i will be proud of my pleasure

When Beyonce’s first visual album dropped, I remember feeling a new kind of exhilaration. The kind that wakes you up, confuses you, scares you, propels you; a magnetism so strong, an understanding that you don’t know quite yet what just happened to you, but you will do everything you can to find out. I remember sitting on my bed, five days before my 23rd birthday, watching “Grown Woman” for the first time and really letting the words sink in. “I can do whatever I want.” “I can do whatever I want.” Having grown up away from my family, I’ve always thought that to be exactly my life’s philosophy.”Priscila is always doing whatever she wants!” Sometimes, a praise. Sometimes, an accusation. But this was different. Because I love structure, I thrive in structure. I love the conquering of a structure. I make structure my b*tch. Crude? Yes. But it’s exactly how it feels.

“I’m a grown woman, I can do whatever I want.” “I’m a grown woman, I can do whatever I want.” I think it might have been the first moment in which I totally and 100% realized that there was a world one step wilder, smoother, more colorful than mastering the structure. And I was old enough to grab it. Beyonce in that moment presented a possibility I had never recognized and from that moment, I was hooked. I wanted more. 

I don’t think I’ve mastered the subtle and necessary art of not giving a damn, or the art of celebration: of self, of womanhood, of all my loudness, my harshness. Celebration. I’ve been inching into it. Slowly. But something also happened when I turned 25. An age at which I thought my brothers were already grown men of the world, belonging to the suits and the ties, and part of the solution for potable water in disenfranchised parts of Colombia. And they are. And they were. So what’s my 25? I’ve thought more about pleasure and what pleasure means in my life. Pleasure.

I’ve always chased pleasure. I smoked. I drank. I threw up. I kissed too many. I chased too much. Slipped away too many mornings. I wrote. I ran. Pleasure. Pleasure. Pleasure quietly ruling my life. The late realization has been tremendous. That word. Quietly, pleasure, quietly leading my life. Realizing that I will take any and all opportunities to feel good, to “feel myself,” to celebrate and to be celebrated. And yet. Quietly. And why?

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I Will Be Hard On You.

SITTING ON THE A TRAIN ON MY WAY TO JFK:

P holds her “I’m an immigrant sign,” listens to Hamilton.
White man sits across from her.
WM: Are you actually?
(Signals that he’s trying to talk to her, takes off her headphones.)
P: What?
WM: Are you actually an immigrant?
P: Oh. Yeah. A real actual one.
WM: You look perfectly white.
P: What does that mean?
WM: If I were you I just wouldn’t say anything. You’ll be just fine.

Passing. This is the concept of passing. And it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot since Pendejo was elected. That very night, I thought, shamefully, “well, at least mama is French and my skin is white.” I pass. And it’s not that I thought, “it’s 2017, the fact that I’m thinking about passing is shameful!” No. Minorities the spectrum over think about passing everyday in our country. And you know what happened next? I looked at Eric in shame because he doesn’t get that stupid choice. He does not get that shameful privilege.

Shameful to feel. Shameful to share. So I’ll go back to it, we must acknowledge privilege where we have it. When you’re a man, when you’re white, when you’re richer, when you’re prettier, when you see better, when you can see farther. This is the time to use that. This is when your privilege comes in handy. As Luvvie Ajayi reminded us all, when you walk in a white body, you walk in privilege. It’s part of it. Acknowledge that. It’s time to harness that. Because I can go to a protest today and a cop will move a barrier for me so I can get to my train faster. Privilege can move mountains where people have been climbing all along.

Listen, the comfort of our privilege is what got us here. So I will no longer accept it. I will be hard on you. I will be hard on you because Yoga and drinks can be rescheduled. I will be hard on you because if your fight doesn’t include muslims, refugees, black women, black men, Latinas, Chicanas, you name it, then it’s only for you and that is nonsense. I will be hard on you because I assure you refugees are more tired than you. I will be hard on you because I love you. And yes. Self care is important. But don’t self care so much that you forget. So gather your friends, get them marching. Organize. Raise money. Make noise. It will bring you closer than your three glasses of wine.

I’ll see you all tomorrow at 2PM at Battery Park. We must become the mountains.

#NoBanNoWall #OurNewYork #IAmAnImmigrant

One Day at a Time

Listen, I grew up feeling very represented: dad was in congress, mom was a doctor, and (she crosses herself) Shakira, Juanes, and Sofia Vergara. There was no thing a Colombian could not do.

I remember moving here and watching lots of Mikes and Mollys, Hanks and Peggys, Jennifers and Rachels. One Lopez. I didn’t think much about it at the time. I didn’t have to, I had all that Shakira gumption. But it’s been sixteen years now.

Sixteen! And I remember crying over the balcony at ON YOUR FEET! The Musical so its author wouldn’t notice. Because I was ugly crying, completely overwhelmed. I realized that after eight years in conservatory, and fifteen pursuing theater, I had never, ever, ever heard a salsa number on stage. While I had felt represented all my life, I realized– snotty and M&Med up– that I had never actually seen or heard the sounds I left sixteen years ago on a theater stage. You know, that thing I went to conservatory for and paid gazillions of dollars to get good at? That dream? Snot aside, it was the first time I understood what representation does to a body. I didn’t know I needed that. Dad was in Congress, remember? But I did. It undid me. Disarmed me. Made me feel seen when I thought I was already in plenty of spotlight. It made me call my parents and thank them for their ridiculously generous hearts and impecable work ethic, both of which made it possible for me to even have that very experience. Because I was being represented in MY dream.

So yes. I support you #OneDayAtATime. Whole heartedly and full of gratitude. Because Latinos deserve laugh tracks and yellow living room scenes, too. So please keep writing them, and writing them well.

 

For more on this awesomeness, click here.

Lesson from the creepy guy walking down the sidewalk:

Today, I unintentionally locked eyes with a dude who had been very intensely starring at my face the entire time we shared the sidewalk.

I feel very small when I get stared down or cat-called. Frazzled, extremely anxious that my entire space is being invaded and I had no say in it. So you’ll imagine my terror when I lock eyes with creepy-blue-eyes.

But then, as he’s about to pass me- walking the opposite direction and mantaining eye contact- he makes a fart noise. A surprising, full on, Grown Man raspberry. Of course, I immediately “WTF, Dude”-ed him, but as we walked away I laughed, realizing it was pure genius!

I needed a new tool to handle my cat-calling distress. Telling people to f*ck off is getting old and makes me feel worse. So, should you get stared down while being your badd self, stare back, and give the fart noise a try. It’s a great and simple way to disarm the patriarchy.

Thank you, creepy sidewalk man.

#CatCallingHacks

lessons from my heater

The temperature has finally dropped: when I asked Siri what the weather was this morning, she said “Brrr. It’s 19 degrees in Brooklyn.” You will understand my disappointment when I walked into my apartment from work at 1130PM last night to see snowflakes forming when I spoke. For the last year, I’ve meditated every single morning for 20 mins first thing when I wake up. Anger is not an easy thing to process or feed into anymore. It paralyzes me, it makes me cry. I’ve trained myself to immediately look at the positive when crazy begins to leak. But leak it did. I begin to take out the trash like I’m warming up for my quarterly half-marathon. I keep my entire winter gear on, including my Tims, and when my boyfriend says he’s on his way home, anger comes unleashed.

I hate being cold. In my gratitude journal, there’s a daily entry for my appreciation of heat, warm clothing, and drinks. I was born and raised 300 miles from the Equator and cold feels like someone’s robbing me of my heated foundation; one of the few constitutional rights I had as a Colombian citizen. That’s what being cold feels like. It unleashes a crying monster unlike any Hanger has ever seen. Hanger, as my loved ones will tell you, is another chronic problem that inhabits my body. In short, I hate being cold.

I immediately texted our landlord, letting her know that the heat was still malfunctioning, that it’s the coldest night thus far, and that we need someone who could give a more extensive look. I don’t like this kind of aggression or demand. So I sat down, the anger boiling up to my earlobes, replacing the heater’s inadequacy even for a moment. And I began to cry. What arose in that moment was immeasurably convoluted and deep seeded.

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I Don’t Have to Hit Rock Bottom

 I don’t have to hit rock bottom this time. Bulimia is a specific addiction. No one in my life supported it, I knew it was ugly, I knew I was being wrecked, there was no room to welcome someone into it, and I certainly didn’t engage in it with anyone but myself. My body as I knew it and as I wanted it to be didn’t stand a chance against it. My daily habit of throwing up until I scraped my throat tender, followed by a full pack of cigarettes to smoke up its bloody patches would have me gone in no time. Listen, those heart palpitations… I knew. I made excuses to not show, skipped big events to not be shown, and always replaced the food I ate in time, should I have purged something that wasn’t mine. But let’s be clear about it: this addiction was not supported. It wasn’t cool. It didn’t bring me close to anyone. It’s not what we engaged in at a birthday party.

I hit many rock bottoms. I was in rehab. I scared my family. I went back to it. I caved. I shared purging secrets. I locked down boarding school bathrooms. I fired therapists who threatened to “tell on me.” And then I stopped. And it took ten years. Ten out of twenty one is almost half and stopping meant learning how to walk, how to grow through puberty all over again, how to be seen, and how to say I can, all over again and without my buddy. What I’m saying now is that with a ten year addiction and a four year recovery under my belt, at twenty-four, I find Alcohol incredibly confusing. I don’t go on benders, I don’t hide, I don’t skip events to not be seen, I don’t replace bottles I’ve drank, and I don’t do it alone. And I haven’t. I don’t even handle it that well. Two glasses of wine and I’m feeling it. I wake up feeling it. Maybe throwing up during your most formative years does that to a body. But alcohol confuses me because I’m starting to recognize its trigger, the small cravings, the relief at its sight, the tiny voice. And yet its applauded. If I don’t do it, the room shifts. The hefty drinkers are uncomfortable. It’s a shame if it isn’t done.  But in my my rock bottom memory I know that this is how it starts. Ten more years and it’s another version of purging a ten pound meal, followed by a pack of cigarettes. And yet, if I know, why has it been so scary to make the decision?

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Querida Addiction:

I threw up for ten years. The history of my bulimia is one I’ve chosen to be very open about: as the daughter of two Doctors, my eating disorders- along with the bouts of depression that run in our blood- have never been dismissed or brushed aside. I’m keenly aware of how rare that is. Period. But I’m mostly aware of how rare that is in a Latino household. So I’m loud about recovery. I open my doors, invite people to sit on my couch and give space to those who feel comfortable and safe enough to sit back and let something other than food out. Throwing up for ten years is a story I share, a narrative I tell, a one woman show I’ve produced.

However, I choose my words wisely when I speak of exactly how I found my way to recovery. I’m very careful when I disclose the exact method that pushed me out of my toilet and into my life. Because after ten years of gastric fluid eating away at my esophagus and going through toothbrushes like most people go through Q-Tips, the tip was incredibly simple. Insultingly simple. After hundreds of books read on the topic and years of therapy, I got my hands on the one book that didn’t hold mine back. The narrative went something like this, “You’re an addict. You’ve trained your body to deal with any emotion with this addiction. That’s all it is.” Cold in my tracks, I tell you. Don’t get me wrong. I’m therapy’s Number One Fan. I wish everyone would go. I’ve helped as many friends shop for the right person to heal them through life as I have for myself. But therapy isn’t enough. When it comes to Eating Disorders, we ask young men and women (and sometimes not so young) to understand of themselves what most people won’t even begin to question in a lifetime. We’re telling young men and women that they must get to the bottom of their Daddy, Mommy, Brother, Body, and Drive issues before then can ever quit their 120 Hour ED work week. This method simply takes all power away. It tells people that their entire life set up- with or without them- is the reason why they’re like this to begin with. For me, thinking of my eating disorder as an addiction led to freedom. I began to realize that whatever made me throw up for the first time ten years ago was not what was driving me to the toilet every day. I was an addict. And I could kick an addiction. Kicking is active. I’m a director, I like active. For the first time, I could diminish that voice to know that it was my addiction talking, not my Father, not my Brother, and certainly not Me, Sister. Not me.

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Today’s TBT #BlackLivesMatter

REAL LIFE LOS ANGELES TRAIN (yes): 5 o’clock to Culver City.

FEROCIOUS BUSINESS WOMAN: 40’s, black, French cuffs, Louboutins, red reading glasses, French twist. PRISCILA watching Wesley T. Jones‘ latest video (on latest shootings), sans headphones. Proud.

PRISCILA: Oh my.
FEROCIOUSNESS: That your friend?
PRISCILA: Yes, ma’am.
FEROCIOUSNESS: Hm. You in your twenties?
PRISCILA: (I nod) 22.

(I repost, open up NPR App on my phone)
FEROCIOUSNESS takes off her reading glasses, places them on her head. Holds her hand to her mouth. Then chin. Inhales.

FEROCIOUSNESS: Let me ask you something. Did you just move here?
PRISCILA: (smiles) what makes you say that? Indeed, I just did.
FEROCIOUSNESS: Hm. We don’t see bodies like yours around here much anymore. Girls come out here and disappear.
PRISCILA: I’m sorry, I… Boys are getting shot and you want to talk to me about the circumference of my thighs?
FEROCIOUSNESS: They’re related.
PRISCILA: Oh yeah?
FEROCIOUSNESS: You want truth?

FEROCIOUSNESS: You see mama, whenever a girl loses another damn pound or straightens her hair or changes the way her mama taught her to make a meal, they’re bleaching our histories and burying our bones and the STRUCTURES THEY COME IN six feet underground. Execution all around. Where you from?
PRISCILA: (breath) Colombia.
FEROCIOUSNESS: Hm. (Puts glasses back on, gathers her Prada, Newspaper, and takeout, stands) I lost my two brothers to Chicago and then I moved out here. I was twenty-five. Whenever they shoot another brown boy, they’re also shooting at your curves and at the language you speak when you call your home. So yes baby, when I see you I say to myself, “she better keep ’em thighs strong.” Stay blessed, child.

Train stops. FEROCIOUSNESS nods, and steps off.

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REAL LIFE BK CORNER STORE: (translated)

(Happened a year ago today: weirdly appropriate)

COP 1 to COP 2: (reminscing) I would hit that, hard, and all day LONG, man.

BOTH: DALE!!! (obligatory handshake, tap on the back type thing).
COP 1 (asks the counter guy): ey, where’s the transvestite at?
COUNTER GUY: Day off.
COP 1: Day off for what? To strap some balls back on?
COP 2: Pray that God grow him a nice rack?
LITTLE GIRL: Mami, I think they’re talking about Frankie.
COP 2: (paying for his coffee) Don’t worry baby, you don’t need to worry about monsters like him while we’re around, you got that?

(Super mama puts little girl down, takes cops hands, coffee spills a bit)

MAMA: Frankie is my son, pendejo. Who you fighting for, huh? Doesn’t your boricua ass get enough hate? And don’t you ever call my baby girl “baby,” you hear? I don’t need her to think that a fat ass in a suit with coffee and a gun can save her. Fuck women over on your own time, but leave the parenting to Frankie and I- that man in a dress saves her from you. YOU GOT THAT?

‪#‎yesma‬‘am.