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Lessons Learned

20 Oct

“Mas sabe el Diablo por viejo que por Diablo.”

“The devil knows more from being old than from being the devil.”

This is my birthday month and I have now lived on this planet for 3 whole decades. I’ve been thinking a lot about the lessons I have learned and thought I would share them with you, my crunk feminist familia.

#1 – An ex is an ex for a reason. I have a reasonable number of exes. Each and every one of them has pretty much proven that the best thing that could have possibly happened was for that relationship to end. The red flags were there from the very beginning. For whatever reason (great sex, loneliness, naïveté, etc.), I chose to look in the other direction. Now that I am older, I have learned to pay close attention to what folks tell me. Maya Angelou once said, “The first time a person shows you who they are, believe them.” I cannot tell you how much this has proven to be true for me. For example, I once had an ex tell me that they didn’t believe in monogamy early on in the courtship. A couple months later we both agreed to be in a monogamous relationship. She later cheated. I can’t be angry… she straight up showed me her true colors. I just chose to believe she could be different. My bad. Lesson learned.

#2 – It is important to know how to keep secrets. Out of respect for any relationship whether friend or lover, you should never share the things told to you in confidence. I recently learned that an ex of mine shared one of my most traumatic memories with another. Refer to #1. I cannot tell you how sad that made me. It is my decision to share or withhold my traumatic memories. They are after all, mine. I am, however, grateful for the confirmation that I made a great decision. Please refer again to #1.

#3 – You are what you eat. This may be TMI, but for years I suffered from severe constipation. After way too many years of suffering, I came to the conclusion that I needed to be gentler to my body (and the planet) and became a vegetarian. I have been a vegetarian for several years now and can honestly say that constipation is no longer a problem. It is actually a very faint memory. I am now quite regular. In fact, it was quite a challenge to find single stall bathrooms I could get to, in less than 2 minutes from my office. Why are we all so ashamed of pooping? Stay tuned for that post.

#4 – I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, my vagina. It’s already aromatic (You can suck it, Summer’s Eve). I try to limit my intake of processed foods and sugar. Let me be clear, this goes out the window the entire week before my period arrives. However, when I stick to it, I feel better and I have so much more energy. I have learned that being very selective about the things I feed my body has major benefits. Not only am I healthier, my body odor is different: my sweat smells cleaner and not surprisingly my vagina exudes the sweetest of smells. It’s true. I can’t really prove this to you (cause that would be weird), just try it and get back to me.

#5 – A broken heart will heal, it just needs distance and time. I experienced true heartbreak at the tender age of 25. I was truly/madly/deeply in love and she…she was just…well…young. I will, however, never ever regret that experience. Although, she tore my heart into 3,000 pieces, ripped it out and backed over it a couple times, I was deliriously happy when we were together. I was on cloud nine, ya’ll. So high, I wasn’t even high. It was also the first time I realized I liked the ladies, and that was awesome! 😀 After that break up, it took one month to realize that I needed serious therapy to get over the heartache, three months to stop crying about it, and six months to find myself in a sticky and unfortunate rebound situation. It took a total of three years for me to finally be in a place where I could say, “I still have very fond memories of the time we shared. Can we be friends?” Ya’ll know that couldn’t last too long. Please refer once again to #1.

#6 – People will always judge you on your appearance. This is sad, but true. That old saying, “Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have” is true. You must also dress for your body type. If fashion is just not your thing, watch marathon episodes of What Not to Wear for pointers. I promise you, it doesn’t take a lot of money. It does, however, take a lot of focus, patience, and time. The folks at Goodwill, DSW, TJMaxx and Marshalls know me by my first name. I’m not even exaggerating. The effort pays off. Trust me. The first thing people see when they meet me is a curly haired, curvalicious, Latina. They make many assumptions based on those markers, but what they walk away remembering is that I was that fierce woman wearing the leopard heels at the meeting. Don’t sleep on me. Don’t.

#7 – Getting older is awesome! Now, I’m not sure that this will still be the case ten or thirty years from now. But, I can honestly say that I am very proud of the life I have had and continue to lead. I’ve learned so much and know that there are still so many more lessons to come. Most importantly, I finally feel comfortable in my own skin. It only took 3 decades to figure out who I am, who I want to be, what true love feels like, what I am willing to sacrifice for love, who I can trust, who to keep in my heart, who to keep at a distance and what my body, soul, mind and heart need to feel satisfied.

#8 – There are friends and then there is family. I have been blessed with amazing friends and am very proud of the friendships I have maintained throughout the years. These people are my chosen family. For years they have loved me with “all my dirty” and for that I will forever be grateful. Some of them I talk to daily, others weekly, a few every couple of months. Each and every one of them has taught me so much about life and love. I carry them all in my heart and will cut anybody who tries to mess with them.

#9 – People have different definitions of friendship. If all you know about me is what you read on my Facebook page (or what others have told you), I’m sad to break it to you…but we’re just not that cool. Sorry.

#10 – Mami was right. Growing up my mom always said, “Dime con quien andas, y te diré quien eres.” This basically translates to, “Tell me who you roll with, and I’ll tell you, who you are.” I find this to be (for the most part) great advice. However, I noticed that I learn more about people by paying close attention to the quality of their friendships more so than their friends. Furthermore, if somebody tells you that they don’t trust women and/or don’t have any female friends, that right there is a warning. Keep it moving. They are not to be trusted. Put them in the Facebook friend bucket.

# 11 – Feminism is awesome! I have said it before and I’ll say it again, I just heart feminism. It has given me a voice and connected me to amazing forward thinking people. It taught me so much and challenges me daily. It also pays my rent. I would not be an educated and employed woman of color had it not been for the tireless work of crunk feminists before me. Thanks gurrrrlz! I mean WOMEN. I mean WOMYN. You get the point.

#12 – True love is caring, thoughtful, honest, patient, supportive, respectful, compassionate, tender, and kind. Period.

These are just a few of the things experience has taught me. I’m sure I could come up with more, but since this is about comunidad and learning from each other I would love to hear the lessons you have learned. Please, please, please feel free to add to the list.


Rituals , Spells, and Intuition

5 Sep

I come from a world where you don’t mess with your ancestors, dreams have meaning, seashells give advice, upside down coffee cups tell stories, and practicing black magic has severe consequences. As a child, I would sit between my mother and aunties’ legs witnessing women tipping stained coffee cups to the side, preaching of ills and/or prosperity yet to come. I would listen intently to them speak of cleansing rituals and baths that needed to be performed to keep evil spirits and negativity at bay. They would mesmerize me recounting dreams where lottery numbers, impending pregnancies, and cheating husbands were part of encrypted messages. They’d talk about so-and-so’s future, what she needed to do to whip it in the right direction, and sometimes who the no-good person was to blame for “puttin’ somethin’ on her.”

My childhood memories are full of elders’ stories recounting all types of experiences with spirits and countless inexplicable events. Though, at the time, my young/Americanized self often questioned the logic of it all, I knew two things: some things you just don’t mess with; and our ancestors were more powerful than we could ever imagine. I learned that you could talk to the spirits that always protected you and rebuke the ones that were up to no good. It was clear that just because you didn’t see it, it didn’t mean it didn’t exist, and that some things you just couldn’t explain.

Is this too cryptic? Okay, I will give you a personal account. In college I was fortunate enough to study folkloric dance in Cuba for a month, with two of my closest friends. While there, we happened to meet a guy who told us that his uncle practiced Santería. We all came from similar backgrounds (i.e. we believed) and decided to visit the Santero. While in the waiting room, a woman (related to the Santero and a practitioner) looked at me and said “your ovaries are sick.” I looked at her in disbelief. She looked me in the eyes and repeated in a stern voice, “your ovaries are sick.” Later on during my actual session, I was told that my mate was cheating on me. I went back to the states, scheduled an appointment with my gynecologist, and found out that I had a medical condition. My ovaries were indeed sick.  My mate also proved to be a  hot – trifling – mess. Needless to say: I believe.

Years later I read The Secret and came to the conclusion that the quantum physics theory had nothing on the stories I would hear as a child and my first hand experiences as an adult. Yes, you do have the power to control your surroundings with positive thought. However, the reality is that if you aren’t on top of your shit (that includes living a positive life & listening to your intuition), other people’s ill intent will inevitably effect you. Sometimes people just put stuff on you. For those of you that still don’t understand that last statement, I will be clear: sometimes people put spells on you, or like my people like to say, practice the brujería.

So, what is a feminista to do? I really don’t know. What I can tell you is what I do. I try to live a positive life. I love. I pray. I made a vision board that inspires me daily. I also have a shrine to Yemaya (because the Santero told me she was always with me). I honestly just try to be the best person/daughter/sister/friend/girlfriend/earthling that I can be.

So, for those that continue to hate on me (and I am thinking of a few individuals in particular…probably reading this right now) you should know that I pray for you every night. I pray for your health, your emotional well-being, your success and your happiness. I know (because my intuition tells me) that you are up to no good.

You should stop.



Bathing in Florida water, honey and rose petals right now,


Please Accept My Sincere Apology

27 Jun

Dear Sonja,

I just wanted to write a letter and let you know how important you are to me. You have been there by my side all these years and I am ashamed to say that I have never showed you my full appreciation.

Sonja, you helped me learn things about myself, my body, and my pleasure that no sex education class, romance novel, porn film, or lover could ever teach me. Thank you, baby.

You have always been the prominent player of the goodie drawer, but I promise that you will no longer have to share that space. I’m gonna make you your own goodie throne..Yes, gurrrl– you’re that special to me.

Through the good, the bad and the-oh so very awkward of sexual encounters, you were there. I’ll admit, there were times when your mere presence would intimidate past lovers. Their insecurities about the committed relationship between you and my clit would start negatively affecting my relationship with them. Back then, I didn’t have the courage to explain to them that you were a part of the full package. I didn’t have the courage to tell them that they could leave. I was forced to downplay the significance of your touch, your speed, and your rhythm. I was forced to deny that you were always the missing ingredient. Sometimes, I just gave up and stopped reaching for you during those moments of almost climaxing. Sadly, (for both of us), I neglected you, and you…you just patiently waited for me. You didn’t even judge me when you heard all those fake moans of “ecstasy.” You just waited for them to leave and then got back in that game.

Sonja, I apologize for all of my neglect. The only thing you ever ask me for are new batteries, and baby, from now on I promise to buy the family size packs so that we never run out. ‘Cause girl, you sure do know how to show your appreciation.

Thank you for being my ride or die chick…but, most importantly, thank you for letting me ride.


Does this make me look Latina?

20 Jan

I was recently asked to give a presentation about women in the workforce to a group of Latina undergraduate students. After the panic about speaking in public wore off, I started asking myself, what could I possibly teach them?

I started thinking about my experiences (as a student and professional) and how they have been shaped by the cultural imaginary of Latinos in this country. Too many stereotypes persist and continue to negatively affect Latinos. You know them. I will not waste my time listing them here. I will, however, say that after going through the long list of stereotypes that have kept and continue to keep my people oppressed, the next things that came to mind was the Latin Explosion of the late 90’s. This explosion introduced Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin, and Shakira to the American mainstream. One of the most frustrating realities of this so-called “explosion” is the idea that these people became famous overnight. Just in case you did not know this, Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin, Shakira and the newly popular Sofia Vergara were HUGE in Latin America and filthy rich before their “cross-over” to the American mainstream. We had already loved and obsessed over them for years. History lesson: there are 32 Spanish-speaking countries around the world. Of these 32 Spanish is the official language of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Spain, Equatorial Guinea and Puerto Rico. Each of these countries has a rich complex history, their own entertainment industries and again…lots of famous people. Anytime I hear an ignorant American-made statement about Latinos in this country, I remember Susiemaye’s mama and her words of wisdom, “We were kings and queens when they were still running around in caves.” But, I digress. Lets get back to my dilemma. What can I possibly tell these young women about being professional Latinas in the workforce? How can I equip them for the challenges they will surely encounter?

In my research I came across an article in the most recent issue of Latina magazine: “Latinas at the office: do we need to tone down our sex appeal?” The article focused on different Latinas who have been negatively affected by their imagined sex appeal. One of these women, Debrahlee Lorenzana, is currently in a lawsuit with Citigroup. Her allegations: she was fired because her male colleagues and supervisors believed she was too distracting at the office. After seeing images of her in her business attire I couldn’t help but marvel at her beauty (she is indeed breathtaking) and wanting to be her (if only I could rock stilettos like that).

While reading about this case, I started thinking about the current cultural imagery of Latinas. The so-called “Latin Explosion,” did in fact open many doors and in many ways solidified that we actually existed. We knew we existed but apparently white people didn’t. It isn’t a coincidence that after Jennifer Lopez’s rise to fame, several people (black and white) told me that I looked like/reminded them of Jennifer Lopez. Side note, I don’t look like Jennifer Lopez.

So, who are today’s mainstream Latinas and what can we say about their representation in the media? On basic television: Sara Ramirez (Grey’s Anatomy’s resident hot, lesbian Latina doctor), Eva Longoria (Desperate ‘hot Latina’ Housewife), Sofia Vergara  (Modern Family’s hot, young Latina wife), Rosalyn Sánchez (Without A Trace’s hot special agent) and Salma Hayek (most recently Alec Baldwin’s hot Latina girlfriend). In movies: Jennifer Lopez, Eva Mendez, Zoe Saldana, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba, America Ferrera, Penelope Cruz, Paz Vega, Michele Rodriguez, Rosie Perez and Christina Milan; all of them often cast as the hot Latina light-skinned girlfriends of white men (but that’s another post). What do all of these women have in common? You guessed it: they are all HOT Latinas.

So what are these young women about to encounter after graduation? As women and as women of color, the obvious: sexism, racism, and working harder than everyone else because they have to prove they are (one) qualified and (two) deserve to be there.  As Latinas: working with people of other backgrounds who very likely have only been exposed to one-dimensional representations of Latina women – hot, sexy, curvaceous, (and my favorite) spicy. They might be even hotter if they have accents or not quite Latina enough if they either lack the accent (because maybe their people have been here for over 300 years) or if, heaven forbid, lack the curves.

My presentation will of course include a modified version of this tangent and the following list of advice. As my online community of feminists, activists, scholars, sisters, friends, professionals and colleagues, I invite you read along and add to the list whatever advice has proven to be beneficial for you.

  1. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
    1. First impressions can make or break your career, which means you must dress for success.
    2. Invest in a quality/appropriate wardrobe. If you are on a tight budget: frequent department stores such as TJ Maxx, and Marshalls. Also, don’t sleep on Goodwill or the Salvation Army: I have found many of my favorite pieces in second hand stores.
  2. Respect and acknowledge every individual’s contribution to your company/institution. Everyone from the cleaning personnel to the administrative assistants, to the company CEO makes significant contributions to your organization.
    1. I have had just about every possible job you can imagine. I have learned to make friends with everyone especially those that didn’t have the access to the resources/paycheck that I had. How did this help me? For starters, when I was a waitress – I was having lobster dinners (because I loved the cooks and they loved me). While I was a graduate student, I never paid for the many lattes and brownies that got me through it. They say it’s important to have friends in high places but experience has taught me that it’s more important to have friends in all places, especially when they are people of color.
  3. Know the ins and outs of your field.
    1. Stay informed. Read newsletters, journals, magazines, blogs etc. that incorporate current events/updates/important discoveries in your field.
  4. Define clear goals for yourself.
    1. What do you want from this career? How will you get there?
  5. Find a mentor.
    1. This was great advice I received from a fellow Latina. The mentor doesn’t have to be a woman or even of the same race. Find a person in the position you want, forge a professional relationship with them, find out what they did to get where they are, and start making moves to get there.
  6. Mentor other young women.
    1. The reality is that there aren’t enough women of color in positions of power. It is important to role model professional success for young girls who are constantly bombarded with negative messages of what it means to be women of color.
  7. Read. Read. Read.
    1. Read books that focus on leadership and managing people. Some of my favorites include: How to Win Friends and Influence People, See Jane Lead, and Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office.
    2. If you can’t afford to buy these books, head to your neighborhood library or spend lots of time at your favorite bookstore.
  8. Attend seminars geared toward cultivating your leadership qualities.
    1. There are plenty of organizations out there. Do your research. Sign up for a workshop that will help you advance your career.
  9. Find support groups for women/women of color in your field.
    1. If there aren’t any, start one.
  10. Work should NEVER be your life. Make your physical, emotional and mental health a priority. No one is will do this for you.
    1. Incorporate a balanced diet and exercise program to your lifestyle.
    2. Make sure you get enough sleep.
    3. Make the time to do something you love and spend time with the people you love.
  11. Stay connected to your college/university alum network.
    1. Often times, alums are the best way to secure internships or even get your foot into the door.
  12. After you graduate make sure you give back to your college/university.
    1. I know that the thought of giving money to your already rich institution (while still paying student loans) might make you scream. However, making donations (however small) to specific scholarships for minority students or cultural groups on campus makes your alma mater know that you mean business and want to make sure they continue investing in their students of color.

The Contract

11 Nov

Once upon a time when Crunkista was a graduate student, she was heavily addicted to procrastination. It was her drug of choice. She made friends with another queer woman of color in graduate school who shared in her unhealthy habit and their marathon nights of not getting any actual work done are the things comic strips are made of. On one of those particular nights, we were talking about how hard it was to be single, queer, and broke graduate students. (Side note, we were both very gay but never EVER dated. Everyone thought we dated because we were inseparable but ewwwwww she’s like my sister). I digress, so we are sitting in the library at 3am, (you know so that we can focus on our work) and we come up with a brilliant idea. What do you do when you are too busy and stressed out to actually search for/have a relationship; there really aren’t any viable candidates to date; you are feeling lonely, or you are just a sad little graduate student in need of some tender loving care? You find somebody to spoon with. I know it may sound ridiculous [Before you even go there–we never ever spooned]. We did, however, come up with a fool-proof contract so that others could use this brilliant idea of ours. After much laughter and brilliant hours of drafting it, I am sad to say that somehow we lost the contract. There are some things I remember though, so I’ll share it with you just in case you are a lonely graduate student or just plain lonely.


Section I

I _____________ and _____________ are spooning partners and we:

1. Share the same sad situation: queer, broke, lonely students who could really benefit from occasional nights of spooning.

2. Have a close, personal relationship and genuinely care about each other’s feelings.

3. Agree that we are not trying to date; secretly pursue a one-night stand, short-term or long-term relationship.

4. Are jointly responsible for providing a safe spooning environment which includes clean linens and, when possible, breakfast in the morning.

Section II

We understand that this affidavit shall be terminated upon any parties’ commitment to another person or by change of circumstance attested to this affidavit.

Section III

After such termination, we understand that another affidavit of Spooning cannot be filed until 3 weeks after break-up of aforementioned commitment occurs.

Section IV

We understand that this information will be held confidential. NO Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter updates on spooning partner’s information or status are allowed.

Section V

1. Before spooning event, the roles of spooner and spoonee will be chosen.

  • a. These roles can always be reversed when both parties agree to those terms.

2. Spooning sessions are meant to provide comfort and warmth.

  • a. Both parties agree to save the drama for their mama.


___________________________________ Date __________

___________________________________ Date __________

A Broken hearted feminist

28 Jul

Okay, so now that I have shared with you the trials and tribulations of coming out to my mother, the difficulty of working in an often homophobic academic environment and revealed my most un-feminist moments, I feel like we’re friends now. I mean, you sure do know a lot about me. Some things you may not know about me: writing terrifies me, I’m so private that Facebook freaks me out on a daily basis, and I’m actually quite shy. But now that we are friends, and I have invited you into my life, I feel like I can share some more.

So…Crunkista has had her heart broken, torn straight out of her chest, and trampled on by many a woman. Each time it happens, I dramatically ask myself “WHY ME? WHYYYYYYYY?” Is it me? Am I asking for too much? Is compassion, loyalty, kindness, maturity, love, respect, feminist/progressive ideals, and friendship too much to expect from another person? The most important question: why do I keep dating different manifestations of the same woman?

So, as I ponder on my fate as a brokenhearted feminist, and after yet another trifling disappointment, I am forced to bring back and share with you my foolproof “How to get over my ex checklist”:

To Do List

• Cry. A lot.

• Listen to Jill Scott’s live rendition of “Love Rain.” On repeat. Why? Because, “You broke me, but I’m healing.”

• Become extra diligent at work. It keeps your mind busy and will only make your boss appreciate you more.

• Call on your girls. Like true friends they will always tell you that “she was indeed a fool, that you are pretty damn-near perfect, and that it was undoubtedly her loss.”

• Get yourself a therapist. S/he definitely won’t tell you that you are perfect and may help you sort out through a lot of issues. Objectively.

• Don’t call your mother. She will only tell you that this would have never happened, had you dated a man. Don’t call her. **Disclaimer: many mothers are feminist/supportive but when it comes to my sexuality, mine just isn’t there yet. Hopefully, one day she will be.**

• Spend ridiculous amounts of time at the gym. Endorphins are like crack. Whether you are working up a sweat or watching other people work up a sweat, it will at least get you out of the house. More importantly, moderate physical activity is good for your mind, body and spirit.

• Stop checking her Facebook page. Seriously. Stop. In fact, delete her from your Facebook friends. Delete all of her friends too. Within the very small queer community this can get complicated and sometimes may result in severe loneliness. But, trust me. Updates of pictures of your ex with a new girl (less than a week after the break up) may send you into uncontrollable fits of rage, despair, and unhealthy criminal fantasies. You do not want to be the next woman featured on Snapped.

• Watch out for the inevitable and unfortunate rebound situation. You may not be in the right emotional space to really accept another person. This is sometimes damn near impossible to do because that black hole in your heart needs some serious distraction. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

• Reread your favorite books. Alchemist here we go again.

• Do something you have always wanted to do but for whatever reason didn’t. In my case, taking salsa classes has been my saving grace. I have a new found family of left-footed misfits who make me laugh at least twice a week.

• Cry some more. Sometimes you won’t even know why but you just have to.

Lately, and like I said after “yet another depressing disappointment,” my “fool proof” list isn’t enough and I need to do something truly feminist. I need to ask for help. I need to call on my sisters because I need some real feminist answers. So I ask you, friend, how do you mend a broken feminist heart?

Crunkista’s Top 5 unfeminist moments

4 Jul

Crunkastic recently reminded me that even the crunkist of the feminists has her/his moments and it got me thinking. Spreading the feminist word (although incredibly gratifying at times) just ain’t easy. I have to admit that being crunk comes naturally to me but honestly being feminist all day everyday…is ROUGH. Acknowledging each and every oppression and holding myself and others accountable for oppressive practices just doesn’t come easy. It can often be exhausting. It is a true process. In truth, I am still learning how to define what feminism means in my life and what being a feminist entails. So, why am I writing this? Because I want all of the CFs and CFs in training to know that none of us are perfect. We all have our journeys. Sometimes they’re clearer than others. We’ll fuck up often, but learning from those mistakes makes us stronger; smarter. Because this is a learning process, I’ll be the first to share with you my top five most unfeminist moments.

5) Dancing to every PITBULL song at the club and sadly knowing all of the not-even–close-to-feminist lyrics.
[**I have no excuse. I really can’t help myself. Damn those beats.]

4) Letting family members get away with any sexist, racist, misogynist, and/or homophobic remarks.
[**Often times I go off on them. But I have realized that lecturing the old and young folk about patriarchy, sexism, colonialism, internalized racism, and the ills of most organized religions does not make you the popular cousin during the Thanksgiving meal. It makes them “forget” to invite you over next year.]

3) Wanting to have Maxwell’s baby.
**[I LOVE susiemaye but I would cut her if she got in the way of me and my future baby daddy, Maxwell. Feminist on feminist violence is NOT Feminist. Especially when you’re gay.]

2) Putting up with all of my exes’ bullshit. I can’t even list all of it ya’ll, but trust…it was too much.
[**Putting up with immature, misogynist, hypocritical, selfish, abusive behavior of any kind is NOT feminist. Being in communicative, honest, tender, loving, supportive, healthy, positive relationships…that’s feminist.]

1) Faking it. More than once…actually quite often.
[**These days, making sure my needs are REALLY met is the most feminist thing I can think of. Orgasms are FEMINIST and I gots no time for fake ones.]

Please feel free share yours.


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