On Chosen Family- Dear Marque

**Editor’s Note: First and foremost, fk corona. With that said, as gatherings are banned many of us have no place to collectively grieve. I have my little corner here, so I am gong to honor my friend.**

It is a privilege in this life, to have family you choose.

I met him on a rainy day. A terrible day for a woman without chemically-straightened hair to meet a stylist, but an extremely enthused flyer-pusher grabbed my attention and ushered me towards a salon I’d never have seen if it wasn’t pointed out. As I entered the space after climbing the stairs I was greeted by a big voice. Actually, “big’ probably doesn’t do it justice. The audaciousness of his voice was only bested by his cape as he floated in my direction like some grand superhero of hair. This was Marque.

Against my better judgement (and wallet, as the reason I was on that street was to buy food from Jack’s Discount Store) I used the coupon on that flyer the same day and begged him to fix the mess that was my hair. He cut out the last few years of damage, color stained with grief as they held the death of love, family and way of life. I’d just moved back to NY to try to put the pieces of my family back together as my mother was too ill to tend to the seams. Attending to my own grief on the matter would have to wait, as rent needed to be paid and dinner to be prepared. Hair was a thing I could control, the results of tending to it gave me a thing I could count on in a sea of uncertainty. I’d decided then and there coupon or not, Marque was now a line item in my budget. My “one nice thing”.

A five-time Emmy winning stylist (did you know there were Emmy’s for hair and makeup? That’s how I found out), Marque was not cheap. I’d bet of all his well-known, downright famous and otherwise well-to-do clientele that understood the value of his service I was in the lower-tier. But he always found a way to keep me in the chair, whether by alerting me of deals and discounts or sneaking in an extra snip. Because as we grew to know each other through hot combs and scissors, we found common ground in our search for home.

His life story is not mine to tell. But his life took him from his native DC to NY, and his talent and curiosity meant every time I saw him he was trying something new. From his editorial hair art to events, his abilities easily transitioned to new art forms. He inspired and encouraged me to do the same. It was Marque who dressed me for my first pageant, calling in a favor to a designer when all I could afford was the competition fee.

But forgive me if I make him seem like he was a fairy godmuva. While yes, he has had a large part in what I have grown to become, he was much, much more. He was inspiring, he was always-evolving, he was an active participant in his life and never the victim of it. He was my friend. He cheered for my life and I was honored to do the same.

When he embarked on this latest chapter- enrolling in college in the hopes of laying a foundation for life beyond the chair- I cheered even knowing it meant I would eventually have to entrust a new person with my tresses. But seeing how unafraid he was to start over led me to try as well, and one of my joys was following right behind him in graduating from my program with honors. His journey led him to discover a whole new path in creating art on canvas, and his talent took him across oceans as he painted here and abroad on various study programs.

The last time we saw each other physically was right after his art installation at his alma mater, Boricua College, where he’d graduated as valedictorian. A nasty bout of “flu-like symptoms” made me miss the exhibition the first weeks it was on display. I remember leaving work early to try to catch the last days of it, rushing over to the college before they closed for the day. Unfortunately, construction made them close it down early. I called and sent a picture from outside the building. He laughed off my dramatic attempts to show I went, but after school and life had caused me to retreat in the last year I told him my aim this year was to show up. I wanted him to know he was my friend and I was going to show up, even if it was just with a toast after I skidded in broadside five minutes after close. And in our last texts as the city shut down, I hope he knew I checked in not as a client, but as a friend.

I wish I had better words at this time. I wish I’d checked in daily instead of every few days. I wish this time would be more generous, to allow him to be mourned fully instead of being lost in a sea of statistics. I wish there wasn’t so much left undone. He’d just sold his first painting. He’d just begun dreaming up artist retreats. He’d just restarted the application process to a prestigious graduate degree program in fine art. He’d just found my words, and told me to not leave my own art behind. He’d just started again. We had new chapters to write.

It is a privilege in this life, to have family you choose. The last fifteen years have been an honor, friend. I know whatever new beginnings lie ahead, I will be a little less afraid because I knew you.  Wherever you are, I know you and your cape are outshining them all.


“The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let the dead things go.”

I think about that phrase often, when I’m in my quiet spot in the park. The release of dead thing weighing down, making room for colors in the Spring. For new life, beautiful blooms marking New Beginnings. I think of possibilities anew.

But mostly I think, “they never speak of Winter”.

The long quiet moments left with nothing but the space the Dead Things left behind when you set them free. The agonizing stillness, time refusing to move as you cocoon in the darkness wondering if you will ever see the sun,. If you will ever bloom again.

It is Winter time for me. The Belly of the Beast; the moment before the first blade of grass pokes through the snow, when most folks say “fuck this shit”. The time when you have nothing left to report and your days are an endless slog of dues and your friends stop asking because your answer is always the same. The part of the movie they shorten to a  montage because months of daily training and vomiting bile do not a blockbuster Hero’s Tale make.

They never speak of Winter.

When you have been laid bare; left to weather the harshest of the elements and cannot bear yet another day of waking up to darkness. They do not tell you the final leg of your journey is to be navigated in Darkness; the shortened days make the light at the end of the tunnel shine for too short a time to be a guide.

There is a patch of grass by my tree now, much greener than the rest of the dry earth around it. It must be new here. I look above, I did not notice the branches now bear the fainest beginnings of bulbs. The sun, while low in the sky, peeks just long enough for me to not go home in darkness today.

But still.

They never speak of Winter.


To the loved ones that have expressed their bewilderment 

With my decision to remain childless

Is the mothering ability you believe me to have

An aptitude you see that I do not

Or do you believe it my calling

Because for you

Unrequited love and unanswered effort

Seemed to spring so naturally from my untiring body?

How to Be Single: Step Ya P*ssy Up

I am not an inexhaustible resource. I am not the damn sun. I am not self-sufficient. I need help. I need support. I need someone behind me. I need a push. I need someone that does a bit more than nod when I talk about my future. I am completely ok being alone until that is present…because I can’t support myself alone AND be a supportive partner #AtTheSameDamnTime. If that makes me a [insert derogatory term for autonomous female] I will motherfucking BE.THAT. But what I WON’T be is exhausted trying to hold up two grown-ass people with no support in return.

The words flowed out of me in a manner I’ve yet to replicate (of course, on a post that was not mine), and I realized the subject matter had hit too close to home.

It was time for me to stop looking for a relationship.

(I also realized it was time to stop giving my words away, but that’s an entirely different post)

I have a hard rule that I stop when it isn’t fun anymore, and dating had long past its expiration date for me. I was tired of meeting new people. Tired of “putting myself out there”, waiting to be “picked”. Tired of being “the one before THE ‘one’”. Tired of setting standards for what I “deserve”. Tired of wondering why no one agreed with me. But most of all, I was tired of..being tired, and not really knowing why.

Till of course, I emptied my soul onto a comment section (& hit “publish” when I should have hit “cut & paste”).

I was tired because I was doing too damn much and asking for nothing. I was “showing my woman” to build a case while the only thing my romantic interest had to be was a person I liked, a person of envy. Their existence was enough for me, but I insisted on proving my usefulness to them. This is why I could come up with at least one tangible way I improved upon the life of my paramours but came up with nothing but bad skin on my end. So I unceremoniously tossed my lists and quietly cancelled the search for a significant other. If I was never going to be “enough”, there was nothing left for me to prove. My energy was best spent elsewhere.

But where? What now? What was it that I really wanted?

Noting all the “wants” and things I “deserved” centered on a relationship dynamic led me to two quite embarrassing realizations; one-outside of a relationship, men didn’t actually have a whole lot of stock in my life. I hadn’t viewed them as “people” in a while; capable of contributing to my life, or growth or anything, really-aside from proving to the world that I was a person worthy of choosing. And two-and likely the more important realization-part of the reason their existence was enough while I was doing all this work to prove my usefulness was because I confused envy for attraction, and just did not believe my existence enough reason for a person to be around me.

Truth be told, I am the damn sun. I just didn’t believe it yet.

It was time for a new list, and some new rules. The reason I was so exhausted was because all of my expectations began at a relationship-anything before that the price of admission was virtually free, and I was doing all the lifting to make sure he knew I was “relationship-worthy”. So what was required for my continued presence if relationships were off the table?

I’m going to have to pause here because I haven’t figured out how to expound on the details without breaking my rules of discretion, and because in the future not all of my words will be free. But I will say this; somewhere along the journey of discovering what it was I truly wanted to take away from affairs-casual, committed or otherwise-dating found a way to be fun again. I stopped walking away feeling drained and exhausted from the exchange, as it became more mutual. I stopped believing my worth lied in my usefulness instead of my presence. And most importantly, I became the person I envied.


So what about you? What does your “list” look like these days?


How to be Single: Get Your Shit Together

There is a woman on my vision board.

She is a size two, a minimalist with a mostly black wardrobe and a few pops of color. Blue, tan and coral. She wakes up at 5:30 every morning, setting her bare feet on the ground to begin her morning gratitude meditation. Grabbing her journal from the tidy vanity without moving her feet from the floor, she jots down three pages of free thought in 10 minutes. Arising with a clear mind and a thankful outlook, she sets her sights on the day ahead.

Room temperature lemon water is her drink of choice, but not until routine oil-pulling while doing her warm-up stretches. After 45 minutes of exercise with her favorite instructor, she takes a few swigs of green juice and heads for the shower.

Rose water, serums and crème is applied; hair is pulled into a sleek chignon. Sliding into a curve-skimming sheath and ballet flats (her uniform of choice), she heads out into the city.

On time.

Of course.

Her favorite commute routine is the application of eyeliner, because it always draws stares and reminds her hands still hold their youthful precision. She heads into the office, where making people look good with her words gives her purpose. Coffee, fruit and almonds fuel her morning, light meats and vegetables her afternoon.

Depending on the evening you will find her in her kitchen, at the theater or commanding a steakhouse bar table. For easy evenings at home Italian is her favorite, as a simple pasta dish is the easiest to modify for one person.

Because, of course, she lives alone.

An enclave deliberately small enough to discourage extended company, filled with the tiniest amount of things that bring her joy. She has a long-term love a distance away, a worldly man appreciative of what America can offer an ambitious immigrant but un-enamored with the fairy-tale of “America the Great”. They regularly meet over wine at chosen locales, with banter and tales of dating misadventures filling their eve till they fill of themselves. They part, breathless and grateful their distance allows the extended illusion.

She is enviable. She is witty, and fit, and undeniably sexy. She is me.

If I ever get my shit together.

She wakes with me at 6:45 am and asks me why I’ve wasted over an hour of productivity. She stands over my words, wondering why I choose to hand them over to the internet instead of making them my source of income. She examines my waistline, frowning at its current expansion.

She hates my lived-in apartment.

She stares at the blank pages of my journal and asks me what morning will I begin. She sees the doughnut on my desk and wags her finger at the absence of green juice and almonds. She interrupts my moments of joy to remind me that I’d likely be even happier.

If I got my shit together.

For years I have chased her, convinced she was the reason I did not get that job, could not keep that man, would not get as far as I wanted to. I, who loved too hard and lived too messily, paled in comparison. I was never enough.

Somewhere on this odd journey of self-discovery, while learning to love the ache of solitude I looked around at the glorious chaos that was my life and realized this was it. She is me, and I am me. And if I was going to get on with my life, I was going to have to accept the messy, broken bits that came along with it.

I am the woman that loves to apply eyeliner on the train..for the three weeks every year that I care about makeup. My mornings have structure some days, and some days they don’t. I’m never, ever going to entirely give up doughnuts. My minimalism manifests itself everywhere except my wardrobe (okay, and my kitchen. I have far too many fun appliances-but I use them all!). My “brings me joy” meter may be slightly off (as I observe the clutter atop my table). A broken heart never killed me. And by best life is now.

I am never going to have it together 100% of the time. And while she is a lovely thing to aspire to, she is not a source of failure or the reason a person would not stay in my life. Learning to love the messy bits, and finding a tribe that does the same, has brought me more joy than any regimen ever has. This is it. This is me. And right now, I am enough.

Ok, my pores could be smaller…

be HAPPIER in your HOME

Found this list on apartmenttherapy.com and was inspired! Hopefully it will inspire you t00!

1. Make your bed.

The book The Happiness Project, explains that this three minute task is one of the simplest habits you can adopt to positively impact your happiness.

2. Bring every room back to “ready.”

I learned this trick from Marilyn Paul’s clever book, It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys. It’s a known fact: Clutter causes stress; order creates a haven from it. This mood-boosting routine is simple: Take about three minutes to bring each room back to “ready” before you depart it. (Unless you have a toddler, or a partner who likes to simulate earthquakes, three minutes should be sufficient.)

3. Display sentimental items around your home.

One reason that experiences (and memories of those experiences) make us happier than material things is due to the entire…

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The Hope of Christmas in an Hour of Oppression.

Stacia L. Brown

The story of Mary, Joseph, and the newborn Christ deserves graver contemplation this year. The story of Mary, Joseph, and the newborn Christ deserves graver contemplation this year.

As Christmas nears, I am remembering not the miracle of the virgin birth, nor the pageantry of an angelic announcement. Not the damp stench of dung in the manger, nor the frankincense and myrrh that staved that stench from the newborn Christ’s skin. Days before the holiday, I am remembering Herod the Great.

He has come to the fore of my Christmas contemplation, because we have too often overlooked his part of the narrative. This is a time to revere a messiah, but it is also a moment to mourn the massacre that followed his arrival.

This year, cruelty has been charging forth, unpenned, throughout cities across the nation. As our annual gift-shopping frenzy ensues, protesters are pretending to be dead in the halls of commerce; they are splaying themselves on unyielding concrete, channeling ill-fated…

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Non-Attachment: Is It Possible?

Journey to the Eden Within


Mind is the creator of attachment, not heart.  Many confuse non-attachment with detachment.  We envision a hermit living life in a cave with no companionship, and that is very unappealing for most of us.  Most of us want to have relationships, to have children, to have friends, to make love, to enjoy life, etc.  Can we do all of that in a state of non-attachment?  Non-attachment is not a lack of love, it is not a lack of connection, quite the opposite.  I would in fact define non-attachment as akin to unconditional love.  Non-attachment is actually a state of very deep connection, connection to source, to self, to all.  It is connection without conditions, without any need to prove anything or for anything else to prove itself to you.  Mind creates ego and ego creates attachment because it needs attachment to feel real, and to feel justified.  It needs to…

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Stag Series: The Art of the Happy Hour

We’ve all been there before.

Struck with a bout of cabin fever but all our friends have dates. Maybe you were flaked out on by an “always busy” paramour. Perhaps it is 4:45 and while you’re ready to leave work, you’re not quite ready to go straight home. When I find myself in any of these scenarios (or, like recently, all three at the same time, booo) I just take myself to the nearest happy hour.

It wasn’t until I started telling my friends about it that I realized this is not a normal practice in my age group. I constantly got comments like, “you’re so brave!” or, “I could never go to a bar by myself!” when in fact; the process is pretty simple and doesn’t take a lot of guts at all. In the spirit of good fun, below are my tips for making the most of a random Tuesday night:

For Goodness’ Sake, Don’t go to Just a Bar.

Or a lounge. Or any place that people go to “mix and mingle”, really. The idea is to have great drink, great food and great conversation, and your chance at all three is limited when you’re in some dark place with the music on 80. The way I see it, if I can only get two out of three, I pick food and drink. Ideally, you want to be at a good-to-great steakhouse or otherwise awesome food establishment with adequate bar seating and a thought-out bar bites menu. If you absolutely must do a “bar” bar, make it a hotel lounge. You will get some great conversation from the traveling business people, and the bartenders are artists at the quick-engage, as they rarely deal with regulars.

Go at Actual Happy Hour, NOT at “Date Times”.

This one is tricky as I know people work, blah, blah, but do you really want to be there while new couples feed each other angus sliders? Even if that doesn’t bother you there’s a method to my madness, hear me out. If you walk into a bar area between 5:30 and 6:30 the only people there are professionals looking to take the edge off before they hop on whatever mode of transportation gets them home. So what don’t you have? People you don’t like taking up loads of your time. I probably end up having five 10-15 minute conversations over the course of a happy hour; it is very rare that I’m stuck with one person for the entire duration. Get there at 8:00, and you’re likely to be speaking to the same person until 10. Which is fine if you click, but if you don’t…well, at least you picked a place with good food.

You are on a Date. Dress Accordingly.

Just don’t be that weird person in a cocktail dress at the bar at 5:30. You are taking yourself out for after-work drinks, so jazz up your normal work attire and head out. You may not be looking to meet someone, but you are worth dressing up for.

The best part about the whole thing is you are on a date with yourself, so it’s your rules. If you don’t want to speak to anybody, you don’t have to! If you want to read, you can. If you want to be the life of the bar, your party. There’s no pressure, you don’t have to stay any longer than you want to (unless your favorite team is playing) and you don’t have to worry about coming up with “date conversation”. Relax, have fun, and I’ll see you at the bar!