Saturday, June 25, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011


(My real name. Perhaps I'll explain the pseudonym some other time.)

I once read somewhere that my name means devoted. When I was a kid, a friend and I looked up our names in one of those name dictionaries that pregnant women often consult in search of something meaningful to call their child, only to end up combining two names into something ridiculous like Kyler or Ashlynn. My friend’s name (Sara) meant princess while mine merely meant devoted, which to an eight year-old can only mean boring. Nonetheless I’ve always liked my name. It means much more than the definition I discovered in that name book years ago. It means my mom. She’s Isabel, and I’m the Anglo version, Elizabeth. I’m Elizabeth because she could not be. In Cuba during the time of her birth, it was uncool for parents to give their children Anglo names, so while my grandmother wanted an Elizabeth she decided to settle for an Isabel instead. Thirty-something years later in the United States, Isabel named her first and only daughter Elizabeth as a sort of middle-finger to Cuban craziness.
                Elizabeth is sophisticated, perhaps even snobby. She has little time to bother with poems and pop songs – though admittedly, this probably has something to do with the fact that Elizabeth doesn’t rhyme with anything appealing (death, bad breath, crystal meth…you get the picture). Elizabeth is thank God I’ve got a Christian name so the priest doesn’t give me dirty looks during confirmation rehearsal and wonder aloud why kids these days are given made-up names like Echo and Whisper and Kyler and Ashlynn. He made those kids choose proper names for confirmation. I got to keep mine. Elizabeth is one of those strong names that require their bearers to be tough, too. That’s because Elizabeth is always a fight against those who would cut her down to something smaller and weaker and devoid of meaning, such as Liz, Beth, Betty, Bessie, and God forbid, Lizzy. Elizabeth is strong and built to last. Elizabeth is saints and queens and movie stars and my mom who couldn’t be but made her daughter a declaration of independence.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


You find me exotic. You've never seen
Eyes hair lips neck
Colors or lines like mine
On anyone else.

Should you ever leave the space
Where you find me striking,
You may discover the place
Where my red dress fits everyone else.

You will not know me then.
But I will look upon you as a strangely beautiful thing
And place you under glass.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Name calling, the Bible Belt, and other adventures

I used to work as a bill collector for a major financial company. Though the job paid well, demanding money from angry debtors was an onerous responsibity and I left work every evening feeling as though someone had taken a massive shit on my soul. Anyone who has ever worked a crappy job can attest to the importance of finding the humorous in the horrible. One must find something to laugh about if one is to make it until lunch break without setting one's own eyebrows on fire. Here are a few tidbits that helped me cope. Perhaps if you're reading this while struggling through your own shift at work, this post may help you kill a bit of time (before you finally lose it and kill those around you).

Customer names (not full names, of course, as I don't wish to be be sued) - The US of A is a diverse place, and because I called people from around the nation, I encountered a variety of um, unforgettable names, such as:

Hung Long
R-sha (pronounced Radasha. Seriously.)
Sopretty (Anyone with this kind of name must ironically be sohideous, don't you think?)
Bich (first name, actually pronounced Bitch. Again, seriously.)
King Kong
Bastardi (a last name!)

Sunday calls to the Bible Belt states - These calls typically went something like this:

Nadya:        Hello, may I speak with ___________?
Customer:   Yes, this is ___________.
Nadya:        (Sir/Ma'am), this is Nadya calling from __________ Financial
Customer:   Ma'am, are you aware that it's Sunday, the Lord's Day, the Sabbath? What you think you're doin', doin' business on the Sabbath?
Nadya:       Yes, I'm aware that it's Sunday, but I really need to talk to you regarding your 200-day past due balance and haven't been able to reach you during the week 
Customer:    Bitch, how dare you call me on a fucking Sunday? Don't you know that it's the goddamn Sabbath and that you don't fucking call people on a fucking Sunday when they're getting ready to fucking  go to fucking church? Didn't your mother teach you any fucking manners? Don't ever fucking call me on a fucking Sunday ever again!
(inward breath, awkward pause) 
And, um, have a blessed day, ma'am.

The excuses for not paying on time:

"My dog ate the bill. And then my dog died. And then I got cancer from stressin' so bad about my dead dog."

"I had a medical emergency and had to leave town."  - The customer's account history actually shows that he has been partying it up in Vegas all month. 5-star hotels, trashy strip clubs, all the evidence is there on my computer screen as he details his "emergency."

"Let's not talk about me. Let's talk about you. Nadya's a pretty name. You seeing anyone right now?"

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Questions I can't answer

Why do I write?

Who is the soul that writes verses that matter? Does it take a special type of person? Am I, could I ever be, that person?

Why do I feel like I'm suffocating when life is full and there's no time for writing? I'm fortunate to be busy doing meaningful things, things that are perhaps more sensible than toying with words no one will read. So why do I have a near-overpowering urge to shave my head like Britney Spears, merely because I have no time to sit around musing on adjectives that are synonymous with gossamer?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I'm Not Ready to Wake Up

The silent winter garden
Awakes from its nap
Slowly stretches its limbs
And cries strident summer color.

I wish it would shut up.

Monday, June 6, 2011

On Things Lost

I must not dip my fingers
In the ashes of my sacrifice.
I must not gaze at summer skies
In search of balloons I let go
Long ago
Or beg the wind to return my whispers
As it often does my screams.
And neither must you linger at this dusty altar,
Singing dirges to your lamb,
For I am only borrowed carbon:
I too, am a gift to be returned.