Monthly Archives: February 2021

“Mango Candy” Moments

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

It’s a Sabbath afternoon in 2005, and the last ‘amens’ have just rung through the sanctuary in our small church in New York.

My sister and I brace ourselves, knowing what’s about to happen.

Every Sabbath after service, the nice, older church member would hunt us down, kindly reach into his suit pocket, and hand me and my sister two hard, artificially flavored mango candies.

Oh, how we hated those candies.

The exchange was almost always wordless. Mom and Dad would nudge us for our manners, we’d mumble our ‘thank yous’, hop into the car, and reluctantly pop those sickly sweet candies into our mouths, only to feel carsick 3 minutes later.

The torture went on for years; candy, “thank you”, carsick. We’d dream of throwing those bitter rocks into the garbage, but the older man always offered them with the most sincere smile, happy to brighten the day of two ‘sweet’ little girls. So we sucked it up, literally. To this day my sister and I can’t stand the taste of artificial mango.

I was thinking about these moments earlier this week – and though the nauseating taste of fake mango started to ghost my tongue- I surprisingly found myself looking at the situation a little differently:

I realized my sister and I were probably the only little kids in church that received candy every Sabbath like clockwork. The man would bring just two treats every week and go out of his way to give them to us without saying more than two words. He could’ve eaten the whole pack, or simply decide it was too much work for an old man to flag down two little girls, but he did it anyway.

It also occurred to me that I never knew the old man’s name. Not even my parents can recall. We attended that church for a good many years and no one in the family can remember his name. I think I’ll always remember his face though: bright and clear like my Papi’s, with a genuine smile and gentle voice as he handed his last two candies to my sister and me.

There are a lot of moments in life, little ‘mango candy moments’, that seem bitter at first but get sweeter with time. Maybe it’s a heartbreak that you eventually grow from, maybe it’s losing an okay-paying gig for a better one, or maybe it’s finally learning to appreciate the hard ‘mango candies’ you’re given.

Take the time to remember, relive, and rethink your ‘mango candy moments’. Chances are you won’t like that initial negative sensation, but if you look hard enough, you just might find the sugar of perspective to sweeten even the sourest of times.

So, thank you Mango Candy Man, from the bottom of this little church girl’s heart. Even though the smell of artificial mango makes me gag (sorry), it’ll always remind me of your sweet, sweet heart.

Doodle Day (2/24/2021)

A late night self portrait from 2018. I’m a night owl, so most of my doodles are ‘after-hours’. Here you can see me freshly showered, lotioned, and pampered in my comfy pink pajamas and bantu knots, feeling pretty relaxed for the night. What’s your relaxing nighttime routine?

Doodle Day (2/16/2021)

If you know me, you know that I’m a doodler. I’m always littering pages with sketches of flowers, characters, or inanimate blobs. Sometimes doodles help me make sense of complicated feelings, and sometimes, they just save me from a very boring lecture (sorry!). Either way, I figured I should put my doodles to good use. Every Wednesday, I’ll upload a doodle of mine (new or old) and let you in on the inner workings of my mind. Today, as a welcome present, you get the first doodle a lit bit early ;).

I doodled this in my journal almost a year ago. Around this time I was feeling overwhelmed everything going on , including school, family, and what I felt was my dwindling social life. I’m not exactly sure what every element in this drawing means or why I put it there, but I know I felt a lot better after putting my emotions on paper, and maybe someone else will too. How do you relieve stress when you feel overwhelmed?

What’s in a Name?

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

According to the infinitely vast files of information provided by the world’s best and most efficient search engines to date, the name Wanéa‌ does not exist.

In fact, the internet is far more certain that such a word can only be the product of a misspelling – a slip of the finger, if you will – and is courteous enough to offer endless results for hundreds of similar sounding, but much more sensible names. 

No Google. I did not mean Wane, Wanna, or Wanda. But I’m sure you tried your best.

As far as anyone who has ever lived or is living on planet Earth can tell, there has only been one Wanéa‌ in the entire galaxy.

So allow me to introduce myself.

It’s pronounced ‘Wuh-NAY-yuh’, but I’m not strict about it. Five letters derived from the Hawaiian alphabet, and one accent from the French language. 

The name Wanéa‌ is the birth-child of my mother’s pregnancy brain. 

After Dad ‘Lindry’ claimed older sister ‘Liana’, it was only fair for mom’s second-born to have a moniker that matched her ‘Wanda’. 

I’m not sure of all the options that were considered, or even of all the finalists, but I know how the choice was made: a ‘d’ for a fancy ‘é’. Thus Wanéa‌ was born. 

 So, no Google search*. No keychains, magnets, or namesake strangers. No accent in official documents, (almost) no accurate first-time guesses, and no meaning at all.  

Just Wanéa‌ (*and one song in an African language I can’t understand).

But, after years of being the world’s only Wanéa‌, I’ve come to realize that there isn’t a single name that better describes me. 

Like my name, I’m short and sweet. I like to think I leave people wanting more, (sometimes in height), but always in conversation.

Like my name, I’m sure to grab your attention. People aren’t quite sure what to make of me at first, but they’re always (pleasantly) surprised. 

Like my name, I’m undefinable. I’m a million things at once – silly, serious, sarcastic, sensitive- sometimes none at all, but always interesting.

And like my name, I am one of a kind. 

So whether you’re an Emily Smith, or a Qwerty Lmnop, the one and only Wanéa‌ invites you to embrace your name, because there’s nothing on Earth that better suits you.

(Take that Spellcheck!)

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.