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Too Poor for Fashion

Being a fat nerd living in poverty means that there is a lot of pop culture fashion that I just cannot afford.  You may have heard that Torrid released a Sailor Moon-inspired line on January 9th. Sailor Moon has been one of my favorites for years. I knew I would never be able to afford whatever clothing came out though because Torrid is expensive.

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Too Poor for Fashion

Ni Bueno, Ni Malo

In the past two years I’ve fallen in love with my hair. I’ll post pictures and videos of my bouncing curls. I’ll apologize to my friends for maybe appearing shallow but to please indulge me. But it hasn’t always been this way. In the past I regarded my hair as a nuisance. Something that needed taming; kept small.

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Ni Bueno, Ni Malo

A Broken Vase

My heart feels scarred. I’m numb; it should hurt but all I feel is an empty feeling where the pain should be

My heart feels heavy but it doesn’t hurt like I think it should, and it’s heavy because it’s tired. I’m tired of being abused. I don’t really believe anybody does anything to deserve abuse but then I have to wonder what have I done? Why me?
Continue reading “A Broken Vase”

A Broken Vase

Descolonicemos lo que nos Enseñaron

The following quotes are from a post I’ve seen floating around el facebook, shared among several pages dedicated to my hometown and Puerto Rico in general.

Cuando Puerto Rico estaba bien, los comunistas, los socialistas, los independentistas y los soberanistas gritaban “Yankee go home, we do not need you”. Ahora no se escuchan ni se ven.

Puerto Rico nunca ha estado bien, por eso es que gritamos “Yankee go home”. Porque ellos tienen mucha de la culpa por la cual Puerto Rico esta en problemas económicos.

¿Dónde está el patriota Óscar López y los macheteros con machete en mano cortando árboles y trabajando por la patria? ¿Dónde están los encapuchados de la UPR que no se ven limpiando los escombros en la universidad y las carreteras de la patria? ¿Dónde están los ambientalistos que no se ven limpiando las playas, cortando árboles y limpiando carreteras? ¿Dónde está ese grito de guerra “Yankee go home” que los identifican? 

Apuesto que están ahí, limpiando y colaborando para levantar a Puerto Rico. Y todavia le gritamos al colonizador. Ese hecho no contradice el otro.  

And what’s this:
El presidente interino de la Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR), Darrel F. Hillman Barrera, exhortó hoy, jueves, a la comunidad universitaria a unirse en trabajo voluntario para rehabilitar el Jardín Botánico, en Río Piedras.

Mira pa’lla. The President of the University of Puerto Rico is asking for student (and other) volunteers to help clean up their botanical garden in Rio Piedras. Metiste la pata bien meti’a, mijo.

But now everyone in Puerto Rico speaks English. Carmen Yulin en representación de la izquierda boricua por cámara y con lágrima en los ojos expresó: “We are American Citizens, we need help.”

Well, I mean we are citizens. Yulín is rightfully calling out the government. So what’s your point? Don’t think I don’t catch the casual sexism of pointing out that Yulín Cruz cried.

Yeah, we know, that’s why we’re here. And we will always be.

We’re American (second class) citizens because one colonizer ceded us to another. I certainly hope we aren’t always a colony. ¿Estas diciendo que porque criticamos a los gringos no podemos esperar que ellos manden la ayuda que es necesaria?

I’ve encountered this type of thinking before. The type that says that if you accept help from the government you can’t complain. So, the poor can’t demand justice because we’re on food stamps? That’s victim blaming bullshit. We didn’t ask to be colonized, but if we are going to be then the United States HAS the ethical and moral responsibility to send help.

“Yankee go home”, fuck yes. But if Yankee is going to keep us as a colony then they need to fucking do their jobs. The United States need to be held accountable. And they will be by the communists, socialists, independents, the sovereignists. Because while we’re busy trying to get our island up and moving; while we’re trying to become free; you’re too busy besandole el culo al gringo. They don’t need to fight us because they can just get us to fight amongst ourselves.

Decolonize your mind. ¡Despierta Boricua!

Descolonicemos lo que nos Enseñaron

Strongest People I Know

Content Notice: talk of suicide, ideation, judgmental assholes

I had a bad day yesterday. I thought maybe I should end it all. These weren’t plans to actually kill myself. These are the thoughts I live with on a daily basis. Some days they’re easier to ignore. I wondered what was the point of living. Then I heard the news of Chester Bennington’s death. He killed himself. As my friends were sharing how much Linkin Park’s music had helped them in their teens, I also saw a lot of people with no understanding of mental illness, blathering on about “taking the easy way out”.

And it all brought it back to me. That time when I was 15 and attempted suicide. I was called all sorts of names. How stupid could I be to try to kill myself? Don’t I know it would hurt my mother? I started therapy then and have been in treatment since. I’ve had several ideation events. And the guilters were always there. I need to think about my daughter. How much it would hurt my family; my friends. How could I be so selfish?

There’s this idea that people who commit suicide are weak. They couldn’t handle their life and its circumstances. Korn’s guitarist Brian Head Welch said Chester took the “cowardly way out”. I cannot speak for Chester, but I can speak as someone who has attempted suicide. As someone who will always have ideation. Living with mental illness is fighting a war every fucking day. We’re fighting ourselves and also dealing with an ableist medical system. We have to deal with well-meaning people with their empty platitudes. We have to deal with cruel insensitive people like Brian, who think mental illness is just something we can get over.

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Modified version. I will not post the original.

We deal with people making memes shaming the use of anti-depressants. Supposed friends will tell you they are there for you but then walk away from you because you’re “too depressing”. And these people wonder why we don’t feel comfortable sharing our struggles with them.

You want to prevent suicide? You do that by helping us fight the stigmatization of mental illness. You do that by calling out shaming bullshit advice or memes like the above. You do that by examining your own biases and admitting that you too need to learn a thing or two. You do that by demanding better health care and treatment for mentally ill people. You do that by viewing mental illness like you would any other chronic illness, as something that cannot be “gotten over” but instead as something that the person dealing with can learn to cope with. You do that by demanding that therapists are actually well versed in their field, and that they also learn social justice because a lot of depressed people are also marginalized in a lot of different ways and that all plays a part in it. For fuck’s sake learn how to properly tag triggering content. On Facebook, hide links to potentially triggering content in nested comments. Accept that sometimes you will mess up and will be called out and maybe it won’t be as gentle as you’d like. You fight the stigma by NOT centering your feelings but those of the depressed person.

Telling us how our death would hurt someone is just a way to manipulate us by guilting us. We KNOW it would hurt our loved ones. I know my daughter would NOT be better off without me. And you telling me how horrible I am for having ideation just makes me feel worse. You don’t prevent someone’s suicide by reminding them of how horrible they think they are. You end up reinforcing the intrusive thoughts and negative self image.

Some days I don’t like myself very much. Yesterday was a bad day, but I was reminded of my strength. I was reminded of the strength of my friends who are also dealing with mental illness. Do you know how much strength it takes to get out of bed; out of the house? How much strength it takes to deal with assholes who judge you without knowing anything about mental illness?

*******

RIP Chester Bennington. Your music touched many and I hope you’ve finally found some peace. 

Strongest People I Know

Grace & Frankie: Nick is a Creep

Netflix’s original series Grace & Frankie returned for it’s third season March 24th. I love this program. However, a plot point which begins towards the end of the latest season bothered me and I needed to write this.

Spoilers ahead, content note for stalking and manipulation

Episode 11, The Other Vibrator
Grace and Frankie now have their own company, Vybrant, and they’ve launched a vibrator made specifically for older women. 
They discover another company , Onmi Tech, has stolen their idea. They send a cease-and-desist letter via their lawyer and then have a meeting with the other company’s legal team. It’s during this meeting that the head of the company, Nick, spots Grace. He immediately walks into the meeting.

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Spoken like a true entrepreneur

The whole time he’s in the meeting, he doesn’t take his eyes off Grace, to the point that even when he’s responding to Frankie, he only looks at Grace. He’s told why the meeting is taking place and proceeds to kick out his legal team (which by the way, includes his own son). Grace dismisses her lawyer as well. Grace can already tell this man is interested in her and her intent seems to play this to her advantage. Which, I can get behind. Nick is the type of man who likes to feel powerful and have his ego stroked. If Grace can use her “feminine wiles” to save her company, then by all means. There’s some flirtation and Frankie’s attempts to also be a part of the conversation, which honestly save the whole scene. Otherwise this is a very run of the mill cis hets being bland. Nick suggests he and Grace go to dinner so he can “make this all go away”. Frankie however sees what’s going on.

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I love you, Frankie

Frankie tells Nick they’ll sue him. He says, “Ok, I’ll see you in court”. He turns to Grace and says, “At least I’ll get to see you again.”

Episode 13, The Sign (Episode 12, focuses on Sol and Robert which is why I’m skipping it)

In this episode the women is served cease-and-desist papers from Omni Tech.

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Really, Frankie is the star of the show

Later in the episode, Grace is on the phone with Nick. And well, see for yourself:

Grace: Are you kidding me? You can’t sue us! It was our idea!
Nick: Grace, you said you were gonna sue me, but I never heard from you.
What’s a guy got to do to get your attention? 
Grace: You’re suing me so you can see me?
Nick: I’m being proactive, one of the things you like about me.
Grace: [scoffs] There is nothing I like about you.
Nick: Oh, come on, it’s cute. I’m a scamp. 
Grace: Oh, stop. This is not a game to me. We built Vybrant from nothing in our 70s. And it was just starting to take off. And not filling orders is not good for business. And if you think that I’m going down without a fight, you’re not as smart as you look.
Nick: You think I look smart?
Grace: What is wrong with you?

And scene! (emphasis mine)

So, what do we see here? Nick used the legal system to get a hold of Grace. She and her new company are vulnerable and he knows this. He dismisses her very legitimate concerns by laughing it off. He tries to gaslight her by making it seem like she is the one who likes him, he’s doing this for her, really. This is a joke to him. Like Grace said, she and Frankie built their company in their 70’s. If you’re familiar with the show, you know they’ve dealt with the topic of ageism and how society views (or doesn’t) women over a certain age. This is clearly a way to manipulate Grace. He’s counting on the fact that as an older woman, she’ll feel like she can’t say no.

Later in the episode, Nick shows up at the house, comes in even though Grace never invited him in. Grace tells him Frankie has had a stroke, he shows concern for a second and then it’s back to pressuring Grace to go out with him.

Again, emphasis mine:

Grace: Would you stop playing games with me? Things are hard enough right now.
I can’t even work because of your cease-and-desist.
Nick: I just wanted to see you. Look, Grace, my original offer still stands. Have dinner with me. One little dinner. I’ll drop our vibrator, nobody sues anybody, and we all go on with our lives.
Grace: And what do you expect to get out of this dinner that will never happen?
Nick: Nothing untoward. I want us to get to know each other. Come on one dinner.
Grace: That’s all I’d have to do and you’d drop everything? Stay out of my business? My life?
Nick: Yes.

Then there’s a back and forth about what type of meal, where it’ll be, how they’ll get there, even what they’ll eat. I’m sure it’s meant to be cute. It’s meant to show that Grace isn’t easy and just look at how hard poor Nick has to work to get a simple date with Grace.

After shaking hands on the “deal”:

Grace: Why are we doing this?
Nick: Because I can’t get you out of my head.
Grace: Then you should get a new head.
Nick: I would, but I have great hair.

See? He’s so funny. How very charming.

The “Date”:

Grace arrives and brings along paper work for Nick to sign saying he won’t pursue the lawsuit. Once that matter is settled, Grace begins to tell Nick about herself in a very disinterested tone. Nick offers her alcohol which she at first refuses because “pre-late lunch drinks” had “not been negotiated”. Nick then says he’ll have “to pour out this extremely dry martini with olives flown in this morning all the way from Spain”. Again, if you’ve watched the show, you’ll know a dry martini is Grace’s drink of choice. She asks how he knew that.

Nick: Because I did a little research on you.
Grace: That’s terrifying.
Nick: I got the lowdown on Say Grace.
Grace: Oh, did you?
Nick: Solid growth ten quarters in a row, despite the beauty market’s volatility.
Grace: Well, it’s 11 quarters, but who’s counting?
Nick: We are. It’s so us.

From the beginning, Grace has been rightfully upset about Nick’s behavior. She correctly identifies that his STALKING is indeed terrifying. After another charming  obnoxious back and forth:

Nick: If you’re an expert, explain them to me.
Grace: Oh, God, no. I am a nightmare when it comes to relationships.
Nick: Yeah, well, I read that in the research.
Grace: Where are we going? There’s no restaurants out here.
Nick: We never said “restaurant,” we said “food”. I’m meeting all the criteria of our negotiation.

So, we know that Nick is aware of Grace’s past with Robert. He knows she’ll be hesitant to start anything with him or anyone, so he’ll be prepared to use whatever he can to get her to do whatever he wants. He has so far.

I wish Nick wasn’t in this show. His character is gross, a creep who doesn’t respect boundaries and who is willing to use the legal system to bully Grace. This isn’t cute. It isn’t romantic. It’s stalking, manipulation and abusive. This plot line is extremely common, all you need is to look at the synopsis of any “romantic” movie 

But just because it’s common doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t speak up about it. I am hoping next season won’t involve Nick but I know better. I just hope I’m proved wrong, because I love this show and I’d hate to have to quit it, but I will if it comes to that.

Grace & Frankie: Nick is a Creep

Grandpa Stories

I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandpa lately. I’ve written about my grandma, mom, dad, aunts (including one I didn’t even like all that much), and my younger brother but have only ever mentioned my grandpa in passing. To say he was a character would be an understatement. My grandpa was born in Puerto Rico two years before the Jones–Shafroth Act gave Puerto Ricans American citizenship. He grew up very poor and had to stop his education at the second grade becuase his mother couldn’t afford shoes for him.

He left Puerto Rico sometime between the 30-40’s to NYC. He worked in factories and eventually met my grandma. Coincidentally, they were both from the same town in Puerto Rico, except grandpa was a “jibaro” (a country person) and my grandma was from “el pueblo” (the city). He was trigueño, with what he called “gingy hair” (he meant kinky, but could never quite get it right), and a big nose. That nose! If you want to tell who’s related to him, you’d look at our noses. My mom, my brothers and I all have that nose. I hated it so much when I was little because I was bullied over it. When he went places, it’d take forever to leave because he’d strike up a conversation with anyone. He spoke English to us a lot and I regret not being able to mimic his accent. It was the best. He always wore a guayabera with either a trilby or bucket hat. His favorite cologne was Brut. Which is funny to me now, because a lot of people hate Brut but it always reminds me of grandpa. He was the reason I liked wrestling when I was little. He loved baseball. His favorite team was The New York Mets.

But anyway, I’ve written about my experiences with child abuse. My grandma was very old school in her thinking. Children were to be seen, never heard. And anything could be a punishable offense, worthy of a few smacks. Grandpa, however, never yelled or hit me. In the 16 years I knew him, I only ever got angry with him once. This isn’t to say he was perfect. The man was incredibly sexist and anti Black as hell. I’ve had to come to terms with these things while also remembering the good things about him. It’s been tough but doable.

So here now, I share some of my favorite grandpa stories

The Godparents who came to Dinner:

When my younger brother and I were little, we used to eat the chicken before the rice and beans. That would always upset grandma. After the billionth time of eating the chicken first, she yelled at us. Grandpa, who always defended me when grandma would get on me, told her to leave us alone. Grandma walked away angry and then grandpa told us:
When he was little, his family was very poor. One day while he and his brother were eating lunch, his godparents visited. His mom didn’t have anything to feed the guests so she took the chicken off the kids plates.
The moral: Always eat the chicken first because you never know when company will come and take it away.

Brothers are the Worst:

When he was about 7 years old, his brother traded him a nickel for his dime. His brother convinced him that the nickel was worth more because it’s bigger.

The moral: Brothers are assholes and it was OK to be mad at my brothers when they bothered me.

Killer Cows:

When I was about 7 or so, I asked my grandpa about his dad. I knew a lot about his mom but nothing about his dad.

Grandpa: I don’t know much about him. He died when I was a baby.
Me: I’m sorry. How did he die?
Grandpa: a cow killed him
Me: *imagines a cow holding a gun* uh how?
Grandpa: cow kicked him
Me: oh that’s a relief.

 (I thought I had to worry about killers cows)

 

Damn, Ju Cheap:

Every day after school, I’d buy myself a malta and a bag of peanut M&M’s. Grandpa was on a strict diet and wasn’t allowed candy. But that never stopped him from asking me.

Grandpa: What you got dere?
Me: Candy
Grandpa: Can I have one?
Me: Grandpa, sabes que no puedes. Tienes diabetes y te hace daño. Los doctores no te dejan.
Grandpa: Ah, eso cara’ de papa no saben na’. Give me one.

So I’d give him one or two and then, without missing a beat in his accented Enlgish, “damn, nena ju cheap”.

This is one of my favorite memories of grandpa. He always knew better than the doctors and he had the biggest sweet tooth. He always had candy and pudding stashed away and he always shared with me. You will understand then why coupled with his not yelling or hitting me, I liked him better than grandma.

Grandpa died in 2005, by that time I was already living in NYC. I hadn’t talked to him in about a year. He developed Alzheimer’s and talking to us would make him sad and then grandma would have to spend the rest of the day comforting and reminding him why we weren’t in the house.

We went back to Puerto Rico for his funeral. I tell people that it was like the Godfather had died. The whole town was there. People I had never met knew who I was because in Puerto Rico, people can tell who your people are by your “pinta”, basically what you look like. I didn’t go up to grandpa’s casket right away. I couldn’t. If I did, his death would become real and then who would tell me all those silly stories?

I wished I had asked him more about his childhood in Puerto Rico and his time in NYC before meeting grandma. He lived a long life; he was a few months shy of his 90th birthday when he died. I miss him every day. His stories live on in me and I’ve told a few of them to my daughter. We’ve looked at old pictures. She also has his nose.

Grandpa Stories