Norte

Al norte yo me voy

demostrando lo que soy.

Para triunfar, para sufrir,

para llorar y sonreír.

Para echarle muchas ganas

y hacer mucho de nada.

En el Norte trabajare

y muy rico me pondre.

Me sentire todo un rey,

aunque trabaje como un buey.

En oficinas, labores y restaurantes

con papeles o en flagrante.

En el norte yo ya estoy

dando todo lo que doy.

Hago todo por esperanza

de mejorar mi familia y la raza.

Veo aman nuestras comidas,

y desprecian nuestras vidas.

Del Norte me ire

con ahorros y tendre

mejor futuro en mi patria.

y agusto vivire.

El desprecio no sentire,

de mi gente? Pura fratria.

Por ahora, regresaré a oficinas, labores y restaurantes en el Norte.

This is the first Spanish poem I ever wrote. I felt that it called for being written in Spanish to get the perspective of the person who decides to come North (Norte.)

The RuPaul Mantras That Inspire Me.

I first learned of RuPaul when I was a teenager. It was late 1992 and her hit single, Supermodel, finally hit middle America. The song connected with me.


For years, I kept an ear out for Ru’s other projects. In 2010, I began to watch the show, Drag Race. In the show, she evaluates contestants’ “Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent” (or cunt.) Ru’s love your pussy ethos is a big part of the show. It is also a part of her music. RuPaul’s music encourages the listener to have the cuntfidence to be who they really are.

The bold assertions of RuPaul continue to inspire me. Today, I will share my favorite RuPaul catch phrases and music. For more information about Ru, check out the interview that Vanity Fair did with her.

The Music

From the first moment I heard Supermodel, I knew that Ru was my type of musician. The song resonated with the frivolous young person that I was. Her fun, club beats were danceable and easy to sing along. I was hooked.


Since 1992, RuPaul’s music has continued to have the same sing-along power and dance beats. It is positively fun. And, most of her music has powerful messages. For example, her song “Sissy That Walk” contains a great turn of phrase that reminds the listener to be true to themselves. “Mama said, people talking since the beginning of time. Unless they paying your bills, pay them bitches no mind.” That’s bold. Do not listen to the haters, she says. I could not agree more.


For my favorite collection of RuPaul songs, check out my Pandora playlist Power Pussy.


“If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”


Another thing that I love about RuPaul is the moments of wisdom she shares with her followers. One of my favorites happens every episode. At the end of each Drag Race episode, Ru reminds the contestants of the importance of self love with the sage words above.


These might be some of the most important words said on television. In our world, we are taught that finding love is everything. We are also taught that we are complete only when we have another person at your side. But that is not true.


To be happy, to be fulfilled, to be able to give ourself to another, we must love the people that we are. To feel sympathy or compassion for another person we must be able to give those things to ourselves. Without loving the entire person that we are, how can we love all the good and bad of another person. We cannot. Not really.


“When the going gets tough, the tough reinvent.”


This is another of RuPaul’s mantras that I love. Everything around us changes whether we want it to or not. In fact, this mantra harkens for me a quote from Confucius, “you cannot step in the same river twice.”

This idea is true. Every day, we are bombarded with new ideas, new information. Each new idea or information changes our worldview. And, unless a person is committed to being stagnant, they are also changing.

What I like about Ru’s mantra is that it reminds us that change can be intentional and that intentionality is what becomes reinvention. I think this should be the mantra of the new decade. And, I think we should reinvent ourselves into a world where equality and justice are not just reserved for the elite.


“We’re born naked and the rest is just drag.”


We get to my final favorite RuPaulism. This is one of Ru’s most powerful ideas. It reminds me that the world is an illusion. The individuals we present to the world are how we want to be seen. It is not necessarily the truth about what is or who we are.


This statement reminds me of William Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances….”


So, if indeed the rest is just drag, then we have the liberty to determine the drag we wish to present to the world. We can choose to be the version of ourselves that pleases the self. Or, we can choose to be what others expect from us. The choice lies within.


What is the “drag” you wish to present to the world.

Why Checking Solely White is No Longer Right for Me

In 2012, I visited the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. There I learned that race is a social construct. There are no significant scientific distinctions between people of differing pigmentations. To be more precise, human DNA varies no more than .01% between people of different “races” or skin tone. (For more information, check out this archived NYT story and this National Geographic book review.)


For a long time, race was something I took for granted. Like every other American, I have filled out forms that included questions about my race, ethnicity, gender, and religious affiliation. And, based on my understanding of race and ethnicity, I have filled always my forms out as follows:

  • Race- White
  • Ethnicity- Hispanic/Latino- Yes

In 2017, my husband purchased for me an ancestry kit. Through that process, I learned that I was 44.7% European descent and 41.5% Native American descent. Yet, throughout my entire life, I had only identified myself as racially White. I always understood that my Mexican-ness was an ethnicity, not a race. I now believe that by identifying only one aspect of my lineage, I missed out on an important part of my family’s history.


Why does it matter?


I have pondered this question since I learned about my ancestral history. I have begun to put more thought into it as I contemplate how to answer the census questionnaire that will be hitting my mailbox this year. What is the longterm impact in my life on thinking of myself as a White Hispanic? I am not sure.


But, I do think that it has some impact.


You see, I now believe that it is important to see myself as all the above- Mexican-born, Native American and white, US citizen. In the past year, I found an article on PBS about the shifting nature of the definition of whiteness. And, I came to recognize that many of the same people who now disparage the incoming immigrants, were, at one time, seen in those same terms by “Real Americans.” However, once they got scooped up into the definition of whiteness, they forgot what it meant to be immigrant. They became the haters that their ancestors once faced.

I don’t want to be that way. And, I want to help others not to be that way. By reminding myself of the ties I have to other people that inhabit the land around me, I can encourage others to consider how they see themselves. I think it is worth it to try to relate to everyone. I think that when we see more of ourselves in others, we are able to see the humanity in everyone.

In the time that I have been contemplating this, I have slowly begun to include Native American as part of my self identify on various questionnaires. I have tried to be careful that I do it in a way that is not misleading or distracting from those individuals who have been raised in largely native or indigenous communities. And, I have decided that I will be checking both Native and White in the 2020 census along with Latina and Mexican.

Are there boxes you should not check?

The same ancestry test told me that I have 3% Subsaharan African and 1% Western Asian and North African descent and that 1% of my European descent derived from an Ashkenazi Jewish ancestor. I am excited to learn a little more about these connections. Nonetheless, I do not plan on including black or African American as a box that I check.

I think that in order to identify with a race or ethnic identity one must have had experiences or awareness of that identity in youth.

I grew up speaking Spanish, brought up by Mexican parents in a community that included large numbers of Central Americans. My parents tethered me to that world.

At the same time, I grew up in a primarily white school. All of my friends were of European descent. I went to college in Topeka, Kansas and was in a sorority. I tethered myself to Anglo America.

When I think of those two things- the world I came from and the world I created for myself, I do not believe that my lived experiences enable me to check the box for Black or African American. In other words, I have not lived the experiences of a black person.

Do you have a story of contemplating your ancestral identity? Share it with me.

Happy New Year

Thank you for visiting me today. I am excited to share my thoughts with you in the coming months. I continue to work on my fiction project, Big Egos in the Little Apple.   Over the next few months I will use this blog for my nonfiction work.

I hope you will take time to visit me in the months to come. Over the next months, I will have general themes for each month; they are as follows:

January- Identity

February- Passion

March- Womanhood

April- Environment

May- Potential

June- Marriage

Please note that for me, this is a conversation I want to share with you. If something I write ignites your mind, let me know your thoughts on the matter. I would love nothing more than to connect.

Simple Meals Make Me Happy

In my home, food preparation and menu planning are responsibilities I take on for my family. I make time to cook. A lot. I don’t mind. First, I enjoy cooking. I like being able to take separate food items and turn them into a meal. Second, dinner is the time I have both my husband and son’s undivided attention. It is a time that we use to catch up and check in with one another. Finally, although I enjoy going out to eat, I believe that home cooked food is healthier. And, I want to give my family the best nourishment possible.

Of course, creating meals for a family is not simple. It requires multiple steps: planning, gathering, preparing, and finally, consuming. It’s almost enough to make someone throw their hands up in desperation and just order a pizza.

A good way to make it work for a busy family, it is crucial to take the time to plan . But, I have found that one of the most important things I can do to make meals workable is to build in two or three quick meals.

So… How do I make my weekly cooking easier?

Rotisserie chicken. I love rotisserie chicken. It is the little black dress of food. Versatile. It can be used for anything and everything. Here’s a top five list of my favorite ways to turn a rotisserie chicken into a family meal:

Chicken caesar salad;

Chicken tacos/burritos/enchiladas/nachos;

Chicken and rice casserole;

Chicken pastas; and,

Chicken pot pie.

My goal with a rotisserie chicken meal is to have dinner on the table in thirty minutes or less. To increase my overall efficiency, I debone the chicken within one hour of getting home from grocery shopping. It is not likely to be used for a few days. But, when needed, the chicken processing has been completed and I can devote all of my time to the preparation of the actual meal.

Chicken Caesar Salad

This of course is the easiest of all meals to prep with the rotisserie chicken. Your ingredients will include a bag of Caesar salad and the rotisserie chicken you shredded. To be more hands-on, consider buying Romain lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese, and a bottle of your favorite Caesar dressing. Throw all your ingredients together and enjoy your meal. A word to the wise, make certain that your chicken is properly chilled. Hot chicken will wilt your romaine. There is nothing worse than a wilted lettuce-based Caesar salad.

Chicken tacos/burritos/enchiladas/nachos

I recognize that these are four separate meal ideas that could be used. However, the basic ingredients are similar and I’m putting them together for ease of discussion.

Additional ingredients

Tomatoes

Shredded lettuce (I like to finely chop a head of romaine since most bagged shredded lettuce is iceberg which has little nutritional value.)

Onions

Salsa

Cheese &/or Sour Cream

Diced jalapeño

All of these toppings can be used in each of these meals. Additionally, I like that these meals force you to add fresh vegetables to your meal. This is how I distinguish between these items:

Corn tortilla = taco

Flour tortilla = burrito

Tortilla dipped in a sauce = enchilada

And

Tortilla chips topped with food = Nachos

With the exception of the enchiladas, all of these meals should take 30 minutes or less to prepare. Enchiladas take longer because there are baking requirements.

Chicken and rice casserole

This is another quick and easy meal that benefits from a precooked chicken. Another way I make this an easier meal is by using minute rice.

The majority of time spent to prepare this meal is used in the baking process. You mix a cream based soup (chicken or mushroom) and a half a can of water with the chicken and rice and bake it in the oven until the rice is fluffy and the soup is properly absorbed.

You can add some cheese to the top of your casserole if you choose. However, I would wait until it’s baked for 30 minutes before adding the cheese top. It will get to crunchy otherwise. This meal will take approximately 1 hour from start to finish. But don’t worry most of that time is spent on baking. You can expect a bake time of 40-50 minutes.

Chicken pastas

Chicken based pastas are so wonderful to make because of the variety of pastas and sauces available.

I am a big fan of butoni stuffed pastas, raviolis and tortellini, add a wonderful addition of flavor. Add a pre-made pasta sauce and you are all set.

Chicken pot pie

Chicken pot pie is one of my favorite things to make. It is not only delicious but it feels like someone really took the time to care for you when you eat chicken pot pie. This is not a hard meal, it just tastes like it. I simplify by using store-bought pie crust.

To create the chicken filling for your pie, sauté carrots and onions in a pan. Next, add 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and 2 teaspoons of Wondra flour. Next, add half a cup to 2/3 cup of chicken broth. Once you have created a light sauce, add your diced chicken.

While you are sautéing, pre-bake your pie crust for about 10-20 minutes. The goal is to make sure that it’s started cooking before you add the wet ingredients to it. This will make for more delicious, not soggy, bottom crust.

When you are done with the sautéed items, place them in the piecrust. Add a top layer of crust then return to the oven for another 20 to 30 minutes. If you want to make an extra special chicken pot pie, replace the top piecrust with puff pastry. Your pot pie will be to die for!

Beware the Boys

The dogs growled at one another. “Behave.” I yell. Why won’t they let me concentrate on this free writing. I try to focus on the thoughts running through my mind. Will I create a next best seller? Will I create a POS? Will I create?

I return to the sounds of the dogs, this time it is the quiet sounds of eating. My pack of three enjoying their meal. I do not ever recall wanting a pet when I was young. My personality was much too cold to want something so warm. And wet.

The little one jumps on my lamp and licks my chin. He is the youngest of the bunch; a blondie bear of a terrier. I can understand why parents let the youngest run them ragged. After a certain point, they just want to get something done. I squint and focus on my writing while he crawls onto my shoulder. I return my attention back to the task at hand. But it is not easy to do. One by one, the boys ask, no, demand my attention. How did I get here?

My willingness to get a family pet came after my husband and I were unable to conceive. I did not enjoy the hormones that the doctors prescribed to get pregnant. My husband did not enjoy me while I was on the hormones.

A few months after our decision to end the process, my stepson voiced a desire for a dog. Growing up, my family never had pets. My mother and father had five children on their hands. I imagine that was enough herding and wrangling for them. I had attempted pet ownership in years prior. I shirked the responsibilities of my two prior pets onto my more human friends when things got hard. Those two pets spent less than three months total time with me. I was under 30 years old during that time.

About six months after my stepson had begun to ask for a dog, we found our first furry friend in February 2012. Chewbacca was a two month old brown mutt who my husband immediately loved. He made me fill out the paperwork at the adopt-a-dog event because he refused to put “Chewie” back down. Someone else may want him. By February 2013, Shaggy and Baxter had joined our household.

Learning to like pet ownership was not made easy by my three chewing, pooping, peeing, loving lads. By the time we get home from work at 6:00 p.m., they demand attention. Daily, they need to go out, walked, fed, and occasionally, also washed and groomed. In short, they are work. If I pick up my computer or a book to read before I have given them enough attention, they will let me know it.

And, you guessed it, my husband and stepson do not contribute as much as I do to the care and upkeep of our furry friends. But here’s the thing, I am okay with that.

By becoming my pets’ primary caretaker, I have learned about myself.

Our family pets have given me more than I give them. Examine a photo representation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, I posit that I help meet their basic needs- food, water, warmth, rest, security, and safety.

I posit that they help meet my psychological needs. They provide me friendship and companionship. Every morning before 6:00 a.m., I get up to start writing. Within fifteen minutes, they leave the warmth of our bedroom to snuggle next to me on the couch while I write. When I find myself laid up due to illness, they will remain at my side while I recover. They are devoted. They force me to take good actions. Because I know that their behaviors will be more relaxed, I try to take them out for a walk in the evenings. And, by walking them in the evenings, I am taking an action that benefits me. The walk in the evening benefits me as I have sat all day in an office. I feel a sense of accomplishment for getting exercise and doing something for my dogs.

They are even helping me to become a fully self-realized human being. They have helped me work towards my full potential by inspiring my creativity in this essay. Yes, they fuel my inspiration often. Chewie’s first year with us, I wrote kids’ stories featuring him as the protagonist. Perhaps someday I will even revisit those ideas. For now, they help give me the love and support I need to become a better person every day.

Contemplating the future, I do not know if I will get more pets once my boys die. I do not think that I would want to own three dogs all at once again. It is work. But, I now understand why pets are so important to people. They give you love and a sense of responsibility. They make things fun and me more patient. In sum, pets can help balance you out. If you are considering a pet, get it. Your world will open up in ways that you could not have imagined.

Tell me the story of your first pet and how it helped you grow.