Okeechobee Fest, Here I Come

Next week, Friday, I will be embarking on a new journey — my first music festival. Three days and two nights of nonstop music are awaiting as I prepare my daily playlist in preparation. This is an entirely new environment for me and, quite frankly, I don’t know what to expect. Maybe that’s what makes this soon-to-be experience so exciting. 

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Damien Rice in Concert is Magic

On November 8th of last year, I had the pleasure of seeing Irish folk artist, Damien Rice, in concert. When I found out that he would be coming to Miami for the first time, I had just finished obsessing over his third album release, “My Favorite Faded Fantasy.” After a 7 year hiatus, he had come back lyrically and musically stronger than ever before. And thankfully I was able to witness it.

A few days after, I decided to write about my experience but never got around to posting it. When I came across it again, I thought it would be appropriate to post it today, exactly a year since the concert:

Damien Rice knows how to captivate his audience. As the lights dimmed, the sound of laughter and chit chat quickly faded. Damien stepped out of the darkness and into the spotlight of the stage, greeted the crowd, and began to sing.

Right then and there, I was enchanted.

It was just him and his guitar. That’s all. Yet he managed to echo the heartbreaks, grief, and pain of hundreds. He would begin a song with a soft melody and end up bent double, viciously strumming—no, beating the guitar. The lights would suddenly go out disorienting us for a second, leaving us holding on to chord of the last song yet yearning for the next.

Often between songs he would tell a story. He jokingly told the audience about how growing up a Catholic boy made him a guilt-ridden man as a prelude to the opening of “9 Crimes.” He also shared the story of a man who thought he had a chance with a woman he fancied. After taking a few sips of wine, he slurred the lyrics of “Cheers Darling.”

But it was “Volcano” that showed the artistic and creative genius Damien was and still is. He made us a part of his performance by dividing the theater into sections, each with a different verse. At his cue, my voice joined the chorus-like sound of the many who sung along. Damien then proceeded to sing his line, his voice rising above ours.

And in that moment, it was just the audience, Damien, and his music. Nothing else mattered except for the undeniable string that connected us all to one another. 


I think too much
—So much that my mind hazes into mush,
That I trip on the cracks
Of sidewalks that laugh
At my stumbling, ditsy-like ways.

How can I make the noise go away?
Perhaps, a mere touch of my phone
Will keep my sinking ship of a mind afloat.
Only melodies of broken-hearted voices
Vanish my worries of making tough choices:
School, home, love, life
Why do we succumb to such internal strife?

I think of how I want to live my years ahead,
Hoping my dreams would be fulfilled as I lay in bed.
Or perhaps my mind should just go blank.

Perhaps I should forget how to think.

Brothers and Sisters of Miami

Often people in multiethnic societies, such as in the city of Miami, share a common dream. Most envision a future where they can make their immigrant parents proud or they hope that one day they can overcome the “minority” label that they all share and become someone much more than that. I know I do. However, a lot of these people—a lot of my people—feel discouraged along the way. They see these dreams, these surreal almost impossible dreams, fade away when life throws them one obstacle after another. As a young adult, I want to prove to them that they can indeed achieve their dreams. I want to instill in them comfort that they’re not alone, that we’re all going through this together, and that we are one.

I often look around my classroom and see a spectrum of colors. Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics all sit and listen to the teacher attentively, eager to ace the next assignment, eager to pass the class, eager to graduate high school, eager to chase their dreams. Every of one them has a story and baggage to carry—not only in the form of heavy textbooks but in the form of struggle, the kind of struggle that often plagues people of multiethnic societies.

These people are my friends. Jonathan Tagoe, son of a Ghanaian immigrant, wants to repay his mother for all the sacrifices she’s ever made for him by investing into his future through his education. Kaitlyn Pujols, a Puerto Rican native, wants to prove people wrong; she wants to show the world that Puerto Ricans are far more than the lazy, obnoxious stereotypes that they are made out to be and does so by pouring herself into her passions. Andres Orta, son of Puerto Ricans, wants a future with financial stability. Fransheska Datilus is of Haitian descent and aspires to become a civil engineer and she wants to, “show the world that this Haitian labeled African American female can break barriers and innovate the world.”

And finally myself, Edysmar Diaz-Cruz, oldest child of Colombian and Venezuelan immigrants, dreaming someday of becoming someone worth remembering—whether it’s through a byline in an aging newspaper or by the lips of the people I’ve influenced throughout my life.

I want to help people like Jonathon, Kaitlyn, Andres, and Fransheska realize that they are not alone. I want to show them that we are all brothers and sisters living under the same household of hopes and dreams. I want to help them realize the common bond that they already have by showing them that I—one of their fellow siblings—can indeed go above and beyond the minority label by getting accepted into college and by pursuing my dream of making a name for myself. By doing so, I hope to encourage to them into doing the same knowing very well that they are not alone.

When Travel Comes to an End

It’s time…It’s time to go back home to Miami where my responsibilities await.  I was happily lost in time here, but today I know exactly what day it is—July 22, the day where I’m yanked back into the unmerciful grasp of reality. Unfortunately, My stay here in Colombia has officially come to an end and I’m deeply saddened by it.

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Colombia: Day … ¿

I am lost in time.

Since I’m no longer checking off the days of the calender, I have no clue what day it is nor how long I’ve been in Colombia. So I’m dropping the whole counting of the days in my post titles because, quite frankly, I like being lost in time. I like not caring what day it is, because I feel free from the shackles of daily routines dictated by the man-made calender.

As humans , our time here on earth is short. When we are gone, the earth continues to rotate; there will be an eternity of sunrises and sunsets. Why spend our lives counting them?

I say, screw the calender!

At least for now.

Colombia Day 7: Enlightening Conversations

Sometimes there are moments when somebody says something so beautiful, shocking, or unexpected in a conversation that I am left speechless. I have these moments often and I’m grateful for them because I  always leave the conversation a slightly different person—a wiser, more open-minded person. I had a short conversation like that with my mom today in the village where she was raised. Continue reading “Colombia Day 7: Enlightening Conversations”