When things aren’t perfect, we forget that they can be.
This year, my whole family couldn’t be together because we couldn’t be together. The individual reasons are important because they all exist — each one of these reasons was big enough to keep us apart. Each of these reasons are to blame for keeping my from one big Christmas under one big tree everyone forgets to compliment due to the gross amount of gifts beneath it. These reasons are what I work against every day I succeed in opening my eyes. The worst part about tough times is that you fail to see it could be worse. & if you do understand it could be worst, it makes you insensitive… which could be worse.
I don’t know what it is about me, but people love me. Especially when they wish they wouldn’t. I’ve heard it attributed to my being an inclusive Aries, but maybe it’s because I love them, first. I hate that feeling, when you walk in a room and you worry what a person thinks of you –so I’ve let that feeling go. Every time I walk in a room I smile. I’m me and happy to be such. You never need to wonder what people think of you, because you probably already know. We see our “flaws” the clearest –the defining factor is if YOU consider it a flaw. The things we think about ourselves are what hinder us most. Once you’ve given up on yourself, you’ve lost. I love me & I don’t give a f*ck how anyone feels about it. & I don’t concern myself with anyone else… so I have no feelings about anyone else. I be chillin.

            There are things we concern ourselves that truly have no effect. For example, what does it matter if someone does/does not like you? Especially if they’re not paying your bills/feeding you/assisting you. I keep coming around the the fact that there are many people who could fall out of my life as quickly as I press ignore on my phone.  For some, a relationship is simply having something to do with you. “Love” is sending a hello message when they get bored. In reality, people just want you to waste your time chasing them. People what to be wanted but what benefit is that? In my opinion, people have become so emotionally dependent on one another, it inhibits our grown as individuals. It’s as if the opinions people have of you can feed or bury you. Not only do we place too much importance on what people think of us, but people tend to think that their opinions of others matter. You don’t have as much of an effect on the lives of others as you might think. You never will. It is us who allow others to affect what we think. All of a sudden everyone’s Christmas is on instagram, now we can compare it to others. You can easily see who spent the most money, but who gave the most love?

     All of a sudden, everyone is a therapist. I’m not. I’m not qualified. I’m not certified. Had a conversation with my cousin about how, in this country and in these times, you need some sort of certification to prove you to be who you are –you can’t just be. Granted, you shouldn’t go under the knife with anyone who calls themselves a surgeon, but in other areas of life, people can be what they want to be. They might not be good. They might not be the best, but they are allowed to be if they want to be. Speaking of, I just signed up for my second performance with the “Mic on Fire” event. As I do for most events, I made my own flyer with my name plastered all over it (posted here for your enjoyment). I do this, partially, because I didn’t enjoy the original flyer and because I deserve to headline. I’m not a superstar yet, but it’s in me. I’ve already taken my throne so it’ll be no surprise when the day comes. “I’m scared,” I told Carl. “You’re not the type to really have that emotion of fear,” he responded. “I’d be scared with the bungee cord attached to me, but I’ma still jump,” I explained. What people fear to see is that the final decision lies in me. No matter what you say, you can’t change what a person is going to do (especially not me). Someone who is going to make it is going to make it aside from what the next person thinks –negative or positive. I ended up tagging my family in this last flier post, just an an FYI. They always tell me to keep them posted but… I fail to. Partially from embarrassment and partial from having the strength to not need any support from anyone. What people don’t realize is that I’m quiet and (my mother encourages me to be) humble, but I believe in myself. Period. I’ve never needed anyone. Period.

       I’m having a tough time not needing anyone. It effects everything and nothing all at the same time. What people fail to understand about me is, I’m the same girl who grew up with her dog as her best friend. I don’t like talking so much. I was left alone for much of my childhood –not in a bad way. My family mostly minds their own business. My brother (11 years my elder) didn’t want to be bothered with me while my sister (9 years my elder) didn’t want to be bother edwith anyone.  Meanwhile, my mom worked two jobs. I came home from school and made Beef Ramen and hot dogs, with no complaints. When we were broke, I didn’t know a thing about it. It wasn’t until I went to a private high-school that I got on my Kozol and understood the world’s inequalities. It was in these times of my greatest distress when I planned my way out of the darkness. I learned to stand in the middle of the fire and escape unscathed. I learned that all the tears I cried and pain I felt were simply an early mode of ridding my heart of the confused humility called cowardice.

       This Christmas was as perfect as I could’ve wished it to be. Family, food, libations and sour. You see, my Christmases will never be perfect ever again. One thing holidays do is remind you of everything that wrong: Missing gifts and missing people. Some people wait for their sons to get home to say grace, others never get to have their sons come home. Life aint sh*t but it’s everything. “You don’t have any boyfriends, Maggie?” My cousin Didi asked –She held her son, Justin, in her arms but I think she’s the only one with balls. “Not to… you know… but I’ve never known you to have a boyfriend.” I smiled and explained that I’d rather wait until the nonsense is over to get out there. As I explained, “She don’t need a boyfriend,” or something like that came from over my shoulder. There stood my cousin Jay. Face in his lasagna. Repping for my brother, telling him he don’t need that $50. For $50, Jay would have rocked any sucker my brother pointed to and my brother would have pointed to any male within 10 feet of me. It’s never been easy dating me. I’ve never had a boyfriend over for holidays. Won’t change for a while either.

       Truth is, this was a semi-lonely Christmas for me. I didn’t have my mom. I haven’t spoken to my sister. It’s been 6 and a half years and my brother’s smile is still young in my mind. I’m single. I’m childless. I live in my own place with a gorgeous pit-bull puppy. My bills are paid. I drive a 2006 325i BMW. I founded an online magazine 2 years ago and my views have tripled. Realness and fate brought me to ENY where I work with an admirable group of respectable gentlemen for EBFLifestlye.com. I made my mom’s potato salad for the first time.  I popped a bottle of Clicquot with the family, for the first time. I matched my big cousin properly, for the first time (then told my little cousin to make wise decisions). I watched my cousin teach his son to rollerblade, for the first time. I spent Christmas with a real-live princess. I got to practice mommy-ing with one of the strongest women I’ve crossed paths with. I got all my cousins under the same roof for the first time (with me) since August 06. Got to have a brief, much needed talk with another cousin of mine who likes to lock himself away in his dungeon as I like to be in mine. He complimented me on my writing but I forgot to (outwardly) compliment his brilliance; I know from experience that that’s why he prefers the dark. Everyone I spoke to smiled. We loved. The unwrapping of gifts ended earlier than we would have liked it and my cousin Jay had to work that same night, but now that I know where our missing links are, the shit we need to change and where my responsibilities lie, all in all, it was a perfect celebration of love, life and aaaahChristmas.

I’m here. I’m alive. I should be happy, so I am.

            So… as you watch me make moves and see me drip in hubris, please understand that I see my life much clearer than anyone does. The reason I work so hard is because I was meant to. I have so much inspiration, encouragement and love around me that very little can get me down. I’m not impenetrable, though. I’m not Superwoman as some might treat me. I also have a large family. So when “friends” wonder why they fall low on my list or priorities,well… I’m Dominican. When I say someone is my cousin, I mean it or I wouldn’t say it. Family is serious.  I’m also a real, live woman. As a female, it’s tough to say “Money over everything, F*ck N*ggas,” and keep it pushing… but I kind of do. It’s not that I don’t think about it or that it doesn occasionally bother me, but there are other people and factors in my life that matter much more. I know that I can’t save the world. I know that I can’t feed everyone, but I won’t let my human desires stop my from trying. As I told Kiko & Jay at the table on Christmas, I believe in God –for the first time. I’d rather live my daily life in trying to make this a better place. In His name. In His vision. I don’t know exactly what that is, but I know that prayer keeps me going. Loneliness is a mental thing. It’s a demon that lives within us like envy, greed and jealousy. Beware of those emotions. You are not alone. If you want love, take it –but remember to give. Go where it’s waiting for you.  Don’t take the love you have for granted just because you can’t strap it down and call it your own. Love is to be shared & rejoiced. Love and family are one in the same –if it’s not perfect by another’s definition, create your own. If you know the story of Job at all (one of my faves), you’ll note that the worst times are when you are best equipped to show you deserve the best. Stay strong.

Happy Holidays, folks.
Take a moment to reconsider your presents/presence. 
If things aren’t perfect… it may be time to plot your way there.
Buena suerte, 
ELLA