ODE TO TELAIA

I was told that magic wasn’t real. In a world of technology and stoicism, magic is brushed under the rug. It is considered too warm, too bright for today’s eyes. It doesn’t happen instantly and it doesn’t stay true.
But I believe otherwise.
Magic is real. It is here. It presents itself to us daily. Only few of the brave choose to see it. Only few of the brave choose to live it. The brave knows that magic is powerful and connecting.
Walk through our favorite city, New York. Magic seeps from the subway grates, the hipster coffee shops. From the late night parties and fire escapes. From cramped bedrooms to poetry clubs. Sparkling in the both sunlight and night. The city calls and begs for a return.
The magic is brash yet sweet. Bites of honey. Bites of pepper. Surrounding my broken heart with love and truth. It’s the magic that picks me up when I fall. Hopeful and filled with strength, it never leaves me.
My heart is full. Seen with booze and cat tails but knows that the magic is much deeper. The magic isn’t in the makeup but its everywhere. It has taught me to be unapologetically myself. To dream bigger. That all will be okay in the morning.
You are real. You are brave. And you are magic. Magical and so special to me.
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ODE TO TOM

The Stones. The Fucking Stones.
Late night with wheelchairs. Walking over and above the streets, desperate for tacos. Desperate for connection.
We meet and fall as friends. Good friends. Close friends. Drinking buddies. Running partners. Shoulders to cry on.
We find love in others but we remember the adoration we have for each other. Mutual respect. Mutual fondness for walking. For the tango. For romantic hope.
Tom. Incredible Tom.
Late nights with red faces of embarrassment. Talking about quick hook ups, despearte for love. Desperate for connection.
We know we will find it. Question mark when. But there is the love we have for each other. Thousands of miles apart. Friendship. Four subway stops away. Always. We are here for each other. Here is anywhere. Here is everywhere.
The Stones. Tom. The Motherfucking Stones and Motherfucking Tom.

ODE TO GRACE

Zip, zip around the track. Refinement of movement. Beating heart, beating records.
Life is callous. We both know that. It throws punch after punch. I bleed. You bruise. We tweeze the gravel from our wounds and pick ourselves up. Return home to softness, to sweetness, to fluff.
Sing, sing until your throat is sore. Disposition of kindness. Hearts are full, full of love.
Life is demanding. We both know that. People do not deserve compassion. Yet, you give it anyway. Adoration. I’m present. We’re friends.
Think, think with encephalon. Beauty of form. A gift of wit and inspiration.
Life is gray. We both know that. No coffee black. No milky white. Binary. I sob. You listen. You hug. You advise. You check in. You care. You love.
Women are multifaceted. You have showed me that.
We are tough. We are beautifully emotional. We are silly. We work hard. We firmly hold hope. We better everyday.
You lace up and fly.

Anymore

I know that

you don’t care about this relationship

anymore.

 

I know that

you don’t want to try to fix things and start anew.

 

I know that

you don’t

love me

anymore.

So, white flag. I surrender. I don’t know what to do anymore.

Feelings

I hate gut feelings.
I’ve been questioning my relationship with Seth for a year now. I’m not sure if I love him.
I know that he loves me. I could see his love pouring out of his eyes every time he closed them to kiss me.
I want to love him more. I can’t bring myself to.
I like Seth. He is generous and giving. He doesn’t ask much from me. I learned about music from him.
That’s it.

We live together. We have the same friends. We built a life together.
It was wonderful in the beginning. We met. We fell in love quickly. We had sex constantly. We talked about our youths. We laughed with sophistication. We gave each other the space we desired.
We fuck thrice a month. I share too much. He doesn’t give me details. I’m not an adult with him. He doesn’t leave me alone.
My friends say that we’re the perfect couple. I don’t tell them what I feel. I don’t want to tarnish their mental image of us.

I skipped a period.
Seth and I once talked about marriage once. I think he listened only to appease me. I know he doesn’t want to get married.
We’ve talked about children. We talk about children more than marriage. Those talks aren’t serious. He doesn’t want children.
I don’t want to have his children.
The test is blue.
I am pregnant with his child.
I don’t want to be.

Seth comes home. I’m on the bed. He’s surprised to find me home early from work.
He asks me what is wrong. I tell him that the test is on the sink.
I asked my boss for time off. I told her that I’m getting rid of the fetus. I’m looking for a new apartment. I have two weeks off to purge and hunt.
Seth is excited and holds me close. I start to cry.
I hate this feeling.

She Killed Her Sister so She Could See Him Again

Emily shifted in her seat. She stared at the corpse in the casket. The body shared the same blonde ringlets and green eyes. Everyone noticed her yellow highlighted curls but if you want to see Charlotte’s eyes, you needed a crow bar to pry them open. Her sister made sure the embalmer glued them shut. Emily looked around the chapel. It was a sea of black. Char hated the color black. It was negative. If she were sitting next to her sister at that moment, Charlotte would have gently stuck her finger in her mouth, mimicking a bulimic throwing up dinner.

The ceremony was gorgeous like the calla lilies that lined the gravestone. Emily wept as they lowered her sister’s body. She didn’t see Eric. She searched the dark clothing cloud for the red shock of Eric’s hair. She knew he would be there. The panic in her throat. The tears down her cheeks. Emily felt the rage burn in her brain.

She did this for nothing.

Mama died a year earlier in May. Her girls inherited her hay-colored hair and porcelain skin, the kind of look real southern beauties had. Her daughters had her dead husband’s pupil color, a trait she wished that he didn’t pass on to them. Mama saw the abuse he laid on her every time Charlotte or Emily or looked up at her. All the punches and slaps to the face. Kicks to the sides and broken beer bottles. Mama loved her girls but hated their eyes.

Mama did her best to protect her girls. She forced them into pageants, sports and music recitals. Charlotte was the eldest and more outgoing. Both girls were active in theatre and the arts but Charlotte was always casted in the leading role. Char the Star, her mother beamed. Emily was book smart. She had the grades and was accepted in a top-notch college but even at university away from her sibling, she felt awkward and runner-up. That feeling changed when she lured Matt away from the Phi Kappa house party, seducing him with her dusty pink virginity. He was naked and erect when she smothered him with a pillow.

As college progressed, Emily grew more confident. She slit the throat of a man she danced with at the club in its filthy men’s room. She pushed her professor down the stairs after he praised her work on the midterm. She stabbed one blind date after another. When a big city job fell into her lap, Emily celebrated by dismembering her roommate’s boyfriend. She kept a lock of his hair for luck.

Emily moved to Manhattan in the summer. It was hot, too tough breathe. After a long day at the office, she walked to a bar around the corner from her home. She stripped down to her undershirt and work pants, peeling off her stockings with great care. She felt his eyes on her sweaty skin. His glances nearly burned holes into her flesh. He walked over to her; an older gentlemen with salt and pepper hair. The man wasn’t Emily’s type, more of Charlotte’s but she smiled as he slurred how beautiful she was and how her ass looked like a peach. Emily liked his southern charm and followed him home. She expected the sex but she didn’t expect the rape.

Two days later, Emily read in the paper about the apartment fire in Chelsea that killed eight, including Benjamin Nall, at doctor at Lenox Hill, and his wife of seventeen years. The couple was originally from Savannah.

Emily picked up someone new every night. She ripped out their eye balls out of their sockets, their tongues from beneath rows of teeth and butchered them with the kitchen knife she kept in her pocketbook. Emily was happy.

One Saturday night, Charlotte called, sobbing. Mama died. Stroke. Emily slashed at her own arms in despair. She didn’t leave her home for a week. She didn’t feel like hunting.

Mama’s funeral was beautiful. It was at the church she and Daddy were married in and where the girls were christened. Family offered their condolences, family that shared Mama’s blonde hair and dark eyes. Emily and Charlotte looked like angels, wearing cream colored dresses. Charlotte hated the idea of matching clothes but it was Mama’s last request. Emily wanted to honor her late mother. She felt equal wearing the same outfit her sister wore; feeling as beautiful as she thought Charlotte looked.

Emily stood at the table, picking at the hors d’oeuvres. She jumped when a hand softly landed on her shoulder. Eric Graham.  They never met before but they spoke as if they were friends for years. He politely offered her a tissue when Emily spoke about Mama. She wiped away wet mascara streaks and memories of the constant paternal abuse. Eric let her snuggle against him that night and combed his fingers through her blonde mane. It was the first time Emily slept at a man’s home.

Eric stuck to Emily like a golden leech. She welcomed his affection and attention. He made her heart sing, a feeling Emily only experienced when gutting men. She took some time off work and spent her full days with Eric by her side. He comforted her when she began to cry about Mama and made her laugh while out walking hand in hand or over simple meals he cooked for her.

It was Tuesday. Emily hadn’t heard from Eric in two days. She called, left messages, sent texts and emails. He didn’t return any of them. Emily walked into the office Eric pointed at during one of their walks. She asked the receptionist if Eric was in. The busty brunette told her Eric quit his position a week prior. Emily was devastated. She was in love but heartbroken. That night, she slaughtered two homeless men in an alleyway while venturing out to the corner bar for a needed cocktail.

Emily knew what she had to do in order to see Eric again.

Colchicine wasn’t hard to get. Emily had enough in savings to charm a doctor into giving her a handful of pills. She later snuck into his study and bashed in his head with an award he won the previous year.

Grinding up the pills, Emily carefully poured the powder into the Starbucks drink Charlotte requested. Since Mama’s death, Charlotte insisted that they spend more time together. Emily was happy to comply, bringing Charlotte a hot latte every evening after she got off from work.

Charlotte died six days later. Emily was eager to plan her funeral.

In the sea of grave black, Eric’s ginger hair stood out like a beacon. Emily was hungry for him, her eyes shouting out his name. He wrapped his arms around her waist and apologized for her loss. Emily buried her head into the warm fabric covering his shoulder.

The things she would do to him later that evening.

I have had this idea for a book in my head for a very long time; a woman who kills others in order to get close to another. The story was inspired by my stepmother who once asked my sisters and me why someone would want to kill someone that he or she loved.  As much as I intended to use this question to write a full-length novel, time had gotten the best of me. I set this idea aside and focused on my journalistic writings and my memoir. I do hope to expand this short story to a thick book one day in the very near future. Thanks for reading.

From My Upcoming Book

We talked about our passions and things were we were obsessed with. Brad loved books (of course, him being an English teacher). EE Cummings. Hemingway. The playwright Neil LaBute. He spoke about each with such vigor and knowledge. I was impressed and treasured seeing his eyes sparkle with appreciation. None of these others came close to his love of J.D. Salinger. Brad insisted that he was Holden and explained his frustration with his students when they read the book and thought that Caulfield was a “whiny bitch.” He was even more disappointed in me when I told him that I never read it, reading books like “the Giver” and my favorite novella, “Night” in high school.

The next Saturday, we were sitting eating breakfast at the corner coffee shop when Brad nonchalantly told me that he had a present for me. I was excited yet nervous. No guy has ever bought me a present before. After my feeble attempt to not rush through my oatmeal and fruit cup, we walked back to Brad’s car where he presented me with a beautifully wrapped rectangle. I opened the paper, holding “Catcher in the Rye.” I wanted to cry. It was a thoughtful gift and I was touched. I wrapped my arms around Brad’s neck in thanks.

Reading “Catcher in the Rye” took some work, though. Brad’s students were right. He was whiny (even though I recognized many of his thoughts as my own. Yup, I’m that crabby bitch, too). Reading about his adventure while listening to my roommate fight with her fiancée via Skype was too much to handle. I retreated to the down into my personal bat cave, where the shroud of darkness would help me focus: the subway. I finished “Catcher” in one night, riding the G train back and forth, from Long Island City, Queens to Kensington, Brooklyn for four hours. It was magical and I fell in love with the book…

the Ladies of RUMP

Go to any RUMP event and expect to be pulled into the freak train. The last freak train wrapped around the Biggest Little City Club as people yanked their friends into line and bumped against them to the DJ’s pulsations. Sweat flew, alcohol gulped and smiles and song were all abound.

Women make up the half of the music industry- we all know that. From the revealing clothing and suggestive posing that we see these women wear on MTV to the behavior we read about in gossip magazines, one should wonder if these women make up the general consensus of the ladies in the music business, let alone if they’re the kind of role models for upcoming generations. Reno may not be known for breaking stereotypical barriers but three women are attempting to do so: DJ Heidalicious (Heidi Adkins ), MoMatik (Mo Oetjen) and  Jenes Carter. These ladies created RUMP, a monthly concert where they encourage female artists of all genres and ages to perform for open-minded audiences and get them to dance.

Heidi Adkins performs under the moniker DJ Heidalicious. She wears her dark hair short and her jeans ripped as she spins hypnotic beats and slow jams for fans and others present in the room. Originally from Sacramento and living in the Reno area for the past ten years, Adkins never thought too much about becoming a disc jockey. “I saw Ana Sia at Tonic one night and was inspired by her.” DJ Neshawn gave Adkins her first lesson and she was thrilled that she learned a new skill and owned a new hobby.

Adkins loves spinning but as she got deeper into her craft, she found some challenges with DJing. “Female DJs usually get boxed in, especially to play a certain genre. If you’re not playing Lady Gaga, people are, like ‘WHAT?’ You have to learn how to adapt and adjust to people’s attitudes.”

Oetjen understands the plague of being thrown into a certain category. “Girls are set in a different box.” She tucks her long hair behind one ear as she explains how she is compared to popular female rappers. Oetjen respects those artists but she considers herself a different kind of breed.

Mo Oetjen raps as MoMatik, vocalizing real life issues and problems over sampled beats. A Reno native, she started writing poetry as an outlet. While a student at Reno High School, Oetjen rapped with the guys in her class and made tapes of her rhymes on an old karaoke machine.

Oetjen’s first show was in 2006 and she has been going non-stop since. Rapping isn’t all what it seems to be, though. “People are surprised when you have skills,” Oetjen explains. She is thrilled with the shock but hates the backhand compliments she usually receives afterwards. “I hate it when people say, ‘you’re pretty good for a girl.’” She tries to brush off such compliments and weeds outs the hate and criticism. She speaks about the positivity her music is about and how it truly does captures the hearts and minds of her fans. “If someone, one person, comes up to me and says that my song has impacted them, that’s the best response I could get. That’s what it is all about for me.”

Jenes Carter makes up for the third point of the RUMP trifecta, singing solo and as back-up. She grew up in Reno, attending Sarah Winnemucca Elementary and McQueen High School and singing in both schools’ choirs. Her father introduced to artists such as Prince and the Police. “He (Carter’s father) broke down the different instruments and would have me pick out the instruments,” Carter explained. “He helped develop my love of music.” When he and Carter were away from each other, Carter’s dad would play music for her over the telephone and he would comment on the different tracks playing on the receiving line.

Carter began signing in a cover band at the age of 14. Highway Jones performed in the neighborhood’s Cue & Cushion and evolved into singing solo shows at Club Sandwich. In 2007, she met Metaphysical and Dove. Later, they became Black Rock City All Stars, a group Cater sings for. In 2007, she met rappers Metaphysical and Dove. Later, they became Black Rock City All Stars. Most recently Carter has become part of Mojo Green, expanding her music family. Although she has love for the men she shares the stage with while performing with Black Rock City, she values her time with the ladies of RUMP. “Once you bring us all together, it’s magic.”

Whether you agree or not, the Reno music scene is changing. One of the goals of RUMP is to bring a musical revolution to the northern Nevada area. “It will take the musicians to bring change, not business owners,” Carters says about local clubs and bars that sway to a certain style of music.

Spinning Top 40 hits is the way to go if one wants to make money as a DJ but Adkins finds more satisfaction with the subterranean music she plays. “I’m not cheating myself then.” She feels like the Reno music scene has promise especially with Reno’s Burning Man community. “There isn’t too much competition with each and each DJ brings something a little different to the melodic melting pot. There is a greater respect.”

Adkins has hope for the scene as she also performs with Reno Sound Collective. They recently had a house party with “about 40 people,” Adkins says. “200 others were listening to the streaming online. We just kept them dancing.”

Perhaps such house parties are the inventive way to go. All three women agree that Reno is lacking in musical creativity, suggesting that the Biggest Little City gets fads- what’s hot in music, clothing and entertainment- last. “We’re in a catch-up phase,” Carter said. “And sometimes, we’re just not open to creativity. We’re trying to know what’s hot now instead of trying to create what’s hot.” Adkins agrees. “I wish Reno was more educated about music, world and underground. There are a lot DJs all over the world doing amazing and creative things that no one knows about.”

They want to change that attitude and show that Reno has a great diversity, both cultural and musical, and are doing so with RUMP. With RUMP, all three women are hoping to build up Reno’s creativity and acceptance, especially within its female population and the growing local music community. They want to give something back and hope to inspire those who watch them perform. “We just want to do something different. Get people off their couches and bring them out. RUMP is about creating a different thing,” says Adkins.

“I want to inspire women with the raw, real truth,” Oetjen says. “It’s important for others to see your heart and purposes, where you’re coming from. Music is such an expression and all three of us have a message to share.”

And that message is strong. Both Adkins and Carter have young daughters. They view the Top 40 mainstream as being a little too sexual and they explain to their girls about the use of language in songs and behavior on television. “I teach my daughter about stuff behind music, beats and stuff,” said Adkins. “I try to find female singers that write more meaningful lyrics other than sex. Lyrics that are on a deeper level.”

As RUMP’s trios’ popularity grows, they hope to extend their acts into bigger venues with different and more diverse talent. Both Oetjen and Carter performed at last year’s Speak Your Mind festival at Wingfield Park. Adkins spun at the Bassnector after party at the Grand Sierra Resort in October. At the RUMP parties, the three women speak with new talent about joining the act and encourage them to perform. Adkins urges newcomers to stay focused. “Work hard and kick ass. Don’t get boxed in. Make sure to have an open mind, especially when it comes to the music that you play.”

“It’s great to feel what you do,” Oetjen says. “Girls are trying to do better and we are trying to support each other through everything.”

“Being ourselves inspires people to be themselves,” Carter adds. “And we don’t want to wait for things to happen as a female.”

Please check out www.facebook.com/rumpreno for more information about the next schedule RUMP event,   MoMatik, DJ Heidalicious and Jenes Carter.

I’m an Oreo.

Oreos.

Those delicious, chocolate flavored cookies you coveted during elementary school. You’d scream and kick at your mother’s shins as she pushed the shopping cart that confined you past their blue and white packing in the corner market; you demanding to her to purchase them or else. Or you as discovered during your all-men-deserve-to-die-and-I-want-to-rip-out-my-uterus collegiate years that peanut butter and Oreos taste bomb together and they soon become the staple of your diet. Twisting away one side of the treat, you devoured their creamy goodness, leaving a sticky mess on your fingertips. Yum.

Black on the outside but white in the middle.Oreos didn’t always signify pleasure to my taste buds. There was a time in my life where I hated oreos. Even hearing the word caused my face to flush and tears to fall down my cheeks. I remember the first time someone directed the word to me as I walked to my locker to put away my math book. Donning all my noir outfit (complete with a black sweatshirt, shoes and skinny jeans before they become trendy), a kid from the basketball team muttered the word under his breath and directed his gaze to me. I shrugged my shoulders as if I didn’t care. I was called names before; ‘geek‘ and ‘loser‘ were a daily given, ‘doll face’ for the crazy amount of eyeliner and red lipstick I wore. Before the water works emerged from my eye sockets, I ran to the bathroom and cried.

Dark skin but acts Caucasian.

I wasn’t even sure how to ‘act white.’ How do you act a color? Okay, I was one of the dark-skinned kids in my honors classes. I could swim (so well, in fact, that my nickname growing up was ’mermaid’). Being the vocabulary freak that I still am, I refused to mispronounce words, enunciating and articulating them with vigor, and spelled things out completely. I spent hours straightening my unruly curls, hair that black women told me they would kill to have. I didn’t listen to rap or any kind of R&B (unless you counted the Madonna albums me and my mom privately jammed out to). Winter is my favorite season. I refused to go out on Friday nights to drink 40s with cronies from class (I didn’t drink until university, in fact). I didn’t own an gold bling or K-Swiss sneakers. My behind is, in fact, on the smaller side  And I, for sure, never watched B.E.T. It didn’t matter that I was a mixed kid with my father being Jamaican and my mother, as green-eyed Puerto Rican. I was a black girl who was simply confused, so I needed to be treated like I was a character in a Tyler Perry movie.

Ethic slang was thrown around in school and I found it fascinating that we were all labeled after food: Crackers, twinkies, beaners. High school is a tough time for everyone. Between figuring out college plans to the race of hormones flying through one’s body, those prime teenage years were exhausting. In some small way or another, we all were lost and confused. I couldn’t identify with the kids around me who were so influenced by hip-hop culture. Despite going to a school with an equal race population, I didn’t have any black friends. Their baggy clothes and boisterous voices were a turn off. Shy little me didn’t want to be friends with that loudmouth in the back of classroom who had a comment about everything. I was the nerd who spent her lunch in the journalism lab, correcting the monthly school paper. What did I have in common with the popular track star in the short skirt?

So, maybe I thought I was white with insanely tan skin.

It took many years to embrace this personality quirk of mine and I try my best not to let this label define me Even now, ten years later after high school, I still find myself labeled as that cookie. I’m the only person of color at my favorite band’s concert. I get weird looks when I hold the hand of a white guy as I walk down the block. I still can’t find a pair of skinny jeans to squeeze my heavy thighs in. Yet instead of finding a dark corner of my soul to hide and weep in, I learned to love this trait and embrace it. When I tell my story, the listeners are surprised to hear that the kids that taunted me were black. It took sometime to forgive those who teased me. Once my brain finally realized that these people were just perhaps jealous or having their own issues at home, my heart softened and opened up to the possibility of having people of multiple ethnicities enter it. One of my best friends is Mexican. I live with a Pilipino girl. I date any man, as long as he breathes. Despite my shock that today’s society is still pretty racist, I don’t let the race card play a major role in my life. Everyone is treated equal in my eyes and I hope that I am considered the same to them. My hope is that one day, no one will be called such names, especially during fragile times like high school. Those people should more concerned finding a date to the senior prom.

Yeah, I’m an Oreo. I guess that means I’m pretty tasty.