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  • Mónica Ramón Ríos

A Tied Tongue Turned Anglo

Actualizado: 17 oct

I start writing entries as an experiment. The experiment of writing in English. I lack the language, as too many colleagues or sometime random men wish to remind me, despite the fact that I am using variations from across the Atlantic of from across the boroughs. Boroughs where correct English lies in the mind of financial advisors or software engineers. I don’t lack the language. I learned to speak it with an accent since I was seven. I still speak it with an accent which I can regulate to either épater le bourgeois or to sound sexy, depending on the crowd. I write during what others would call "insomnia" and I would call "free time" during which, if I am not writing, my mind wonders into ugly things or loses itself in the catastrophes.

On the outside, my life seems pretty simple, some would say a success; the same amount of people would call it a failure. I live with my partner and my son in a relatively small apartment in a beautiful neighborhood in Brooklyn, surrounded by other families increasingly accumulating more riches and wealth. We are three over educated individuals who know little about excessive accumulation except in the form of hot wheels cars that now lie around every corner and bag in our shiny and plant-inhabited-sunny-in-the-morning apartment. We leave early for school. We work from home or cafés or park benches. We go to playgrounds and picnics. We watch movies and shows. We read books, picking up the copies left in boxes after spring.

On the other, we don’t throw out books, maybe the only other thing we accumulate other than hot wheels cars. They accumulate on nightstands and tables, on benches and windowsills, on top of other books, creating long architectures of knowledge that never seems enough, excessive in our apparently normal home away from the motherland. Those books make our home. As do hot wheels cars, who now populate the everyday stories we exchange at bath and bedtime, right before reading more books and dozing off.

On the other other hand, our lives are specific and unique. That is why I write this. Not to cope with the mistakes of Biden or Boric, the made-up news/publicity stunt of Bad Bunny and Björk, who might read or not, but with all the other events in our lives and not our own that trigger the pen. Like the death pf a 22 year-old Mahsa Amini by something called the morality police because she was wearing a hijab incorrectly. A fucking hijab. And she was beaten over and over, left unconscious, lied about the cause of death, all the while other girls and women were being beaten and pepper sprayed, even the brother outside was beaten and pepper sprayed because of asking about his beloved sister. Because of a question. Because of love. They called her depraved because of her hair. What kind of women do not have hair. What kind of man wants to take it away from her, feels so threatened because a woman can have hair. One does not have to go very far. I see a girl, almost a baby pushing a stroller with two babies. She does not have hair, but a wig. The girl walking next to her still has; she is still unwed. Both have heavy stockings and long sleeve black shirts on a warm, humid day. This is Williamsburgh, where a few blocks away there are women sunbathing with half their bikinis. Where most mornings I open my legs in prasarita padottanasana, dwipada sirsasana and yoga nidrasana. That is with my crotch on the forefront. And some dare say that feminism (whether it is white, black, latinx, racial, queer, trans) is a thing of the past. Although it is women and trans and queers who are fighting against prisons, detention centers, school funding, bodily autonomy.

I decided not to shave or wax anymore in solidarity with those women whose hair is cut, whose lives are lost. Then I decide to keep my hair shiny in solidarity with Evelyn or Eva, who disconnected from me for security reasons or was deported––who knows––after we wrote a book and became friends. I will write more migration at a later point. Tonight my heart has been broken too many times, so I will share now the ways I have used this week to repair it.

Today I talked with a witch. I was stuck, I said, like if I had a rope that would stop me at the very last minute of a good and wanted thing. I sent her a selfie she asked for and said she saw it, an entity, leeching on my back and shoulder that had been bothering me for four years. She saw a beige building with an archway. Two or three people, one with an entity that saw an opening and jumped. Today I burned candles and herbs, a cedar smudge and left my room smoky and aromatic. I drove to the cemetery right before class and left the remnants with the spirits there offering coins and candy. There is a strange feeling in my lower back, as though I had scratched it, tender skin not visible to the eye, a feeling in another dimension. I feel the words and cast away the sleez’s power over me one more time “I am not your home.” Witches power is similar, no it is the same as the poet’s, and, Vicente Huidobro, Gabriela Mistral, I am reminded of the root of my unrootendness.

In Altazor, Vicente Huidobro equated the poet’s power-language-with that of a magician. And what is not poetic language but the power to bring to the present something sensed but yet unreal? Call it actualization of the being, performance, action, practice. We are what we are, but before we are we need a language for it, an invocation.

Last week I wrote a list of things that make me happy, and whenever I feel down these days attacked by hormonal and political fluctuations, I read it. Only then I hug my son, whose body and mind knows and feels everything. He speaks it. He does not fear naming. He has the soul of a witch and a poet.

Last week I went into despair. We are looking for a third partner and consciously experimenting with our bodies. Far are the days when attraction and love and desire for other beings caught us by surprise. We study ourselves in these expressions of life. I’ve had all sorts of experiences meeting people. The first wanted to dominate me and make me his wife. He told me this over the phone. I was enraged, and then, turned on by my rage, needed to destroy his too normal masculinity with my own description of boots and restraints. We never spoke again. I was left stranded by a 28 year-old writer-wanna-be who every day insisted we meet until the day we were supposed to meet. I met a beautiful being older than me, but who looked younger, and touched and kissed me so tenderly that I walked away feeling my body flying. I texted with a man who has three houses, a boat on a lake, an obsession for fitness, and a collection of abstract expressionism. I texted with A from India on my way back from class. By the end of the three block walk, my panties felt wet as he was alone on his bed typing and etc. We met later that night, and we talked, laughed, kissed, and couldn’t find a place to go, because there are no hotels in Clinton Hill. I met a cinematographer from a town founded in 92 ace with long hair who practiced yoga with me early one morning. And then I met another man that in his boring boringness took out all my energy and made me feel miserable and old.

So on Monday, I invited my friend from the town with a millenarian castle to come watch an iconic film of Latinx queerness presented by an artist I liked and would very much want to meet. Instead, waiting for him outside the theater, I met another much admired and funny queer Latinx performer. We talked about this in an almost empty bar in Bed Stuy before kissing and touching. He walked me home and sent me a picture of a church he was at shooting.

Healing.

After going to the cemetery and giving thanks to the spirits, I went to teach Spanish to some undergrads. At the beginning of the class, another professor from the department from where I was ousted came by to see if she could attend my class. She used the voice of an angel despite her red skin, satanic face, and bleak eyes. I had met her before when in a faculty meeting she called the visiting faculty like myself “hordes,” the same word used by Trump to refer to immigrants from Latin America not so long ago and still fresh in my mind. Is this an opportunity for healing or just another unknowable, incomprehensible twist of destiny that tied us together in a chain of pain and woes? Will she at some point recognize me? Will she have a memory? Is healing possible with such a memory? Can memory forgive? Maybe this is just the practice ground for something bigger, but maybe this is as big as it gets.

I see my blonde mustache has grown back.

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