Category Archives: childhood memories

On Becoming an Ex-Writer: A Personal Essay (part 1 & 2)

Blessed and honored to announce that Part 1 & 2 of my non-fiction essay “On Becoming an Ex-Writer” just went live at Doveglion Press! Many thanks to editors Barbara Jane Reyes and Oscar Bermeo for the shine. Shout out to coming out and coming of age in the golden early 90s in Frisco, writing on walls, bombing partners and falling in love with words, one at a time. Trying to connect the dots before they fade…
Check it out and let me know what you think.

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Filed under 90s hip-hop, blues, childhood memories, community organizing, friends, getting politicized, graffiti, Inspirations, literary universe, origins, poetry, San Francisco

On Anger

I recently wrote a bus story about a teenage girl who gets with a middle-aged bus driver. It is what you think. And it isn’t. At one point the main character Renee says, “Sometimes anger is a girl’s best friend.” It’s been swirling in my head lately, that line. Anger is the hardest emotion for me to feel. It usually turns into sadness before it even has a chance to touch air. I let it feed on me from the inside. I’ve made progress. I don’t get sad nearly as much as I used to. I’ve learned to let feelings rise and then move through me because I know they need to travel to the other side. Growing up I never learned how to express my anger so I think much of my adult life has been spent coaxing it out, making it safe. An entirely different thing from growing up surrounded by anger and learning it as the default reaction for anything disagreeable, but still along the same spectrum of self-destruction. Just maybe on opposite ends. It’s a trip, but when I can allow myself to feel angry at someone, it’s usually a sign that I trust them. It’s a sign of possibility. Watch out.
(The anger I’m speaking of is not anger at social injustices, which I don’t have a problem tapping into.)

Years ago when I hadn’t figured any of this out yet, an ex-boyfriend of mine did something precious. I was angry one night. I can’t even remember what it was about. But I didn’t know what to do. I thought I might explode. I thought I might try to drink myself numb.

That night you went through the recycling
pulled out all the glass bottles and grabbed
my hand. You wouldn’t say where we were
going, just drove towards the train yard
in the dark. We stood out on the tracks
metal vibrating beneath our soles.You handed
me the first bottle from the crate and turned
to face the red brick wall. Throw it.
Throw it so hard it shatters.

I hurled the bottle by its neck
watched it fly towards
the wall by the force
of my own motion.
Better than careful words
Better than merciful prayers
Better than song
My fist
releasing
the sound
of impact
glass
breaking
me
into
shards
that
cannot
be put
back
together
again.

I stand
weight balanced
itching to throw another.
I am already
enjoying my sore
shoulder in the morning.
You stand
beside me
passing the next bottle
until I empty
this crate.

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Filed under childhood memories, friends, love, poetry, solidarity

here

My favorite poem right now is by my favorite poet. “Here” by Aracelis Girmay. Sometimes I feel like I have a lot of poems or little stories inside me that could also be called “Here.” There’s something conjuring and infinite about that word.

Here is where I look both ways before I cross. Here is every street. Here is Sesame Street with Big Bird holding a little girl’s hand inside Big Bird’s thick yellow-felt glove. Here I am after school with a steaming bowl of top ramen noodles in the middle of my lap, legs crossed, head bent over blowing into the bowl to cool it off before i slurp. Here is my brother coming from behind with an ice cube to plop into my bowl. Here I watch as the ice cracks and dissolves into the broth. Here I sit on the dark yellow carpet staring up at the television with a part down the middle of my head and a braid at either side. Here is 22nd Avenue if I look out the living room window, down three stories to watch Erin’s door across the street to see if she will come outside to play soon. Here is my mother leaving a quarter for me on the kitchen table in the morning so I can give it to Erin’s mother every morning before school starts to pay for the bowl of instant oatmeal, maple and brown sugar, that she will make for me. Here is the hall outside my mother’s bedroom quiet and dark while she sleeps after coming home from her night shift at the hospital. Here are her tired eyes closed as she leans on her side in the bed. Here I am tiptoeing through her room to get to mine because I forgot my notebook. Here my mom calls to me in her tired voice like the soft creak the back door makes when I open it to climb the ladder up to the roof even though I am not supposed to. Here is my mom wishing me a good day in her sleep. Here is the other side of the bed at night, the side that no one talks about anymore. Here is the side I climb into at night when she is at work. Here is where I teach myself not to kick and thrash around in the bed anymore while I sleep so she will not notice I slept there. Here is where I learn to lie still on my back and wake up in the same position.

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Filed under childhood memories, San Francisco, Writers & Poets