Update: trying to get back into the habit


A certain kind of Southern fall is upon us with slightly cold mornings and nights. The days are often still too hot for a sweater. Over this past weekend, I was out playing pool with some friends at night, and it felt nice wearing my hat and sweater. I was hopelessly giddy. “I’m in my fall mode,” I said, knowing the temperature would probably go back to being hot the next day. Also, I don’t always play pool but when I do, I swear I’m not terrible.



A girl like me searching for a quiet moment in Astoria Park.

Ever since I got back from NYC, it’s been harder to get back into writing regularly on here. Although, I started editing my poems and looking for places to pitch my articles, I still feel distracted. My mind seems a little more cluttered, since I got back. The constant flow of people, and the need to go out and do something left me feeling empty. This feeling is also attributed to the constant news updates regarding our collective national drama. I mean you want to be informed, but not so preoccupied.

With so many things going on when I visited, there was hardly any time for sitting down and contemplating. Sometimes you really have to isolate yourself if you want to get any work done. I’ve realized, it’s harder to get back into the habit of writing when you’ve abandoned it. You often go days without jotting your thoughts, and they start piling up and you don’t know what you’ve done, or your thoughts in that particular moment. Things fade when they were never reflected upon in the first place.

Stumbled upon this cool alleyway in the lower east side.

When I landed into LaGuardia Airport and walked off to take the local bus to my house, I was immediately met with an onslaught of confused people, who didn’t know how buy Metrocards for the M60 bus. Sadly, I was one them. I was suddenly a tourist coming to visit. “You mean you can’t buy a Metrocard from the machines?” I asked a guy. “Yea, you have to go back inside the airport to get one if you don’t all ready have one.” I remembered then that you had to insert your Metrocard to get a ticket in order to board the bus, and I also remembered how stupid this was.

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I decided to sit down in Union Square Park for a bit and look at the landscape of people passing by.

My neighborhood isn’t the noisiest, though on some nights walking by the N train in Astoria, it was suddenly livelier than usual. I noticed some new bars and restaurants, and there was even a lounge, a place for casual dancing on Ditmars Blvd with its name written in neon pink letters. Had I been a freshman in college, perhaps I would have welcomed a site like this. One night walking back home I noticed, smoke encircling customers sitting by the bar with neon pink lights. It was clear the establishment was going for a club atmosphere even within the small confines. It was a bit outlandish, and not remotely associated with the quaintness of Ditmars. I found comfort in my family, the cats and a quiet garden to sooth the busyness of the outside world. It also didn’t help that on my first night back I found myself in Hell’s Kitchen for a friend’s birthday party. It was a chaotic welcome to my old city. Granted, I was happy to see my friend, and the view of the rooftop lounge made up for the commute.

I stopped by to see this lady on a sunny day, and discovered how extensive the creative process was to sculpt and build her.

I had some wonderful days in NYC, visiting the MET and getting lost with my sister, hanging out at a bar in Woodside with my favorite couple, seeing One World Trade Center for the first time, including the Oculus (transportation hub) which was probably dreamed up after a Sci-fi movie, visiting the east village with friends, and thinking I was too old for this place, sitting by the staircase in Grand Central, wandering around my favorite bookstore—Strand, taking the ferry to see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty with my family (I know it’s touristy, but all this time living in New York, I never visited), a surprise stop in the Queens Museum with a friend from college, hanging out by Prospect Park, getting a tour of a Red Hook brewery from an old friend, and showing my partner around my city. On one of those nights, I also went to a poetry reading at the New School.

Surprise visit to the Queens Museum exhibition on my last day, brought the trip full circle.

I miss the array of activities one can find in NYC. There’s a wider possibility of outcomes, but the same can be said for New Orleans, although here, the land stretches out farther.


Solar Eclipse at the NWS

During the solar eclipse we all realized that the universe was bigger than our egos. It took a moon covering the sun for everyone to calm down, and actually listen to scientists. People won’t listen to them on matters regarding climate change, global warming or water pollution, but they will readily follow their advice on where and when to watch the solar eclipse, making sure to buy solar glasses so they don’t burn their eyes. The solar eclipse of 2017 gave people a chance to come together despite whatever else was going on in the world.

I waited until noon or so when the moon would begin covering the sun. “It’s going to be slow,” a friend said, adding that the clouds would obscure it. I was anxious for the eclipse to start and end already, so I ate candies and wrote to pass the time. It was like waiting out a long sentence in the National Weather Service, though it was interesting to see meteorologist in action. The room was filled with computers, three to four per desk, per person. Some displayed forecast maps, numbers others data that seemed hard to decipher. I also saw cool gifs of the solar eclipse’s path on a map of the U.S. I wondered how people kept focus staring at all those screens and images, but realistically they probably only ever used one or two. There were several phones on every desk, too many to count, each with it’s own purpose; they were not simply intended for calls. Eerily enough, there would be a change in temperature during the eclipse, but slightly.


My low-quality Iphone photo of the solar eclipse. The sun is 92.96 million miles from earth.


I kept checking a big digital clock with bold red numbers at the center of the back wall. It was next to a medium-size T.V., broadcasting CNN. As expected they had ongoing coverage of the eclipse. When we first went out, the moon had only begun covering the sun. It was merely a tiny spot on the right side of the sun, as if a bird had bitten it off. The clouds moved slowly in front, and I could feel myself becoming disappointed, so I went back inside. Later on, I went back outside a couple more times. Eventually, the moon reached the half point. Still sometimes the sun and the moon were visible and other times, the clouds fully covered them. “Go away clouds,” I found myself saying.

Finally around 1:30 p.m., everyone was outside waiting for what we expected would be 88 percent totality. I peered through the solar glasses, taking breaks when the sun became too intense. I tried to take a photo with my Iphone behind my solar glasses, and captured not the most ideal images, but I wasn’t about to point my nice camera at the sun without a filter. Not before long, the sun was finally in a crescent shape. I helped someone from the office take photos since at first, since she couldn’t figure it. Some people pointed at the strange umbrella shapes on the ground created by the shadows of the moon. It had seemed like an eternity, but it was finally over. The moon had obliterated the sun, but just for a short while.

In the parking lot, a random lady who was driving around in an uber car decided to stop and show me her photos and ask me what I thought. She then made a reference to a strange photo she had taken. “I wonder what that is,” she said, passing me her phone. “It’s probably a glare or reflection.” I told her. She had been staring at the eclipse through the tinted back window in her car, so that’s probably what caused the multiple diagonal shapes of the moon and sun. It did look like the solar eclipse of another planet, perhaps Jupiter. I let her borrow my solar glasses and helped her take a photo with the Iphone right behind it. I’m not sure how long we stood there, but I was ready to drive away. “I think you’ve got quiet a lot of photos,” I said.

An ode to pool days


…before the cloudy days of August, there was little reprieve from the sun. Swimming in a body of cool water seemed like a far away memory when biking outside underneath the trees with the hot road stretched out before me. When I arrived home, I usually ran to take a cold shower. I wanted the water icy cold. I thought about lounging in a pool, floating and looking up at the sky. Sometimes I went to a friend’s pool near Esplanade Ave. The pool was behind a small house surrounded by palm trees. There was a lime tree on the side, next to a table and some chairs. Over on the patio near the back door there were some couches. It seemed no one entered the house through the front door, but instead walked to the wooden door in the back and down the path leading to the yard. The pool had several steps to the bottom, and the interior of the pool was a soft sea green. That particular day it was three of us. We swam lazily and talked about what we did during the day, and what we actually wanted to do with our lives. I always felt odd saying I was a writer; it had become on and off, or maybe it was always like that, only now I recognized that my motivation disappeared more often. I swam from one side to the other or floated on my back. Sometimes we congregated near the edge to sip some wine, saying a few things here and there. I went back to floating, letting their voices travel. There were some hues of greens, purples and grays, possibly from the cement tiles. I don’t know where they came from, but there was a orderly wildness about the backyard from the plants in the outer edges, the lime trees, the yellow Dutch shoes left randomly on a table, but yet, purple flowers had fallen from the shrubs and were lazily floating along the pool.

Update: flood, solar eclipse..


Two weeks ago Sunday, New Orleans received 6 inches of rain during a period of 4 hours, which was too much for the pipes to handle. As a consequence many neighborhoods flooded, ranging from not so severe sidewalk coverings, to knee-deep water in Mid-city where people were paddling their kayaks. Some people biked through the flood like this one guy whose bike was covered half way as he tried to pedal his way out.

I had not been paying attention to the rain or thunder until I received an emergency warning text.It was hard to ignore it. There was a flash flood warning and it urged people to stay out of flooded areas  I watched the rain fall outside my window, hoping it wouldn’t about too much.  The rain had covered the sidewalks and most of the streets. As it’s common to find in New Orleans, the street are not always leveled so there tends to higher and low area that easily get flooded. Around my neighborhood the water did not get beyond covering our sidewalks. No one was outside at the time since it was raining hard and the streets were completely covered, but once it stopped, cars began passing by. There was still a large concentration of water, so that when cars passed, they pushed the water to the side. I don’t think it went into anyone’s house but it looked like a shallow river out there, as the water moved in waves.


Solar Eclipse

I’m not sure what to expect. I’ve seen a lunar eclipse before, but never a solar eclipse. I found about it several weeks ago, and quickly began searching for the solar glasses, but to no one’s surprise they were sold out on various sites. If you didn’t already have it, you were screwed since experts advise not to stare directly at the sun, because it will ruin your eyes, possibly causing blindness. Also I needed binoculars and camera filters, and those were also sold out. I watched some YouTube videos on how to make a DIY filter, but where would I get the Black polymer sheet? It seemed like a lost cause. Luckily, I knew someone who had the solar eclipse glasses, and so I wouldn’t be watching from home or only when the moon was fully covering the sun. Most people are driving to the line of totality ranging from Oregon to South carolina.

I ended up watching it in Mobile, Alabama, where we were expecting 85% totality. I tried out the solar glasses days before when the sun was out. At first I didn’t see anything because some clouds were in the way. I could only see my eyes, but then the clouds dispersed, and there it was. The SUN. It appeared small, slightly orange, and so benevolent that I didn’t recognize it. I could feel the heat, but my eyes were safe under the solar eclipse glasses.

I wondered how it would be the day of…

Cajun Festival under the Oaks

We watched a bit of the music on stage then seeing as how they were not into Zydeco we walked to the trees for shade. I thought the band that wasn’t as good as the ones I heard before, and then suddenly someone’s kid brother went on stage. While he played the accordion alright, his voice was monotonous and it made me feel clumsy and drunk, so I imagine it had the same effect on the Zydeco dancers in the center. We walked around Congo Square where people were selling carved instruments and carved turtle shells and horn skeletons of desert animals. I was thinking about dessert but I wasn’t sure if I really wanted one. There were two guys on horses. A friend asked if they were mules, but the guys said they were not. They looked bigger and more astute than the ones pulling the street carriages along Jackson Square.

Another friend asked if they brought them for other events.

“Yea we take them out to parades and second lines.”

“Is it ok to pet them?”

I looked at their giant black eyes and petted them just in the middle of their head. As my friend petted the horse’s head, she said, “ You can tell they are sad, just from looking at their eyes.”

“They are meant to run free and not be confined.”

They were strapped, waiting, each one carrying a human weighing above 150 pounds. How long had they been there? I thought they might let people ride them, but it was more likely just for a photo-opt, and then I tried to remember the last time I rode a horse. It might have been a few years ago in Brooklyn.

We sat by the staircase in front of the Mahalia Jackson Theater for Performing Arts, which was overlooking the pond. Ms. Jackson, a New Orleans native was often referred to as “The Queen of Gospel.” We decided to go back to Congo Square to get Italian Ices. It was back by the horses. I bought mango instead of passion fruit as I had initially planned, since the lady vendor said it was sour. We sat on a bench directly in front of a competing ice cream vendor. I felt bad since I had stopped there before, but decided not buy.

“Those are too creamy and heavy,” I said.

We heard thunder, and looked over at the boy who was an expert on these matters, to see what he would predict. It was drizzling now and the thunder sounded not too far off. I tried to peek past the Oak tree branches to see lightning. There were a few droplets falling. “It’s probably not going to amount to much more than that,” he said. I wanted to take a photo, but I felt silly as I often do when taking photos alongside anyone.

Surveying in the summer


When did I start surveying? It feels so long ago. The summer has dragged on for too long, and there’s no winter coming. I’m not sure if I ever wrote about my surveying experience with Fund 17. I might have mentioned it in passing or if something drastic happened while I was out there. But for the most part, I’ve been going out into the street, knocking on people’s door since May. At first I walked closer to St. Bernard, passing streets like Roman, Annette, New Orleans, Aubry―side streets that I usually never biked or walked through except for Roman. I felt out of place most of the time. A girl wearing a teal shirt with Fund 17 written on the front and a clipboard. At first I didn’t have a shirt, since we were just getting started, but they gave me a name tag. Walking alongside broken sidewalks and underneath palmetto trees, I saw abandoned homes, loose houses about to fall, houses that had let themselves go to nature with weeds growing in and out. But there were also blocks with colorful houses that people lived in or homes that were being fixed, and sometimes a person would be sitting on the porch waving at me. In most cases when I knocked no one answered, and that was because no one was home, they were sleeping (if it was early afternoon), or the house had been abandoned. One time on Roman I stopped by a house and knocked a couple of times. I noticed one of the windows were broken. A car stopped by and the girl inside told me the people had left for several months. In some instances neighbors would say, “No one has lived there for a while.” Whenever someone asked me what I was doing, I told them I was doing surveys for a non-profit that gives one-on-one assistance to small businesses owners. Some people were interested and asked for more information, so I talked to them and gave them a flyer. They didn’t have a business, but they were interested in starting one or knew someone that would. People were usually friendly and said hello. Here and there I got stares as if saying, “ You sure you want to be walking around here.” On those quiet streets behind St. Bernard, I often shrank thinking something could happen to me. Sometimes there was no one around, not a single person on their porch, not a sound except for crows. I was happy when someone answered the door even if they did not want to answer the questionnaire, they were there, others had a story about starting a business that never took off, or they did have one but they never called it that. “Oh you mean that.” It was just something they did on the side like fixing cars, construction or selling food at festivals. I was happy to see families or hear music on the street, because then I knew I was not alone.


Lady in pink

A lady wearing white sandals with white socks enters the Japanese bookstore; she hopped out of a cartoon—a missing person’s ad, wearing a pink, pink suit and blond short hair, through the door she walked, talking to someone, debating with herself “if so, if not, if not, why?” “But why?”

Bulbous eyes

​Her bulging eyes throw tears. Big tears. She doesn’t want her mother’s arms. She just wants to walk alone on a moving train. And to strangers who want to help, she says “No!” I won’t be put down. I’ll yell if anyone else tries to help. Now she’s calm with her big quiet eyes, eating her chocolate as if nothing ever happened. She’s watching the time go by like a good girl. No one would ever know how she was just five minutes ago.

Old suits

A group of old guys playing cards. What are they playing? Encircled around a table, and in the middle is a deck of cards. Each player takes a card. Their words sound Italian. Two are wearing suits, gray and brown. The others have slacks and white button ups shirts that have been loosened at the top. It’s summer. The fancy one wears a blue, silvery suit with a handkerchief in his pocket. Another friend approaches, and they greet him informally– maybe it’s slavic.  Their voices are sometimes murmurs; old men of the sea, who speak about how much fish they would catch, and they have a slight crag in their throats.  The last friend, sits on the outskirts of the circle, watching the game intently.

Observations: caught in the sun


Today, I went back to the garden after a long time, and a butterfly ( a Painted Lady or an American Lady) stopped near me.  I don’t like coming out because it’s a mess now that it’s summer and no one bothers cleaning up the garden, but I went out to fix my compost. I also saw a black beetle right outside the back door. It  gave me the scares. I tip-toed around it but it was dead. 

I walked through the cvs parking lot then up one side street and the heat was so evil, falling on my arms. I had a hat to protect my face, but nonetheless it surrounded me. I closed my eyes, smelled the heat, and told myself to remember this the next time I was freezing cold.

It’s quieter up here with the row of comic books, and youth novels behind me. I don’t know why but I found the adult section brimming with heaviness. The light downstairs was also a cheap yellow, compared to the clear, translucent white up here, and the fat letter balloons that say “read.” On the side there are three wonder woman books which caught my eye, and further down a curtain of origami swans. It’s lighter here.

Walking past the bridge with no shade in sight, I thought about what a relief it would be to take a cold shower. The coldest shower this summer. Sundown felt far away, as if the sun was stretching out the hours.