Tag Archives: transition

Spanglish: A Poem about Identity

Last weekend, I was invited to recite a poem at two different events: the first was a Peace Corps poetry jam hosted by the Oiste volunteer magazine team; the second was the annual poetry and music exhibition in Pradomar, commemorating Julio Flórez, a famous local poet.

I wrote a poem about my experience with language acquisition, in which I have reached a point where the two syntaxes, cultures and, ultimately, identities meet, in a single, confusing mindset called Spanglish.

My brain speaks Spanglish–half and half, whatever comes out first. And that’s kind of how my concept of self has become–no longer wholly a single culture or perspective, but a mix of two.

I hope you enjoy!

Spanglish video



Yo tengo this thing, sabes

My lips, teeth, tongue

boca, garganta, lungs

They’re all vueltia’o

Running over, under, in and out

And quedan abusa’os

todos agota’os

All combined to one

One tongue

One mixed up, de todita lengua

that no one understands

no one but maybe tu

On one hand, hay

words, ideas,

quid pro quo

Irony, analisis, wit and GO!

Al otro lado, pues

rhythm, rrriccccoooo beats

Sensual, sexy, sweet

cogele suave, amor

One tongue

One mixed up, de todita lengua

not pa’alla ni aca

It’s Spanglish, this vaina!

It’s a viva thing

Two identities a la vez

Dos mundos, one fluidez

Jodaaaa, now what?

Aja, so here we are

que hay que hacer?


Welcome to el nuevo ser
One tongue

One mixed up, de todita lengua


not here, not there

But somehow, everywhere

Places My Running Shoes Have Been

I’ve been moving around a lot the last few years. I seem to pack up my bags every few months. This morning as I showered in my newest house and donned my bright running shoes to head out on my new bike, I thought about all the places I’ve been just during the lifespan of this pair of shoes. Rather, the variety of places I’ve chosen to exercise, jog, do yoga, lift weights, etc. Because over the last few years, exercise has been a welcome constant! To be honest, with all the flying about the world, exercise keeps you grounded (pun intended.)

Back in college (which is receding into the fast far too quickly), I had the absolute privilege of trail running in the needle-carpeted hills around Napa Valley, running loops around the college’s airport. With less time to spare, the women’s dorm had a couple of treadmills downstairs, and one could always find a couple girls and their giant textbooks on the stairmasters. On Thanksgivings, I ran the Turkey Trot along the beach in Oceanside, CA.

I finished my degrees in December 2012, so my running shoes and I went to Washington, DC in January, to start an internship at the US State Department. I still vividly remember the frozen brutality of “DC’s warmest winter in years.” Every morning, I would cry at the open-air metro station because I couldn’t feel my fingers and I didn’t have the right kind of coat and the train was late, again.

I started doing P90x in my little room in the apartment, just so my blood would start circulating. In the evenings, I would also jog around the monuments, from the Lincoln Memorial down the Mall to the Capitol, then double through Chinatown to pass the White House.

Then came the swamp summer, and P90x moved to earlier in the morning or later in the evening. I started going to free yoga across the street from the gelato shop after my other internship finished in the evenings. Then, Groupon ran a one-month pass to the swanky Washington Sports Club, so I spoiled myself with weight rooms until the weather niced up enough to jog from my gelato shop job to Rock Creek Park and ride my Craigslist bike to the grocery store.

Then I left for the land of eternal swamp summer! When my Peace Corps cohort arrived in Barranquilla, Colombia, we were unprepared for the realities of tropical South America! Here, you don’t dare exercise outside at the same time as the sun, which means that in my first house, we hit the park at 5 am for pre-dawn jogging. Sweat doesn’t mean you are working hard; it just means you’re out of bed. During training, one of the other volunteers started a great weekly yoga session, too, which gave us a chance to bond in spandex.

Here in Puerto Colombia, I am blessed with a beach and a gym, finally.  For 75 cents, I can get a full workout with rusty-but-functional machines and well-used benches. There’s a roomful of overly-fit teen boys and pretty girls with brand new kicks on the elliptical, just like home.

My new house is farther from the gym but closer to the beach, so I’ll take the extra workout to bike to the gym via the beach…

And so here my running shoes and I continue, covering miles and kilometers in various locales, unpacking, running up and down the stairs to my new room, wandering my little community. Where will we go next?

…Well, now that I write this blog, I realize that this particular pair of running shoes has more than its recommended mileage, so maybe the next place we’re running is straight to the Nike store!



(photocredit: the fitpotato.com…I only wish I had all these pretty shoes!)