Baked Cookies
Actual Cookies Baked

Apologies to my readers for this week-late post. 

Dedicated to my colleagues in DTLA who can probably relate and John Leguizamo

I believe I’ve found my kindred spirit in John Leguizamo.

Many fans believe that Leguizamo is Puerto Rican, perhaps because of his second self-written stage performance of Spic-O-Rama in 1993, which won the Drama Desk Award and four CableACE awards, and a lot of us stereo-type Latinos and Hispanics from New York as Puerto Rican, mostly because of Spike Lee’s, Do the Right Thing, and because of the fact that many Puerto Ricans (and Cubans) frequent the East Coast more than the other Latinos and Hispanics (side note: my old-fashioned, old-school, single until her death, from the Italian First Ward of Newark, New Jersey, Aunt Filomina once asked, with confidence in her voice, if my Mexican fiancé, here on the West Coast, was Puerto Rican, because that’s all she knew in her limited world; God rest her soul), but Leguizamo is from Columbia.

I already knew that I absolutely love John Leguizamo’s work and I’ve been a fan of his since his stage performance, Mambo Mouth in 1991. I honestly never paid too much attention to Leguizamo’s earlier work before Mambo Mouth and I’ve never been a fanatic of anyone. His performance in Luhrmann’s 1996 production of Romeo & Juliet as Tybalt made Leguizamo one of my top five favorite performers. And as an English Language Arts teacher of cinema and Humanities in the performing arts, his appearance in The Bronze Screen documentary of Latino and Hispanic performers sealed my feelings of Leguizamo’s sincerity of his craft.

But not until now did I ever connect with a person with whom I have no personal knowledge or dealings so much. I knew that I wanted to see John Leguizamo’s latest HBO-filmed stage performance, John Leguizamo’s Ghetto Klown, and I set my reminder and DVR for Saturday night’s eight o’clock night premier. I watched it twice in a row. I identified. I wanted to reach into the television screen and yell at John Leguizamo, “How do you know?!? How do you know about me?!?” I began to realize that maybe, just maybe, this is what I’ve been searching for all this time in my quest for motivation, inspiration, and reasons that I couldn’t write my next post. This is it.

Last week I was in a deep depression. The week ended in the passing of a dear and good friend and colleague – suddenly, without notice, she has a brain tumor, emergency brain surgery, and never wakes up. What made me believe that my friend would come out of her coma if I just visited her and spoke to her like we always have? What made me believe that placing a beautiful rosary in her hand and massaging her head would wake her? What made me believe in a miracle? After I visited her and seeing all of the support of friends and family and the hope in her mother’s eyes, I thought for sure that our Amy would pull this one off. The next day, Amy passed at 4:43PM. How could I have been so naïve and so simple-minded and really believe that my prayers would pull her through? This incident topped off my depression like no other could. It sounds incredibly selfish, I know. I’m not one to wallow in self-pity, or one to put my depression above tragedies. Usually, I put on the face and wear the personality of a happy-go-lucky, I-don’t-give-a-crap, jokes-about-everything, f-you gal who can find humor in the most uncomfortable situations. But when I’m home alone in my empty nest, I withdraw. I drink a lot of fine spirits (many new cocktails that I really should trademark) and black, strong coffee (I like my coffee black and strong like my soul…). I don’t eat much of anything because I’ve never been a stress-eater like the rest of my family. I am quite the opposite, and if I’m not hungry, I don’t eat. I haven’t been hungry since October 2013 when my life turned around, the stress of everything heightened, took over, and my depression worsened.

I’ve always believed, although it is a self diagnoses, that I am a little, just a bit bi-polar. This belief makes it easier to enjoy myself when I force myself to go socialize or watch comedy on television. For some reason, I still feel guilty when I laugh or enjoy myself with anything or anyone. Of course, this is when my maniac takes over and my energy is so high that I scare myself. I even asked one of my friends if my hyper-activity drains him at all…you know, like how after watching John Leguizamo and his awesome energy sometimes drain you?

Thrice in John Leguizamo’s Ghetto Klown, Leguizamo refers to his depression and what happens to him when he becomes depressed:

…and when I’m depressed, Oh, my God, I’d sleep too much, then I’d drink too much coffee, and I can’t sleep at all, and then, and then I’d drink too much, and I’d lay around thinking about death…and…I hate myself, and I’m disgusted with myself, and I can’t leave the house ‘cause I repulse myself. But, yo, when I hit bottom, that’s when I write.

THAT’S ME! I shouted out loud…. And then laughed hysterically – mostly at myself.

Today was a normal depressed day. My day was consumed with a pot of coffee – strong and black, water, and home-baked cookies. I was saving cookie baking for when one of my daughters came to visit and hopefully bake with them, but I needed something to dip into my coffee. I’m not hungry, though, but I wanted cookies. Please don’t ask me to explain. It is what it is. So, I started mixing…then I ate half the batter while the oven pre-heated. (Don’t judge. You do it, too.) Next I grabbed the baking sheet that was in the oven and began to drop the batter onto the sheet. “Ooooh, these are gonna be good with this coffee….” I thought to myself.

“Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!” Eight minutes later, first batch is done. I pull out another baking sheet to drop another batch of dough on it. The first cookie batch is cooled a bit and I grab one to eat and dunk into my Marines decorated coffee mug…. Oh. My. Gawd. Disgusting. These taste like…like…like…umm…like…FISH (as I eat the entire cookie)! Wait. What?!? Fish? Why fish? Oh, yeah! This is the cookie sheet that I decided – a long time ago – to make my “fish only” baking sheet. Now, one would ask, “How can you forget that?” (And I know some of you are thinking, “Why a “fish only” baking sheet,” but that’s not relevant right now.) And that’s a fair question. But being a vegetarian; moreover, someone who rarely cooks, let alone bake, I rarely eat fish, and the only fish I eat is beer battered fish. I know, it figures, right?

So, now I have a batch of fishy cookies nicely placed on a dish ready for another victim. Yeah, when I forgive myself for the waste, I will toss them in the trash. But for now, they sit there to remind that I need to laugh at myself; I need to snap out of this depression; I need to write; hence, this piece I’m posting this evening.

Thank you, Mr. John Leguizamo, for the motivation. Thank you for the identity crisis revelation. Thank you for being a “Ghetto Klown.” I can’t claim the term, “ghetto,” but I certainly can, and will, claim, as one of my new titles, “Klown.” If you find yourself using a baking sheet that you’ve baked fish on to bake cookies, check yourself: You may be depressed.