Homepage & Music by Mary Esther Carter
Narrow Streets but Open Minds - Shakira Mejia
On going home - Laura Hetherington
Untitled - Kimberly Celeste
Your Glam Boss - John Beltre
[stunt] - Josh Fulton
untitled - dawrlin mejia
Eat your breakfast kids - Gypsy Den Studio
His Father's Castle, His Mother's Glory - Matt Scheffler
Ozzie - Maddy Baker
Sting of Nostalgia - SWAINEB
Space - Ang
Star - Cyn
OE - Gypsy Den Studio
Strong - Carol Jeong
Love letter to a house - Laura Hetherington
Harleen - Gypsy Den Studio
Untitled - Kimberly Celeste
Nails - Nails by Val
untitled - Mark G
untitled - dawrlin mejia
Hard Restart - Allie Buckner
Pending - Laura Hetherington
Untitled - Kimberly Celeste
untitled - dawrlin mejia
. . .
. . .
The lyrics to 'Smile to me' are very personal. I was very apprehensive about releasing the song on the album but my producer, Mildred Moody, encouraged me to share it and I'm so thankful that he did. 'Smile To Me' is maybe the second or third song that I had ever written. This song is about cultivating boundaries and learning what it means to love without being an enabler. While I had a specific relationship in mind, I think this song can translate to any kind of relationship. While the song is definitely a letting go/goodbye song, it also encompasses this feeling of hope; hope that the relationship with oneself and the other person will be restored.
When I first sat down with my filmmaker collaborator, Michael Robayo, to talk about ideas for the video, he suggested shooting the video in one take. We hadn't done something like that in our previous videos and we thought it would be a fun challenge.
I wanted to create the feeling of vacillating between dissonance and harmony while watching the music video to evoke how I felt when writing those lyrics. To accomplish this feeling, I envisioned a vibrant and uplifting dance to contrast the mood of the music and lyrical content. When my co- choreographer, Giorgia Vitali, and I got together to create the dance, I used a house music track with the same BPM as the song to choreograph to. I did this to ensure that my song would not influence the movement and overall mood of the choreography. Not until the last two rehearsals did we rehearse with the actual song.
Michael and I wanted to film in an industrial/street atmosphere setting. He found this location in the Bronx while on a different shoot. We shot this last summer on a hot and humid Saturday night. In post we worked with VFX to add another unexpected element to the video. Our goal was to have the animation be subtle enough to maintain the focus on the dancers. Our animator, David Gogokhia, stepped in and brought his unique ideas to the table and was an excellent collaborator.
What was unintentional and a wonderful surprise, was the dream-like quality that the video possesses. All of the elements that each collaborator contributed, resulted in this beautiful piece of art. I am so proud of what we were able to accomplish and very excited to share it with the world!
Shot in one take:
Directed by: Michael Robayo ( @michaelrobayo )
Mary Esther Carter (@maryesthercarter)
Michael Lubbers (@michaelmilan_)
Giorgia Vitali (@jojoyvita)
Director of Photography:
John J. Sheridan (@nyvideoguy)
Assistant Director: Irwin Rojas (@cinelikeimages)
VFX: David Gogokhia (@iamgogokhia)
A Site B Studio Production (@siteb_studios)
. . .
Narrow Streets but Open Minds
On going home
What they don’t get is that I can’t go home.
There’s nothing left for me there
At home I’m odd, and large, and loud
and slutty and too bold
and something that doesn’t fit
Here I can be large alone
and held by the collective consciousness of the lonely
Here if I am without love,
It’s okay because I am with myself
If I have no family to hold me
I can stretch full and hold myself.
What’s waiting for me at home is a corpse
of the hate I shed
for others, and mostly myself
I’ll die big here before I crawl back into a dead body
and try to make it fit.
Your Glam Boss
ACT I. [ME AND THE MOON]
4 INT. GREENSBORO, NJ. LAZ’S CAR. LATER THAT DAY.
Laz sings along (off-key) to Ariana Grande’s “IN MY HEAD” as he drives with one hand on the steering wheel and the other holding a Haley’s Burger. We hear HONKS from OTHER cars as he swerves down the street.
(out the window)
I promise I’m not usually this
Cue "FAG" by Todrick Hall as we...
5 INT. GREENSBORO HIGH. OVER THE COURSE OF SENIOR YEAR.
Usually I'm a class act. The first
face you see when you walk into the
building and the last before you
leave. Mmm, look at that light beat.
-Laz, rocking a FENTY highlight, does the morning announcements next to BRITTANI (18, a neurotic Barbie). He is clearly a natural in front of the camera.
I was unanimously voted Editor of The
Greensboro Gazette, well almost
unanimously, but readership has
skyrocketed since my historical
-He stands at the head of a conference table, motioning to a very detailed PowerPoint regarding the first issue of the GREENSBORO GAZETTE.
What can I say? I’m a pioneer. A
trendsetter. A fashion icon.
-6-YEAR-OLD LAZ gets a ribbon pinned to his shirt.
-13-YEAR-OLD LAZ poses for his MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED Yearbook photo.
-PRESENT LAZ wears something outrageously stunning as he's handed a crystallized plaque at the end-of-the-year Seniors Banquet.
I’ve even dabbled in acting...
-Laz stars as The Baker in the school’s Spring production of Into the Woods. He’s incredibly mediocre.
END OF MONTAGE
6 INT. HOLLYWOOD STUDIO. FUTURE FANTASY.
By thirty, I would become the youngest
co-anchor of a hit morning radio-show
to be offered his own nationally
syndicated late night program. And I
would be married to Shane, my
endlessly supportive photographer
30-year-old Laz walks onstage before a live studio audience who chants his name in unison. Laz looks over at a beaming Shane in the front row holding a Blasian baby.
7 INT. LAZ’S BEDROOM. BACK TO PRESENT.
Boy, was I fucking wrong.
- Laz jumps passionately to Tyler, The Creator’s “IFHY” that blasts from his speaker.
OPEN WIDE on his room. CLOSE on a shelf of awards. CLOSE on posters of Laz’s idols – Janet Mock, RuPaul, Marsha P. Johnson. CLOSE on an old Polaroid of Laz and Shane at a carnival, mouths stuffed with cotton candy. As the song comes to an end--
GROUP CHAT : *Tyler Perry presents these messy hoes*
[Y'ALL HEAR THE NEW YUNG SAGE RECORD?!
I knew he was family *smirk emoji*]
[Laz pleeeeease LISTEN. *sigh emoji*]
DOM [*3x flame emoji*]
[Laz trust us. You need to hear this
Laz rolls his eyes before turning to the camera--
If you haven’t heard of Yung Sage, get
your head out of your ass, but
basically after his first EP--Vibez
with a 'Z'--rose to critical and
commercial acclaim, he’d been hailed
the black Bob Dylan of our generation.
I've personally never gotten the hype,
but for everyone else I know, he’s
practically a god.
Laz checks Yung Sage’s twitter--
New single “Someday” streaming on all
platforms. Neon Weekend dropping soon.
Laz pulls up his Spotify before playing the song. It
initially starts with a guitar...
Sage's voice lends itself to trap but there are clear folk influences. Laz starts to feel something weird in his chest as the song progresses, absorbing every second of the raw, poignant lyrics. Finally, he GASPS as the OUTRO lyrics reveal this is Yung Sage's coming out record. A long intense beat before Laz plops back on his bed, looking up at the camera--
And that’s where my mild obsession
Laz lays in that same position as NIGHT becomes DAY and DAY becomes NIGHT and NIGHT becomes DAY again...
Eat your breakfast kids
His Father's Castle, His Mother's Glory
“His Father’s Castle, His Mother’s Glory” is a series of photos dedicated to my father who lost both his parents in the past year and a half. On a recent trip to his childhood home, I watched my father contend with decades of unresolved trauma and neglect from his own father, himself a survivor of abuse. Perhaps revisiting his parent’s vacant home was a final way for my dad to reconcile years of rage and pain with the love, tenderness, and forgiveness he has learned to give himself.
I slide inside the backseat in my wool coat without putting the beach towel down first
It’s a two hour drive to the city,
And we’ll come home late,
As this time we’ll have dessert after dinner
Driving slowly back through the hills on the way home
It’s nice to see they still look the same
Company is coming over this weekend
But we don’t need to vacuum
The front hall looks all right the way it is
The carpets only carry a sock
dropped on the way upstairs
A large breakfast is nice for four
Any extra eggs left in the pan we will put in a tiny tupperware
We each pretend to be the one who will reheat them later
Rice keeps falling on the floor
And our sock feet smash it into paste
A hidden walnut in the corner becomes covered in dust
Did you hear a knock on the door?
I’m not sure
We may have gotten another package
For your sister upstairs
Ah yes, come in!
The AC’s around the back
There’s no dog or anything.
Sting of Nostalgia
Work in Progress
~acrylic on board~
11 years old, (She/Hers)
1 and some years old, (She/Hers)
6 years old, (He/His)
What has been the easiest part of parenting during quarantine? The hardest?
Unica: That’s tricky girl. So the easiest I want to say was spending more time with him. The hardest part was honestly trying to keep him entertained because nothing was ever enough for him. And especially being that he’s the only child, girl…It was crazy. You color with him, it’s not enough. You play video games with him, it’s not enough. So the easiest was to have the quarantine with him, but it was still a lot.
Shaniqua: I guess the easiest part is just being home. That’s pretty easy! [laughs] You know what I mean? That’s not hard at all. I mean to be honest, dag, it went back to the time when she was a baby. That's when I spent most of the time with her. You know, in the first three years of her life, and it’s like, now we have all this time together. The hardest part is probably enforcing certain rules because things are so different for her. Example, right now, she’s still up. I’m not going to tell her, “Oh! Put down your phone!” I don’t feel right telling her that because everything is crazy right now. If this is going to make her happy, let her have a little bit of happiness.
Alix: I would say that the hardest and easiest part was the amount of time that I got to spend with my child. I learned a lot from spending every minute and every second with her, but for me, it was a struggle to literally be with her constantly.
Has your attitude towards parenting changed in quarantine i.e. have rules changed, how your child’s day is structured?
U: Good question. Sleeping schedule wise? It’s completely different. Completely different. But it’s starting to get back on track now because he already started school. It’s been a little challenging, but I’ve been getting it done. Trying to get him back to sleep early. Because of quarantine, you can stay up however long you want. But yeah, just trying to get him sleeping more, get him back on track and trying to get him to go to sleep early.
S: Very informal, if that makes sense. They have changed because, like I said earlier, there have been nights that she’s been up. I stay up late! [laughs] Especially since I’ve been home. There’s been times when I’ve been up and Anya has been up with me and it’s been 2 o’clock in the morning. Normally if this wasn’t the case, the pandemic and everything, that definitely wouldn’t be acceptable. Obviously she would have been in school and had things to do and places to go. I could see [staying up late] if she were fourteen or fifteen. At that age staying up till two or three in the morning is more acceptable. She’s only eleven so staying up that late is overdoing it.
A: For sure. It’s so funny with her specifically because she went from being ten months old to a year plus. I think I’ve had to communicate more with my partner [Aliyah's dad]. Be more clear about when I need a little space or I need a little time. We gotta switch it off. As far as her, I’ve always been pretty easy on myself in terms of schedule. I know a lot of parents get really intense about when their kid goes to sleep, when they take a nap. To me, I think if anything, being quarantined with a really young baby/toddler has solidified for me your kid absolutely does not have to go to bed at the same time every night. Read their energy and when they’re tired. But I was here with her, for her, spending every ounce of my energy and time with her for so long I don’t exactly know how specific routines have changed.
Who has been helping you the most in quarantine?
U: I had help from, I forgot what was it, but it was this little thing I signed up for for people to bring you food? During the whole quarantine. They used to come and have somebody drop off food. Literally three times a week. Family-wise at the time I had my boyfriend here. He was such a huge help. He helped us in quarantine, so shout out to him. But when it came down to family, yeah we have family here to talk, but everybody was just so scared to come outside of their house.
S: I would have to say her Dad because he and I are here together. Like I said, I had a lot of fear. Initially and still now. He goes out. I would make a list and he would go get what we need and things like that. I’ve been in contact with my close family and everything. I’ve been checking up on them and they’ve been checking up on me.
A: In quarantine I lived with my sister and Aliyah’s dad and [my sister’s] boyfriend. We’re all supportive in terms of physical proximity–hey if you need a little break I’ll take care of her while you go shower. Now that we've loosened up a bit, my partner’s mom is always with Aliyah. She is wonderful, she makes us food, we all congregate at her house and we’ve all agreed that that’s comfortable for our family. I can never not give her credit. My mom has been supportive from afar and we drove to stay with them for 5 weeks in April/May. I do think that specifically due to COVID, it has been really hard to find space for myself, being with myself, making time for myself, or even my partner and I doing things for ourselves without Aliyah. I think a lot of us have come to realize what matters most and I’m really grateful for my family and everything but I also do feel like I’m missing a little part of freedom and autonomy to spend time with my partner or myself or a crew of girlfriends.
Do you have any quarantine hacks?
U: I want to say teach them very well when it comes to this whole COVID situation because it’s not a joke. During the time I looked up a few things online. I’ve come across these books that are for kids and knowing coronavirus Also, just trying to keep them entertained, playing games with them, making up a game. And also let them know this time is this time and then your time is your time. You got to set boundaries.
S: No I don’t. I don’t. For real, I can’t think of any. I’m just so easy to deal with. Thank God! [laughs] It’s just as we go, we just go.
A: In the beginning I was so hyper aware of how important the outdoors is. I was kind of dying being stuck inside, constantly rearranging my house, trying to create this little space where she can play, that little space. So now, the weather has gotten nicer and I feel more comfortable being outside. If we’re struggling she’s always going to be happier if I can take a walk and bring her to a park, set up a little blanket, and let her have space!
How have you been budgeting in quarantine? What has been a challenge?
U: It was challenging. I managed. Thank god I had a lot of money saved and I always had it saved just in case of emergencies. Plus with the whole government and unemployment–I received that very late. Because when we lost our jobs, what, in March? I wasn’t receiving any type of unemployment or anything until the end of May. It was so crazy, you know, everyone was trying to call unemployment and nobody could get ahold of them. You email them and no one emails you back. Everybody called a hundred times. Then one day I was so lucky because my best friend was here and she was on the phone with them and she got ahold of them in the morning. So she asked them, “Hey, my sister has a question, is it possible that you could answer it?” So when I was asking the guy a question he was like, “You know, I know that times are hard right now, I know that things are going on. I’m going to take your case right now on the phone and you’re going to tell me what’s going on.” I got all of that money back. The rent I really don’t, I really feel like they should have cancelled the rent. Even though they said that it was cancelled, at the end of the day we ain’t living for free, you know what I mean? Either y’all are going to make us pay that back or it’s going to come back on our taxes or something. Even when they gave us incentive checks I feel like it’s just going to hit us later on. Look, the end of May I went on unemployment, I got everything back from March, but then in June I went back to work. It was like, hmm. When all of that happened, that’s when me and a few friends we decided this quarantine shit is too much. I’ve been getting anxiety, I had my birthday in quarantine, Jace just spent his birthday in quarantine. We went, “We need a vacation.” We wound up just driving out to Florida.
S: Everything has been ok because I’m not alone. It’s me and Anya’s dad. We both were able to get money. So I would say it hasn’t been that much of a toll on me to be honest. Thank god, I’m grateful it hasn’t. Even getting unemployment and getting that extra money, that was a help. We all feel like we want more but I really can’t complain because I know some people are in really bad situations.
A: So I got furloughed from my job. The bar closed. On good terms they had to let a lot of staff go. At first I was really scared and nervous about that. Then the pandemic unemployment insurance made a huge difference and benefited a lot of people who were not able to switch to working from home. I don’t think it was enough and I still know undocumented people didn’t get the support that they needed. Probably my biggest vice as a bartender would be going out to eat, tipping really well, buying a drink here and there–so I did find myself, luckily, able to save a lot of money in the beginning. I’m 100% team cancel rent. That is a support that could have and could still, if they would just fucking do it, help people who are undocumented, people who maybe didn’t have a job to begin with, and weren’t furloughed, and weren’t able to collect unemployment, or whatever the case is for so many people. I really would like to see some kind of regulation or some kind of stipend or something to go into housing so that people can at least feel assured in these really uncertain times that they have a place to live.
Did you notice changes in yourself during quarantine? In your child? Did you experience phases?
U: We definitely did. Jace definitely did. He still does. With the whole coronavirus, I’m not going to say he’s scared to go outside, but he’s very cautious. He’s, “Mommy, don’t touch that. Mommy, keep your mouth, cover your nose.” Hand sanitizer–he’s very cautious. And when the whole thing was happening, he wouldn’t want to go outside. And if he did, he had to wear his whole spiderman outfit and everything.
S: Oh phases. [laughs] I definitely had phases. For her, no, I feel like everything is pretty consistent with her. I’m happy, because the same changes I’ve been going through, I feel like, she could have experienced them as well. But I’m so happy she’s dealt with it really well. It was ok in the beginning. I got this bike and I started using it and feeling positive. I have all of these vitamins and supplements that I’ve now been using that I wasn’t using before. I’ve been doing research on certain things and finding out information and I started implementing them in my life. It was ok at first. But then, I don’t know, something happened. I just started feeling different. Not well at all. I feel like the world took control of me, like everything happening. I tried so hard to mask it, because I have to. I have to, because I’m a mom.
A: Oh yeah. There was phases where I wasn’t drinking, phases where I was, little spurts of being really into working out, and then spurts of why the fuck am I working out when I don’t leave the house…[Aliyah] definitely kept me from doing too much with electronics which was pretty cool. When you have a one year old, if you decide that you want to be mindful of how much they see you staring at your phone it gets you to do some random shit that I probably wouldn’t have done if I didn’t have a baby and I could just binge watch a Netflix show all day.
How have you been talking about Black Lives Matter with your child? How do you think they’re absorbing the information?
S: We’ve been talking about that a lot, obviously, because it’s really important right now. How have I been talking to her? Just being honest with her, number one. I know it’s scary and so horrible but this is the world we live in. She and I, we watch the news together a lot. It’s no secret what’s happening. She had a lot of questions. My biggest thing is just being honest with her. This is the most time I’ve ever spoke to her about life and what’s happening in the world. There’s definitely been a change from in the beginning–us watching and me talking and giving her all of this information, to now when we’re watching the news and a story may come on and now she’s talking about it. I’m proud of that, I’m happy. I just remember seeing some people out there protesting and they had their children with them. And I mean, hey, like I said, I feel children should be educated on what’s happening. I don’t necessarily agree with children going out there protesting, because as I was explaining to Anya, if she was a teenager, that would probably be more acceptable because she would be better equipped to get out of certain situations. Not even all adults can get out of every situation. But imagine having children out there and something goes wrong. Things go wrong all the time.
U: Honestly, I don’t talk to my son about those things. I feel like he’s a kid and he needs to stay in a kids place. My son is half black. I’ve explained to him before that he’s half black because he asks these questions like, “Why is daddy dark and why are you light?” Because, you know, “Daddy’s African American and he’s dark skinned and I’m light skin.” He’s asking me, “Why am I not like daddy?” And I’m just like, that’s how genes work I guess. I can’t really get into detail with him. You just came out light skinned, but at the end of the day you are half African American and you are half Puerto Rican. But when it comes down to really talk? I don’t know. I don’t feel like I can…I don’t want to keep… You know I’ll tell him, you’re black and be proud of it. But when it comes down to talking to him about everything that’s going on in this world, I don’t know. I haven’t really spoken to him about it. I don’t want to say…I feel like he should know. But I don’t know how to tell him.
A: I have been cognizant of the ways in which systemic racism has been around and been affecting people. I have never not talked about it. We were in Minneapolis when George Floyd was killed. It redirected my attention back to how much I am continuing to talk about black lives matter and how much I am putting energy into actually changing the systems that have been created in this country and worldwide. While I know that Aliyah can’t directly understand these concepts yet, I have watched how much a one year old learns from their environments, learns from the people around them. She doesn’t understand it yet but she…I don't know it’s crazy. It’s going to be an ongoing process. I think it’s important to surround your child from before they even understand with different ideas of what it is to be a family, how people look. But also, not just to paint this image of, “Oh everything is just beautiful and anyone can be who they want to be,” because the reality of it is that that’s just not a world that everyone gets to exist in.
What are some general feelings you had during quarantine?
A: In the beginning, insanely stressed. I think I had a lot of feelings about social responsibility, a lot of feelings of uncertainty about the future, finances, the health of my family, older people in my family. Even when information started to emerge about it being relatively not deadly in most cases for children–thank god. So, I wasn’t necessarily so concerned about her getting it but a lot of unknown. Her abuela lives here so I was afraid to see her, afraid to visit family, and so it definitely felt a bit isolating. And definitely uncertain.
U: Emotional. Sometimes I feel emotional, sometimes I’m happy. Most of the time I’ve been alright. I caught anxiety during this whole quarantine. I was never the type to catch any type of anxiety but during the quarantine I caught so much anxiety. It was crazy, off the wall. It really just sucked.
S: It’s been hard. I have good days and I have bad days too, because it just feels secluded. It seems like a lot of people here in New York are still going out, about their regular lives, and doing lots of things. So sometimes I feel left out because I don’t want to risk myself like that. I mean just August 20th was the first time I went out–to do something random with a friend because I was really stuck in the house. I wasn’t taking chances going out, even with the mask and with the sanitizer and all of that. That’s been hard for me, I feel secluded and left out. And like life is so different right now. I feel constantly afraid. I’m having anxiety, I’m not even going to lie. I feel constantly afraid. That level of fear is crazy.
How have you been executing self care for yourself?
U: Girl, I was going through hell in quarantine. I wasn’t feeling no type of self love. So there was a time I snapped–woke up and I just started trying new things. Doing my hair, doing different things. I’ve been trying to paint my toes, I just wanted to dress up and be in the home, you know what I’m saying? [laughs]
S: I got an exercise bike. I got that probably back in April. I’ve been trying to do better for myself as far as watching what I eat. I’m not on an official diet or anything, but just being home…It’s so different than when I’m on the go, working. A good example is, a lot of the time when I was working I would just get up, shower, get ready, go to work. On my way to work, try to grab a coffee. Then maybe I’ll get to work and I’m starving, and then I’ll eat unhealthy stuff from the vending machine. Being home allowed me to buy healthier options and actually use them, to try different things.
A: To be honest, my experience as a mom has not included all that much self care. [laughs] It is a constant battle and a constant journey. For me, a lot of motherhood has been about making sacrifices and giving up a lot of the ways that I used to show myself love. I try to make time for those things, those spaces, that whatever, but I would say it is still absolutely a work in progress. Hope to get back to you on that one!
What do you love to do in quarantine with your child?
U: Arts and crafts. Have you ever made the little boxes out of sticks? You know, you get the arts and crafts sticks and you glue them and you put them together and make a little box or a picture frame or something? I taught him how to do that and now he’s trying to do that every other week, but I don’t be with it. [laughs]
S: To be honest, just talking to her about life. If not black lives matter, it’s politics. The thing that excites me most is giving her information. What we’ve been discussing the most is black lives matter, protests, politics, being black in America, being a woman, things like that. I find myself constantly having these talks with her as if she’s way older than what she is. I don’t know if that’s positive or negative, but I don’t believe, like I said, in shielding a child, or keeping things from her, or acting like it isn’t what it is. I’m just letting her know straight up this is how it is.
A: I want to say dance. [laughs] But it really probably is. To turn on music, dance, run around the house. Both of us move our bodies. Because I think that that’s essential.
What has been your child’s favorite thing to do? Has it changed in quarantine?
U: Video games. Literally. If he’s not doing work–school work–he’s just now started playing with his toys. Before he had all the video games and stuff he would always, he could be by himself, sit in a corner, play with his toys, have his own imagination set-up.
S: I think her favorite thing to do is play a game called Roblox. She used to do it before, but I guess she’s started doing it way better now. Her friends found a way to do it in a group chat and they do these things on Zoom where they can get together and have a group chat and play at the same time. So, they’ve really gotten creative and I think it’s pretty cool.
A: She loves pretty much any kind of music. She loves to dance. She moved and bopped around a little bit before quarantine, but she definitely has gotten more into dancing. I’ve committed to any time that there’s music playing also dancing with her so that she knows that when music comes on you should just move to it! Also people! There’s this little girl and she’s six and she likes Aliyah a lot. Her mom makes her ask, “can I hold her hand?” I wouldn’t mind adopting to everyday culture and life that we should respect other peoples space and ask if we can touch their hand or hold hands whether there’s a pandemic or not . Aliyah still engages with the kids in the neighborhood.
Were there any firsts in quarantine?
U: We got paid to be home. [laughs] No. Jace was regular. The only first thing that he did, something new, was the virtual learning. My child aIced that. There was a lot of kids I heard about that, they didn’t do good, or there was always something wrong. Always something with the virtual learning.
S: Anya has been learning how to cook. So for the first time she’s been able to cook a full breakfast meal.
A: A ton! She learned to walk, which was a big one, huge. She kind of started saying–she still doesn’t say any string of words but she’s started to say words. She’s just totally changed as a human, half of her life has been COVID. So, that’s been pretty crazy! She has changed a lot from the beginning to now.
What’s been the funniest memory with your child in quarantine?
U: Him learning how to use Tik Tok and doing a few Tik Tok videos. I don’t know what he’s been watching, what he was doing during quarantine, but there’d be times I would be talking to him about it and he would have a smart comment. And I’d be like, “Yo, where are you learning this stuff from?” He’d be like, “Mommy, you’re just talking to me, I’m just telling you the truth,” or something. I’d say, “Ok, no problem.”
S: Right in the midst of COVID I got instagram because I didn’t have it before! A lot of times I come across funny things and Anya likes to laugh and she thinks I’m funny so if I come across something funny that’s appropriate, I will share it with her. So I follow Snoop Dogg right? And I know he’s not that appropriate for her, but he always posts this Asian guy singing numbers or the days of the week, have you ever seen that guy? [laughs] When I first saw that video…I, god. I thought it was so freaking funny. And I shared it with Anya. Whenever I come across a video I’ll be like, “Oh look,” and we’ll sit and watch it and laugh. I know that’s so corny but that’s our little joke.
A: We were all attempting to get fit during quarantine. [laughs] So we have a house full of four adults, an apartment, a small apartment, and a baby! Sometimes there’s a little yoga class happening in the living room, sometimes her dad and my sister’s boyfriend are lifting weights so she definitely observed this behavior and had a couple of really silly nights where she was fitness queen. Doing downward dog, three legged dog, one leg up in the air rolling around, trying to lift the weights–which thank god she can’t lift. Grunting, trying to lift them up.
What advice would you give to other mothers during this time?
Shaniqua: I mean, what advice. [chuckles] They should talk to their children. Don’t try to shield them from the world. Talk to them with honesty and let them know what’s happening. Depending on how old the child is, they’re going to learn it one way or another. That would be my advice, to talk to you children, to give them information, even if it’s negative. It’s better that they hear it from you rather than hear it from the streets or elsewhere.
Alix: I think be easier on yourself, be easy with the routines as I alluded to before. Let them stay up too late sometimes. They’ll sleep in later and you can sleep in too! Don't get too obsessed with the plans and the schedules and just rock out. I think there’s going to be so much that we understand in hindsight about this virus and viruses in general. But I wish that in the beginning someone told me, and I guess maybe people didn’t know and it was right to be so cautious, but that it’s ok to see your family. Yes, keep your circle small, be mindful of who we’re spending time around–or not who but how many people and what the environment is like.
Unica: Like I said, I just hope that they’re keeping them entertained. I want to say don’t let this coronavirus get to you and don’t let it kill you. But live your life as well and have them live they life. Don’t have them stuck at home and always worried and concerned. As long as you are keeping your children safe and protected. Let them go outside, let them be a kid. Wear a mask, bring the hand sanitizer and everything. Just be productive. It’s also ok if you’re in a park and there’s no one around you–to me, when there’s no one around us, I let Jace take his mask off and breath. It’s hard. It's hard. You have to talk to them eventually and let them know what’s going on in this world, but you can’t keep them trapped either. You have to give them a little bit of freedom.
. . .
Love letter to a house
She hid in a garage and cried out, ‘hurt, help’ so he’d listen
We sat crowded on a comforter
Maybe three of us, or four?
Texting him lies
cheek to cheek, like sisters
In a big rich house
Where the walls were cold, and beautiful
So cool in the summer
to run your fingertips and shoulder blades on
Being ugly, and young, and free,
for so many summers was a privilege
He ignored her
so she decided to lie
and the lie was as true as any other thing
as any small thing
said she woke up in a garage
didn’t remember a thing
I saw you grow from a seed
Someone so fragile yet in need
In need of someone to make you feel home
Someone to push you through every storm
But after all you out grew me
You became the person I ever wanted to be...
feeling something small
becoming something bright