Tuesday, December 15, 2015


*Disclaimer, this may not be a "brief" post..too much to tell today*

"Seriously ill people are wounded not just in body, but in voice." - Arthur Frank

“I had grasped well that there are situations in life where our body is our entire self and our fate. I was in my body and nothing else…my body…was my calamity. My body…was my physical and metaphysical dignity.”-Jean Améry

Why do I write? Because I don't want anyone else telling my story. It's what I always tell people when I get asked that question. It's the only answer that makes sense to me. 

Everyone has a narrative. Everyone has a different version of the same the event. Everyone has a right to share that narrative with others and be heard. 

This past week I experienced some of the best moments of this past year. No, THE best moments of 2015 and possibly of the last 5 years overall. These moments are reshaping my narrative, and making the outcome of my story clearer. 

1) I got accepted into the MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University, The Ranier Writer's Workshop...AND...they offered me a scholarship! Here's a piece of the acceptance letter (not a generic one, but one from the director of the program himself): 

"Congratulations! We think that you--your accomplishments so far, your talent as a writer, and your mature commitment to your writing life--will be a tremendous addition to the RWW community. I hope that everything falls into place, and that you join the program this summer.

Especially in the memoir pieces, 'Pelo Malo' and 'Change,' you are able to illuminate the personal and cultural energies that converge in your experiences as an American whose heritage is also drawn from a vivid elsewhere. And in poems like 'At the Greyhound' and 'Disorder,' you create compelling balancing acts between statement and music, heaviness and lightness, identity and art.

Your work in poetry and prose has so much fierce passion--and there's much more ahead in terms of the breadth and depth that your work can encompass. Given the foundation that you already have, your time in the RWW will be a time for bringing more artfulness and more craft to your work as a writer. You'll be challenged, you'll be transformed. And you'll bring gifts of energy and intelligence that will, in turn, deepen the RWW." - R.B.

There was A LOT more to the letter but that was probably my favorite part! How awesome is that?!

2) On the same day I learned of my acceptance to the RWW program, I found out that my creative non-fiction piece El Corte is a finalist for Barry Lopez Creative Non-Fiction Prize with Cutthroat Magazine!!!! I was NOT expecting that! Even if I just get honorable mention, the piece gets published in this great mag. There is a monetary prize for 1st and 2nd place, but I honestly am not worried if it doesn't make it that far..just being one of the 20 finalists out of over 200 submissions is AWESOME! And...it's being judged by one of my favorite authors- Nick Flynn! How cool! 

3) My love, my rock, my everything finally finished one of the longest chapters of his life this weekend by defending his masters thesis at UTEP. I was able to sit in on his defense and cheer him on. He told HIS narrative and his committee embraced him with open arms. Literally, the only "critique" he got was: "Cut some of this ish out so it can be publishable." lol He is my inspiration, my muse, my guide, my soulmate. I am beyond proud of him and am ready for his "thesis" to become his MANUSCRIPT. I'm telling you people...I may be a "good" writer...but this man is GREAT. I feel it in my bones...and no, that's not the Lupus talking! 

4) I felt a baby kick for the first time. (NO not mine lol) My bestie Cam is preggos and she came over for the graduation celebration. I placed my hand on her belly and felt her baby boy kick! It felt like a little alien, but it was so cool. Just really made me emotional about how true it is that all of life is a miracle. 

This weekend, Lupe and I were surrounded by so much family, friends and love. It was blissful and overwhelming. I saw people I hadn't seen in years and felt so elated to have them there to share in these special moments. I tell you all of this not to brag or boast, but because all of these events and these people are a part of my story, a part of my journey..to where? I'm still not sure yet, but what once was a path paved in darkness, is now becoming more of a foggy wooded trail and I've found a flashlight. 

Part of my application to grad school required a personal statement that I explain why I wanted to be in the program. I explained that I was struggling to balance the two "disparate" narratives that constantly played in my head: I am Afro-Latina vs. I am chronically ill. I said that I hoped being a part of the program would help me find ways to allow them to coexist. But I had a revelation this morning and I think I know why I have been struggling with it so much.

For the last 7 years I have seen my illness narrative as just mine. The stories and poems I have written (until recently) were all "me, me, me." As if I were experiencing my illness alone. But I know (and I've said this many times before, but I guess never infused it into my writing) that I am not in this narrative alone. Lupe has a narrative about my illness. My parents have a narrative about my illness. My friends have a narrative about my illness. In much of what I have written about this journey, I have kept everyone else on the periphery. But I cannot tell this story without them. And that is where the Afro-Latina side of my identity will play a part. 

I have been telling most of my chronically ill narrative in a "vanilla" sort of way. Hoping to appeal to the masses. Hoping to tell a story that anyone could relate to. But by doing so, I am only telling part of the story. I cannot exclude my racial and ethnic identity and influence from my illness narrative any longer because by doing so, I risk sacrificing my truth. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Box of Books

All these years, I have only been "playing at" being strong. I know what strength is supposed to look like, and sound like, and act like and so I did those things. I woke up every day and got dressed. I took yoga classes and meditated to be "at peace." I tried new foods, new meds, new hobbies, new doctors and even made some new friends. I only cried when I had no other choice but to let the tears fall and very few people ever heard me say I wanted to give up. I've had people tell me time and time again how "strong" I've been to be able to handle it all. But the truth is, I was merely being complacent. 
You see, it got to the point where the pain and the suffering, and the diseases and the stress became a part of me. Something I accepted as normal and permanent. Dictionary.com defines complacency as: "a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition," That. Wasn't. Strength. 

I see it like this: Imagine you have to move a heavy box of books from one end of the house to the other and you don't have a dolly. You can do one of three things, push the box of books, pull the box of books, or try and pick it up and carry it. True physical strength would come from carrying it, maybe even pulling it (though that's more like dragging it around). Me? I was slowly kicking the damn thing forward with whatever little bit of energy I had in my legs, while often sitting on the box and taking cynical breaks while others tried to cheer me on. I am a pusher. I pushed my pain and my burdens forward because that's what was safe. It was easier that way. It was secure. No matter how many more books (problems) got put inside my already heavy ass box, I just shrugged and kept kicking it forward. There was no strength in that, it was like "meh, as long as I can push or kick it forward, I'm good. Bring on the books! If I can't push it anymore one day, I'll just sit on it and read the books." That is no way to live, because if you can't get the box to the other end of the house, you'll never build your library. This is no way to live.

The other day, a kind and caring doctor gave me the strength I needed to pick up the box and carry it across the house. She treated me like a person. For the first time I felt heard. (Don't get me wrong, my rheumatologist and nephrologist are GREAT...when it comes to my scleroderma and lupus...but NO ONE has bothered to listen to me regarding my vagina, ovaries, uterus and other lady parts) I don't know why it's mattered so much to me that SOMEONE take me seriously and actually listen to me regarding that particular part of my body, but it felt so empowering and liberating to know that steps were being taken to try and find out what is wrong.

The first thing she said to me was "let's pretend you're normal, you don't have any of these other things going on and try to fix this." In that moment, it felt like I could bench press the damn box. While she knew that my illnesses could possibly be causing what's wrong, she didn't focus on that. She didn't focus on what was already broken. Instead, she saw me as whole, and wanted to zero in on this problem instead of blaming the other problems and dismissing me.

It's a weird dynamic that you may only understand if you're chronically ill. But to be treated like a normal healthy human being by a DOCTOR is a rare thing. People might say "you shouldn't have to wait for someone ELSE to make you feel strong"... well clearly those people haven't dealt with the medical industry. As a patient, I can't schedule my own MRIs or blood tests or X-Rays, I need a doctor's referral to do that, and if no one is willing to listen to you and be proactive, then you are left helpless and dis-empowered. It's how I've felt 90% of the time over the last 8 years.

This doctor gave me my power back. I cried all the way to my car and all the way home simply because I finally felt hopeful. Simply because I knew I no longer had to "play at being strong" but had finally been given the strength to carry the burden.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Back to Brevity

"If you would be pungent, be brief, for it is with words as with sunbeams–the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn." -Robert Southey

I think I have forgotten how to be brief. Which is a shame since it's the title of my blog. Some of you may have noticed that I changed the title from "Chronic Brevity: Living With Scleroderma" to just "Chronic Brevity." Why? Well unfortuantely because I live with more than just scleroderma, as you also may have noticed by now. But I didn't want to completely change the title and confuse people, so I just eliminated the sclero part. But as I stare at the title and review my most recent posts, I realize that I've actually been chronically long winded lately. The words just pour out of me and I feel like I have too much to say. It's a great feeling, no doubt, but it defies what this blog was originally about. 

Chronic Brevity was born from a Shakespeare quote "brevity is the soul of wit" and the play W;t, in which the main character is dying of cancer and all of her encounters with doctors and everyone are brief and she talks about how life is brief, and the best writing is brief etc. So...chronic brevity was born. It fed my need to share what I was feeling and put it down on "paper," it helped me feel like I was reaching out to others and helping them in some way, and it challenged me to say in as few words as possible what I needed to say. 

I want to return to that. I have spent a lot of time lately learning about the art of flash creative non-
fiction. It's a style of writing that requires you say what you need to say in 2000 words or less. I absolutely love this form since it allows me more freedom than poetry but doesn't ask that I create a whole narrative. I am drawn to this form of writing and I want to use my coming blog posts to experiment with it. I used to do this as a standard in the early years of this blog, but for better or worse, the harder the struggle has been, the lengthier the posts have become. 

It's time to be brief again. Do I have a lot to say? Yes. Am I inspired daily? Yes. But I can't let the words control me. I have to find a way to control the words. Say exactly what I need to say in the most concise way possible, like a doctor or a nurse, diagnose the problem and simply walk out of the room to let you process what you heard. Let it sink in, and then have you come back wanting more.

So, I start today with the topic of invisibility and the intangible.


We often do not understand or believe in the things we cannot see, feel, or hear or experience with our other senses. Yet, it is often those things that affect us the most. We cannot really feel, or touch or even see a 6 week old fetus, but if we know we're pregnant we can feel the greatest joy of our lives. And if we lose that intangible child, we can feel the greatest loss of our lives as well. 

It is often the memory of someone we loved that hurts us more. Whether they left us willingly or whether they were taken from us by death. We can no longer see them or hear them or touch them or hold them, but their memory often haunts us and prevents us from moving forward. 

Many of us believe in God or a god or some being higher than ourselves. A thing, a power, a being we have never seen, or touched but maybe only felt in our hearts during some high or some low in our life. We have a blind faith because it helps propel us into new directions even when we really don't want to. Simply because we believe that if God or the universe has kept us alive this long, then clearly we still serve some purpose. 

The same can be said about invisible illness. Like a friend of mine from high school used to say about water molecules in the air: "you can't see them, but they're there!" My invisible illnesses have plagued every aspect of my life, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worst. Even when I feel great, move freely and have days or weeks of little to no symptoms my illnesses linger and live inside of me. Affecting every decision, guiding my every move, and controlling for me whether it will be a good day or a bad one. 

My illnesses are not tangible. I cannot hold them in my arms, touch them with my hands, or see them wrecking havoc on my organs. They have names and they are alive inside me, but to everyone else it's like a child's imaginary friend that you think is cute but don't really understand. But that doesn't make them any less real. I may be on the way to remission, and I may be having better days now than I've had in 8 years, but that doesn't mean I'm "better." It doesn't mean I've "gotten over it." It doesn't mean that I've forgotten all I've been through and the person it's made me. You wouldn't ask a grieving widow to "just forget" about her dead husband, and you wouldn't ask your Christian friend when they're going to "get over" the whole Jesus thing. 

You may not be able to see my illness, my pain and my suffering, and these days I may not be able to physically feel its effects, but I still live with the looming threat that at any given moment my body could decide to flare up and shut down without warning. And it is that intangible, invisible understanding that encourages me to not take one single moment for granted, to spend time with the people that I love, to only do the things that bring me joy and to love as deeply and as fully  as my heart can take. So in the coming weeks and months as I take the time to reevaluate my priorties, my goals, my career choices, and who and what I spend my time on and with realize that it is often the things we can't see or touch that make us who we are and change us for the better.

(587 words)

Saturday, November 7, 2015


“May your mind be infused with 'one' thought(concentration of mind)! May every action of yours be embellished by 'one' thought! May your resolution be 'one'. You, who are acting to the contrary, your disposition shall have opposite orientation.”- Athra Veda

I hope to keep it short today. I want to give you all on update on all health related things, so here goes.
I had both rounds of Rituxan infusions and everything went GREAT! I couldn't have asked for a better outcome. Although I still don't know if it's officially helped or started to reduce the kidney inflammation, I can say that I feel like a completely new person. I have had more energy in the last few weeks than I've had in years. The pains in my side from the lung inflmmatio (pleuritis) are minimal and only mostly at night or after a large meal, but still a lot LESS than what it has been. I don't really have any fatigue unless I over exhaust myself and my muscles and joints feel really strong. I'm also eating better/more and most nights I can sleep alright.

I'm still having some issues with my hands and fingers. The ulcers don't want to heal and my fingertips just feel really sensitive lately, even typing this hurts. I see my doc on Thursday of next week and will definitely ask him about it. But overall, as you can see I finally feel like I'm getting some much needed relief!

The Rituxan infusions were a piece of cake for me. I was able to bring books, my laptop, my phone, a few magazines and even a snack. The first infusion took about 4.5 hrs since they had to be sure I wasn't going to have an allergic reaction. And thankfully, I didn't. The worst part about it all was the fact that nurse couldn't find a vein so she had to stick me twice, this as you know, is not unusal for me. After about 10 minutes I actually just fell asleep, soundly! As you can see from the pic, those chairs are REALLY comfortable, so I just reclined back, wrapped myself in a blanket and took a two hour nap! I also think it was the Benadryl kicking in and the fact that I didn't sleep well the night before due to being anxious about it all. (They make you take Benadryl and a Tylenol before the procedure to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction and pain.) 

My mom and Lupe were there and kept me company. They had a TV in the room and one other patient. It was actually quite relaxing.

The second infusion was only 3hrs because they could give me the medicine more quickly since I responded so well the first time. This round went much the same. I took a bunch of stuff to do, and barely did any of it cause I fell asleep almost immediately. I did experience a few hot flashes after both treatments on the ride home but that was about as bad as it got.

For those of you that don't know, here is a little info on what Rituxan is: (I had some trouble getting insurance to approve it because it's not "FDA approved" for Lupus nephritis, but of course my amazing Rheumy worked his magic and made it happen- this requires a lot of paperwork on his part and a few phone calls on my end)

What is Rituxan? (www.drugs.com)

Rituxan (rituximab) is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Rituxan is used to treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma or chronic lymphocytic leukemia. It is also used in combination with another drug called methotrexate to treat symptoms of adult rheumatoid arthritis.

Rituxan is also used in combination with steroid medicines to treat certain rare disorders that cause inflammation of blood vessels and other tissues in the body.

Rituxan may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.


So, as you can see, Lupus patients DO and CAN receive "chemotherapy." Everyone's eyes widen when I tell them this and they assume I'm going to lose all my hair and that I must be dying. Not. True. Rituxan along with many other drugs simply suppress the immune system, and since my immune system is attacking itself and over "excited" that's what I need to do and that's how these types of treatment help.

I am glad that it seems to be working and helping with my overall health. Next week I go in to see the doc, get labs drawn and find out what the blood work says. Hopefully it reflects how I feel! - All good in the hood! lol

I know that being in a good place emotionally and mentally helps with overall physical health, but I do feel like the reverse is also true. I feel better emotionally because I feel better physically. I don't think it's JUST the other way around as some would have you believe.

Regardless, although I am still leery that all of this energy and good health is only temporary, I will embrace it and enjoy it for as long as it chooses to last. Afterall, I've had some pretty shitty years and really deserve a break!

(Stay tuned for next week's post on Writing and Getting Wiser)

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Write to Heal

It is no secret that I recently had the most amazing weekend of my life alongside 5 other Afro-Latinas at a writer's retreat in Galveston. I have been living off the high from the weekend for days. If you follow me on FB or Twitter or read last week's blog, you know how energized and empowered that weekend made me feel. Never, and I mean never, have I felt so connected to a group of people I rarely knew. Never, and I mean never have I finally felt like I belonged somewhere. Never, and I mean never have I ever felt so understood. For the first time in 7 years, being sick wasn't what defined me. And that made it feel like I could finally breathe. 

It's one thing to try and build a community of support in the virtual world. And it's actually quite easy to do so. But to actually come together and share our experiences, our stories our deepest fears and desires, and our written work...nothing..nothing is more powerful than that.
I won't go into great detail about all that we did or said or shared. Some things are meant to be kept between sisters (yes, that's what they are to me now, sisters). But I will share a few things that I walked away with from that weekend...as well as a few pics of the best moments.
The Women

1. Hair. We all have issues with our hair. Whether we're Dominican, Cuban or Afro-Mejicana, our hair is something we all have to learn how to love if we are ever to be truly happy with ourselves. It can define us and destroy us if we let it. There is a love/hate relationship many of us have with our hair from the moment we are young girls until the day we die. I've known for years that I am not alone in this struggle (a struggle I have finally overcome since I really do LOVE my hair finally) but it's always nice to hear others empathize and relate to your plight.

2. Identity. All of us identify as Afro-Latina,
but we are all at different points in our journeys. Some have fully embraced their "African" roots, while others don't even have proof they are of African descent but something within tells them so. Some of us still feel more "Latina" than African (me), and have a hard time embracing and accepting our blackness (in the African-American sense of things) if only because we've been told all our lives one of two or both things 1)Blackness is wrong, evil, dirty or "other" 2) You are not "black enough".....as if I needed a card to prove it or something, because I "sound too white," have "good" hair, and speak Spanish...hazme el favor.

Cafe Bustelo in da HOUSE!
What I came to understand is that most, if not all Afro-Latinas are stuck in the beautiful but often isolating world of grey when it comes to identity. The light-skinned Latinos don't like to acknowledge us (especially in the media, but even in our own countries), and black folks in America are quick to say we don't understand their struggles. It's a tricky space to live in, and we often feel like we have to pick a side...but the strength with which some of these women claimed their identity left me feeling more empowered and willing to do so myself. I am who and what I say I am, and no one can say any different..and I don't have to prove it to anyone either.

The last and probably most profound piece of identity that I came to that weekend (Thanks to Icess), was the "where I'm from piece." Something that I've struggled with for decades. As a military brat I thought I could never answer that question simply. But I think I am one step closer to a true answer. Truth be told, I am from...the South. Yep. There, I said it. Most of my experiences in life have been with a southerner's point of view. All the states I've lived in have been southern states, and I've spent so much time in TX already, I may as well say I'm from here.

The Retreat House!
I came to the realization that I hesitated to admit to my southerness because of all that it implied. Slavery. Discrimination. Racism. Hate. Violence. Women as property. Not that those things don't exist in the north, but the south has such a dense and torrid history. I didn't want to carry the baggage of what it meant to"be from the south." Truth be told though, after some reflection and writing by the water on the last day at the retreat, I'm kind of proud to be from the south now. Yes, it has a turbulent history and it hasn't been kind to people like me, but Southern hospitality is a real thing and I have been shown so much love from so many people here in the south, that I can't simply ignore that.

I feel connected to the landscape, the architecture, the arts and culture, the food, the music (even the Rodeo) and the people. The south is home and I think I'm finally ok with that.

3. Anger. We are all angry. And that's ok. Though we resist and hate the stereotype of the "mad angry black woman" we understand and accept that our anger is justified and necessary. We have every right to be pissed. About A LOT. Low wages. Inequality- everywhere. The way were are treated like "exotic" objects to be conquered and sexualized. Street, work, and overall life harassment from people who feel entitled to us and our bodies. All of that and MORE. We are angry, and we are forced at times to carry that anger with grace and humility when all we really want to do in the words of Ntozake Shange "is scream, and holler, and break things and tell you all your truths to your face and [not] be sorry for none of it." But that isn't alwyas possible. So what do WE as Afro-Latina writers do instead, when we can't fully express our rage? We write. And that is how we learn to heal. We did a lot of healing that weekend.

4. Anxiety, Sadness, Fear. We are all vulnerable and feel just as deeply as anyone else. Just because we are angry doesn't mean we are not afraid. It doesn't mean we are not deeply sad or anxious. All of those emotions exist within us simultaneous and that alone is often maddening. We are afraid of how we will be treated and received by others. We are anxious about our next step in life because we don't know where our feet will land at times. We are saddened by the fact that so little has changed to improve the lives of our gente both in the US and in our countries of origin. We carry all of this in our hearts and on our backs and if someone were to ask us why, why do you carry all of this around? Like Anne Carson, I believe we would simply have to reply:

"Where would you want me to put it down?"

The Beach...
5. Peace & Joy. Even amidst all the chaos and noise in our lives we all were able to find a little peace and a little joy that weekend that I believe all of us have carried with us moving forward.

6. Family. We became a family that weekend. We ate together. Laughed together. Cried (well at least I did) together. Shared stories together. We even went shopping! It was easy to be around these women and we have continued our conversations and our community online. Some of us our poets and memoirists, while others are playwrights and fiction writers. The genres didn't matter, our love and passion for the writing is what brought us together and will keep us together.

We are looking forward to coming together again soon, and you can join us! Our lovely organizer Icess Fernandez has coordinated a Live Stream Reading of our latest work coming up November 18th, 7pmCST/8pmET. You have to register for the online event to get the link. You will hear written selections from all 6 ladies (including me) that attended the retreat. You don't want to miss this!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Thicker Than Water

“You must remember, family is often born of blood, but it doesn't depend on blood. Nor is it exclusive of friendship. Family members can be your best friends, you know. And best friends, whether or not they are related to you, can be your family.”
Trenton Lee Stewart, The Mysterious Benedict Society

My family (Lupe) and I celebrating my book award
There are many definitions in the world of what it means to be "family." In Latin, familia refers to the "servants of a household" or the "estate, property and members of a household, including relatives and servants." In English it has come to mean something slightly different: "the collective body of persons who form one household under one head..including parents, children and servants.."(Online Etymology Dictionary) And yet, even with the more modern day English definition we must ask ourselves what "household?" The physical space we dwell in? The emotional space we allow people to occupy? Or the community and societal spaces we spend our time in? 

How do we define family and are we allowed more than one?

I have been struggling a great deal with my notion and understanding of what it means to be a family over  the last several years. Mostly because my family circle has evolved. It has grown and shrunk at the same time. While I used to see my immediate family as my parents and siblings (5 of us in total), I now consider my immediate family to be my husband ( 2 of us and 2 dogs). Both my brother and my sister are now married and have kids so I have a larger extended family that consists of 3 nieces, 2 nephews, a brother in law and a sister in law. My cousins have also had children and our family blood lines keep growing. 

Having a family and being there for your family are values that were instilled in me at a very young age. 
Some of my immediate and extended family
Family is forever I was told.

Blood is thicker than water I was told.

You have to...because they're family.

And yet, over the last several years I have come to question these "familial obligations" because although they represent a core value of what it means to live and grow up Latina, I wonder if it's something we need to start reevaluating as a culture.

This past weekend, I spent an incredible three days writing, talking, laughing and even crying with 5 other Afro-Latina writers. (That will get its own blog post next week) While driving to Galveston, where our retreat house was located, me and two of the other writers had a conversation about Latin families and if it could be possible that one of the reasons we fail to progress as a people and a race is because of this antiquated notion of "familial obligations." It is often the case that many of those who feel obligated to help their blood related family members do so simply because it's family and not because those receiving the help actually deserve it. We, especially Latina women are often very self-sacrificing. We give and give and give and get nothing in return...especially from family. It drains us, but we keep giving. We insist that family is forever. And yet, our definition of family is limited to those who share our same blood. Why?

I can say, that this has frustrated me GREATLY over the last 8 years since I was diagnosed. Why? Because my blood family has often failed me when I have been at my lowest. Because my blood family has often failed me when I have been at my highest.

I am truly a giver. I give love, attention, money, joy and even praise to and about my family. I plan parties, send gifts, condolences, good energy, prayers, FB posts, Tweets, cards etc. for their highs and their lows. I have been giving for as long as I can remember. (Was I always the nicest sister or daughter, no..but I have learned from that and changed). Have I received as much in return? From my parents, YES. From others...not so much.

My Sclero Family
Am I asking to be showered with gifts and attention? No. But is it too much to ask for equal treatment and consideration? I don't think so. There are some blood family members for whom I don't give as much to anymore, because I'm tired. At the young age of 30? Yes. I'm tired of giving my time and attention and energy to those members who have not earned it, who have failed and disappointmted me time and time again. Who never bother to call when I'm laid up in a hospital bed to IVs and beeping machines. Who can't bother to text a note of congratulations when I win a book award or invite me to dinner when I'm in town but expect me to provide hotel service when they want to travel to Galveston and spend the weekend at the beach with their families (without inviting me of course). No. I am done with THOSE family members. If they want me in their lives and they want to be treated like family, they will have to start treating me like family first.

Family, to me is not about the blood that runs through your veins. Being sick and dealing with extreme highs and lows in my energy and in my mood has shown me that it is deeper than that. It is about being there for someone when they need it most, whether that's at a joyful moment or a painful one. Family is my mother-in-law who sponge bathed me only 2 months after marrying her son because I was hospitalized for 3 days and couldn't do it myself. Family is my best friend answering her phone at 3 am, telling me why I shouldn't take a bottle of pills. 
My poetry family
Family is showing up to the hospital EVERY SINGLE TIME I've been there over night (Marina) and brining me magazines, cupcakes, and a smile. Family is texting me once a week just to say hi. Family is remembering to celebrate my succeses as much as I celebrate yours and allowing me to cry when you don't know what to say. 

Family can be made in a day and broken with a few words. Family admits when they are wrong and work to make it better. Family takes but they also give. It is not a one way street.

I have come to understand that I have many families. My Scleroderma and Lupus families who understnad what it means to be chronically ill. My friends turned into sisters and brothers family- all those that have been with me for years through the good and the bad. My Houston poetry family that encourages me to keep writing and performing. And this past weekend, I made a new family with 5 new sisters.
Afro-Latina sisters walking fiercly!
My Afro-Latina writing family will be with me forever and I hope it keeps growing. I am connected to these women not by blood (though we all share our African roots), but by something greater. Something that will reverberate after our blood has dried up and our bones have wasted away. We are connected by a shared mission and a shared experience. Our stories brought us together and our stories will keep us alive long after we are gone. I feel closer to these women than I do to some of my cousins (not all of ya'll, relax..if you're reading this you're probably not one of those cousins lol). 

We are all educated, passionate women who empowered each other and didn't bring each other down. We are all at different points in our journies as women and as writers, but we used that to help each other grow. In a matter of 72 hrs I made lifelong friendships with some pretty amazing women that were hard to say goodbye to when I dropped them off at the airport. I cannot tell you the last time I was filled with such joy in my heart for people...for people I barely knew. (I'm usually not that upset when I say goodbye to "real family") These women transformed me and made me a better person. THAT'S what family does. They raise you up and make you want to be the best version of you.
My Afro-Latina Sisters
Family isn't supposed to make you bitter and sad. Family shouldn't emaciate your soul and your spirit. Might they disappoint you from time to time? Sure, we're all human and we all make mistakes. But will you forgive each other, learn from it and become stronger together, yes. That is what REAL family does. Family, the people that fill your emotional and mental household should nurture and encourage you in the best of times and in the worst of times.

My blood family and my family family will continue to grow and shrink with each year. Those who give and take as much as I give and take will be my familia. I get to choose who I call and consider my family. And only those people who have earned a place at the table will have a chance to sit and break bread with me.

And...The one who never fails me:
Mami and Me

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Why I Try- An Open Letter to Colbie Caillat

This week singer and actress Selena Gomez spoke up and finally confirmed her Lupus diagnoses. And in an interview with Billboard Magazine she disclosed that her time away from the public eye and in a rehab center was not drug abuse or alcohol related (as rumors speculated), but because she had to undergo chemo. And, as one might expect...the response on social media was at times increasingly supportive and positive as well as hurtful, ignorant and just mean. But, what can you expect from internet trolls.

In the interview, Selena says:

“I was diagnosed with lupus, and I’ve been through chemotherapy. That’s what my break was really about. I could’ve had a stroke...I wanted so badly to say, ‘You guys have no idea. I’m in chemotherapy. You’re assholes...But I was angry I even felt the need to say that. It’s awful walking into a restaurant and having the whole room look at you, knowing what they’re saying. I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again.”

But WHY did she have to lock herself away? Why and how could people be so cruel and push/bully someone into hiding? Someone who was ill for that matter? What does that say about our society? Are we no longer compassionate and empathetic? Do we no longer seek to understand before we judge? Why must we judge at all? If she were battling cancer would she have felt more comfortable sharing her struggles WHILE they were happening and not after the fact? Why does it feel like some diseases matter more than others? And why can't suffering be just as empowering as health and happiness?

All these questions and more have been running through my mind the last week. Especially after (my mistake) I started reading the comments under her interview. (Sigh)

She went into hiding and concealed what she was going through because of the hellish tabloid rumors and speculations. And when she finally comes out and claims her power, she still must suffer public criticism and reproach.
Selena Gomez photographed in Beverly Hills on
Aug. 31, 2015. Zoey Grossman

You see, the Billboard interview also consisted of a photo shoot and cover spread. In it, Selena..as
most pop stars are in these things...is mostly half nude and very sexualized. But..in my opinion she looks amazing and you can see her strength and beauty in her eyes. And if showing her body and owning it makes her feel empowered, then rock on girl!

The internet trolls were having none of it. Comments from the interview and photo shoot ranged from:

"You're so strong. I heart you Selena!"


"Who cares?!"


"Oh, so taking off your clothes is what makes you feel comfortable and confident? You're a slut."

If Selena finally feels empowered enough to just "take it all off" and show her strength and beauty through her sexiness why the hell not? (Hell, I've wanted to do a bordeaux photo shoot for months now, I just can't afford it!)

Does society over sexulaize women, yes. I am not debating that. Could she still show confidence and courage with her clothes on, definitely. But she has a right to claim her power back any way SHE wants (as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else of course). And you know, it's not like she's being groped by some man, she's not grinding on a chair, she is taking control of HER body and telling HER story the way she wants it told. She is being courageous despite the fat shaming and bullying. She no longer cares what the critics have to say and she's basically telling them "You think I'm fat and on drugs...F You...here's a hot and sexy photo shoot..this is me, this is who I am and I'm proud of how far I've come. I applaud you Selena.

For my sanity however, I stopped reading through the comments. But it really got me thinking about so many things. For example, why is it wrong to put on a sexy outfit as a woman and feel good in it? Why do some people see make-up as oppressive and like we're trying to hide our flaws? What if I just feel pretty with some mascara and lipstick on?

Why is it so wrong, Ms. Caillat to TRY? I completely get the message of your song. I know (and it saddens me to my deepest core) that so many women suffer with self esteem issues. They spend their whole lives never truly loving themselves, their bodies, their flaws and imperfections. I know millions of women spend hours trying to fix themselves just to please others and are never happy in their own skin. I find your song inspirational. It makes me teary-eyed every time I hear it. I think you send an important message to women all over the world. I applaud you for producing a song that inspires confidence and self-love.

But, as someone who struggles to "get up, get up, get up, get up" out of bed every day...why is it so wrong for me to TRY? To try and look better than the disease that's ravaging my insides? To try and curl my hair just right so that I feel like I accomplished something for the day? To try and throw on some lipstick and mascara because it adds a little color to my life and that makes me smile? Why is it so wrong to TRY?

I know, that I am one of the lucky ones. Not just in regard to how gentle these diseases have been on me (yes I mean that, I've seen the real havoc these illnesses can wreck on people's lives so I consider myself lucky) but because I have never really had self esteem issues. My parents refused to let me enter beauty pageants as a kid even though I begged them. They rarely called me beautiful and I was bullied as a pre-teen because I had really hairy legs and wasn't allowed to shave until I turned 15 ( I broke that rule and shaved at 13 because I liked wearing skirts and hated the taunts and teases I got everyday in the locker room and on the school bus) And yet, the bullying didn't crush me. It didn't rock my core. But, I realize now, that that was probably because I found my confidence in other places. I was always applauded and recognized for my intelligence, public speaking abilities and acting talent. I knew and still believe that I would get farther in life with my brains than with any outward beauty.

Being good at things I loved allowed me to never really worry about the size of my breasts or the occasional muffin top. I've always been extra confident (probably to a fault or close to conceitedness) because my self-worth and strength have never come from my physical appearance. Have I felt self-conscious at times and maybe "not beautiful enough?" OF COURSE! Any time I'm in a room full of skinny white women and I'm the only Latino/Black woman in the room, for example. But the feeling passes as soon as I start a conversation with one of them, because I know that I am intelligent enough to hold my own. I know that I have skills and talents some of these women can only dream of. I also know that we, as women, can only grow stronger if we pull each other up rather than drag each other down. I choose to see the good and the beauty in all women rather than judging them and being envious of what they may have that I don't.

And I know, Ms. Caillat that that is part of the message of your song. "Do you like you?" And for me, the answer is HELL YES. I believe that this girl.....
 Is just as beautiful and inspiring as this one...

So, to your point...why TRY? Because I spend an inexhaustible amount of time in yoga pants at doctor's offices feeling broken and a little blush brings life back into my placid and peaked cheeks. Why TRY? Because the cute clothes and outfits I spend hours trying to pick out help me forget about the bruises and skin spots I used to try and cover up. Why TRY? Not because I want to please anyone else, but because it makes ME happy. Why TRY? Because I spent years early on in this disease feeling sorry for myself, fatigued and too drained to do anything more than brush my teeth and keep the crust out of my eyes. Because I'm tired of looking as bad as I feel. Because there will come a time when my hands don't work and my lungs give out, and at the end of the day, I am still a 30 year old woman who wants to remember "the best years of her life" as a time where I didn't HAVE to TRY, but I DID because I still COULD.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


"Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership" (from Diversity in the Classroom, UCLA Diversity & Faculty Development, 2014).

So many of us have experienced these microagressions for one reason or another: being female, black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Indian, overweight, underweight, disabled, and even the invisibly/chronically ill. There are few people in the world who can escape being the target of microagressions so long as any group of people feel superior to another for whatever reason. The healthy feeling superior to the sick. Men feeling superior to women. Whites feeling superior to blacks or well, to almost anyone (no, not all whites feel this way I am aware of that, but some of them do). Blacks feeling superior to Latinos. Etc. the list could go on.

I know, and I will take full responsibility, that I have at some times been the victim of microagressions AND I have been the agressor. (The time(s) I walked a little faster when a black man walked behind me) I believe that any of us can fall into these roles at any time unwillingly and unknowingly. What may seem and sound like a simple, "innocent" comment or gesture could sincerely hurt the person(s) you are addressing or coming into contact with. Am I saying that we need to walk on eggshells and censor everything we say and do? No, not at all. But we do need to make an effort to use more conscious language and be aware of our behavior so we can begin to change it.

This week, I asked a few of my friends to tell me about some of the microagressions they've experienced. Interestingly enough, most microagressions occur as seemingly innocent comments or even as a failed attempt at a compliment! Here's what some of them shared: (everything from racial snubs/insults to comments about weight)

Verbal Microagressions:
My face after someone says these things...
  • You don't look Jamaican......
  • Your mom is Puerto Rican? She looks black.
  • Oh, you're from Mexico? Your English is so good.
  • I didn't think you were Mexican, you act very Chicano
  • You're beautiful, you don't look Mexican!
  • What ARE you?
  • You don't LOOK Japanese.
  • Your [yoga] practice is so good considering your [bigger] body.
Nonverbal Microagressions:
  • I was at a Asian restaurant within the past year. I was trying to get past a stranger to get to the buffet and he thought I was waiting to take his plate for him. Like, no mofo, I'm not wearing the worker's restaurant shirts!
  • My all time "favorite" it has happened many times: when I'm in a line for something and an older white person (has always been this demographic) cuts in front of me like I'm invisible.
As you can see, most of these occur to people based on their race/culture or better yet their outer appearance. It's easier to target what we can see. But what about those microagressions that occur around facets of our identity that you can't see or that don't seem like a "big deal" simply because you actually believe you're giving a compliment?

In the world of the chronically and invisibly ill we say things like "things not to say to someone who is ill." Let's start to call these "things" what they are: MICROAGRESSIONS. They are hostile, negative, deragatory, messages targeted at those of us who are in a marginalized group. Period. 

The more people I meet in the world of the invisibly ill, the more I realize what a problem it really is. Let me share some examples for those of you still confused:

1. You're too young to be this sick. 
Message: This illness is your fault. I can discount anything you say because someone your age should be healthy. What did you do wrong to get this? Your illness doesn't matter because of your age.

2. I wish I could stay at home and sleep all day.
Message: I think you are lazy. It's unfair that I have to work and you "get to" stay at home and do nothing. 

3. At least it's not cancer. 
Message: Your illness doesn't matter. It isn't severe. You should not be complaining or unhappy. You don't have a right to be upset about your illness because it's not ....X...

4. (When asking for help with something) Come on, you can do it, just try a little harder! Or You REALLY can't do...(X)...?!
Message: I don't believe you are as sick or in as much pain as you say you are. You are not trying. Stop being so dramatic/weak

5. You don't look sick.
Message: You are lying. Someone who looks like you couldn't possibly be in pain or ill. Prove it to me. I don't believe you. 

All of these have been said to me and to many others on numerous occasions, by doctors, nurses, well meaning friends and family and even strangers. The end result is always the same: anger, frustration, sadness and guilt on my part. 

Maybe this disease IS my fault. 
Maybe I could work full time if I just tried a little harder, or ate more vegetables. 
Maybe it isn't as bad as I think because I don't have to do chemo...
Maybe I am lazy
Maybe I shouldn't wear makeup or look nice or healthy so my illness can be taken seriously

Luckily, these feelings subside much faster these days. I don't let them consume me or define me. I realize that most people are ignorant of the fact that these kinds of comments are harmful or just downright rude. They don't understand how complex, debilitating and life-altering diseases like Lupus and Scleroderma can be. They are uncomfortable with discussing ANY illness in general so they say the first thing that comes to mind or what they THINK will be helpful or consoling. I tend to shrug it off or educate them, like I did the last time I was in the ER and the doc said "you're too young for all these problems" and I quickly corrected him and said: 

Actually, I am the perfect age. Lupus mostly affects African American and Latina women in their childbearing years, and I'm 30. 

He proceeded to look at me wide-eyed, then quickly half smiled and left the room. 

Yet so many of us say and do these things on an everyday basis, for example the simple question- "Where are YOU from?"(side eye, confused stare). A seemingly simple question that can be so complex, layered and even insulting for some people. But we, as a society, don't think twice about it. (I have started telling people I am from my mother's womb) 

Or like we don't think twice when we ask a woman "Why don't you have any kids? or Why aren't you married?" Or, in my opinion when we ask anyone "How'd you lose so much weight?" If the individual hasn't willingly divulged such personal information it is not your place to ask. Many of these seemingly innocent questions or statements can carry so much emotional baggage and hurt for the person being asked that it is unfair of us to place this burden on them. When people ask me how I've lost so much weight recently or tell me how "great" I look...I have to reply "it's not by choice.." Which they still don't understand and insist that I should "enjoy" being so thin..despite the fact that it was caused by intestinal problems, painful mouth sores and Lupus complications...yeah sure..I'll enjoy being "thin" at the complete detriment to my overall health and well being... 

Again, I am not advocating for not getting to know someone. For not asking them questions or for censoring our every word. I am simply asking the world to make a conscious effort to think before they speak or act. To consider how we say things just as much as we consider what we say. To smile and nod at the black man before just avoiding eye contact and crossing the street. To realize that all of us, in some way probably belong to one if not several of these marginalized groups and that "membership" into some of these groups isn't marked by skin color, assistive devices or body parts. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Great Debate

For the last 2-3 years, this image has popped up on my Facebook page here and there and when it does show up, it gets reposted and shared for a couple of weeks, then disappears again and then comes back. As an author of color, who uses both English and Spanish in her writing, it is not surprising to me that this was Junot's response. What is surprising, is that folks are STILL asking this question. And, it wasn't until I was asked this question by a high schooler last week, that I realized just how prevalent this notion is and just how angry it made me to have to answer it.

As mentioned in my last post, I recently started up again as an artist in residence for the Alley Theatre. This means that I have the great privilege of going out to schools to share my passion and love for poetry, theatre, performance etc. While on one of these visits, I got asked this very same question: (In reference to slam poetry scores-)
"Have you ever gotten lower scores or had people not like your poetry because they didn't understand that Spanish you used? Because if you don't know Spanish, then you like miss half the poem. I feel like some people wouldn't like it because of that." - 11th Grade English Student

I felt the blood rush to my head as he finished his question. So I took a deep breath and answered as eloquently as possible. (I couldn't use the words Junot did because I WAS at a highschool after all)
I simply told him that no, I had never received "low" scores on bilingual poems and there HAD been times when I performed them for mostly all African American audiences or all white audiences that perhaps didn't speak Spanish and I've always received positive feedback and responses. (Perhaps that's because most people won't tell you if they have something negative to say, but no one has ever approached me to say they felt alienated) I also went on to tell him and the rest of the class that my writing was not there to make them or anyone feel comfortable. It was there to make them think. It was there to make them feel something and if they didn't want to feel or think or ask themselves new questions then my writing wasn't for them. I don't write so people can feel happy butterflies inside (sometimes it DOES have that effect, but that's not its purpose). I write to tell my stories and my stories are bilingual, cultural, sometimes painful and always imbued with emotion and grit.
I think he liked my answer because he smiled. I ended my response with: "Oh and Google is real. If you want to know what I said you can either ask me, or Google it. If you don't have the desire or energy to do that, then again my writing isn't for you."

I often get asked these types of questions by young Latino writers who are struggling with whether or not they should include Spanish in their writing because maybe someone at some time told them it's best not to, so I quickly dispel this notion and tell them it's OK to do so.

In the literary world, us bilingual authors struggle with what to do about our bilingualism often. Our heart and our minds tell us to do one thing and our publishers and editors may ask us to do another. Do we include a translation glossary or don't we? Do we italicize "foreign" words or don't we? How much Spanish/French/Italian/Portugese etc is ok before we lose our reader? It's natural for us to want to ensure that our readers remain engaged, but the first question we must answer is: Who is our reader? Or better yet, Who do we WANT our reader to be?

I wrote Island of Dreams with a very specific reader in mind: 13-19 year old Latin-American females. Have others read it and enjoyed it as well? Sure, but that's not who the target audience was, so if a 40 year old white man approaches me and says he "didn't get it" I can say "ok, of course you didn't, because we don't share the same experiences."

And it is those experiences that deserve to have a place in our schools, in our English classrooms and in our homes. We cannot keep pushing "classical" literature that is not relevant to our student population or they will grow up HATING to read and HATING to write simply because they don't see themselves in the story and in the poetry. Yet so many teachers, educators, curriculum developers and administrators don't see this and don't believe it. They don't think it matters if students see themselves in the books they read. But I know it does.

Aside from being a patient advocate, my first love was Latin-American anything. I started writing because my under represented self was under represented in literature and the arts....15 years later it still is. The fact that it took until 2015 to have the first black woman to win an Emmy for best actress in a drama is just sad..don't get me wrong I'm incredibly happy for Viola Davis..but damn...it should not have taken this long...but...like she said:

The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity....You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.

Whether we are talking about people of color, immigrants, refugees, the physically handicapped or the mentally handicapped, LGBTQ communities, the invisibly ill or the chronic pain sufferers it's time we removed the blanket that does a terrible job of covering the elephant in the room and begin having honest conversations about how we can truly INCLUDE and not simply TOLERATE these individuals in our society. We need to make an effort to create opportunities where they haven't existed before. We need to share and tell the stories that are often stifled and oppressed so that those who ARE stifled and oppressed can begin to feel liberated and heard. 

Addendum: I know my focus was on secondary schools in general, but MFA creative writing programs aren't much better. I've had several friends tell me of their horrible experiences with diversity (lack thereof) in their programs and Junot also talked about his issues with MFA programs and their lack of diversity not just in the literature studied but in the faculty and students in the program. You can read it HERE.

AND the Association of Writers and Writer's Programs (AWP) hosts an annual conference where they have authors do workshops and panels etc. and one writer says he will never attend another one because they were not accommodating to his disability not to mention the fact that they rarely if ever include panels and talks on literature that address disability or illness. You can read his take on it HERE.

Monday, September 21, 2015


"Society needs both parents and nonparents, both the work party and the home party. While raising children is the most important work most people will do, not everyone is cut out for parenthood. And, as many a childless teacher has proved, raising kids is not the only important contribution a person can make to their future."
View of NOLA from Hotel
-Virginia Postrel

Lupe and I recently spent a rather fabulous and relaxing weekend in New Orleans attending the American Literature Association Symposium.  We went because Lupe was on a panel sharing the research and poetry he's done on the Huelga Schools of the 1960s-70s in Houston. We spent time mixing and mingling with other academics talking about the state of literature and the arts in our schools and in our cities. 

We were all in agreement that there was still not enough minority representation in our schools or in our arts communities (especially in Houston). We brainstormed ideas for what could be done while we drank wine and spirits and listened to jazz. It was all very Harlem Renaissance(y). I left NOLA feeling renewed, refreshed and re-inspired. It didn't hurt that NOLA is a very beautiful city, rich with culture, great architecture and AMAZING food. (Lupe and I even said it was one of the few places we could see ourselves moving to sometime in the distant fantastical future) 

It struck me how passionate all these individuals were about their chosen topics of study. I remembered being that way once and I suddenly longed for it. 

The Awesome Peeps of the conference
I have been toying with the idea of pursuing an MFA in creative writing or a PhD. in something for awhile. (A couple of years actually) But the thought of returning to school, paying out of pocket or going into debt always seemed to hold me back. Truth be told, I just couldn't figure out what I could spend 2-4 years studying without getting bored or going crazy. 

Afro-Latin Studies?
Women's Issues?
Creative Non Fiction and Memoir?

I wanted to do it ALL! And yet, I kept coming back to my failing health. How could I possibly commit to something when my body and my health were so unpredictable? I couldn't possibly start a degree program and then miss class all the time, or have to decide do I pay tuition or do I pay for my pills this month? It all seemed so overwhelming that every time the thought entered my mind I quickly pushed it out. 

But something changed that weekend in New Orleans. It finally felt possible. I saw individuals who were married, with kids, without kids, young, old, from here and from all over the world pursuing degrees and teaching subjects at the university level that they loved and were excited about. I realized that that could be ME. Truthfully, it's what I've always wanted since I started on this path known as "what I want to be when I grow up." Perhaps all these trials and tribulations were the kick in the pants I needed to get me back on track. 

So, as soon as we got back from our trip I did what I do best and I started to research low-residency MFA programs. Mind you, I considered several times over what I wanted to go back to school for and decided on a creative writing program because I didn't want to spend all my time reading and analyzing other people's work, I wanted to create my own. I knew I wouldn't be happy just writing research papers for 4 years. I wanted and needed the incentive and motivation to work on my own writing projects and an MFA was the only place I could do that. Plus, an MFA is a terminal degree and takes half as much time as a PhD in anything else. (Practicality always wins)

I found 5 schools that I really liked and that seemed to fit my philosophy as a writer. They have diverse teaching staffs and offer classes and mentorships that sound like a good fit for me. I have one that is at the top of my list and I'm speaking with the director of the program to learn more tomorrow- wish me luck! (Once I get accepted into a school, I'll share more details) While the thought of paying for this THIRD degree is still a bit scary and uncertain for me, every time the doubt and fear creeps in I simply say "I'll figure it out." I shrug it off and decide to keep pushing forward with my applications, recommendation letters, writing samples etc. If there is one life lesson my dad taught me that I always carry with me it's that "no one can take your education away from you, once you have it, it's yours forever." 

But of course, because I can never seem to get out of my own head, the other day while staring at cute baby pics of my wonderful niece, I thought to myself: why is it so easy for me to shrug off having to pay $30k for another degree but when asked to consider to pay just as much for IVF as an option for conceiving a child I simply "cannot"? 

Isn't having a child just as much a dream of mine as this MFA or publishing another book?
Won't the joy of having a child surpass any joy I get from earning this degree or finishing my second manuscript?
Aren't children most people's "greatest" accomplishment in life?
Can you really put a price tag on the miracle of life?

Truth is, I don't know that I have a really good answer to any of the questions that ran through my mind. What I do know is the following: (this may upset some of you parent folk...this is just MY opinion)

1. I cannot (and will not) fail at my MFA degree. With IVF there is NO gaurantee. It might work, it might not. - Talk about money not well spent.
2. An MFA is an investment. It could lead to a book contract, a teaching gig, a non-profit job etc. My child will be an expenditure (even AFTER IVF, do you know how much it costs to raise a child for 18 years, not to mention paying for THEIR college?!) 
3. Children can and will disappoint you. As long as I continue producing work and writing, I will not be disappointed. 
4. My life should not be measured by what my ovaries and uterus are or are not capable of doing. 

Those of you who know me and keep up with my blog know how desperately I have tried and longed for a child. The longing is there. My desire to be a mother is just as strong as ever, but my willingness to PAY for it to happen is not.  I have a clearly defined budget for how much I am willing to pay for fertility treatments and I promise you it does not even come close to the 30,000 range. 

I want a family just as bad as the next girl, but if the universe has other plans for my body, then so be it. It's either going to happen naturally with as little intervention as possible or it's not. I have too much to offer this world to agonize over parts of me that I cannot control. Do I want to give Lupe a child- more than anything on this Earth. But he and I both understand that my body may not be able to make that happen for us and so, we will cross that barren bridge when we get there. 

School is the one thing I have always been good at. I used to joke that if I could be a professional student for life, I would. (I am truly my father's daughter- he's currently in his first year of med school at the age of 63- GO DAD!) Of course, everyone has to earn a living, so full time professional student isn't exactly an option for me, but perhaps going back to school will provide me with the inner peace and joy that I have so desperately been searching for and missing these last few years. 

There is still hope, I am only 30 and I'm getting healthier every day. We will still try for a family and we will still hope for the best. But until then (and maybe we'll get our "oops" one of these days), I will read books, write poems, teach other people's kids, inspire young minds, and continue baking real buns in real ovens.