Holding the door open

I am a woman of patience. Too much patience, I sometimes think, but in my line of work, it is essential. That being said, I grapple with my tendency to be mild with folks, even as they work my last nerve.  I can occasionally channel my #innermongoose.(A fearless favorite) On a day to day basis, I tend to keep my thoughts to myself.

Since Election Night, I have experienced many emotions. Grief is a messy process and it is different for everyone.

Through social media, well-meaning friends and  acquaintances have posted, either in their own words or via shared images and articles, that it’s time for everyone to move on.  I have been asked to choose love, to hug more, to open doors for strangers, and even to pray for the president-elect.  I have been questioned about love for my country, regard for unborn children, and even the way I am parenting my child through this crisis.  And, sabes que, I have had enough.  Ya me tienen harta. Tu no me mandas!


Not you, not anyone, other than the Lord and sometimes my mama or daddy.  Tu quien eres?

Tu no me mandas.

I can cry, rant, curse, laugh, and react in any way I want. I can take to the streets in protest. I can declare the president-elect #NotmyPresident.  If you don’t like what I have to say or do, GTFO.  Vete. Largate. Borrate.  Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. I am done.


This morning, I unfollowed a fellow blogger. She’s likable and well-spoken.  I respect her enough to head out on my way. She’s entitled to her opinions. She is standing strong in them.  So am I. There’s nothing to be gained by trying to change her mind and sharing my judgments with her.  She will believe as she does. I will believe as I do.  With one difference. She has a privilege I do not.  It’s easy to tell people how they should be feeling and acting when it’s safe for you to do so.  The most dangerous of the president-elect’s followers won’t attack her.  While I can exit stage left on any conversation that makes me uncomfortable, I can’t escape reality.

In the days, weeks, months, and years to come, I have to be prepared for the worst that could happen. I have to arm (yes, I said “arm”) my only child with the knowledge and skills to grow up into an empowered woman of color. (Mothering a warrior)These are our lives.  These are our rights. If you can’t understand or respect that, then let’s wish each other well.

Red Letter Daze

“Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane
I ain’t got time to take a fast train
Lonely days are gone, I’m a-goin’ home
‘Cause my baby just wrote me a letter” The Letter by the Box-Tops

“You can ruin our reputation and our life with a few well-chosen words.” Marquise de Merteuil in Les Liasons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos.
Letters, in spite of modern technology, social media, and pop cultural shifts, are still powerful means of communication. Letters can build up or discredit. Letters of recommendation can secure your ability to win that scholarship or get an interview. Love letters can intensify a connection between two people.  There are so many types of letters that differ in purpose. Letters of support . Letters of reprimand.  Dear John letters. Letters to Santa. Letters of resignation.  Letters to the editor.  Chain letters.  The list is varied as are the reasons for writing letters.  How can one to two pages of words truly capture and/or present a situation or an individual? 
I recently had to write an important letter and though I consider myself “good with words”, I found myself at a loss on what to write. As someone who spent a greater part of my career teaching young people to choose and to read words carefully and most of my life writing as an outlet, I now felt overwhelmed by my writing task. I agonized over words and phrases at first. Then I pushed forward, the printed word expressing opinions and emotions in ways I rarely do in person, as it tends to do. Nunca he logrado ser una persona sin pelos en la lengua; only through writing have I been able to truly express my thoughts fearlessly. With this particular letter, my purpose was to support someone with whom I have a great relationship. It is less challenging to write well of others when you think highly of them. If I dislike or fear someone, I may want to soften my words but why?  What do I gain by not being clear and concise? Why spare the person’s feelings if their negative behavior has prompted a negative response? 

It’s been a lifelong journey for me to learn to speak my mind openly and aloud. There are situations when I would prefer to write a letter.  Ironically, I may have an opportunity in the next week in which I will have to do both.  I will wear red that day.  

My newest heroine

“We must encourage girls to embrace respectful acts of assertion and provide them with representations of female aggression that are neither sensationalized nor the stuff of fantasy.” Rachel Simmons, Odd Girl Out

“…you put your head down, let your work speak for you, and try to avoid conflict. If someone was questioning my ethic or principles, I always spoke up. Ultimately, the best way I stood up for myself was working hard….” Chef Beverly Kim

Award-winning Bravo reality competition, Top Chef , is in its 9th season and has had no shortage of drama.  At the center of a key storyline, Chef Beverly Kim has become a hero to me.  After dealing with bullying at the hands of a trio of her fellow female chefs, she bounced back into the competition during a secret, online Top Chef spin-off Last Chance Kitchen, much to the chagrin of her rivals. Though eliminated in semi-finals, I’m positive I’m not the only fan of her classy, confident behavior. 

In the earlier part of the season, Beverly became a target for the louder, more aggressive women chefs. They complained of what they saw as one-note lack of depth as she continually worked Asian flavors into various dishes. They found  her methodical and thorough approach to be slow, stupid, and selfish. They rolled their eyes at her sensitivity.  Though the TV viewer learned this through filmed asides and editing, we also saw the confrontations and cruel comments.  As more of her personal allies got eliminated, Beverly could often be found in the company of the male chefs, purposely excluded from the intensely close rival clique.  But her work seldom suffered as critics and guests alike enjoyed and praised her cooking.  

I have to admit I was not a Beverly fan at first. Though I disdained the bullies, I wanted her to be a mouse that roared. I wanted her to bust loose of her quiet, humble demeanor and defend herself aggressively.  Then I realized I wanted her to stop being me.  Like Beverly, I was brought up to be quiet and work hard.  Like Beverly, I have been bullied, underestimated and misunderstood.  I have responded by being patient or by refusing to take part in confrontations.  At times, I have retaliated in bullying ways such as  gossip, backbiting, or passive-aggressive behavior. So I began to appreciate Beverly, how she would defend herself with truth and calmness, and most importantly, through expressing her passion and talent.  As a woman of color in a predominantly white competition/industry, she embodied the values of her cultural community and taught us an alternative to dog-eat-dog on national TV. The remaining women chefs may continue in the competition and ultimately win(best believe I will pitch a fit ) but they have lost face and the respect of millions of people.  

Beverly cooked, cross-country-skied, and literally shot her way to success while never resorting to cattiness or mean girl tactics.  So she is my Top Chef.