One: I’d like people to stop acting like they’re saying a bad word when they ask me if I’m “…Mexican?”
Two: I am Mexican. Half Mexican. Enough. Enough? I worry about that too much.
Three: No hay ninguna bebida en el mundo que me consuela, me abraza, me hace sonreír como el atole de bolas de mi abuelita.
Three point five: There is no drink in the world that comforts me, hugs me, makes me smile like my abuelita’s atole de bolas.
Four: The first eighteen years of my life were spent in El Paso, Texas, the safest city in the US.
Five: Ciudad Juarez is El Paso’s sister city and neighbor. It is sometimes affectionately called J-Town. It is less affectionately called the murder capital of the world.
Six: I argue for the US legalization of marijuana. There are a few reasons I’ve never smoked weed, and Mexico is one of them.
Seven: I couldn’t sleep when I found out my uncle was approached on the street in his home of Acapulco and marched away from his car at gunpoint. There is nothing more infuriating than the feeling of complete helplessness that distance offers.
Eight: Mexico, me duele verte tan malentendida y odiada. Y como me duele no entenderte. La gente quien te entiende más que yo no siempre hablan de ti con amor. Sé que te aman, pero es un amor doloroso y quizas inescapable. Como dueles, Mexico. Como dueles en las bocas de tus hijos y hijas.
Nine: There are some things I know I will never be able to translate.
Ten: I know my tongue will never dance around the letter ‘R’ like my mother’s, my abuelita’s, my cousins’. But I keep trying. I don’t know how to sing with you, Mexico, but it hurts not to try.
Eleven: I get a Google Alert for “US-Mexico” news every day, and the headlines range from boring to simple, inspiring to painful. This month is the third time in my life I’ve ached over a specific name in a headline. I always wonder what there is to say. Forgive Mexico? Or: Mexico, forgive?
Twelve: Como podemos amarte, Mexico, ¿si matas a tus hijos, tus amantes? Y al mismo tiempo, sé que tu también mueres y vives con cada uno de ellos. ¿Te amamos? ¿Te odiamos? ¿Te dejamos? Dolemos, eso es claro.
Twelve point five: Even now, when something hurts, I whisper to myself when nobody else is around. Words my mother taught me. Sana, sana, colita de rana. Si no sana hoy, sanará mañana. It helps, like a parental kiss on a skinned elbow.
Thirteen: I went to a semifinal round of the National Poetry Slam in Boston last summer. A New Mexico slam team performed a poem about crossing the border that made me break down in tears in a YMCA auditorium in Central Square. They got last place in the round and I looked online but I never could track down the poem.
Fourteen: I know my voice isn’t enough. I know I’m not enough. But if I don’t speak, I’ll lose my voice. If I lose my voice, who will take over?
Fifteen: Te quiero, Mexico, aunque no te entiendo. Sé que no soy la unica.