Dripping River Water

Love

Are you still a writer when you stop writing? August 1, 2013

Filed under: life,writing — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 5:56 am
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A couple of months ago I started to have visions of a story. I wrote and the page came to life. I felt normal again or should I say I felt like myself again, my old self who wrote everything down and dreamed big. I took the kids to the babysitter; I took my computer to a cafe and I sat and wrote while I drank coffee and a ate bagel. It was just like the old days in Brooklyn. It was the first time I took the kids to the babysitter to write not to take one to a doctor’s appt, not to go to work, not to clean the house. I took them there to write and I wrote and then…my computer crashed.

I didn’t even cry.
I just stopped writing.

Am I still a writer since I don’t write anymore? I am not sure if this counts. It’s the first time I have written since my computer crashed two months ago. I know other writers have gone longer not writing but how does one go back to writing?

I will tell you the truth.
I am scared.

What if the words dance on the page again and there is a flow and something bad happens, even worse than a computer crashing?

What if I can’t produce anything?

What if I write junk and I think it is beautiful?

What if I just write?

I love being a mother. I just don’t know how to be a writer mama or a mama writer. Which one is better?

**********************************************************************
Before I went to grad school for writing I checked out other grad programs.
Social Work
Non-Profit Management
And probably something else extremely boring.

I was too scared to just do what I love to do: write.

Since I’ve become a mother I have considered other careers:
Copyediting
Baking
Hairstylist
Life Coach
Therapist for women with perinatal depression
Urban Farmer

Why don’t I just write?
What is wrong with me?

I am almost 40 and I am wondering how long I will struggle with this.

*********************************************************************

It is the holy month of Ramadan. For the past three years I have not fasted because I was 8 months pregnant with Omar, then I was breastfeeding Omar, then I gave birth to Azalea. I am still breastfeeding but I am fasting this year. It is humbling and wonderful and I love Ramadan. One of the things I love about Ramadan is that with 16 hours of fasting I have plenty of time to appreciate all that I have, all the gifts God has given me and my family, all the time I get to spend with my kids and less time thinking about myself in a negative way. Sometimes I fail and when I do I pick up the Qur’an and there is always something to read that will remind me of what is important.

It feels like I have been working on myself for my whole life and I have just realized that I will probably die working on myself. That in itself is a blessing and that I am able to write about is even a bigger one.

I guess I just answered some of my questions.

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.

 

 

05.27.11 May 27, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 3:09 pm
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I made a new schedule:
Housework – Monday-Wednesday
Writing – Thursday-Sunday

By Wednesday I was exhausted. Instead of doing laundry I stayed in my pajamas extending housework to Thursday. It is Friday morning and I don’t know what to write.

There are two squirrels playing outside my kitchen window. They chase each other up and down the telephone pole. I learned how to climb a tree at 20 years old. I am scared of heights. When I was a little girl Mami let me play in the lobby of my apartment building with Elaine from upstairs. She used to jump three, four, five steps at a time. She was older. After she took her afternoon showers her sneakers filled with new talcum powder left puffs on the stairs. I miss her. I want to look her up on Facebook but her name is too common Elaine Lopez. She taught me about life beyond the walls of my apartment. She was mature even at twelve years old.

When I dream of my home it is always the apartment on 45 street. I wish I could go back to it. I want to see the wallpaper from the 1970s, my mother’s altar in the hallway corner. I want to smell my father’s Sunday cooking and hear the neighbors talk to their children. I want to take a bath in my clawfoot tub for hours like I did when I got bored with reading books and watching TV. There were times I felt I didn’t have a childhood then I remember how I was allowed to imagine. There were plays and dances in my head. I was in the jungle, on ships and in faraway places. I wanted to act in the TV shows I watched after school. I could have been the Cuban cousin Alyssa Milano didn’t know she had and move into that big house in Connecticut in Who’s the Boss?” Only rich kids got to act. That’s what my parent said. In a way they were right. Who would pay for my acting classes and agent?

My son is being raised in an apartment. It is a lot smaller than the one I grew up in. It only has one bedroom. There is sunlight when the sun decided to show itself. The windows overlook the street. We get to watch the neighbors go by and the squirrels play outside. I want him to have a backyard like I always wanted. The first time I lived in a house was in Venezuela. It was a huge house with three living rooms and three dining areas. I spent three months there and each day I wrote in a new place. There were only two people who lived in this house besides me. They had a dog outside that helped me eat the mangoes off the tree. He was a Doberman.  They only greeted him with food. We became friends  I let him pretend he was biting off my arm.  Such a big dog,  I am not sure why I was never scared.  I didn’t really have friends there. All the girls thought I would take away their boyfriends and all the guys made up stories of their rendezvous with me. I may be a legend there. Who knows? I was just trying to be nice to people.

Omar just woke up. I want to write to be continued but I have to be realistic.

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…

 

Something new August 9, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 8:02 pm
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I cut my hair yesterday.  A mirror behind me and a mirror in front of me.  I stood in the bath tub and let my curls fall down.  It reminded me of when I shaved my head in 2000.   Or was it 2001?  It was a night that I went out with my brother and papi to see Eliades Ochoa of Buena Vista Social Club perform at BB King’s in Time Square.  Papi and I cried while we sang along to this guajiro Cuban music.  My brother had only been in the United States for a couple of years and he did not feel the same nostalgia.  I came home that night and put on the Buena Vista Social Club CD, the intro to Cuban music CD for many Americans, and in front of my hallway mirror I chopped off my hair to this song:

My cat, Mamita, stood by me watching in amazement as my hair fell down to the floor.  I then shaved it with the same razor I used for my legs.  I had never seen my scalp before.  It was white.  I felt like a two toned cone head.  I shaved my own head for the next two years.  I got clippers and buzzed it every week.  Last night I didn’t cut my hair that short.  I just cut it to my neck.

Taking risks with each curl cut.  I know I didn’t do such a great job as my regular hair stylist but at least I had good scissors and I didn’t have to spend so much money.  Adam thought I was brave.  I was brave enough to have him help me with the back.  There is something about having a shaved head for a while as a woman.  I did it because I was too attached to the beauty of my hair.  I wanted no attachments.  This was before I even understood Buddhism.

Somewhere in my twenties I stopped celebrating Christmas with my family.  We were having hardship at the time and I was also overwhelmed by the commercial part of a holiday I used to enjoy.  It was hard to spend Christmas by myself when everyone I knew was with their families.  I dedicated the three days my family got together, the 24-26th, cleaning out my closets.  I found comfort in reading old letters from my best friend in elementary school and listening to mixed tapes.  When I moved to California I kept that ritual.  Every year I went through the piles of papers I couldn’t seem to throw away on a daily basis, I danced and sang to old songs.  Then I stopped celebrating the new year because I didn’t want to be trapped making small talk with strangers instead of quality time with good friends.  For a couple of years I made the Maceo’s Mix for the upcoming year.  The songs were my theme songs for all the events that would follow that year.  One year I went to a midnight new year’s yoga class in San Francisco.  By candle light I was in warrior pose preparing for what was to come.

For the past couple of years things changed.  Meadow moved in with me so I didn’t really have space to do those solitary rituals and now I have a family.  I don’t mind spending Christmas with our families because that is what they like to do.  We’ve given gifts of donations on behalf of our families to the Heifer Foundation.  I am not sure how my nieces will feel this year about getting a card stating that a bunch of ducks were given to a family in their name but they have so much already.

This month I’ve been finally clearing out my closets.  Not because I am alone during Christmas, it is summertime, I do it to make room for the baby.  I held a garage sale on Saturday.  In boxes I piled heels that I only look at, glasses from my old altars, CDs, clothes and a basket full of condoms that one man ended up taking.  I met a woman with her two little girls.  She asked if she could touch my belly and I usually don’t let people, but I let her.  She told me she was pregnant with her youngest during Katrina.  Big bellied like me she walked through contaminated water with her oldest child.  I told her, thank you for telling me, I will keep that in mind when I start complaining.

My belly is huge.  Bigger than ever.  I am still not having twins and I swear i probably won’t have such a huge baby.  I am counting the days, 4 weeks and 4 days or it could be in two weeks like I would like to think of it or 6 weeks like Adam reminds me.  He teases me but he know that it is hard.  I am not driving anymore and if I walk for 10 minutes, man, that is a lot.  I am cleaning, reading and trying to write.  I am being grateful for this space I have right now.  I will never have a day like this one.  I will never have a day like yesterday or the day before.  I can not tell you how my days will be.  I will not know until it becomes the present.  There is a man across the street that watches us when he smokes cigarettes on his balcony.  Our windows are his TV.  He may be more curious of what is yet to come in my life than me.

When I was going through my boxes I found some old pictures.  I saw a picture of my Abuelo Luis with my papi.  He was so light, almost blonde.  I turned to my husband and said, look at him, he’s like your dad’s coloring.  What if we have a really white baby?  He laughed and said it was possible and then I remembered the blonde baby that was born to a Black Nigerian family.

Omar pokes his butt out in my belly and sometimes it hurts.  He moves and I still find it weird.  I want to know what he looks like.  To tell you the truth, sometimes it doesn’t seem real.  Maybe it will when my water breaks and the birthing tub is filled with warm water in the kitchen.  Maybe it will feel real when the pain is so strong I will want to burst.  Maybe it will be real when I feel the crown of his head, when he will finally slide out of me, when I have him on my chest, when we will both be breathing.  InshaAllah it will be real then.

the end.

 

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.