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I wish I could tell you I write feverishly and constantly but I am the mother of two little girls with another baby well on the way. That is my most important job in life (alongside being a steller partner to the person I fell in love with at 14 years old though that person didn't reciprocate my feelings for another eight years). But I do write and though I adore and respect fiction and nonfiction in very different and separate ways (I'm working on a novel now), I find myself writing nonfiction when it comes to essays and opinion pieces. Getting lost in the intricacies of real life pulls me in a magnetic way and it often takes me a long time to write a nonfiction essay. I need to process and structure and doing that takes reflection and time. It gives depth, understanding, and connection to my world and my work. I hope you find something in these select pieces. If you are moved enough to connect with me, feel free to do so. I am always open to speaking with everyone. With love, Krystal

When Immigration Agents Came Knocking

As someone who has existed in the US as an undocumented immigrant for well over a decade, I know the constant fear and shroud of secrecy one must exist in. When Trump won the election at the end of 2016, I moved through my circle of family and friends witnessing and absorbing their pain and dread. I followed the news closely seeing what was happening to others also living in the shadows, many of whom should be protected by DACA and I knew I had to do something about it. I turned to the one thing that would help me bring attention to what was happening with these individuals on a very personal, human level--writing. Since writing this piece for The New York Times Magazine, I've connected with many people worldwide who have thanked me for bringing attention to this issue on a very human level.  

"Are you the nanny?"

Before moving to the suburbs, I lived in very urban areas like Jersey City and Bayonne and during my time there people from all walks of life just came together. Seeing a multiracial couple was the norm. That was my husband's and my own reality, one we unfortunately took for granted. After moving to a predominantly white neighborhood for a variety of reasons, the nasty subtleties of race didn't take long to rear their ugly head and I found people asking me daily if I was the nanny of my own children. It was definitely a shock but one that kept echoing in my head for over a year and a half before I found myself writing about it. The hurt and anger that comes with being questioned like that in front of your own children while they listen is one that never dissipates. 

The NICU never leaves you

This is probably the hardest thing I've ever written as well as one of the more difficult times I've had to live through. When our first daughter was born prematurely at 32 weeks, we didn't know if she was going to survive. To process what I was going through, I started writing about this experience when she was only six months old but we were not out of danger yet. Every so often I would revisit this piece and as she grew older and I stepped into the role of motherhood more fully, the work would shift and change. It took over four years for this piece to form and even then, as I wrote and edited for Today's Parent, I found myself crying over these memories she would never recall. This essay, like the one I wrote for the Times, was truly formed when I realized I wanted to write it for others and not for myself. 

We Set Our Tables

I once belonged to a 100-word group that consisted of seven writers--one for each day of the week. We wrote together for years, one person borrowing something from the piece written before them. Because everything we wrote was supposed to be as close to 100 words as possible (this was afterall an exercise in discipline that many of us wordy wordsmiths failed to follow), poetry became the medium I turned to. I remember the woman who wrote before me wrote about food and I wanted to tap into food and culture and how that has changed for me and my family since emigrating to the States. 

Milk Machine: One Donor Mom's Journey

After my first daughter was born prematurely, I found myself unable to breastfeed her. Simultaneously, I stumbled into the territory of exclusive pumping. Included in a small percentage of women, I overproduced breastmilk. Experiencing the NICU taught me just how crucial that liquid gold could be to another mother and her child on the brink of death. Instead of squirreling it all away in my freezer where I may or may not use it, I turned to donating my breastmilk to NICU babies (whenever I could). This remains one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.  

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