Dear Caretaker,

Dear Caretaker,

Please be patient.

When your loved one is crying or sad or feeling misunderstood, please just listen to her.

Please don’t tell her to calm down, to relax.

Above all, please don’t tell her to look at the positives in her life. Unless she’s complaining  every single day, be assured that it is more than likely that she can see the positives in her life, it’s just that she’s human and she has bad days too. Only hers are intensified because she’s got that little extra that she’s going through.

Just ask her what she would like from you, it’s very possible that what she wants is very simple. It might be that all she wants is a call at midday or to watch a movie on Netflix on Friday nights or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for Sunday breakfast. Don’t complicate yourself trying to impress her with something “better.” If you do that she will not have felt listened to. Only do that “better” thing if you’ve done the simple thing she asked for.

Be a shoulder for her to cry on, that’s it. Don’t lecture her on how she should feel, that will only make her feel worse, guilty even.

Many times she’ll be hard to deal with, she’ll cry for no reason, or at least it’ll seem that way but she’ll know why she’s crying, she just might not know how to explain it

It’s the pain

It’s the changes she’s trying to make that don’t seem to work

It’s that she doesn’t feel understood

It’s the fear of this illness not ever going away, or showing up again in the future

It’s that she’s trying so hard but sometimes it’s all just too much

It’s that she feels her faith slipping through her hands

It’s that she didn’t know it was going to be this hard

It’s the pain, the anger, the fear, the frustration

It’s the sleepless nights, the sleepy days

The side effects,

Sometimes, it may even be happiness

Or sentimental joy

So, Caretaker, please be patient

and know that she is grateful for everything you do for her.

Thank you!

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The Shit That Happened (continued)

Henry O’Mally (The white guy)

I’ve been doing this for a long time, I’d say about 15 years now.  When they assigned this job to me I thought it strange, we don’t usually deal with neighborhoods like this one.

I mean, I don’t work with the richest people but I do work in better places than this. There were so many people on the street, I couldn’t bring myself to trust anyone. I felt like there were gangsters watching me from every corner, like I’d be shot in a minute. I’ve had friends from places like this before but to actually be where they came from, that was a whole different story.

I got out of my car and pretended like this was nothing, like I wasn’t worried because you know, they say that people can smell one’s fear. I did make sure to stay close to my car though and I had my finger on the alarm button the whole time, just in case.

The address we had on file was completely wrong, the office had sent my colleague weeks before, he was the one who found out that the address was wrong but he was too scared to walk around the neighborhood to try to figure it out so they sent me, as if I wouldn’t be scared of this place. But the reason they sent me was because of my Spanish, you know, high school Spanish, but it was enough to allow me to ask people about Mrs. Isabel Gonzalez, or Doña Chavela as I later found out is how most people knew her.

The only people who seemed harmless around here were the women and their children that’s why I was only asking them. Besides, it was a woman I was looking for, I figured I might get lucky and catch her.

You know what I noticed about the people around here? – which struck me as funny – was that they seemed to be as scared of me as I was of them. Nobody wanted to give me any information, I guess they thought I was the police or immigration or something.

I was about to give up when a gangster came up to me, almost instinctively my finger put pressure on my alarm button. I released it once he started talking. There was something about his voice or the tone, I don’t know, but I just knew he wasn’t harmful. It seemed more like he was bothered by the fact that I was asking his neighbors questions.

“Hey man you need something?” was the first thing he said.

“Yes, hi, I’m looking for a lady named Isabel Gonzalez,” I replied. I was smiling just so he’d know that I wasn’t the police, I was a good guy.

“What about?” he asked.

The first thing I thought was that he was being nosy to want to know why I was looking for this woman, however his body language had more of a defensive feel to it. There was something admirable about this guy whose chest and arms were full of tatooes. He was asking because he was trying to make sure that I wasn’t there to hurt Mrs. Gonzalez. I might have been wrong to do this but I didn’t see any other option so I told him everything – including my name.

“Well first of all, my name is Henry O’Mally, I said, shaking his hand. I continued, “I’m here on behalf of The Belmore Company, the reason I’m here is because Mr. Ignacio Cruz, who is now deceased, left an inheritance for his wife and children. Mrs. Isabel is the main heir, however, it seems as though we have an incorrect address for her and it is very important that we contact her as soon as possible, before the state takes claim of the property. We have been trying to contact her for the past six months but have been unsuccessful. My being here is the company’s final attempt at contacting her. Would you happen to know where I can find this woman, Mrs. Isabel Gonzalez?”

The whole time he was just staring at me as if I had no idea what I was talking about and when I finally asked him for his help all he said was, “Damn! That fool’s dead?” I see sort of a smile on his face. But he quickly erases it and his concern turns to Mrs. Gonzalez.

“So you looking for Mrs. Isabel because of some money?”

I was confused, I had a feeling he thought she owed me money so I try to clear it up for him, “Yes, I have something for her – that her late husband left for her.”

“No shit?!” he says, his comment makes me want to laugh but I remember he’s a gangster and think better of it.

I think he was mostly surprised about the inheritance than he was about the fact that Mr. Cruz was dead. I pay closer attention to him and notice he is just a teenager, not possibly more than eighteen but with a huge weight on his shoulders, as if he’s been carrying it with him from the day he was born. Suddenly my fear of him turned into a sort of respect.

“Yeah man, I can tell you where she lives but she don’t speak English so –“

“Can you translate for me?” I interrupt. “I mean, if you have time,” I say trying not to sound too demanding.

“Damn, I don’t know man, it’s not like I really understand everything you’re talking about but you’re sure it’s an inheritance she’s getting? It ain’t no money she owes right? I mean you ain’t trying to trick me or nothing just to get her to pay right?”

“No, no, no,” I say. He keeps surprising me, he’s looking out for this woman who is most likely not related to him, taking every precaution to make sure she is not getting scammed.

“Look,” I say, “her husband’s name was Ignacio Cruz, right? She has three children with him but he had not been living with them for the past five or so years. However, they never divorced which is why the inheritance was left to Doña Chavela and her children.

“Yeah poor Doña Chavela’s been having it hard . . . So you’re for reals then,” this sounded more like a statement than a question, I think I’m finally gaining his trust so I ask him again if he can translate for me.

“Alright man, but you better not come up with some crooked shit or I’ll fuckin’ bust your ass,” he tells me, I don’t know what to think.

He walks me to Mrs. Gonzalez’s apartment, he translates for me and I watch her go from surprise to tears to a smile and back to tears again. She seems to be a very nice lady, hard working. There’s something about her little apartment that makes me feel at home. I don’t know if it’s the tiny old sofas, the altar at the front of her one window or the load of laundry sitting on her bed or the smell of homemade food coming from her kitchen but I feel like I could stay here for hours and she wouldn’t mind.

I don’t usually associate my job with my feelings but when I have to tell her that the paperwork will be brought to her by her husband’s girlfriend, per Mr. Cruz’s request, I almost feel like punching my fist through the wall for her. I had found this request on his part not just strange but more than that, disrespectful. According to the file his reason for doing this was because he wanted his girlfriend to explain Mr. Cruz’s reasons for leaving Mrs. Gonzalez. I think he wanted, in a strange way, to make sure Mrs. Gonzalez forgave him for leaving. Poor lady didn’t know what to say when this gangster – whose name I had not gotten – translated this to her. I was expecting her to cry but she just sat there staring at either the window or her saints. Finally, as if defeated, she nodded her head and simply said okay.

We left not long after that. Outside, I shook hands with the gangster and finally asked his name.

“Just call me Speedy, man.”

“Okay…uh…Speedy, thanks for everything, I really appreciate it. Here’s my card,” I say, remembering I forgot to leave one for Mrs. Gonzalez. I give him two and ask him to give one to her, “if you need anything just call me, if I don’t answer you can just leave me a message and I’ll call you back.”

“Alright man, thanks,” he say, I notice his guard is down now.

“Thanks again,” I say and walk to my car feeling satisfied with myself and just as I turn the key on the ignition I notice the stereo is missing.

The Shit That Happened (continued). . .

El Speedy

Ignacio? Fucker was a loser. Left the family for some young bitch that dressed like a slut. Yeah, I guess she was cute but she didn’t need to be messing with some married fool. I guess it was mostly fucker’s fault though right?
One day I see this guy on the streets, some nice suit man, don’t know what the hell he’s doing here but he sticks out like a fucking grain of rice in a bowl of frijoles. So I watch him, gotta keep an eye on the territory you know. He’s standing next to his car, probably scared someone’s gonna take it or something. You know how the gringos are. Anyways, he looks like a cop or something so I make sure not to do nothing stupid. He tries to stop a lady but she don’t understand English so he just smiles and moves his hand like a idiot, then he stops the next lady. More people walk by but he’s only stopping the women and now I’m starting not to feel so good about this fool so I get up and walk to where he’s standing. He don’t stop me so I turn back around and ask him what the hell he wants. I’m like, Hey man, you need something?

Yeah, he says and then he starts explaining all this shit to me. Some words I don’t even know what the fuck they mean. But whatever, in the end all I know is I’m taking him to Robert’s mom’s apartment. I’m knocking at the door. Doña Chavela! I’m calling, but she can’t hear cause she’s cooking, the blender is going full blast, sounds like she’s blending rocks or some shit. After three hard knocks she finally answers the door. Hola m’ijo, she tells me, she always calls everyone m’ijo but I still feel special when she says it to me. Wish my moms would call me that…Anyways. The gringo in the suit is standing behind me waiting for me to introduce him, like he’s a friend or some shit. I just kind of ignore him and tell Doña Chavela everything he told me and when I finish she starts crying and I’m wondering if she’s crying cause she’s happy or cause she’s sad.
Then I’m standing outside my apartment one day when I see the slut walk into Doña Chavela’s apartment building. It’s been like a month. I’d been looking out for her but I hadn’t seen her, thought I missed her. Actually, I thought the bitch wasn’t gonna show up. She don’t look like a slut no more though. She still looks good but her jeans are decent and her boobs ain’t hanging out of her shirt like they used to. She’s holding a envelope in her left hand and dang! I feel happy for Doña Chavela, it’s the least she could get from the dead ass motherfucker.

Ignacio’s son, Robert, we call him Shorty cause he’s so fucking short, acts just like his dad, couldn’t stand him with his big ol’ stank. Always with some nice shoes though. Used to go around saying he got’em at the mall, but everyone knew they was “gifts” from the lady his moms worked for. Bitch was loaded, the owner I mean. Robert’s moms was broke as hell, cause you know everyone’s broke around here, but Robert’s mom, she had it hard with her three kids including old ass Robert who wasn’t no help, don’t know how she did it. Every fucking day I seen her come home from work with her purse, a plastic bag for her lunch and another plastic bag that she filled with empty soda cans, but mostly beer cans, she picked up on the streets. Poor lady needed help and son of a bitch Robert never did shit, always walking around only talking shit, acting like he was better that his moms. She would walk right in front of us and I would always say, Buenas tardes, but Robert would act like he didn’t even know her. I’d tell him all the time, help your moms man, she’s tired. But the fucker just acted like he didn’t hear.
Who knows? Maybe now that his dad’s gone he’ll man up and look out for his moms right?

 

The Shit That Happened

Sandra

She walked down the street, that old one she knew from long ago. The familiarity about it, that something she felt but didn’t want to accept. The smell of liquor that was so penetrated in the air filled her nostrils and haunted her. A dark room, the sound of flutes and drums leaking in from somewhere far away. A pain she couldn’t or didn’t want to put into words.

The pain of hiding didn’t let her see the beauty of the streets she walked on. The overpopulation of old potted plants that blocked the gates to every apartment. Geraniums pushing their way out through the cracks on the sidewalk. Bikes and balls, Barbies and GI Joes, jump ropes and half-filled plastic pools shouting out signs of the lives of the children who lived there.

She takes her recently dyed her and puts it up into a ponytail. She still can’t believe what it cost her, she’s promised herself that next time she’ll cut her hair short and save herself a few dollars. Not that she needs to, work is good and she has more than enough but she’s not the type to flaunt her money – that’s just the way she was raised. Today, however, there’s another reason why she chose to wear jeans and a t-shirt and her five year old shoes: it’s a tough neighborhood, calling attention to herself would not be smart.  She finishes tying her her and begins to focus and remembers why she’s here. Ignacio. The asshole.  There really was no other name she could think of for him.

It had been raining the day she met him. The sun struggled to push its way through the clouds and ultimately failed. It was gray outside and the sound of the rain was a nice complement to the music going from the tiny radio on her desk. Just as soon as she had started tapping her fingers to the music, she was interrupted by the ding of the bell that hung on the door.

It was a man, older than her, the age of her father maybe. Except this man was nothing like her father. This man was light skinned and tall, skinny and loud. “Buenas tardes!” he screamed into the office as if they were miles apart. Sandra couldn’t help but scrounge her eyes, not only at the sound of this man’s voice but also at the vaquero hat that almost fell from his head as it hit the door frame when he walked in.

“Buenas tarde,” she responded in a softer than usual voice, trying to send a message. He did’t get it.

“I want to buy a house, they told me you can help me,” he says, still too loud.

“Yes, I’m a realtor,” she tells him, immediately regretting her response. Maybe she should’ve said, “yes, but . . . ” and made something up but Sandra wasn’t the type to think on the spot. She always tried to be the niña viva that her mom always expected her to be but couldn’t. Sandra was a slow thinker, a slow reactor, the type of girl who always blinked two seconds too late. This time was no different, it was too late to turn back.

“How can I help you?” she continues.

“Well, like I said I want to buy a house and someone told me you know about this stuff.”

“Okay, this is how I work . . . ” she starts pulling out papers and brochures. As she was bent over her filing cabinet she couldn’t help but feel something familiar about this man. Something about his voice, his talk, the way he walked into the office, as if he was confident in himself but for all the wrong reasons. Actually, it wasn’t even confidence it was more like an air of ignorant snobbery. From her bent over position, she could see his alligator skin boots, they were pointy but not too much.

“You like them?” her search of both brochures and memories was interrupted by Ignacio’s ego. He had noticed her looking at his boots, although he had no clue about the real reason for her interest. And honestly, neither did she.

“No,” she said, “I mean yes, it’s just that . . . um . . . it reminded me of something. But here, look, I have these papers that are full of information for you.” She went on explaining everything to this man who seemed to know nothing about buying a house. The whole time, in the back of her mind, she’s lost in his features. The way he wrinkled his forehead when he didn’t  understand something, the deep creases around his eyes, his dark brown hair and receding hairline and the way he moved his fingers around the table while he talked as if trying to make everything clear for her through an invisible graph on the table. Every little thing about him, she studied but still she couldn’t figure it out. The doubt was still there. She kept wondering if he felt the same about her because he acted as though he was meeting her for the first time. Yes, she dressed differently now that she was a realtor but her features were still the same as always: big dark brown eyes, long thin pointy nose, thin lips, cleft chin and of course the birthmark she eventually stopped covering with her hair. There was no sign that he noticed any of this as they neared the end of their new client-realtor conversation.

“Okay, I’ll wait for your call,” he said standing up and putting his vaquero hat back on. They shook hands and as he turned to walk to the door she noticed that she carried with him the smell of Obsession, a perfume that had always made her uncomfortable. The bell on the door dinged as he walked out and she couldn’t help noticing that the sound of it didn’t match anything about this man.

It has been months since that day, looking back Sandra can’t believe she didn’t know who this man was. But there was no time for that now, she’s here to get things done. The gate is locked when she reaches the apartment building she’s been searching for. Old and rusted, the numbers hardly stand out from the brown of the building. She leans into the gate trying to see if anyone’s around but nothing.  Everything’s quiet until she hears someone call, “Ey! Speedy!” She leans in to the gate again, it’s him: black, perfectly creased dickies, white t-shirt, Nikes, a slick back hairdo and a walk that, if it weren’t for his clothes, would make her think he was an athlete. But he’s not, he’s a cholo and he’s now on the other side of the gate.

“Hi my name is Sandra, can we talk?”

Mexican . . . American (or ni de aquí ni de allá)

It’s kind of a strange in-between, neither fully Mexican nor fully American. Being Mexican American means being neither from here nor there.

It’s being lost in translation.

It means celebrating Mexican traditions in an American kind of way and celebrating American traditions in a Mexicano kind of way.

Santa Claus in Christmas and tamales in Thanksgiving.

It means admiring your ancestors from a distance, putting them on a t-shirt, in a poem, a poster – in English.

It means being taught to be honest like Abe and humilde like Benito Juárez.

It means learning about César Chávez – our only Mexican American relative in a textbook.

It means being a gringa over there and a Mexican over here.

It’s loving La Revolución and being appalled by La Conquista.

It’s loving flapper dresses and poodle skirts and hating slavery.

It’s Vicente Fernandez and Mariah Carey both on the same playlist.

It’s not being able to choose between a hamburger and a torta de milanesa.

It means proudly and freely navigating two languages.

It’s being at home here and being at home there.

La Vecindad in the Desert

I’ve been trying to write this blog post for the past couple of weeks now and my loss for words has kept me away. Writing and deleting. Writing and deleting. I’ve been trying to write something smart, something impactful but it never came. Each time I typed something up and reread it, it felt forced. That’s what happens when you try too hard, it feels forced and artificial. So . . . now here I am again trying to post, trying to not force myself and trying to quiet down the fearful voice that keeps nagging at me. Here’s my next try at blog posting . . . just me and the beginning of my day.
This morning I found myself walking in the middle of a green desert. I drove a few blocks out behind my house and came to a nice surprise. At the end of a cul-de-sac was the entrance to open desert. The heavy rains have turned our usual browns and grays into greens, light and dark. The harsh and unbroken dirt has opened up for the rivers of water that search for outlets. In front of me bunnies dart from bush to bush. I think they’re cute and try to make myself silent and invisible as I get closer, they think I want to hurt them and run away from me. If they only knew that I, too, am scared to get too close. I keep walking and they keep hopping, both of us curious but from afar. My legs hurt as they step up and then down on the miniature mountain of dirt, immediately I think about having to go through it again on my way back and wonder when the pain will subside, chemotherapy ended three weeks ago. The joshua trees are particularly interesting today, maybe it’s that the sky is clear and the sun is just the right amount of bright. Maybe it’s the billions of raindrops that have fallen on them. Of maybe it’s just me trying to actively find beauty. Something, anything to get me out of La Vecindad.
La Vecindad is what I’ve decided to call the voices in my head in an effort to try and separate myself from them. “You are not your thoughts,” they say so this is what I’ve decided to do: visualize the characters in La Vecindad and hopefully put some distance between my thoughts and myself. La Vecindad literally means The Neighborhood but spoken in Spanish the word vecindad brings up an image of people coming together to gossip about the goings on of the neighborhood that inevitably creates chaos. However, the vecindad that I am referring to is one that is composed of a set of unique characters in the Mexican comedy show, El Chavo del Ocho. Each character is a voice in my head, they talk and talk but now that I have named them I can take control of my response to eat one of them. There’s the angry Don Ramon, shallow Doña Florinda, smart but conservative Professor Girafales, greedy Kiko, mean Chilindrina, all-about-me Popis, and of course fearful and naive Chavo. Sometimes it’s only one of them making a racket up there, other times a two people conversation but there are those times when they decide to throw a party and I can’t seem to figure out what is going on or who I need to talk to.
That’s what happened yesterday, there was a party going on up in La Vecindad and I couldn’t get them to quiet down. I took myself away but because they were still up this morning I decided to distract them by changing up our usual walking route. I pulled out my phone, swiped left and started shooting. In the distance I notice my neighbor’s house. Amused for having found the desert we’ve been staring at for months from behind the locked gate of our neighborhood, I snapped a picture and sent it to my husband. A fallen joshua tree peaks my interest. An odorous purple flowered plant calls to me and I follow. A coyote hiding behind a row of joshua trees makes my heart beat a little faster but settles down as I get closer and realize it’s only the stump of a tree. A couple more pictures and it’s time to go, my legs tell me. It’s only been about fifteen minutes but for my legs its seems as though it’s been an hour. They’ve been fifteen minutes well spent.

Because leaving breadcrumbs on the sidewalk would be useless, I try to take note of the streets as I drive home from the desert. There’s really not much that will come from my trying, my inner compass is off center and always makes me lost.

Tomorrow when I try to find the desert again who knows where I might end up.

 

Finally! Chemo is over!

It is! Can you believe it? Yes, I still have to wait for the side effects to subside but that should only take a couple of weeks. Although, you know what I’ve noticed? That my body seems to have gotten used to the chemo infusion every three weeks because just a few days before the third week my mouth starts to feel tender. We’ll see how it goes this time but I’ll try not to think about it too much so that I’m not bringing it on with my thoughts. Anyway, I wanted to let you know how I feel about chemotherapy and the fact that I’m done with it.

First of all, I think I was fortunate in that I thought I was going to go through 16 rounds of it. That’s what I was expecting and trying to get ready for – sixteen! So when, on my fourth round, the nurse said, “Only two more to go!” with a big smile, it felt like a HUGE relief. Not only that but it felt like it went by soooo much faster. I have to admit though, that the last two were the hardest because I knew that I only had two more to go and it seemed that the hands on the clock just wouldn’t go fast enough. But it finally came and no, it’s not over because I still need to go through a Herceptin infusion every three weeks and of course, surgery but I’ll jump through that hoop when I get to it. Right now I want to enjoy the fact that I no longer have to go through the upset stomach and the tired legs and tender mouth and especially, the tasteless food. That’s what I’m happy about right now.

I also want to tell you that I could not be more grateful and fortunate to have the family that God gave me. I’ve had all the support that anybody could want and for that I’m grateful. I know there have been days when it didn’t seem that way, when the housework put me in a bad mood or when your brothers’ screaming was too much or you made me mad or when your dad was too sensitive and made me mad too, it may have seemed as though I couldn’t see the good that was happening in our home or like all of this was going to be so much harder than anybody would have thought but believe I was trying hard every single day. And look at us! We’ve made it through the first part and we’re alive and happy and sometimes mad or sad or whatever but isn’t that every family? And considering what we have been through these past months, I’d say we’re doing awesomely (how do you like my new word?) well, don’t you think?

The last thing I wanted to tell you is that I’ve decided to start a new blog. Remember how you though one my new journals was going to be about the current political/social situation? (Yes, I do NOT want to write his name) Well, no the journal hasn’t been completely about that but I do have to mention it every once in a while. But what you and the journal made me think was that what I want to say, I want to say to others not just to myself. I have a lot of thoughts about everything that is going on and not so much politically but socially because that’s what makes my head feel blubbered. So, yeah, that’s one of the reasons I started the new blog. Another reason is that I needed a platform for my writing because I’ve been stuck with your grandma’s story and haven’t been able to write much about anything else. I need a place where I feel like my writing is serving some sort of purpose. If you go right now, to the new blog ,you’ll notice that I haven’t written about anything serious yet, that’s because I’m a “test the waters first” kind of person, you know that. Besides, writing essays takes a while and although I enjoy writing them, they are not easy to write but you know that already don’t you?

There you go! that’s what’s going on right now and what I hope you take from this is that gratitude is very important. Always be grateful for the little, the medium, and the big people, things and situations that life gives you. Being grateful for the little things though (food, water, warm showers, the window in your room, sight, touch, sound, taste, smell, etc.), that is especially important because it keeps you attentive, grounded, and happy. It takes practice but it is doable, believe me 🙂

As always, I love you very much!

Mom

 

P.S. The new blog address is: esperanzabeltranblog.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing a Children's Book is not Easy but it's Fun!

So this weekend I went to my second class with Laura Lacamàra at the Writing Pad. There are nights when, after I’ve read to Gael, he still can’t seem to get to sleep and to get him to relax I either sing him a children’s song or make up a story or a song on the spot. He likes it when I make up songs and stories. In fact, he loves my stories and I love it when he responds positively to them: laughter, questioning, loving, understanding, etc. He particularly likes one about a boy who carries with his favorite book with him everywhere he goes. The book is huge but only he knows what the huge book says and he refuses to share it with anybody, especially not with his little cousin who keeps pestering him about it. But finally, one day she just wears him down and he reads the book to his little cousin. The little boy opens the huge book and begins to read the one word: Fart! Now, keep in mind, Gael is five years old and his current favorite funny words are fart and poop and pee.

Anyway, long story short, my reasoning when Gael enjoys my stories is: I’m good, I should really write a children’s book – at least one. So when the opportunity to take a children’s book writing class I just felt like I HAD to take it. And honestly, there’s always been a bit of a desire in me to write a children’s book. I love to illustrate and I love to write, what better way to combine my two loves!

The class has been quite eye opening. I’ve tried before to write a story for children but it’s not easy. Laura has  really broken it down for us and I’ve been able to turn that real life wrestling story of mine into a child friendly story. By the end of the class we will have a dummy book that we will read to an audience of small children. I love kids but they can be brutally honest and that’s scary. Gael is gonna come with me and he’s the one I want to impress, I’m really hoping he likes my story cause if he doesn’t it’ll be back to the drawing board, which I probably wouldn’t mind but still I just want my son to see this dummy book turn into an actual book so that he can proudly that his mom did that.

I think we parents want our kids to proud of us just as much as our kids want us to be proud of them don’t we? So, I guess that’s what I’m trying to do here, make my kids proud but honestly, I hope that they already are . . .

Until next week!

Esperanza Beltrán

 

 

 

 

 

 

¡Hola! and Welcome!

Hello world!

My name is Esperanza Beltràn and today I start my blog. In it I want to say the things that make my head spin when I’m alone. There are three reasons for my starting this blog and they are: 1. I am a writer and I NEED to write; 2. Our current social/political situation; 3. I have cancer.

There has always been an inherent need in me to write, an addictive love of papers and pens. On my bed were spread out handmade notebooks from paper picked up from the local high school’s recycling bin and in the notebooks were songs and stories that lived only in my head. I didn’t know it then but I was already a writer. Actually, I didn’t know it until about three years ago and I am now about to turn 38! It’s not that one day I woke up and realized I was a writer, it’s been a process. There have been many life situations in the past years that have forced me to keep journals. Those journals have brought me a lot insight, one of those being the full understanding that I AM A WRITER. It made me remember the story I have always wanted to write and realize that writing it is not only possible but necessary now more than ever.

I find myself constantly thinking about the book I started but have not been able to finish. Coincidentally, it is the human story of a strong indigenous woman – my grandmother. My parents are indigenous Mexicans whose first language is not even Spanish. They have crossed many hurdles while having to learn Spanish, then some English and finally, enough US History to become US citizens. They have worked all their lives, raised me to love literature, to be empathic and to always try to do right. They have also made mistakes, similar mistakes to those of black parents, white parents, Asian parents, etc because just as in any other race, my set of immigrant parents are humans well. And as our immigrant community is struck with a daunting and uncertain future, I feel forced to be a voice to those who are my people and who might feel unheard. Documented or not, the stories of our immigrant community need to be told and need to be heard and the more of us there are telling and listening to those stories, the less of a possibility there is that we will be ignored.

Not only are we faced now with a drastically changing world but I also find myself having to (temporarily) face a life with cancer. There are situations in life that force you to do things you would never have done, like shaving your head or that force you to do things you would have done if you hadn’t been so afraid like speaking up – which is what I’m doing with this blog. Cancer is one of those life situations. As I sit here in front of my laptop writing, a beanie on my head, an open journal to my left and my two favorite pens on my right, I think to myself “what could be better?” There’s a humming sound outside my window, someone must be mowing their lawn. Birds chirp as they fly from tree to tree. A dog barks at a stranger and a driver steps on the gas, must be a young man. There’s organic food in the refrigerator and there’s nothing I’d rather do than to wait for someone to prepare food and bring it to me but fortunately for me, I am very able to get up and make it myself. I’ve heard of people who’ve said that cancer is the best thing that happened to them, I look forward to counting myself as one of those people in the not so far off future.

For now, this blog is my own little adventure and for those who decide to join me:

¡Gracias!

Thank You! 

My (lack of) hair, again . . .

I’ve been thinking that I had not shared with you how I felt the day I shaved my head. That was a very important day in my life with cancer. And because I can’t remember exactly what I felt, I’m going to share with you that very special part of my journal.

I shaved my head.

Of course I cried. I had to. I think it was like the ultimate sign of my having cancer. This whole cancer thing still feels strange. Foreign, even. Like it’s still not something I’m going through. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain. As in: Really? It’s me who has cancer? Or maybe it’s not so much a question as it is a shock. I don’t know. All I know is I have a lot to be thankful for. My husband who, not only shaved my head and shaved his own, but also cried with me when I faced him with my bald head. Maybe it was the waiting for the baldness to arrive that had me in a rut. I don’t know but whatever it was I guess I simply accepted that I had to do this, like the quick pull of a bandage. It’s faster and less painful but painful nonetheless. And I’m still a woman. A stronger woman? I hope so. I strive to be so. There’s still a picture I need to take. I know that one day I will want to look back just to see how far I’ve come (or will have come). There’s still a lot of work to do. Still a lot of fears to overcome. It’s okay. All will be – is – as it is supposed to be and You (God) are with me. Thank you!

I hadn’t read this util now and I’m glad I felt this way because as you know I don’t always feel like this. But when it’s necessary, I do. I have to. I have to because if I don’t then I will fall deep. Becoming bald was not easy but actually being bald has not been all that hard. It’s easy to cover up, it’s forced me to get creative and see myself in a new way. It’s one thing less to worry about in the mornings. It’s forced me to see a part of me I had not seen before and today, physically at least,  I know myself just a little bit better than I did before. All this is not so say that I want to remain bald because I don’t. I already have a stylist lined up and  am more than excited imaging how I’m going to style my hair when it grows back. What if it grows back curly? or brown? or thicker? or white?! I try not to scare myself with that but I do think about it and if it does grow back white I gonna try my hardest to just own it and be happy to have hair. We’ll see how that works out for me.

I leave you with a picture I took today on my morning walk . . .

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P.S. I love you very mucho!

Love,

Mom