The Minority

I wish she wasn’t a trigger

I wish every time I saw her I don’t imagine her death

I wish I could I admit that I was in love with you

Instead of high five you for your latest conquest

I wish you choose me…every time

And not only because I’m present

I wish Father Time stopped playing games

I wish we stopped playing games.

I hate that I love you

And that I compare every man to you.

I hate being in love with the idea of you

Instead of the actual you.

I hate that you don’t have your shit together

I wish you had your shit together

I wish when you do, that you’ll choose me

I hate that I know you won’t

And that you’ll choose another her

That her type is the prize

And that I’ll never be.

A Short Letter to My Body.

To My Body:

I am sorry. Sorry for treating you like you didn’t matter or that you were less then. You didn’t deserve it.

Your only goal was to protect my mind and heart, and what I gave you in return was talk down to you, try to destroy you, and put you through pain.

I can continue to tell you how sorry I am, but this you already know. I will instead thank you for all that you’ve done.

Body…thank you for protecting me from the outside world and taking in the battle scars.

Body…thank you carrying my emotional baggage. I am ok now, and It’s ok to let go.

Body…thank you for providing me strength to keep going even when I didn’t want to.

Thank you for being you. I promise to treat you as the queen you are.

Love,

Me

The Affair

And when our lips touched

I knew it was over

Over being faithful

Over saying he is the only one

Over saying to him, do you trust me?

Because in this moment

In the moment of electronic fire

I no longer belonged to him

Because my arms wrapped around your neck say you are now mine.

Even for this moment.

As we both know these few days belong to us and us alone, but the minute 8am hits on Monday, you are back on a plane and I am here

Here with the smell of your cologne

Mixed with coconut oil sweat still on my pillow and my body.

We wouldn’t work in the real world

We say as a way to protect our hearts that live close by while our bodies live far.

But for a weekend, your body is pressed against mine and I can hear your heartbeat.

It makes the sound of a 90s r&b love song

And when I forget the words, you are here right now for me to listen instead of imagine what it might be.

I kiss your chest to remix the song and you pull my chin up.

I love you you say.

Your lips

The softness of your skin

The beautiful soul that makes me a better man you say.

Your soul makes me complete I want to say.

I want to say leave your home, and we can create one filled with butterflies and orange trees.

I know they don’t grow in the city, but with you anything is possible.

I kiss you with a mascara tear rolling down my face.

A tear full of happiness, sadness, and my love for you.

I want to take a video of this moment and play it over and over instead of the memory I may remember of this and the memory of you leaving.

As the moment you leave, the dream we built becomes a fantasy

And then it’s truly over.

For I am left with but a memory of the insecurity of us.

Am I Loud Enough?

My voice booms when I talk, but it sounds like yelling to you. My hoops are too big you say, but you love other stereotypes of the Latin women; some of which do not belong to me, but you project onto me. I am educated, but still need me to act helpless and not know anything. I am great to date, but not exclusively. You call me a vice, but I am not the woman you bring home to mom.

If you are the one with all the problems, then why do I feel bad?

The you in this case are all things multiple men have told me throughout the years. Now I know what you are thinking, “Maria why are you dating such awful men?” The answer is I didn’t know. These men all looked different, had different backgrounds, and appeared to be prince charmings at first. They weren’t all white, nor men of color. They were men I wanted validation from because we had an intense spark. I probably missed a lot of signs, but I also wanted to be the girl from the movies. The girl you had to see about.

You know the type. She gets in a weird situation or is too independent for her own good. Her life is mostly together, and then she meets 2005 Matthew McConaughey/ Mark Wahlberg/Ryan Gosling and Boom! He gives her the one thing she has been missing that gives her life meaning….love. And you know what happens…say it with me….They live happily ever after!

What they don’t show is when Matthew got drunk or Mark not cleaning the dishes or when Ryan…Ryan is perfect, so I will move on. They don’t show the faults of the men that quote unquote saved them. They show “how the perfect man should be” And for me, I wanted the perfect man to come save me.

Don’t get me wrong, I lead and have led a badass life. I have a mostly supportive family, amazing friends, I’ve traveled, I get to perform across the country, and I get to lead the life I could have never dreamed of. But it seemed kind of lonely and when I was very young and dumb, I feared being 31 and alone like the lead’s best minority friend who kind of looked like me. I honestly thought I needed a man, baby and my life figured out at 25. I guess I wanted my happily ever after without the sequel.

A part of it was my lack of dating experience, but my high experience of not feeling good enough. Don’t get me wrong, my family treated me like a princess- something I never thought I deserved because the outside world treated me like a toad. I felt I had to be perfect for people to like me. I felt like I had to fit in to feel less alone-and that included dating men who started off as my 2005 Matthew, they usually ended up being the 2018 Lincoln Car Salesman.

I had high hopes for them. Expectations they were not aware of, and when they showed signs of these expectations, I ignored the other 80% that was the Lincoln Car Salesman. Let’s name these men Mike because I’ve dated 5 guys literally named Mike. It’s probably because I am bad with names or that it was most popular boy name in the 1970s and 1980s.

Some of Mike’s 80% included, but limited to, signs they were cheating on me, not introducing me to their family or friends because I didn’t fit in, and emotional abusive micro-aggressions that I was told I was crazy to think or call abusive because Mike wasn’t physically hurting me at the time.

I took a lot from these men because in my head, I rather be with someone I kind of liked, then alone. Someone who treated me alright, but not like a princess. Someone with a lot of buts, and the kind with only one “t.”

I was searching for someone to come save me, but looking back, what would they be saving me from? Getting my education, my trips around the world, spending time with my family and friends, or my life I was living and not waiting in my castle. In reality, I do not live in a castle, nor want to. The lack of bathrooms and old furniture would scare me. But when you have a lack of representation or stories, you start to think even little crumbs acceptable.

My voice booms when I talk though they’d rather I stay meek because leads are often quiet and not strong. You see, men in those movies are considered the charming hero despite their flaws and do whatever they want, but women in those movies are generally seen as either prizes or strong-willed until the man breaks them down to be a star. As much as we want to say our society isn’t like this, we live everyday where men, especially non-POC, can do half the work and get away with more. And women…well we are a prize that needs to be shaped-even in a pant suit.

I look back and wished I hadn’t let society get me. That I hadn’t taken a lot on myself, punished myself, and saw myself how my family always saw me.  That as woman, a beautiful woman of color, I am an equal even if the world doesn’t see me as such.

With my voice booming, this even hard to talk about now because I still have a little voice telling me things. Things like I am supposed to appear that I am strong, but not too strong. That I shouldn’t make people feel uncomfortable as a woman. These are things not shown in the movies or talked about in real life. And honestly for a long time I felt alone surrounded by people, seeking attention from men, punishing myself for their mistakes, and not feeling like I could be myself. It tore at me for years.

It wasn’t until I found a group of women who made me feel like I could fly and be myself. We are an improv group here in Chicago called Matt Damon Improv. Yes, we perform improv and no Matt Damon is not a part of it. But I am not here to talk about improv, but rather their friendship and sisterhood. They helped me find myself and accept who I am. That I can be myself and let my voice be heard. That I am good enough without the “ors and buts” That I can be on my own. That I am enough, and I do not need the men seen in the movies. They are fictional parts after all.

My voice booms when I talk. My hoops are big. I am educated. I am great to date, if you are lucky enough. I am a badass woman and I do not need your validation.

Fun Fact: I am Running the Chicago Marathon

“Yes. Hi my name is Maria Konopken, and a fun fact about me is I am running the Chicago Marathon in October.”

Yes, I have become that person at auditions and in life that will not shut up about her upcoming marathon. I’ll catch myself talking about, and scream inside my head…TALK ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE!

But in reality, I am excited and about to poop my pants scared about it. When I signed up back in December, October seemed so far away. Heck, March seemed like years away. And now it’s March 14. Week 1 of marathon training.

To help keep me accountable, and to help raise money for the charity I am running on behalf for, Girls on the Run, I wanted to keep track of my progress on my blog.

So here it goes!

If you would like to donate to my fundraising goal, you can do so here.

Happy Running!

 

 

 

International Women’s Day

On this #internationalwomensday, I wanted to post a picture that makes me feel powerful-as I did last year. This picture shows a lot to me, and what I’ve gone through. It was taken a few weeks after I quit my job, and to me shows the first signs of my glow and shine coming back. And while I share a lot of happiness and hope, it hasn’t been easy.

In my journey I’ve made mistakes. Hurt some on the way because I was in pain or learning when and how to communicate effectively. I’ve learned some hard lessons, and continue to do the work everyday. I’ll continue to make mistakes, and hope that those around me will understand.

I also hope to never lose the ability to speak and share my voice. My voice is powerful and helps me speak of good, bad, and change I would like to see in the world. It helps to tell my story and journey. It’s also helped to document what this last year has been and the molding of this year.

I am happier and more of proud of myself than I’ve been in months. Not everything has been roses, but I’m working on myself, my craft, working on projects, trying to better my relationships, and live my best life. And that’s more than I could have imagined 6 months ago.

May you know your glow up and shine are always there.

Setting the Bar

It hit me on my walk home tonight

That I’m chasing a ghost of who

I would like you to be

But not how you are

I’m chasing a hope of potential

And not the reality that is you now

And while Love is worth taking a risk on

I worry the risk and reward won’t match

That you have such a hard bar to jump

Over the bar I set

That you’ll never reach it

I don’t know if anyone could

For I put expectations on you

That you are not aware ever existed

No wonder you disappoint me.

You never had a chance.

Loud Noises

So Many Voices

Getting louder and louder

Loud Noises

Trying to rise above

Forgetting that we are people

Forgetting that we are more than what is on a census

Forgetting that they are not an expert in everything

Scream with voice

Scream as they type

Scream with their fist in the air

But silent when they see or feel microaggressions

Silent when their fellow person needs help when their voice has been silence

Silent when comes to doing the work

But are the first to speak up when they have no part in the conversation

Instead of listening to those that live it

With different experiences

Different thoughts

And different motivators

Not able to admit when they don’t know everything

Not able to admit that this is not their experience

Not able to admit when they are wrong

That although they may be oppressed as well, their oppression is different

We are not all the “American Boy” prototype

With Khaki pants and a polo shirt for sure

However their differences and mine and your differences do not make us the experts in understanding all

But as the loud noises

get louder and louder

They continue to believe they are like

Clarissa and know it all

Instead of working to understand

Instead of working to silent

And instead of working to listen

They choose to scream to prove a point that is already gone

And click and tap and push on their hate and insecurities to flame a gaslight

Loud noises

Getting louder and louder

But say nothing

A letter to myself

Hi Maria,

I won’t ask how you are because you kind of already know. I am writing this letter to you as a reminder for when it gets hard to look back and see how far you’ve come.

A year ago today (technically 02/09/17, but like you haven’t gone to bed yet so whatever) you were laid off from your dream job…correction what you thought was your dream job. You could say you were blindsided. You could say it tapped into your biggest insecurities of not being enough. And probably a billion more things. But it was the biggest blessing to ever happen to you. A blessing of no longer accepting being grateful to have this job.

That is hard to say because you look back on the last year, and most will see the negative. Losing a job. Becoming sick. Starting a new job in an unhealthy environment which you later quit with no backup. However, you also look back and see a bunch of positives. In no particular order:

  1. Started running again
  2. Got an open run with Matt Damon Improv
  3. Strengthen your spirituality
  4. Performed in two sketch shows
  5. Established yourself as a solo performer
  6. Started producing, directing, and teaching
  7. Strengthen your relationship with your mom
  8. Got a roommate
  9. Became closer with friends
  10. Made amazing friends you call family
  11. Opened up more
  12. Chicago Nights
  13. Volunteered
  14. Burlesque
  15. Stopped complaining about lack of representation and did something about it
  16. Your birthday weekend/#ScorpioSeason
  17. Getting paid to travel and perform
  18. Didn’t give up

There are so many things that you are forgetting, but for all the bad times where you just wanted to sleep and not wake up…you woke up and got out of bed. And some days, that was enough. You are enough.

I know Mama, you moved to Chicago to learn improv, but in the three and half years since, you have become a butterfly goddess. Some people will judge and not understand, and that is not your problem. All you truly need to worry about is you and yours. After that, you can’t control everything.

Maria…had you’ve not gotten laid off, who knows what would have happened. Perhaps passed out on the train. Hospital. I don’t know. What I can tell you is someone was looking out for you. They knew your path was better by getting knocked down to get back up.

And yes, they’ll be days where you will want to quit. And there will be days where it’s just too much. And you’ll go through worse. But you cannot give up on yourself.

A year from now, you will be better with a dream life many are afraid to go after. Go to sleep love. You have a whole day of world domination a head of you.

Love,

Maria

My Shield

When I step on the scale
I try to play tricks
If I stand on one foot
If I stand on the side

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll weigh less
Maybe, just maybe, that number will validate me
Maybe, just maybe, I’ll feel better

About the shield of a body that has few protective layers
Layers that make it the strongest, yet weakest
This imperfectly, perfect body of mine

This layer for when I was bigger than all the girls in my class
This layer for when I wasn’t Mexican or White enough to sit or play with you
This layer for when my boyfriend didn’t take no for an answer
And I confused it for love
And this layer for the self-hate I tell myself in my darkest moments
Yet, smile through

It’s a shield that brings people in, but stops them from getting too close
But then gets mad when the boy I’m dating stops calling, gets engaged, and has a baby by a woman out of no where

It’s the loneliest of shields
But sometimes it can be the best of shields
This imperfectly, perfect body of mine

I’ll never not be the bigger girl
But I got hair and body that many pay millions to a plastic surgeon for
The scars on my knee from two knee surgery
Show my warrior spirit
The nose I got from the Queen of my Nana, that I once called a witch nose
Show the spirts that guide me

And this butt of mine
I’ll sometimes catch it in a mirror and ask myself
“Girl, have you been doing squats?”

The shield of my body
Has a few colorful layers
That make it weak and strong

This layer can talk to anyone
This layer loves the sound of her feet when she runs
This layer got herself a Masters degree
This layer moved across the country with a home or a job for the dream of laughs

My shield, while dented and imperfectly perfect, is the only shield I got
And while I’ll pick and tear it a part
Shows my journey more than any number on scale will

This shield of mine has protective and color layers
Imperfectly, Perfect
Strong and weak

This shield is me.