Anna Minte: pronounced minty- but not about mint tea.
“Good morning Miss Minte” was the message I woke up to this morning. I was having my morning chat with my mom and saw the notification on my phone. It felt satisfying to finally have someone address me by my pen name. So far, there has only been one person to realize why I chose this pseudonym. I would like to make that person everyone.
It was the beginning of September 2015 and I had just returned to the Dominican Republic. I had finally finished my Master’s degree in Educational Leadership (Exciting). I remember arriving on a Friday afternoon. First thing that following Monday I started a new job. At the time, I was working at a health foods store as Store Manager… and cashier… and social media coordinator… and event planner... and cook. Yes. Cook.
The health & fitness industry was a craze at the time so I was very passionate about my job. So much so I even signed up for a Specialist’s degree in Nutrition and Applied dietetics. I thought “Wow, I’ve found my purpose in life”. After a year or so everything turned to crap (mostly due to my poor sleeping habits, nightlife and overdrinking). Eventually, I quit. I didn’t stop to think it through. It was quite the opposite. For every decision I made I kept repeating to myself “Mente a ná”.
Mente a ná’(men-teh ah nah) in its literal translation means “[pay] mind to nothing”. It is a common saying in the DR; used rather lightly but bearing a lot of power. The mantra I used for making any big decision like quitting my job and not considering the consequences; mente a ná. The words behind the unconscious decision of staying up until 6 in the morning to go to work at 7am and spend the day hungover and sleep deprived; mente a ná. To turn 24, unemployed and be unable to pay for my degree, mente a ná. It was a phrase I misused to avoid being responsible for my poor decisions for two years.
By the end of 2016 after quitting my job I had decided I would open up a café with a friend of mine. We brought in an architect friend to measure my parent’s backyard as we would start small. The idea was to build a small spot we would furnish into a book café where people could go and read books, have good food and listen to upcoming local artists for free. The idea, in our minds, was great (as if nobody had ever thought of it. Later on executed by a neighbor before we could say the word Mente. I was pretty clear on the path I wanted to take. My friend, on the other hand, wasn’t. I registered the company’s name as a catering service, Minteanna. A phonological alteration of my mantra. “Genius!”, I thought. Again, the only one who saw it for what it truly was: a couple of friends attempting to turn their hopes and daydreams into something tangible. For others, it was merely a dream. We even spent hours on end creating a vegan fusion of typical Dominican food and Spanish-y tapas menu. As you can see, that didn’t really pan out.
A few hops and skips from one job to another led me to “guide” people (who asked for it) into having a healthier lifestyle. “Might as well put my degree to use”, I thought. I assisted around five to six friends and acquaintances to help them lose weight. As hard as I tried to keep the service going my heart wasn’t in it. My mind wasn’t either. I wanted to build a name for myself. Whether for egotistical reasons to gain recognition or finding out who I was I could never tell. Who am I? This was the question that led me to writing.
Every day I wrote a paragraph or two of whatever came to my mind. If I was at work I would just write about it. My desk. My colleagues. My disappointment of the life I was leading. Then I began writing about my feelings. Those thoughts escalated to what I liked to think was advice on how to dig yourself out of the hole that growing up was. Let’s face it: “adulting” may sound like a verb Millennials manufactured alluding to “doing grown-up things which are basically easy”. Well, for some of us it’s an uphill battle. Even more so if we’ve been conditioned to say and do what we think people around us want to hear and see. A few paragraphs in and pages out and “Q1” came to life.
Being as flaky as I was, to think of my commitment for 1 year, 4 months and 28 days of pursuing publishing a book is my biggest accomplishment. I was embarrassed at first of telling my family, then my friends and later on romantic partners about writing a book (survival guide, memoir…). It has been called many names but it is still the same to me: a recollection of my worst moments, how I thrived because of them and why you should be able to as well. Mente a ná.When the moment came to copyright the content I was still skeptical if this was truly me.
Was this the person I wanted to become? A writer? No. Not everyone who writes is a writer and not anything written a writer makes.
Mente a ná. Minteanna. None of it worked but Anna Minte did. She writes. She feels truly herself when she is exposed. She pays mind to everything and nothing at once. Everything matters and nothing will. Anna Minte writes while I, as I always have, pay mind to nothing except making her real.