Image By Rupi Kaur
To my first menarche party I brought strawberries and red paper plates found in the forgotten Valentine’s corner at Walgreens. Everyone was instructed to bring some blood-themed food to commemorate eggs falling un-inseminated out of our vaginas, so on the table where red brownies, cherry pie, lollipops, beet salad, red wine, red chips, salsa, tapatío, red rice, red chicken, etc. You get the point.
The lead facilitator wore a red wig and a red shirt with MENSTRUATION IS BEAUTIFUL, Coca-Cola style across the boobs. It was supposed to be evocative. We sat in a circle passing around diva cups, small tampons, regular tampons, big tampons, home-made pads, Kotex pads, douches, and any other possible menstruation product now available at Walgreens. The girl who brought the home-made pads explained how wonderful they were, how the textile softly touched her pussy, how old-school, how anti-capitalist, how pro-femme, how her mama even sewed her one! How she washed them in hot water at night and boom you got yourself another pad without supporting the white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy. Everyone nodded. It seemed all the “natural” home-made products were winning in this game. Tampons were shamed, diva cups exalted. There is no way a piece of your mama’s cloth is gonna resist the avalanche that comes out of this pussy, I thought. Give me my extra-large tampons back and blessed art thou Kotex and the Colombian equivalent, Nosotras. Muchas gracias reinita pero no.
My cold hand lands on Laura’s leg while the woman behind us holds her husband’s hands tight, whispering cariñitos to him. We’re here to prove we love each other. To prove this is a true white-picket-fence-two-point-five-children-Christmas-card kind of love, even if it’s homo love. Promises of a better future after this horrid appointment fly in the air in Spanish, Arabic, Russian. Inside the Soviet-looking immigration building Laura and I are literally moscas en leche. Perro en misa. Gallina en corral ajeno, etc. All the couples here are straight. Some even brought their kids, dressed in their Sunday’s best. The children are instructed to shut the fuck up and smile. Arturito, saluda al oficial mi rey. They’re here as evidence. The mamis with their hairs done, nails done, high heels and glossy lipstick. Men with gelled black hair, black button-down shirts with a few open buttons revealing gold crosses, chest hair. Legs crossed impossibly tight, smiling at every and any immigration officer walking through. Good afternoon, Mr. Officer. Nobody speaks loudly, we all hush and whisper and hold tight to our brown folders, our photo albums.
Porque mamita, you never know.
Lady Liberty and Sarah Palin are lit by the same torch —Michele Bachmann
And what a bizarre time we’re in, when a judge will say to little children that you can’t say the pledge of allegiance, but you must learn that homosexuality is normal and you should try it —Michele Bachmann
Before we get started, let’s all say ‘Happy Birthday’ to Elvis Presley today —Michele Bachmann
The rumors are true. Pero por fa, do not unfriend me yet. Do you know how hard it is to accept this in public after I ranted on Facebook about the idiocy of the gay movement’s focus on marriage? Am I throwing myself over the gay cliff right now? Maybe. Pero reinita, hear me out: Republicans are stubborn people! And I didn’t even see it coming. It was all so quick. Bam bam bam and before you could say ay juepuchica Michele Bachmann is sitting next to my mother picking some pork residue from her teeth, bonding with her over the apocalypse. How was I supposed to say “no” to the hottest bae over 50 in the Midwest? I have a soft spot for right-wing women, tu sabe. Also I don’t think we’ve given Michele proper credit on her party abilities, she’s raised like 30 foster kids plus Marcus in one house (we don’t know the exact number because she won’t fill the census!), she’s held so many racists/homophobic fundraisers we can’t even keep count (talk about a white Christian party monster, am I right?)! AND, girlfriend really wanted to blow up our party balloons (she’s so good!). Plus, she will tell me later, I heard immigrants are really good at the macarena. Dios mío. We are! All of us. Continue reading
I am one of those annoying Colombians who every time you mention you just LOVE Shakira, I roll my eyes, tell you she’s shit now and narrate a brief five-min-Shakira-history on your ass about how white-washed mami used to be this awesome chubby rocker, with red hair, who actually wrote some poetic lyrics that were once the core of my early teenage years (somewhere in my mother’s apartment there’s still a Pies Descalzos cassette). And when we’re watching TV and you point to the blonde, skinner-than-life Shakira with whiter-than-life teeth selling us CREST my heart transforms into a jaded feminista yelling, “Who the fuck cares?” And “please change the channel” (clearly some unresolved issues there).
To this you think “whatever,” you think “why do these third-world people always overthink it,” you think “Gawd, I’m only trying to be nice,” you think “well I can’t understand her music if she is singing in Spanish, duh,” you think “but OMG your people are so pretty!” Deep inside I’m grateful that after talking about Shakira you didn’t tell me that story about snorting some good Colombian cocaine (we’re not even the lead exports anymore, get with the program homie), or demand a brief update on Colombia’s current state of affairs (i.e. How dangerous is it for gringos there?), or a speedy drug cartel history, but really I’m just grateful you didn’t show me a Sofía Vergara clip detailing how she washes her clothes in the river. Continue reading
Yes, they’re only 20, yes they’re twins, and yes their music is dreamlike. Born in Paris, Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Díaz are daughters of the famed Cuban percussionist Anga Díaz who died when the girls were 11, but not before teaching them how to play the cajón and batá. I’m obsessed with their mix of Afro-Cuban beats with electronic textures, and with their English overlapping with Yoruba. Here is an NPR piece where Anastacia Tsioulcas calls their entrancing music “a world of intoxicating beauty, in songs that are smart, sweet and emotionally cracked wide open.” Do stop Instagramming and be lost in their brilliance. Also, here is a list of their upcoming shows. Continue reading
Illustration by Laura Cerón Melo
I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)
The story went like this: Camilo waited for me at the park next to my house every day after school. He brought Bon Bon Bum (look it up), cigarettes, and his tongue inside my mouth. He said, Quibo, qué mas? I like you. After he left I walked two blocks north to another park where Pablo under a hoodie munched Sparkies, also smoked cigarettes (although red Marlboros, so ew), and wrote me—ME who was barely twelve—a love poem. It was heaven-like. I was twelve and totally ki-lling it. My friends envied me! Should I tell you about Darío, my third boyfriend? Darío in a leatherjacket while I stroked his greasy brown hair, a leftist revolutionary wearing Zapatista shirts, a beard, etc.… I had not one, not two, but un-dos-TRES boyfriends (I know, and there you sat thinking I was just an angry lesbian).
The next day I arrived early and giddy from so much excitement at my all-girl Catholic school. Really quick: picture nuns, picture impeccable uniform, picture Jesús bleeding from the cross everywhere you look, picture this humble narrator in a ponytail and yellow headband (the 90s mi reina). Amén. Inside the classroom I whispered to all my girlfriends about my romantic whereabouts the night before. His tongue! His mouth! His index finger! His poetry! I showed them the poem, a letter, and the plastic wrap of the Bon Bon Bum as proof of my escapades. Sometimes this was enough, and by the end of first period most of them believed my triumphant romances. Other times, some girls’ skepticism made me repeat Uva Curuba Uva until my upper lip folded into two perfect semicircles proving I was not a mouth virgin, proving I was kissed the night before.
Illustration by Laura Cerón Melo
With arepa in one hand and cell phone in the other my prima whispers in my ear: Congratulations on ese matrimonio. I look around, maybe she’s confused? But everyone in this family reunion is busied with alcohol, selfies, and Andres’ new baby boy who is just ay qué cosita más lindaaa.
No, de verdad, she says, biting on the arepa, Congratulations on your wedding. Her right hand lands on my shoulder and I’m searching for the homophobic punchline that would come after that, I’m searching for the, You are banned from Jesús’ family hang-out crew forever. Por lesbiana. Tortillera. Marimacha. I wait for her eyes to lose their glimmer, for her to snap into the conservative Jesús-loving woman I know her to be, but the only thing she says is: Ay nena, you know Ellen Degeneres? I love Ellen Degeneres. I watch her show all the time. Continue reading
I’m on the phone with my mom and she’s crying. I hear her sucking in her nose, then blowing it, then proceeding with a, Por qué me haces esto, por qué me haces esto. POR. QUE. Outside my window a homeless man is yelling, But I love you Joanne! Then the clink clink clink of bottles being dug from the garbage bin. I scratch my belly and look at my hands imagining the wedding band that I will showcase forever in a few weeks, then roll my eyes as my mamá continues her plea in a prime-time telenovela voice—which I imagine also includes hair flips and too many Kleenex. It is Tuesday, I have my period, and I’m getting married in a month.