Bath of a Dirty Old Woman: Ingrid M. Calderón-Collins Comes Clean…


I sit here, in my kitchen, drunk and annoyed.

Mostly, at myself for breaking my own rule. 

For preaching freedom and feeling constricted inside my own convictions.

I often wonder if our lack of empathy and our embedded identity crisis comes from the complete annihilation of our rites of passage?

Meaning—we are thrown into our lives empty-handed from birth, and our comprehension of our humanness often resembles the school systems that fed us. 

It’s a vicious cycle.

We get zero weaponry and yet, we are expected to heal from ghastly wounds without the proper antiseptics. 

There are no transitions from one stage to another. 

We inhabit a country that imbibes heavily of vanity and self-care because who else is gonna love us better than us, right? 

Look—I know that pleasure is what we all seek, but that’s a poor substitute for calm. 

Our journeys from adolescence to adulthood are tragic. 

They are grim and usually involve the art of lying, the art of heavy drinking and drugs and the art of searching for love through sex with people who don’t love us and whom we don’t love in return. 

We never get the opportunity to spend quality time with ourselves, so when we reach adulthood, when our insides crave another, we hibernate and call it self-care. 

When really, it’s selfishness and apathy, and not the good kind.

We are licking our own wounds created by a system that doesn’t understand itself or the people inside it. 

We are lost. 

We have forgotten who we are and why we are. 

This is the disconnect. 

This is why we live in such perpetual loneliness. 

Because we’ve never come back to ourselves. 

All this being said, it is important to remember to ask ourselves, what rules need breaking?

What can we let go of that we have identified with because of these thwarted rituals we bestowed on ourselves?

After all the muck is gone, you are left pining for answers, for touch and mostly for a change of mind. 

Practice that art of self-love and apathy and allow yourself to be, allow yourself to fail, to love, to conquer and to fail again, until failing and conquering and loving are just one of the many things you’ve gathered weaponry for. 

For me personally, it’s hard to nourish the parts of myself that are gasping.

It’s hard to enjoy the aftermath of my hard work when the homelessness problem of Los Angeles has finally, literally reached my front door.

It’s hard to digest.

My existence and my life are hard to fucking digest when I feel so blessed. 

Waking up and watching them outside my window as I smell coffee brewing each morning makes guilt vibrate. 

I cannot enjoy the coffee or the day when I know so many are not enjoying it too.

Then, maybe—perhaps, and hear me out here–maybe they have the greater understanding of what it means to cover distance, to follow roads, to be guided. 

Perhaps the rites of passage we seek with our vices and our gluttony are theirs inherently, like any other thing, and all they want is a cup of coffee. 




My brother died at 30 years, 23 years ago today.
I am 39.
My sister is 57.
My father is 83.
My mother, 78.

The Earth is 4.5 billion years old.
The average time it takes to smoke a cigarette is 7 minutes.
It took me 4 minutes to fall in love with my husband, and approximately 158 days to marry him from the day I fell in love with him.

78 years is the average life span here in the United States.
I will be 40 in 37 days.
That leaves me with an average of 38 years left to enjoy this husband, and this life.


But mostly, I don’t want to live a life where I am my own poison.

I have lived in the shadow of my own lies since I first caught glimpse of how easy it was to convince others of them.

How betrayed I feel writing that.

When you survive trauma, you become an expert at pretending.
At lying.
When you survive trauma, you have trouble differentiating your own behaviors.
Admitting them.

I remember during my visit to my third therapist, a woman who was determined to hospitalize me and make me a vegetarian, I was asked if I had molested anyone?

I was shocked.

How DARE she ask me such a thing, I thought.

But the more I sat with that question, the more it made sense to me.

We mimic.

We are born mimickers.

I often catch myself being exactly like my mother.
I catch her face in mine.
Her hands.
Her angry voice.
Her coldness.

So why wouldn’t I mimic my abuser?
How did I manage to not engage in the sick shit he did to me?

I did, but it was different.

I became a liar.
I became a manipulator.
I became a victim for the sake of easier manipulation.
I told everyone my story.
I was the embodiment of my trauma.
I became the bratty, angry little girl who was not allowed to be angry for what had happened to her.

So I took it out on everyone.

My friends.
My lovers.
My thighs.
My wrists.
My body.
But mostly my lovers.

They got to see the horror left over from my abuser.

The years went on, and I was still that angry little girl at 18, 27, 35—

Then finally, by 36, I had had enough.

Meaning, I knew I was in a toxic relationship where I was stuck in that same pattern.

Expecting this man to fix me, and to endure all of my shit.
To listen and not be heard.
To be my crutch.

Look, I understand that trauma is different with everyone.

I am not gonna label myself here today.
I am not here to disregard or claim.

I am here to say that, I am a grown-ass adult woman trying to take responsibility for her actions.
I am a grown-ass adult woman trying to discard, in the healthiest way possible, the shit that was handed to her.


Please know this.
Please understand this.
Please swallow this.
Please digest this.


I am just showing you my process.
The way my responsibility looks and feels.

I just want to spend the next 13,870 days that I may have left, in the comfort and knowing that I did not let my trauma win.

Now, usually around 1:11 a.m., while my husband an I are listless from love-making, our mouths parched and laughing, we joke that he’s my reward for my hard work, for my constant healing.

“The universe is always watching and listening,” he says.

“It told me to treat you right.”







Summer has arrived in Los Angeles. 

We had a cold & semi-rainy June-August, and now, we are paying for it. 

On October 25th, the highest temperature inside my car was 99 degrees.

It fits my usual 99.9 body temperature. 

My air-conditioning is broken, so I sit inside a sauna and meditate as I drive to VONS while listening to my ratchet music on blast.

The week before last, I came back from the desert, my husband and I went on a mini vacation since he’s been working two jobs while I’ve been unemployed. 

But I rise—I am once again part of the system. 

This time, as a freelance contractor with a bookstore. 

I am blessed.

I didn’t even know I was qualified for this type of work.

As an uneducated poet, with only “some college” under her belt, I tend to feel this way more often than not. 

I’ve been on the verge of tears and on the verge of a breakthrough all week.

Something is dilating.

I have stopped that constant chatter of self-doubt and embraced the faulty insides that I can usually taste in my mouth. 

“Rubber dipped in ammonia.”

Self-doubt is pungent, don’t you ever forget it. 

There are wildfires in the desert, by the 14 freeway, where the Joshua Trees are scattered like small trinkets from some long ago pilgrimage. 

I am wheezing.

I am coughing.

I am fragile.

Always reminded of my precious life.

When we live alongside nature, we must endure whatever truths it throws at us.

It feels impossible lately, to not feel guilt about the food I eat and the privilege of having the time and space to question and treat my mental health while the streets of Los Angeles are infested with homelessness. 

The forgotten flowers.

On a walk by my work, I watched a homeless man eat from a trash can while only feet away, a family enjoyed a three course meal.

My husband works at a food catering company, and he comes home with atrocious stories about the wastefulness of each and every job. He also sometimes brings home the flower arrangements that were on the tables. Everything has its place, even the wilted flowers at expensive catered events for Reagan supporters. 

The rent needs to be paid and food needs to be bought.

We must survive in this, yes, I’m privileged but I am also burdened. 

I come from a third world country but live inside a beautiful mansion of 400 square feet where the hallway smells heavy of urine in this heat.

I am blessed.

I drink water without giving it much thought.

I eat and pay for it with a plastic card that has money in it because I work and my husband works.

I pray that one day I’ll be able to change shape, come back as the possibility of another chance for the masses. 

In the meantime, I have poetry.