RE: Post Pandemic Languishing

Art by Manshen Lo for The New York Times

I recently read and loved this piece from Adam Grant for The New York Times that defined our collective mood post (undefinable stage) pandemic we’re currently in as “languishing.”

It’s basically the purgatory region between that exists somewhere between depression and contentment. It is burnout adjacent, but somehow you’re still functioning. It’s the foggy brain, the lack of emotion, the lack of direction, it’s the collective meh feeling that I can’t shale.

Most of my days are filled with a list of tasks or toddler-related activities, I’m busy, I’m doing things. Yet, I feel like I’m floating and I am struggling to focus. I have some hope, but that hope hasn’t evolved into contentment or excitement.

It’s the in-between. I have a page that lists COVID vaccine numbers by state, and each day I refresh this page to see the number go up. At some point the numbers will get so high, we move past languishing to just “normal” stress?

It’s all too much, yet too blurry to really think about. But in the meantime I’m grateful to read that I’m not alone. Naming that gnawing lack of focus helps give it some direction as we continue to wait until we slowly emerge from this moment, to the next moment that won’t be perfect but will hopefully have some joy.


Quarantine malaise: Day 211

About twenty times during the last seven months, I’ve thought about writing this. This being an account of what quarantine has felt like. Something for me to read in a year, and hopefully revel in the weirdness of it all. That is, if we’re out of this in a year.

For the last seven months, my home has turned from a place where we rested, ate and slept to a workplace, a daycare, an office….and a home. It’s a full house. Four adults, one toddler. It’s been a lot. A lot of bodies, but also a lot of emotions under one roof.

It’s been eye-opening, heartbreaking, illuminating, wonderful and awful. It’s brought me closer to the people most important to my life, and also made me want to run far away about 200 different times.

I keep telling anyone who’ll listen that I’ve been feeling like I’m zoomed in on a picture, and I’m so close I have no idea what the picture is supposed to be. I want to zoom out and get that perspective, but I’m stuck.

The worst part of this (it’s really hard to pick one “worst part”) is that not only are we living through this traumatic event together, but we’re also trying to find meaning in a situation that has no solution. There’s no easy narrative or endpoint, but we’re all trying to write that story.

This story has no ending, and it’s hard to tell if we’re in the middle or the beginning. So the only thing to do is lean into the cliches, take it moment by moment and get comfortable with not having a plan.

I hope when I read this in a year, or ten, I have gained that perspective. I hope we’ve all made sense of what the hell this moment is, and we can appreciate the fact that we lived through it.


Gentrification Guilt


The tall trees lining each side of the street cast a cool shadow on everything as we drive down the busiest street in our clean suburban town. Each time we make this drive, my mom makes the same comment as she looks out the window.

“Me encanta los arboles.”

She loves the trees, the well-kept streets, and the paved walkways.

I can imagine these well-lit streets they now drive every day are a stark contrast to the streets my parents grew up in. My parents grew up in a small town in a small country. They’ve called Los Angeles home for the last thirty years, but a large part of their identity is still rooted in that small town miles away in El Salvador.

Over thirty years ago, my parents were new to this country and landed in neighborhoods full of faces and stories much like their own. Neighborhoods that were, and for the most part are, mostly Latino.

As my parents tell it, moving out of that neighborhood became a prime focus for them. Saving enough money to raise their family, my brother and me, somewhere else. Their version of the American dream was one day buying a home outside of these neighborhoods they first called home.

For the last fifteen years, they’ve lived in a quiet suburban town. The type of place where people walk their dog late at night and jog early in the morning with no fear of who’s around the corner.

The pride that washes over my parents face when they talk about their suburban home is palpable. Moving out of those neighborhoods was an accomplishment. These are the same neighborhoods that so many people are trying to keep Latino by fighting the looming effects of gentrification.

There’s a part of me that feels a tinge of shame when they talk about moving out like it was their greatest escape and highest accomplishment.

But my parents’ identity as Latinos doesn’t rely on their zip code. It’s something they wear regardless of what they say or what they wear.

The perception of my identity relies on the narrative that surrounds Latinos. The way we dress, the way we talk, the neighborhoods we call home.

Somehow calling the suburbs home stains your Latino cred. As if, we can only exist as the truest version of ourselves when surrounded by other brown faces.

It’s the neverending push and pull of being a hyphenate-American. Having to defend and wear our pride with intent to remind people here and there that we’re aware we’re American plus a little something more.


Redefining Roles


The first issue with being a writer is being comfortable with calling yourself a writer. Something about that declaration instantly makes me feel like a fraud as if there is a word count minimum that you have to hit in a day…a week…a month to be able to call yourself a writer.

I’ve worked almost a decade working as some sort of marketing writer/editor/content creator/marketer and yet it still makes me feel uncomfortable calling myself a writer.

Now that I’m taking on another title – Julian’s mom – I’m learning to define the different roles I play in my life. This includes writer. Like everything else, it’s an evolving title that changes every other day.

But I’m learning to embrace it and seek it out.

A few weeks ago, I pitched a story to Fierce by Mitu – and they accepted it, and they’ve published my story – all about my journey to becoming a stay-at-home mama.

The whole process has me feeling encouraged and (for the time being) more comfortable with calling myself a writer.

Read the thing I wrote here!




6 Weeks In

The worst part of being a new parent beside the lack of sleep is that all those cliches you hear people say are true.

“It’ll be the hardest few weeks of your life but nothing will compare to the feeling of seeing your baby for the first time.”

Nothing will ever compare to seeing Julian’s face for the first time. After many, many, many hours of labor, it felt like a dream…completely surreal. Even though I was covered in sweat and blood, I never felt stronger and more capable. Bringing him into this world is my highest accomplishment.

In the last six weeks, I’ve been the happiest I’ve ever been watching my son’s eyes light up as he slowly discovers new things every day. But I’ve also been the saddest, at 3 in the morning crying because my body isn’t cooperating and nothing seems to soothe him.

I’m slowly, barely, sort of starting to feel a little like myself. My body isn’t (as) sore and I’m adjusting to living life on very little sleep (coffee helps). But what they say is true, it’s all worth it.

Here’s to the next few weeks, and the next few months, and forever after that. Here’s to the most beautiful boy I know.



Estas Historias


My home and comfort have been built around painful recollections of guerilla warfare.

I’ve heard these stories all my life – missing people, blood on the kitchen floor, rushing past hung bodies as you walk to school.

These stories are told over breakfast and in between drinks. Cushioned with laughter, saddled with sadness, and said with forced smiles and cold stares. All said in the same accent, in the same language that reminds me of home.

Living miles away from these memories, they’re still the building blocks of the two people that make me everything I am. These stories of war and a tiny country torn by war are a part of me.

So as I sit here, four days away from when you’re supposed to make your arrival, I wonder what place they’ll have in your life.

Will you find comfort in these sad stories? Estas historias, will they make you feel at home?

Is there any need for these stories to live on? Maybe they belong in the past so you can build a new identity not built on the foundation of war.

As your mother, I just hope that these stories find a natural place in your upbringing. That each word lands smoothly and fits perfectly in your life.

That estas historias find you when you need them and when you need to feel strong, when you need to feel inspired and when you need to feel grateful.

I hope they serve you, and I hope they ground you. I hope you feel connected to this country you may never visit. I hope you feel connected to this generation that sacrificed everything for you to one day be here and not worry about a soldier standing outside your door.

Estas historias are difficult. They’re heartbreaking, and they’re heavy. They’re heavy with the lives that were lost, but they’re a part of my mother and father, and so they’re a part of your mother, and so I hope they’re a part of you.



Pregnancy, so far

Pregnancy is a 40-week practice in trust, patience, and management of never-ending expectations.

There are the expectations of yourself and your body. Then there are the expectations that everyone else places on you. Expectations of what your body can do, expectations of what you’re capable of, and expectations to express all these feelings in a few short words when everyone asks how you’re doing.

There’s the trust you need to develop in your body. The trust that your body will work to create a healthy human being. The trust that each pain, each ache is all for a purpose. All while your body is working overtime inside, but you don’t have the physical proof of that yet so for now it’s just an unnerving trust that everything you’re feeling inside and out is “right”.

You hear so many stories of how nature, fate and our bodies don’t always work to create the outcome we want. So many women whose path to motherhood is dotted with tragedy. The first weeks of pregnancy were a scary balance of trying to find a middle ground between excitement and caution. What would make me lucky enough to have a different outcome?

It’s patience. Patience as the weeks go by that everything is OK. I’ve known I was pregnant as soon as you can know. So for those 8 weeks after I found out, all I could do was pray and hope and dream that you would keep growing and growing. It’s the most scared I’ve been and the most relieved I’ve been when I heard your heartbeat.

It was the best song I’ve ever heard, and I wish I could hear it all day every day as a constant reminder that you’re OK.

About 18 weeks in, and it’s starting to feel more real as my body starts to round. But emotions and trust and expectations are still a work in progress. I am happy, content, scared, excited, nervous and exhausted. About 20 times a day.

But I know that when I see your face, I’ll know that every doubt, every ache, every fear, every overthought thought, every worry and every emotion was worth it. It will all be worth it to see you soon, baby boy.




My Thoughts on 30

30 in the bay

30 in the bay


It’s been about two months since I’ve turned 30. And in the days leading up to it, you can’t help but say a variation of the same words to yourself and out loud about a hundred times. Shit, I’m 30. The word thirty just sounds so grown up. So adult. And the thing is, there’s a security blanket about being in your 20s, up to the moment you turn 30, there’s this unspoken pass you get because you’re young. You’re on the same team as college students. But once you’re in the 30 club, you’re in the same club as moms….lots of moms and grown up people who understand taxes and pay their bills and own houses.

Of course, 30 is still young and 40 is still young and so is 50 and 60, if you’re doing right. But 30 definitely feels like a turn. A life change. A new decade is a big deal.

But I didn’t have any expectations for the occasion, I didn’t want a crown or a sash or a night of debauchery to prove I was still young. I just wanted to be with the people I loved the most, in hopes that I carry that love, energy and friendship into this new decade.

This decade is going to be a big one with lots of exciting and scary and wonderful and awful experiences. And I’m ready.



general, news notes

I Am My Ancestor’s Wildest Dream



This week was emotionally exhaustive. Donald Trump will be President come January 2017 and if that thought doesn’t make you sad or anxious, then consider yourself privileged. This election was different and felt personal. I went to sleep Tuesday after accepting near-defeat and woke up at 3am to see my fears confirmed. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I was heartbroken.

I cried for the kids that were counting on us to keep their families together and for my loved ones whose fate in this country is uncertain. I cried because even though I know first-hand racism and sexism exist, I wanted to believe that we had come further as a country and that there were statements that we all understood as inflammatory and unacceptable. I cried because as a Latina, as a woman, and as a daughter of immigrants, it was a slap in the face that the majority of this country does not care about my rights.

I had hope that we as Americans had come further. That there were things that a majority of us understood as unacceptable. Xenophobia, sexism, racism. These are ideas that should supersede any political party agenda. And regardless if you know that these isms have always been a part of American politics, the difference here is the blatancy of this to-be presidency. Words matter. They matter to impressionable kids and adults who refuse to engage in critical thinking. The words of Mr.Trump have given every bigot the license to openly express their hateful views.

It’s daunting to think about all the work we still have to do as a nation. But in these troubled times, all I can think to get up every day is to remind myself that I come from a line of strong people. Parents who survived a war. Parents who fled to a new country with nothing. Ancestors who survived colonialism. Strong women who have survived physical and sexual assault. They can fight so I can fight. So I’ll stay mad and to speak up and to be unapologetically brown and be proud and stand up for myself and for anyone else that is threatened.

They can fight so I can fight. Here’s hoping we all stay mad, informed, engaged and alert.