Dripping River Water


Death and Cuba May 30, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 12:23 am
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The bed seemed almost as old as their marriage.  Over fifty years.  I wondered when they stopped cuddling.  Two big dents.  The middle up high.  Did they ever just throw their arms around each other?

I finally called Cuba this morning.  Calling Cuba is one of the biggest struggles I have to deal with.  The call drops, the repeating of words, the delay.  “¡¿Me oyes?!  The expense.  $1.25 a minute.  Cuba is 90 miles off the coast of Florida.  You can call Africa for less than that.

My Tía Rosa just lost her husband.  He died on Sunday.  He fainted.  Twice.  His son gave him a bath and right afterwards his breath stopped.  So typically Cuban.  Our cleanliness always in check even when going to the next life.

She is the matriarch.  Her strength has pulled together the whole family.  Even with her iron fist she is able to break down into tears.  Unlike my mother.  Before calling I had to prepare myself.  Had to remember all the prayers I made for her, my family, and my Tío who just passed away.  I thought of them and the light that I see around them.  How I wished I could be there to make her café and lift water from the well.  But I am here in Oakland, a place she forgets to write down.  She hears stories of what happens in the US on the three TV channels in Cuba.  She prays for my safety not knowing the distance between New York, Iowa and California.

Tía Rosa wants to come here for a visit.  I have been trying to get a closer appointment date for her interview at the embassy.  The only date available is December 23, 2010.  I made this appointment last year.  Every so often I call again and get $11 charged to my debit card for an 8 minute phone call to hear that no one has died or cancelled their appt to speed up hers.  I try.  I will keep on trying, insha’Allah.  The woman more than ever wants to be with her sisters.  

It’s moments like these that I really pray that Barack Obama will lift the embargo.  I hope that having an immigrant experience in his family while help shift things.  I wonder what would happen if it was this difficult for everyone who makes these laws to see their family.  Like my niece once said, “Bush gets to see his family everyday.  Why can’t I?”

This week I kept on trying to change her appointment and each time I was told I had the wrong passport number.  I called my aunt in Miami.  Same number.  I called my father.  Same number.  I called my Tía today to give her love and listen to her in tears.  Same number.  I called again.  I was so frustrated but knew I had to persist because if I could give anything to the woman who believed in me before my mother ever did, I would give her this trip to be close to her sisters.  Finally someone helped me figure out the right passport number.  Fortysomething dollars later no one has died, no one has cancelled.  I will have to call again.

I wonder if she will now sleep on his side of the bed.  Have the dent cradle her.  I wonder if she smells his clothes.  Touches the hair left on his comb.  I wonder if she hears his footsteps behind her or calls his name forgetting that he is no longer there.  Over fifty years is longer than I have lived.  Even in moments of bickering and yelling the love was still there.  I saw this when I asked him why he loved her.  His eyes brightened up and talked about her as if she was 20 again.

She told me that he loved me.  This I know.  He used to say that I was sweet.  I just listened to his stories even if it took him a long time to speak.  He planted spinach for me.  He talked about the revolution and why he chose to stay.  He was a good man.  I pray that his soul is where it is suppose to be, that the light on 217 24 de febrero entre Martí y Cucalambé is bright, that I will keep on the embassy to change the date for my Tía, that someday, somehow this madness ends and we can have a normalized relationship with Cuba.

the end.


while in LA May 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 10:27 pm
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I’m in the sunshine.  Walking the streets feeling the nostalgia of living in the big city passing by jewelry stores and back alleys with the fragrance of piss.  The smells I don’t miss.  I am liking this, though.  Liking all the people around.  Walking and walking, driving and driving.  I’m in LA where palm trees are high and the people are pretty.  It is here in this city that a part of me is found.  There is Latino culture everywhere.  Even the bathroom of the club where the attendant sells lollipops and gives you a hand towel.  I tip well reminiscing of my time spent in Venezuela.  I am loving it here and I haven’t even been to the beach.

My papi called.  He left a message asking me how my trip is going and asked me to call him back.  In his voice I can hear that he wanted to tell me something.  I called and he started his round about ways of telling something that is going to affect me.  And during that time I am thinking, what has happened to one of my brothers, my nieces, my mother or aunt?  I stopped him before he went even further and told him to spit it out.  When he gets like that it totally annoys me.  I am not fragile.  I can handle anything.  It’s like when my mami didn’t tell me my cousin’s dog died until a month later because she knew I would be sad.  He finally told me that my Tio Pilo died.  The one in Cuba.  The one that was married to my Tia Rosa.  The one that took forever to tell me a story but who was proud of me the yankee with the socialist thinking.

I understand death.  I understand that even if we don’t want anyone to go, even if we love them so much and we will miss them everyone has their own time.  So when I stood in the middle of the sidewalk and tugged unto a fence, I knew this.  I knew this with every tear and words of anger when explaining to my dad that he can’t keep on telling me things in that fashion.  What hurts the most is that with every death I have experienced in the past few years I have never been able to go be with my family so we could grieve together.  Whether is has been in Cuba or in Florida.  It is the distance between here and Cuba not georgraphically but politically that hurts the most.  Sometimes I fell like a broken record because I have been writing this over and over again but over and over again this keeps on happening.  To sooth the pain I have stopped calling as much.  I know this isn’t the best way to handle things.  I just noticed.  Just now.  With this death, with this writing I have noticed my escapism.  Alhamdullilah, I noticed.

This is part of my experience being in LA.  Embracing the openings and endings.  The sunshine, the darkness.  The cool breeze and even the smells that remind me of being in this world.

the end.


In this moment May 22, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 12:39 am

I am thinking of selling my books.  Selling my chairs, my altar tables, my pots and pans.  I want to sell it all and be left with one suitcase, one box and the only furniture item I can’t live with out.  The Barbarita chair.  I want to sell everything and go to India and find my way back somehow.  Or not.  This is what I imagine in my mind.  I would really embrace my nomadic roots.  I will find other nomads and walk the earth, telling each other stories and whispering songs.

This is the dream that I know realistically only some of it can become my reality.  The dreamer is the young part of me.  The wiser me is beginning to feel comfortable in my skin, my flesh, my laugh, the way I see the world.

I went to my friend’s master’s graduation party.  My friend drove.  He was late.  When people are late i end up taking self portraits with my MAC photobooth.

Photo 328Photo 338Photo 356Photo 367Photo 351Photo 376

When I look at myself.  I don’t just see wrinkles (really I have some), or the indentation of my cheekbones, or my grays to see that I am getting older.  I look deep into my eyes and I see the brightness, the clarity that I now feel.  There was a sad girl once that lived in this body.  One that hated the hair on her arms, her laugh, the shortness of her legs.  I love every bit of me right now.  Even if I am annoyed that I got tattoos on my wrists coz I no longer want them.  It will pass and I will accept them as moments in my history that I never want to forget.

I sat two days in a court house waiting for my name to be called so I could get out of jury duty.  I waited with over sixty other people.  In Hayward of all places. But that is where I was suppose to be.  It was my lesson in patience, in surrendering.  I felt that it was a waste of my time.  Then I noticed that my body didn’t ache that much because I didn’t carry any babies these past two days.  I was tired but was just able to sit and dream.  I read my lines for a play and talked to the people next to me.  I did not know anyone there!  It was refreshing.  I lost money but I guess I have to work a little more next month to get it all back.  In this act I felt taken care of.  Sitting for two days at the courthouse is boring but there are worse things, right?

I am driving to LA tomorrow, iA.  This is an adventure I’ve been longing for. When I was five and I said I wanted to move to California I wasn’t meaning Oakland.  I was meaning LA.  So maybe just maybe this trip will inspire me to sell all my stuff except for some clothes, the chair, my spiritual books and get myself to India to write, meet people and fulfill a vision AND THEN make it back somehow to LA.  Maybe, we’ll see,  insha’Allah.


the end.


Maghrib May 11, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 4:27 am
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Oakland rooftop-maghrib

I am starting to understand the sun and the moon.  Their rise and fall.  Each prayer time the air feels different.  My favorite is Maghrib.  On the rooftop I feel closer to the sky, the clouds.  The blues change.  They embrace me.  Lovingly.

I went to the ocean today.  Drove over the Richmond Bridge salaamed the bay to my right, to my left.  Grateful for the rain last week.  Angels dropping down to say hello.  The green of the hills remind me of places I haven’t been yet.  Places in stories, in books, in memories-mine and yours.  I remembered to be thankful for creation.  The ocean vast and deep.  I was grateful and still am for the moment of having the pebbly sand underneath my feet, the ocean greeting my toes.  I was grateful to see the sun shining on the ocean, the kids playing nearby, the wind pushing me to love deeper.  As deep and as vast as the ocean, as my love for you, as my love for myself.

I have been working hard.  I gravitate towards different teachers.  All with similar messages just different ways of expressing it.  They reiterate the work that I have been doing and what I need to continue to do.  Yogi Bhajan had wonderful teachings, they will serve my lifetime, insha’Allah.  This I read yesterday: “If you master your mind, you master the whole universe, because once you have mastered your mind and brought it to neutrality, then the universal mind will serve you.”  Every time my mind escaped into fantasy I remembered to master my mind.  All I can say is when I did that I felt at peace.  My light is shining again.

I walked down the street tonight and couldn’t help but smile when Stevie Wonder came on my ipod shuffle.  Don’t you worry about a thing has been my theme song since I first heard it.  Sometimes I pretend it’s God’s song to me, to everybody.  I am so thankful for every moment of my life, even the harsh ones.  I am thankful for my path and for the power of change.  I am thankful that my mind writes poetry while I walk, that my heart sings songs to the lovers, that I feel the connection to everything on this planet and beyond.  I am thankful for days and nights like this.

then end.


the reminder May 3, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 8:29 pm
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I’ve been having trouble writing.  I start a blog and then conclude it’s too boring to publish.  Only in my head do the stories begin.  It’s like when I was a child and I would listen to classical music and wear a Queen Helene Mint Julep face mask.  I used to lie or is it lay, I never know which one is right, on the couch and make up stories of little white girls dancing ballet in the forest.

My stories are different now.

I am in a period of surrender and learning.  My mother has been trying to teach me the surrendering part my whole life.  Every time I would say I was gonna do something she will finish off my sentence with Si Dios quiere, you know-God willing, Insha’Allah.  Everytime.  And every time I would have to repeat the same words but I didn’t believe in God’s will because I was hoping to will something myself for once in my life.  But I have learned.  Since the moment I have surrendered to God’s will I have been more productive.  Since that moment I have only lived in the moment.  I have been able to work on a to do list and make a plan but ultimately know that if it doesn’t work out the way I want it to be it is because there is something bigger and better that will happen, insha’Allah.

My mami tried to lay out this foundation for me but she was also not my greatest teacher.  Everything stopped for when she got married and had kids.  Her soul stopped.  In her room she slept the days away.  I am like her and unlike her.  I did not get married and have children but my soul also stopped.  My twenties were a blob.  I am blooming again.  I did for a quick second in my late teenage years and then…I am coming into myself again.

This means that I am accepting my uniqueness once again.  Like why for that hot minute did I think I could ever support a traditional relationship?  Ok it was a hot couple of years.  But I am just way too independent to be with someone that wants to see me everyday or even talk to me everyday.  Ok, maybe they may want to do those things but to act on it?!  I would like a relationship like Frida and Diego minus all the sadness and drama.  I mean, I would like a partner that has their own house and I have my own house and a bridge links our homes.  So, I guess I would like a partner with lots of money or I got to get a book published fast and make it an international bestseller.  Or maybe a partner that wants their own room.  And that goes away from time to time.  That is a much cheaper solution.

When you go into homes where couple are making babies and they have joint bank accounts and they seem to have things almost worked out you can only dream for the same thing.  Then I remind myself that none of these people booked their own plane ticket to Florida at eight years old and flew by themselves just to get those airplane wing pins.

I had a revelation the other day or maybe it was just a reminder that I am not like everyone else.  Like really.  And no one is like anyone else.  I am not the only one.  I just needed to remember that my path is my path and it will never mimic anyone else’s.  I then started being excited about being single and not dating anyone right now.  I really don’t have time for that.  I take care of three babies.   I am taking three classes a week-including my new love flamenco.  I am in two productions for June, insha’Allah.  AND I am working out at the gym or running Lake Merritt.  And there are moments of course that I feel strong love for my love.  I do, I do really love him and in fact I am even more in love with him now than I ever was but I am well aware that we will never have the relationship that I would fantasize about because neither of us wants that.  Why it took me so long to figure that one out is beyond me.

I wrote down a few things that i was gonna work on this year:

Seeing my friends more

Letting my guard down

and saying yes more (to good things)

I have been working on all three of them.  I feel whole again and not that depressed blob from my twenties or even from a few months ago.  I am not itching for a bigger relationship that I can’t even handle right now.  I do have a crush.  I sweet crush that I won’t write about but I HAD to mention it.

When I was little I wanted to be a professional dancer.  My mami only let me go to one year of dancing school so I never developed as a dancer in that way.  I wanted to start learning in my twenties but I thought I was too old.  Now I am 33 and I am taking flamenco classes.  I am expected to practice.  I am expected to have better posture and learn all the footwork and one day the arm movements as well. I love this class!  Because now I really want to work on being a flamenco dancer.  It is different from any dancing I have ever done but my hands have been moving like a flamenco dancer ever since I was a kid.  (it’s genetic.)

I am in my period of learning again.  We learn till the day we leave this earth and I am figuring we may learn still in the afterlife. This period of learning is different because I am no longer insecure.  I know that things may get tough but I got the support and I will struggle through.  I don’t have to feel like I can’t raise my hand because I don’t understand a word or may mispronounce a word.  Even in my achy body I am loving life right now.  Every single moment I am in I just need to be present in each moment.

I am thankful to all my teachers and the all the ones that will come, iA.  I am thankful that I saw the brightness in the lace flowers of my childhood’s bedroom curtains when I was depressed.  That is what I stared at for hours knowing that if I could just get through the sadness my adult life would be better.  And it is.  Oh man, it is.

I leave you with my inspiration for the week.

the end.