A few days ago I was headed to a gig in Florida and had to catch a flight through Atlanta. My flight was delayed (as usual) but what took place on the flight was like a scene from a bad movie. I live tweeted the situation and one of my followers challenged me to write a script about it. Here it is…
I used to believe that I was adopted, I mean, really believe it to my core. I endured some of the(eee) most backwards shit as a kid, and every single transgression had a gross justification. Take this picture for example, there are two very wrong things going on here. That look on my face is not just depair and disdain, it is also deeply rooted in shame.
I used to have this green jumper, that was offensive, not just to those that had to witness it, but to my vag area. I was a tall kid and this outfit just didn’t fit, it was too short and it downright hurt my “Cu-Co” (as grandma would call it). My mother loved this thing for some reason, as you can see her proudly accessorizing it with Mr. Roper’s scarf.
MESSAGE: Don’t do this to your tall kids, it shits on their self-esteem and more importantly, their self-assessment.
Alright, let’s get to the more obvious. Why the hell do I have a haircut that speaks more to the military than it does to the first grade? Simple: some Latin folk believe that cutting your daughter’s hair, makes it grow back stronger. I really wish I had a better reason like I caught lice at school or had finished my chemo, but no, this was my mother following the directions of her elders on how to get my hair in that “Head and Shoulders” commercial condition.
So, what do you get when you dress your 6 year old girl in a Soul Train outfit and give her a buzz cut? A baby Lou Diamond Phillips!
Today is April 18th, it is my grandmother’s birthday, she graduated from this life on August 10, 2013. I dare not tell you her age, I’m afraid she’ll pop me upside my head from the after life. Anyone that really knows me, knows what my grandmother means to me. I learned so many valuable lessons in life from her as she was probably one of the strongest people I ever met. She was my best friend, to make her laugh was always such an accomplishment, she was the funniest person EVER!
My grandmother was from “old school” Puerto Rico living in “new school” America and sometimes there was a clash of realities that helped shape the duality that is me. From packing her pistol to the best baked chicken you have ever had, she was a modern day personification of something you have seen in a Tyler Perry movie in Spanish. Yet without knowing how to read, she could quote any scripture from the Bible, and no one could ever outsmart her when it came to money, she was also one of the smartest people in life I had the pleasure of knowing.
Today as I think about our talks and remember our fights, I am so thankful for the pleasure of knowing, loving and being hers. I look at my hands, catch myself in the mirror and see myself standing as she did, and say to myself, “this woman really lives in me”. Cancer was no match for Aida Maisonet, she was truly a victor, she lived her life that way until the very end. I remember her telling me in 2000 when she first got diagnosed, “You don’t have to come here, I’ll let you know when I’m going to die, doctors don’t dictate a life that is governed by the celestial father” (this was in Spanish of course, I did my best). She died 14 years later, I guess she was right.
I always want to honor her and not exploit her journey for a good Facebook post for the sake of likes and pity, today I want to just acknowledge the love. Despite others pointing out my granmother’s flaws and shortcomings, nothing can ever molest the love that I have for this woman. What she was to me is unique and I probably can’t explain it to others because it dwells in my heart and the beautiful thing is that I don’t have to explain it.
Today I spoke/performed at an event to support a cause against the C word, it felt like the only thing I should have been doing. I met a 2 year old that is a Cancer survivor and her teenage cousin, also a survivor, and heard their stories of courage and triumph. It is great to make people laugh, it is healing, it was my priviledge to participate and to just be in the presence of these amazing spirits.
So here’s to you AIDA MAISONET, thank you for being mine and loving me in a way that only we understood, and yes I wore my yellow!
I recently went into a couple of TV network and production company meetings to discuss my television goals and I gotta tell you, these meetings can really rip at your inner core and make you feel like you just fell out of a dumpster. I digress, there is a point to this fulmination.
I was told by a woman, that I needed to decide who I was going to be on television. She said, “You can be the fat girl or the skinny one, but there is no room for medium on television honey.” She boasted of her extensive television knowledge and assured me that “This is just the reality, Dear”.
Then I said to myself, no wonder television sucks nowadays and so many TV shows fail, they’re writing the shows for themselves and about themselves, with no regard for the people that actually watch it.
Two things I must touch upon and I will let you get on with your day.
I am so thankful for being a stand up comedian that tours, I have the opportunity to “first hand” talk to those people that actually watch television and support it. And I will tell you Dr. Hollywood, most women are medium and they are beautiful; their foreheads move, they have meat on their bones and they radiate with joy. I wish I could tell you that television is a reflection of the hungry, duck faced figurines you keep pushing sporting a $3000 bag and refined mutt you call a designer dog, but that is not the case. You keep missing them, the women that go to work every day, take care of their own children, cook at home and actually like their lives. The ones that haven’t been a size 2 since they were 12, are absolutely healthy that haven’t been on cleanse for the last six years.
There is something to this, how is television to tell the story of the average person when they are being represented by people that are fake! I”ll say it again, fake. Fake and afraid to grow older, gain weight, get wrinkles, have in-grown toe nails, bad gas, battle with sun spots, have cavaties, sport saddle bags and love handles, showcase their natural skin pigmentation, have their hair fall out and the ongloing list of normal stuff that happens to all people. Medium women are perfect just the way they are and you must stop telling them that they are not, they resent you for it, I resent you for it.
Secondly and lastly, do I really need to get into the destruction of body image you keep pushing upon our young. As someone in recovery from self destructive eating habits, it’s not easy to hear that the balance I’ve have been fighting for since I was 14 is not going to cut it for me to obtain my goals in television. It is most hurtful when it comes from another woman because she is supposed to understand. How destructive does the industry have to be for there to be change?
I will end with this, I propose a solution…how about you send your scouts (writers, producers, etc…) out to check out what is happening in the world you seem to think you are capturing on screen. Think about the shows that are successful and why they are, most of the times is because people can look at those characters and say, “That’s my uncle Joe.”, “This happened to me once.”, and “I know that feeling”.
I think all women should be on telelvision, not just the ones that fit into your box, your box isn’t a good reflection of what’s actually out there. PUT SOME MEDIUM WOMEN ON TELEVISION!
Haven’t been writing in a while, I’ve been experiencing some growing pains. Many times they make you feel you are not getting anywhere because “they” are not giving you the accolades. I have had to seek within myself and really assess what success means to me. I have so many people tell me that I am too radical and militant in my thinking and that perhaps I should tone it down. Then I think about the people that I admire and realize that if they toned it down, I wouldn’t have any heroes.
My manager asked me recently, “What do you stand for? What is your message?”. I had to sit down and really think about this, because no one had ever asked me this before. I started to watch my videos and look over my sets and realized that I am more than a single mom, more than a woman, more than a Puerto Rican, Latina or whatever else. I am a human being, fighting for values; working to preserve those things that unite us as people and make us stronger.
Some may think it’s corny, but I think it’s kind of cool to believe in doing the right thing.
See you at a show soon!