I feel like this is a week of announcements. I promise it isn’t but this once I had to share.
The podcast is a collaboration between Inprint in Houston and Tintero Projects, a fantastic organization that furthers writers of color in their careers. That organization is a labor of love for my friends Jasminne and Lupe Mendez. They invited me to be a guest co-host this week for Jasminne’s book. Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays and Poems.
Jasminne’s book is scheduled to come out April 30 so it’s in pre-order mode now. I’m reading an advanced copy now, and I can tell you two things 1) Yes, I will be reviewing it. 2) That it’s equally heartbreaking and enlightening at the same time.
Here’s the summary from Arte Publico Press:
For Jasminne Méndez, pericardial effusion and pericarditis are not just an abnormal accumulation of fluid and increased inflammation around the heart. It’s what happens “when you stifle the tears and pain of a miscarriage, infertility and chronic illness for so long that your heart does the crying for you until it begins to drown because its tears have nowhere to go.”
Diagnosed with scleroderma at 22 and lupus just six years later, her life becomes a roller coaster of doctor visits, medical tests and procedures. Staring at EKG results that look like hieroglyphics, she realizes that she doesn’t want to understand them: “The language of a life lived with chronic illness is not something I want to adapt to. I cannot let this hostile vocabulary hijack my story.”
The daughter of Dominican immigrants, Méndez fought for independence against her overly-protective parents, obtaining a full scholarship to college, a dream job after school and a master’s degree shortly thereafter. But the full-time job with medical insurance doesn’t satisfy her urge to write and perform, so she leaves it in search of creative fulfillment. In this stirring collection of personal essays and poetry, Méndez shares her story, writing about encounters with the medical establishment, experiences as an Afro Latina and longing for the life she expected but that eludes her.
I’m reading as much as I can so I can be ready to ask my friend questions…that I don’t know the answer to, which will be interesting since she is my friend. But I’m not worried about that. As I’m reading, it’s as if I’m experiencing her illness with her.
I met Jasminne after her diagnoses and after the brunt of the illnesses claimed her 20s, so it’s been a gift to see the evolution of my friend from that young woman being diagnosed to the badass she is today.
We’ll be recording the episode this week, and it’ll be available on Soundcloud and iTunes. I’ll let you know when it drops.
Warming up my voice,