Monday, November 02, 2015

The Heartbreak Of A World Series Loss

Still devoted after
all these years & losses
Every year you tell yourself, "If they suck after July 25 then hang it up for the year and wait until April," but then July 25 comes and they're still kicking ass and taking names.

So you get a little hopeful. Then they clinch a spot after sweeping a hated rival and you think, WHOA, are we... will we...? Then you face and defeat a traitorous West Coast team (DEM BUMS!) and think, HOLY SHIT WE WON and it feels great.

And it keeps going on an amazing high you can't even believe exists. You haven't felt this in 15 goddamn years. It's going to be the most amazing climax of your life, you just know it. Your team sweeps the next opponent and you lose your shit. YOU'RE GOING TO THE BIG SHOW! THE TIDE IS TURNING!

You think, we must have gotten here, to this point, for a reason. WE'RE GONNA WIN! And then game after game, it all comes tumbling down when you realize the reason you made it was just so that the other team could win, and it hurts.

The hope, the devotion; you bleed blue and orange your entire life and to see it roll by Murphy's glove, soar over Familia head, slip away from Wright, it hurts. It's a physical pain that settles into the pit of your stomach. You know how hard it was to get here, how long it took to get here, and to leave without that trophy physically hurts. There's nothing left to do but accept defeat and let the tears come.

I wanted this for our Captain. I wanted to rub it in the faces of those who abandoned us (JOSE REYES). I wanted our rookies to have an Amazin' first year. I wanted to quit being the butt of NY Sports jokes. I wanted to wear my jersey to the parade. It was so close I could taste it. I saved a vacation day for it. And then... and then...

How to heal? I wish I knew. Up until the World Series, the Mets played really well. Our pitchers had killer arms and our outfielders kept going the extra (vertical) mile to block scores. Our bats could have done a better job, it's something to work on, but it was decent. So I can take some solace in the talent that exists and the power that can be developed (Conforto can be great if nurtured).

In the meantime, my jersey is in the laundry. I'll wash it and store it away with my out-of-season gear. I'll tuck my team drinking tumblers in the back of the cabinet. My cap will go back to being a decorative fixture on my bookshelf.

And then come April I'll dust it all off and get back on this ride and see where it takes me. Next week, when my tears have dried, I'll purchase my opening day tickets.


*smooches...trying hard not to break down at work*
this seriously feels like a death in the family

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The TaTas Are Gonna Be Okay: A Healthy Jaded Update

Hello my darlings!

This random post is brought to you by my recent slew of doctor visits to make sure I didn't have breast cancer. Yeah, man, you read that correctly. Thankfully, everything is cool: there is no cancer in my breast meat and therefore no tough decisions need to be made. I just needed to write this out and release it from my brain. I guess that's why I maintain this URL--am I right??

Annoyed beyond belief.
But mostly scared
Anyways... so I had my very first mammogram shortly after my 40th birthday, and it wasn't so bad. They didn't squish me up as terribly as I imagined and the appointment didn't take too long. I thought it would be weird to have my breasts manhandled in that fashion, but you know what? I've been seeing an OB/GYN since I was 18; I'm used to having my parts manhandled by now.

After the exam, the technician advised me that I might be called back for a second mammogram, but that it's common so not to worry if I get that call. Of course, I got the call. My boobies were too "dense" so I needed an ultrasound + a second mammogram to see better. Annoying but I knew it was essential.

On my second exam, which consisted of a long ass wait and repeat visits to the mammogram room and an ultrasound, the doctor says, "There's a few spots we can't identify. We're going to need to do a needle biopsy. This is common and I'm sure it's nothing." CHILD. I hate when medical professionals say that shit: I'm sure it's nothing. Like, maybe to YOU because this is what you do all the live-long day. But this is all new to me. Save the platitudes for your momma.

So then came the needle biopsy last week. It's exactly what it sounds like (especially if you have your MD from TV dramas like I do): the doctor goes in through a tiny incision with a needle to biopsy whatever the spots or masses in my breasts are/were. There was Novocain involved. I was awake. I felt nothing and everything. It was preceded and followed by a few additional mammograms. I was cold, annoyed, and on the verge of tears.

The other women in the waiting area with me were split between survivors and women just there for routine mammograms. I just didn't want to be there among the women who'd lost their hair to chemo, and maybe even lost some parts to cancer. It was all too much. I can't even imagine what I would have done if it had gone the other way.

I started thinking about my breasts a lot. About how much I've defined myself by them. How their size has always been a running gag among family and friends. How the insecure teen in me always thinks that's the only attractive part of me: whatever my size I can always count on them to bring the boys to the yard.

And MY HAIR! I didn't want to lose not even a strand of my beautiful, messy, greying hair! It's just as much of an identifier for me as my breasts are, and it was breaking me down to think I could lose both. And then I started to feel petty and stupid and beat myself up for thinking of such trivial things in the face of cancer. But you know, it's not trivial. These things ARE important. These are MY breasts. This is MY hair. And it's not fair to lose it to stupid ass cancer.

Fast forward to now, I can count myself among the fortunate who are breast cancer-free. It doesn't run in my family and my mom and aunt had already reassured me that they've also had needle biopsies that turned out to be nothing more than calcium deposits or something like that, so there was an excellent chance I would be fine, too. But there's always that lingering doubt when you have an important test like that.

And you know, looking over all this I just read, I realized that none of my worries included how I would pay for any of this, because I have great insurance. My doctors are amazing. I can see specialists whenever for whatever for free. But what about women who can't afford private doctors? How can our elected officials think it's OK to defund such an important institution like Planned Parenthood, when those offices are sometimes the ONLY resources women (and men!) have for annual screenings?

I don't know, I'm rambling at this point. I'm just feeling a lot of things and I wish I had a bigger platform to spread awareness and encourage women to get annual checkups and look after their whole self: mind, body, and soul. Maybe one of you reading this have that kind of platform. Maybe you can spread the word on my (our) behalf. Keep your doctor appointments. Take care of yourself. Take care of your sisters. You're not alone.

*smooches...with a set of healthy breasts, thank goodness*
and now I can proceed with dressing inappropriately while I re-learn to appreciate my fun bags. OWWW!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Y'all. It's been about 10 years since I got my first tattoo. Since I decided to become a full-time writer. Since I told my then-husband to get the fuck on up out my momma's house with his bullshit. Since my return to my Brooklyn roots. Since I first connected with most of you.

And now I'm 40!

I mean, I don't look it, so it's all cool. But my brain knows its age, as does my eyes, back, knees, feet, and uterus. And The Voices. They're all very aware.

Here are some reflections I've had and continue to have as I think about this milestone birthday:

1. I miss having my extended family in my daily life. I miss my Grandma, still, always. I hope that, if her essence or spirit is really among us, she's more proud than ashamed of the choices I've made. "Sorry about the body art, divorce, excessive drinking, and indiscriminate 'dating'. You definitely raised me better than that."

2. It's OK to be selfish, especially as my kids get older. It was a blessing in disguise that I had them so young; it means I'm still young enough to enjoy my kid-free years now that they're pretty much grown.

3. The more Brooklyn changes, the more at home I feel in the Dominican Republic. In fact, when I travel there to visit family, I refer to it as 'going home'.

4. My Black Is Beautiful. And it's OK if my shade of Black is a little bit lighter than other folks' Black. And I don't care if you have a problem with that, or anyone else's Blackness. I don't have to overcompensate for that, or even explain it to you. Plus my 'fro is the truth and the light, so there's that. #BlackGirlsAreMagic #BlackLivesMatter

5. I can only be held responsible and accountable for MY actions. DASSIT.

What can I look forward to in my 40th year of life? My 2015-16 Bucket list includes finishing up my first novel, plus starting on a few other book projects I have in the works; traveling; growing my Pluma y Tinta family; reaching my health and wellness goals; mastering the art of frying chicken; redecorating my apartment; Becoming Queen Copywriter of the Marketing Department at work. Because why not?

My year starts now. I'm excited for it and all the changes that are in store.

With my grown ass babies. Ay!

Except that mammogram my doc says I need to start getting now that I'm entering the grandma years. Y'all can keep that shit. I don't wanna!

*smooches...for me and my fabulous 40 years of life*
and I'm still accepting gifts well into the summer, so don't feel bad if May 23 came and went and you didn't get me anything :)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Don't Be Loud AND Wrong!

I'm coming out of fake retirement to share a little bit of Classic Jaded Ranting just for you.

There's a certain audacity and sometimes even an ostentatious quality about some 20-year-olds that you won't notice until you're older. K says it's condescending of me to think a 20-something can't have conviction or original thought, and meh, maybe that's true, but the fact is that with age comes experience and a broader perspective on things. So sometimes when I hear a 20-something try to preach or "drop knowledge" I always want to respond with "OK, sweetie." But I don't.

A lot of times I recognize their behavior for what it is--a product of youth and idealism. And listen, I've been there so I get it and it's wonderful to look through those glasses. But I'm sorry (not sorry), I'm entering my 40s and I know better.

This weekend I attended a perfectly lovely gathering with just such a 20-something who, in my opinion, wanted to shove her idealism (or opinions or whatever you want to call it) down everyone's throat, and her method for doing it was LOUDNESS, ala Kanye West. Just talking over everyone (most times as if she's reading from a rehearsed script) and not taking a minute to listen to the points being made, not realizing that she missed the point completely, and just plain ol' being in her feelings.

When people get like this around me, I've learned that there's always an underlying reason for the behavior. In this case it was a combination of copious amounts of white wine and a troubled and/or abusive childhood and marriage, as well as a desperate need to be applauded and validated (why YES, I did take psych 101 in college! How could you tell?). So I let her cook.

In the end I hate that I didn't leave before it got incredibly uncomfortable (honestly I thought it would pass!) because quite frankly, I'm too old for this shit. I've got but so many days left on this earth and it will NOT be spent listening to youngins with baggage and hurt feelings unloading their burdens on me. I'M NOT THE ONE. I barely sit still for my family's #HurtFeeFees.

Also, she ruined my red wine buzz, and goddammit, that's where I really draw the line!

Still, it gave me this story to pass on to you, sooooo, I guess there's that...

*smooches...and still not here for the bs*
listen, I'm quickly approaching my Fuck-It Fifties; warn the masses!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I Guess That Makes Me Michael Bivins.

Two posts in one week? Shocking! Someone call the tabloids!

But I have something that needed to be written out, because y'all know that's how I solve things best, and I'm trying to depend less on The Facebook (even though engagement is BETTER there than here).

So I've been in a writing group since about October, and there were five of us. For the past few months we've taken turns submitting stories for feedback and giving feedback on others' work, combined with weekly meetings to discuss said feedback. Easy-peasy.

Well last night, sort of out of nowhere (and I'll explain the sort of later), the guy who organized the group, let's call him Ralph (Tresvant), told one of the other members, we'll call him Bobby (Brown), that he had to go. The actual equivalent of "You can't sit with us!" except among a bunch of nerdy, writing grown-ups. Before he handed down his edict, Ralph had started building his case against Bobby, asking him accusatory questions about the revision he had submitted, questioning his commitment and seriousness and work ethic. From what I gathered, Ralph implied that Bobby wasn't pulling his weight, and was mostly half-assing his writing and editing efforts, and Ralph feels it's a waste of the group's time.

You could have cut the tension with a knife last night.

And listen, those are legitimate concerns to have whenever you're in a group like this. If you feel one member is a weak link, address it before the whole group suffers. I get that. Where this went left is that, right before my eyes, Ralph channeled Rafael LeĆ³nidas Trujillo Molina, made an executive decision, and told Bobby to step. Another member, we'll call him Ricky (Bell), tried to intercept and asked Ralph, "Are we going to discuss this?" but Ralph was all "Nah. Bobby gotta go. And y'all can stay or go, but Bobby GOT TO GO." And I'm sitting there, locking eyes with the other member, Ronnie (DeVoe), who happens to be Ralph's partner, wondering if suddenly I had to prove I could properly pronounce perejil or risk getting chucked into Massacre River.

Y'all. I don't need this stress. I just want a safe space to share my work and get honest feedback so that I can get my work published. DASSIT. How did my life become fodder for a "Behind the Music Writing" episode?

And regarding the sort of, Ralph and Bobby have been clashing since Day 1, and I could see that their personalities didn't match up. And frankly, a lot of times Bobby needs to be wrangled and reigned in, and yes, if the personalities don't mesh in a group then YES, changes need to be made.

However, the way Ralph pulled rank and refused to discuss his decision, and basically implied that Ricky and I don't have a say--the equivalent of "If you don't like it, you can leave, too!"--did not, DOES NOT, sit well with me. Yes, he organized the group, but we're a group. Why can't we discuss this? Why can't you approach Bobby on your own with your concerns? Why the blow up at the table in front of god and everyone at the coffee shop? Child. I mean, is it me, or does that speak to an issue with Ralph's personality, as well as coping and leadership skills?

I've already discussed this with 2/3 of the Jaded Advisory Board, so now I guess I'll see what y'all think; I'm about 82.7% sure of my next move, which starts with contacting both Ralph and Bobby, and letting them know I won't be participating in a tug-o-war. Le sigh.

And quietly, I'm starting to feel more like Tamar Braxton, in that scene of "Braxton Family Values" when her sister Towanda yelled, "Every group you've ever been in has failed!" Every writing group I've been in fizzled. Is it me? IS IT ME?

What say you, lovelies?

*smooches...wondering if I should just create in a bubble*
I like collaborating, but these hos ain't loyal... and sorry about the mixed analogies, by the way

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I Watched "Light Girls"

I'm paying for this URL, I might as well use it!

So I watched this documentary that aired on OWN, "Light Girls," that was the sequel, I think, to the "Dark Girls" documentary that discussed the pains and perils of being #TeamLightSkin and #TeamDarkSkin (or so I gathered. Y'all know I only half pay attention).

(To my Caucasian friends: yes, those hashtags are REAL things that exist. Go on The Twitter, The Tumblr, The Facebook, or The Instagram and you'll see this foolishness firsthand.)

A lot of the people I follow on The Twitter who were live-tweeting the show (yes, that's also a thing. Keep up!) were not here for it. There were many jokes of course and the usual NOT ALL [fill in the common noun], so I thought FINE. Let me see what all the fuss is about. I want to laugh and give in to my righteous indignation, too!

However, the documentary was...well, I'm still not sure what the main idea of the documentary was, but when I figure it out I will be able to tell you that it didn't stir anything in me. Only one woman, who explained that her grandmother preferred her descendants to have light skin because it meant they'd have a better chance of SURVIVING in the Jim Crow south, made me feel anything. Most everyone else was just there to talk about their hurt fee-fees.

And also, I thought I'd maybe see myself in the experiences of these women, but I didn't. My family is welcome to chime in, but I don't recall a time when I was favored for having lighter skin. More than anything, I was praised for being obedient and bringing home good grades; that's what mattered the most in my Roman Catholic, Latino home. Respect your elders, do your homework. Don't embarrass us in the street.

And I can't recall being picked on or being liked more in school because or despite of my skin color. Again, teachers liked me because I was a kiss-ass who earned good grades and never acted up. And my classmates liked me because, well, I'm not sure, but I like to think that it was my irresistible charm and sparkling personality. STOP LAUGHING. I CAN SEE YOU.

Honestly, I didn't hear any skin-tone specific talk until I got much older and started spending more time around my mother's paternal relatives. But that's a story for another day that I'll never tell you, because despite their lofty airs, I love them and won't speak ill of them (too much) on here.

Do I think I've succeeded or received any advantages in life because of my skin color? HONEY, if being nearly $100K in debt, barely earning enough to pay down that debt, raising kids on my own and being the captain of #TeamForeverAlone means I've succeeded in life, then I need to buy a new dictionary. Clearly I'm living this Light-Skinned life all wrong. ALL WRONG. I've had no advantages with this skin. Not an ounce. *gives useless skin the side eye*

I'm trudging through this shit like everyone else- by the grace of your judeo-christian god.

In conclusion, the only things I really took away from the documentary were a) the origins and definition of the term QUADROON (which is still the funniest word to me ever), b) I had never had the discussion with N that she's (racially, for lack of a better term) Black and (culturally/ethnically) Dominican, and c) Byron Nelson should call me. Soon. Watch the documentary to see for yourself why.

Yes, I still think primarily with my loins. What was your point?

* all of my light-skinnded glory*
I mean, it's the only skin I have. #minuswell be happy in it.