The Meandering Mind of Mari

Feb 7

Some pictures I took with my friend’s professional camera at Apt. 78 in da Heights.

Jan 29

Came across graffiti art and posters on 163rd Street and Teller Avenue in the Bronx

I know you’ve heard it before. You must have heard one of these lines: “I don’t want a relationship,” “I’m not looking for anything serious,” or the more condescending, “I’m not looking for drama.”


It’s the modern-day man’s disclaimer. Now this would be cool (I guess) if their actions didn’t betray the words they just said.


Actions like calling you to get to know you, taking you out on dates and telling you sweet nothings.


And them, BAM! When you least expected it, they go missing, they just disappear. They drop you like you’re hot, leaving you feeling far from hot and more like a crispy, burnt piece of toast that nobody wants, and alas, you’re left scrapping the burntness off, slowly, painfully.


Back to the disclaimer. What do I think this all really means? “I don’t know how to care about you, because frankly, I don’t know how to care about myself,” “Don’t expect me to act like a compassionate human being, that’s too much,” “Don’t expect me to explain myself, I’m too lazy to try to articulate it,” “Don’t expect me to take responsibility for my actions, I’m too proud to admit when I make mistakes.”


And if someone tries to tell you, you’re a dirty whore for sleeping with “Mr. Intentional”


Don’t believe the hype…He would have dropped your ass anyway, eventually, with an even longer, more painful break up recovery time.


Let’s just be real men.


You already decided we were an object for some immediate gratification you needed to satisfy and you’ve forgotten the golden rule:


“Do onto others as you would want done onto you.”


Men, save us the time and….drama. BE HONEST. Look at yourself first, before you try to talk to anyone else. Consider how patriarchy has influenced your actions and the way you treat WOMEN.


But before that happens (Probably when Bell Hooks is elected president), Ladies, don’t sweat it. 


Let Karma be your solace.


Keep strong.

Listen to your gut.

Believe in the power and possibility of LOVE. Not the fairytale love, but love as a process of time, patience, reciprocation and commitment. You will find someone who will want to love fearlessly, someone with big ass BALLS.

Jan 27
"I don’t want a relationship" and other related bullshit men say…
Jan 9

Ileana Cabra J. (aka PG-13) singing “Que Te Pedi” by La Lupe. See “This post is rated PG-13”

I’ve been a fan of Calle 13 since the release of their first album in 2005. I still remember while in Puerto Rico, watching the video of their first single, “Se Vale Todo.”  I admit, I wasn’t initially impressed, the video was pretty weird to me, but now I appreciate their playful, provocative sense of humor evident in their lyrics and music videos. Over the years, as my infatuation with Calle 13 persists, I find myself blow away by Rene’s sister, Ileana Cabra J., better known as PG-13. Since “Hormiga Brava,” in which her vocals embodied emotion ranging from confidence, sensuality and innocence,  I’ve looked forward to all the following songs she’s been featured on. I’d even love to hear her on a solo album, not to discourage any and all bro-sis collaborations. (They are so cute together). Most recently I was once again impressed by Ileana’s rendition of the beautiful melancholic melody of La Lupe, “Que Te Pedi.” Check out the video above. It appears as if it was done for fun at a friend’s house so the sound quality isn’t the greatest, but it’s still an opportunity to appreciate Ileana’s alluring voice.

Jan 9
This post is rated PG-13


Let’s be friends, he said/

Then he lit his cigarette/

I asked for a drag.


My eyes see you there/

Just as a hawk sees its prey/

You still won’t be mine.


Apathy is but/

A consistent feeling of/

Sad Self-denial.

Jan 7
Three Haikus
Jan 6

Photos I took during my walk along Graham Avenue in Williamsburg. Pictured is a graffiti mural on a street off Graham, a close-up of an urban jibaro from the mural and the street sign declaring Graham “Avenue of Puerto Rico.”

Pockets of Puerto Rican communities, many less and less visible due to intensive gentrification, exist all over this city. With my good friend Xavi, I recently explored one of these communities in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, along Graham Avenue, also known as “Avenue of Puerto Rico.” We started on Grand Street and Graham and walked west. Xavi’s mother, a Puerto Rican woman who has lived most of her life in the city, but hasn’t visited the area in a while, remembered Graham Avenue for its many “Spanish” restaurants and vibrant Puerto Rican community. What Xavi and I encountered was very different. Walking west from Grand Avenue, we noticed a predominately residential series of blocks,  that got more commercial as we reached Flushing Avenue. The visible evidence of a Puerto Rican presence on Graham was limited to the street sign that declared it “Avenue of Puerto Rico” and a beautiful mural on one of the side-streets (pictured above). We didn’t find any Puerto Rican restaurants, with the exception of a cuchifrito joint, La Isla, by Flushing Ave and as for institutions, there were banners along Graham for Boricua College, although we never actually found the campus. 

Jan 6
Walking Along Graham Avenue

"Let it die a natural death…"


Lucila Rodríguez (my mother)

Jan 2
An artsy photograph shot and edited by my talented cousin Irmali. Picture of me taken on New Year’s Eve 2011 in yes, the Bronx.
Jan 2

An artsy photograph shot and edited by my talented cousin Irmali. Picture of me taken on New Year’s Eve 2011 in yes, the Bronx.

New year’s resolutions are pretty played out, or at least the phrase “new year’s resolution” is, but the idea is still noteworthy: the recognition that change is important, that everyone has something they can improve in their life, and taking the time to reflect on what those changes should be.

This year, my dear cousin shared with me a different way of engaging in this process. She told me to come up with a list of what I want to let go of from 2011, and another list of what I want to embrace in 2012. I thought this was even better than creating resolutions, because it’s a more critical reflection of what holds us back, which can play a big role in our ability to reach the goals we set out for ourselves.

On new year’s eve I, along with my cousin and a friend, wrote down the things we will let go of in 2011 and burned the piece of paper we wrote them on as a symbolic gesture, which felt good. I thought it would be cool to share some of what I wrote, as well as what I will be embracing in 2012. I hope you choose to take time for your own reflection….. Letting go of: (1) Unreciprocated love—It can inspire good poetry, but eventually it just sucks out energy better invested elsewhere (2)Self-doubt— I know I’m capable, so why question it continuously (3) Negative feelings towards others— Who the f*%# cares what anyone else is doing, I want to be more concerned about what I’m doing, or not doing for that matter. Embracing: (1) My family— My family is a resource of infinite love, wisdom and joy, so rather than focus on their ability to also really upset me, I’m going to focus on what makes my family incredible (2) My writing— It’s a love/hate relationship, but it’s an important relationship I should not ignore (3) Self-discipline— When I say I need to get out of bed at 7am, it can’t mean 9am. HAPPY 2012!

Jan 2
Un año que viene y otro que se va…..DEUCES 2011!
(Un Asalto Navideño Nuyorican Style) Musicians and community residents perform Puerto Rican Christmas music at Camaradas in El Barrio on 12/28/11.
Dec 30

(Un Asalto Navideño Nuyorican Style) Musicians and community residents perform Puerto Rican Christmas music at Camaradas in El Barrio on 12/28/11.


Right after being hypnotized by Biggie Smalls, rhythmically island-hopping from Puerto Rico, to the Dominican Republic and Jamaica via the sounds of salsa, merengue, and dancehall reggae, the night was still young. I was with a friend at Camaradas in El Barrio on Wednesday night. After enjoying a good couple of hours of dancing, we decided to head out, but at the door we saw about ten musicians, some I recognized as members of Alma Moyo (a New York Afro-Puerto Rican music group),with panderetas in hand, getting ready to bring an urban jibaro version of la parranda to Camaradas. This Puerto Rican holiday tradition, which I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of in New York and Chicago, looks a little different in diasporic Puerto Rican communities, in which people usually travel from business-to-business performing Puerto Rican Christmas music, while on the island the “carolers” travel from home-to-home. (If anyone knows of any place in the U.S. where parrandas travel from home to home, please share your experience). My friend and I stayed for the parranda, reveling this special and rare moment, as we sang along to some of the more familiar songs, like “La Luz” and clapping along to the unfamiliar songs. As I thought about the evening’s sequence of events, I recognized how together they reflected the multi-faceted characteristic of my own Nuyorican context. The space itself, Camaradas, a Puerto Rican owned business in El Barrio, a historically Puerto Rican community in which most of my family was raised in and some continue to live in. A neighborhood in flux, which is being heavily gentrified, is loosing Puerto Rican businesses, while gaining Mexican ones. The music of the night, starting with rap, an amalgam of sounds representing the hoods that Puerto Ricans and African Americans shared in the 1970s/80s and continue to share today. Salsa, a music just as much tropical as it is urban, just as much Puerto Rico as it is New York. Merengue, the fast-paced, hip jolting music of our Caribbean neighbors, who influence us culturally on the island, as they do in the diaspora. Dancehall reggae, the music we all enjoyed grindin’ to at house parties and school dances growing up; a music that informs the development of reggaeton through the Dem Bow. And toss in la plena, the music of the Puerto Rican jíbara/o, who used this music as not only a means of celebration, but of a vehicle of story-telling, preserving our historical memory como puertorriqueñ@s so it would never fade away. 

Dec 30
Un Asalto Navideño Nuyorican Style

"No question is stupid. It’s a point of enlightenment."


Lucila Rodríguez (my mother) 

Dec 29