The Woman in the Painting

Happy news!

My memoir, At the Narrow Waist of the World, will be published in August of next year! I’ve known this for many months and have been holding back a little bit.  I’m deeply pleased because something I’ve worked for very hard will be out in the world. The me closest to me will be in the world for others to see. This is a bit scary to tell you the truth.

In honor of your support, now and in the past, let me give you a gift by way of introduction to the book.

Painting by Alfredo Sinclair, Panama

Painting by Alfredo Sinclair, Panama

A man stands on either side of the painting holding the wood frame that sticks out deeply from the wall. They lift up in unison, and the painting is released. They lay it gently on the thick cloth they have prepared. 

“Esto está bonito!” one of the men exclaims. The woman in the painting fills the canvas. Her skin is the color of warm toast, same as their own. She is looking at her fingers intertwined on top of the black of her skirt, keeping her own counsel. Satisfied to be held inside the wood. 

Her bare shoulders and back are angled slightly, directing the aim of her gaze. There are two large pillows at her back. The black of the skirt and the hair, the turquoise and red in the pillows, the gold in her shawl are glazed with the amber of her skin. The hues lock onto one another. They travel on the same journey, altered by the other’s presence.  

“Esos ricos tienen suerte!” the second man tastes the green juice of envy before folding the cloth over the woman in the painting. They carry the painting to the van already half filled with possessions.   

The woman in the painting who witnessed my life from the brick wall in the house of my childhood moves with my brother and me into mami’s new life with her American husband. One of my uncles places the painting on the single wall with no windows in the always-matching bungalow of the American army post.

The woman in the painting is the keeper of my story. 





Soy/Somos: Lessons from an Immigrant Musician

Newest from my Huffington Post Blog. Take it away....Andrés!

“I was always tapping, like the table, like the feet, like cucharas de madera (wooden spoons) on the living room sofa. This is true of all percussionists I know. There’s an internal drum beating. I started taking drum lessons when I was eleven. This was the one! With my first lesson it was instant love. In high school I got into rock and long hair. In college I moved to the Latin world of percussion, Cuban music through percussion, drumset, and Colombian rhythms like cumbia and mapalé. 

“Actually the first plan was to go to Cuba for my studies. I’d asked my Cuban drumset teacher in Bogotá who guided me to ISA in Havana. That’s the Instituto Superior de Arte. You have to start at the lower level conservatory, he said, and then you have to be good enough to get into ISA. My dad took me to Havana for three days to get a sense of the schools. We did a lot of talking. That was so wonderful for me. How serious are you about drumming? He was the one to ask, Why not the US? That was some far away ivory tower for me...

Continue reading on HuffPost...