Dripping River Water

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When I begin writing in my dream June 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 5:17 pm
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I was dreaming.  In this dream I was writing.  I was documenting the glasses I wore in fourth grade.  I still have them.  Those ugly eighties welfare glasses.  The ones from the lot we could afford.  They were big, I mean huge, and mauve and ugly.  When I see hipsters wearing them now I kinda want to take them off of their face and give them a lecture about appropriating poverty.  And to prove my point I drop them to the floor and smash them with my feet.  But I don’t because I am not mean like that. 

Maybe I had that dream because Michael Jackson died and he was totally in my heart all those years that I wore those ugly glasses.  In my dream I was wearing them to document me wearing them.  The dream ended before I even started writing.  I am writing now.

I couldn’t stand living those years of my life.  9, 10, 11, 12.  Yuck.  Those were the worst years.  My hair was frizzy, I was fat and my view of the world and myself were through those ugly glasses.  In my twenties when I had those moments that I didn’t feel good about myself I thought I was back at those ages 9,10,11,12.  Ugly, depressed, trying to fit in, weird.

I wonder why I had that dream.

I performed last weekend with Mangos with Chili.  The dressing room in the back was surrounded by mirrors.  When I saw myself, I smiled.  I focused in.  Checked out my clear skin, my beautiful curls, the way my outfit looked at me.  I smiled.  I smiled big and said out loud, It’s a good thing I don’t have a mirror like this in my apt or else I would never leave the place.  If you had just met me you would have thought that I was vain.  My sweetest friend laughed and acknowledged that I have just fully come to myself and that it is great to see me love myself in that way.

I remember now.  I remember what I was going to write in my dream.  I was going to write about being different.  About remembering that we have our own life path.  I remember.

In my world I am different and I surround myself with other people that are different.  We are the odd balls, the black sheep, the late bloomers.  We remind each other of our gifts to ourselves, each other and the world.  In my journey to be my whole self and to fulfill my life purpose it is necessary that my closest companions are those who accept all the idiosyncricities I have.  My people are the ones who love me, check me, never seize to adore me, teach me and learn from me.

I recently started liking someone that I could be my whole self with.  I had never gone into something with such an open heart.  With such honesty.  Another Cuban Muslim- I know!  Very rare.  But a special kind of Cuban Muslim, one who is progressive, who reads me poetry over the phone before going to sleep, one who I could talk about being a non practicing queer with and not feel like I won’t be accepted or understood.  I love listening to him talk that Cuban Spanish.  A long time ago I had given up wanting to be with another Cuban.  My roommate kept mentioning that she has never seen me like this and she has known me for over 13 years.  And it’s true.  Before him I was at a point where I wasn’t trying to hold on to anything romantically left with the last man I was with.  I felt full, I was working on so many projects that made me radiate, I felt alive.  I was content with being single.  Then he came along and I totally accepted that I was in a good place so this was a good thing.  But that wasn’t necessarily true.  It is not the right time for him and I totally understand.  It’s annoying because now I have to grieve a little and get back to the content place I was in.  I am trying.   Now I am in a place of trying to be compassionate towards him and myself, to leave my heart open and to move on.  I did have that moment though of feeling like I was in my twenties feeling like I was 9,10,11,12 again.  I felt that I would be alone for the rest of my life and there would be no one in this world that would accept all my complexities from having tattoos, to being religious, from being independent, to enjoying serving.  There’s more but I still haven’t eaten breakfast yet.  That lasted like 10 minutes.  Me crying and feeling sorry for myself and then I remembered all those times I told my friends that we have our own path.  

These past two days everything I wanted to do did not work out.  I kept on saying God knows best.  There was peace within me even though I wanted to be frustrated and pout but I felt like it didn’t work out because there was something there that wouldn’t benefit me.  So, I am moving forward with being at peace.  OK  I am trying to be at peace with the place I am in right now and knowing that this is all part of the plan.  I get tested a lot.  That’s probably why I liked the stories of Job so much.  I am constantly reminding myself of his perseverance.  

In this moment of writing from dreams and memories I smile because when I feel my heart beat I notice that it does it freely.  It has not closed.  I am on my path.  May you be on yours.  May it be lit.

the end.

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A Virtual Mourning June 26, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 2:19 am
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The babies were sleeping.  Ocean waves came in through the monitor.  The sunlight hit my skin.  I checked my Facebook account over my phone and there I read status update after status update that Michael Jackson died.  I called my mother she already knew.

I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t be in shock.  Thoughts went through my mind like the Michael Jackson posters I put on my wall.  Like the Thriller jacket I wore in fourth grade.  Got teased but still wore it.  I thought about the Thriller album and the Bad! video.  I thought about the moonwalk and my love for Michael.  I forgot about his skin bleaching, his nose jobs, his straightened hair.  I remembered his voice and his smile.  I remembered singing Man in the Mirror in a school production with my classmates.  I remembered the group my family attended for depressed Cubans in Miami who took too many pills and finished each session with We are the World.  I remembered how he made my heart beat and gave me dancing feet.  I remembered loving Michael, not understanding Michael, learning how to be compassionate towards Michael.  I was just remembering Michael.  I thought about the articles I read that he took his shahada last year.  And I hoped it was true because no matter what religion or spiritual path someone chooses what is important to me is that everyone on this planet has inner peace and self love.  I pray that in Michael’s final hour he was at peace and was connected to the Creator, the universe and himself.  I thought about his struggles, man, his struggles, like we all have them but maybe not that public.  I thought about the pain.  I pray that he is at peace.

It is interesting that in 2009 I no longer have a TV but am still connected.  I check my phone and my friends in California, New York and in different pockets of the world keep me informed with their status updates on Facebook.  I don’t even have to read the news because my friends have already informed me.  I wondered for a quick second if I was wrong for not acknowledging his death on my status update.  A quick second.  I am making brownies and listening to the Michael Jackson Ultimate Collection.  I am remembering my love for Michael in my own way.  I try to dance but I feel a little off doing it.  I can not cry and I wonder if it’s because I look at death so differently now.

I haven’t even been able to talk to someone about it but I am part of a virtual mourning.  All over the world where a song is playing one will probably be hearing a Michael Jackson song.  This is bigger than Elvis’ death, bigger than Diana, poor Farrah, bigger than hers.  It’s 2009 and most of us won’t be able to go to wherever his services are but we can watch it on TV, our phones, our computers.  When we get together in PERSON and reminisce our very own Michael Jackson memory we will probably moonwalk to each other or Yee-Hee every once in awhile.  For many people in my age group, the thirties, Michael Jackson represented our very own love for music.  For many of us our Thriller album was our very first album.

Michael, may the angels be with you.  May you have light.  May you have peace.  May you know that you are and will always be loved.  

the end.

 

 

my vision June 15, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 8:18 pm
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I didn’t really know English then.  I was six or seven.  I stood in front of my second grade classroom.  No paper in hand.  Words already memorized.  I sang the songs I wrote in the corner of the room I shared with my parents.  I sang.  I sang with bangs and a cute little pony tail.  My big eyes avoided looking at my friends.  I sang songs I wrote at six or seven in a language that was new to me.  I sang.

I went to a retreat this Saturday at the East Bay Meditation Center.  The retreat focused on learning your life purpose.  I already know my life purpose but sometimes I forget.  Like when I am bored and procrastinating on facebook instead of writing.  I went to remember my life purpose.  I went to live it.  One of my favorite exercises was an inquiry where two people get together.  A asks a question, such as: What are you afraid of?  B answers.  A  says thank you and repeats the question.  I did this exercise with the girl sitting next to me.  A stranger.  I could have picked any stranger in a room full of over 60 people but we picked each other.  She kept on asking me the same question.  I kept on answering.  I am afraid of not pushing myself hard enough.  I am afraid of not believing.  I am afraid of not having money.  I am afraid of being afraid.  I am afraid of, I am afraid of, I am afraid of.  Nothing.  Nada.  I have no fears.  Bring it on.  Keep on asking because I am not afraid of anything!  Oh, it was such a relief to be asked the same question and I didn’t have the lump in my throat and my heart wasn’t all wound up and I didn’t have tears in my eyes BECAUSE  I have nothing to fear.

Our teacher talked about our core and our childhood and to really look at the things that we felt fullfilled with in our lives.  That is when I remembered about my songwriting and singing.  I remembered the José Martí poems I memorized and performed for my family.  I remembered the lizards I caught in the backyards of Miami.  I remembered the swimming and the imagining and the laughter and the stories.  I liked to tell stories.  I enjoyed thinking about the world and how to  make it better.  I constructed plans to help homeless people find homes and jobs and love and stability.  When we did a group exercise and we talked about what things fulfilled us I said right now I am exactly how I was as a child except I am not as bratty.  Maybe I might have my moments but you know I have been working on that. In my teen years, in my twenties I rebelled against no one but me.

I was feeling really good about my day even though I was tired.  I have been so busy these past couple of months but every moment has been worth it.  I knew that going to this retreat will help me realize the things I have to achieve to keep on track with my life purpose.  Then we had to pair up with someone to share with them our vision.  Sharing my vision with a stranger?  I was going to walk around the room and pick someone randomly when this young woman came up to me and asked to be my partner.  She went first and for ten minutes I listened to her and was her silent cheerleader when she talked about her vision.  There I was listening to a young white woman from Kansas City and LA and I found some commonalities with her.  Like she’s a writer and was a nanny.  Like she wants to work in therapy helping others through the arts.  She had so much enthusiasm and direction that I really admired that she knew these things at 20.  Then it was my turn.  I must admit I felt a little self conscious.  I come from a culture that you are not suppose to tell people what you want in life because they might give you the evil eye and it will be taken away.  But I am trying to not feed into that and I said my vision knowing that if I voice it and work towards it it can be possible.

I told her about my immediate visions with going to India and writing and learning more from spiritual teachers.  I told her about all the bestsellers I wanted to publish, the languages I wanted them translated in.  I told her about the millions I wanted so I can take care of my family.  So I can create my own family and ride that horse through the desert with my partner and children.  I told her about all the countries I wanted to live in and the cultures I wanted my children to be a part of.  I told her about the teachers I wanted to work with.  I told her about the ways I wanted to teach.  I told her about the house with the ocean view and smells of good Cuban cooking.  A house filled with lots of love.  And somewhere in telling my vision she was no longer listening.  Her body language changed.  She kept on looking at the people next to us.  I wanted to say, hey listen to me.  But I just kept on talking.  Annoyed.  Those 10 minutes were so long.  I just wanted it to end.

I was so mad.  So, I told my friends and they couldn’t believe it.  I was so sad.  My vision ignored.  It was like when my mom used to sweep and I would talk to her and she would just say, aha, aha and never really listen.  I knew I couldn’t sleep until I told my vision to someone who would actually listen.  I had already one night of bad sleep and waking up grumpy.  I asked Meadow and she did even with her stuffed up nose she was able to listen.  And I retold her my vision but then added a few things like growing old and be surrounded by good people.  I told her about the commitment I have to being around people who are healing and healers, people who love and know how to receive love.  I told her about the rocking chair I want to sit on.  All the people that I will meet.  I told her about my dreams and my aspirations.  My goals.  I told her my vision.  And she listened.  For a moment I thought I couldn’t add unto my vision because it didn’t make it to the 10 minutes but she assured me that my vision can be continuous.  She told me that she sees how I need to write in India.  She was so happy for me and such a great cheerleader.  I am glad I gave myself a second chance.

Every moment I have lived has led up to this moment.  Every moment from this moment will lead up to my vision.  I am not afraid.

the end.

 

Must have been an angel June 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 12:57 am
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An angel came to me.  She sat near the colorful ball pit in the kindergym at the Y.  She was tired.  Pregnant, her belly swollen like an enormous globe.  She said she imagined people laughing at her on the street with her big belly.  I thought she was beautiful.  Her smile, her crows feet, the way she waddled when she walked.  While watching her child play and the child that is really not my own play, we talked.   About me, about her.  It was a day, within a week, within a month, within a year that I was starting to feel my age.  Starting to feel bad for not having my own child, or partner, or house in Berkeley with the nice garden.  My heart broken.  Some pieces seemed to have slipped into the ball pit.  I showed her my vulnerability.  Maybe because she was pregnant I needed that motherly love and someone to rub my back.  She didn’t rub my back but reminded me that I was still really young.  She had given birth to her first child at 36 and is awaiting the next at 39.  She was an angel and angels just end up saying the nicest things.  Like: Go to India, not for a month but for a few.

I only saw her a few times after that.  I thought of her while walking the kids in the stroller.  Thought of her giving birth and a new baby on her chest.  I saw her husband the other day with their first child.  He seemed to look at me as if he knew me and I wondered if he was an angel, too.  I wanted to send a message to her and say: Thank you.  Thank you for listening to me.  Thank you for telling me what I needed to hear.  Thank you for your tenderness.  May life always be fulfilling for you.

My broken heart has mended so quickly.  

I called my mother a few weeks ago and told her I am no longer in a hurry to have children.  I am thinking more like 40.  Forgetting that she had me at 38 she thought I was going out of mind.  I reassured her by saying that Jennifer Lopez was 41 when she had her twins.  Mami felt much better.

When I am open enough to accept the messages people give me I grow a little more.  In all my exhaustion with work and all these artistic projects I feel so fulfilled that loving and being present in every moment is where it’s at.   The only timeline I need to be on is my own.  I forget that sometimes.  Angels are good reminders.

the end.

 

the books that shaped me June 3, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 2:03 am
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I was never a good student.  Never the kind the nuns liked.  I really wanted to get straight As and have my name called with honors.  It just never happened.  I knew I was smart and great at some things but something inside of me stopped me from excelling.  I can blame it on the ten million things that traumatized my childhood but  I am an adult now.  

I can not tell you what exact thing or person or place changed my life.  I can not tell you that one day I woke and I was no longer sad, no longer felt blocked, no longer felt the weight of the world on me.  I can not tell you that because it is not just one thing or one day.  It is the work that I have done since I was a child to lead the life that I am meant to live.

I was never good in school but I did read a whole lot.  That is how I got through my childhood.  Book after book, trip after trip to the library, I traveled to other places, met different people, learned about life in a way a couldn’t of in school.  I love learning.  I am just not a traditional learner.  Right now in this moment and it has been a real long moment I feel full, grounded and calm.  I see all the possibilities and somehow have the energy to make those possibilities realities.  I have made difficult decisions that have freed me in ways that sometimes I think I have wings.  I have not done this alone and I am thankful to my loved ones that love the complexities that complete me.  One of the ways I have grown is through reading.  This is not a full list but I wanted to share with you some of the books that have helped me transform and cry and laugh and grow and bloom.  Please share yours.

May you always seek light and see the infinite beauty within you.

 

The Qur’an

I Know why the Caged Bird Sings- Maya Angelou

Muhammad (pbuh)- Karen Armstrong

The House on Mango Street– Sandra Cisneros

Awakening the Buddhist Within- Lama Surya Das

The Art of Happiness- The Dalai Lama

Heart, Self and Soul: The Sufi Psychology of Growth, Balance and Harmony– Robert Frager

True Love– Thich Nhat Hanh 

The Prophet- Kahlil Gibran

All About Love: New Visions– bell hooks

Bone Black- bell hooks

Salvation: Black People and Love- bell hooks

Sisters of the Yam: black women and self-recovery- bell hooks

Love Dharma: Relationship Wisdom From Enlightened Buddhist Women-Geri Larkin 

Waiting in the Wings– Cherríe Moraga

This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color -edited by Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa

The Altar of My Soul: The Living Traditions of Santería- Marta Moreno Vega

for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf- Ntozake Shange

The Spirit of Intimacy: Ancient African Teachings in the Ways of Relationships- Sobunfu Somé

Falling Out of Grace: Meditations on Loss, Healing and Wisdom- Sobunfu Somé

Down These Mean Streets- Piri Thomas

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose- Eckhart Tolle

The Color Purple- Alice Walker

The Autobiography of Malcolm X