hello again

During my last semester at Cornell, I set my blog to private because I thought I should try to be like the rest of the world and not have my personal life all out in the open. Plus, I couldn’t remember what I wrote and had no time to go double check. I felt pressure to try to find a “real” job in some great company, so, like so many people advise, you must hide a lot of your content on social media and blogs.

Now I’m in Mexico, two months away from the “real world” and am out on my own working on a project I completely believe in. I’m betting my life on this! As for searching for a job, the energy was not flowing that direction, and I know by now that I must follow my intuition if I want life to work out well. (I’ve beat my head against a wall while trying to “make things happen” that never would so many times that I think I’ve finally learned my lesson, which means I’ve learned to follow the knowing in my soul that says “this way”.)

During this time in Mexico I have been transforming and re-awakening. I have decided that I yearn for freedom more than anything in the world, including the good opinion of all the great people who have stepped in to help me on my way. I may let a lot of people down! But I may surpass their wildest expectations, too. I sense the latter will be the case…

Meanwhile, I’ve realized that whatever I end up doing, it will be the authentic me doing it and not some constrained soul. My authentic self if playful, fun, somewhat juvenile and a complete dreamer. My authentic self speaks up passionately and also sits back to drink alcohol and talk shit with great company; it trusts god with everything and falls in love with humanity over and over again. It doesn’t give a damn about social rules and statuses, but might be polite for the sake of not rocking irrelevant boats.

I’m here to do my work, and god goes before me and behind me, and angles surround me. Who could ever hurt me? But I’m not here to challenge the powers that be, which are usually the cartels that rule the area. I’m here to do my work. I’ll lay low for as long as I need to.

What is my work? To reach into the hearts of humanity and inspire them to step into their highest potential in any way I can, given the tools I have to work with. My work is to remind people of their worth and dignity, and that they deserve to be happy; it is to see the “poor” not as poor, but as the child of god. My work is to talk, to pray, to write, to visit, to draw, paint, create new designs, come up with new ideas for business.  Doing this, my life is complete. There is nowhere I would rather be and nothing I would rather do. There is also no other person under the sun that I would prefer to be that this authentic me.

 

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Good-bye, My Friend

Friday morning my longtime friend took her last breath.  I didn’t know of it until Sunday afternoon, when I finally returned what I thought was her call. “Hi Mist!”  but it wasn’t Misty, it was her husband.  “Hi Jesse!”. His voice was different and he thought that I already knew, but I said I hadn’t listened to the voicemail that was left. He had a hard time speaking. “Should I just listen to it and call you right back?”

“No. Let me just tell you”. He went silent. “So I’ll just tell you”. Again silence. I waited. Oh my god, Misty dumped him! She picked up and walked out leaving him hanging and he was flabbergasted.  My mind didn’t think to go around the one circle that could explain that this was unlikely since he was calling with her phone.

“Misty is dead, she’s dead”.

I actually didn’t feel anything right away, but I immediately got into position of support as her new widower told me the details. I gave him advice. Not that I know anything about burials and funeral services, but I did know enough to tell him to make sure he only spoke with people that have been supportive to him in his life and he trusted.  They have a list of dead-beat family members who use and abuse them, betray them behind their backs, steal from them, etc. I was happy to know that he knew better than letting them come to the service.  I also told him that I wanted to be his point of contact when things weren’t going right, and when he feels overwhelmed with grief. What we both had in common was that dear, crazy, wild woman who we loved to pieces.

I didn’t know how much I loved her until a few hours later. I couldn’t help but think of all the fun times we’ve had together. She wasn’t the light at the end of my tunnel, she was the light in my tunnel. She made walking through it bearable. We did crazy adventures and talked about buying mansions. We went house shopping. I was going to live in this big great house with her and study music. One day I took my $300, beat-up car to rescue her from an abusive boyfriend who was away for at least an hour. That night she hopped on a Greyhound to Minnesota, and I joined her for part of the trip. Our first change-of-bus was in Vegas, so we stayed a few days. We gambled the entire time. I never won anything, but she was $400. Two days later, I went back home and she kept heading north. Later that summer, I took my own trip north and joined her in Minneapolis, but I hated it so I bought a cheap ticket on the 4th of July and flew to Austin.  That was 1998, and we had been solid partners in crime for two years.

Over the following 15 years we were in and out of contact with one another. She seemed to always be moving, losing my cell phone number, and changing husbands. A couple of her former husbands were serving time. I couldn’t keep up with her, since my own life storms were absorbing all my attention and heart strings. We fell out of touch. Every now and then I thought of her, prayed for her, really hoped she was ok, prayed for her happiness and healing, then dropped off again. Time passed.

Then one day I would get a phone call from her, and she would fill me in on all that had happened. We would stay in contact for a few weeks then drop off again. I tried to call her in some of these interludes but her numbers were never working. Then one day she called again after several years of being off the map somewhere. She had a new housemate, was very happy, life was good. Dr. D was wonderful. Through all of this, Dr. D was her hero.

I think, at some point, I need to make a movie about her life, it was so packed full of ‘something-always-happening’. She suffered excruciating pain throughout it all, because of the rods in her legs–a year or so before I met her the first time, she had been hit by a drunk police officer who had just gotten off of duty (sheriff Joe Arpaio’s son), which had crushed her legs. I will leave those details for another time.

Misty’s life was never, for one instant, boring. Then it finally became good, when she met Jesse. Over all these years I had only been able to visit her about three or four times, and the last time was about three years ago in Arizona. I stayed the night at their house and witnessed with my own eyes what a wonderful man Jesse was to her. I felt still and satisfied. Her life only kept getting better, although they still moved a lot.

Then they moved to some beach town in Texas, and I had in my mind that I would go visit. I would sit on the porch with them, have some drinks and a cigarette, chat about random stuff and not care that they are Trump supporters. The only thing that mattered to me was that Misty was happy, and she had a good man taking care of her, one who deeply adored her with devotion.

I will never get to go to that beach and have those drinks with them. All the unlived adventures will remain that way, unlived, but still thought up.  They are like alive trees suddenly petrifying, but not going away. There is a corner of the universe where those adventures still need someone to live them! That was supposed to be us!

What I am most deeply sorry for is the last time she called me was to congratulate me for graduating, but I got off the phone fast because I was watching a movie with my sisters.  I said I would call the next day, bu never did. Days past and I was kept busy by my family, then got sick…

I was so excited for her to be calling me though! I returned her call and it wasn’t her. Now I will never be able to talk to her again…

All this time I had no idea how much I actually did love her. My crazy, wild, completely untamable Misty.

Angel of love

A kid named Angel was found dead in his dorm yesterday morning.  He was Latino, LGBTQ+, about to graduate. I hear news of people I’ve never met before dying on the news all the time, and I think ‘so sad’, but this one feels like my own personal loss.  I feel like I lost someone that I, myself knew and loved deeply, deeply, deeply. I feel such a beautiful soul is no longer with us, and it has me in and out of waves of grief coming from who knows where. I never even met the kid. 

The service in Sage Chapel filled with people, his family, students, people that knew him, people whose lives were changed by him.  He walked on water.  He filled the world with love. 

People like this come to plant dinamite in the beating heart of the world; their departure blows them up, make sure they never close again.  We bleed forever now.  People like this make strangers to them feel shockwaves of sadness, and show up to cry with others, and listen to stories of their wonderfulness and beauty and ponder on the world. 

It’s not true that all we need is love. What we really need to to de-numb, to stand up, and to never let people stay alone, never again.  We are our brothers’ keepers, and our sisters’. 

It’s time for everyone to come out of their safe spaces and stand up for humanity.  How many more dynamite shocks must we endure before we wake up once and for all?  

business sense?

A few years ago I couldn't have told anyone that I am interested in business.  Now, I am falling in love with the subject, and I am so excited to jump in! I want to help small businesses become better, more fashionable (I'm thinking those thousands of businesses in developing countries where the people sell the same thing everywhere you go). I really think I can do it because I know how to look at the world from the point of view of these people (remember, I'm one of them).

Also, what I know from my own experience, is that no matter how much you need to change something, you can't hear it from the people who have never lived your experience and who can never truly understand you. And small business owners in Latin America need to change a lot of things. They need to evolve. But they need to receive the news in a packet wrapped in love, patience and comprehension of their life situation and difficulties. In other words, if you are going to have any impact whatsoever, you have to meet them where they're at a not try to make them rise to the level where you are at.

The actual business advice might come easy to you, because the things they need to be able to understand are usually pretty elementary, so you don't need an MBA to do this work. You just need to have your heart in the right place.

what’s the temperature?

Hot.

The veins of the land of free are bursting from rage

Don't tread on me! yells the oppressed in the streets

The fat monster laughs, gloats, 'I got my way'

Hyenas laugh in succession

But the oppressed don't stand alone

Not this time

Not anymore

Not ever again

Today there are lions ready to tear

this dark reality apart

And waking dragons whose fire

has been held down for way too long…

We're ready to fight

We've waited for this our whole lives

waiting for AJ

AJ is a boy with a lot of mothers. I am one of them. He will be 19 in a few days, so I guess he’s not exactly a boy. He’s an adult–officially. Wow, that’s hard to grasp. I used to carry him on my hip, drive him to daycare, and hold him over the wood fence so he can watch the neighbor’s dog for hours on end. He was fascinated by dogs! He made the cutest barks! First he would take in air until he had a face that looked like he had an orange in each cheek; his eyes would enlarge into roundness and then he would pause for a second then let out a series of the best barks he could muster.  This would go on for hours while I held him up so he could stare over the fence and at the neighbor’s dog. This was the only way to keep him from jumping off everything in the house, or pouncing on me from the kitchen counter just as I walked in. I would have to drop everything in order to catch him, and he never doubted I would. I don’t think he ever imagined the possibility that I would not be able to catch him one day. Anyway, it never happened. I dropped everything, books, food, dishes, just in time for him to land on me.

I used to wake him up in the morning, change his clothes, sit him down to eat breakfast. He wouldn’t eat unless his bear ate first, and every morning was the same: the bear sat on my lap and AJ sat in the high chair. I took some cereal with the spoon, put it in front of his bear’s nose, said “yum, yum, yum” and then to AJ’s mouth.  I would do this until the bowl of raisin bran was empty.  There was no other way breakfast was going to happen.

During most of his early childhood, AJ’s dad was MIA and his mother worked so hard to pay the bills that she was rarely home, so I was his nanny for a few years until other family members could help.

If you don’t know, I have 52 siblings (48 half-siblings) and AJ’s mother is one of my full siblings.  Us full siblings are 4, all girls.  We grew up in the cult together, lost our mother together, prayed together. My sister is my hero! Back when the FBI was still trying to break apart our cult, the kids who we called “the sixpack” (because there were six of them) were put in foster homes in Utah. A sibling old enough to be in jail told my sister, AJ’s mom, to get out of there NOW! It was a “KOG emergency” (a red alert). The bomb is already falling, and it’s headed for you. So, my sister, AJ’s mom, bought a car with the money she was supposed to buy new clothes with. It was an old, 8 cylinder gas hog, and she left it in a grocery store (or was it a mall?) parking lot. In my childhood we did all kinds of crimes (I say ‘we’ even though I was only 8 or 9 because I was in full support and thought it was cool) such as stealing cars from the US and selling them to the mafia in northern Mexico. The world was bad and they didn’t matter. My sister, AJ’s mom, didn’t steal a car, she actually paid $600 for it. But the car knowledge in our family sank in her head and she knew that, in order to escape, she would have to change the license plate on it. So she found another car just like the one she bought, took the license plate off and carried it with her on a city bus to put on the other car. While on the bus, she bumped into a woman she knew who asked her how things were going. “Good, very good”. The license plate was right under my sister’s arm and the friend didn’t notice. My sister could breathe again once she got of the bus. She rendezvous’d somewhere with other 5 members of the sixpack, got in the car and vanished. The sixpack made it home sometime later and I was so, so glad to see them! I was 12 and not allowed to go on any of the adventures in the US because I was just too young. I felt old enough, hated the injustice, but was faithful no matter what. I stayed home and helped care for the 8 children (all under the age of 5), and when the sixpack arrived home it was at-the-nick-of-time reinforcement. Since everyone was in jail, we were down to a tortilla-a-day and nothing else to eat. Ok, there were beans too, but only for the smaller children. The older sixpack members got jobs and we crawled our way out of starvation. AJ’s mother became an ESL teacher and later the company star. A few years after that she owned her own event company that did catering using “edecanes” –A type of hostess/cocktail server/information specialist/model all in one who must also be bilingual. She was 19 or 20 and her company was the best in Monterrey.  People later asked her how she did it, and her answer was “pay the girls what you promised and on time, and all the best ones will work for you, and the company with the best staff gets the best gigs”.  She was an edecan before she started her own company and would have to fight for her paycheck, which often arrived weeks or months late. (One of the sad and true things about still too many companies in Mexico is that they like to cheat their workers).

Anyway, AJ’s mother, raising a baby on her own without even finishing high school was a difficult thing, true, but not outside of the range of difficulties she had already seen, nor accomplishments she had already done. Actually, raising AJ might have been the hardest, but she did it. Imperfectly, but he is grown up and alive…

On that subject, the fact that he is alive is a miracle. The 18-wheeler crushed the entire car except the area where the driver sat. He had a broken spine and was going in and out of consciousness, but was able to tell the first people at the scene what his mother’s phone number was. They called her after they called 911. She didn’t answer and they called again. When she picked up they calmly told her that her son was in an accident, he was alive and the ambulance was on it’s way. As I write this, it makes me swell with sadness, not for AJ, but for his mother and how she felt hearing that news. I knew, because I felt it too, and I wasn’t even his mom. Someone told her to go straight to the hospital and not to the scene of the accident because the paramedics would be gone before she arrived. So she, and our other sister, Jenny, did just that and waited at the entrance of the ER for the ambulance to arrive.

*Off note, I was terribly sad for Steph for that moment, but every day I am sad for AJ who still cannot walk.  We believe in miracles, so one day he will again, but I so wish I could carry him out of this situation right now.

Back to the story- I got the text from Jenny when they were waiting: “Pray for AJ. He has been in an accident with an 18-wheeler. He is in one piece. He’s in the ambulance on the way to Brackenridge. We don’t know anything else”.  I had just eaten breakfast at the Temple of Zeus and was sitting down at one of their patio tables ready to dive into my homework when I got the news.  I noticed that I had a strange reaction, I just froze.  I felt cold, emotionless, suspended.  Then I thought of his mother, how was she?! I called her and her voice cracked into pieces.  This was more than I could take, I walked towards somewhere more private because I felt myself collapsing in a way that I had never experienced in my life.  Then I got the next piece of news: his back has been broken.  Something so deep in my core was shaken in a way that I cannot begin to explain.

After this, studying was impossible because I couldn’t see words.  I  couldn’t read three words in a row for at least 5 days, I forced myself to go to classes anyway.  In moments like this, the world doesn’t stop for you. Classes go on, work piles up, and eventually, I really did have to pull it together and do the work. The pain in my chest was a constant, and tears emerged with any small thing not going perfectly smooth.  I still had to run my regressions, which I did when no one else was around.

AJ hadn’t left my mind for a moment during the rest of the semester. I wanted to give him the world. There were so many things I wanted to do for him, places I wanted to take him to, and I never had the chance.  The scene of the accident kept running in my head, even though I wasn’t there to see it, I had my own picture. I kept feeling the fact that he almost died on the side of the road in a crushed car, unable to feel his legs…AJ, AJ, AJ…he lived in my chest constantly, and I couldn’t shake the fear that he still might die.  He ended up in the emergency room, close to death, several times.

A trusted friend told me it would be ok to take a leave of absence and pick back up the following semester, but I had a bad feeling about that.  I might not ever be able to pick myself back up.  Plus AJ didn’t need yet another fearful person at his bedside.  But I did spend Thanksgiving week with him, and was able to cheer him up a bit.  What I didn’t do was study for the prelims that were waiting for me upon my return to campus.  I did only ok in them.

Today, AJ has therapy all day long about 3 days out of the week. On the other two days he does other stuff.  Today is my day to drive him to all of his appointments, and there is no use going back home in between them all, so right now I am at a library writing on a public computer.  I don’t have time to edit because I have to go pick him up now.  He is still in a wheelchair (but not for long).

I chant, I pray, I meditate, I ask God to let me see AJ as he really in in his complete health. Today I feel so happy because I know he is healed already.

 

 

 

 

 

being free to love

I thought I knew what love is

It seemed like something you carry because you love the person so much. Like, worrying if he or she will be ok, make it out alive, come back home. I thought love was driving across the country for someone, or building a new home. It was showing up with chicken soup and and patience to listen. It gives advice, admonishes, knows best, doesn't want you to get hurt. It really cares. It works late for you. It prays for you. It pays your way. The sweat of the brow is for you. It fights on your behalf. Starts a movement, joins a revolution. Love marches and defends. It speaks up. It dies for you. Right? Isn't it supposed to champion all that is good and return home with wreaths around its neck?

But I learned something new. A different type of spark happens when you don't have to be there; your absence won't be held against you. You show up because it is so damn fun! Because you get inspired. You stay up all night because it makes you lighter in the doing. It's a love-world where heaviness falls away. You don't have to call back until you've had a chance to rest. It's fine. You call too late. It's fine. Cement blocks of must-dos don't exist in this realm. You don't have to have answers or explanations. Your desire is enough, and so is your gut feeling. And when you hear the wind say go!, you just go. When you come back it's sill fine. You are known. You are trusted. You are loved. And you are authentically free to love. You are not forcing yourself to do the right thing, while hiding a desire to be somewhere else. You don't dream of the things you wished you'd done, or long for going out to do them now while holding yourself back to "be there" for the one you know you love. When you don't have to do it; when nothing hangs over your head, then you are actually, authentically, really free to love.