An epilogue

Peru 2014 139.JPG

Caral, Peru. Photo by J. Calderon, 2014.

“..we found you lying

Choking on the dirt and sand

Your former glories and all the stories

Dragged and washed with eager hands

But, oh, your city lies in dust…” “Cities in Dust” by Siouxsie and The Banshees

A terrible situation I have experienced for many years recently ended. (Year of milagros) Though I claimed I would samba in joy, I didn’t. Nor did I throw confetti, pop bottles or make it rain.  Certain routines feel awkward. Certain places bring back memories.  The reality of victory is simply that, a reality. Life has moved forward quietly.

I do ask if it’s really over. I wonder if my work with this particular situation is done.(My second career as an exorcist)Call it PTSD (though I don’t like to, given my personal experience loving someone with true PTSD) or shock, I have moments when I brace myself for more fighting.  After years of experiencing abuse, it will take time to resolve these reactions.

I wonder about the other party. Has this person reflected on choices made and actions taken? Can this person heal?  I don’t have it in me to truly hate this individual. Deep inside, underneath layers and strata, yes strata, of God only knows what, this person is in so much pain. It is a pain so visceral and so overwhelming that it has terrorized others for decades. That’s some mierda.   I will continue to lift this person up in prayer. Fix this person, Jesus.

Though I say “icant”


My secretary gave me this paperweight for Christmas. To know me is to love me.

or “I’m unable to can”


Team Petty. T-shirt collection to prove it.

for a laugh or to keep from cursing on the daily, I know I can. Taking on a malicious individual has taught me that I can stand strong. I can fight back without compromising my better self. I can win.

Right on schedule


“He’s a God you can’t hurry,

You don’t have to worry;

He may not come when you want Him

But he’s right on time, right on time. “Traditional Gospel hymn

I have refused to give up on this Advent. (Last year’s Advent of struggle ) As expected, I have been put to the test during this season. On one hand, I have a wounded dragon heaving its last toxic breaths.


Vandervals’ “Wounded Dragon”

On the other, there is the prospect of yet another round of hoping for a leopard to willingly change his spots.


The guy on the right is the inspiration for The Police’s “Don’t Stand So Close to Me”

(Truth be told, I’m not waiting at all but I’m loyal to a fault and I will do as directed, even if I get a little Ben Linus on occasion.)ci-59798115230130361

I had a moment yesterday when I wavered, when all my anger, frustration, and indignation threatened to cloud my mind and fill my eyes with tears.  But I remembered to breathe, pray, and hold tight to my commitment to this Advent.  I moved forward in more ways than one.  Yesterday, I made a choice.

I’ve already owned my penchant for pettiness. Shoot, I even have the casual Fridays t-shirts to prove it. My pettiness is amusing at times, other times worthy of criticism. But it hasn’t held me back in the way my lack of self-confidence does. Oh sure I’ll dance on stage or on the streets with little practice. I’ll take the mic and put together a speech on the fly. But my career has been stifled by my inability to see myself as a leader.  I have worked for twice as long as several peers who are at the helm their own ships.  Yesterday, through the darkness of my emotions, I found the strength to own that my time has arrived. It is my time to lead, guide, and shepherd. I have vision, purpose, and integrity; now I am emboldened by the courage to stand alone.

At the end of a stressful workday or any day for that matter, I have to answer to myself, my family, and my God.  How have I been the best version of myself today?  How am I going to be the best version of myself tomorrow?  Soon, I will live out the answers to these questions in the spotlight.  My mistakes will be my own.  My decisions will be my own.  I will struggle and fail but I will learn.  That in turn will help me grow in the woman I was born to be.

While I may be tempted to take Hot Sauce out my bag and mess up a window or two, I can’t let others’ tomfoolery make me resort to my worst self.  I am finally going to fix myself some long overdue lemonade.beyonce-car

These hands will have to stick to prayer and to getting my paperwork together for my next job.  God will continue to give me the strength and patience.

Revealing relapse

“There is trouble in the air, destruction is everywhere
And men are being trampled beneath the soil
And nations, great and small, have now begun to fall
Oh come let us go back to God, go back to God”  written by Thomas Dorsey, as sung by Donnie McClurkin

When I talk about backsliding, I often mean it negatively.  When I backslide, I’m going to back old, often negative, habits and ways of thinking. Like every normal person, I have times when I’m disciplined, motivated, and therefore feeling and being successful.  If I “relapse” into past behavior, it is usually because I’m exhausted, demoralized, and struggling physically, mentally, and/or emotionally.  Life goes in cycles.  It’s never a journey of point A to point B.  So why do I hold myself to that unrealistic black and white thinking?  What if “going back” has its benefits?

Para los que me conocen, y’all know I’m often goal-driven. I take on reading challenges, savings challenges, and prayer challenges. I train for half-marathons and for street performances of various choreographies.  I do weeklong class hops, novenas of daily masses, 40 day fasts, and multi-week fitness programs. But I don’t always complete these goals to the best of my ability.  Sometimes I don’t complete them at all.  Then I spend some time beating myself up about those failures.  Fortunately, time and life experience has taught me to seek humility.  Life has taught me that failure is a good time to turn back to God.

I said it.  As important as my faith life is to me, God doesn’t always come first. “Well, I guess we won’t go to Mass Carnaval weekend because I’m not about to sit in church in my costume.”  God doesn’t always fit on a busy schedule.  While I thank God when I’m succeeding, I spend less time with Him while I’m busy working towards that success.  I’m going, going, going.  Literally and figuratively running.  A quick grace over a rushed meal. Half a rosary done on the commute from one family activity to another.  I don’t build in time for devotion.

It is in times of struggle and failure that I truly give myself over to God.  When I’ve been diagnosed with illnesses, I have stood with God.  When I’ve struggled with work situations, I have had long, emotional conversations with God.  When I have lost loved ones, I have found comfort from God.  Where human motivation and individual goals waver, God is constant.

I know I have lots of work to do in the next few months. I will make my faith life part of that work.  Going back to God is wonderful.  Staying with Him must be a goal. 2eec7f06e6a3add42dfda620cb60b94d

My latest echo poem

Alma Mater
An echo of “America”
Inspired, as always, by Allen Ginsberg

For Cliff and Nicole

Alma Mater I’ve given you my all and now I’m nothing.
Alma Mater, May 9th, 2007.
I can’t stand my tender heart.
Alma mater when will the drama end?
Go screw yourself with your tenacious grasp on my throat.
I’m over you don’t bother me.
I won’t write this poem till I’m in the right frame of mind.

Alma Mater when will you be whole again?
When will you rock me in your arms?
When will you shake the disease of ignorance?
When will you be worthy of your thousand scholars?
Alma Mater why is there blood on your blacktop?
Alma Mater when will you send the villains to Hell?
I’m sick of your weakness.
When can I come back and receive a loving welcome
without guilt or regret?
Alma Mater after all it is you and I who are the problem,
Not the powers that be.
Your neediness is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to make things right.
B is in heaven. He will never come back. It’s sad.
Are you sad or is this some sort of practical joke?
I’m trying to come to the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
Alma Mater stop pushing. I know what I’m doing.
Alma Mater the stone fruit is ripening.
I haven’t prayed the rosary in months. Every day somebody gets murdered in the streets.
Alma Mater I feel sentimental about the kids by the trees.
Alma Mater I used to be a liar when I was a kid and I am sorry.
I talk trash every chance I get.
I sit on my couch sometimes and stare at the black and white photo of the Immaculate Conception statue from St. Joachim’s.
When I go to church I get distracted and never pray enough.
My mind is made up there’s going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Dostoyevsky.
My therapist thinks I’m better.
I won’t say goodbye yet.
I have flashbacks and see ghosts.
Alma Mater I still haven’t told you what you did to that boy who overdosed on heroin.

I’m addressing you.
Are you going to let your future be dictated by the machine?
I detest the machine.
It grinds good people into dust every week.
Its gears roll on like millstones, roll over good intentions.
I dream of the machine imploding some day.
It tells me about inadequacy. Administrators are inadequate. Teachers are inadequate. Everyone’s inadequate, especially me.
It occurs to me that I am Alma Mater.
I am always talking to myself.

Public opinion is rising against me.
I haven’t got a BP exec’s chance.
I’d better consider my natural resources.
My natural resources consist of two citrus fruit trees roomfuls of clutter three unpublished novels a mind that can go 200 miles an hour and 32000 hours of psychotherapy.
I say nothing about the parents I have failed to call nor the dozens of ungraded papers who live in piles on my desk under curriculum binders.
I have banned the snap of gum; chips are the next to go.
My ambition is to be famous despite the fact that I’m not photogenic.

Alma Mater how can I write a catalog poem, and an ode, in this gray mood?
I will continue like Steve Jobs my stanzas are as innovative as his iGadgets more so they’re all different gender identities.
Alma Mater I will sell you stanzas $10K a piece $1000 down on your old stanza.
Alma Mater remember Brett Haagenson
Alma Mater remember John Hilmer
Alma Mater we won that National Blue Ribbon School award
Alma Mater I am one of Kemo Sabe’s AP kids.
Alma Mater when I was fifteen my parents threw me a quinceanera but in our garage and I danced the waltz with all the Peruvian dads but none of my school friends showed and no one understood my secret pain the crying bouts in a dark closet the sting of an Exacto knife on wrist but you found me drew me out through words shook my hand put me on the front page of the Record.
Everyone was so proud.
Alma Mater you really don’t want to stop fighting.
Alma Mater it’s those with authority.
Authority power and money. And power.
Power wants to dissolve you. Power is power mad. It wants to rip our spines out of us as if we were fish.
Power wants to change us. Power wants us to be Stepford people. Power wants us to function like a copy machine factory. Power wants bureaucracy running our lives.
That won’t work. No. Power pretends we fails our kids. Power pretends we don’t respect black and brown families. Ha! Power makes us all work eighty hour work weeks. Help.
Alma Mater this is quite serious.
Alma Mater this is the impression I get from reading Facebook status updates.
Alma Mater is it true?
It’s true I didn’t want to work like the horse in Animal Farm or stand by passively, I’m short and mentally unstable anyway.
Alma Mater, I’m walking.