Posted by: marilynmendoza | August 15, 2016


Yes, that’s me in Rio at the gymnastic final doing a round off back handspring on the balance beam. Last night I stuffed a ball from the Australian team in beach volleyball and received a pat on my tiny rear by my teammate. Tonight I have to run the 100 meter finals in track and field. I really do—me– against the whole Jamaican team. In reality, I’m a 65-year-old child/woman who struggles with severe arthritis and frequent bouts of madness.

I’m such an Olympics fanatic, I make Leslie Jones appear demure. I walk the balance beam on the brown lines of my ceramic tile floor and the most energetic moves I manage are the fake salutes of the gymnasts at the beginning of their routine and the proud march from apparatus to apparatus or in my case from the couch to the fridge. Yet, in my mind, I’m there with my team. All the teams.

I have a gold medal in make-believe. I used this gift my entire life to escape from my chaotic childhood. It works better than other soothing techniques I’ve tried like eating my weight in potato chips and ice-cream or marrying every man who asked me—all four of them.

Making believe makes sense. I pretend I’m young and forget my aches and pains, I hardly notice when people are mean or hurtful and I live a wonderful life in my mind. And that’s what really counts anyway.

I always wrote stories in my head. I acted out scripts in front of dusty mirrors and while looking at my blurred image in front of dark televisions. I envisioned an exciting life I sometimes thought was real. I still do.

I never belonged anywhere. I was too much of this and not enough of that. My first grade teacher gave out lollipops ever day to the best reader and I accumulated a stash of sweetness, yet it all soured when Mrs. Edwards, who my mother called a sadist, screamed at me for my sloppy penmanship. At least she didn’t put me under her desk, and kick me like she did to the kids who couldn’t understand English.

I don’t know when my anxiety disorder emerged. As a child, everything and everyone scared me. I held many words inside but they rarely emerged. I can’t point to any one incident that pushed me over the edge to mental illness. Brenda Jackson shook her fist at me once, and after that, I hid my eyes under my mother’s arm when we entered Brenda’s side of the housing project. Her eyes promised a fate worse than death. Reading Grimm’s fairy tales nightly probably contributed to that misery.

Yet, parodoxidly I recited poems by heart to my mother’s friends and later on, sang and acted in school plays. As long as I wasn’t myself, I was fine. Or was I? There were days I used food, books and daydreaming to soothe my troubled soul.

But when I stopped caring what other people thought of my less than conventional behavior, I started taking chances and living life on its own terms no matter what. I didn’t care if some people treated me as an outcast. I only needed a few people who got me. And I found a few loyal friends who stood up for me during those hard days that leaving my house or bed proved impossible.


I was ten when the Olympics first aired on television in 1960. That year it was held in Rome, Italy and watching the Soviet Union and other Iron Curtain Countries collect gold medals while leaping, jumping, and belly flopping on the mat held me spellbound. That year, —Abebe Bikila from Ethiopia achieved the first gold medal by a Black African, running barefoot in the marathon. And Cassius Clay who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali won the gold medal in boxing. Perhaps most of all, Rome, itself in its historical splendor showcased the wonders of travel and fame. So, the Caracalla Thermal Baths were used to host the gymnastics events and the Basilica of Maxentius was the backdrop for wrestling. I was hooked.

Even when I was deep into a mean postpartum depression, aggravated by an impending divorce and living part-time in my walk-in closet, I came out for the Olympics. I ordered pizza, cut five rings out of cardboard, and for a while, I forgot my troubles. I cheered for the winners and cried with the losers. I discovered the Olympics rivaled reading, wine, and even Cinnabon for sheer distraction from stress. Yet, people warned me about the dangers of living in a dream world. They were wrong. My imagination and enthusiasm for sports, dancing and writing poetry saved me.

I slowly healed from severe anxiety and lived a full life of parenting, working and, traveling. I wrote a memoir and faced my past with humor and strength. But I never lost my childish awe of spectacles like the Olympics. So, yesterday, while watching gymnastics, I leaped into the air holding a soft medical weight I imagined was a rhythmic gymnastics ball. When I snapped back to reality, I found myself not in Rio, but in my house in Hawaii. I laughed and laughed, not caring I’d pulled a muscle in my leg and sprained my ankle. Nothing hurt because in my mind I was Simone Biles in Rio reaching for that final gold medal.


Posted by: marilynmendoza | June 26, 2016

Diet Disaster

I’m dieting again for the millionth time. I’m eating something called a granola bar. What the eff is granola anyway?  It doesn’t taste like food or a  food that I’d want to eat. I look at the ingredients and it has corn flour and sugar. That can’t be good.  It’s supposed to stop my hypoglycemia when I’m on the go which is not often since I have agoraphobia. I hate these new effing words. Can I just say I get dizzy if I don’t eat for many hours while on the go which is not often because I don’t leave my house?

I hate dieting but it has been the bane of my existence which means a pain in my ass. So why do I do it?  I do it because I don’t want to buy new clothes that I can’t afford or leave my house in order to buy them.

I remember the first time I went on a diet. I was a new mother at eighteen and I carried 150 pounds on my five foot frame before and after giving birth. What! That’s what I said.

I remember the shaming that went on in the labor room. What! Yes, it was 1969 in Brooklyn and the nurses thought we were too much in pain to have a brain.

I remember the head nurse parading a slew of medical professional in my room saying. “Look how big this one is:” This one, what am I, a medical specimen.

“Well, she isn’t as big as the one in room three,  that one is enormous but yes, wow” the younger nurse said.  Wow indeed! Where did you get the license to judge and shame me in front of my roommate who was Chinese and didn’t even look pregnant? She couldn’t understand English and was too preoccupied with her labor to care but still, I felt more pain than my hard labor required. So, after I gave birth, I bought my first diet book.

It was The Stillman diet. For those of you too young to remember that piece of crap diet, It’s basically meat and water, a lot of water; too much water anyone should drink in a day. I ate two meat patties with ketchup twice a day and an ocean of water. I looked forward to that ketchup. I wanted to pour the whole bottle on that meat patty, probably because I was starved for any nutrient whatsoever. I lost five pounds a week, every week. It was amazing. I had to stay in because I was peeing more than the average bear. My boyfriend taught me to say that. I don’t really know how much a bear pee’s but I can guarantee that I peed more.

The bad part of all this and believe me there were a lot of bad parts, is that I became a zealot for this particular diet, and I wasn’t even getting paid by Mr. Stillman or anybody else for the excellent promotion.

I’m persuasive when obsessed and I went to all my friends houses making sure that not one drop of milk would be poured into a coffee at breakfast, nor one vegetable at lunch or heaven forbid a grain of rice eaten at dinner. This is difficult in Puerto Rican households where husbands insist rice and beans are the meal and everything else garnish. I didn’t care. I was on a mission and pretended not to notice the dirty looks I was getting from my friends families. My husband worked all night so I didn’t realize how much trouble I was causing. I’m immune that way.

All of my friends lost weight but inevitably we couldn’t keep it off for long. So then, I found a new diet that promised if I was faithful I could keep that weight off forever, and so it went on and on until I realized diets don’t work unless you either fix what is inside your head and soul, or lose your sense of taste. I guess I haven’t done the later because this granola bar tastes like crap.

Posted by: marilynmendoza | June 21, 2016


As he shuffles in, I sigh, time-worn  Hawaiian hands

Healing my sciatica, when he seems to have more ailments than I

But in one light moment, I’m convinced that I’m mistaken

He leaves the area of pain, after kneading it a bit

And then as if he were one of the navigators of the Hokulea, with only stars as implements.

He manipulates my head, stretching, and pressing every nerve

instinctively knowing that my trouble lies there

I close my eyes and hear our breathing, a duet of sound

As his strong, thick fingers, like the branch of a Koa tree

press like nails of iron against the root of my problem,

Without the need of Enya, I am free as the Nene bird

He slathers and pats down liniments sent to him by the ancient healers of his craft

as if to  coerce the spirit of his ancestors’ gods to heal me.

How did he know it was my head that held the secret to my pain; that the mess was an inside job?

Holistic helper, gently pummeling my scalp, muscle by muscle, I relax

My mind wanders to the Polynesian Voyaging Society, considered by government officials not in the know, to be just an earmark, not just a slim concession to a proud, royal culture, stripped of their land, their language, their hula–Auwe!  Alas!

Yet, I am light as air and in that canoe,  musing or praying that I am with the first Hawaiians

learning that Lomi-Lomi massage is as honorable as voyaging by moonlight

I want to see the island where Uncle Jimmy and his equally talented wife are from

Molokai, the friendly isle, where they told me, the sky is  vast and low

yet closer to Heaven than anywhere else.







Posted by: marilynmendoza | June 2, 2016


Marilyn-Monroe-665x385[1]I was seven years old when Marilyn Monroe died. I remember crying for a week. We shared more than a name, we shared a chaotic childhood and a serious lack of self-worth. I remember bullies taunting me with “There’s the ugly Marilyn Monroe.” That made me hate my name. But I never hated the first Marilyn.

Her real name was Norma Jean Baker. Her mother was institutionalized with severe mental illness. My name is Marilyn Mendoza and my mother was bi-polar or manic-depressive as they called it in the fifties. Norma Jean was brought up in foster homes, where she was sexually abused. This affected her whole life, and in particular her relationships with men. My mother, in her illness was emotionally abusive, especially about my looks and doubtful ability of catching a husband. We had to catch men then, like so much fish. Both Marilyn’s married at sixteen to escape miserable lives. We both threw our first catch back in the dirty ponds where such fish swim.

When I was eight, on one of my mother’s trips to the hospital where she begged for shock treatments, I was sent to my grandmother’s house where no one spoke English. My cousin, jealous of the attention she thought I was getting from my grandmother, left me alone on a lonely street one night to fend for myself. I was traumatized, and lost my way for a long while. Panic attacks and agoraphobia took over my life and forced me to hide inside a closet too afraid to leave my house. I decided to heal, find my voice and survive. Norma Jean changed her name to Marilyn. I changed my name to Maya. We both needed new identities.

I thought if I found love and fame, my life would be perfect. Norma Jean found love and fame but it wasn’t enough to fill the empty spaces that abuse and abandonment had left inside of her. She was beautiful, yet felt stupid and a few days before her death pleaded with a magazine writer not to profile her as “a joke.” People, including my mother, tried to convince me that I was an ugly joke. I refused to believe them. Yet, I searched for love my entire life like Marilyn did, and only when I learned to love myself was I able to save myself. I found the light that always burned deep inside of me, thankfully stronger than a “candle in the wind.” Norma Jean would be ninety years old today. I miss her. I wish she would have learned how to save herself.



Posted by: marilynmendoza | November 28, 2015

You don’t deserve this

Source: You don’t deserve this

Posted by: marilynmendoza | November 28, 2015

You Don’t Deserve This!

There is a new Madison Avenue buzz word that is getting on my last nerve-“You deserve this”  It is all over the television, internet, radio, mail that is circulated, and mostly thrown out. You deserve this new car, ring, spa visit, trip, bigger TV- fill in the blank. You deserve to be in debt.

When I was young I didn’t think I deserved much of anything but I did travel and did a lot of what I wanted despite a severe lack of funds. I won’t go into the planning and conniving that took. I did it to heal from an anxiety disorder. I ran to danger, I ate too much, I married too many men, I went to too many emergency rooms with panic attacks. I finally realized I could heal to a certain extent if I believed I deserved healing.

Now, seeing- you deserve it– used as a trite catch phase to get people to open up their purses seems almost evil. I am living below the poverty level and can say I don’t want or need too much stuff anymore. Stuff can be a burden. Yet, sometimes I open up a brochure that says I deserve a trip around the world and I almost believe it.  But why do I deserve it and how does the writer of that brochure know I deserve it?. Does he know that I helped at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter or have been both hungry and homeless at one time in my life, which I have? But he/she doesn’t know me. I could be a Mother Theresa or fill in the blank of your favorite villain.  I will not say Donald Trump.

What I deserve is my business not Madison Avenue s. I deserve to be happy, kind, free of abuse and have a few more pennies in my pocket than I do now. I do not deserve to be in debt forever, yet I am. And not because I believed I deserved to have more, more and more but because I like to eat  good food, fix my leaking roof and have enough teeth to chew on something a bit meatier than oatmeal or jello.

So, whoever is throwing this deserve crap down our throats, stop it already! I know what I deserve but you don’t. And friends, trust me- you don’t deserve to be hoodwinked.






Posted by: marilynmendoza | September 8, 2015


P1030426I found you in the most unlikely place

on top of a mountain where the clouds obscured you

You were in a fog of uncertainty

I was in acceptance of fog

Yes, I found you in the most unlikely place

You were drowning in a river of unreality

I could save you and place you in my fantasy

Images running through your mind, desiring love of a different kind

I brought you to a land of forgotten dreams

Where it seems that the sky almost touches the sea

Both of us in unlikely places

hurt by likely persons

But that image you sent me of your eyes

reached out to the center of my pain

And I knew I wouldn’t be hurt again

And we took the plunge into the most unlikely place

of turbulent waves of emotions and found peace and love


but rarely lasts

grown up love

Posted by: marilynmendoza | September 5, 2015

I should have been a hippie

I should have been a hippie because I love crystals and stones

And bright colors and rainbows, love and my mind’s already blown

I should have been a hippie but I’m Latina and my clothes had to match

So, I copped- out, wore pant suits and a Timex watch

I should have been a hippie but I was scared of drugs, pills and bad trips

But I had them anyway, even thrown in a ditch

I had a bad trip on acid but it wasn’t my fault

was slipped in a glass of wine taken from a vault

I should have went to Woodstock but I just had a baby and my mother said no

but Janis was there and I loved her so

I could have went to Woodstock, it could have been fun

But I hate mud and crowds of naked people who run

I should have been a hippie when it was the rage

and they went to Marrakech with backpacks and sage

I went to Spain with a trunk; studied Flamenco but I sucked

So I tied a bandana around my head and was a hippie in disguise

Men yelled and followed me so that wasn’t too wise

I could have been a Jewish American Princess with different kinds of strife

But we didn’t move to Queens,my mother was scared of life

So we stayed in the projects and I fought to fit in

as my other half, Latina,  blonde hair and a wide grin

I should have been myself but that took years and a few bottles of gin

I’m a hippie now and do what I want

I ignore the sneers and the bullying taunts

I embrace the life I’ve been given lose or win

I don’t care what other people think

But I tried to wear a dotted shirt and a skirt with a print

After a minute I changed, and here is the hint

I’m Latina not only from my dad, but deep within

And not to match my clothes would be more than a sin

I should have been a hippie and it’s not too late

I’ll be my unique self when I arrive at heavens gate

Posted by: marilynmendoza | August 23, 2015


Posted by: marilynmendoza | August 9, 2014


10340130_10152322570096379_6935274796037324740_n[1]It has become popular in social media to use other people’s quotes and slogans in place of thinking up one of  your own. I have been guilty of this myself; thinking that if I use quotes I wouldn’t have to get into internet arguments. I promised to  keep the quotes simple and not in any way controversial. . Yet, I’ve noticed that it is hard to use a quote that is both passionate and universally agreeable.

My twitter page inserted quote is one of these I think-EVERYTHING YOU’VE EVER WANTED IS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF FEAR

I am fairly sure this quote is not combative but yet I can imagine an argument against wanting everything. I don’t really want everything. I want something but most of all I am trying to say that fear  can hold us back from what we are striving for.

I am not a fan of stuff. We had a recent hurricane scare that sent most people on my island of Oahu in search of water, toilet paper and rice; in that order. I was late to that party and found myself in an rehearsed scuffle for the few small bottles of water left on  a shelf. A  young man at the supermarket on the day of supposed disaster was desperate and  ready for action..

He would take one bottle, and I the other until most of the water was gone. When the last two bottles were left, feeling ashamed yet thirsty I asked him if he wanted the remainder. He said yes. I already had toilet paper at home and couldn’t think of a scenario where the storm would leave me in that desperate a situation where I had to go to Costco and stand in line for hours for well almost anything. And really how much paper or cloth does a person need to wipe one’s behind for a few days?

Back to quotes, I began to question my passion for quotes when a local politician on television used a quote I can’t agree with” Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me..

I have been fooled more than once, more than twice ok, more than a thousand times and I can’t put the  total shame on myself.. Shouldn’t the shame go to the person who commits the offense? It seems like this is victim shaming and I don’t agree with it. It also sounds so immature. Yet this a politician so I can’t expect much can I?

There is also a lot of quotes about war, peace, love, you name it and some of them are quite good. I’m not knocking quotes in the least bit. I think we learn from quotes. “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ― by  Oscar Wilde  is one I like.

I used to like “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”- Eleanor Roosevelt – but it isn’t true for everybody. I felt inferior my entire life and couldn’t seem to not consent to it without a lot of work. However sensible the sentiment is; it does tend to shame the person who can’t shake the feeling of inferiority. It’s not that simple.

Napoleon had a lot of quotes. This is one I don’t agree with Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools.” – Napoleon Bonaparte –  didn’t he end up isolated and defeated on the island of Elba or something? I don’t think he thought that was possible or preferable. However, I used to feel there wasn’t a word like insane or impossible and it did lead me to a lot of wild  adventures so I shouldn’t hate on Napoleon too much.

I recently come upon a quote that reflects my present feelings about the world, my place in it and life in general “.All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.Julian of Norwich was the most important English mystic of the 14th century. I like her optimism. My intent for all is “May we all be well”  Marilyn Maya Mendoza


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