29 6 / 2011
Last Friday evening, upon hearing the news of New York’s legalization of same sex-marriage, I poured my heart out to my husband Dustin, tearfully articulating what I felt about this painful yet celebratory occasion. To be quite honest, the first thing I thought about were all of the radical activists in history that fought to break chains of social injustice whether it be for women’s rights or racial discrimination. I silently uplifted all of these pioneers of change and thanked them for being so courageous because without them, we wouldn’t know the significance of fighting for what is inherently right. I vividly recall, for the first time in my life being extremely upset that I didn’t have children of my own to turn to and explicitly explain why moments like these are extremely gratifying yet still discouraging.
For probably the first time in this relationship, I finally expressed extremely distressing moments I’ve witnessed in my lifetime concerning my racial identity and all that I experienced and continue to experience navigating through a world where race, to me, is still conspicuously divided. I know what it feels like to convince yourself that the world is changing and more accepting but then have that notion robbed from you upon hearing a student’s disapproval of Black literature in a college classroom. There’s a heavy component to being radically progressive because your passion-driven ideals tend to free you from the rivers of cruelty that weave itself into this world and become undeniable reality. I remember my second year at Ohio State, I was taking a course on American Literature that just happened to be taught during Black History Month and by a culturally affluent professor. Before his class, many of my classmates would conjure the corridors of Denney Hall, often discussing our reading assignments relevant to class that day. This particular week, a heavy emphasis of our reading was analyzing more obscure poems by Langston Hughes along with a novel by Nella Larson called Passing. A current PhD student was taking this course, as was required by the department so that these students could familiarize themselves with the coursework associated with these courses for the hopeful day when they too would be able to lead their own classroom. I engaged in an innocent conversation about what had resonated within me about these Harlem Renaissance writers to only come face-to-face with present day acts of racial discrimination. This PhD student referred to the writers as, “Colored idiots who aren’t worth my time.” He then declared that when he’s done with his degree, “This shit will never find its way on my syllabus.” The fact that this white male made these comments, most strongly to me, amazed me. Aside from being extremely offended, I managed to offer a response, holding back tears while I gathered strength to state that these artists, as I corrected him, hold the most beautiful literature because of people like this student who attempt to berate their identities because of racial prejudices. After class, I did find my way to a tattoo shop on High St. where I put down my deposit for my “rainbow” peace sign that is stained on my foot—the colors, representative of a group that will probably spend its lifetime fighting for social rights just as African-Americans have done even decades after the Civil Rights Movement.
Today my best friend Chris had to suffer a moment similar to mine, all because of the choices that “religious” people are making by choosing to use religion as a weapon. In his case, he was ostracized for his sexual identity, which deepened the burden that he’s carrying due to disapproval from his own family. Upon talking with Chris and reading what he experienced, my blood began to boil. I messaged my father for support, expressing my pain where he replied:
Your religious nurturing helped produce your passion for social justice. I love that about you and pray that you will never tire in your pursuit of justice and truth.
Rev. Dr. Dad is absolutely right. My relationship with religion is so vastly different than what extremists and even moderate groups are doing, that I have a very hard time witnessing these moments in life when something as personal as religion is being exploited by means of destruction to groups of people and their beliefs.
The Bible to me is like a William Faulkner novel. I can’t say that I ever relished getting through one of Faulkner’s books, but when I did, I couldn’t deny his original prose and moving themes. As crazy as this may sound, I feel no different about The Bible. Even as a young person, the biggest takeaway for me was spiritual connection in the means of love and forgiveness. I don’t spend my days digesting verses to spit back at people because I honestly don’t think Jesus is impressed with my memorization skills; I do however, feel as if he’d be more concerned about my attempts of making a difference, similarly to what he did in his time of challenging people and just being passionate about his journey through life. I have always and will always disregard the parts of The Bible that I just simply recognize as this uninformed society’s written record of doing what society does best: being judgmental and ignorant. For whatever reason, I have no problem calling this book out. It doesn’t define me, I instead define it. The Bible is stripped with records of flaws and backwardness, and I recognize that completely. Maybe that categorizes me as a bad “religious” person, but it never hindered me from finding my spiritual ground. And, being completely honest, whether you’re Atheist or a diehard Evangelical, both parties are doing the same thing, which is conveying wholeheartedly in what they believe in, so I’ve preferred a very private relationship with my spiritual relationship because I vowed to not become an outspoken person in the means of judging anyone. I am more concerned with how I can balance my observation of how religion is staining societal issues while clinging to how I accept religion, and fighting social injustices.
I’m always a little sickened to hear people who claim that they’re so happy society is nothing like it was years ago—they’re just so thankful that we’ve become this harmonious blend of people co-existing with one another. My next door neighbor in Key West called me a nigger about ten times a day, so I’d have to say I disagree. I’d think that my dear friend Chris would agree, witnessing, even after several states have legalized same-sex marriage that an enactment of law will never entirely disguise the hate that will continue to breed and reveal the true division of where we stand as a country. It’s been 4 months since Dustin and I married and I’m happy to report that I’m not hanging from a tree or that Dustin hasn’t been tortured to death because of his choice to marry outside of his race, but I don’t think many people see how active injustice actually is.
I know that this incident will torment Chris forever, so I wanted to dedicate this to him so that he truly understood my fine line of religion. I am so proud of the family I come from and I will never deny my religious ties, but I will never give up in my attempt to make sense of a world filled with hate and its obsession with attacking outward identities. I want you to know that I am just as disgusted as you are when people use what is sacred as a detrimental weapon against belief systems and people attached to those particular groups. I also wanted to make this connection Chris, because you inspire me to be vocal about an extremely sensitive issue about my race. You’re so brave, Chris. You’ve allowed me to see the connections and patterns of social injustice and you’re not keeping quiet, which is what so many of us do. Do not let that person take your identity away like I allowed people to do for so many years. In the five years that we’ve grown close to one another, I need you to know that I will never stop fighting for you and all that you represent. Don’t think for one second that I’ll ever stop my pursuit of truth and justice. Ignorance has influenced us, our journey of finding truth will free us.
19 6 / 2011
On a day that’s so undeniably dedicated to the paternal figure in your life, it’s hard not to feel deep pangs of guilt for not buying a gift or a card. But in every representation of Father’s Day I can conjure, it’s about being thankful and reminiscent of those days when it’s just you and your dad hanging out; tough life moments that were eased slightly by the fact that your daddy was there. When I buy cards I like them to be humorous, not deeply emotional. Most humorous Father’s Day cards involve some sort of joke about Dad grilling outside, hogging the remote, or just being lazy around the house. I can see how these cards appeal to the masses, but none of them apply to me.
A humorous Father’s Day card doesn’t even exist for me. Most cards would say something along the lines of, “Thanks for never responding to my phone calls! Even more thanks for never once calling me by your own volition!” or “I loved being 4 or 5 or 11 or 15 years old and waiting by the window for you to show up all day!” or “Thanks for buying me a Barbie in attempts to get me to feel thankful for you and then disappearing from my life again for a few months!” Now, my childhood wasn’t as sad or depressing as I may have just painted it out to be. I wasn’t constantly down about how my dad wasn’t around. I grew up with my mother’s family, and they became the father that I needed. I honestly didn’t really have those moments of self-pity when I realized that my dad wasn’t really around. It seemed normal to me to not have him there. I would always feel uncomfortable going to friends’ houses where there was a dad. I, to this day, am 100% unfamiliar with the father-daughter and father-child relationship. I don’t know what it’s supposed to be like.
I am extremely more comfortable with having my father out of my life than having him “in” it, even though the two are differentiated only slightly. For my first few years of college there was no (literally, zero) contact between me and my father. After the mild emotional hurt I felt because of the blatant disinterest in his daughter’s life, I did what I had done my entire life. I chalked it up to his laundry list of expected actions and just moved on. I was fine, no matter how hard it was for anybody to believe. About two years ago, maybe more out of her guilt that I had grown up basically fatherless than anything else, my mom contacted my father despite my wishes. He called me and the “relationship” progressed. He even came to Ohio to help me move apartments, of which I’m eternally grateful. Now he pays for my cell phone. That’s the extent of our contact. So, him being in my life is pretty much the same as him being out of it. When our phone contract started up, I’d get the occasional text reminding me not to go over my allotted minutes. Since we have AT&T and I really don’t make that many calls, the acquisition of rollover minutes has relieved his sense of worry. It has also relieved him of the arduous task of texting or calling or contacting me in any degree. On my birthday this year he called me at 11:45pm, even though in the voicemail I received he said he had the full day off.
Yes, the father-child relationship is a two way street. Growing up, I would always try to make some sort of contact. I would always try and arrange a weekend where he could come pick me up and we could go see a movie or something. Looking back, I’m pretty sure if I had never called and set up these meetings a few times a year we never would have seen each other. His living in the Bronx and my Long Island upbringing proved problematic. I guess the fact that I lived 15 minutes away from Queens made me an inconvenience. Once I moved out to Suffolk County, forget it. I, at age 12, would set up odd arrangements just to see him. I had my mom drop me off at the LIRR, I would get a ticket and ride by myself into Jamaica or Penn and he would meet me there. In his car. Why he couldn’t drive himself out to see his only child is beyond me; but, again, I chalked these things up to just him being him. This is the father I have known my entire life.
I don’t mean for this to be a cry for pity. Please, don’t pity me. Yes, my father is highly uninvolved in my life, but as I’ve said: I’m fine with it. It’s how I grew up. I just hate days like Father’s Day because I feel left out. I probably wouldn’t change anything about the relationship I have with my father, because I know who he is and having him in my life probably would have caused more problems than our current situation. I guess I’m more inquisitive as to how father-child relationships work than bitter that I never had one. I also wish those funny Father’s Day cards applied to me. I have no memories of my father having a Sunday BBQ for me. We never had to fight over the remote because most of our visit involved going to a movie, getting some food, and going home. Being lazy around the house? If I ever went to my dad’s house it was just to go to sleep before he’d bring me home the next day.
24 5 / 2011
FOR SOMEONE I LOVE.
White walls, circular in shape, go zooming around me. Shiny lights, sparkle like opaque glitter off the warped corners of each edge. Am I dreaming? In my peripheral vision I see gleams of light sparkling off my lashes. Suddenly the walls are warped mirrors. And I see myself illuminated in light that can only be described as somewhat heavenly. My hair is platinum with a hint of lavender, my lashes are dropping glitter with each bat of an eye in the confusion that I am now facing. I look down and am suddenly aware of my shoes. This can’t be reality. In what life could I possibly be wearing white Louboutins? Definitely not my Earthly reality… Click, clip, click, clip go my shoes. I get closer to the edge of the circular room and really eye myself in the mirror. Yes, last time I checked my hair was silver, and I was nearly bald, something at the age of 21 I never really saw in my future. But now, I am stunning. My lips are full and also white. Iridescent, like a Conch pearl from my childhood. My cheeks are blushing a hushed pink, and I hear a faint piano in the background. Whispered words of Jungleland and a voice that was once familiar to me on the radio. I begin to cry when I am interrupted by a voice. Only its not really a voice its inside of my head. DON’T DO THAT. I begin to feel like a deer, in all this strangeness, and begin to wonder before I speak. DON’T CRY. THIS IS NOT THE PLACE. PLEASE MOVE FORWARD THROUGH THE MIRROR. Not really concerned I stop all momentary emotions and skip through the wall, fully aware that skipping on earth would have landed me in the ER with a potentially broken hip.
I’m in a pink room now. With windows of flooding light all around. And Bruce Springsteen is singing Thunder Road in the corner, and Stefani Germanotta is playing the baby grand in the far left corner of this now square room. I look over and the Boss gives me a charming smile, and the young blonde on the piano stops her beating of the keys she knows so well… KEEP IT MOVING.
I walk through a wall, and am now in a room filled with clouds. No colored walls, just clouds. Clouds of red, and indigo. Clouds that are smiling and laughing. Clouds that look and smell like marshmallows. I am dumbfounded and frozen, until a cloud shaped like Barry White commands me in a deep bellowing voice to “follow the yellow brick road, because I can’t get enough lovin’.” I run, suddenly aware its raining. I must be dreaming. Or maybe I’m still 21 and on some kind of trip I didn’t realise I was on until it was too late, like now.
I follow the road, and reach a set of gates made of golden Chanel number 5 perfume. I vaguely assume gravity is playing a mind trick because the gates are clearly liquid. And I could have been abducted by Aliens! As the clouds turn to air, I see a woman who appears to be Jane Fonda circa 1968 Barbarella. But more God-like. She eyes me up, disapprovingly, and throws her fist up, like Hanoi Jane would, and says,
She begins typing the thin air in front of her, looking at what appears to be an invisible computer screen of the sorts. At this point I am tapping my shoes, annoyed and wondering why I’m not either dead, or at home getting ready for Bingo night with the 2 other living corpses in my neighborhood. Sensing my hostility, Jane looks up and says, “Well, why don’t we go through the motions, Maresa. Shall We?” She then begins to read what sounds like a sort of obituary, maybe even a case file… so I guess I am dead. Story of my life. Never in the loop, never in on the jokes. Until, well, it’s right in my face.
“Born September 22, 1989. Parents, Roy Sanchez, Diana Sanchez. Nearly killed mother, which in turn caused you to be C-sectioned. Unnatural birth. You dealt with many demons through out your childhood, most of which were your own sins and faults. Never really into God, until you saw death right infront of your eyes.”
Jane is rolling her eyes, and we are floating through the Chanel gates.
“At 22 you moved to New York City, began working for a Broadcast station. After becoming established, at 23 you clichéd yourself through Europe, and sinned at every corner you possibly could. At the age of 24 you discovered love for the first time with a man you could finally trust and cherish. You had a child. You raised her in a way that you deemed right and in turn brought your father and yourself together as a team, rather a constant ball of Hell and rage.”
I had forgotten these tiny details in my life, and flashing through them in some sort of in-between in the sky was totally not my idea of dealing with my death. I was starting to cry again. DON’T DO THAT.
“At the age of 27 you coauthored a book with a person that is very dear to you. Inspired millions and made millions. You chose to do good with it. Truth and love saved you time and time again. And your trials are what fueled your fights from negative to the positive. You weren’t always perfect, but it was evident that in life you cared. You cussed and drank a lot though, anything you’d like to say about that? … Didn’t think so.
At 33, you were greeted with a second child, a boy. His love for animals, much like yourself, inspired you to open a sort of farm, where homeless animals could come and live, never having to worry about hate and harm. Animal Heaven, as you so named it.
50 you became a grandmother, and at 55 you became a grandmother again. You stayed close with your loved ones in California, and cherished their little ones as if they were your own, too.
Laughter and light became your mantra in life, and ironically it was what you were known for by many. You outlived your husband, but he should be waiting beyond the disco ball. Along with your Mother, Father, and Grandmother, and many others you might remember.”
“What about my brother?”
Jane begins to roll her eyes. And tugs at a red curl. “Are you seriously kidding? He’s 75, on Earth, and still partying. Leave it alone, Maresa.”
“Walk on, under the disco ball,” she commands.
Lights, shining bright. Flashing. Love, Beauty, and Smiles. So many smiles… and I am in my perception of Heaven… and … I am awake. I stretch in my bed. Coming to terms with the fact that I am indeed still 21 years old, living in my parents house. I smile at the sun shining through my window, and bow my head. One day, I’ll be walking through those Chanel no. 5 gates, and I’ll be re-imagining the good I once did, before taking my final resting space in the clouds as some sort of alien-angel. Because God drives a flying saucer, right?
22 5 / 2011
Shortly after Lady Gaga released her single “Born This Way,” I remember sitting down with my father for our daily dose of popular-culture-meets-religion conversations. I was sharing with him that this single embraced the ideologies of believing in a higher being and constantly turning to Him to be reminded that you were made to survive. And, Lady Gaga leaves no one out in this dance tune. No matter who you love, who you worship, or what color you are, this anthem is meant to mold resilience and courage. In my own experience of coming to terms with my religious tone there was absolutely no possible way these two isolated sectors could not merge into something worth celebrating. Unfortunately, I lived a life of alienation where I never felt comfortable expressing my spirituality to my peers so my own realizations were met with private acts of worship experiences and muted praise.
That seed of fear never came from a place of shame or even self doubt, but some of the best individuals that have come into my life had written off any type of religious dialogue—unless, of course it involved rebuking Christian ideals and ostracizing the modern practices of praise and worship because the notion of there being a God or Jesus Christ had to be fantastical. The linear path of my religious background is heavily embedded around my father, Rev. Dr. Darryl W. Robinson, being not only an eloquent and melodic pastor but a connoisseur of academic expertise to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk. Even now, I can see the various flashes of terror that could appear on acquaintances faces upon mentioning my father’s profession; a look that screamed pity for me with assumptions that I was forced to read the Bible for 6 hours a day, minimum.
Well, my life was quite the contrary. Our family mimicked more of a structure that only J.D. Salinger could procreate, with academic-oriented souls and minds that populated thoughts that had to immediately materialize into words that would inevitably never, ever stop. Opinions were as necessary as the need to inhale oxygen and Devil’s Advocate was a role that you’d better be willing to slip into at any given moment. Individuality was embraced and questions were instinctual. More simply, religion did not define our identities as much as enhance it. It was the accessory that I clung to at an early age but adopted once I realized I couldn’t live without it.
Throughout my college career I spent sleepless nights digesting the words of new age voices, particularly revisiting a book titled Blue Like Jazz. Before my life became consumed with jazz music (seriously, we named our Yorkie Miles after Miles Davis), Donald Miller said something that resonated deep within me:
“I never liked jazz music because jazz doesn’t resolve. I was outside one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes.
After that, I liked jazz music. Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it for yourself.
I used to not like God because God didn’t resolve. But that was before any of this happened.”
Speaking of spectators, this brings me to Lady GaGa. I’m surrounded by dozens of people that may never understand the movement that is currently Lady Gaga, and the term “Little Monsters,” may be foreign to some. However, it’s hard to ignore the dent that she’s making in popular culture and incidentally, religious culture. As the girl who left campus every Sunday, always alone, to attend church service I wish I had someone this iconic to remind me that it’s not insane to take a stance for conflicting ideologies. Kristyn recently tweeted me, referencing me as a “high-heeled feminist,” from one of Lady GaGa’s songs and it brought me back to my college days where I stood fighting for equality and attempting to tear down this barrier that history of biblical references has built in making us believe that the gay community, for example, must be alienated and judged. We all know what the Bible has created—a place of truth for many, a place of consumption for others, and contradicting messages for all. As much as I’ve struggled with the preconceptions that are central to the Bible’s foundation, I’ve found solace in the underlying message which for me translates to hope, love, faith and forgiveness. I’ll never be the one to scrutinize one scripture without looking at what follows. Unfortunately, this is what many religious leaders are doing—borrowing verses that support blistering points of isolation and hate in this nation and failing to properly represent love and humanity.
Watching GaGa as she is so committed to her mission of truth and incorporating controversial elements of religion into her music is the most gratifying thing for me—every time I hear verses of “Believe in capital H-I-M,”, “I’m beautiful in my way, God makes no mistakes,” or just her struggle with Jesus (virtue) and Judas (vice) into song is a portrayal of pure honesty to me. She’s no preacher, but it’s clear that her calling is to validate the beauty of faith that can be translated into hope for her displaced fans and voiceless believers, whether they believe in capital H-E-R or Him, the message is prominent and positive for followers of either party.
During a very intimate part of GaGa’s Monster Ball Tour, she confesses her faith to her audience by stating that she’s aware that many people don’t believe, but regardless, she is certain that her time of fame was only given to her by Jesus, as she says. She then takes time to introduce one of her dancers who is bi-sexual, and she says that this dancer, in her eyes, is just like Jesus. He loves everyone. Initially, I remember being so envious that she was so courageous as to stand on that stage and state her feelings with full conviction. I’m impressed by the fact that she sees the simplicity of religion that I see, and that she celebrates the notions that I find comfort in—love is fluid, love sees no color or race.
As proud as I am to come from such a progressive family, I don’t think my father is prepared to stand at his pulpit citing GaGa, but without him I wouldn’t be moved by this movement of Monster Culture. The “other” is finally the dominant, and as a high-heeled, spiritual feminist, I couldn’t be more thrilled to be actively participating in this religious synced popular culture.
Like the Lady herself, there’s only three men I’m going to serve my whole life. That’s my daddy, [Indiana] and Jesus Christ. (“You and I”—Born This Way)
20 5 / 2011
I know, I’ve been doing it for 5 years now. Through all that, though, she’s still my best friend. I love her so much and miss her every day and it’s still a struggle to realize that I can’t just walk or drive over to her house. Her family is more like my 1½-th family than my second one. She’s in grad school now (I’m so fucking proud of her) getting her MPH, so the free time we have to spend keeping each other updated on our lives is getting smaller by the day. Still, through all of that, we’re both #1 in each other’s hearts.
She really wanted me to be at her graduation (she graduated from SUNY Oneonta) but knew that it was way too far for me to just drive to for a day and that I definitely didn’t have enough money to get a plane ticket. So her mother bought me plane tickets and a hotel room for the weekend just so I could be there with her. It was one of the greatest weekends of my life and I feel so honored that even though we’re so far away from each other I still got to see her at her happiest.
Once in a while we’ll have a conversation that lasts (literally) six hours. The majority of that is just laughing with each other; I’m surprised and appreciative that even though so much has changed about each of us we’re still able to maintain the same relationship we’ve had since we became friends 9 years ago. The ways we keep in touch are hilarious when I think about it.
Today, for example, I think I found a new way to style my hair. A totally mundane, unexciting topic; but she wanted to know about the results. I know she’s going to be at work and won’t be home until after I leave, so I made a quick video and e-mailed it to her so she has a good idea of what it looks like before I go out and get all humidity-ed up. Just making a minute long video about something as unimportant as my hair kind of made me realize how special our relationship is. We still care about each other as much as we did 5, 6, 7 years ago. I treasure her so much and miss her constantly.
This is us at our most flattering. The fact that we are so far apart from each other immediately results in our most recent pictures with each other being basically from high school. It’s really frustrating now, but I know it’s okay because we’ll have the rest of our lives to fill countless albums with pictures of us.
CHELSEA, I LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU SO MUCH <3.
10 5 / 2011
30 4 / 2011
29 4 / 2011
Over the past week I’ve been kind of plagued with midterms and projects and presentations, which led to my lack of contributions. And for this I greatly apologize. With thoughts of Blake, Wordsworth, linguistic statistics and cellular mitosis swirling around in my head, I had trouble coming up with a clear thought, theme or idea for my post. Thankfully, I rediscovered an email from Darryn with a suggestion: obituary. Now, I like to think I know Darryn pretty well, and even though this may be a little out of the box and an abstract interpretation, I’m sure she won’t mind. Especially since she was the inspiration.
I would greatly prefer not to describe myself as political. I have my beliefs, but I’m not well-versed enough in politics and government to fully envelop myself in a political party or passionately and knowledgeably argue about a political issue. I definitely don’t know technicalities, and I feel like I don’t even know the basics as well as I should. Instead of ‘political’ I’ll just describe myself as ‘opinionated.’ I have my steadfast beliefs and opinions and that’s how I operate. I voted for Obama in 2008 because, like many of my peers, I placed all of my faith into the “Change” mantra that swept the country at the time. Has he accomplished some of the things I hoped for? No. I don’t necessarily place the full blame on him. I don’t know what it’s like to be the POTUS, but I’m sure that just passing all these new legislations involves a little more than typing up a plan and signing it. Also, in my opinion, it’s impossible for one man to fix a laundry list of problems that we started acquiring eleven years ago. For me, the main problem lies in the fact that our country, as I see it, isn’t run by the government. It’s run by corporations. I don’t place my faith in a country that is really operating as a plutocracy but facades itself as a democratic republic.
The fact that my graduation is slowly approaching has me thinking about my plans after college. Should I go right into the workforce? Should I look into a graduate program? What kind of program would I be looking into? What kind of job would/should/could I get, even if that’s what I wanted? A few months ago it dawned on me that I could explore other countries. I looked into a few programs, and actually got really excited about the prospect. I’ve always wanted to travel, and if and when I ever plan on securing some sort of job or career I wouldn’t be able to just take a few weeks or months off to enjoy the world at my leisure. It would also allow me to realistically experience other cultures and forms of government and really assess how good or bad my situation in this country is. The prospect of going abroad seemed just barely within reach. I was so excited about the possibilities, I could barely contain myself; unfortunately when I proposed my baby idea to others, I didn’t receive the enthusiasm I was expecting. Instead I was met with a constant, apathetic, droning “oh.” It was more of a sigh with noise than a response. I understand that this adventure is a serious undertaking. It would require funding that I don’t have (taking out loans for 5 years to pay for an out-of-state undergraduate degree doesn’t really make me financially viable), I’ve never been out of the continent so accomplishing something like this already seems way over my head, and I don’t know what direction I want my life to go in as it is…I can see how changing countries or continents won’t make any of these problems easier or go away. I guess the last time I came up with a big-deal idea like this was about 5 years ago, when I impetuously made the decision to come to Ohio State. Everything I’d ever wanted to do, up to and including that moment, was always met with enthusiasm by others. This constant support kind of desensitized me; since anything I did was met with undying encouragement, I never really had to put too much thought and effort into things. The fact that this idea, which I thought was wonderful, got a less than ebullient response really threw me for a loop. I guess now that I’m an “adult” I have to think more rationally, and I have to get my head out of the clouds.
The most frustrating thing is that this is the one idea that I have the most passion about. So, I’m killing off the part of me that accepted those pacifistic responses and tried to forget about this great dream I had for myself. I’m not going to let anybody deter me from this; it’s something that I want to do, and after five grueling years of undergraduate torture (the first four years were torture because I was an Actuarial Science major, and the past year has been torture because I’ve just been feeling pressure from all directions to “FINISH SCHOOL!”) I think I deserve to actually do something I’m passionate about.
So, this is my obituary about myself. I’m done trying to please others by doing what they want. I’m in my mid-20s now, and it’s about time I make a decision based on my wants.
Kristyn Bianca Angelique Seda-Valentín-Cortés-Cruz-Cabán (yes, I went there); aged 23, was born on March 31, 1988. She accepted others’ plans for her future and couldn’t take it anymore; she collapsed under the pressure of others’ expectations. She is survived by Kristyn Bianca Angelique Seda-Valentín-Cortés-Cruz-Cabán, a girl who will never take any shit from anybody.
29 4 / 2011
OK. Needless to say I’ve caved. But in reality it’s something I’ve always been ready to actively participate in, whether it be standing in person in the Cathedral at Westminster Abbey opposite Prince William ready to accept my title as Princess Maresa; in London, amongst waves of people as some sort of established student studying abroad staring anxiously; or even from the privacy of my dimly lit room, atop my little red futon watching the glowing lights from my small television, in Key West, Florida.
Unfortunately for me, I am tuning into the Royal Wedding from that last one. Watching nervously, on my 32 inch VIZIO that currently operates perfectly with 1080P HD. We’ll see how long it lasts.
Everyone thinks I’m crazy for staying up. I can’t tell you how many countless eye-rolls and blank stared “Are you an idiot?” looks I have gotten this past week when I exclaimed in both English and Spanish that I would be staying up to watch the Royal Wedding LIVE tonight. Well, let me explain. Most everyone who is in love with the idea of this wedding will state they’re in it for the classic royal aspect of things, like some totally bitchin’ (sarcasm noted) grad student from Los Angeles stated earlier on CNN, “Yeah, its totally like cool for us to be here, because in America all we have are Presidents that like change out all the time, and no one is royal.” Well. Duh! Don’t get me wrong. I too am in love with the romance and luster of a royal, and regal wedding but, I’m in it for more personal reasons. Reasons I’ve yet to openly deal with, perhaps?
When I was 8 years old Princess Diana died. I’d always been obsessed with her as a child because my mother’s name is Diana, and for some odd reason thought things were closer and more relatable to my 8 year old self since my mother and a real, live princess shared a name. At 8, I checked out books from the library, (obviously I wasn’t reading these… I was in them for the pictures) and became totally involved in all things Princess Diana. I requested the Elton John cassette tape with the Princess Diana version of “Candle in the Wind” and played it everywhere, up until it met its eventual demise, years later when some unnamed sibling of mine pushed our cassette player into the jacuzzi one fine summer’s day. I entered a contest to win the purple Princess Diana beanie baby, which I didn’t win, but my parents later bought for me. From ages 8 though 12 I lived and breathed Princess Diana.
Then I saw Prince William, pre-Androgenic alopecia, obviously. And I was so excited that there was a real PRINCE. At 13 I’d figured it all out. I would be married. To Prince William, and I’d be a Princess, and my mother Diana would be at the wedding, my father would give me away, the Queen would smile for once in her mean, and dusty, old life, and Princess Diana would reach from the Heaven’s above and kiss me on the cheek.
Today, at 21 years old, my dreams have been crushed. Smashed into tiny pieces of little common American tears. And I kid you not, for a minute I really thought Prince William and I had a chance. But, I’ve swallowed my pride in recognition I will never be Princess, then Queen of England. I’ve moved onto future things. The promise of Harry. And the possibility of a Princess title. Maybe? I’ll settle, that’s for sure, but I like many other Americans, am staying up for this event with no regrets, ready to be swept off my feet with romantic history in the making, and in full anticipation of being ROYALLY tired tomorrow. So cheerio mates and cheers to the future newlyweds.
28 4 / 2011
So, I had this ridiculous thought today while watching “Pregnant In Heels.” You’ve seen this modern-day method of birth control, I’m sure. Picture this, you’ve got the most elite of couples living the highlife in New York City. The wife is normally flaunting her mammoth wedding ring—obviously in the 6-10 karat range, minimum, and we’ve got the husband who works on Wall Street who provides everything. This woman has got it made. Her biggest challenge of her days is deciding between the Christian Loubiton stilettos, or the Manola Blahnik peep-toed heels (clearly, she’s an idiot if she doesn’t pursue the Loubiton’s.) The couple is absolutely oblivious of the change that will soon become their life and as they glamorously flag a taxi to shoot them uptown to Mt. Sinai to deliver their tiny miracle, something amazing occurs: labor. Let the work begin.
It’s a far stretch, but at this moment in my life, I absolutely relate to these mama’s to be (lacking the millionaires lifestyle and 10 karat wedding rings, unfortunately). I was talking to Maresa the other morning, and I was talking about motherhood in such vivid detail she finally popped the question, “You’re not pregz are you?!” I can thankfully declare, quite the contrary. It’s only natural for couples to prepare for this step post-marriage but there are so many dynamics in our lives that we have to consider before making that decision, so for now, our extension of the family is adding to Dustin’s insane aquarium and the newest addition to our home, our 10 week puppy, Landon.
Since we’ve moved from Key West, our entire lifestyle has changed. Our income has significantly reduced and without sugarcoating any of this, neither one of us were prepared. As tired as I am/was of my mechanical job at COACH, I’m like my mom—I will sacrifice anything to support myself, and my family. It was always tossed around in conversations that my transfer was complete, and once I got to California I just had to make the phone call to start my new job. Well, I got to California to find that neither my store manager or district manager had ever even made prior contacts, although we knew I was leaving for months, so, here I am. I thought I was being proactive before leaving Key West by sending out resumés to various employers just to again find myself looking at closed doors. Now that we’re here and have been settled for two weeks, I have enough e-mails in my outbox and inbox to make you want to cry, because there’s just nothing else to do but be upset and feel discouraged. I’ve even paid for a career site to help me find jobs, and again, nothing. The most discouraging part is just about every position I’ve inquired or applied to has only promised rejection. “Dear Mrs. Gates, thank you for your interest. Unfortunately, your qualifications don’t match what we’re looking for.” I have enough of those to wallpaper our entire apartment, and then some. This week I made the decision to swallow my pride, and I applied for about 25 various retail positions, some management, some not. My mother’s birthday was on Monday, and I just had a moment of clarity—if the people in the writing world are telling me I’m not good enough or unqualified, then I’ll stick with what I know. I was super excited to find a position at a prominent retail brand for a non-management position and I shed more tears when I heard back with another, thanks, but no thanks. To put it quite frankly, in the eyes of the employers and in this time of my life, I am nothing and nothingness is my life which I never saw coming because, hello, management has been my life for four years!
If I could reveal just a glimmer of light in this situation, it would be all of these various projects I’m working on, some solo, and one in the making with Maresa, are keeping me as focused as one could possibly be. I shared with my father that although I’m not on anyone’s clock, I treat my work as if I am walking into some publishing house and getting paid by the hour to do what I love. I’m keeping my life as structured as possible, and as much as I joke that I do nothing, well, I am doing something. I dedicate my entire mornings to writing, brainstorming and more writing—to the point where most of the time, my first meal isn’t until my husband comes home from work. Kind of sounds like my 9-5 in retail, but old habits die hard. When I’m dedicated and excited, I can’t stop. And, ironically, I don’t know what I’m working towards but I’m pushing so hard, you would think I am giving birth to some child. But that’s the beautiful thing about this. When I said I could relate to those mama’s to be, I wasn’t kidding. I have no commitments and am answering to nobody right now, but in this scenario all I hear are voices saying, “Just keep pushing.” That’s my husband, who is my number one supporter. It’s Maresa, who texts me everyday with the most uplifting messages, even when I’m crying in frustration to her, she does nothing but sees my darkness as light. It’s my mother who will never, ever give up on me and when I label myself as a failure rebukes the negativity that is trying to consume me. I hear my father who never loses sight that we all suffer, but never alone, and that in this storm my rainbow will appear. I see my supporters and the people that never believed in me, and they fuel my inspiration right now, probably in extremely unhealthy amounts, but nonetheless, they keep me pushing.
The underlying thing is simply this: I may not be physically giving birth to a child at the moment, but I do feel as if I’m in some twisted kind of labor and although I am unsure of what this outcome will be, I know that at some point I will be giving birth to promise, and to a very perplexing miracle.