Pa’ mi gente.

  Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico earlier today. I’m a nuyorican, born and raised in the U.S. On the mainland, I’m often told I don’t look or sound Puerto Rican. On the island, boricuas look at me suspect, and whisper gringa behind my back. But make no mistake: the island is in my […]

Wish granted. (part three of an in-progress series)

The first time was in the back seat of a Honda CRV. It was unexpected. I had anticipated the opposite that morning: the day was supposed to be the beginning of one month alone. Before the magic in the Honda, I arrived to the Albany train station and reminded myself that I had resolved to […]

She persisted.

I am developing this in celebration of Women’s History Month and in response to two recent events: Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s statement regarding his use of the procedural right to cut short Elizabeth Warren’s speech against Jeff Session’s nomination for attorney general: “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” A […]

Still beautiful.

(Originally posted September 14, 2010.) La moñita is disappearing. Moñita is the Spanish word for “little ponytail” and it’s what we’ve always called the hair patch at the center of my dad’s hairline. Removing his baseball cap reveals the remaining gray strands. Back in the day, la moñita was a child’s fistful-worth of wiry black […]

Sugar and spice.

Perched regally in my booster chair and resplendent in my tutu, I was almighty. I gazed upon my kingdom. What I saw pleased me: potted herbs and a mini-mist bottle on the kitchen windowsill. The shiny copper canister that I knew held a spoon embedded in sugar. The steam puffs that rose from the pot […]

Little town blues.

It was a torqued-brain day. This is different than a code-red day: I wasn’t at maximum anxiety, only slightly breathless and jumpy. The excess nervous energy twisted the grey mass behind my eyes only slightly. The flood of excess stress hormone in my system is less, but still gives me a dull, insistent headache like […]

In Full Color

La Nancy. Spoken word performer? Storyteller? Narrative artist? I’m still unsure how to name the latest addition to my increasing list of roles. I am sure that I was honored to have been selected for the 2016 production of In Full Color. Directed by Summer Dawn Hortillosa and staged by Art House Productions, the show […]

Speaking Boricua.

Jodona | feminine noun | English translation: an irritating and/or annoying woman. Used in a sentence: That woman is a real jodona. The following fictional scenario will help clarify the sample sentence: Let’s say there is a woman of Puerto Rican descent with a strong affection for candy. Strong, not desperate. This Boricua is not […]

Three kings.

[Originally published in 2011.) When I was a child, the kitchen was my family’s world. Broadway theaters, midtown office towers, and Lincoln Center operas were only blocks away, but my parents’ island home ruled our days: from the radio dial tuned to the Spanish-language news station to the herbs my mother grew on the windowsill […]

Remember when sabado was gigante?

You were seven years old and Saturdays lasted forever. Every week, the line-up was non-stop. You smelled Saturday morning before you opened your eyes: the coffee Papi drank when he got home from the night shift at the garage, light as Mami, with two sugars. Two slices of white bread toasting and eggs on the […]