Author Archives: Alysha Kaye Mendez

About Alysha Kaye Mendez

Author of THE WAITING ROOM, available now on Amazon! 9th grade English teacher, tirelessly trying to save the future from their/they're/there catastrophes (it could be ugly). Teaching writing and being a writer at the same time is harder than it sounds. New goal=be both, better.

Just Another Quarantine Love Story

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It’s a bit weird to start dating someone right before the world catches fire and everyone is on lockdown, quarantining with only their most immediate, closest loved ones. Him and I didn’t have anyone—just our dogs. And I guess we could’ve gone the other route—we could’ve just said, “Welp, this was fun for a couple weeks, huh? Maybe I’ll see you when this is all over!” We would’ve texted for a while and then faded away from each other, as many met-on-an-app flings often go. It was a step away or lean in kinda moment and we decided to lean in. Suddenly, someone who had only seen you naked twice is the only human on Earth who you’re allowed to see, touch, hug, kiss.

It’s a lot. And honestly, I’m surprised we haven’t killed each other yet.

He’s pretty content in quarantine. He’s enjoying working from home. He enjoys being home in general—playing video games, watching TV, napping, building model robots. All of his favorite things can be done in his living room. Clearly, we are complete opposites. The only favorite thing of mine that can be done in my living room is reading and writing, but my favorite place to do both of those things is outside, preferably next to a pool or ocean. I’m going certifiably crazy. On edge and pessimistic or desperately needy at all times. I can only sometimes get to sleep and I can only sometimes wake up when I’m supposed to. Waves of emotions constantly pull and tear at me, and the good ones like motivation and gratitude hardly every stick around long enough.

He said it really, really well the other night: “We’re kind of in this situation that forces you to find out all the worst things about me, really early on.” Super, super smart man (in this particular moment) for not saying WE’re finding out the worst things about each other. I quickly added though, “You’re definitely finding out the worst things about me, too.”

I need attention, y’all. And I don’t just mean from a romantic partner. I never realized how much I counted on human interaction—at work, seeing a hundred students a day, plus my coworkers, my friends, my family… Losing all of that has been rough on me.

And who gets to be there for me to unleash these swelling emotions upon? Yup, the one and only human I’m allowed to interact with. Poor guy. But you know what, I’m putting up with plenty from him as well…

I thought, for a long time, that La Rona basically mandated him and I be friends and nothing more. Ever. I mean, the whole situation is insane when you really stop to think about it. It’s not like we could go on dates with other people. We weren’t even seeing our friends or family. The one person I was entrusting to not give me an airborne virus was someone I had swiped right on a few weeks ago, mutually agreeing on the visual appealing nature of each other’s faces.

But how exactly do you stop yourself from catching feelings for someone you’re talking to or seeing every single day for four months in a row (and counting)? Clearly there was something there, for us to want to keep seeing that much of each other. Right? I doubted it, giving in to my true nature of distrust—we’re only getting this close because of COVID-19, I thought. We’re just comfortable with each other, that’s it. If there wasn’t a plague floating around, we would have been done with each other long ago. I told myself so many things. I would bottle it up and then freak out, telling him I didn’t want a real relationship only to, a few weeks later, chastise him for not wanting to lock things down.

I built a giant living room fort complete with candles and champagne, he ordered us ramen and set up camping chairs on top of an empty parking garage. I dressed up like I was going out on the town just for him to make us fresh-squeezed margaritas. I attempted to cut his hair, he bought me roses. I set up a wings and hot sauce challenge for him, he took us on scenic drives, blasting 90s music. I brought him sushi, he brought me Chinese. I cooked crockpot recipes and rented movies, he ordered pizza and rubbed my feet. I wrote him a poem, he made me breakfast tacos and French toast. Our dogs became best friends and wannabe lovers, and I guess we also accidentally became best friends, but definitely lovers.

This whole thing has been ridiculous and beautiful and indescribably absurd. My career took a pretty hard hit, the progress on my dissertation took an even bigger hit, my mental health was shaky at best, the country was in what can only be called utter chaos, and then…I fell in love?

I’m actually mad that yet another cliché is true. “When you stop trying and stop looking for it—when you least expect it—it’ll happen.” I gagged when someone would tell me that for the hundredth time. The year 2020 being cancelled, surviving a pandemic, and narrowly avoiding murder hornets was not what I thought they meant when they said “least expect” but I get it now.

There’s not much that I know “in these strange times” or “amid all this confusion” or whatever email starter you prefer, but I do know that I wish I could bottle his hug and laugh and the way he brushes my hair out of my face. “In these uncertain times,” I’m pretty certain about him. Amongst the million “hope this finds you well”(s), I’m glad I found him.

Pre and Post Funeral Thoughts

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Pre-Funeral Thoughts

My father died and I’ve only told three people. I didn’t take off work. I didn’t even cry, although I’ve cried over plenty of other things recently (e.g. This Is Us, my ex-boyfriend, a coworker) and I’m sure this incident found a way to sneak in a tear or two while it had the chance.

It’s so strange losing someone who was an equally imperative and meaningless part of your life—I, at first, doubted that it was possible to mourn someone I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. I have a dad and he’s alive and well, probably working in his woodshop right now. This man who died is basically responsible for creating me, but not raising me, not loving me, not knowing me in any way. How insane is that? To create someone but never know them? I can’t even abandon a book, old shoes, or ancient Tupperware.

My mom said, “I’ll always have love for him because he gave me the greatest gift of my life—you.” And it’s funny because that’s how I’ve always felt about him. I’m only grateful that he gave me her. That’s all he’s ever been for me; he made it possible for me to live, and for me to be her daughter.

I wrote a poem back in October, when I first learned he was sick. Back when I asked my grandfather to keep me updated, but instead, I got a text in January that just read: “Robert Mendez memorial service” with a date, time, and place.

You kissed a pretty blonde cheerleader other side of the tracks type once
and probably thought nothing of it
thought nothing of the few years from then wedding,
the one her dad almost didn’t go to because of your last name
the same last name you’d give to a little baby girl
first name some Tejano singer from the station where you spent all your time
drinking and snorting away the reality that you were a husband and a father
not anything special
but you could’ve been special in the way the best people are
//
You probably couldn’t see all of this, right?
Back when you were in love and making a room laugh and playing piano
I guess you couldn’t see how your brother may have chosen to end his life
but so did you
long, drawn out, choosing to disappear
until you were dying in a hospital room
//
You want me to give some bedside eulogy while your body turns against you
but you died so long ago
I’m so confused
My funeral speech accolades about you were embedded in my
high school, bachelors, and masters diplomas, my book, my passport stamps—
everywhere that last name is inked
Everything good I’ve ever done is tainted by the tiniest truth
that I’m always proving what I can accomplish
without you
despite you
//
Even worse, everything bad that’s ever happened—
every terrible relationship choice
every panic attack
every depression
every over-analytical-anxiety-filled  am I good enough?
Everything can be sourly linked to you
//
So you see?
You’ve been here all along
in every achievement
every mishap
I wrote this all on your tombstone
sang these lyrics at your grave
I’ve said goodbye
and don’t know if I want to say it again

 

 

Post-Funeral Thoughts

PSA to every parent that could potentially be reading this: when you die, what do you want to be said at your funeral? I listened to an hour full of Bible verses and rosary repetition at my father’s funeral. There was nothing said about his life because I guess there was nothing to say.

You don’t have to be the richest or the smartest, you don’t have to climb Everest or invent a Shark Tank phenomenon, you don’t have to be the founder of a company, you don’t have to cure a disease…life is so meaningless unless you spread kindness, unless you love and are loved, unless you are remembered…

Hardly any people came to my father’s funeral. Most people who did show up were there to support my grandparents, one who doesn’t remember who I am and one who disowned me when I asked my dad to adopt me a couple years ago. Uncomfortable doesn’t really quite explain how I felt, sitting in the back of a near-empty funeral home room, seeing framed photos of a man who I vaguely resemble. Depressed, angry, annoyed, disgusted—there’s not one adjective that I could pin down and actually FEEL. I’ve never wanted to be in a room less, and that made me feel sad for him. And for my grandparents. It must be heartbreaking to outlive your children. Even more heartbreaking I suppose for there to be nothing to say at their funeral.

I guess that’s what I felt: sad. What most people feel at funerals, but a completely different kind of sadness really. I’m not sad that he’s gone—I’m sad that he’s always been gone. I’m not really sad for my loss—I’m sad for his.

Book Review: The Waiting Room by Alysha Kaye

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Thanks so much to this awesome blogger! Check out her other reviews!

Liz Durano

THE WAITING-ROOM

“We’d always promised that when our wrinkles sagged across the surface of every one of our limbs, we’d find a way to say sayonara to the world together. (But) I was too early. I left her—her worst fear.” – The Waiting Room by Alysha Kaye

This was an interesting love story, one that grabbed me from the moment I read the description. It’s about fate, love, reincarnation, and the choices we make with each life and even the ones that come after and in-between. It’s metaphysical and philosophical, definitely not your typical love story or romance which means it’s also miscategorized in the Amazon store, which is unfortunate because that means it’s invisible, algorithm-wise.

Yes, they have their happily ever after but not before Jude ends up dying first and finds himself in what he can only call “the waiting room,” a place in between lives where people have minutes…

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Hell-Raiser

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Thank you for raising me to be a hell-raiser. When I took Drivers Ed with my best friend, she slammed on the breaks and cried once. Every time I was behind the wheel, it was more like Yippee Ki-yay Mother Fuckers!

Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely pros to being the girl who cried in Drivers Ed. My best friend never has to apologize to people for her brazen words also known as “harsh honesty.” I do. I have to do that. A lot. Plus, I’m often told that it’s astounding that I’m still alive and well, driving the way I do.

BUT. I rarely take shit from anyone. I stand up for myself and my beliefs and my loved ones and women and people of color and my students and Humans Who Genuinely Enjoy Miracle Whip and my dog (he’s still learning, OK?!). I’m so full of self-righteous indignation sometimes that I have been known to—gasp!—tell a man why I don’t want to go on another date with him. I know, I know, the audacity! Let him think he’s amazing and superior, even when letting him down, right? NO. Not right.

I have stomped my foot, I have gotten on and off so many goddamn soapboxes, I have tutted and tsked my way through a room, and I have shaken my head and finger at plenty of deserving suspects. How dare they? Do they know who I am? Do they know who raised me?

Yes, yes, this means my options are narrowed. I’m too outspoken or too opinionated or too awesome for a lot of guys. I’d be married with a bunch of babies by now if I wasn’t such a hell-raiser. I just…can’t seem to stop.

I wanted to thank you for not being the kind of mother who says things like:

“You should really hurry up and meet a man so that I can have grandbabies.”

“Why are you still single? When are you gonna settle down?”

“You’re not getting any younger!”

“Maybe you shouldn’t be so picky; maybe this is the best thing that’s gonna come around…”

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am—I forget how common those questions are, how casually they’re constantly thrown at women like darts.

YOU say things like:

“You don’t HAVE to have kids. Don’t feel like you HAVE to have children. If you want them, well OK then.”

And then, when I say that yes, I do want kids one day, but I worry about the complications of having kids in your mid-late thirties:

“You know, you don’t have to get married to have a kid. You can always adopt. Never rush into something because you want to have kids.”

 “You should NEVER settle.”

 

It’s crazy how many parents pressure their children into getting married and having kids…I will always be grateful to have been raised by a woman like you, who never pressured me into doing anything besides focusing on my schoolwork. I may be biased as an educator, but I think that’s the only thing that parents should ever pressure their kids into doing, haha! You may not be perfect. I’m sure as hell not perfect. But I am a hell-raiser and you are perfect in my eyes. Thanks, Mama<3

The Waiting Room – Book Review

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The Waiting Room – Book Review

This review made my day!!! Thank you so much to this amazing blogger- go check out her other reviews/content!

Life in Books

Book: The Waiting Room

Author: Alysha Kaye

Number of Pages: 189

Publisher: Createspace

Publication Date: July 1, 2014

Purchase: Amazon

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Jude and Nina are the epitome of that whole raw, unflinching love thing that most people are jealous of. That is, until Jude dies and wakes up in The Waiting Room, surrounded by other souls who are all waiting to pass over into their next life. But unlike those souls, Jude’s name is never called by the mysterious “receptionist”. He waits, watching Nina out of giant windows. He’s waiting for her. What is this place? How long will he wait? And what will happen when and if Nina does join him? The Waiting Room is a story of not just love, but of faith, predestination, and philosophy, friendship and self-actualization, of waiting.

My Thoughts:

I am not usually a fan of romance but…

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Free GIVEAWAY!

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It’s that time again!

  1. make sure you’re following this blog 🙂
  2. like AND comment on this post with the book you’re currently reading or the book you want to read next!

 

Winner will be chosen (must be in the continental U.S.) and mailed a signed copy of The Waiting Room!

Happy reading ❤

Alysha

Savannah

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I’ve been best friends with Savannah since 7th grade, when we were forced into a partnership based solely on the fact that we were the only two middle schoolers who lived in Dixie Cove, the cul-de-sac where we lived, across the street from each other, for six years.

We sold lemonade together at yard sales, we tried to fry an egg on the sidewalk one particularly Texas-y summer, we carved our names into the fresh cement when new development began, and we somehow managed to survive our adolescence as two of the most awkward and weird kids to ever exist. I mean, we even had a “band” called Red Ink and we sold cassette tapes to our friends for five bucks, recording each cassette individually, with a song about the “client” added in. We saved up about $65 and decided to spend it going to a restaurant called The Magic Time Machine, where the staff dress up as various movie characters. We thought we were just about the coolest people on the planet.

Savannah had the crazy house—two yappy sisters, two yappy Pomeranians, an insanely bi-polar mother, and just…constant chaos. There was always a mess and there was always pizza. I absolutely loved it. I had the complete opposite—no siblings, strict rules, and endless quiet. Going to Savannah’s was like watching TV. I could sit on the couch and be entertained for hours, just observing.

Now we’re 30 and it’s kind of funny how some things haven’t changed much.

The other night, she came over with her Mary Poppins bag of who-knows-what, whipped out her eyelash curler, traded her Crocs for more acceptable shoes, and we went to a nearby bar. By the end of the night, she’d danced with a few guys (including an engaged fireman who was almost a decade younger than us) even though the bar wasn’t exactly a dancing type of bar… She made a group of men move over, away from the outdoor heater, so that we could sit by the heater. Then she made them buy us a pitcher of beer. She took the pitcher onstage and gave it to the drummer, proceeding to dance onstage with the singer. Back at my apartment, she raided my fridge while I was in the bathroom. She’d started to make us “tacos”. I let her finish, although I knew my fridge didn’t exactly have taco ingredients in it. She drove back to the bar to get her purse. She drove back over to my apartment. I sat back all night, just watching with wide eyes, like I’ve always done, sipping my drink, halfway wishing I could join her in her revelries and halfway wondering when I should pump the breaks on the whole spectacle. Then she drove to some guy’s place for “Fireball Friday,” which is really just them taking shots of Fireball until they have sex and pass out. Then she went home to her husband and son.

I think when you grow up in chaos, it becomes the only way you know how to live. And then there’s me—never quite getting the hang of drawing outside of the lines. Who’s to say which life is better or more lived than the other.

Savs is hands down the most fun human I’ve ever met. I NEVER have a better time with anyone else. We can go grocery shopping and have a blast. But she also has this pain and sadness and suffering that I can’t do anything about. No one can do anything about it—it’s just there, eating her away and maybe invisible to people who haven’t known her for two decades.

I’ve never known what to do or say—not when we were twelve and her mom would scream never-ending obscenities at her and not now when her husband does much worse and she leaves him for the fifth time.

It’s the perpetual paradox of Savannah, the happiest and simultaneously most depressed person to ever exist. A consistent mix of laughter, white tootsie rolls and mini bottles of vodka lining her purse, an amazing mother and a cheap drunk, never has more than 17 dollars or so but always shows up when you really need her to. I hope she knows that the same goes for me—I’ll show up for her whenever and wherever. My place is her place; my chaos-free life is hers to sprinkle some wild on whenever she needs to. She and her son can move in at any time of any day. I hope they do.

We can’t go back to when we’d lay on my trampoline and plot out our future adventures—we had so many ideas and dreams. When we were 30, we were going to be filthy rich, traveling the world together in our private jet. Our realities are so far from perfection, but one thing is for sure. A friendship that’s lasted this long isn’t really a friendship anymore—it doesn’t even feel right to call her family, because it’s almost more than that. It’s like Savs is a chunk of my soul. I’m always going to be hurting a little bit if she’s out there somewhere, hurting. I’m always going to try to mend and fix what only she can mend and fix. Until then, I’ll be here friend-sister-soul. If you need to take a few shots and belt the lyrics to “Goodbye Earl” at the top of our lungs, I’m here. If you need to cry and watch 15 hours of Christmas movies, I’m here. If you need to dance until the clubs close and then keep dancing through the whole Uber ride home, I’m here. If you just need to raid my fridge and make mystery tacos, I’m here.

My friend wrote a poem

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*Wrote this awhile back and just found it floating around on my laptop. Liked it better all these months later*

 

My friend wrote a poem today and read it to me over tacos and Big Red (in the bottle) and—well, that was all mine, his was a pecan porter and something called a chicken lollipop? His poem made me sad because I don’t want to feel better that other people are going through what I’m going through. I want to look at my family and friends and aspire to have what they have.

My friend wrote a poem today and it reminded me of how many times I’ve been heartbroken (technically three, potentially 3.5). It shouldn’t be that way, right? It should probably cap at twice, maybe even once.

My friend wrote a poem today and he’s going to read it aloud at a coffee shop in front of a girl he hopes will one day break his heart just as good as the girl-who-the-poem-about’s did. What a strange concept, to admit to someone you’re in Phase 1 with that you recently were in Phase 300 (Phases 5-300 are all just heartbreak in various forms including depression, self-deprecation, and gym memberships).

My friend wrote a poem today and it cut into me for some reason, as if I’d never read a poem so raw (I’ve read a million poems just like this, I’m sure of it). Why is that? Why can we go hours, days, weeks even without feeling that sick, gutted thing and then randomly feel it punching through our organs like (use Cookie Monster’s voice here, it works for some reason) “YOU THOUGHT I WAS GONE, BITCH?! THINK AGAINNNN!”

My friend wrote a poem today and we finished our drinks and food and complained about the flies or mosquitoes or sun or all of the above. We hugged goodbye and I found myself jealous that he was off to let someone new turn him down or stomp on his feelings or commit but then change their mind or fall in love with him and drive him mad, but in a good way, til the end of time. It’s probably time to be destroyed again, I thought, driving home through the humid traffic or trafficky humidity. I wrote a poem and then started swiping.

Peter Pan Syndrome

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peter_pan_syndrome_by_haatsu

When did men become more interested in swiping right, gaze down than catching your eye at a bar? Peter Pan Syndrome got them in their late 30’s still thinkin’ they’re gonna be a DJ superstar, barista on the side, chasin’ every skirt in sight, 21 forever. Ever seen a balding guy trying to grind on women, slurring “You should smile more” and pounding Lonestars? You’d think he was a hobo and seconds away from getting escorted out except…you look around and the place is filled with mustaches just like him. You think, is this a nightmare? Is this some Twilight Zone shit? But then you remember that it’s 2018 and it’s Austin, Texas and 98% of all men here who are under the age of 45 believe in ACL/SXSW>stability and hipster beards>marriage.

No wonder women are settling for the kind of men they’re settling for…at least those men aren’t afraid of commitment.

Meanwhile, I remain team #nosettle and also team #gtfohPeterPan–therefore team #singleforever. Shout out to those of you who are in the same boat. Le sigh.