginger tea with orange peels.

“What the fuck do you know?” Yadira stops crying and grabs my arm. “You’re just a stupid kid with no problems!” She lets go of me and I yank at her hair.

“Well then fuck you, too” I yell. That is going to cost me three Hail Mary’s tomorrow. “And I’m not stupid, you are.”

“That’s right, you’re the smartest thing alive, no? You want to know what’s wrong, smarty pants? I just got kicked out of my house.”

“Why? What happened?” My anger for her leaves. What would cause Tia Frida to throw her only daughter out of the house?

“Because Sammy got me pregnant, and I got an abortion. There. Now you know everything.” She throws her face back into the pillow. “Now go get your brainiac dictionary and look it up. You know you want to.”

There is a thick pause between us. Instantly, I no longer crave her curves. I suddenly want nothing to do with breasts and hips and vaginas with pubic hair. I want voluptuous out of my memory bank. “I don’t have to, I know what it means.” I stare at my hands. Planned Parenthood ladies had already visited my fourth grade class to talk about our changing bodies and the consequences of those changes. The nuns added their own piece on treating our bodies as temples for Jesus. “You know you can go to hell for that, right?”

“Fuck you and your fucking priests! You think I believe in that shit?”

“It’s not shit!” Damn! Three more Hail Mary’s! I am letting her get me in trouble. Where is Nana already?

I turn away from Yadira towards the hallway to the living room. I don’t have to take this.

“Wait. I’m sorry Muñequita.” She looks up at me with puffy red eyes that almost match her hair. “Please sit with me till Nana gets back?” I sit at the edge of the bed and stares out the window at the head of the bed, while Yadira returns to her moldings. “I know I’m going to hell. You think I don’t know? I been going to hell. This abortion ain’t gonna make no bigger difference.” We sit in silence some more, neither one looking at the other, until she decides to change the subject and lighten the mood. “How’s the acting going? Elenita told me you got in trouble for dirtying your uniform?”

“Yeah. I’m practicing being chased by a killer. Day before last my throat was cut on the steps before I could even reach the door to bang on it. I had to crawl the rest of the way, gurgling for help.” She laughs at my recounting of Day 1 with this new study. “I managed to tap weakly on the bottom of the door, and then Nana opens it and says '¡Ay Dios Mio!' I do my best impression of my grandmother, throwing my hands up in the air, sending Yadira into full-on laughter. "'You’re getting all dirty!'" I use my best Nana-English, and Yadira is in hysterics. “Then she made me wash my uniform in the bathroom sink, by hand: jumper, knee socks, vest and shirt- the whole thing! Nana doesn’t understand modern cinema.”

“She understands, but you know that your mother would have beat your ass if your uniform had come home dirty on a Tuesday.” Yadira pauses to wipe tears of laughter from her eyes and stares at the ceiling again. “Nana understands a lot.”

“Yeah, I guess. She never told on me.” I look back out the window. For a second I think I see a shadow pass by the window across the alley from us, the window of the third floor of the abandoned building. I hate that window. “What does it feel like?”

“Sex? Or the abortion?”

“Both, I guess.”

“Don’t worry about it. You’re too smart to end up like me. You’ll probably marry some great Catholic guy and it will be painless and perfect.”

“It hurts?”

“When you’re a girl, everything hurts.”

“Oh,” I said. I peek up at the moldings for a minute. I try to find what Yadira is looking for, help her out in the spirit of Jesus. Save her soul. Then I hear Nana’s heavy footsteps on the stairs, her key in the lock, her breathing in the doorway. I lean over the side of the bed and say “hey” to her as she shuffles towards the den. Her scowl sends me upright.

“You in trouble?”

“Yep. I better go do my homework.” I get up, grab my book bag from the chair in the kitchen and begin walking towards the living room, again. I keep my head down to avoid Nana’s glare.

“Muñequa,” Yadira calls after me as I pass the bathroom. “What’s your word today?”


“Jesus Christ! What the hell does that mean?”

I walk back towards the den. “It’s an adjective. It means ‘being present everywhere at once’. Like God, you know, omnipresent.”

“You’re nuts! When are you ever going to use that word?”

I sit at the edge of the bed again, thinking. “I don’t know.”

Yadira laughs her hearty laugh that draws me into her. “Go do your homework.”

*smooches...offering you another taste of my genius*
this is actually a rare glimpse of the first few pages of my novel-in-progress; hope you like!

Creative Commons License
Enfermos by Raquel I. Penzo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Best Of The Jaded Weekend

Riding bikes w/N in the rain along a near-empty Lafayette Street in Manhattan; my first time on a bike since I was a teenager.

Me and the babies rocking out and singing along with "I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys in the lower level of the SoHo Staples. And then following up that performance with another for Santana/Michelle Branch's "Game of Love" near the writing instruments. Staples wasn't ready for us.

Curry-in-a-Hurry, which I hadn't had since I stopped working in Gramercy Park.

Watching N's face light up when we walked into Blades on Broadway and I told her to go upstairs and pick out the skateboard of her dreams.

Giving K her new laptop (finally and long overdue) and hearing her squeal with joy. Add to that N's excitement at the replacement charger I got for the netbook. Yes, we are now a three-computer household. LAWD my ConEd bill...

Inviting my babies to sleep in the bed with me...because the lightening was freaking me the fuck out!

Watching "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" in the late night and having the girls not only get the point of the film, but enjoy it, too.

Seeing Mami and Mari, however briefly, for a quick laugh.

Free ice cream and face painting at Dylan's Candy Bar for my lil Schmookins.

The birthday girl, getting high on sugar.

Knowing that The Famous Cozy Soup & Burger is still in business, and that their hot chocolate with whipped cream is still sinfully delicious when you're chilled to the bone.

Finally meeting up with a trainer at the gym. I've been slacking all summer.

Enjoying my Sunday afternoon to myself, watching old episodes of "Brothers & Sisters" on Netflix (you knew that was coming!) while the girls were out and about with Mami and Mari.

Redecorating and organizing my bathroom. At long last.

Seeing A.D.A. Robinette (actor Richard Brooks) on the platform of the 4/5 train at Fulton Street in Manhattan. I was so starstruck that I think I scared him off.

Coming to terms with a lot of things that haven't been right, and focusing on a plan to make it all better.

How was your weekend?

*smooches...using the fall impending fall as inspiration*
each new season brings such promise with it; I can't help but get excited!

Friday, August 17, 2012

"You Want To Live Your Life As A Hummingbird..."

Tomorrow is my Schmookin-LaWooken's 12th birthday, and when I tell you her baby pictures brought tears to my eyes... especially because it's looking more and more like she'll be my last (in light of some heartbreaking news from my OB/GYN which we'll discuss later when I'm done with my pity party).

She came to me as this tiny, squooshable firecracker that always had that look on her face as if she were plotting to get into the cookie jar after bedtime. And now she's this amazingly smart and loveable girl, who is obsessed with building things, skateboards, Calico Critters, drawing pretty pictures, dropping epic and legendary one-liners ("My mind is a genius!"), basketball and Minecraft.

Tell me this isn't the cutest baby ever and I'll call you a LIAR!

And she can even break dance a little bit, because she's fearless like that.

She's the best cuddle bear a mom could ever hope for, and reminds me that not all tweens are longing to emulate the over-sexed starlets the media bombards us with.

N is already planning to design and build amazing structures when she grows up, in between winning gold medals in the Olympics and playing with her Build-A-Bear baby, Victoria. And taking over the world.

Who told her to grow up so damn fast, though?

Because she's fearless that way.

Happy Birthday, My Love!

*smooches...just for N today*
also, she chose that song, not me. just wanted to clear that up. I'M NO HIPSTER!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Excerpt From "Fresh Bruises"

“Que pasó?”

Papi sits across from me at the living room table with his hands folded tight. This was the first time I’ve ever gotten in trouble with him and I don’t know what he is going to do. Usually when any of us kids gets in any trouble we get Nana’s slipper across our butts, or thrown at us if we try to run. Or sometimes my mom will actually try to be a mom and uses her belt. But Papi has never beat us.

“She started it!” I tell him, just so that he knows it wasn’t my fault.

“Eso no fue lo que te pregunte. Tell me what happened before Nana comes home.” And spanks you. That’s what he wants to say; I know it. “Why were you and Amanda fighting?” I suppose I can tell him the truth. Amanda is way on the other side of the apartment, our older cousin Yadira, visiting from Florida, keeping her quiet until it’s her turn to sit in front of Papi. Probably telling her lies about me. I just bet!

“I’m waiting…” said Papi, tapping on the table with his cigarette lighter.


The Talent
As soon as we walked through the door, Amanda grabbed the stereo. She didn’t even ask me if I wanted to tape today, she just grabbed it and said we were taping. I told her I wanted to eat first and she rolled her eyes at me. I know you say we shouldn’t fight, we’re sisters and it’s wrong to fight, and all that, but you don’t know how mean she is. She's worse than Trujillo! One day I'm gonna wake up and find some creepy guys with guns forcing me to wake up just to record another one of her stupid songs. No, she's worse than Trujillo--she's like, like Mommy Dearest meets the Exorcist!

Okay, well maybe not that bad, but she’s mean. I had to scarf down my food because she was rushing me. I didn’t even get to finish my chuleta before she grabbed the plate and said, “Okay, let’s go.” Sometimes I wonder why I bother playing with her. Things never go my way. I’m like her puppet! “Livvy sing this way,” or “Livvy this is today’s topic,” never “Livvy, what do you want to do today?” She thinks she’s the boss of me because she’s older and bigger, but she’s only older by 20 minutes!

And that damn contract I signed. What was I thinking? Oh you didn’t know about that, huh? She made me sign a contract- that I’d record a bunch of songs with her and only her and not try to record on my own. She's in total control and I get to be her lapdog, and you and Nana don’t even see it.

I was not in the mood for singing tonight and she knew it. I wish we could have just stayed home. If mamí had just gotten off her butt and cooked dinner…sorry. But she's another one that's no help. I know she knows what's going on with Amanda and me, but she doesn’t say anything to her.

And you know what? I don't always get all the credit I deserve, but without me, this show would be nothing. I do all the real work, not Amanda. All she does is sit on her fat butt and press a few buttons. No one pays to see a button-pusher. If we were in Hollywood, people would love me. They’d want to be me. Boys would want to marry me and girls would try to look like me.

Other shows wouldn’t be able to compete with my ratings. And it would all be because of me, because of my star power. My show would be seen and heard all over the world. My albums would sell millions of copies. I would get crazy money to keep me in limos and mansions. I’d only date movie stars and famous guitar players, and I can’t even count how many magazine covers I’d been on. I’d be the biggest thing since Elvis, for heaven’s sake! But does she even see that? No.

So here I am, still in this rotten living room doing this stupid show with Amanda. She should get down on her knees and thank me for all the good stuff I've brought her. I bet, if we tried to get into the Palladium she’d only get in because she’d be with me? No way a bouncer would let her in- just look at her. She's like 200 pounds, easy; she can't dress and always looks like she's ready to fight somebody.

Who wants to dance with someone like that?

And still she gets me in this living room whenever she says and acts like it her right to tell me what to do. Who does she think she is?

Plain and simple-she’s jealous. And why not? Can you blame her? I mean- look at me and look at her. She can't even carry a tune. I’ll be on top, and she can join the rest of the world and lick my rhinestone-studded boots.

Okay, so then she gave me the "ten-minutes-to-show-time, hurry-up-and-finish-eating" wave. Can't I have a minute of peace? Is digestion not in my contract? I just knew I had to sing that stupid theme song again. God, shoot me for ever saying I would do this. I should break out on my own. Get a new manager. Sign a bigger contract. Get out of this crappy studio once and for all. I could be Anita in West Side Story, or Rizzo in Grease. Maybe I'll let her be my limo driver. That'll take her down a notch.

I went into my dressing room, you know, the bathroom? And she just came right in. So I said, “Ever hear of knocking, Lardo?” I snapped. It was just too much! I mean, knocking- it’s not a new concept! She looked at me like I was crazy and said, “Who you callin’ Lardo, stupid bitch?” Yeah. She called me a bitch, Papi, I swear to god.

Then she said, “Hurry up so we can tape the new song,” and I said “Why don’t you go choke on your new song; I'll be a big star one day, without you, thank you very much,” and that’s when she hit me. See, right here on my arm where it’s all black and blue? That’s where she hit me first.


I can see Papi is listening to everything I say, and I know he’s making mental notes so he’ll know what to tell my mom when she comes to get us. A few times he made this horrified look on his face, so I know he can sympathize with what I have to put up with.

Finally, someone understands what I deal with everyday. He sees that this wasn’t my fault, that she pushed me. She started it. She always wants things her way. If I let her push me around forever, I’ll never be the star I know I can be. Maybe they’ll send her away to military school in Santo Domingo and I’ll never have to see her again.

*smooches...dropping more gems into your life*
just wait until you read the whole novel...

Creative Commons License
Fresh Bruises by Raquel I. Penzo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bless Your Eyes And May Your Days Be Long

A few years ago, when I was in the thick of a never-ending downward spiral that was tied to my poor health and unemployment, I felt like I was being punished for something, and I hated the world and myself. As I began to climb out of the abyss I kept wondering what the hell was all that struggle and strife for? WHY ME?

I think I know why now, after letting a friend vent about the same feelings of low self-worth I was mired in not too long ago. I understood everything they said they were feeling because I was once there, too. And while they kept apologizing for burdening me with their bad thoughts and feelings, I just kept reminding them: "You're not scaring me. I've been where you are. Here's what is happening and here's a suggestion for finding your way out."

It felt good to let someone know they weren't alone, they weren't worthless and that somewhere in Brooklyn a Jaded NYer cares about their well-being.

I can only hope it made a difference. I can only hope I made a difference.

Vexation of spirit is a waste of time
Negative thinking, don't you waste your thoughts
Verbal conflict is a waste of word
Physical conflict is a waste of flesh

*smooches...donning my therapist hat for a good cause*
maybe this post will help one of you, too.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


On Sunday I had lunch with a literary agent and another writer friend, and we discussed the state of publishing and our place in it. The agent was a wealth of knowledge, having been in the business since the sixties, and she assured me and my friend that we are on the right path with our work. It was something I definitely needed to hear.

During the meal the topic of my "novel" came up, again. Not the one I started this year with the girl who killed her stepmother, but rather the one that is (or was) shopped up into separate short stories, trying to pass for stand-alone tales. It was long-ago suggested that I mesh the seven or so short stories I'd written for my MFA into one grand saga, but I was reluctant to do so.

First, it would require an incredible amount of work and concentration on one project on my part, and we all know how much I hate to work hard and concentrate for too long. Second, I'd have to go back and deal with these characters again, long after I put them to bed and washed my hands of them. And lastly, what if I wrote it and no one cared? But that's just doubt and pride and fear getting in my way, again, and me allowing it.

Therefore, in the wee hours of Sunday night/Monday morning, I took all the stories and cut-and-pasted them into one. The idea for the chronology came to me on my commute home from lunch but it took me hours to gather the courage to do it. But I did it and I have it and, on my way home from the CRAZIEST Monday I've had in a long time, I thought of how the novel should start, which in turn helped me think of a way it can all be framed throughout.

It's going to be a lot of work. Right now I have 69 typed, double-spaced pages and about 24K words of varying POVs and voices and tenses to work with. It's saved in three different places and printed out on clean, white paper.

I am about to become this novel's bitch for the rest of the year.

*smooches...gearing up for a long winter*
please excuse me if I ignore you for a while...genius at work, SON!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lyrics To Love: Human By The Pretenders

I play a good game,
But not good as you
I can be a little cold, but you can be so cruel
I'm not made of brick, I'm not made of stone
But I had you fooled enough
To take me on
If love was a war, it's you who has won
While I was confessing it, you held your tongue
Now the damage is done...

Well there's blood in these veins
And I cry when in pain
I'm only human on the inside
And if looks can deceive
Make it hard to believe
I'm only human on the inside

I thought you'd come through,
I thought you'd come clean
You were the best thing I should never have seen
But you go to extremes, you push me too far
Then you keep going 'til you break my heart
Yeah, you break my heart
See I bleed and I bruise, oh, but what's it to you
I'm only human on the inside
And if looks could deceive,
Make it hard to believe
I'm only human on the inside
I crash and I burn, maybe some day you'll learn
I'm only human on the inside
I stumble and fall, baby, under it all
I'm only human on the inside
And the damage is done...


I crash and I burn, maybe some day you'll learn
I stumble and fall, baby, I do it all
I'm only human on the inside

*smooches...feeding off music to quell the spiral*
every time I hear this song I can't help but feel like it was written as my theme song. what's yours?

Friday, August 10, 2012

At Night... when I notice you're not here

I reach out for you
from the corners of my room
only to have the memory of you slip through my fingers

I stumble around in the dark
trying to follow your scent
only to find myself up against these four walls

At night is when I am aware
of all the silence outside my window
and the noise inside my head

And that neither one will tell me
where you are

*smooches...getting it all out of my system for the week*
I hope I haven't been too much of a downer; it's been a rough week!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

She's A Gypsy Like Me

We even have similar hair.

I love her and her wild tresses.

SANG it Rosario, SANG it!!

I hear this song and instantly I'm reminded of her sister Lolita, with whom I fell in love as a little girl. I have most of her records from the 80s and yes, I still play them when I'm home alone. Lolita was my total obsession when I was a kid.

(here are the sisters together)

How much talent can one family have? I love these ladies.

Here's some classic Lolita for you, too:

(with her mother, Lola)

(Lolita, singing one of my absolute favorites of hers)


Sometimes I think this is the only way I will ever see Spain. Through the Flores' music.

*smooches...traipsing through my living room, Flamenco-style*
no but for real, did you peep Rosario's hair?? She's my new 'fro idol!!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Como Duelen Los Dias Sin Ti

On Saturday, there was a birthday party for my Penzo Grandmother and I was looking for any excuse not to go. Shout out to N who was being all whiny and tired and defiant when I said we had to go to this party, for giving me an excuse to stay home and eat chicken tacos while watching "Awkward" online.

Attending those Penzo parties always fill me with anxiety. I never feel at home with them. I feel like such a phony among these people. I don't belong with them.

My Penzo Grandmother's birthday also brings up memories of my REAL grandmother, whom we called GrandMami, and how SHE should be here with me, seeing how great we all turned out and how big and smart and awesome her great-granddaughters have gotten. I miss her so much. Every day without fail.

Those Penzos were never checking for me when I was little. It was All GrandMami Everything. So I don't feel not one iota of guilt for missing that party. That old broad will be just fine without me, just like she has been her whole life. Besides, I'm too busy mourning my loss this week to care about anyone else.

GrandMami y yo, celebrando las navidades
Although, if GrandMami were here, she'd be giving me the side-eye for being so disrespectful. Maybe even throw her chancleta at me from across the room. What I wouldn't give...

Not a millisecond passes that I don't miss her sweet agua-florida-and-old-face-powder scent. Not a single solitary millisecond.

"...Cazando motivos que me hagan creer
Que aun me encuentro con vida
Mordiendo mis unas
Ahogandome en llanto
Extrañandote tanto..."

*besos...just for grandma today*
"I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can't stop them. They leave me and I love them more." -Maurice Sendak (1928-2012)

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

"Live Every Day Like A Jam Session."

I gave my ex-husband that advice on this birthday yesterday, but I think it's something we all can use. I know I'm in the middle of a clusterfuck of Life taking over my, well, LIFE, and I just need to remember: It's all cool. Easy-peasy. Everything has its time and place, Penzo. Chillax!

You can't see me, but I'm doing my naked-white-girl-covered-in-mud-at-Woodstock dance in my living room.

*smooches...taking a deep, deep breath. and exhaling*
our lives move to fast sometimes, so fast we miss a lot of good stuff. don't be that guy!

Monday, August 06, 2012

A Second Look: Adam (2009)

Let me being by stating that, for me to enjoy a film three things have to be in place: Clever, intelligent writing, believable & talented actors and a director who knows how to bring emotion out of the celluloid and into my very soul. Dramatic- yes, but it's what I require nonetheless.

I can happily report that Max Mayer's Adam, Starring Rose Byrne (The Dead Girl, "Damages") and Hugh Dancy (Black Hawk Down, Blood and Chocolate) fit all three of those requirements and made for a most delightful trip to the movies on a rainy Sunday evening back when this film premiered.

Byrne plays Beth, a young writer/teacher who moves into a brownstone upstairs from Dancy's Adam, a high functioning autistic engineer who's been recently left parent-less. When they meet, Beth is intrigued by Adam's strange candidness and he in turn is smitten with her. Well, about as smitten as someone with Asperger's Syndrome can be smitten, anyway.

Beth struggles with whether or not she can really be in a relationship with Adam, as well as some family issues that arise with her parents (played by Peter Gallgher & Amy Irving) and he struggles with learning to be in a relationship, with the help of his father's old war buddy (played by Frankie Faison). What comes of it is truly a lovely glimpse into our collective struggle to find love & fullfilment, and also a keen lesson on improving human interactions & conversations.

Seems heavy, right? I swear it's not. At it's core, it's just another BOY MEETS GIRL love story that is really, truly moving. And the amount of adorably touching moments abound, but I've only listed three for you here...

Adorably Touching Moment #1: Adam dons a space suit in order to clean Beth's soot-covered windows so that she can see the stars at night.

Adorably Touching Moment #2: Adam's trek out to Westchester to find Beth... I can't say more or I'll ruin it for you!

Adorably Touching Moment #3: Seeing the finished product of Beth's book. I think I almost shed a tear when it was revealed.

The scene that resonated the most with me, however, was some advice that Beth's mother doled out as Beth was deciding if being with Adam- who is unable to share real emotions because of his autism- will be enough for her. Beth tells her mom, "He's never even said 'I love you.'" And her clever, clever mother counters with, "There's saying I love you, and then there's loving." COULD YOU JUST KISS MAYER FULL ON THE LIPS for that amazing bit of dialogue?

In a time when so many "love stories" (The Ugly Truth, Love Happens, etc) on film are just cookie-cutter formula-ridden drivel, it's so refreshing to see something like Adam- a fresh, new, unconventional and real, 3-dimensional look at love.

*smooches...dangerously close to believing in love*
Adam (2009). 99 min. Written and Directed by Max Mayer. Starring Rose Byrne, Hugh Dancy, Peter Gallagher, Amy Irving and Frankie Faison.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Jaded Photographs: August 2012 Edition

Left: Acosta//Right: Ortiz

I come from handsome stock. It's OK to admit it out loud.

*smooches...frolicking in my family tree*
I love learning about these scandalous people from whence I come. LOVE!

Friday, August 03, 2012

Troll Logic

K: I prefer Castro [over Trujillo].

ME: Why? Because he wasn't assassinated?

K: No, because his ghost is still in power.

*smooches...sort of afraid of my creation*
I did this; it's all my fault. I'm sorry.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Plotline Pet Peeves: Stupid Characters, Vol. 1

I'm a film critic.

Not because I'm in a paper writing film reviews (which I have done) but because television (and cable, I guess) was my very best friend growing up. You know, since us kids weren't allowed outside. Please believe that I've watched a gazillion movies in my lifetime- both good and bad- so I've pretty much perfected the art of deconstructing them.

It's just another talent I've decided to share with y'all.

So today I'm starting this series of posts on film plot discussions, namely the things that tend to piss me off, with part one of Stupid Characters.

You've seen it a million times: A movie character is in cahoots with a bad guy, a bad guy who has divulged all of his bad deeds to the character. Then it happens- the character and the bad guy get into an argument and the character STUPIDLY says to the bad guy, "I will tell the cops EVERYTHING!"

And gets shot all up in his face.

This scene/situation runs rampant in movies and TV shows and frankly, I'd like writers to stop being so goddamn lazy. WHO on this planet is stupid enough to say to a mafioso, drug dealer, pimp: "I will tell the cops EVERYTHING!"?!?! Whyyyyy? WHOOOOOOO?

I know, I know, it's not real. We should willingly suspend disbelief a little. Give the "stupid character" device a chance to move the plot along, but you know what? I DON'T WANT TO. And if you prefer quality entertainment that doesn't assume the viewers are plum idiots you'd agree with me.

Am I being a harsh movie snob? Probably. Do I care? Nope. Not as long as lazy writers don't care about the product they put out.

*smooches...promising to leave this stunt out of my film*
I'd hate to be a hypocrite!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

We Are Temporary Arrangements

I'm reconnecting with my deep-seated adoration for fellow Gemini, Alanis Morissette:

No Pressure Over Cappuccino

Along with Ani DiFranco, Alanis helps to bring me back in from the cold. She's helped me in more ways than she'll ever know.

*smooches...holding up my lighter and swaying w/eyes closed*
"Is it just me or are you fucked up?"