My Place in the Palms

Images of people in my culture don’t look like me.

There’s a trivial sense in which that’s not true. My dark, angled eyes, curly hair, curvaceous figure, and diminutive stature all betray my origins. Our beauty queens and pop stars in particular look like me, conspicuously lighter in hue than even our own relatives. As distinctive as I always am in family photos, someone else who looked like me would not have seemed out of place.

But the image of us isn’t a scientist. She isn’t an atheist or a socialist. She isn’t dating outside her race. She isn’t deliberately far away from her parents. She isn’t autistic. She isn’t transgender. She isn’t gay.

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My Place in the Palms
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A Memory of Water – A Jane and Jessie Story

Chandelure followed the sobbing. The lights of the flames on his chandelier-like body made for an obvious approach, even as his ghostly arms and flames left no marks on the wet trees. He paused, reaching the small gap where the sounds began.

The creature resembled a small tree stump with a stubby black body extending from one end. It held its tiny arms up to its wooden face, wracked with its sadness, its tears scarcely noticeable against the chilly damp. Chandelure weighed his options.

A ghost wearing a tree stump as a mask. The ghost has red eyes and tiny hands. The tree stump has branches where the mask's ears would be.
Phantump.

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A Memory of Water – A Jane and Jessie Story

Flamboyán Al Fin

He hoarded his Christmas gifts. We would get him cologne, ties, shirts, tchotchkes from our travels, treatments to soften his overworked hands, and they would all find their ways into drawers and cabinets, untouched for years. His clothing had to wear to nothing before he would discard it and start the next one’s slow disintegration. New, untouched things are a treasure to save for when they are needed, not an indulgence for in between. Scarcity is behind every shadow and over every hill, and a good hoard is insurance against doing without. It’s a habit my father, my grandfather, and I all share, to each other’s bemused frustration. They tangled with Communists, I grew up autistic, and we all hoard.

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Flamboyán Al Fin

Arroz con Gandules, Alyssa Style

We return to the subject of Latin American cooking with Alyssa. This time, we visit my grandmother’s signature meal, arroz con gandules. Puerto Rican Spanish for “rice with pigeon peas,” this is a hearty meal on its own or accompanied with meat or a salad. It follows the Puerto Rican tradition of “one-pot meals,” making it relatively simple to learn and a staple when my grandmother entertains guests or contributes to holiday platters. I look forward to tasting hers again…if I am again welcome there.

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Arroz con Gandules, Alyssa Style

Why I Am Not Two-Spirited

Particularly in Canada, much is made of the “two-spirit” identity claimed by many queer indigenous people in North America. It might seem natural for me to claim it, as part of my assertion of my Taíno heritage as having primacy over the Spanish within my experience of my Hispanicness. No such ease appears to me, however. Two-spirit is an idea I cannot claim, for many reasons.

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Why I Am Not Two-Spirited

Tortilla de Papa, Alyssa Style

I’ve decided to follow a common request from my readers and share some of my cooking with you all. Ania is by far the better chef between us, as seen on her cooking blog, but I have some skills of my own, and a bank of recipes I save for when Ania is away and I must again cook for myself.

Today’s entry is tortilla de papa, usually known as “Spanish omelette” in English. Understanding what I just wrote there requires a little etymology lesson.

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Tortilla de Papa, Alyssa Style