Friday, August 23, 2013

I OK, As Long As De Music Plays

I had a rough week.

A lot of plans blew up in my face and other things are threatening my patience and my sanity. Times like this I have no choice but to shrink away so I can find a solution or nurse my wounds.

When I heard about actor Lee Thompson Young ("The Famous Jett Jackson," "Rizzoli & Isles") committing suicide, I was sad, but mostly thankful for a coping mechanism for my own woes. "There but for the grace of god go I." There's always something or someone to bring me back.

And I always, always have music.

I can always bury myself in the arts and come out of it reborn. When you feel yourself falling down that rabbit hole, find that "thing" that anchors you. That anchor will save your life.

Trust me.

*smooches...hoping you're OK, too*
I learned that "anchor" thing from watching "Teen Wolf" on Netflix. Get into it.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I Swear I Wrote This BEFORE I Saw "The Matrix"

Cover art where my baby dwells
As my part of my now-defunct thesis (let's just call a spade a spade- I don't give two shits about finishing that shit), I wrote a short-short, "On a Blue Day," about a girl and her penchant for uppers and downers who moves back home to attend a funeral. It was just a small experimental piece that was part of an assignment I had at FDU where I had to mimic the writing style of an author I can't remember right now.

But the gist of the assignment was repetition. There had to be an element of the story that kept repeating every few lines, if not every line. So there's a lot of mention of the red uppers and blue downers throughout the barely-two-thousand-word story.

On a deeper level, this story touches upon this girl's continuous habit of self-medication, which at the time was reflecting my own way of handling a crisis- that crisis, of course, being my grandmother's death, which was still painfully fresh in my mind in 2005.

Well this poor baby had been rejected from many a flash fiction contest. I would read it over and over and think What aren't people getting? This is a good fucking story! But alas, editors from here to LA didn't feel the same, until I met a young woman named Hannah Clayman who ran a zine for women in Brooklyn, You Should Be Here. She encouraged me to submit something and, with a few hours left until deadline, I sent off the story. I think she wrote me back the next day to say they "loved(!)" my story, and I was all FINALLY! SOMEONE GETS IT!

So now I can finally add another credit to my name: I've self-published a book on writing, I've been interviewed for a prominent Dominican news source online, and I've published two short stories--one online and one in print.

I say that deserves some fucking Shake Shack and Haagen Dazs this weekend!

*smooches...trying not to rest on my laurels*
there's still so much I need to do, but I'm enjoying this journey so far.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I'm Just Going To Stop Wishing

"...the devil doesn’t come dressed in a red cape and pointy horns. He comes as everything you’ve ever wished for..." -Tucker Max, Assholes Finish First

*smooches...still wishing a motherfucker WOULD, though*
I could never give that up

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Six Minutes

I've never seen Vision Quest in its entirety, but this clip was pretty good, a little something that was delivered to my inbox courtesy of Circuit of Change.

There are a lot of Six Minutes throughout my day that I waste away. Might be a good idea to take them a bit more seriously.

How are you making the most of your day? Any tips? I'm asking for a friend...

*smooches...trying to be a more productive citizen*
it doesn't always work, though. I blame Jesus and Obama.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Thirteen Years Of This Bundle Of Energy

I decided to have a second baby for two reasons. One, I was unhappy and thought another cuddly baby would solve all my problems; and two, I firmly believed (and still do) that every child needs a sibling. My first experience as a mom was a breeze-K was such an easy baby-that I just knew the sequel would be just as fun. Enter N.

A sister or brother is seriously a friend for life
She's always been a rough-and-tumbly kind of baby, climbing up on kitchen counters, eating sugar and baby powder when unattended, hanging precariously from monkey bars and speaking out of turn. Just a pure thug. I learned early on not to let that little face fool me.

There was one instance while we were potty training her, where she pooped on the floor and then kept it moving like it wasn't her. Seconds later K stepped in it because HELLO, who expects to find poop in the middle of the floor inside the house? Oh my, did that little thug laugh her ass off...she gave no fucks about poor K's poopie foot. She'd done her business and was moving on with her day.

And that's pretty much how she's YOLO'd her entire existence on this earth. It's been 13 years of What Will N Do/Say Next?

Giving no fucks at her Guela's birthday party

Giving no fucks about chicken pox

Giving no fucks about website photo shoots

Giving no fucks about not knowing how to swim yet

UV Rays? She gives no fucks
And I've enjoyed every minute of it.

Now she's this huge, almost-young-woman who plays sports and builds things out of nothing but pure imagination and scraps of whatever she can find, who has opinions and knowledge of stuff and grown-folk underwear, and I'm all HUH?! Where's my squooshy baby?!

Giving no fucks about empty calories, either

Still, I regret it not.


*smooches...just for N on her birthday*
let's see if I still feel this way next year...

Friday, August 16, 2013

We Will Always Share, Nuh Care How Meager The Meal

When I decided to become a writer, I knew that my life would not include traveling down the easy road. I knew that I would not be swimming in money. I knew that the arts is something you undertake for the sake of the arts. And I'm OK with all of that.

This life, however, can wear people out, especially for the unlucky ones who have to wonder where their next paycheck is coming from. And yes, it's PURE LUCK that a writing position opened in a marketing department at a non-profit I believe in and is very close to home so that my commute doesn't involve the annoying yuppies of Park Slope. So much luck was involved, especially because this job helps me grow as a writer AND allows me the freedom to still work on my personal projects on the side.

Around me, though, are those who haven't found that balance of a job that pays the bills and also nourishes them. I think this helps fuel me in my endeavors, though, because I know there are a slew of talented and amazing people that would be perfect additions to The Jaded Empire, now that I'm actively working toward making that dream a reality.

Please believe that those who've been down with me from jump have a home with me, and if not, I'm here to help you find your calling if you need me to. Because what fun will it be to live my dream if my homies are still mired in muck? No sir! As I lift myself up, I'm gonna work to keep y'all uplifted! I mean, y'all have to put in work, too, but this is war, son, and I don't leave anyone behind (unless, you know, it's PMS Week and you've pissed me off...).

Most importantly, get those positive vibes and energies flowing. Yesterday's mistakes are yesterday's mistakes. You wake up every day with the chance to make it right.

I hear the brighter side of life is just more fun and productive, you know?

*smooches...wishing you a life with no moss*
now, go forth and prosper over the weekend!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I Read At Barnes & Noble Yesterday

There's really nothing else I want to tell you. If you missed it, you missed it.

How fitting... "The Natural"

But here's how cute I looked staring down at my "sheets of genius words" for dear life.

Yup, I'm a star... I don't have to look at you
This time next year, y'all will be saying "I used to read this cute little blog that Raquel used to she's too famous..."

*smooches...still on a high*
I'm psyched, too, because these stories are really coming together beautifully!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Staying In The 90s

I think it was comedian Jerry Seinfeld who joked about older people and their way of dressing, stating that it appears his parents selected a decade and just decided that's where they'd stay. I laughed so hard at that joke and today realized: it's true. Why? Because I'm living it. I've decided that most of what has happened after the 1990s--whether it be music or fashion--is all well and good but for the most part, it's not for me.

Given a choice, I'll always prefer baggier cuts of pants (oh how I miss my Osh Kosh B'Gosh overalls!) and flannel shirts and Doc Martens. I mean, you already know I STILL own and frequently wear Docs. And today's music... I could take it or leave it.

Or maybe it's that the 90s represent the funnest, most carefree times of my life, before kids, debt, physical ailments and these extra 30lbs (she wrote while eating cheddar-flavored Sun Chips).

I still long for my dark, matte lipstick, chokers, bangs, baby doll dresses...basically Brenda Walsh's entire wardrobe from the first two seasons of Beverly Hills, 90210.

Can I get all of these in a size 12? Thanks!

Can we go back there??

*smooches...reminiscing about better days*
look at that, my calendar says this post is right on time! now let me go buy some feminine napkins...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


"Shame is a shackle. Free yourself." -The Humans by Matt Haig

*smooches...thinking of living a shame-free life*
also, there are too many books to read and never enough time to read them all. WHAT IS THIS LIFE?!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Hello Brooklyn.

Your eyes do not deceive you. This is a photograph of a shopping cart, filled with someone's earthly possessions, parked in the bike rack.

Really, though? Okay...

Just another day at work.

*smooches...thinking your Monday couldn't have been better than mine*
how was your weekend, though?

Friday, August 09, 2013

I Awake Each Day With The New Sunrise

So yesterday...yeah, man, I was going to post something but nothing seemed good enough. See, it was the anniversary of my grandmother's death and, well, you already know.

Then today I'm on The Twitter and scattered all over my timeline is the aftermath and remnants of an ugly mess (that had nothing to do with me) playing itself out in public. This happens at least once a month on #BlackTwitter but it doesn't make it easier to swallow each time. At first I let it suck me in because c'mon, I'm human. Shit like this is tasty and I tend to be greedy. But then it wasn't. Then it was giving my bubbleguts. Then it was leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Then it was reminding me to mind my own business and not frolic among the negative energy.

My grandmother didn't come to this country, watch other people's kids, take in other people's laundry and basically make herself sick taking care of us for me to sit at a desk watching someone's life being dragged through the internets.

Earlier this evening, after a feast of Buffalo wings and waffle fries (OH YEAH) I took K to get her very first tattoo. When we parted ways so she could go with her dad for the weekend and I could go home to be lazy, she ran to hug me and said "I feel like I should stay; I just got my first tattoo with you. It's like postpartum depression or something!" and let me kiss and squeeze her cheeks while using baby talk. In public.

This is what I should be concerning myself with: my family. Hugging them, kissing them and treating them whenever they deserve it and I can afford to.

Blessed is this life...never forget it.

*smooches...celebrating being alive*
I don't think grandma would be happy about the body art, but she'd be happy about the togetherness.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

When Twitter Catchphrases Get Real

An exchange between me and Mari during my Penzo Grandmother's birthday party...

ME: (saying something catty and/or snarky)


ME: This is the wrong place to ask that question...

At the scene of the crime

*smooches...finding the humor in my dysfunction*
you have to be able to laugh at yourself, folks!

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

And Now The Real Work Begins: A Healthy Jaded Post

So remember around Christmas when I hurt my back and found out it was because an angry, toothy alien was residing in my spine and was manipulating my body like a puppet master? And I had to go to physical therapy and not work out on my own?

Right, so I decided to use all of that as an excuse to gain back a whole bunch of weight and eat a bunch of bad-for-me foods while not giving an iota of a fuck. I went from being in the low 170s to almost back in the 190s. It's truly a sad state of affairs.

Obviously there are other factors at play here that are hardly any of your business, but the fact remains that I'm a whale. A WHALE. A MOTHERFUCKING WHALE. And it's all my fault (although, Domino's pizza and Netflix had something to do with it, too).

So I had to go back to basics, the things that worked for me the first time around. Enter my former personal trainer, Bryan Ortiz aka the Brooklyn Bad Ass, and his special brand of torture-disguised-as-fitness.

While I cried for Jesus, Bryan pointed & laughed & took pictures.
There's a long goddamned road ahead of me. I'm going to be stank, bitter, irritable and just downright nasty for at least six weeks as I retrain my brain and my body to embrace a healthy lifestyle again. And then I'm going to whine and cry and mope and overturn your desks and coffee tables in frustration. But eventually, I'll get back to normal. Whatever that is. Maybe.

You might want to steer clear of me until sometime after Halloween. Or Christmas, 2014.

*smooches...dreaming of pizza and cookies and gummy bears*

Monday, August 05, 2013

La Doña Turned 90

On Saturday, the babies and I (and Mami, Mari and Mari's dad) trekked up to Cypress Hills to attend the celebration of my Penzo Grandmother's 90th birthday. Now those that know me and have been reading this blog for a while know that I'm not close to my Penzo family; nothing personal, really, I just wasn't raised with them as closely as I was raised with my mother's family. I never formed a tight bond with them as a whole, although I do care for some of my aunts and uncles and cousins very much. So you can only imagine that the thought of that many Penzos in one room at one time was just too much for me, and I didn't want to go.

But listen, part of being a grown up is not just "doing whatever you want" as I previously mentioned, it's also doing what's right. This lady turned 90. How many people get to do that? If all she wanted for her birthday was to be surrounded by her family, then I needed to set aside my own comfort level and gift her that. Perhaps in the end what I wanted to do was make an old lady happy.

Besides, she's never been mean to me or my babies. The least I could do was swing by and say "hey!"See, it's not that I don't like her, I just never had or took the time to get close to her. I respect her gangsta, you know, so even though the babies were extra stank and it was a $30 cab ride away, we went.

And I'm glad we did. She seemed truly happy at her party, and I'd like to think that in some tiny way I helped make that happen by just showing up and wishing her a happy birthday. I really hope it made her night to look out at the reception hall and see all the children she has begotten. It's not something I will ever experience (seeing as I only have two kids and she had, like, a baker's dozen!) but it was kind of special to witness it first-hand.

This is what 90 looks like in my family.

*smooches...wondering what my 90th bday bash would look like*
alls I know is, I'd better still have enough teeth to enjoy some Buffalo wings when the time comes!

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Jaded Photographs: August 2013 Edition

"Never Stop Fighting"

*smooches...appreciating the message on the street*
we could all use a reminder as the summer begins to wind down

Friday, August 02, 2013

When I Do It I Don't Look Back

Rarely will a Beyonce song move me. OK, that might be a lie. I think I can name at least five Beyonce songs that I've shaken my ass to over the years. Or more. Whatever, shut up. Let me just give you this week's inspirational message in peace, OK? Sheesh!

Yesterday, I mentioned my lamentations about having thrown myself into the position of Head of Household, and how the experience shook me. That was October of 2005. Right now, in this glorious year of our lord Jesus Christ (2013), I walk around making no apologies for any of the decisions that I've made.

Oh, I left you while you were at your lowest point in life? Too bad, so sad. I turned my back on the possibility career in the sciences to pursue the arts? That's how I roll. I'm happily SINGLE AND FABULOUS, EXCLAMATION POINT yet you can't understand why I just won't get a man in my life? Bitch, have a seat.

I'm a grown woman. I can do WHATEVER I want.

I want you all to know this is more about following your true path and less about singing a little diddy by a card-carrying member of the Illuminati (although it is a damn good song, Mrs. Carter). This is definitely about believing in your own ability to make shit happen for yourself, regardless of who is in your corner and who isn't.

You're going to make mistakes. You're not going to have all the answers. You're going to hit more than a couple of brick walls. But the stories you'll be able to tell along this fantastic journey, well, shit, isn't that what it's all about? The fantastic journey?

Do yourself a favor: be grown. Do whatever you want.

*smooches...memorizing that choreography*
this would be a good song to play at the gym, or right before I take the mic at a reading...

Thursday, August 01, 2013

On Divorce...

"The hardest part is realizing you're in charge." -Helen Bishop, "Mad Men"

I'm heavily into this show right now, years and years later. That line spoke to me like no other.

When I split from my ex, I knew it was the right thing to do. Still, I'd been accustomed to someone else always taking the reigns in my life. It was a bucket of ice-cold water to the face to check the Head of Household box on my tax documents. Dude, I was the decision-maker. Me. Moi. If it went well then YAY for me. If it failed there was no one to blame except Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

When people ask me for advice about ending their marriage, I always tell them to really think it through. Not only because I strongly believe you have to try everything to save your relationship before you walk away (quitters never win!) but because the aftermath is something only the strong will survive.

*smooches...counting myself among the strong*
I consider not shacking up with someone shortly after my divorce as winning. take that statement however you want to take it.