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Our Four Legged Friends

There exist stories of the infamous black dog who mercilessly drags spirits like mine through the muckiest of muds and the murkiest of puddles. Impartial jowls dripping and dragging along with them. Pulling those poor souls away from themselves. Souls who believed they never stood a chance to begin with. 

Yet there comes a moment in everyone’s life when one must decide how to manage that beast. The wilderness within teeming to be tamed. Chaos flickering from the corners of those wild and beautiful eyes. To tame or not to?

Such a haunting inquiry. The ghost of the infamous black dog lurking about, enshrouded with doubt, fear, and hate. Why not trade that ghost in for the real thing? A real black dog. A four legged pal who can see so deep into you with a reminder that you are so loved. That black dog for me, is my best pal Lola. That sweet little angel of mine who has gotten me through these unrelenting times of the vid. 

She has gotten me thinking about the origin story of these four legged creatures many American families feel compelled to bring into their worlds. Gross stuff and all. What is it about dogs that makes us feel so good? Without uttering a single word they capture our hearts and souls.

According to Britannica, these four legged beauties have been captivating our hearts for more than 12,000 years. Wearing many hats: hunter, protector, nuisant and friend. Having evolved from a common ancestor with the gray wolf, it is no surprise that just behind that chocolate colored gaze that adores also lies something inexplicable. A deep knowing. When locked into the loving gaze that is the human protector and four legged companion, one can see in a single flash before the eyes, every evolutionary phase our friends have lived through over millions of years. From its most basic ancestor Miacis, a small weasel-like mammal that existed 60 million years ago to the much larger, cunning mammals of the Caninae that emerged about 34 millions years ago. The Caninae genus that gave rise to the eventual domesticated dolls that now inhabit our hearts and homes.

We are beholden to our four legged companions in such an unbreakable fashion because they impart us with a deep wisdom that is evolution, life itself, which at its core is the only real thing. There is no hiding from that benevolent gaze. So it’s no wonder we cannot help to love and be mesmerized by that furry, unconditional, wildling of a being that wags its tail into a frenzy that symbolizes a deep love that is always available to us. 

That real, tangible ball of jittery energy bouncing about my apartment is a much better companion than the dark black dog that tries to take territory of a soul from time to time. The only territorial behavior I could ever allow is hers. 

Sources:

  1. CONTRIBUTOR: Constance B. Vanacore TITLE: Dog PUBLISHER: Encyclopædia Britannica DATE PUBLISHED November 05, 2020 URL: https://www.britannica.com/animal/dog ACCESS DATE: January 02, 2021
  2. CONTRIBUTORS: Tedford, Richard H.; Wang, Xiaoming, 1957-; Taylor, Beryl E. TITLE: Phylogenetic systematics of the North American fossil Caninae (Carnivora, Canidae). (Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, no. 325) PUBLISHER: American Museum of Natural History Research Library DATE ISSUED: 2009 URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2246/5999 ACCESS DATE: January 2, 2021
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The Magic of Unforgettable

I have a skill for working myself up into a vortex of obsession. The typical fixation ranges from a worrisome thought about family or a friend, an imagined slight or what another person thinks or feels about something I’ve said or done. Whatever the fixation, if I allow it, my mind will lock into obsessing over the most unimportant and inconsequential things. One way I have been able to cope with my tendency to obsess is through words. Song lyrics in particular. Obsessing over a string of words hung beside the musical notes of a song like garland strung together with bells around a christmas tree; that is what saves me from obsessing over things that are energy draining. 

A lyric I have most recently been mesmerized by is, “El silencio no olvida tu nombre”. Translation, the silence does not forget your name. While my obsession with this string of words is not quite in line with the meaning the song intended them to have, I cannot help but feel so deeply moved when they spill from the singers mouth at the beginning of the song. 

El silencio no olvida tu nombre. The silence does not forget your name.

Every single time I hear her sing those words and I repeat them back to myself, it makes me feel loved, important and truly unforgettable. 

The personification of silence. Silence focusing on not forgetting your name. That is what moves me. These words bring to mind the silence in meditation and the benevolent entity that lies beneath it. The entity that loves. 

That song lyric has a restorative effect on my being. It reminds me that no matter how often I convince myself that I am unlovable, forgettable and unimportant, it’s just not true. It’s just another bullshit story I have been repeating to myself and obsessively holding onto. For someone like me, constant, beautiful reminders out there that I can pull into myself and transform into something I can feel good about are everything. Finding meaning tucked between song lyrics or excerpts of a book are my way of being what I think and what I see, I take those words into my being and allow them to dust their magic onto my soul because some days I feel I cannot bear the world without them. Allowing me to be unforgettable through the magic of words.

(Song Lyric from No Te Vas – Camila Fernández)

Intertwined with the Master

I recently found myself thinking about a topic that has always made me uncomfortable. That topic being female sensuality. I‘ve always been curious about my personal expression of sexuality. Allowing the deep seated master of my sensual being to take over. Formerly denying myself the pleasure of appreciating the inner feminine power that lies in all beings, male or female. I think the reason I want to allow myself the freedom to explore that inner sensuality and the divinity that is its essence is because if I am choosing to be as authentic and open as humanly possible, I have to allow the uncomfortable parts to be examined. And hopefully by examination, allowing the infinitesimal range of human emotions to take flight which includes a lot of feelings and emotions hidden underneath inner sexuality. Denying I have a pleasure seeking being within, leads to the denial of a set of emotions that are necessary to feel a life fully lived. It is a denial of the self. And that is no act of kindness. 

Maybe I have been afraid of what I may find there because I had a superficial understanding of it prior to just accepting it now. I’ve harbored these beliefs that if I allow that sensual master within to radiate out, that it would mean I’d be perceived as a woman that is seeking outside of her own monogamous relationship, or that I would suddenly be publicly displaying more parts of my body, but inner feminine sensuality goes beyond the tangible. It is an energy I have only begun to understand and tap in to. It has not made me lustfully seek others sexual company, it has not made me show more skin, it has not brought unwarranted attention. What it has made me, is free. Free to understand the enjoyment of carnal pleasures within my own relationship, free to feel confidence from a very deep place, like there is a warrior within guiding me.

As a third generation Mexican American woman, assimilation has been key to my survival in a country that often vilifies minority groups. I’ve shoved parts of my heritage down, deep down, where it couldn’t pop up any unwanted or unwarranted Latin flavor. But what I am now realizing is that I have been stifling my female power. I was afraid to put pen to paper about this particular subject, female sexuality, because I am Hispanic. I never wanted to become perceived as a sexualized, superficial object of any desire or worse exactly what my fellow Latinas have often been characterized as. No more important than a curvy Latina ass. So I shut that part out for a while. 

But there is power in taking my sensuality back and defining it for myself. Putting it back out into the world by its mere force that pushes along an invisible wave around me, propelling me. Forward and onward, on my terms. With all the sexuality and flavor I want, no more pushing that part of myself to assimilate. Assimilating into someone that I am not. I choose to lie, intertwined, with my master, who always resided within.

Fuck Your Feelings

It’s Monday morning. On my way to work, in an autopilot haze crucial to start the week off without a post weekend freak out, and there it was. 

A bumper sticker on someone’s truck. Trump for America, Fuck Your Feelings. I had to read it again because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It wasn’t exactly the Trump for America part that bothered me all that much, even though I am anything but for Trump. What I could not shake was the Fuck Your Feelings part and it’s association with being a sentiment pushed for America. I just don’t get it. I don’t understand the hate. What purpose does it serve to wave off feelings that are the very basis of what it means to be a living, breathing human being. Is it not our feelings and our abilities to work through them what sets us apart from being primitive and barbaric beasts?

This man and many like him, may be a very small percentage of people, but they are still American and represent me and other Americans too. To be frank, it’s embarrassing. I wish there were more I could do about it, so instead I am here trying to work out my feelings about it through writing. 

If I had to pinpoint an exact reason why the sticker bothered me so much I would have to say it is because I struggle with emotion management myself. I have struggled with how much I allow myself to feel and how much is a normal amount to feel and over the past 5 years, I have gone to lots of therapy, made many lifestyle changes that have helped me keep my head above water when my soul dips into the doldrums and that bumper sticker is such a strong symbol of someone who has done zero work on emotional management. It was triggering. It was a red, hot button to my emotions. A button that once glanced upon, transformed my manic Monday of a haze into anger and frustration. I had allowed this man’s hate to enter my heart. 

I am far from perfect when it comes to my own journey of mental health care, but I know deep in my heart that I have done important work and will continue to do the work, because personal responsibility is important for a community’s health and what that sign really says deep down to its core is, “Hi! I have serious mental health issues and I want you to be down there in the doldrums with me. Fuck your feelings.” Because in putting that out into the world, there is no difference to saying to himself, fuck my feelings too. 

Us Against The World

Take my hand. Let’s take over the world. Let’s take a piece of heaven of our own. 

“It’s us against the world”.

A song lyric from a recent favorite. A common aphorism found in many songs, books, romantic comedies and the like. At first glance it may not appear particularly special, but if you dive into it, it is so much more than a simple eye roll inducing platitude. From my own personal experience, right now, during a zombie-like global pandemic that often feels like a nightmare we will at once awaken from, this means everything. 

Because instead of getting married in April as my fiance Michael and I had planned for the past year, COVID happened to us. Or at least that is how we first chose to frame it when the world was placed on hold. Over the past 3 months, I’ve manically undulated from feelings of acceptance and understanding to feelings of frustration and teenage angst about what is happening to us. Trying to manage how I feel about COVID happening to us. During a time when we were supposed to be getting married, going on our first international trip together, months away from actively trying to start a family. So when the pandemic hit it was difficult not to personalize, even though so many others had more of a right to personalize, because they lost their mother, father, aunt, uncle, child. Truly personal in their case. But I couldn’t help but feel robbed and abandoned, especially with the lack of true leadership in our country. This chapter of our story which we had intended on being one of clarity had been replaced with one of confusion. 

At first, that was what we felt. COVID happened to us, all of us. It wasn’t until we individually spent more than enough time in thoughtful solitude that we began to shift perspective.

After many difficult conversations about our big day and what it was truly intended to symbolize, there began a shift. We realized we were bordering a very fine and dangerous line. If we let this idea that COVID happened to us, what is stopping us from letting other life events, things or issues from happening to us? This is where Que Te Cuesta really shines its light, because what is it costing us? To allow COVID to happen to us. 

Lovely Photo taken by Monica, Owner of Saaty Photography

We spent the last few months experiencing many ups and downs. More time spent having deeper conversations about what we both want out of a marriage and how much we still have to learn from one another. The force that COVID brought into our relationship was strong, difficult and truly necessary. It reminded us that there is a delicate balance of what it means to be alive in this world. 

COVID reminds.

It reminds us that what we think we have control over is not at all within grasp. It reminds us that the only thing we do have control over is the maintenance of how we choose to love from so deep that it has no other place to go, but out into the world. Love that radiates to each other, our families, our friends, strangers. Everybody. And that love is the reason we will eventually experience the big day we deserve. It is the building block for supporting each other’s dreams and aspirations now and in marriage one day.

COVID did not happen to us. It happened for us. To carve out a piece of heaven of our own. 

(Song lyric from Don’t You Worry by Oh Wonder)

Our Body Is Not Your Religion

Today, a decision made by the Supreme Court allows employers’ religious beliefs or moral objections to dictate a woman’s access to birth control as part of her health plan. I have been under the impression that an employer provided health plan is intended to be a benefit of employment, not a tool for control. I am lucky enough to be employed under no such circumstances and yet this angers me. It angers me because it affects women who do not find themselves in such a lucky, privileged place. Because under the original ACA there existed a provision that allowed many nonprofit organizations with religious affiliations to opt-out due to religious objections. Under this provision, employers were required to notify the government or their insurance company so that the insurance company could provide free birth control options to individual employees, but separate from the employer’s plan. Yet some of these organizations felt that signing an opt-out form or notifying their plan administrator was the same as authorizing the use of their plan for birth control.

(Facts above summarized from NPR article: https://www.npr.org/2020/07/08/884104509/supreme-court-undercuts-access-to-birth-control-under-obamacare). 

A word that stands out to me about this decision is, authorize

Who are they to authorize a woman’s right to decide for herself what road she will take in the event of an unwanted pregnancy or her options to prevent an unwanted pregnancy to begin with? 

Birth control affords women better peace of mind of being placed in the horrible position of having to decide whether or not to end an unwanted pregnancy. To abort a life. I know deep in my bones, that decision is never an easy one to make. The decision to abort is a potentiality women hold in their mind for their entire childbearing years. While I have never been placed in such a position and do not fear this potentiality as much anymore as I am closer to an age of considering a wanted pregnancy, that does not negate that there are plenty of young women now who still hold that burden. 

It saddens me that under the original ACA provision, there seemed to be a compromise that protected the rights of the employer and the employed. Compromise is important in an America that is so heavily polarized by identity politics. Compromise is important in any partnership for healthy growth. In a time when so many Americans are disheartened with the systems that govern them, this feels like another defeat on top of so many others. It’s a decision that makes me feel more disconnected from being an American than ever. I had held onto hope that in a modern America, such archaic, religiously extremist sentiments could be overcome. Though I am disheartened by this ruling, I am choosing to continue to use that fire to use my voice and my right to vote in more government officials who believe in individual rights. I will push the ideal of freedom to choose our own childbearing destiny because our body is not their religion.