Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Other Side

It's funny that
this post comes immediately after
I publicly professed my love,
but sometimes life is just
like that.

I feel like I come here often
when things are good.
When I'm on the sunnier side,
after the storm has passed.

I guess I'm just more inspired
when I feel that hope
springs eternal.

That fuck yeah!
life's tough
but look at us,
we get through it.
All holding hands and
skipping into the sunset.

But it's not always like that,
it's really shitty 
around here.

I feel like
I'm drowning.

like this morning,
I look at my relationship
and think,


One more thing I'm terrible at.

One more thing to fail at.

And everyone else's marriage/relationship
looks so perfect and happy
and some days mine is SOFUCKINGHARD
and I just feel really sad.

Even though
intellectually I know
I'm watching you
through an Instagram filter,
that you are not me
and your partner is not mine,
and your life is not ours,
and if you never fight
and get along splendidly
every second of your life
then I'm jealous
but no,
I can't relate.

I've never been in a serious,
monogomous relationship
as long as I've been in this one.

I've never lived with anyone
so I'm in total 
unchartered territory

I feel like I'm starting to understand
why marriages fail.

It's not always the big stuff;
not always infidelity
or financial dishonesty.

it's day in and day out
of the little, nagging shit.

I swear what will do us in
is the godforsaken dishes.

Or the clutter.

Or that he's a major night owl
and sometimes I'd just like to go to bed
with my boyfriend.

Or that I hate my job
and sometimes
I'm pretty unpleasant
when I come home.

It's like how
a slow, constant
drip of water
can crack a boulder.

It'll be the selling of
my happy, fun, sunshiney soul
for the sexless, nagging troll
I feel like I'm fastly becoming.

It'll be too many days
where I don't like who I am.

We slept on opposite sides
of the bed last night.
6 inches of mattress between us
that might has well have been
a cavernous trench full of alligators
the way we stayed on our respective sides.

Oh we'll never go to bed angry
I used to think.

How naive.

The more I stared at his back
the more I wanted to stab him.

And it's been like this
every few weeks
for the last few months.

Perfectly wonderful
days, nights, afternoons
will come to a screeching halt
and there's a bull in our china shop
and I can't tell who the bull is,
but it goes without saying
that there's a clean up in aisle 9.

We keep treading water,
keep apologizing,
and then some other bowling ball of life
tears me down.

We are opposites in a lot of ways
and while that can be an asset,
it can also be a liability,
and the reality of that
is pretty tough to swallow.

Maybe that's why
we're not married.
It's still too scary
to close off that escape route.

I always say no one is going anywhere
that we live on a broad highway,
but I'd be a liar
if I didn't say sometimes I feel
and he looks
like going out for groceries
and never coming back
sounds like a good plan.

I'm pretty sure if Tibetan monestaries
had good wifi
Paul would disappear forever.

I have knots in my stomach
right now.

Not so much because I'm angry
which I still am
but mostly because I don't like
fighting with my best friend.

Relationships are hard.

Relationships with kids are hard.

Relationships with kids and bills
and opposite schedules
and different personalities
are what nightmares
and sitcoms are made of.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Steady Love

Last night we were working
on a homework project,
Lucas and I at the kitchen table,
James singing to himself in the living room,
Paul gone to work,
when Lucas blurted out,
"Mom, my dad is so sweet to you.
You have no idea how much he loves you."

And I knew in my heart
that he was right.
Like a love letter from the universe,
true words from the mouth of a babe.


Fourteen years ago
Paul was my very 1st real Valentine.

We were seniors in high school
and had been on a few dates.

He had only just kissed me
a few days before.

A painfully delayed occurance
that had me telling my parents
that maybe he didn't like me.

He had paged me
yeah kids we didn't always have cell phones
"Happy Valentine's Day"
early that morning
but said nothing more.

I remember driving home from school
jealously eyeing
the balloons and roses
that seemed to be riding shotgun
in every other girl's car.

That boy ended up
surprising me hours later,
coming to my house
bearing gifts of flowers
and clothes his sister
had helped him pick out,
a cd he'd burned
 and a card.

He drove me to Powder Puff practice
and I never made it out of the car.
Make Out Party '00!
I rushed onto the field at the end
and pretended I'd been there the entire time
while my dad (the coach)
looked at me sideways.

There is nothing
like your first sweet love.


This morning I walked into my office
and came upon a simple bouquet of flowers
and a card.

Paul had stopped by
on his way home from work
and arranged them on my desk.

I really, truly was not expecting
anything like that.

And you know what,
that's just like him.
He of the
quiet, simple, gentle love.

What's the word?


What do you call
the girl who loved the boy,
lived a lifetime
and then became
the woman who loves the man?

He nuzzled my neck at Prom
and now we sit next to one another
in our living room,
coffee table littered
with the children's books and toys,
watching "True Detective".

There are a million stories and lessons
between then and now,
but I so adore being here
in this chapter,
with this guy by my side.


What a silly thing
to write you a love note for all to see,
but I must. 

Thank you for being here with me now,
in this life,
with these kids,
and these bills,
and this house,
and these jobs.

Thank you for being a great dad,
for being a great step-dad,
for being both in such a way
that the boy's can't tell the difference.

Thank you for loving me so incredibly,
that I can feel safe,
that I can feel sane,
that I can feel heard.

Thank you for being a better cook than me,
for downloading "I Love Lucy" for me,
for being my co-hort,
my favorite lead adventurer,
the supporter of all my schemes and ideas,
the texter of all things hilarious and/or kitten related.

Happy Valentine's Day
my love.

Thank you for choosing me.

He and I

When words run dry,
he does not try,
nor do I.

We are on par.

He just is,
I just am.
and we just are.

Lang Leav

I've never known
such peace.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

My Indomitable Grandma

Last Tuesday 

I could tell by the look on my mom's face
that something was wrong.

"Grandma's in the ER.
She was there last night
and they released her,
but she had to go back.
I'm driving up tomorrow."

She had felt like she couldn't breathe
and had called her brother for help.

By the time he'd arrived at her house
the paramedics were loading her
into the ambulance.

The 15 minutes it took him
to get to her house had seemed too long,
so she'd called 911.

I was sitting on the couch
when my phone buzzed.

"They're intubating Grandma.
I'm leaving now."

Paul works nights in the ER
and there are days when I have to be at work
by 6am,
so a few times a week we spend the night
at Nana's house.

Luckily it was one of those nights
and I was able to jump in the car with my mom.


We had done this drive 10 years ago
almost to the day.

My uncle had called with the same news.
She had had trouble breathing and called the ambulance.

They had her in the ER but everything was going to be ok.
By the time we got there
it was bad.


Congestive heart failure
and fluid in her lungs.

I was 5 months pregnant with Lucas
when they told me that she was probably
going to die.

Her heart and lungs were failing
and they were doing everything they could
but she had a 10% chance of surviving.

We slept on the floor of the ICU,
watched her vitals dip and rise,
and searched the eyes and words
of the doctors and nurses for help and hope.

Machines were breathing for her,
medications were keeping her heart
from stopping.

On the 2nd day they told us to call for  a priest
if we were so inclined.

We went to her home and tore apart
closets and desks
for any guidance she may have had in place
for a situation like this,
there wasn't any.

We met the priest at the hospital
with the rest of the family in tow.

We stood around her bed,
holding her hand,
tears streaming down our faces,
but as he began to read,
my grandmother,
with paralytics and painkillers
coursing through her body,
began to shake her head 
as if to say "No!"
to the holy water being sprinkled on her.

And we began to cry harder
and to laugh.

No one was giving her
her last rites 
if she had anything
to say about it.

She began to improve after that.

It was a long road,
but she eventually got out of the ICU,
the hospital,
the rehab.

Her cardiologist told my mom,
"Your mother is the kind of woman
you can't even kill with a rusty nail."

Back home she went
to her life,
to her homes and car,
to her plants and dog.

Forever 4'11" 
(although she'll say 5')
of vim and vigor.

My great-aunt's 90th birthday

My grandmother
is one of 3 girls
in a family of 9.

She is not the oldest,
but my great-aunt had polio
as a child
and so my Grandma
became the leader.

She came to the States
in her 20s.

Worked as a nanny 
and housekeeper,
then a seamstress.

She would make bathing suits
and sell them out of the back
of her car.

She taught herself how to
speak English,
invest in the stock market,
navigate a city and a world
that is not always friendly
to young, immigrant women.

Some of my first memories are of being
at my Grandma's house.

Of her fruit trees.

Of novelas
(Mexican soap operas).

Of my Popeye record player.

Of her picking me up from school
in her blue station wagon.

Of standing on a foot stool
at her kitchen island
baking Christmas cookies.

Of watching her make chile rellenos
for my Grandpa Dwight
and delivering them to his office.

She did that even
after they were divorced
because they were his favorite,
and that is where I learned
that sometimes when words fail,
food and kind actions
will suffice.

She is the one
who taught me to bake,
to garden,
to sew.

I am the oldest grandchild
and those early years
of just the two of us 
are so precious to me.

Twenty years later
I called to tell my Grandma
that I was pregnant again.

I apologized
for being unmarried 
and I told her I felt ashamed,
that I knew I had not been
raised this way.

And then she told me her story.

Of her mistakes,
her heartbreaks,
the night she sobbed 
on the floor
over a betrayal.

This woman I had always loved
told me about her humaness
and in turn gifted me
with the secrets to her
strength and grace.

"Mijita (my little girl)
you are beautiful
and strong
and there is nothing you can't do.
You bring me nothing but pride
every single day,
even in your mistakes.
We all must fall,
but it is in the getting up
that we see what someone is really made of.
I love you.
And I'll always love you.
No matter what."

That phone conversation
changed my life.

And where I knew I couldn't love
my grandmother any more than I already did,
I fell in love with the woman.


When we arrived at the hospital
she was still in the ER.

There were no beds available in the ICU,
so we pulled up 2 chairs
and spent the night next to her.

At one point she regained consciousness
and panicked momentarily.
I stood up and put my face
next to her wide open eyes.

I stroked her hand
and kept telling her in Spanish,
"Grandma you're ok.
We're here.
You're in the hospital
but you're going to be ok.
I love you.
I love you.
I love you."

And then
she squeezed our hands
and smiled.

She began showing improvement
the next day,
and the nurses were telling us
how even intubated,
she would try and help them
as they adjusted her position.

Because if there were ever a time
to just lay back and let someone help you,
it would be when you're in the ICU.

Unless of course,
you are my grandmother.

And to that I say,
I never stood a chance
to not be the way I am.

Self-sufficiency runs deep in my veins.

She was released from the ICU
this past week
and will be home Monday
in time for Christmas.

She'll be staying with my mom
I hope forever,
but probably just a few weeks.

Because she's stubborn
and feisty
and that's why she's lived 10 years
passed a 10% chance of survival.

My Grandma,
my Queen,
she is a force
whose wake I will
gratefully stand in 
for as long as I can.

Mother's Day 2013

Saturday, September 7, 2013


10 and a half years ago I tried to kill myself.

I had a number of chemicals
coursing through my body
and I was
 sad and scared
and I meant it.

The details of that night are some
of the scariest skeletons
in my closet.

My most shameful.

Because I am a mother now
and I still haven't forgiven myself
for what I did
to mine
that night.

I spent three days
in a mental hospital
after that.

I know what it is like
to have your shoelaces taken away.

All plastic mirrors
and group therapy.

What it is to feel
utterly shell-shocked,
wholly regretful,
and vulnerable.

Those days
were some of the darkest of my life.

And they were also the beginning.

The beginning of my journey
with a bunch of strangers
who knew exactly who I was
and what I needed.

I left the hospital and landed in
coffee-filled rooms
and smoke-filled hallways,
listened to
speakers of a language I didn't know
but fully understood.

Men and women
from completely
different walks of life
that have led me
and followed me.

Have watched
as I continually fell to pieces
and never tired of
collecting the jagged shards of me
or glueing them back together.

They saved my life.

And then they helped me grow up.

I am not ashamed of my past,
who I was and what I did,
because we all have a story
and this one is mine.

That girl still lives within me
but her demons are quiet now.

10 and a half years ago
I put my head down and
put one foot in front of the other
and it has not been perfect
and I have made so many mistakes,
but today marks 5 years.

5 years
of a totally present
and sober mind.

5 years
of ups and downs
and lessons and life
and I didn't have to check out
not even for 1 second.

The disease of alcoholism and drug addiction
runs rampant through my family.

It affects people from all walks of life and
it tore through mine
when I was just 19 years old.

10 and a half years later,
5 years under my belt,
2 beautiful boys,
a man I adore,
parents that are proud of me,
the best of friends,
a career
and a home
and most importantly
a quiet head
and a joyful heart.

Dear 19 year old Christina
sitting in the mental ward
crying into her pillow,

It's gonna be so good one day sweetheart.
It's gonna be so good you won't even believe it.
Be gentle with yourself.

30 year old Christina

Friday, August 9, 2013

Real Life

A few weeks ago
Paul and I packed up the boys
and hit the highway
for a family road trip
through Arizona.

1,500 miles.

6 days.


We floated through days;
laughing, hiking, catching fish.
The boys swam in a creek,
played in a summer storm
and fed their great-grandfather's horses.
We sat on a country backporch
and watched lightening fill the night sky.

We saw miles and miles
of desert and forest,
red rock and sunsets,
with a Grand Canyon
exclamation point.

Total sighheartburstmagicpeacejoyfest.

I fell in love with my children
and Paul
all over again
and floated home
on a game of ABC Band Names
(I still hold strong to the belief that
Ziggy Stardust counts for Z).

That was Monday.

The high lasted
about 2 days
and then like a plane
whose engines suddenly seized;
I plummeted to earth.
By Thursday I found myself irritated
by laundry and dishes
and work
and just the god damn

I know living with me
can be a nightmare.

I'm a neat freak
I'm controlling
I'm pretty sure
if everyone cooperated,
our home would possibly
look like a museum,
but instead it looks
like people actually live there
and sometimes that makes me crazy.

When James was a baby
I'd have to literally pep talk myself
into leaving the dinner dishes in the sink
until after the boys were in bed.

I still struggle with this.

Busy, busy, busy...always doing
nonstop...go, go, go.

And since I am like this
I unintentionally expect my partner
to be the same,
and because he is not,
bing! Bang! BOOM!
HELP ME!!!!!!

So that's a point of contention for us.

Which please don't even think
for a moment that I am alone
in the managment of our home.

This is the guy who goes grocery shopping
every week,
makes marinara and hummus from scratch
because he knows I love it,
cooks dinner half of the time,
schleps our boys around,
works overtime hours
and then spends his days off
designing furniture for our home
that he then builds.

Great man?
Yeah I'd say so.


Me neither.
In addition to my neurosis
in all things housework,
I also battle my head.

30 plus years of rolling stages
of depression, anxiety.
A life lived sober now
but not in the past
and the work
that goes with that.
The struggle that still exists
behind that.

Sometimes things are very...




It's been shocking to me
how much work is involved
in the care and maintenance
and survival of a partnership.

With kids and a home to spare.

I spoke with one of my best friends
Sunday morning as I cried into my coffee.
I was super angry with my beloved
"I know relationships are full of highs and lows 
but the lows suck."


And she let me cry
and she heard me out
and then she delivered
some hard earned gems of marriage advice:

"It's just one day.
It'll get better.
It always does."


"Yes the lows suck,
but they'll make you
into a better, healthier person
if you stick it out."

And it wasn't better right away.

But it's better now.

And we spent last night watching
a documentary with Lucas
and then snuggled on the couch
eating blueberry pie.

And every day I learn more
about what it is to love someone
and keep a relationship alive.

To decide every day,
yes I want to be here
with you,
doing this.

Because I don't know
what everyone else's partnership is like
but I can tell you mine is 
full of love
and joy
and laughter
and WORK.

It takes work.

Wayyyyy more work
than I had ever imagined.

Work that is worth it to me
because these boys
and this man
are my greatest loves.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Push and Pull

The weather's been so weird

Blazing hot
turned to
turned to
turned to

The air feels
still and heavy.

Paul's been working a lot
and so have I.

And we kind of just pass one another
in the halls of our home
and the halls of our life
and we're working to pay bills
from the past
and build dreams
for the future;
working to keep the train moving,
all housekeeping
and play dates,
basketball schedules
and school applications.

And everything is safe
and calm
and very sane.

It's all

I meant sane.

I meant same.

I'm not used to either.

What do you do
when you've
spent your whole life
telling yourself
you're a seeker
and a wild child
and everything you've sought
is here in your hand
and all the wild
is anchored,
to dreams
that have actually come true?

That question
flaps its wings inside of me
I don't know the answer.

Probably because
the neurosis in me
can't comprehend
the simplicity of
enjoy it.

My friends are all having babies.

Instagram feeds
a mile long
filled to the brim
with wrinkly newborn skin
and soft downy hair.

My babies are 9 and 5.

I don't have babies,
I have boys.

I can't remember
the weight of them in my arms,
and I so long to.

Presently I exist
with an ever lingering
sentimental craving
for another baby.

This desire to remember,
and be,
to plan and make
to soak it all in
because I didn't do that with
my other pregnancies.

I was propelled through the experience;
holding onto my sanity as best I could,
pretending to not be afraid,
just trying to survive man
and now they sleep through the night
and they smell like sweat
and they dress themselves
I want back into Babyland.

Ticket please.

I had a meltdown yesterday.

There was traffic
I was hot
I was tired
James had basketball in an hour
I couldn't find Lucas' basketball shorts
my job is exhausting and unfulfilling
we struggle to make ends meet
I kept thinking about all of this
then Paul found me in the boys' room
wrestling with the hamper
the dam burst.

Because I'm still
just trying to survive man.

But also trying to hang onto
every morsel of this life
because it's flying by.

Days and weeks and months
and grades
and please don't let go of my hand
and please let me be here
without being concerned with there
and tomorrow
and shopping lists
and laundry
and food menus.

This is my mom's life.

I have my mom's life.

And I feel like an imposter sometimes.

And then I feel trapped.

And then I feel guilty for feeling trapped
because this is all I ever wanted.

"And you want another one",
Paul will say
as he holds my tear-streaked face
and keeps kissing my nose while I sob.

And I do not undervalue
the man who loves me in such a way
that I can fall apart like that,
he who keeps a straight face
while I cry over my perceived ineptitude.

Holds me silently
as I stand in the middle of the chaos
that is every day living
for a family of four,
because this is some real shit you guys,
no Instagram filter here.

I've fallen from Neverland.

I used to be a Lost Boy
but now I am a pirate.

Plus side:
I get to ride the coattails
of my two Pans.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Marry Who You Love

James' expression =
how I feel about the Supreme Court today

Four and half years ago
Prop. 8 passed
and I was

How could this happen?
Why don't people understand?

I knew we had
to head to
West Hollywood.

Onward to the safe house,
to Santa Monica Blvd.,
to light candles
hold hands
and make noise
because that's all
you can really do
when you feel
like you're not being listened to.

I stood there 
lit candles in hand
with my baby brother.

The 18 year old young man
who had come out officially
just months before.

The one who broke my heart
when he told me that
he had endured
being bullied in high school.

Had been teased,
called a faggot.

He had just voted
in his first election
and the election
did not go his way.

How could this happen?
Why don't people understand?

I have cried
over knowing
that some of my best friends
have faced
the same battle.

I have cried over
the taunts
not holding the hands
or kissing the lips
of their partner
in public
because they're afraid.

I have cried
over every story
of every kid
bullied to the point
where they have
taken their own life.

How could this happen?
Why don't people understand?

Today's Supreme Court ruling
lifted my soul.

The existing wedding rings
(and the ones to come!)
on the fingers
of my friends
meant more today.

They always meant everything,
but today they meant more.

Because these marriages
and families
always existed
to the people in them,
but now they exist
in a way that says,
you are real!

Even to the people
that haven't wanted
to acknowledge that.

You are real!
And safe!
And we're not going to let this happen!
We understand!

I have never been raised
to see sexuality,
or color,
or gender.
Thanks to my mama
we love everyone.

All are welcome.

Please come in,
there is room at the table
for all of us.

Endless thank yous
to the Human Rights Campaign
and Equality Now
for their tireless efforts
in rectifying a wrong,
to the plaintiffs
who fought for their love
and for the love of those who couldn't,
and to the Justices
that voted yes to the strike down.

My two little boys
and their mother
are eternally grateful.

We have hope today Harvey.
They gave us a whole lotta hope.