Dripping River Water

Love

Thoughts on Being a Mother July 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 10:27 pm
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The other day I thought of Coco Fusco.  I don’t know why.  I always liked her art although I couldn’t understand her book, English is Broken Here.  I was still grateful that someone was doing performance artistry and academia in such a beautiful way.  I could never be as smart as Coco Fusco but I do hope one day I could have her motivation and determination.  That is one thing I have realized while spending so many hours at home caring for my child: I let fear keep me from succeeding in ways that were possible for me.  Now I am a stay-at-home mother and I feel like I have to start all over again.  I can do that, inshaAllah.  You make a mistake and you start over.  It’s like riding a bike but I learned how to ride one when I was 30 years old.  Call me a late bloomer.  I don’t think I have blossomed yet.    I have planted my own seed this time, I am starting all over again and this time I will work harder than before, inshaAllah.

I take parenting seriously.  I am always thinking of ways I can cultivate my child to be the best person he can be.  I read an article about Coco Fusco’s parenting in this new website on motherhood called Mater Mea.  She stated this and I felt we were on the same page:

What kind of man do you hope your son becomes?

I want him to be a thoughtful person and a caring person, a moral and an ethical person who understands right and wrong and wants to do good in the world and treat people well. I also want him to be a person who’s happy with himself, who accepts himself as he is and accepts others as well. I think that’s really important. I don’t want him to be narrow minded; I want him to be an open-minded person. You know, we talk a lot about these kinds of things and I try to find ways to talk that he will understand.  -Coco Fusco

My friends came over and gave me a break yesterday.  Hana took Omar to visit her in-laws and Kathy took my stepdaughter, Ella, to the movies and back to her place to make almond milk.  They both brought me food.  I was and continue to be so grateful.  I have friends that really love me and support me.  I didn’t nap but watched a movie with my husband.  He took a break from tiling the bathroom and schoolwork to spend time with me.  I hope I could be as good to others as they are to me.  I hope that my children will demonstrate the same kindness and thoughtfulness that my friends and family display.

I have two more weeks to my due date.  I am glad it takes this long to have a baby.  I am finally at peace and looking forward to meeting my daughter.  I know that “my life will be on hold” for more years to give the best care for Azalea and Omar.  I sometimes struggle with that.  I feel not that intelligent, not that motivated. I feel very simple and not myself.  I feel bad about complaining because it may seem I am not grateful.  I want to give to my children but I also want them to see my strengths and I hope that will influence them to be good citizens in this world.  I know I can’t have it all at the same time.  Some things have to be sacrificed during certain points of my life because it is not just about me.  I am not aiming to just please myself nor sacrificing myself fully for others.  I want to think of what benefits everyone: myself, my family, my friends, my community, society-at-large.

There are moments that I feel alone but then I read articles and see my friends and laugh really loud and cry while I pray and I know I am not alone.

 

the end.

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My warrior princess March 15, 2012

Filed under: life,love,writing — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 9:51 pm
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Her name is Azalea Paloma Noor.  She lives in my womb.  The night before last she woke me in the middle of the nights with her kicks.  I felt them strong and I laughed.  Not loud enough to wake up my husband and son each sleeping beside me.

I always knew that she was a girl and I picked out her name once my pregnancy was confirmed.  I knew I was pregnant the moment she was conceived.  I took three home pregnancy tests and they all said no, you’re not pregnant.  But there is a craziness I feel when I get pregnant.  My hormones are so wacked out I want to scream all day.  I had to go to a clinic and finally the test said, yes, you’re pregnant.

We moved to a house and I forgot I was pregnant with all the unpacking I had to do.  My son flamenco danced all over the house, enjoying the hardwood floors and the tremendous amount of space.  We moved from a 1 bedroom apt to a 2 bedroom, 2 bath, office, laundry room and a kitchen I could actually do some good cooking in.  Alhamdullilah this is my first house ever.  It even has a backyard.

I am fat again with a bigger belly than I need to have but my stomach muscles are weak.  I keep on fantasizing about doing hours of Abs of Steel after giving birth and just eating lots of greens, quinoa and beans.

Azalea has her own song already; I sing to her when I am taking a shower.  I hold my belly and rock to the melody.  I sing it because I want her to know that I want to mother her for as long as I am allowed.

Last week in my second trimester ultrasound I found out that she has a heart problem.  The next day I went to Children’s Hospital in Oakland and I learned she has a single ventricle heart defect.  She moved around lots.  Good sign.  I loved hearing her heartbeat.  I had no tears to shed because I cried profusely the day before.  She has a good chance of surviving, inshaAllah.  Will have to go through a few surgeries, inshaAllah.  I can’t have her train to be a ninja.  Sadness.  But  I will raise her to be a warrior princess, inshaAllah.

Lately I have found that I don’t have the strongest of wills.  Old friends remind me of my strength and I wonder where has it gone to.  This is not the time for me to fall apart or hide what I truly feel.  I am being tested in such a great way but I still find comfort in being grateful for all I have been blessed with.  Even this.  Azalea is a blessing.  She is the size of a banana and kicks like a soccer player.

the end

 

First Day of 2012 January 1, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 6:53 pm
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This morning I woke up writing in my head.  That is a blessing.  I wrote a rough draft and cried a little.  It was a beautiful way to wake up.  My son slept beside me snoring between snacks of my milk.

One morning I woke up to a dream that I didn’t understand.  My son, not Omar Ali, but the first whom I miscarried, came to me in my dream.  If he would have lived he would have been almost 20 years old.  A young man with light brown hair and olive tone skin; he is handsome and likes to wear flannel.  He walked into my dream and said, “Mama, I am up.”

I awoke immediately and looked at Omar sleeping in my arms.  I knew this young man in my dream wasn’t suppose to be Omar older, it was my first, a soul who keeps on growing.  I keep thinking of him not understanding how he appears to me that old.  I don’t understand the spirits of the dead ones and the ones who were never born.  I don’t understand why he told me he was up.

There is an unseen world that many of us do not want to ever see.  I used to when I was a child but it scared me.  I forced myself to stop.  Now I try to imagine all the angels around me.  I try not to think of jinns that want to hurt me.  I don’t know what they look like.  I want to feel the angels.  When I think of them the world seems a little more peaceful with millions of angels spending their time in gratitude.

It is 2012, the first day of this gregorian year.  I knew I had to write down my goals quickly.

1-Be more grateful.  Find solutions to the complaints.  Love the moment I am in.  Be thankful first.

2- Write every day 5-60 mins.  Even a few words will be get me closer to completing a body of work.  When my heart gets all tied up, cry and keep on writing.  Be grateful for this gift of words.

3-Be gentle with myself and those around me.  I spent too much time last year hating myself for my imperfections.  They are all blessings that have built my character.

4- Run.   Physical activity is good for my heart and brain.  It is good for my entire body and spirit.  It is good for my family.

5- Love. This action stands alone and can make beautiful changes in one’s day.

 

the end.

 

 

What Luke said October 27, 2010

Filed under: life,religion,writing — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 5:58 pm
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There is a table in the lobby.  It is long and wooden positioned right below a big mirror.  There people leave things they no longer want: old fax machines, magazines, sneakers, books.  I am the resident manager and this leaving of things annoys me only when no one takes it.  I am left to throw away these items.  Things that could have easily been given as a donation, somewhere else, not in the lobby of my building.  There was a pocket sized New Testament once.  I picked it up.  This is a book I couldn’t throw out, I couldn’t leave it on the sidewalk, I couldn’t give it to a random person.  I had to keep it and for a year it lived between my Moroccan Arabic Phrasebook and El diccionario de sinonimos y antonimos bought in Venezuela when I was there in 1996.

My son is now 5 weeks old.  He has lived his days between arms of those who love him.  I have only been away from him minutes at a time, missing him and calling my mami to see how he is doing.  Yesterday I went for a walk with my friend.  I left my mami with 5 ozs of my milk.  I gave her instructions and hoped that it wouldn’t be too hard for either of them.  The sun was out.  Its rays hit my toes.  There was a chill in shady areas.  I was afraid to catch a cold.  I thought of myself confined in my bedroom pumping milk, sweating and sick, not able to see my son.

We went to Arizmendi.  I was treated to pizza and a root beer sitting outside.  I watched the beautiful people of Oakland pass by.  I saw the mamas pushing the strollers or carrying their babies on their backs.  I saw the dogs.  The endless amount of dogs take over the sidewalk.  I wondered if my skin would darken sitting outside of Arizmendi.  I have been home for weeks looking out the living room windows at the trees and the birds.  The root beer was good.  It became my new favorite.  There on the table was the cap.  It had writing.  In the inside it read, Luke 1:37.  I thought the root beer bottling was more hipster than religious.  Or maybe it was both.

For the past five weeks I have only written in my head.  I write books and plays while I nurse my son in his sleep.  I wish that the words would leave my mind and walk unto the page.  Any page.  Somewhere else.  But the words don’t.  They are locked away and I wonder if I will be able to write.  Then I read stories of writers who have shared similar nights.  Perhaps not nursing their sons but still in bed writing words on the walls with their pupils.

For the past five weeks I have begun learning what it is to be a mother.  I have learned what it is to remain still, to be totally dependent.  There is a scar above my bikini line.  It is black and sometimes it is sore.  All throughout my pregnancy I was pleased not to have any stretch marks.  Instead I got a scar where they pulled my baby out.  That scar reminds me of my imperfections and my failures.

I wonder sometimes why I couldn’t give birth at home.  Sometimes I have a hard time completing things.  The end is always so hard.  I go through my over fifty hours of labor at home and four days in the hospital.  I try to figure out what exactly went wrong.  I know everything is God’s will but somehow I feel at a loss.   I wonder if somewhere in back of my mind I was too scared to finish the job.  I couldn’t give birth naturally in a birthing tub, in my kitchen because it meant I actually had to complete something.  I needed help.  Like heavy drugs to soothe me, to make me relax, to actually fall asleep.  I went to the hospital, a place I still don’t want to give birth in again.  They helped me.  I had sweet nurses who gave me more pillows and filled my water bottle.  I knew that with a touch of button someone would be at my side.  So the whole time I had to not be upset.  I had to take everything in stride because I had my baby in my arms.  And if I got frustrated at the nurses constantly coming in and asking me the same questions, at them grabbing my breasts without asking me anything to see if my milk was coming out, at my son being picked up all hours of the night to be weighed, I would have made it worse for myself and I would have been ungrateful.  I still have to write about that.  All of that.  But I am afraid that it will make me cry.

On my bedside table there is a tube of Barq’s root beer lip balm.  I don’t like that root beer but I like the taste on my lips.  I put it on last night before getting into bed.  Then I remembered.  Luke 1:37.  I went to the living room to the shelf where the pocket size New testament lived.  I took it into bed.  My husband perplexed.  I have not read the Qur’an in weeks and here I was with the Bible.  I opened it to Luke right away.  There I read: “For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Sighs and smiles.

the end.

 

Eid in Cuba 2009 part 1 August 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 9:05 pm
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In November of 2009 I went to Cuba to visit my ailing Tía a week after I got married. Although, it was difficult at times; I would have rather been honeymooning with my husband. I feel blessed that I was able to make the trip to benefit my Tía Rosa’s health and I also had the opportunity to meet Cuban Muslims.  Before my trip to Cuba I searched online for Muslims through Islamic Finder.  There I found a masjid in Holguín, an hour away from my family.  I wrote down their info and called them when I got to Cuba.  The number I had was not of a mosque but to a lovely woman, Daisy.  Her husband was Lebanese and Muslim who ran a group for many years when he was alive.  She told me the Muslim community was small but active.  She would find Abdul Latif and leave him a message to call me.  Most people in Cuba do not have their own phones.  A few days later Aisha, Abdul Latif’s wife called me and my adventure began.  I was to visit them and for Eid al-Adha, the Muslim celebration after the pilgrimage, Hajj.

Here is my story, in parts, about my weekend in Holguín with Cuban Muslims.  Please be patient with me and my writing.  I am very pregnant right now waiting for the arrival of my son, Omar Ali João, inshaAllah.  My goal is to finish this story before Eid al-Adha 1431/2010, inshaAllah.  Please keep us in your prayers.

There were eleven of them.  I met them after a long car ride squeezed between a man with a big backpack and my cousin.  I did not speak.  If I did it was only in whisper.  Foreigners can not ride in Cuban owned vehicles that are not designated for tourist use.  They can not ride and pay the equivalent of two dollars like I did to go to Holguín from Victoria de las Tunas.  I was born in a Brooklyn hospital five years after my parents left Cuba.  In Cuba I am a yanquí.

When we arrived in Holguín we picked up our bags from the trunk of the old American car.  There we found my bag soaked with petroleum.  I was confused. Why was there petroleum in the trunk of the car?  In the US we don’t do that.  We don’t need to go from house to house while traveling with our own petro if we want to make a good meal.  One of the passengers must have been traveling with petroleum to use in the kitchen, I was told.  The container was not securely sealed.  She walked away before we fully realized what was happening.  There was no point in chasing her down and asking for an apology.  My bag was soiled, my best clothes was damaged.  I was going to Holguín to celebrate Eid with Cuban Muslims I did not know smelling like a gas station.

My cousin and I rode a bicitaxi to the address I had in my planner.  As we rode I put a scarf over my head.  It was thin and brown, a scarf my friend brought home from Medina.  It was light enough to deal with the Cuban heat.  In the days I spent at my aunt’s house in Cuba I did pray my five prayers a day but could not find the motivation to cover myself.  Every time I go back to Cuba I am stared at.  I didn’t want to give people another reason to look at me.  A few days earlier I had talked to Aisha, my contact in Holguín.  We made plans.  I would go on Friday and spend jummah with them.  They knew of a place I could stay.  I would learn from them and share Eid at their home.  I would give them 700 pesos to buy a lamb.  700 pesos is the equivalent of $29.  I didn’t have much money for this trip but I could do that.  It would be their first Eid even though they have been practicing Muslims for six years.  I made the mistake of telling her I was a part-time hijabi.  She told me she was going to get on my case about that.  She was Cuban after-all, I wouldn’t expect anything less.

My cousin didn’t know if we were on the right street.  I looked at the houses as we slowly rode by.  I always disliked riding a bicitaxi.  It seems a bit inhumane.  I’ve only been in one three times and each time besides the one in Holguín I got off half way through the ride and paid full fare because I couldn’t bear for someone to carry my weight.  I saw men in kufis in front of a house, they were waiting for us.  I was greeted by the brothers then the sisters inside.  We sat around in a circle I told them about the petroleum ordeal.  Right away Aisha’s mother took my bag and began washing my clothes.  She had a small washing machine.  I had never seen one in Cuba.  In my Tía’s backyard my clothes are washed over a board and hung up to dry.  In this new home there was potential that I would be able to wear something nice for Eid.

Aisha, her husband Abdul Latif and their daughter Maryam shared a house with her parents, her sister, brother-in-law and her six years old niece, Laura.  Although she was not Muslim she came home from school and shook everyone’s hand and said Asalaamu Alaykum.

Laura

I was sitting in a room filled with Cuban Muslims.  I looked at the corner of the room and saw a bóveda, an altar for spirits and ancestors.  I used to have one in my living room.  My mami has one, my abuela had one.  I come from a line of espiritistas.  There I was in a room full of Muslims who I didn’t have to explain my family’s spirituality to.  In that room lived two worlds.  Maybe even three.

There are no mosques in Cuba.  There are no structures that make you think you are in the Middle East.  There is one official space for Muslim prayer, La Casa de los Arabes, that is open on Fridays for jummah in La Habana for foreigners and diplomats.  Cuban Muslims pray out of their homes, they get together to read Qur’an and learn hadiths.  In Aisha’s living room we sat in chairs facing Abdul Latif.  Shaped like a crescent moon there were men sitting next to women.  He gave the khutbah, the sermon, his words lost in my head.  I sat there knowing that this was a unique experience and I would never have anything like it.  When it came time to make salat we all didn’t fit in the bedroom that they use to pray, eat and sleep.  There are more Muslim women than men in Holguín.  We prayed dhuhr first leaving the room after making dua giving the men space to be one with God.

They wanted to know about me.  I wanted to know about them.  We spent the afternoon giving each other brief bios on our lives and our paths to Islam.  In this room the youngest Muslimah was nineteen, beautiful Zaynab.  She met Aisha at the university, they were both art students.  Zaynab a lot younger than Aisha followed her around asking her questions about Islam.  She came from a home of atheist intellectuals.  Zaynab believed in monotheism and found comfort in Islam.  Her parents aren’t supportive of her faith.  She puts on a scarf after she leaves her home and turns the corner of her block.  Aisha has tried to talk to her mother.  It has not worked.  Zaynab loves her parents and knows that patience and respect is all she can give them right now until they come around, inshaAllah.  She is very shy and sweet.  When she talks she can’t look at you in the eye but you feel her heart beat and the light that beams from it.  I am fifteen years older than her and I wondered what it would have been like if my parents stayed in Cuba and if I would have found Islam at nineteen.  I wondered if I would be as peaceful as her at such a young age.

Zaynab

to be continued…

 

On Alma Ave July 7, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 5:07 pm
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I used to live here by myself.  It was an open space with a couch in the living room and a bed in the bedroom.  it’s been 4 years since I first moved in and the furniture has grown.  I am now sitting on a comfortable glider.  My feet no longer hurt because they are elevated.  As I write, I rock back and forth.  Now, my one bedroom apartment houses my husband and stepdaughter.  She sleeps in the small room which was once a walk in closet.  We are moving things around for my mami’s arrival.  She will be on a bed in the living room surrounded by windows and plants.  I am getting my mami used to the fact that I will probably not have lil Omar in a crib but in one of these:

I am nesting, rearranging, purging, selling, gifting for all of us to fit in this place.  There are homes that are filled with families bigger than ours.  They all sleep in the same room, eat in the same room, do their work in the same room.  Perhaps you don’t find these homes in the Unites States very often but they exists in many, many places.

I have a deadline to finish my book by the end of the summer but my writing is so scattered.  I realize my thoughts need to be more linear.  If I continue to write the way that I am writing it won’t flow.  Each chapter stands on its own, which can be a good thing but it needs more work.  I am back in the beginning.  Maybe I won’t have to write chapters all over again but I need to figure out a better way.  I can now spend my days writing.  I am thankful but I still have mouths to feed and a house to clean and my life is so different now.  My belly is huge and I forget about it when I open truck doors and try to get through narrow spaces.

Somewhere in this living room I also have to make space for the tub to give birth in.  Every day I pray that I am able to give birth at home.  I won’t be able to stand the lights in the hospital or nurses coming in and out of the room tempting me with drugs.  I want to learn songs to sing through contractions.  I hope it’s cool that day.  I hope it’s in the day.  I want to drink coconut water and have my tailbone massaged.  My pregnancy isn’t that bad but there are moments of unconformability.  I just think this is God’s way of preparing me for the labor.  I read stories of labors lasting two or three days.  I tell Adam to keep me at home unless my midwife says there is trouble and we need to go to the hospital.  I want my son to be born in water, inshaAllah.  I want to hold him on my bare chest, look into his eyes and cry, inshaAllah.

He moves and dances in my belly.  I write for him right now.  I write because I promised myself I would have a book done before I had a child.  I want it to be his gift.  Mami and Papi tried their best.  They really did.  Sometimes they wanted to teach me in ways I couldn’t really learn.  They wanted me to learn through their mistakes not through their efforts to make change and do better.  There was an expectation that I will get things right because i saw them do things wrong.  I have done things better than them but there are things that I have repeated.  I can’t teach my children through the same way.  I want them to learn through example.  I want to be a good mother.  A mother that uses all the gifts given to her and shares them with her loved ones.  I want to write for my children so they will be able to do what their heart tells them.

the end.

 

Something on love and marriage May 31, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 11:03 pm
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I have a runny nose today. My first cold in a very long time. I thought I had intense allergies due to a day spent in the Central Valley.  I am not sure how to handle a cold while pregnant.  All I can do is rest.

We were in Los Banos visiting my husband’s grandparents.  We sat in the carport, the coolest place in the house.  Everyone spoke Portuguese except me.  I have only learned to ask for his grandparents blessings, how to say thank you and inshaAllah.  I did learn how to say mint which is not like the Spanish, menta, it is long and now I have forgotten it but when I say it, it is like the Portuguese giving them hope that I will learn to speak like them.

There was a Portuguese parade that we heard coming down the street.  Not their street but the one above it.  Five of us walked to see the girls dressed like queens with long capes like my mami made for her saints.  You only have to be a 1/4 Portuguese, my mother-in-law said.  Her words reminded me that my child will not be completely Cuban.  Or Cuban with a Brooklyn/California twist.  He will be mixed with Portuguese, Romanian and Italian.  I thought of the summers we will need to spend in Florida and Cuba, just like me, but that will probably not be the case.  My son will be more worldly than that, inshaAllah.

My grandparents-in-law have been married for 70 years.  They sit side by side sometimes.  She tells him that he’s cute, he smiles every time he looks at her.  I asked my husband’s mom if they are always like that.  Yes.  Do they ever argue?  No, he always tells her she’s the boss.  And I laugh wanting Adam and I to replicate that.  I don’t have grandparents with long marriages to give him.  My papi was born out of an affair and my abuelo’s wife committed suicide before I got a chance to be born.  On my mami’s side there are stories of my abuelos never liking each other.  They were as opposite as their heights.  Abuelo used to stand to be 6’4 and the last time I saw Abuela she reached my nose.  I don’t have parents that loved each other and seemed to work everything out.  I just have stories that my aunts and uncles have given me about how they fell in love and how they stay in love.  I spent years asking them questions on our visits because I didn’t know it was possible for someone to love me the way they loved each other.

I just saw Julie & Julia and if you haven’t seen it you should.  There is really something to say about having a good partner, one that stands by you even when you don’t stand by yourself.  My husband is on the road now picking up my stepdaughter from visiting her mom.  I texted him sweet words while I watching the movie.  I wished he was watching it with me but I guess this was one I had to do by myself.

Before he left he asked me if I was going to write.  I gave excuses of not being able to write with my head pounding, of being too focused on my runny nose.  He asked about a place I can put all my ideas.  I told him I remember everything.  I used to remember everything but then I got pregnant.  So, I am writing them down.  I am not being stubborn.  Sigh.  I must of done something really good to have such a special mate like him.

the end.