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.

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.



Running and Butterfly Goddess

I do my best thinking on my run. Running helps me to clear my head, helps my anxiety, and helps me build my inner and outer strength.

Running is also my reflection time. Reflection on building up a better life for myself, family, and community. What I could have done better. And what are the next steps. All this and more are probably the reasons why I don’t like running with others. This is something to think about as my marathon training becomes higher mileage, but that’s a topic for another day.

After each run, I post on my Instagram about my run. It started as a way to keep people in the loop about my mental health, but it then became a place to keep me accountable and also as a part of my healing. Mental Health is often a topic we sweep under the rug. And when we become sick due to our mental health because we can’t physically see it, we often don’t give it the attention needed or admit we are sick.

It took me months before I could admit I was sick. I knew I was sick when a friend who was suppose to come out for the weekend canceled on me, and I didn’t leave my house or my bed for a weekend. This sounds normal to some, however for me, I am almost never home and if I am, I am working on art or something. But I didn’t admit or do anything about it.

The second biggest clue was when I was on a flight from Chicago to Phoenix in March 2017. The flight was very bumpy and we were flying through a storm. When the plane dropped, and said to myself, “I don’t want to die this sad.” I didn’t know why I thought that.

I finally admit I was sick in July 2017. My best friend was in town, and we were at a pizza place in Chicago. I just started having an anxiety attack in the middle of the restaurant and crying. My best friend was trying to help, but there was nothing she could do. My body started tensing and then I couldn’t move. We were finally able to leave, but I was at my worse.

There were other moments that followed and were in between these big three that lead to my mental break. Poor diet. Not taking of myself. Poor work environment. However, these moments stand out because it shows how it gradually got worse. I’ve always had anxiety and depression, but like many, I would move on and keep doing what I was doing. Isn’t that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing and expecting different results. Something like that.

However, I didn’t acknowledge what years of doing that really hurt me until it physically took a toll on me. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t operate. I felt broken. My mom was the biggest help in my life. She would call doctors, sit on the phone with me, and talk to me. My mom is my angel on earth. With her help, therapy, and my framily, I was able to heal and become better. I started building confidence and merging out of my cocoon.

This is why it probably stung the most when this past weekend, a family member used my anxiety as if was a weakness. The context had nothing to do with my anxiety, but a Facebook post that had gotten out of control. When I tried to put a stop to it all, I was told that “anxiety may not be the issue.” When I said they had crossed a line and not to talk about my mental health, they then said something to the affect of agree. Do not bring up your mental health if you do not want people talking about it.

I am happy to talk about my mental health, but not as a weapon of weakness. The more one tells me to stop, the louder I will become. I do not talk about my mental health for others as burden. I talk about it for myself and to bring awareness. It’s healing for me and hopefully will help more people to talk about their journey and get help. It took me a long time to admit that my mental health was not a weakness. That it was good to talk about it. That I wasn’t crazy. And that I am worthy. It does hurt when someone you love decides to go low when you were trying to figure out what was happening.

It’s taken me a long time to be the person I am today and be so open, both online and off. I never shared hurtful moments like my sexual assault, binge eating, or my anxiety as to not disturb the peace. There were bits and pieces, but I wanted to be liked so much that I kept a lot of it hidden. I didn’t want to be too different than what I already was, and I didn’t want too much attention, even though I craved it.

Along with the bad, I never shared too much of the good like my work ethic, education accomplishments, and positives in relationships which is sad as well because I didn’t want to seem like I was bragging. That I was doing good while my community may not have been.

It’s a common struggle and fear for many when our good and bad gets thrown back at us as if it is a weakness. It’s a poor tactic used to silence when there is nothing else. It’s often a tactic some use against those trying to help them, but when used it doesn’t matter what happened before as it crosses lines.

To those who choose to throw or clap back by using mine/your pain and happiness against me/you is not a reflection of you. It is them.

I almost let it get to me, but I am butterfly goddess.

I am proud of the body that allows me to run, dance, and hug those I care about. I am proud of my mind that allows me to create, think, and build. I am proud of my anxiety and depression as it shows me the depths of hell, but also has taught me tools needed to better my life. I am proud of my voice that allows me to speak, tell my truth, and be a warrior.

I am a proud woman of color, and this world will never shut me down.