Monday, May 31, 2010

The 12 Steps for Everyone [Step Five]

¡Hola! Everybody…
Every month, I dedicate a post to one of the steps of Narcotics Anonymous. These posts are by no means intended as extensive exploration of recovery. They are merely brief expression of my strengths, hopes, and experiences culled from my ongoing journey toward recovery.

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-=[ The Heart of Kindness ]=-

Step Five: We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

* * *

Recap time!

First, we explored what I call the “Recovery Cha Cha Cha” -- the first three steps that serve as the foundation to recovery and freedom from addiction. Step 1 (click here) confronted me with the major contradiction in my life: how I managed to feel powerful when, in fact, I was powerless and needed help. Step 2 (click here) challenged my grandiosity. I have heard it said that addicts are egomaniacs with low self-esteem and I couldn’t put it any better than that. My low self-esteem pushed me to inflate my ego, but all I ever felt inside was emptiness and feelings of worthlessness. Step 3 (click here) helped me see that my efforts at control were in actuality ways of sabotaging myself. Ultimately, I can only take responsibility for myself leaving the rest to my Higher Power however I defined it. Lastly, the Fourth Step (click here) gave me the gift of self-knowledge. By reviewing in detail my fears, desires, thoughts, motives, and actions, seeing how they created wreckage, I was better able to uncover the secrets.

I raised a Roman Catholic and I can still remember the ritual Saturday confessionals. We would tease our friends and cousins if they took too long in the confessional because we all knew that meant there was a lot of sinning goin’ on. LOL Still, the feeling of catharsis that always accompanied a confession was always refreshing. Always, the priest listened quietly and no matter what you said or admitted to, it was taken in stride, with no judgment. The message, at least for me anyway, is that no one is ever truly beyond redemption.

As much as I dreaded the Fourth Step, the Fifth Step was the scariest for me. Shame was acting as an obstacle against my journey to freedom. In Step five, we are asked to bare our soul to our Higher Power (as we define it), ourselves, and another human being. Reveal all, put it all out there, and take the risk of coming face to face with our shadow and dragging it out into the open.

Secrets and shame are two of the hallmarks of the disease of addiction. Many of us come from families in which addiction was a way of life. Throughout our developmental years and beyond, many of us feared outsiders would see us and our “horrible” families truthfully, so we developed coping skills that developed into strategies of denial. Step Five, people, was my first taste of true freedom. And recovery isn’t about putting down a drug or a drink -- recovery is about freedom from active addiction.

Period.

Still, I couldn’t possibly share my most shameful secrets with another human being, I thought to myself. Surely, no one has ever done the despicable things I had done. I was stuck at Step Five for sure. Eventually I came to learn an important truth, and I feel this applies to anyone, not just addicts. When we try to carry the load alone, we suffer needlessly. And in an unconscious manner, in seeking relief from that load, sometimes we will accuse even our loved ones and friends of the very character defects we are desperately attempting to conceal. Psychological relief never comes from confessing the “sins” of other people. Everybody has to come to terms with their own.

The practice of confessing, admitting the exact nature of our wrongs to another person is not new; it’s an ancient spiritual practice, in fact. And religion is by no means the sole advocate for this principle, contemporary Western psychology has long ago acknowledged the value the profound need every human being has for practical insight and knowledge of their personality flaws.

After much thought, I decided to share my Fifth Step with a Jesuit priest who was a recovering addict himself. This priest, who I will call Eddie, was one of the kindest persons I have ever met. And he was far from the stereotypical clergyman. He sometimes cussed, for example, and he smoked cigarettes. Most of all, like many truly spiritual people I have met, he had a great, evolved sense of humor.

As I began sharing my Fifth Step with father Eddie, he just listened. He was present, listening to everything and I felt there was no judgment. In fact, he kept nodding as I read off my list and sometimes sharing that he had committed some of the same acts himself. At other times, we would laugh together at some of the things on my list. Eventually, I was able to share fully, without holding back, ad all the fear and shame seemed as if it were being washed away. I felt accepted and unburdened. Most of all, I felt relieved of the “burden of self.”

The first great insight during the sharing of my Fifth Step was that I wasn’t as unique or terrible or horrible as I thought. Yes, I had committed many wrongs, but I wasn’t the only human being to commit those acts, and being held in the cradle of kindness -- in the heart of the heart of kindness -- I came to know my first taste of true freedom. The 12 Steps aren’t about formulating ideas about freedom, they compel us to act on the pract5ice of freedom. The 12 Steps are experiential exercises, action steps, toward personal and communal liberation.

Taking Step freed me from the chains of my shame and secrecy. I realized that I was a good person at heart and being freed from a repressive morality, I was able to become a moral agent in my life. Most of all, you have to understand, the Steps are about compassion, not punishment. The Steps can be the start of cultivating loving compassion toward ourselves. Personally, it was liberating to discover that my very vulnerability, that uncomfortable sensation of being exposed, is actually the bridge to deeper connections to myself and others. It’s called emotional safety, and what that means is dropping the shame and the sham and committing to being as translucent as possible. And now, all these years after my first Fifth Step, emotional safety and genuine intimacy is the norm among the circle of my dearest friends.

Love,

Eddie

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Sermon [The Myth of Freedom]

¡Hola! Everybody…
I’m happy to say that while my back continues to plague me, treatment and some lifestyle changes have made it bearable. Sitting for extended periods is still a no-no, however. Thanks again to all who sent me good wishes and who expressed their concern.

* * *

The Myth of Freedom

A man is either free or he is not. There cannot be any apprenticeship for freedom.
-- Imamu Amiri Baraka (1934 -)


I once became lost in a Connecticut national park many years ago. I was about 19-20 years-old, a busload of us city kids planned a trip, and we all trekked up to some park in Armpit, USA. I am a dyed-in-the-wool city boy. And when I say city, I mean city. Please, I’ve traveled around this country and some places that use the term “City” are laughable. Yes, I am a NYC snob: anything above 14th street for me is Hicksville. Anyway, grew up in the city and the first time I saw a live pig, I thought it was a cow! When I thought of pigs, what came to mind was that pig Arnold from the 1960s TV sitcom, “Green Acres.”

Whatever… always the adventurous one, I convinced another poor soul to go “exploring” with me. We got lost for close to 48 hours. We kept walking in circles. There was this lake not too far from our campsite, you see, and me being the “Brainiac” of the two decided if we followed the lakeshore, we would eventually end up where we started. The thing is we kept walking in circles, not around the lake, but within a confined space. We realized this after hours of walking because we kept seeing a rock formation that looked eerily familiar. The reason for that was that it was the same rock formation! LMAO! By this time, it had gotten dark and there was a pronounced early October chill. to compound matters, my poor accomplice had inadvertently fallen into a cascade that hid a cave -- he was freezing, but we thought the cave was the best place to stay for the night.

We had nothing -- no matches, flashlight, compass, food -- nada. We had to stop because of that annoying tendency towards complete darkness in the country. I mean, you can’t even see your own hand in front of your face. Sheeesh! To make matters worse, I swore I heard a wolf’s howl. I’m serious! Now, I don’t know if wolves actually exist in some Connecticut state park, but to this day, I swear I heard a howl! In addition, I didn’t make things better by voicing my conviction that the cave we had taken refuge in was some Grizzly bear’s home.

So there were, hungry, cold, scared, and lost.

Eventually, the next day we somehow found our way to a road, but they had a whole posse of people looking for us, which ruined the trip for everyone else. We walked down the road until we came upon some ranger in a car who then proceeded to ask us if we had seen two Puerto Rican kids walking around lost… DUH?!?! Hellloooo?!?! Fuckin’ hicks… LMAO!

Of course, being philosophically inclined, I found all sorts of metaphors and meanings behind our little adventure, while my companion, who was freezing to death, cursed me the whole time. Still, it fascinated me that left to our own devices, we kept walking around in circles. Shit, we tried to walk differently, making lefts, where we had previously made rights, and still we walked in circles. What does that say about our own habitual patterns, I asked my friend, as he conjured new swear words for my edification.

For the next fifteen years of my life, that incident was to become a metaphor for how I lived: doing what I wanted, how I wanted, when I wanted, and mistaking that for freedom. I think many people mistake “following their bliss” for freedom when in actuality walking around without an inner compass is the ultimate prison. It’s the ultimate prison because we can’t see the bars, for they exist in our minds. We’re all “doing time,” in some way or another.

True freedom, for me anyway, takes practice. Actually, it takes a set of practices that serve as a guideline and map to freedom. Walk around rudderless without direction long enough and you’ll find you’re creating the same mess repeatedly.

Habitual patterns mistaken as freedom

I like to say that I became free while I was incarcerated and this is very true. Many years after that incident in the woods, I found myself incarcerated at a maximum-security “facility.” LOL! I’m not proud of that, but I have to admit there’s some irony in this story -- at least for me there is, so I find some humor in all this now. It was early spring, my favorite time of the year, and I was in a prison yard staring at some mountains far off and feeling really depressed about being locked up.

Then it hit me... I was actually free! Just like that! I realized that though the state had my body, only I could give anyone permission to enslave my mind. It may not sound like a lot to you, but for me it was transformative experience. The fact that I could choose to be free no matter where I found myself blew me away.

Looking back, I understand now that it didn’t happen all at once, that my epiphany that day wasn’t something spontaneous. I understand now, my realization came about because of the work I had put in, but it hit me that day like a bolt of lightning in the middle of a completely dark country night: I was free. Free, right then, at that very moment.

It was amazing. I could choose to be free! OMG!!! This couldn’t be true. Nevertheless, I felt it in the very fiber of my being. This freedom was real, alive, a part of me, a part of my heritage as a human being. When I went back to my cell later that day, I shared my revelation with my neighbors and they all started laughing at me! LOL! They were -- like -- “Eddie, you in jail, bro.”

And they were correct, of course, I was incarcerated. However, my realization was that while I could be coerced into prison physically, only I could give someone else permission to incarcerate my heart and mind. What I saw clearly for the first time was that I was giving the prison authorities this permission to take my mind, to imprison my heart. From that day on, I became free and my life, even within the prison walls, changed dramatically. I no longer felt at the mercy of sadistic prison guards or all the other insanity that goes on in prison. From that day on, I was free, really free, and all my interactions reflected this realization of freedom. What happened was that people began responding to me differently: guards, who previously were able to press my buttons, didn’t know how to deal with the newer, free me, leaving them confused and anxious.

Other inmates would ask me why I “looked” different: was I exercising more, did I gain weight? Eventually, my freedom permeated my immediate surroundings and those in contact with me began doing their own inner work, in the process transforming our collective prison experience. The effect was so palpable that I was eventually transferred from that location because I was deemed too dangerous. But by then it was too late, even in solitary confinement, they couldn’t take my freedom away.

I became free that early Spring day and though there are times I choose to give up my freedom -- especially when I come into contact with people with hate in their hearts -- I have chosen freedom more often than not these all these many years later. My personal liberation, I have found, is not individual, dedicated solely to “me” (mini me?), but instead it comes with a responsibility and an awareness that it affects everything around me. That other prison we all share: the myth that we are separate from others has also dissolved and as a result your personal liberation is also important to me.

Ultimately, I have learned that my freedom demands I choose happiness. I never even knew I had that choice. It is my responsibility as a human being, actually, this choice. This is why I always say that everything we ever need for our happiness exists right here, right now, this very moment… this very life. This is true whether your prison is made of concrete and bars or psychic cockroaches.

May you all know true happiness… and freedom.

Love,

Eddie

Friday, May 28, 2010

The TGIF Sex Blog [Psycho Magnet]

¡Hola! Everybody...
My back is still painful. I am headed to the doctors right now, in fact. Sitting puts pressure on my lower back, pressure I don’t need, so my writing output is down to zero. I am looking forward to a long weekend of rest and decorating.

* * *

-=[ The Psycho Magnet Chronicles ]=-

Never sleep with anyone crazier than you my son.

-- Father


When my father offered the above advice I was initially overjoyed. After all, there aren’t too many people crazier than yours truly, I thought. I was wrong. Really, I was dead wrong.

I’m only half joking when I kid around that I’m a certified psycho magnet. I seem to attract the crazies in a way that makes me doubt my own tenuous grasp of sanity. I have even written poem for the psychos of my past…

A case of Bacardi for the crazy ladies
in the corner of my past,
the hectic, horny days
of yesterday!

They beckon me back
to my forgotten madnesses
those chest-pounding blackouts
that have grown into story-time delights...

Well, “forgotten madnesses” is poetic license. I’ve had a really great collection of psychos in my life. There was the spoiled rich girl who wanted me to cut her during sex and who was genuinely proud of the fact that she managed to total three cars in the six-month period we were together.

I had another who actually paid someone to kill me. Or at least hurt me really bad. The problem with her plan was that her hired “killer” was no killer. Besides, everyone thought I was connected with what was rumored to be a Colombian cartel. I caught him peering into my bedroom window one night and managed to sneak up behind him! We got high with the money she paid him.

I believe a large part of this phenomenon had to do with the fact that at one time I wasn’t very selective about who I went to bed with. I mean, who cares? If she’s gotta a nice ass and the “chemistry” is there, we’ll cross that insanity issue when we get to it, right? Another part of it is that I’m very accepting of people. I tend to see past the “quirks” (such as cutting behavior, suicidal tendencies, and boundary issues, for example) and see the natural radiance of people. Finally, I think people who have “issues” gravitate to my ability to listen at a deep level. I can’t help it, it’s what I do and empathy is for zanies what blood is for vampires -- it’s irresistible.

A more recent psycho “episode” occurred with a lovely lady who was my tailor. When I was married, my wife would tease me anytime we went to her because this woman had the most glorious obscenely beautiful ass, and my ex knows how much I appreciate a well-rounded ass. She was Russian and a natural blonde. Her face was a bit too blunt, but was pretty in a peasant-girl kinda way and she had great cheekbones.

My wife would tell me that she liked me, but I never paid it any mind, thinking it was jealousy on my wife’s part. Once I was divorced, my tailor noticed the wifey was no longer in tow and, short story short, we began seeing each other. At first, it was fantastic. She was like a tigress in bed, eager and quick to satisfy all my desires. When she finally propped that delicious-looking ass up in the air and begged me to ream her I was in heaven! I was soooo happy!

Happy, happy, joy, joy!

Well, you know the deal. At first, she became very clingy, especially after our first anal session. Clingy is a particularly unattractive character trait. I mean, it can be cute up to a point, but normally, clingy tends to repel people. I know, I can be a little clingy myself, but I tend to keep it in check. The clingier she became, the more I distanced myself. The more I distanced myself, the more her clinginess turned to anger. The angrier she became, the uglier the situation became. She transformed from this beautiful sex kitten into a shrew, calling me all kinds of names, questioning my manhood and sexual prowess, and then calling me on the phone asking to forgive her. Typical abusive behavior pattern.

Eventually the anger turned into full-blown psychosis. I was getting harassing calls at my job, at home, and she was turning up in person unannounced at all the wrong times. When I wouldn’t answer her calls, she would leave really ugly messages, like, “Who are you fuckin' in the ass now, you fuckin' faggot.” LOL! Shit like that. A concerned friend feared for my health.

Finally, I was coming home one day at 5am with a close woman friend. Now mind you, this friend is married to a friend and our relationship is purely platonic. I know her for about sixteen years and she’s one of my closest, trusted friends. Anyway, she had driven me home after a night of hanging out and she wanted to use my bathroom before she headed home, a good hour’s drive from my place.

Well, you know who was waiting in the lobby of my building, right? At fuckin' 5am in the morning! She started a huge stink, insulting my friend and becoming unhinged, to the point that my friend wanted to kick her ass. Of course, none of that happened and I ended up calling the police. My friend still teases me about that night.

She left me alone after that, except for the occasional phone call and I went on with my life. Then one day without thinking, I answered my cellphone and it was her. I still remember the barely contained psycho edge to the tone of her voice as she let me know how she had found a real man and not faggot like me, and I’m mouthing the words, “Thank You!!!” I refrained from saying anything lest I encouraged her to rethink her romance and then she hung up.

Whew!

Any other stories for the “Psycho Magnet Chronicles”? LMAOOO!

Love,

Eddie

PS: Sex is good for you!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bigotry Dressed as Research

¡Hola! Everybody…
This is the goober redneck muthafuckas (yeah that reads correctly) attempting to disguise their xenophobia as concern for “the rule of law,” or passing out propaganda dressed as “research.”

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-=[ Bigotry Dressed as Research ]=


The anti-immigrant faction hide their bigotry mostly as “concern” for the largely fabricated crises attributed to immigration. In effect, they’re demanding that my rights (or the rights of any person of color) be abridged in the name of “national security.” In this way, they hypocritically hide behind the racism of the “show me you papers” Arizona immigration law (AZ SB1070) and other such measures.

Never mind that a large body of research on undocumented immigrants from a broad range of institutions show the allegations of the anti-immigrant crowd are groundless. Disregard that the most vocal anti-immigrant organizations are hate groups -- documented nativists and white supremacists. No! Don’t look at that! The anti-immigrant bigots assure us that all they want is to make us all safe from the feces-smearing, disease-ridden, promiscuous, lazy, shiftless messakins, and their third world ways, who come here to live off welfare and (paradoxically) take away all the good jobs.

Two organizations, FAIR and CIS (actually, they are one organization, both founded, funded, and run by documented eugenicists, nativists, and white supremacists) are often cited by the goobers as viable, credible supportive evidence for their claims. (I will have more to say about the historical connection between immigration and white supremacists, xenophobes, and racists at a later date.)

Anti-immigrant hate groups' studies make the wildest claims and if you're debating a goober anti-immigrant bigot, you can be sure they will try to slip by a FAIR or CIS-backed study. The problem is the studies are hugely flawed.

Notice that a broad range of credible research organizations, using well-known and accredited social scientists, largely dispute the findings of CIS, FAIR (and also NumbersUSA). Notice also these organizations have documented ties with white supremacists, or actually have these cretins in positions of power. This should make anyone looking to honestly inform themselves about immigration think twice. But conservatives have never been known for their moral reasoning or honesty (though they love to pontificate on morality).

Take, for example the following FAIR “study,” which makes the claim regarding the economic impact of immigration:

“The fiscal costs of illegal immigration do not end with these three major cost areas. The total costs of illegal immigration to the state’s taxpayers would be considerably higher if other cost areas such as special English instruction, welfare programs used by the U.S.-born children of illegal aliens, or welfare benefits for American workers displaced by illegal alien workers were also calculated.”

Yet, when a credible researcher looked at the FAIR study on the economic impact of the children of undocumented immigrants, he found it made many unsupported claims and that its numbers crunching just don’t add up:

“... the report’s own statistics do not support this claim. Even if the report is correct in its assertion that the cost to states was $7.4 billion in 1999-2000, this represents only 1.9 percent of the $381.8 billion spent nationwide on public elementary and secondary education and a minuscule fraction of the roughly $1 trillion in total spending by state governments. Moreover, the report neglects to mention the estimated 1.1 million undocumented K-12 students in 2000 comprised a mere 2 percent of the total student population and that many state governments -- including California’s -- were running budget surpluses at that time. [emphasis added] It is no more plausible to claim that undocumented students are somehow largely to blame for current budget deficits than it is to claim they deserve most of the credit for the budget surpluses of three years ago.”

“... the FAIR report argue[s] that ‘communities’ limited tax dollars are being diverted to accommodate mass illegal immigration.’ This conveniently ignores the fact that immigrants are part of the taxpaying community. The report attempts to get around the issue by saying that while it ‘is reasonable to ask whether the costs of educating illegal alien students is offset by the taxes paid by their parents…study after study shows that immigrants cost taxpayers more in public services use than they pay in to the system via taxes.’”

Notice that last sentence. The FAIR study makes the factual claim (without documentation) that undocumented immigration has a negative impact on the US economy. Not only is this a false claim, the exact opposite is true:

“However, this simply is not true. In the most authoritative study to date on the economic costs and benefits of immigration, 1997’s The New Americans, the National Academy of Sciences estimated that ‘the average immigrant pays nearly $1,800 more in taxes than he or she costs in benefits’ and that immigrants make a net contribution of “as much as $10 billion a year” to the U.S. economy.”

But here’s the kick in the ass:

“It also is worth noting that The New Americans emphasizes a key fact overlooked in any analysis, such as FAIR’s, which tries to estimate the net “costs” of immigration by taking a single-year snapshot of the economy: ‘Children who consume services and pay no taxes today become contributing taxpayers tomorrow.’” (click here for the brief take-down of FAIR's shoddy research practices)

In short, FAIR and CIS are not so much “research” organizations, but a part of a loud and hysterical anti-immigrant movement given free reign on mainstream media though they are thinly veiled racist organizations spewing hate propaganda.

And I have found the same methodologically flawed tendency in most of the studies done by anti-immigrant organizations. For example, there was the one study claiming that Mexicans were responsible for a spike in rates of leprosy. That study’s “findings,” repeated for weeks on the now defunct Lou Dobbs program on CNN, and done by someone with no real social science, or epidemiological training, was later found to be totally false. When Dobbs was confronted by this on a 60 Minutes segment, he refused to acknowledge the mistake and continued airing segments connecting undocumented immigrants with fabricated “disease plagues.” The same was found to be true of studies blaming immigrants from everything to crime to the theory that undocumented immigrants are part of a conspiracy to retake the southwest (click here for a full expose of the hate groups featured on mainstream media as credible organizations)

Whatever your position on immigration, the one criteria for a sane public discourse should be a discussion based on the facts, not the hysteria of bigoted goobers masquerading as legitimate organizations.

Fuckin’ redneck muthafuckas dressed in labcoats. SMH

-- Eddie

Monday, May 24, 2010

How to Win the Arizona Boycott

¡Hola! Everybody...
I came across this post and had to share it (h/t to antiracismdsa)...
* * *

How to Win the Arizona Boycott

Aristocracy

¡Hola! Everybody...
Regarding the ongoing saga of my back: it’s worse... I’m going to the doctors this afternoon... Thanks to everyone for their concern and wishes.

* * *

-=[ The Aristocracy ]=-


“I believe in aristocracy... Not an aristocracy of power, based upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate, and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos. Thousands of them perish in obscurity, a few are great names. They are sensitive for others as well as themselves, they are considerate without being fussy, their pluck is not swankiness but the power to endure, and they can take a joke.”

-- E.M. Forster

Put that in your pipe and smoke it. LOL

Love,

Eddie

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Sermon [Surrender and Devotion]

¡Hola! Everybody…
I wrote this the last time I moved two years ago (LOL)… I am decorating and as soon as my back gets better, I’ll finish and take photos.

* * *

Surrender & Devotion


You all are probably sick and tired of my constant references to surrender. But you see: there’s no way around it: if you want to fuckin’ be happy for once in your fuckin’ life you first have to surrender and surrender completely. This is no the, “Well, I’ll surrender a little bit, Eddie, then later I’ll surrender sum more” surrender. No, that shit doesn’t get it. You’ve been doing that long enough and half-assed surrendering got you half-assed results.

No, I want nothing more than your total, unconditional, utter surrender. And I don’t want it for myself (though my world would be made better by your utter surrender), nor do I want you to surrender to me (though that would be nice).

I guess I should start at what I mean by surrender (there are two words in my title today, BTW… )

The word “surrender” gets a bad rap in our culture, with it’s almost obsessive and exclusive focus on the individual. Surrender is often interpreted as giving up, weakness, giving up, as in defeat. While I am referring somewhat to giving up, I use it in a different way. Surrendering to me means letting go of our resistance to and fear of the total openness of who we really are. Allow me to reiterate:

Surrender means opening up to the fact of the total openness of who you really are.

Yup. You are total open consciousness. You may not know it, but everything you need for your freedom exists within you right now, in this very life, this very moment. You just need to stop resisting that fact.

Surrendering to me means giving up that little mass of tensions you call your “self” – the story you created as a response for the need to feel real. All that bullshit: your horoscope, your Myers/ Briggs categorization, your social security number, your ID card – all that shit is bullshit. It’s your little personal soap opera. That is not who you are. That whole thing – that “personality” -- is a bundle of tension you chose to take on in order to separate yourself from everyone else’s personal soap operas. Feel it: it manifests itself as a contraction in your body.

You cannot be vulnerable nor can you surrender while clothed in your personal soap opera. You cannot love, nor know love, nor be loved while you’re all twisted like that.

Soften yourself, breathe – luxuriate in your free space…

Surrendering to me means to open with no boundaries. Shit, you cannot say, “I love you,” when in a state of surrender. There is no “I” -- no “Eddie” -- that loves you. There is only love. Quick! STFU! Think of someone you love totally without condition – a son or daughter, or a lover…

Feel that?

That is what you are. It’s palpable -- you can feel this thing that you are -- it’s always there even when you lose sight of it. That’s who and what you are.

Surrender to me means loving without limits. It means to break down your walls and to let down your guard so that your lover can feel your very core – genuine, naked, and unhidden, without defenses. Your belly becomes soft and your breath becomes full. You willingly open your body and heart to your lover. If you are hurt, you are hurt, but you remain open and full. You live your live as open like the sky, the ocean, the trees. Surrender to me is the gateway to the deepest possible way of knowing.

You might say you have opened like this and I will challenge you. You may have surrendered to someone or something but I have met very few people who have surrendered to the notion they are love. What I mean by surrendering is the practice (not the thought, or analysis) of surrendering -- not to your own fears, nor the demands of another -- but directly to love. If you tell me you have no resistance to any of this, then I’m going to call you on your bullshit because if you have ever tried surrendering in this way the first realization is that there is a huge resistance to it.

True surrender, in the manner in which I use the word, is not adapting yourself to please people. Nor is it even momentarily surrendering your emotional needs. These are all secondary needs and true surrender is about breaking through veil of these secondary needs and amplifying the primal core, and very human yearning to give and receive unlimited and unbound love.

And that my friends is devotion.

Love,

Eddie

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Awakening

¡Hola! Everybody…
Amazingly, there are people actually entertaining the right of private businesses to discriminate. WTF?!! Also, notice that those who support the racist Arizona immigration law (SB 1070) are usually the same people who refuse to acknowledge Obama’s legitimacy? The Arizona “show me your papers” law and the people who refuse to accept Obama citizenship are all connected. It seems we’ve fallen asleep and we’re back to Jim Crow.

* * *

Nows [XVIV]



Your sleep:
I have watched you wake --
a spectacle,
a spontaneous vision of honesty.

Your long legs
yawn open
and your arms reach out
for a missing star.

You are reluctant,
deserting your dream,
surrendering to the pink wound
of a new day.

And you reach out for me,
silently, without a plan,
and it is enough.

Your touching me
will always be enough.

It says what no poem
will ever say,
what no words could ever tell me.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The TGIF Sex Blog [Sexual Healing]

¡Hola! Everybody...
Yesterday, I went for an acupressure treatment with someone new. She’s young -- too young, I felt. Man! She did a number on me. At one point it felt as if she had grabbed my sciatica and was playing it like Jimi Hendrix -- plucking at it, kneading it, massaging it. GAWD! She asked if I wanted some acupuncture, but I don’t trust just anybody with the needles, so I declined. Still, she improved it tremendously. It still hurts badly, but I am able to walk. She told me my body is too tight -- too run down. More on that some other time… My Friday blog is all about sex!

* * *

-=[ Sexual Healing ]=-


I was with a woman once who was extremely unhappy. I didn’t fully realize this until we were together in a hotel room. I had sensed that she was unhappy, but didn’t realize the extent of her unhappiness until we spent some real time together. And it wasn’t that she acted sad or anything like that. It was an energy, a deep sadness that ran through the core of her.

Long story short, we were in the throes of passionate lovemaking when I noticed that the closer she neared orgasm, the further inside she retreated. She was there, feeling me, but she was also in her own world, a place where I didn’t exist. I slowed down my actions and spoke to her softly, wanting to bring her back to me. Lying still, I looked deeply into her eyes and forced her to make that conscious contact with me. With just a little coaching, we began to breathe together, slowing down our movements as we reconnected. I wanted her to go to that place but with me, not alone, but with me.

And that scared her…

Very gradually, we were able to reconnect and by synchronizing our breathing, becoming mindful of our bodies, we were able to move together, slower at first, but building up our movements. And eventually we went there together again and again -- building up the intensity until we both experienced a Big Wave orgasm that blew both of us out. But we did it together -- grabbing on to one another while being obliterated. It felt as if we were being transformed at a molecular level.

When we “came to” we both had tears in our eyes and she cried for a long time while I held her.

Most conversations around sex are almost always centered on pleasure and/ or protection. Public discussions about sex are generally debates over pleasure and perversion: with whom you can and can’t have sex, what you can and cannot do, when you can and cannot do it. Unfortunately, this narrow focus misses the larger purpose of sexual energy. In Eastern practices, sex is as much about physical and spiritual health, as it is about pleasure or procreation. The Taoists, for example, have long known that sexuality is as important to our overall health as it is about pleasure. The Chinese medical tradition has long known that sexuality is as important to our well-being as nutrition and exercise. Orgasm is not simply a momentary release of tension but, if cultivated carefully, a life-giving aspect of our overall health and longevity.

According to the Taoists, it is important for us to feel the arousal of our sexual energy and orgasm as often as possible -- ideally everyday. (As a side note, the Taoists cautioned against ejaculation. they discovered that male ejaculation and orgasm are two different sexual functions.)

During arousal and orgasm, our body releases sexual hormones that the Taoists literally considered the Fountain of Youth. Modern medical research is beginning to show the Taoists were on to something important, showing the enormous health benefits that sex and orgasm can offer.

In one study, breast cancer survivors who experienced orgasms through lovemaking or self-pleasuring recovered more quickly than those who did not. The most startling research suggests that sex and especially orgasms can prolong life. The British Medical Journal reported that the more orgasms men in their study had the less likely they were to die. Of the 918 men between the ages of 45 and 59, those who had frequent orgasms, defined as twice a week or more, had a 50 percent lower mortality rate than those men who had infrequent orgasms, defined as less than one per month. This lower mortality rate was for death from all causes as well as death from coronary heart disease, the most common killer in the United States. In addition, there was what researchers call a “dose-response relation” -- the more often a man had sex, the less likely his chances of dying.

Chemically, we know that the hormone oxytocin and PEA, which has been called the molecule of love, both peak during orgasm. Regular sex also increases the amount of testosterone, which improves thinking and serves as antidepressant, in both men and women.

For thousands of years, Westerners have been searching for the Fountain of Youth, a search that has taken them around the world. The irony may be that the Fountain of Youth may very well be in your bedroom.

In addition, the Taoists believed that the value of sexual healing went beyond the mere physical or biochemical. In traditional Chinese medicine, health benefits occur as energy is channeled throughout the body. Western science has already documented that at the moment of orgasm, human brain wave patterns change drastically, literally putting the person into an altered state of consciousness. Deep physiological and electrical changes occur throughout the system during orgasm. The Taoists believe that partners could learn how circulate this healing energy within their own bodies and to channel it to each other.

Taoists describe a practice in which you circulate multiorgasmic energy from your genitals to your head and then down to your abdomen, which has many health benefits. This multiorgasmic energy, which can last up to 14 hours after lovemaking, nourishes your body and actually changes your brain.

Perhaps at a later time, I will describe briefly the art of Vaginal Reflexology -- vaginal massage. The vaginal canal is composed of ringed muscles with each ring corresponding to a specific part of the body. The same is true of course, with the penis. But for now, I will point out some basics for sexual healing.

Love is Healing: As far as I’m concerned, Love is god. Love is the most powerful force we know. It is my Higher Power. The emotions we bring to sex make a determine the extent its healing. If our hearts are filled with love and compassion, it is much easier to transmit healing energy to our partners. There are too many people out there full of negative emotions, especially in the realm of sex. That’s why there’s so much harm done in the name of sex. What my partner above and I experienced didn’t happen only because of technique, but because there was genuine, love and care involved. And no, we weren’t in a committed relationship and had sex only twice.

Limit Ejaculations: The Taoists noticed the depletion of energy that immediately followed male ejaculation and therefore recommended that men limit the number of ejaculations. The secret to being a multiorgasmic man lies in the ability to separate ejaculation from orgasm. The two are not the same.

Multiply Orgasms: As couples are able to multiply orgasms, they not only multiply their pleasure; they also multiply their healing energy.

Circulate Energy: the more energy an individual is able to circulate, or a couple is able to exchange (to be explained in future posts), the more healing the lovemaking will be. You first learn to circulate the energy in your own body, and eventually you will be able to exchange it with one another.

Healing Practices: use healing practices such as genital massage and health-enhancing sex positions to intensify the healing of your lovemaking.

Take Your Time: For lovemaking to be most healing, couples should engage in foreplay for at least a half hour with hugging, kissing, touching, and foreplay and then have multi-orgasmic intercourse for at least another half hour.

Love,

Eddie

PS: Sex really is good for you…

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Where the Heart is...

¡Hola! Everybody…
I can write… really. I can sit down, and under the right conditions, I can write prolifically (if not well LOL). However, I am easily distracted. Any change in my writing ritual, any distraction -- a phone call, for example -- will sidetrack me for hours. So, the move has taken away from the everyday ritual -- the familiarity -- and the back pain (at its worst today), has resulted in zero writing. As I settle in to my new apartment, the ritual will come back, but the back pain (exacerbated by sitting) will definitely put a damper on my blogging…

* * *

(St. Michaels at 4th Ave.)

-=[ Home ]=-

A house is not a home…


My first morning here, a bright sunny Sunday morning, I was awakened by a hushed but insistent, not particularly good mariachi singing right outside my window. Annoyed, I got up to see who it was and to request they take their singing ass somewhere else. When I looked, I saw a short, older Latino, dressed in black, with black cowboy hat and boots. He wore dark wrap-around shades, and with the small accordion he held, he played the same three chords over and over again. He sang songs of heartbreak, of love lost and regained and lost again, in his hushed, not particularly good, but insistent voice.

Next to him, stood a large shopping cart full of roses for sale and young Latino/a families on their way from church occasionally stop and purchase a few. Eventually, I notice he is blind, his cane pressed up against his armpit. He comes here most mornings to sing of love lost in that same hushed, not particularly good, but insistent voice.

I have moved from the largely upscale, yuppie Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope to Sunset Park. It’s not that far away, and still somewhat upscale, but there is definitely more diversity. It's a neighborhood first colonized by a wave of Puerto Ricans in the 50s and 60s and later revived by an explosion of Latin American and Asian immigrants. One avenue block up, on 5th Avenue, you can walk the main drag and see scores of businesses offering their goods and services to the many different Latino/as that live here. Young Salvadoran teen girls and Mexicans from Puebla pass by Dominican hair salons, Puerto Rican and Mexican restaurants, or buy treats from sidewalk vendors selling everything from aguacates to mangoes, caƱa, and piraguas.

I live in a very young neighborhood of families with both parents, something you rarely see outside of a Latino/a neighborhood. My building, a six-family building, has one family from India, the old patriarch a hilarious character. On the ground floor behind me, lives a Dominican, a single mother of an adolescent girl. Above me, lives a Salvadoran couple with their young son.

Sunset Park is also home to one of the largest Asian communities in the city. Some say it’s larger than the more famous Manhattan Chinatown. So, in addition to the Latino/a offerings, you can also shop for all things Asian. On 8th avenue (the number eight signifying luck) you can find Chinese businesses, including grocery stores, restaurants, Buddhist temples, video stores, bakeries, and community organizations, and even a Hong Kong Supermarket. And again, there is that unmistakable youthful energy rubbing up against traditional family structures, as young immigrant families work hard for The Dream. On Sundays, you’re lucky if you’re able to find an empty seat at one of the many different restaurants as families -- mostly young Latino/as and Asians -- all congregate to observe the traditional Sunday repast. Some days you’ll see two or three generations seated together as impatient teens, annoyed at being saddled with tending to their infant siblings, break bread with their parents and grandparents.

I see all of this and I am reminded of the America I knew growing up in New York and I smile, knowing I have arrived home…

Someone recently wrote me privately, asking why I am so angry about what’s going on in Arizona. I feel the answer to that question is self-evident. There are certain values I believe in. There aren’t too many principles I can lay claim to, but the few I value, I hold dear. Two of those principles are fairness and justice. I am light-skinned with blue eyes and I can probably pass for white in Arizona. But for me, racial profiling is deeply offensive to the values of justice and fairness.

And make no mistake about it, Arizona using race to demand that people produce “papers” to prove who they are is a police-state tactic diametrically opposed, not just to my personal values, but that shouldn’t be unacceptable in America. If we don’t stop this law now, similar ones will spread across the nation. Already, lawmakers in at least 10 other states have promised to bring similar bills to their legislatures. The land I was born in, America, is my home. And in my home, racial profiling is wrong. It is un-American is the most essential way.

And if you think you’re safe, or rationalize that this is an intelligent solution to the largely fabricated crisis of immigration, you should think again. And if you’re a person of color and think they won’t profile your black or brown ass, think again. And if you’re a light-skinned Latino/a with blue-eyes internally ashamed of your own kind and in your neurotic eagerness to assimilate, support Arizona’s apartheid-like strategy, think again. For if you allow it to be done to those you fear and loathe, what makes you think it won’t be done to you?

And if you can bring yourself to hate and dehumanize another human being, regardless of their citizenship status, perhaps what you really hate is a part of yourself.

Love,

Eddie

Friday, May 14, 2010

The TGIF Sex Blog [Sexuality]

¡Hola! Everybody…
Like most people (I guess) I abhor moving. If everything goes as planned, I will be moving to my new apartment tomorrow. I can’t wait until it’s all over. I’m still packing. This is stressful… LOL

* * *

-=[ Sexuality ]=-


Every once in a while, I’ll get an email from someone who admits to reading my blog more often than not, they usually have something nice to say, or an interesting question to ask. One common question regards my motivation for the Friday “Sex Blog.” So, here goes…

Some of my sex blogs are meant to be comedic. But the sex posts started off with a few posts I did on Christianity and anti-sex values and the consequences of that history, so part of my blog is somewhat serious. My sex blog is also full of a lot of information. But…

Sex is everywhere. We are deluged by advice columns, celebrities, talk shows, TV evangelists, therapists, women’s and men’s magazines, and self-help books all of which attempt to tell us how to conduct our intimate relationships. Sexual images are used to sell us everything such as cars and clothes, or to sell sex itself, while sex aids, porn, and potential sex partners -- real or virtual -- are just a click away on the internet. Our postmodern world is populated by people who define themselves as gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, bi-curious, exhibitionists, submissives, dominatrixes, swingers, polyamorous, switchers, traders, born-again virgins, acrotomophiliacs, furverts, or feeders. The important point here is that we use these categories in order to make sense of who we are: we define ourselves in through our sexuality.

My interest is exploring the reasons behind how we have come to believe that sex is so important to who we are. This connective sexuality -- which I understand as the ways in which people experience their bodies, pleasures, and desires -- with sexual identity is in fact a fairly recent development. This is not to say that people didn’t engage in sexual activities before (obviously). Rather, the way in which people made sense of their erotic experiences was completely different from the way we understand sexuality today.

Sex is a cultural construct. What I mean by that is that sex is created by the cultural values of a given society or group. Just as the differences between men and women cannot be reduced to biology alone, but are more adequately understood in terms of gender which considers the social meanings that different societies attach to “masculinity” and “femininity,” sexuality is not a natural, biological, universal experience. The ways in which different cultures during different time periods have made sense of their erotic experiences very widely.

Sexuality is shaped by social and political forces and connects in very important ways to relations of power around class, race, and most importantly, gender. In fact, there are some of the issues I try to explore -- showing how sex, gender, and sexuality are closely related. Cultural understandings of sexuality have been based by ideas of what is “normal” about masculinity and femininity. In other words, sexuality is defined by what a culture considers the “proper” ways men and women behave.

In this way, I try to explore the social and political meanings and struggles of what it means to be sexual in a postmodern world. Besides, it’s fun.

Love,

Eddie

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hunger Myths

¡Hola! Everybody...
The way we look at ourselves is central to how we see the world. The way we see the world is central to how we see ourselves. In this way, our view of self and others is an ever-changing circle of influence -- a feedback loop. There is evidence, for example, that those who are happy see more positive aspects of the world than those who are depressed. We also know that living in an abusive or an overly restrictive environment (prisons are a prime example) can lead to depression. Today, I will use this framework in order to elaborate on world hunger...

* * *

-=[ Hunger Myths ]=-


The way I’ve heard it expressed, many Americans are inclined to think that if only the “third” world masses would stop having so many babies, they would have enough to eat. This is a convenient explanation because it has the advantage of easing our collective guilt because the implication is that starving people have only themselves to blame for their predicament. It’s the same defense mechanism used when addressing poverty or even immigration.

However, the data tells a different story. United Nations food and agriculture studies show conclusively that there is no obvious relation between hunger and population density. Yes, Virginia, I realize there are countries where people are both crowded and undernourished. Conversely, there are countries where people are starving despite a relatively low ratio of people to farmable land: Honduras and Angola, for example. And then there are countries with a far higher population density but much less hunger, China and Japan, for instance.

Once again, as is often the case, we find that a presumptive cause-and-effect relationship doesn’t stand up to close examination. The most likely explanation, according to decades-long studies at the Institute for Food and Development Policy, is that when hunger and population growth do go together it is because they are both the results of the same dynamic: powerlessness.

If a tiny number of rich people or multinational corporations control most of the land -- as is the case in Honduras and Angola -- then neither the size of the population nor the number of arable acres is the cause of the problem. Even relatively few people may be kept poor and hungry if they’re working for someone else. And even relatively plentiful cropland isn’t going to help if it’s being used to raise feed for cows that will end up as hamburgers on a McDonalds counter.

Having lots of children (in some parts of the world potential breadwinners) may be a rational strategy for survival when people live from hand to mouth. By the same token, well-meaning birth control programs alone cannot improve people’s lives. To the contrary, the evidence suggests that starvation is less a function of people having too many mouths to feed than of having too little control over their bodies, their land, and their future.

Here are some facts to ponder (adapted from the Institute for Food and Development Policy):

Myth: Not Enough Food to Go Around

Reality: Enough wheat, rice and other grains are produced to provide every human being with 3,200 calories a day. That doesn’t even count many other commonly eaten foods -- vegetables, beans, nuts, root crops, fruits, grass-fed meats, and fish. Enough food is available to provide at least 4.3 pounds of food per person a day worldwide: two and half pounds of grain, beans and nuts, about a pound of fruits and vegetables, and nearly another pound of meat, milk and eggs -- enough to make most people fat! The problem is that many people are too poor to buy readily available food. Even most “hungry countries” have enough food for all their people right now. Many are net exporters of food and other agricultural products.

Myth: Too Many People

Reality: Although rapid population growth remains a serious concern in many countries, nowhere does population density explain hunger. For every Bangladesh, a densely populated and hungry country, we find a Nigeria, Brazil or Bolivia, where abundant food resources coexist with hunger. Or we find a country like the Netherlands, where very little land per person has not prevented it from eliminating hunger and becoming a net exporter of food. Rapid population growth is not the root cause of hunger. Like hunger itself, it results from underlying inequities that deprive people, especially poor women, of economic opportunity and security. Rapid population growth and hunger are endemic to societies where land ownership, jobs, education, health care, and old age security are beyond the reach of most people.

Myth: The Environment vs. More Food?

Reality: We should be alarmed that an environmental crisis is undercutting our food-production resources, but a trade-off between our environment and the world’s need for food is not inevitable. Efforts to feed the hungry are not causing the environmental crisis. Large corporations are mainly responsible for deforestation -- creating and profiting from developed-country consumer demand for tropical hardwoods and exotic or out-of-season food items. Most pesticides used in the Third World are applied to export crops, playing little role in feeding the hungry, while in the U.S. they are used to give a blemish-free cosmetic appearance to produce, with no improvement in nutritional value.

Alternatives exist now and many more are possible. The success of organic farmers in the U.S. gives a glimpse of the possibilities. Indeed, environmentally sound agricultural alternatives can be more productive than environmentally destructive ones.

For a closer look at this issue, see the Institute for Food and Development Policy's website (click here)

Love,

Eddie

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Motherhood and "El Lay-Away"

¡Hola! Everybody...
Today, I want to wish all women a Happy Mother’s Day. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never given birth to a child. Some of the most powerful mothers I have ever known never had children of their own. My aunt, Fefi, who would’ve celebrated a birthday this past week (May 8th), was everyone’s mother. She raised more children than you can shake a stick at and if she were alive today and met you, she’d be your mother too.

The woman my son calls mother is not the fruit of her womb. But she is as close to a mother he will ever know.

My sister Darlene never had a child but her instinct for nurturing and compassion is present in everything she does.

My mother wouldn’t allow us to have pets, but she would welcome fragmented people into her home the way other mothers collected stray animals. The exiled, the unforgiven, the broken, the traumatized were the cast of characters that populated my childhood. And as much as my mother helped these poor souls, a few would turn on her and I would shake my head and ask my mother why she bothered, and she would look at me and say, “There’s a God and He sees everything, it’s not for me to judge. You help because that’s what you are supposed to do.”

It took me almost a lifetime to understand that wisdom…

My moms basically led a hilarious life with her children in tow -- here's a story I always remember...

* * *

My mother as a young woman with my sister Darlene

-=[ The Case of the Layaway Men ]=-


We were all crying because they were going to take the TV away.

There was little else in that living room, I don’t think there was even a couch. We would sit on the plastic covered kitchen chairs to watch TV. And that’s what we were doing when these two strange men came into the room and started taking the TV away. I couldn’t have been more than five and my two sisters Darlene and Yvette were 3 and 2 respectively.

We were crying.

These two big bad men were taking the TV away.

There were two things I remember most about that Lower East Side five-story walk-up apartment. One was that the bathtub was in the kitchen which made for funny situations during dinner time. The other was that it had this long, narrow hallway. So long, in fact, that I used it to ride a tricycle up and down its length. My mother was obsessively clean and the worn linoleum would gleam with floor wax and we would take a running start in our socks and slide across that long hallway.

But most of my memories of that apartment weren’t so good because it was the first time I would remember my father not being around. And when my father wasn’t around, things were hard for my mother and we had less to eat, less furniture.

But we had this nice, brand new TV and these strange men were getting ready to take it away, so I cried, and my sisters followed suit. And my mother was standing there, not knowing what to do.

Then she started arguing with these men. At first it was more of a plea. She was actually begging these men not to take the TV away. You see, the TV was bought on the ghetto “lay-away” plan which was actually a scam to rip off those who had nothing to rip off in the first place. You would put an item on “lay-away” and that would allow you to take it home. You paid for the item in weekly installments. The thing was that the weekly installments often added up to more than twice the sticker price. In fact, most of what you got on "lay-away" was used -- items that were taken away from other families who had failed to pay the weekly installment.

Aside from the long, narrow hallway, it was the only form of entertainment we had.

Soon, my mother was engaged in an all-out argument with the men, who seemed to care less and weren’t even paying attention to my mother. You have to understand my mother is a petite woman who barely measures five feet tall -- not an imposing physical presence. So the men were ignoring my mother which made her more pissed off, which made us cry more.

“You can’t do this!” My mother yelled.

And everything stopped. We stopped crying because we knew that tone of voice. We had heard that tone many, many times before and it usually meant someone was going to get their ass kicked. So we stopped crying, perhaps hoping it wasn’t one of us. The men stopped because it was a defiant, authoritative voice. I guess they were used to taking orders and my mother had just barked one out that would’ve made a marine drill sergeant proud.

The pause lasted a split second and the men continued preparing to take the TV and we got back to crying, knowing that it wasn’t one of us that was going to get our asses beat down.

I remember my mother tried pleading one more time to no avail and then I got really scared because when I glanced over to her, she had The Look. I can’t ever sufficiently describe The Look. It was the look of death and it actually made my mother look taller, more powerful, but these guys just weren’t getting it, but we knew. We knew some shit was about to jump off. I felt so bad, I almost warned the men, but, having learned even at that early age that discretion is the better part of valor, I chose to stay quiet.

My mother, seemingly defeated and frustrated, left the room...

And when she came back, she had the largest knife she owned in her hands. It was the same knife used for special occasions for cutting a pernil (roast suckling) or something like that, and she had this wild-eyed look in her eyes. I swear her hair was standing up!

“YOU’RE NOT TAKING THAT TV!!!” She roared.

“You will take that TV over my dead body! My children are not going to suffer.” and with that, she yelled her death roar and made her charge, willing to die.

Now, I was really scared because I feared for my mother’s safety. My mother was small and petite and she was a woman. Surely she wasn’t a match for these two big idiots who didn’t even know better to leave. The men, who had until then been ignoring my mother, freaked out when they saw my mother charging them with this huge knife in her hand. They tried to calm her down, but it was too late, I could’ve told them that. She went after them and the funniest thing happened:

The men started to run!

Or rather, they tried to run, but my mother had them pinned down, slashing at them with her knife and she meant to cut them. Through some miracle, they managed to elude my mother’s slashes and make it out the living room into that long hallway, whereupon they slipped and slid through the length of that recently waxed and gleaming long expanse. Somehow they managed to make it out of the apartment, though my mother almost managed to stab the unfortunate one who slipped and fell.

But that wasn’t enough for her. My mother chased those men down five flights of stairs and down the street where they had their truck parked. They almost didn’t make it. By then my mother had ripped open her blouse and was yelling, “Rape! Rape!” at the top of her lungs which caused all the unemployed Puerto Ricans who happened to be hanging out on the street corner that fine summer day to join in on the chase of these two poor men. I know this because I was running behind my mother the whole time. I’m her oldest, after all.

They jumped in the truck making their final escape in a squeal of tires and a cloud of dust, never to be seen again, a mob of oppressed and frustrated Puerto Ricans on their tail.

There we were in the middle of the street, my mother with a knife in her hand, clutching her blouse closed. She looked at me and said, “C’mon, let’s go home.” Somewhow, I remember, my mother managed to look regal, her head held high, and no one dared say a word to her...

And that’s what we did; we went home up five flights to that sad almost empty apartment. She put the TV back, plugged it in and told us that we could watch as much TV as we wanted and that no one would ever take our TV away. She left and got some overpriced, stale meat and other things on credit from the corner bodega. It is said that Cuba, the proprietor notorious for refusing credit to his own mother once, took one look at my mother and decided that was not best time to mention her credit was stretched too far. Later she cooked us dinner, with a Blackout Special as a treat.

And we were were so happy.

That was the kind of mother she was: ferocious, fiercely protective of her children. Later in life, it was her power of example that maintained me and taught me never to give up when the odds seemed insurmountable. It was also her fierce love that nurtured and protected me, serving as beacon to a path for becoming a better man. I believe that if I were to carry my mother on my back for the rest of her life, I still could never repay her…

I love you Moms

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