Love You Till The End

These days, the only thing that keeps me together is my faith. After all, it is what brought us together in the first place…

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Claudia and Hayden Brown

I met Hayden at Camp Sonshine one summer when he was just 12 years old. He was a blonde, nerdy kid with glasses and a mushroom haircut, but everyone loved him because he was just so hilarious.

Every summer we would see each other at camp and I had never thought about him romantically—all until he went through puberty and became insanely hot.

Then, one year we were randomly sitting next to each other in chapel. We locked eyes and I knew I was in trouble. Hayden was so handsome and charming, but I had a feeling that it would only be a summer fling since we were just kids.

I was wrong…

The next year my feelings for him were stronger, and after his incessant requests for us to be together, I finally agreed.

It was the best decision I ever made in my life. I was young, but at 17 I knew I’d found the love of my life and the man that I wanted to marry.

Hayden felt the same way. He told me once that he loved me before he ever kissed me.

It wasn’t always a fairytale. We went through so much together and definitely had to overcome major bumps along the way.

After that wonderful summer at camp, we struggled with communicating since we lived 6 hours away from each other. We called it off for about a year, in which Hayden had a son, Ryder.

The rough patches kept coming at us and we waited so long to be with each other that we never thought our relationship would happen. I should’ve trusted that God had a plan for us the whole time. It seemed that he also thought that Hayden was “the one.”

In 2014, we ended up in the same city. Finally, it seemed like the universe was conspiring for us to be together. On my 23rd birthday, Hayden asked me to marry him, and a month later we were husband and wife.

Those were the best days of my life, my own little fairytale. I always felt so thankful to have found true love so early in life that I was able to marry the love of my life—the man I imagined myself spending the rest of my days with.

Hayden is gone now. Being a widow is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and probably will ever do. But, being married to Hayden was the greatest blessing I’ve had.

He may not be here, but he is still the most amazing person I have ever met. He left me with so much love. He was a great friend, son, brother, but an even greater husband and father. Ryder, his son, is the sweetest five year old to ever exist. He is so smart and reminds me so much of his father.

It’s not always easy to stay positive, but I tell myself that God still has a plan for my life. Hayden made me feel special every single day, and he always made sure to tell me that he loved me, even when I didn’t deserve it.

I never imagined I would lose him, but having had his love is something I will always have with me. I rest assured that whatever happens from now on, I will see Hayden in Heaven again one day. And even if I had known things would end this way the first time I realized Hayden was looking at me, I’d still do it all over again.

 

Half Agony, Half Hope

“Seriously?!” Jamie yelled as she fidgeted with her keys.

“Seriously, William?! Just go away…” She scoffed , until I walked away from her doorstep and into my car.

She disappeared behind the door of her apartment, as I composed myself in the driver’s seat of my car, gripping the steering wheel until my knuckles turned white.

“Dammit!” I breathed angrily.

This had been the second time that Jamie had given me a chance at being her boyfriend. As usual, I fucked it up. After our first break-up, I begged her to give me another chance for months. I promised her that this time around things were going to be different, that I was going to make her a priority and work on the bad habits that had pulled us apart before.

The worst part is that I meant it with every fiber of my being. All I wanted was to make her smile again, to hold her, to kiss her, to wake up next to her on Sundays.

See, Jamie is the kind of girl that a guy like me would never in a million years get a chance with, but by some blip in the universe, I got one! She is so smart, witty, and God she always looks so damn pretty!

Every time she would walk toward me in one of those cute little dresses she wears, my heart would turn to mush .

Her smile could beat the sun and her kisses could eradicate world hunger.

Oh, and let’s not forget her heart. It is just so beautiful and kind. It has to be, to have put up with me for all this time and still love me the way she does. To love me and hold me, and understand that I’m just a human being–or just the greatest idiot and coward that ever lived.

But there’s moments like these, after a big, pointless, stupid fight…. after she’s asked me for the millionth time in the best way possible to simply make her a priority…because she deserves it… because it is what’s right. Because dammit, that’s what a woman like Jamie deserves in her life! It is moments like these, when she disappears behind the shield of her apartment, that I see it all so clear.

Behind that door, Jamie’s pure heart is breaking again, sore, all because I can’t get it together and be the man she deserves.

I sit in the car thinking: “Goddammit, William! Put yourself together, grow a pair, knock on that door until she answers, and tell her that you love her, you idiot!”

I listen to that voice, that wise part of me that has the simple answer. I grab my phone and put it inside my pocket. I turn off the car, “I’m going to do this!”

Then, I look up and see her bedroom light turn off. I imagine Jamie, her sweet face, her soft waves cascading behind her, her old pajama shirt caressing her skin as she slides into her bed…

And I realize, “I’m not that man yet…”

I take the phone out of my pocket, switch the key back on in the ignition, and drive away.

◊◊

Nine Months Later

P.S.

Dear Jamie,

I still love you. Every night I dream and think about you. I’ve looked for you in every single person who has walked into my life for the past nine months, but none of them scratch the surface. My life has gone on and I have grown, as I’m sure yours has too. But, the truth is, Jamie, that it’s not really much of a life without you in it. It’s just motions. It’s just survival.

I still love you…

-William

The Day Before Fiumicino Caught Fire

One hundred and seventeen days…

He walked in through the gate at Fiumicino airport in Rome and for a second I forgot my name.

For the past four and a half months I had been living in England, traveling all of Europe, missing this man, and gaining some significant weight.

This, however, had been a moment I had been dreaming about since we had planned our two week European adventure in January.

Rome was just the start.

In my 21 year old self’s dreams, I was Hillary Duff and this is what dreams were made of! This was the eternal city that so many fought for. Here was the art, the cathedrals, the holy Pope, for Pete’s Sake, and I would get to explore it with the man of my dreams.

There was mushy kissing and hugging, and there was map hunting, of course.

The day kept going through the Roman sunshine; squeezing through public transportation, tiny alleyways, and the great enjoyment of the city’s endless charm.

We watched the sun set behind the buildings at Piazza Navona, the water splashing on the water fountain before heading out for dinner…..our hands melted into each other.

….I guess all roads do lead to Rome.

A Year of Letting Go: Bye, Bye 2017

In 2016, I wrote a blog post about the unimaginable pain that came with change, and how much the year had forced me to change rapidly and grow beyond what I could imagine.

As I wrote that post, I remember deciding that it would be the last day for many things: toxic relationships and unnecessary sadness among them.  I was determined to let go, and I did.

Funnily enough, within minutes of the start of 2017, everything began to change. From the first day, new love came into my life, new job opportunities, and a whole new set of life-changing experiences that have led me to where I am today.

If 2016 was about growing with change, 2017 was the year of receiving and letting go.

There were so many times in 2017 when I was faced with the harsh reality that in order for things to move forward and fall together, many others have to fall apart.

It taught me to let go of friends, family, loved ones. Of the security of jobs. It taught me to leap and take a chance on MYSELF. It reminded me of my strengths, my wishes, my hopes. It taught me again to open my heart and love.

It placed difficult people in my path so I could learn how to be a more understanding and love them in all their forms. It was an amazing year to realize that you can love someone without letting yourself go, and then when the unfortunate time comes, let go of them if they must go.

Then, toward the end, it rewarded me with letting go of my past and starting a brand new life in a place I love. With the dream job. With the hope of a more prosperous and beautiful future.

Today, the day before the last day of 2017, I feel grateful for all the things it brought me, but also for all the ones it forced me to let go of. As 2018 approaches, I am ready to open my hands and let go of that which no longer serves me. I am ready to let it go and send it love and light on its way. At the same time, with the same open arms, I wish to embrace an unknown future that is waiting to be created.

It’s a new year, a new opportunity for life, another trip around the sun for me. The only thing I can say in closing this one and opening a new chapter, is wishing that 2018 for you will be a year of fearless ventures and blessings. That whatever held you back in 2017 won’t exist anymore. That no one tells you how, when, why, and what to live. That you find the strength within yourself to move forward and change your life if you want to. That you cherish all the good, that you forgive, that you embrace opportunities when they so seldomly come.

LIVE YOUR LIFE. It is YOURS. No one else’s. And the best part is that you only get one shot at it, so get it right.

With that, I wish you all a happy and prosperous 2018.  May love and light ALWAYS come your way.

With warmth,

-Karla

Let it Be

Let it Be…

I have the words tattooed on my right rib-cage to remind myself to let go.

They say that what you resist, persists. So, I won’t resist anymore.

I’ve been sitting in awe and contemplation for the past week. I’ve been mulling in some unresolved feelings. I’ve been getting mad at the universe. And I keep thinking….Let it Be.

However, since I’m living with my feelings and can’t take my own advice right now, and the year is ending in just three days, I’ll leave this here for anyone who needs to see.

Let it Be…

When you don’t have all the answers, when you can’t figure it out, when the problem is so big you just want to run away. Or like me, get in a time machine and wake up in a different moment.

Let it Be…

When someone doesn’t/didn’t value you the way they should/should’ve; when you didn’t teach them well enough how they should.

Let it Be…

When people tell you how to feel—they aren’t you. They aren’t living in your body, feeling your skin, crying your tears, or thinking your thoughts. Remember, everything is easy when you’re not the one living it.

Let it Be…

Time will help to make it through. Time will show, it will heal, it will resolve. Time washes away everything.

Let it Be…

Let yourself feel happy, sad, angry, confused, empty. Feel whatever you want to feel.  Feelings are shooting stars that go away eventually—they never stick around long enough. So, sit with them for a little while and enjoy them, even if they are awful at the moment.

Let it Be…

The pain, that is you growing. That is you learning. That is you shifting your inner compass in the right direction.

Let it Be…

Let people go. No matter how much you love them, everyone has to live their life and discover things on their own. And if you truly love them, let them go and wish them happiness in their lives. Wish them all the best. Wish them everything that you wish for yourself.

Let it Be…

Forgive others. Forgive yourself.

Let it Be…

Be thankful for this experience. Be thankful that you are alive. Be thankful that you are here and you have another chance at doing it right, at making it better, at forgiving, at trying again, at loving, at going back and fixing, at asking for forgiveness, at doing whatever you want.

If you’re breathing, trust that you will somehow make it through this, but most of all, that you will make it through just fine.

 

 

 

Nobody Said It Was Easy

A man walked into his friend’s home, when he noticed a cat lying down on top of a nail on the floor.

“Oh my God!” he said. “Why doesn’t he get up from there? Isn’t there somewhere else he could be sleeping?”

The cat’s owner smiled and looked at his friend, “We have tried to give him different beds to sleep in, but he still chooses to sit on that nail. It hurts him, just not enough to make him move.”

There have been a few times in my life where I’ve been the cat sitting on the nail. I’ve had to choose between staying in my comfort zone or walking through the fire of trying something new, and erroneously, I’ve stayed uncomfortable in my comfort.

I have always feared and resisted change. I’ve been afraid of losing myself, losing people I love, of starting over, of trying and failing. It’s all in vain though, because in the end, I’ve attracted my fears and made it through alright.

Comfort–or the idea of it–is a trap. It is the killer of dreams. It is the deflation of passion. It is the false belief that you should stay where you are so that things around you don’t crumble. Well, whether you move or not, they’ll crumble if they were meant to.

Recently, I decided to uproot myself from my life in Miami and replant in Chapel Hill. For two years I had dreamed about the moment when I could leave Miami behind and follow my goals and ambitions up North. However, when the time came to choose, it was incredibly hard for me.

I had to choose between a dream opportunity in my field and leaving behind my family, friends, partner, and life, to start all over.

Nobody said it was easy….

Amidst the intense excitement and packing, I’d pinch myself daily to make sure I wasn’t dreaming my reality. The weeks leading up to my move I was incredibly nervous, and would call my best friend in the middle of the night panicking. I remember telling her one day: “What am I going to sacrifice for living the dream I so fervently manifested? Will I be lonely? Will I lose my friends? Will I destroy my relationship?”

It was even harder when Mario returned to Miami after helping me move in and I had to face the silence of my decisions and embrace the new life I chose. The homesickness and loneliness soon followed.

Nobody said it was easy…..

However….today….exactly a month away from my 24th birthday, I realize and accept that this in fact was the right decision. No more questions asked.

I was walking out of work and breathed in the beauty of a PURPLE sunset. It took me back to the moment when Mario and I walked into my new apartment, tears welling in my eyes, and I said “I did it.” It was the same heartwarming joy.

I’ve realized that sometimes in life, when it is time to make important decisions, it can be helpful to be a pyromaniac and take the risk at being happy. I’ve realized that doing nothing only leaves you with nothing–and that’s just not the life I want to live–I don’t want a life full of nothing.

When I look around at where I live, where I work, how much I’ve grown in only a month, and I embrace all the possibilities, I feel less afraid of the future and of changing.

I figure–life is all about embracing change and learning from it. Even the moon changes constantly, as nature’s little reminder that everything is going to be OK.

On this last month of 2017, take some time to be thankful for what you have, but also to ground yourself on what you truly want. Keep your head up and remember that you have the power to change every single thing in your life. You have the power to move forward and manifest the life you’ve always wanted.

So, my two cents for today:

 

If it needs to explode–let it.

If it needs to grow–water it.

If it needs time–give it.

If it needs to stay the same–leave it.

If you don’t like it–change it.

Do what you need to do……just don’t be a cat sitting on a nail. Live the life you are meant to be living.

With Love,

-Karla

Me Too

I was sitting at a Chinese cafe on a rainy Fall Sunday, when two young men in their early twenties walked up to the counter to order coffee.

Raindrops cascaded down the arched roof, as I studied the book in front of me that read “Politics of the Womb: Politics, Reproduction, and the State in Kenya.”

I took a break to buy a pastry and stood behind them in line.

The blonde ordered a double espresso. The brunette an Americano.

I swayed back and forth awaiting my turn as they discussed their previous drunken night. There was a good game of beer pong, deer, and of course, girls.

“Man, I hit that so hard it almost felt like I was impaling her…” said the blonde one as the brunette burst into laughter and said “That’s fucking awesome.”

I came to a standstill as my eyes widened and my hands balled into fists.  I felt the urge to reach up and ask him to repeat what he just said to my face, followed by a good slap for being disrespectful. All I could muster at that moment, my voice cracking, was “Shut up. You’re talking about a human being.”

The brunette looked down at me and said “…we’re not talking to you.”  The Chinese woman behind the counter handed them their coffees and they left.

Forgetting my appetite for the warm almond pastry, I stormed back to my original table and packed up my book.

“Fucking assholes”  I thought, as my eyes filled with tears and I walked out of the coffee shop and headed home.

The rage and disgust were feelings I knew all too well.  Feelings that had followed me since I could remember. The idea that no matter what, where, how or with whom, as a woman, you always had to be careful.

It was what I felt the first time a boy pulled up my skirt and that of my friend’s in Elementary School to show the rest my panties and laugh; and that time I was at the Middle School dance enjoying the music with two of my friends, when a group of guys decided it was fine to come up behind us and grope our hips and dance with us without permission. OR even that one time I was walking my dog and some men decided to slow down their car to cat-call, whistle, and yell obscenities about how I looked in workout clothes, as I turned in the opposite direction to avoid them and ran home.

It is a feeling that every single woman has had to endure simply because we were born with two X chromosomes and a vagina between our legs.

The heavy-breath-inducing / panicky fear of feeling like prey.

These behaviors don’t just happen though, there’s a plethora of societal inspiration behind them…

Since I was a little girl, the idea that “boys will be boys” and “that’s the way men are” has been drilled into my skull like a chip for programming. It is as if there was a piece missing from the male anatomy that gave them free will over what they could or could not do to women, and women simply had to accept it as a “matter-of-fact.”

Why is that?

Why do women have to accept the disgusting advances of men as something that is just part of their nature?

Why do little girls have to believe that if a boy hits, ignores, or embarrasses them, it is a sign that said boy  is attracted to them?

How repulsive is the world, that it judges women as “sluts” and “whores” when they are sexually open, yet it views men as higher beings when they are, even condoning it?

In a world where every 60 seconds a woman or girl experiences rape, and more than 60 percent of women don’t even know how to write their name because they don’t have a birth certificate or are considered “half” of a person*, the least men could do is become aware of this issue, show us some respect, and take steps to prevent it.

The least.

In this world, where only a lucky few million women have the right to CHOOSE–the least we deserve is respect.

This week, millions of women have taken to the internet to say “Me Too,” after allegations and testimonies of sexual harassment against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Millions of women are screaming out in hope that men will actually give a shit about them and do something about the disgusting behavior we have to endure on a regular basis.

Not because women need men’s approval or acknowledgement to be filled or feel important, but because we are tired of feeling like the Earth has been created only to please one gender.

The saddest part?

That perhaps the majority will scroll down the feed without noticing.

That millions of women will continue to be the butt of jokes and locker room talk for men who think that because she chose or didn’t choose to fuck you, she is less.

That thousands of other women will judge you and perhaps think “what did she do to attract that kind of behavior?”

How are we supposed to reach respect if we continue to be objectified and disrespected? Why are we so quick to tear each other down instead of build each other up?

And honestly, who cares what she was wearing? Drinking? Smoking? Doing?

Our bodies are our own and being incapable of making a clear decision, doesn’t give you the green light to do whatever you want.

It’s time to wake up. To do something about it. To not let it happen to you or to any other woman in the world.

As I spoke to one of my best male friends, Brian,  we brainstormed on ways in which both women and men could combat harassment and abuse, all in an effort to lessen the “me too’s” and came up with a few solutions.

Where to start?

By stopping people cold. By not being frozen like I was, when I should’ve kicked that guy and his undeserving idiot friend in the shin.

By not electing a president who grabs women “by the pussy” and publicly shames them every chance he gets.

By respecting the women in your home, in your group of friends, in your family. By listening to our partners, their needs, desires, and remembering that their bodies are not solely for our enjoyment.

By pushing for equal pay. Equal job rights. By not messing with our reproductive rights or our choices!

By making sure every girl born in the world has a birth certificate and knows her name.

By lifting women up and telling them they’re intelligent, beautiful, deserving, powerful, unyielding, important, full.

But most of all, by waking up and not being a part of the problem. Don’t be that guy who harasses women in any way. Don’t be that woman that tears other women down by calling them names.

Today, I’m not brave enough to talk about the biggest reason why I’m in the category of “me too.”

However, I never want to have to hold the trembling hand of a crying friend who is brave enough to talk about it publicly or privately. To comfort another one over the phone as she sobs powerlessly and feels defeated after being raped in a foreign country. To accompany one to get tested for STDs, because her drink was laced and she woke up in a stranger’s bed.

Or to have a daughter, and have to say to her “be careful always with men.”

 

 

*Statistics taken from United Nations website.

Break-up Culture and 21st Century Relationships

“Perfect love means to love the one through whom one became unhappy”

-Søren Kierkegaard

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I’ve never written about relationships on my blog before.

I’d never consider myself an “expert” or even slightly skilled at the art of maintaining a relationship, nor have I found that many of us are. Therefore, I’ve never ventured into the realm of talking about romance and its dwellings.

However, after almost 10 years in the dating scene, I’m going to take a stab at what I perceive to be one of the most difficult times for romance in our human existence.

It is the era of break-ups and divorce. A time where people “marry for love”, yet more than 50 percent of first marriages end up in divorce, and break-ups happen like cash withdrawals at ATM machines, I still think it is important to value love and relationships.

Fear and Other Drugs

Love can be wonderful and utterly terrifying.

What? You mean I have to put my heart out there for someone and give them the opportunity to potentially ruin me for months? Scar me? Mess me up?….Or who knows….maybe love me?

Yeah….I’ve learned the hard way that you kind of have to. There is a lot of fear associated with love,  especially when it comes to Millennials. The staggering number of break-ups, divorce, and despair that we have experienced growing up has left us a tiny bit terrified of the L word. As a child of divorce and young parenthood, I can attest that when I first started dating–and still to this day–the thought of opening my feelings up to someone was met with trepidation.

The break-up culture of the 21st century is not helping.

When we meet someone for the first time we are seduced by all the wonderful things this person has to bring on to our lives. We are infatuated and addicted to everything  they have to provide. Soon after though, we start discovering their flaws, we fight, and we find that it’s not all “la vie on rose” like Edith Piaf promised.

Love is like a drug. Fear is like a drug too. That’s why break-ups are oftentimes promoted rather than problem-solving; it is severing a wound that can potentially become infected.

Although breaking up and closing a tie with a relationship can sometimes be the best option (if someone is abusing you, leave that relationship and never look back), for the most part, relationship issues can be resolved with proper communication and trust building. This can be daunting, but the only way to truly understand and form lasting relationships in general is to lay it all out on the table (yes, be vulnerable, so scary) and talk about it.

After several years in the dating world, having experiences that range from long-term, short-term, flings, and “it’s complicated,” I can attest to the fear of talking and expressing how I feel. To be honest, until my current relationship, I had no idea how to communicate with my significant other.  I had to put my fear aside and gain courage from vulnerability. It turns out that issues I had blown out of proportion in my head were actually very simple nuances that could’ve been resolved by talking about them earlier. There’s so much time and arguments you can save simply by expressing how you feel. Who wouldda thunk it?

You, Me and We Time

Millennials are the kings and queens of individuality.

We strive for a more unified world, but we have been coined as “selfish” because we tend to put our interests first. This can be a blessing or a wrench in our relationships, since we tend to have some issues in balancing out the differences between “you, me, and we” time.

  • You Time*
    • My boyfriend and I often argue about “neediness” when it comes to his personal time. It is a very common struggle between women and men, as one partner seeks space and the other seeks attention.
      As John Gray explains in his famous book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, men require “cave time” in order to recharge their batteries and be their full selves. In Venus-land, women require attention and affirmations to feel complete. This is a very common struggle for couples if they don’t recognize the importance of “you” time. Although I love spending time with my significant other and sometimes want to just snuggle with him, I recognize that “you” time eventually correlates to “we” time, since creating space for our individuality later creates space for our relationship. As individuals, we require space to nurture and thrive in our ways, making ourselves happy on our own to be able to then make our partners happy. Respect your partner’s time and need for space and better rapport is sure to rise.
  • Me Time
    • The most important person in your life is *drum roll, please*–YOURSELF! The love that we feel or create for ourselves is unique and can only be expressed on our own. If we don’t make time to do the things which make us happy, how can we expect someone to come and do it for us? It’s absurd. This doesn’t mean that you can’t love your partner. It just means do not depend on them for your happiness–build your own.
      One of the greatest fears of establishing and nurturing relationships is that of losing ourselves in the process. All of us have had break-ups at one point or another in our lives where we invested way too much of ourselves and ended up MORE hurt than we should have. This tends to happen when we dive head-first into becoming a unit and forget about ourselves. When I first met my sweetheart, both of us talked about the importance of “me” time. I remember we both agreed that in order for our relationship to thrive, we needed to each have our own lives, to then build a life where we could grow together. It is easier said than done,  there is so much temptation to simply gravitate to the feel-good comfort of your relationship, but remember to nurture your own so that you can have some together. Do activities that you love and cultivate your spirit a little bit every day.
  • We Time
    • Finally, we arrive at the unit.  As I explained previously, it is important to cultivate individuality to form a better relationship. “We” time is where a lot of our love and good experiences grow. When both partners bring something to the table to share with each other, the time spent together is priceless. Is it always a field of roses? Probably not. And hey, even roses can give you allergies if you smell them long enough. However,  taking time to spend together in sharing and not depending makes all the difference. If more of our relationships were based on building each other up,  spending time together would be a blissful connection.

Break-Up Culture and The Other Fish in the Sea

I wish advice came with a sensitivity capsule or disclosure “Beware, person is asking with their heart.”

As a person who asks for advice and guidance, I can tell you that sometimes I wish I hadn’t asked for it. Many times, actually. It seems that every time you ask for relationship advice, the most prominent answer is “Break-up and find someone else, girl. It’s not worth it to work on any relationship. “

The worst part is that I actually followed that advice quite a lot. I’ve never regretted my separations, but in some cases, I’ve realized after-the-fact that problem-solving might have been a better first option.

In the case of a relationship where both parties care for each other, telling someone to “dump” their partner and find another, is like telling them that every person in this world has a replacement, and anyone who doesn’t conform to this idea of “my way or the highway” is garbage.

However, as much as people may want to believe that, I’d like to think that we all have our unique set of characteristics and feelings that make us attuned to our partners. Sure, you can find thousands and millions of men and women in the world, but can you make it work out with one? Just one? Can you try? Do you have the guts to take that person for the good AND the bad, not just the parts that are convenient to you?

Whenever I give advice to my friends on their relationship problems, I always try to give them positive advice. I’ve never (no matter how much I disliked the guy or girl) told anyone to break up. Why? I’m going to put it to you this way, which is something I recently realized on a trip to IKEA.

IKEA has a wide selection of cups and mugs. You could spend all day in the damn place if you wanted to, picking and choosing between the different colors, shapes, sizes, you name it. Suddenly, you find one cup you like, one that makes you feel warm, comfy, it feels good in your hands. It’s your cup. It’s your choice. It is the one that you want for YOU. Maybe once you take it home it feels too hot or too cold, but with a mug mitt you can make it work.  Do you throw away every cup that is not heat resistant? Probably not.

In short, relationships are hard. Whoever said that with the right person it’s “easy” is bullshitting you. Whoever said that going around until you find someone is key, is bullshitting you.  If you’re unhappy and are dating an onion instead of a person, then leave. But the truth is, no one is perfect–that includes you. No one is going to meet your needs 100% of the time. You need to put 90% and then let someone give you their best 10%. You need to make yourself happy first, find your value,  then bring someone into your life that will share happiness with you. But for Pete’s sake, before you buy into this culture where break ups and divorces are as common as getting your teeth cleaned, try it out.

*For the purpose of this article, I will refer to “you” as my partner (or yours). 

 

Mr. Trump, Bravery Has No Gender

 

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Photo Cred: Pixabay

Mr. Trump,

Please, go away. Our country has had enough embarrassment with your daily tweet and utter disrespect on a constant basis. No one is laughing anymore–in fact, no one truly laughed–ever.

I still remember waking up on the morning of November 9th, feeling numb, heartbroken, and afraid at the fact that it was you who would be taking office in a few short months.

 

For a brief couple of weeks, I wished you the best. Not because your pompous, angry, spoiled self deserved it–but because I love this country and everything it symbolizes. Yet, in the short months of your presidency I have found your administration to almost be a punishment to the land of the free, home of the brave.

Since your candidacy, you have taken the liberty to spread your agenda of hatred. You have mocked disabled people; called Latinos “rapists” and “criminals”; disrespected women on all fronts (doesn’t surprise me that your wife won’t even hold your hand).

You have relentlessly isolated the United States from the forefront of world leadership with your bigotry, turning us into the butt of jokes all over the world.

Today, Donald, you have crossed the line once more with your disrespect.

You have the “cara dura” (as we Latinos like to say), to hide behind the bright screen of your cell phone and again, drag this country back another hundred years:

“ After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption 

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that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”

I’m sorry…..WHAT?!

Is this the country everyone wants to live in? The country of freedom? The country founded on the principles of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?” A country that just two years ago victoriously celebrated EQUALITY AND LOVE FOR ALL.

Let me tell you something, Donald: you are done messing up.

I don’t know if you realize this or not, but there are two very common traits between people in the military and those in our LGBT community: BRAVERY.

BRAVERY, Donald. That is what a transgender person who decides to risk their lives for the freedom of  those in this country are displaying—-they are not a burden!

BRAVERY is what ANY person, regardless of sexual orientation or gender,  who decides to so selflessly risk their lives for others displays when they join the military.

BRAVERY is  being transgender and enlisting in a male-dominated military world with the threat of discrimination and bullying; still showing that courage is born in our hearts and not our gender.

Is that a trait you have found within yourself? Is that what you think you are showing the world when you stand up on platforms and bully people?

Maybe you’ll never know what that word means, since it looks like life has always opened its doors to your tantrums.

Perhaps you will never be able to identify and empathize with a person from the LGBT community because bravery is not part of your vocabulary; alongside respect and kindness.

I just want to let you know that we are here, and we are watching.

Those of us who see past your hatred and still love this country are watching, and will not stay quiet while another minority group is targeted and oppressed by you.

NO, Donald:

Our “pussies” will not be grabbed.

We will not help you build a wall.

We will not “get out of here”.

We will not abandon our planet.

We will not accept your homophobia.

We will fight back, as we have done from the first day.

Please, do us all a favor, and stop making America terrible— this is not the Handmaid’s Tale.

Sincerely,

A fed-up American

Coming To America

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Some stories need to be told at some point or another.

This week, for the first time, I told mine publicly–twice.

Once it was for a reporter for the USA Today who is writing an article about Donald Trump’s policy reversal regarding relations with Cuba. The second was to all of my followers, friends, lovers, listeners, in the form of a brand new podcast.

 

I’ve been trying to start this podcast for a while now, but I had not found the right topic to open up with. Well, now it is available for all to hear on soundcloud, as well as on the podcast page on this website.

I hope you all can enjoy and truly understand the importance of opening relations between the United States and Cuba. Most of all, the importance of giving immigrants the right to find new opportunities for their families.

I hope you all enjoy this deep, personal story. Here is the link:

I Was Here Podcast-Episode 1

Episode 1-I Was Here Soundcloud Version

Best,

-Karla

Miami: Ripe or Rotten?

Miami, city on the rise or rotting Mamey? That is the question.

It seems as if every day a new construction site is born and another acre of the everglades is torn down in the magic city.

Progress and modernity seem to be the promise of these new developments, but who are they truly for?

With sprawling skyscrapers come exorbitant rent prices, leaving new developments available only to the top 1 percent. Per the 2015 Census Bureau data, 1 in 4 people live in poverty in the Miami Dade County area, and the average Miamian makes an approximate salary of $35,000. That is 45 times less than the 1 percent of the population that makes around $2 million a year.

The demand for affordable housing, combined with low wages has placed a great burden on the city’s engine—its citizens. It has hit young adults, singles, and large families the hardest.  Most have resorted to moving outward towards Homestead and Ft. Lauradale, whilst others have simply left the entire region. The rising population density in suburbs further adds to the tumult of daily traffic , resulting in more unhappy citizens.

Also, what is up with these crazy requirements to rent a home? Not only do you have to pay the first month’s rent and security deposit, you must pretty much sell your soul to the devil to be considered as a potential renter.

Requirements dwell in the realm of: first month’s rent, last month’s rent, security deposit, the blood of a virgin, and giving up your unborn child as a sacrifice. Rent prices for studio apartments and efficiencies range between $800 to $1200 a month, meaning you at least have to have $3,000 saved to be eligible.  And don’t even get me started on how unfriendly this city is to pets! Renting with an animal is nearly impossible, especially if you have dogs, and if you happen to find a place that accepts them, then you have to add more fees to your down payment.

All things considered, the painful cost of living situation poses a huge question mark on Miami’s identity and its future.

Historical areas such as Little Havana may soon be known as “West Brickell,” a tactic that would push its defining community out, and invite an unfamiliar, wealthier one in, thereby erasing what made these areas fascinating to begin with. These changes have already affected areas of Miami, such as Little Haiti with the remodeling of Wynwood and Sweetwater.

To be sure, I’m not saying that development is a bad thing. I’m concerned with the question of who this city is truly ripening for? Could it be that this transformation is only suitable for those at the top?

As someone who moved to Miami fourteen years ago, I can tell you that the city may be ripe on the outside, but will continue to be green on the inside if it doesn’t include those who already live here. In the past five years alone, the city has transformed in more ways than I would’ve ever imagined. The skyline, the expansion of areas, the migration. Yet, the city now feels more synthetic than ever before.

Will Miami be the new Dubai? How will these new developments treat the city’s diverse personalities and all that it represents?

I walked alongside Museum Park (previously Bayfront Park) with a friend of mine the other day as he took photographs of the sun setting on the Port. He asked me what I thought the proper description of Miami was. What do locals say?

I told him I was still trying to figure it out, but one undeniable fact is that Miami is a place that everyone loves to complain about. In spite of that, many you never actually leave.

Could it be that those of us who have been born or raised here are in fact becoming rooted? I always wonder what Julia Tuttle would say if she rose from the dead and saw the city now. Would it be what she  imagined? And if Miami is, in fact, ripe on the outside and green on the inside, then what is the 99 percent, who is threatened by these changes, going to do about it?

Well, moving away from the city has always been an option—especially since the job market for anything other than large companies, hospitality and tourism, is pretty much dead (but this whole series is about how we can stay in Miami, and try not to keep being the worst, so we’ll discuss that another time).

There are some theories that with the rise of innumerable apartment buildings , the demand will eventually decrease and the supply will increase. Basic economics would indicate that rent prices will decrease as well.

In the end, Miami can have more skyscrapers than Manhattan; more fake islands than Dubai; and perhaps even more casinos than Las Vegas. Yet, there is no Miami without the aroma of cortaditos, the freshness of the conch man’s salad, the Haitian spice, the Dominican sweetness, the citrus of Peruvian ceviche, Venezuelans in Doral, or the pure warmth of more than 100 different communities living in the same place.

I think that the real solution—aside from Millennials creating enterprises in the area and a whole reconstruction of rooted beliefs—lies with ripening alongside the city. I can’t say for sure that changing alongside Miami will make it into a sweet, ripe, beautiful Mamey of a city—but I do know that without its people Miami would be nothing more than a vacant space with no one to complain about how “it was better in Cuba.”

Miamians need to embrace these changes and fight to stay. Fight to make the city better, more equitable, and more affordable; be conscious citizens. Otherwise, we’ll continue being the ones who allowed it to get worse.

The series “Miami: You’re the Worst!” is a compilation of articles from daily struggles in Miami. As per the 2016 USA Today Ranking of America’s worst cities, Miami came out as the number 1 worst city to live with in America. This series hopes to explore the areas that affected this ranking and find ways in which the citizens of Miami Dade County can resolve them. 

 

photo by: @rpmphoto26

Miami, You’re The Worst!

Dear Miami,

You’re the worst. Every morning I ask myself why I thought it was a good idea for me to come back to you. It wasn’t because I’ve always loved you. That’s not to say that I don’t– I just think we have the kind of relationship where no matter how hard I try to love you, I just end up trying to change you.

        For the longest time, I thought I was alone in this. However, it turns out that I’m not the only one who thinks you’re the worst. Last year, USA Today alongside 24/7 Wall Street, ranked you as the #1 Worst City to live in America.

I know that Miamians like to be better than everyone, but this is taking it too far. I mean, come on, you beat Flint, Michigan!

The ranking  takes into consideration the factors mentioned above, as well as violence and a high poverty rate. The Economic Policy Institute stated that the top 1% of the population makes an average of $2 Million annually, which is 45 time higher than the average income of the other 99%.

        I can’t say that I’m surprised or that I digress. Between the insatiable traffic, contaminated beach water, lack of jobs, and inhumane rent prices, it has become nearly impossible to live here.

Here’s the picture in numbers:

  •         Population: 2.6 Million (Miami-Dade County only)
  •         Poverty Rate: 26.2% (About 1 in 4 people)
  •         Unemployment Rate: 5.2%
  •         Average time spent in traffic: 1-2 hours (morning/afternoon totaling about 4 hours in traffic each day).

        Still, I think there may be hope for you, Miami. When I came back to you two years ago, I told myself that I couldn’t complain about you unless I at least tried to help you change. So, in the next couple of weeks I’ll be exploring some of your terrible qualities, and seeing how we can make some changes at a cellular level. 

Maybe then I’ll find it in me to truly love you.

Dale,

-Karla

 

As the first series of this blog, we will be exploring factors which affect Miami, and can be changed to improve the daily life of Miami citizens. We will submerge into factors such as traffic, education, the environment, and the job market among others. Stick around and subscribe so you don’t miss a single article!

Seashells in Winter

A bag of seashells rattles inside of an unpacked, plastic moving box. I’ve been hauling plastic boxes around all day in the new apartment. Heavy with books and memorabilia that I’ve brought home from my mother’s house  in Miami, the boxes are the last of my belongings. Some are combinations of journals and frames, whilst others carry photo books and wands.

Some of them have bags filled with seashells that were gathered by a loved one what seems like a lifetime ago.

As I unpack and organize the last of my things, I place the last box on top of an empty one, and reveal under its tight lid a plastic bag from Navarro filled with seashells. I pull on the knot to release their nacared bodies from their filmy prison, and it is as if I am pulling at my own heartstrings as I do.

I let them drop gently onto the carpeted floor of the guest bedroom, the tips of my fingers treading the still sandy ridges of the shells.

“Maybe this is not such a good idea?”  I think as the back of my throat begins to tighten.

Then, I hold a white, spiraled one, up to my ear and I am transported back to that afternoon in the shores of Sanibel Island. My then boyfriend is walking ahead, the sun is setting behind the palm trees and fields of tall beach grass, drawing a silhouette of his towering figure in the sand. The sky is orange with streams of smooth clouds, the water is dark brown and muddy, but it gifts on the shore a rainbow of seashells.

I relive the wonder of that moment. That place where once we escaped to when there were more questions than answers. When I was at one of my lowest points. Before all of life changed. Before there was a Fall and a Winter, there was an island in Florida where everything was possible and seashells could build castles in the sand.

Now, it is Winter in North Carolina and the sun has begun to set. Rays peek through the window, casting shadows on the carpeted floor of the guest bedroom. I hold up two identical shells, the sun reflects on them, and their orange hues become a kaleidoscope shining on the wall.

I smile as I remember, reflected on those shells, immense moments of joy and warmth.  I can hear the laughter, I can feel the salty air on my face sitting on a porch swing and on a hammock at midnight.

I remember and I hope that when Spring arrives it brings the sun, the flowers, and an ocean filled with shells. That it brings forgiveness for what needs it. That it brings clean slates ready to start anew. That it brings showers of love for those who are ready for it. But most of all, that it brings together all that has fallen apart.

 

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