which mask for today?

Her eyes reluctantly opened, a slow easy smile spreading across her face, until she remembered what day it was. Dread began to fill her body, starting with her toes. She sighed and got out of bed. Observing her morning rituals, she embraced the necessity of today’s activities. Sitting in meditation, she tried fruitlessly to quell her apprehension. She was doing it for her son. He had waited a long time to find his happiness and he needed her to be there, and not embarrass him by being ‘too’ anything i.e.. Too loud, too raw, too real, too emotional … and she was often ‘too’-it-all.

Stepping out of the shower, she walked naked the hallway/living room where long, antique oak clothes rack ran the length of the wall outside her bedroom. She surveyed the different suits hanging there. Discomfort filled her belly as she padded over to the chaise and sat down perusing the various suits. One for every occasion, which one should she don. Which one was perfect? Which one allowed the circumstances to unfold the way they wanted them too.

Standing up, she tossed her head, stepping purposely toward the clothing rack, universes, galaxies, and supernovas orbiting and swaying with her hips. Tentatively, she reached her hand toward the rather sedate, monochromatic, persona of middle class, middle aged woman and covering up the splendiferous nature of her true self, she stepped into the dull, proper, uniform, the even, average façade-suit. She felt the light of her authentic being dim, as she zipped up the suit, patting it down in places where it bunched up and wrinkled. I mean why not, she thought, everyone there would be wearing one. It was expected. No-one wanted to see the brilliance of the true being underneath the opaque livery. The empty peg was noticeable in the midst of the four uniforms hanging there. Head to toe wear, dull enough to mute the most wondrous, lit spirits.

She gazed back at the peg resentfully, as she made her way to her door, properly contained, and controlled inside the dismal get up and prepared to fit in.

Sound familiar?



what it felt like

I was lonely, and wanted a hug.

I thought the blonde Puerto Rican boy was so cute. Looking at him made me forget where I was.

I mean I was grateful to Covenant House for the shelter, but they couldn’t stop the pain. He could. Things stopped hurting when we were together.

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I didn’t even want ‘home’ at that point. I’d rather be out there, there was a better chance at getting loved, of being around people that hurt so badly that they couldn’t help but FEEL and CRY. I felt normal and accepted around the kids at Covenant House, They were amazing and I trusted everyone. I was young and very naïve. I hadn’t ever been to a birthday party, not a dance, no sleepovers, no afternoon playdates. I was an only child, and the only two people I was ever around were my parents. I didn’t know anything about the outside world. I didn’t understand that people faked who they were, I had no idea people used each other.

Nope, I was naïve. I adored Laura Ingalls and The Brady Bunch and Shawn Cassidy. I lived on PBS, the only channel I was allowed, which was a blessing and a curse. A blessing because PBS surely expanded my impressionable mind, awesome, curse because I didn’t know shit about the world, and that got very dangerous quickly.

So, there I was, an exposed bundle of needy nerves, trying very hard to be something I was not. I was rocking confidence like nobody’s business.

Yea, it was fake, but mostly effective.

It was our weekend out of covenant house, 2-week limit, then we could come back in as a new intake all over again. We had nowhere to go, it was a small group of us. someone suggested the abandoned Trailways and Greyhound bus depot around a block from Covenant House toward 9th avenue.

Kids draped across a few seats, we had a bathroom in the back, it was warm. Good shit.

The next day, coming back from getting cigarettes, we went into the bus station, no one was there. It was just him and I.

We were kissing… going fast. I got nervous when his hand went down my pants.

I was a virgin.

I was sitting in a double seat with him, side by side… one thing led to another and I was trying to push him off of me. I couldn’t breathe, I got scared. He didn’t listen.

I went numb and was brought back to awareness by pain. I still had time.

More pain, burning hotter, feeling as though my skin was being ripped apart. I knew something was ripping inside of me. Excruciating pain, is this what love is? Is this all that life has? I left to get away from pain.

I trusted him.

I had thought that people hurting each other was normal. I don’t remember why, but then he started hitting me, and wouldn’t stop. Eventually I pretended to pass out. I was lying on the floor of a dirty greyhound bus, I can’t even for the life of me remember how I got on the floor, I was in shock. I pretended to be unconscious as he pretended to be concerned.

As I was opening up my eyes he started hitting me again. I don’t remember how, but we were outside. I picked up a coke bottle and broke it in half on the light post next to the deserted bus in an abandoned bus on the block of the runaway shelter. I couldn’t cut him, I couldn’t hurt other people, I thought the street was emotionally safer than home.

I cut myself, he had stopped hitting me as I waved that bottle around. Fifteen times across my wrist, I don’t think I wanted to die, I’m pretty sure I didn’t, but I wanted him to stop hitting me, so I cut myself.

It gets pretty hazy after that, I remember him kind of dragging me to the Port Authority Youth Division. There was a man there. His name was Police Officer Joseph Gonzalez. Both he and Covenant house saved my life out there. He had a heart for kids, and treated me like his own. I didn’t cry while writing through any of this until I got to this part.

Willie got me to Gonzi (that’s what I called him), and just left, he just left me there like crumpled garbage. Gonzie took me to Bellevue and sat with me. I said nothing. They transferred me to Elmhurst General Hospital in Queens, NY. He stayed with me there. I still said nothing. I should have asked him if he had to. Was it his job or did he really care? I think he really cared.

They admitted me into the B10 ward where I stayed for two weeks. My aunt had been in that same unit a few years before me, our bond was so deep.

I was in Elmhurst General Hospital for two weeks, in a room by myself.

With no voice, I couldn’t say anything, I’d open my mouth but nothing would come out. They released me two weeks later, for Family Court, to get placed in another group or foster home. I had lost my voice that day in the bus depot.

I thought it was my fault. Over the years that followed I thought that was love meant.

Then, I learned that it was never my fault and NO ONE deserves that.

There is nothing that the darkness loves more than to grow and fester in silence brought on by shame and blame. I am shining light on my dark facets. I believe if each of us do that, we understand that we were not at fault, it was something that happened to US, then we can shift the collective from darkness to light.

It’s my honor to go first.


I’m learning exponentially more

Humbly thriving like never before

Open, awake, blossoming with love

source shining deeply within everyone

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They may not know it

They may not see

That we are all connected

Me plus you is the universal WE


The gift of this trip is many and deep

To unite our light is no little thing

To shine in our divinity, loving with ease

Gifts of vulnerability noticeably seen


I know we signed that agreement

What seems like a million eons ago

Confident in what our souls needed to grow….


My shoulders relaxed, deep breaths in the now

I welcome the fruits of the impending how’s

Each students and teachers in this magnificent land

We rise higher and brighter when we shine hand in hand.

meant to be here – tiny dancer

Reaching out with her fingertips, she softly touched the face of the free-spirited young child she used to  be oh so long ago.  Observed her dancing, twirling sinuously around the room, her mother’s borrowed mantillas draped around her little shoulders or knotted over a hip. She had felt such freedom and hope in the power of love as she danced. 

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Blinking, she returned to the present and wondered when she had lost the audacity to be herself. She lovingly looked once more at the dancing tiny goddess she had been, residing now only in her mind’s eye and lit another cigarette staring out of the window and the gloom of a city that had, like her, lost its light (Shaharazade, 2017).


Shaharazade, S. (2017). Meant to be Here (1st ed.). New York.


obsidian gifts

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there was something to this

this aloneness

not loneliness

but aloneness

there were no obstacles

to the passion running


in her veins

for she was

a raw and tender soul

always perceived as a weakness

but she knew…

yes, she knew

that no matter

how she described

hell’s terrain

time in the abyss

no one would understand

what she had conquered

that she had climbed out

the wounds were closing now

remnants barely visible

everything was new

existence a miracle

nothing left of the mundane

nothing without value remained

she would never be the same

and she was grateful. 

torn away

she stood… legs wide apart with one foot slightly in front of the other, leaning forward, courageously braced…   the tornado picked up speed … closer it came.  the urge turn and run surged over her senses, but she didn’t contract, she didn’t resist, she stood her ground, superhero stance as the tornado whipped around her, ripping … tearing…  shredding… destroying… cleansing…

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left kneeling upon the ground, bruised and bloody, she lifted her head and surveyed the annihilation of all that she had known… so much had been torn away… very little remained…


what was left was hers and she reveled in the knowledge of that.   

meant to be here – outcast

I have always preferred that if I had to be hurt, it would be at the hand of strangers and not those who were ‘supposed’ to love me.

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I had never fit in anywhere. It was never more apparent than these two years in hell.  I hadn’t belonged in any foster or group home either.  Too dark for white, too white for dark, too emotional, bright, sullen, inquisitive, demonstrative, introspective… Too intelligent for the street, too street for academia.  All I ever wanted was to fit in, to belong, but not even during my dark night of the soul (textbook definition), especially not then, did I fit in except with other outcasts… the misfits. (Shaharazade, 2017).

Shaharazade, S. (2017). Meant to be Here (1st ed.). New York.