a rambling

whenever i feel inept, it’s those small accomplishments that satisfy the ego:

i brewed my morning coffee to perfection;
i arrived to work on time;
i left work on time;
i read that library book for a little while;
i slept on time;
repeat.

but with this self created paradigm these accomplishments soon become mundane. the ego says i’m not simple, thus my routine shouldn’t be. it says i need complexity, i need variety, i need more. i add the following:

i reach out to an old friend;
i see my significant other;
i explore parts of town;
i exercise;
i purchase a new blouse;
the ego is content with these stimulants.

with time, it still craves more. it feels restrained, undesirable, needy, confused, frustrated, and unique. i want to stop craving but the ego tells me my cravings make me unique. i am unique from those content with simplicity, from those who become complacent with satisfaction. i desire more from life because i desire growth.

i tell myself that stagnancy is not mutually exclusive from growth, because there are things to be learned from stagnancy.

i tell myself to stop wanting so much. the ego says impossible. it’s the unfulfillment of those desires that make me unhappy, not the desires themselves.

i need self care. i need self love. i need self forgiveness.

i need to get out of my head

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the u-district

goodwill, used bookstores, american apparel,
independent shops covered in arabian fabrics,
the scent of mellow, brooding coffee shops tangled
with vietnamese pho and ice-cream crepes
invite disheveled young adults to try-on
different identities. the young blonde with a
purple lip-stain wears white dirty bunny ears and smudges
silver eyeshadow in the church parking lot,
a broken toothed man sits cross legged on the sidewalk and
tells everyone who’ll lean in and listen:
let me give you a reading with these stones i brought
from egypt, free reading, tip what you please,
you may not remember karma but karma will
remember you. baby-faced teens wearing blue
velvet dresses and chunky combat boots smoke
cigarettes alone, staring absentmindedly
at the intersection before them. habitual gray clouds
carry inks that seep into the skins of residents
who live the lives of outcasts, a lifestyle they swear
they didn’t choose. like goods in a consignment shop,
they are stand-alone treasures, hoping someone
would find their distinctiveness.

exotic incantations

my accent carries familiarity and intrusion,
tinged with the folklore of aztec ruins
the conquista failed to bury with the relics
your imperialist nature insists you authenticate.
your mask of curiosity and fascination
hides the suppressed desire
to conquer realities blazing with possibility
and to discover the cultural gems we have preserved
by means of fidelity: the devotion to our pasts, our futures,
and our people. the uncovering of the jewels
we fought so hard to defend ignites
your self-led excursion to a realm we call home.
the frantic itch to find the remains of our past
embedded in our modernity troubles you–
to leave without newfound jewels from your
excavation suggests that our culture is lost and
unknown to us, when in fact, it is only
lost and unknown to you.

astral projection

a soft haze wraps the body,
enrapturing its wholeness without the
haunting of an elusive psyche–a collection
of auratic stardust weaving through
the constellations of our reality, devising one of the many
astral realms we are a part of. the swirling chaos of it all,
of the pandemonium risen from the unveiling of the universe,
breaks the linearity of time and our bodies as its measurement.

the women who wear shawls

we attended mass at an old, large cathedral. its outside is a light beige color that is heavily decorated with carvings of angels and saints. its steeple, incredibly high and wide, displays sculptures of the virgin mary and jesus on its upper tiers. the church’s grand stained-glass windows are unclean, the images they attempt to illustrate indiscernible. the large, round cupola is the only element speckled with hues of burgundy, navy, and deep purple.

the inside of the cathedral intensifies its gothic design, the tops of its walls lined with more angels and saints. square spaces are carved inside of the walls, where life-size statues the virgin mary of guadalupe and other saints are placed in each one. lit candles lay at their feet, with folded notes that ask for the health of a loved one, blessings, the happiness of the dead, a wish. stone columns align the edges of the nave, and the mahogany colored pews situated between them. the alter’s background is embellished with gold, ornate depictions of divine icons and paintings of jesus ascending into heaven. there are an overwhelming number of red flowers that fill the alter, and the tall, white candles flicker beside them.

despite the air conditioner, women are fanning themselves with white church pamphlets. an infant begins to cry, and the older women who wear white or black shawls turn their heads towards the noise and shake their heads in disapproval. i find these women the interesting. they are seated up front, with other families and couples seated behind them. they sing with the choir in compelling voices of learned wisdom, wear rosaries around their necks, and raise their hands the highest while the priest recites a prayer that professes their unwavering faith.

the priest announces that mass has ended and that we may go in peace. everyone mumbles a thank you, father, and makes their way to the exit. the families who were sitting in the back are already in their cars now, driving away—they had left a few minutes ago when the end of the hour struck.

after 10 minutes everyone has left, except for the older women who are now kneeling at the feet of jesus, the virgin mary, or a saint. praying. they touch the feet of the divine and bow their heads even lower, placing their heads behind their clasped hands. before leaving, they make the sign of the cross.

who are these women, the ones who always wear shawls to mass despite the heat? why do they judge the unintentional disturbances of those around them, and recite prayers so loud that the voices of the other families are muted? do they want god to hear them and no one else? do they raise their hands higher than the height of those next to them so they can feel heaven on their fingertips? … they intrigue me.

inevitable tensions

the landlady and i don’t speak to each other.

she’s a plump, pale woman who always wears chunky, black sunglasses, even when the skies are cloudy. her hair is dyed with blonde highlights that accentuate her light brown hair, which is usually wrapped in a messy bun. the wrinkles oaround her mouth make her look like she’s frowning although her other facial features are inexpressive; i know this because that frown doesn’t leave her lips while she smokes. when she smokes, which is quite often, she sits under the white umbrella that is stuck in the middle of her round patio table. she puts her feet on a nearby chair while sitting on another, often staring at her two-story house or scrolling through her smart phone. i see her do this everyday. every other day, i’ve heard her blast old hip hop and r&b songs like 112’s “Peaches and Cream” and Sisqo’s “Thong Song”.

one evening, i was on Facebook. i saw that my older half sister had commented, “That’s not funny, that’s my dad :(” on the landlady’s status. her and i share the same father, so, out of curiosity, i clicked on her comment so that i would also see the post.

now, i had always disliked the landlady. when i was a tween, i heard her making jokes to her girlfriends about my father’s alcoholism, my mother’s inability to speak english well, and our financial struggles that my father had confided in her. it was a typical friday night for her and her friends, sipping vodka with limes, gossiping, howling with laughter. they all sat by the round patio table, under the white umbrella, toasting to their friendship.

i saw her post and my heartbeat sped so rapidly i felt my chest rise up, clogging my throat, clamming up my hands, tightening my mouth and deeply furrowing my eyebrows. on my computer screen was a picture of my drunken father and his large beer belly, without his shirt on, bending over, his reddish face oblivious to the camera. Underneath the picture, she had written a cruel joke, my father being the punchline. No one had commented on the photo yet, except my older half sister, who had commented a few hours ago.

the overwhelming mix of emotions fueled the long Facebook message i wrote to the landlady who was in her late 40s. even if she doesn’t like my family very much, it doesn’t allow her to publicly shame any of us, to mock us, to use us for her entertainment and the public’s. my message was a big Fuck You, except without those exact words because i wanted her to understand the reasons why what she did was wrong.

an hour later, Facebook indicated that she had read my message. she did not reply. she did, however, take down the post.

she has not acknowledged me since then. when i saw her after the incident, i waved. i waved, and still wave because, she is the landlady. i see her everyday, and i didn’t want too much tension between us—but i did figure that there might be some no matter what.

she did nothing but stare back behind those sunglasses, her frown more pronounced than ever. sometimes i still wave, and she still doesn’t.