10 Year Cycles

Nostalgia has always been a haunting presence in my life. Too often let my mind wander into the what ifs and I hone in on key moments, key people. At age 41 you’d think I get over this nasty little habit, stop feeding the bad spirits so that they recognize they can’t have a home in me but then again at age 41 you see the cycles so much more clearly.

Tragedies, history, trauma – I have come to believe are all cyclical and I wish that all the therapy and self care in the world would wipe that truth away – allow for clean endings and even neater beginnings pero la vida no es asi.

10 years ago I was writing about politics from a somewhat safe distance. My (measly) paycheck depended on it but in a different way than now. I could write about who was running for president, family separations at the borders and within, the politicians on both sides of the aisle talking out of both sides of their mouths and the nonprofits that propped them and their policies up – the same nonprofits that were once in lust with the likes of media makers (ahem bloggers, err journalists) like me with little repercussion except for counter posts, canceled contracts, blocked access to alleged insider information.

10 years ago I was equally as careless (or carefree?) about writing about my romances, my motherhood, my lack, my want, my desires. It was the the death knell for relationships but also the opening of other realizations about what (for better or for worse) I was capable of.

10 years later I have become capable of things I only dreamed of – I fantasized about moving west with/for a chain of lovers and here I am, in a house in Los Angeles . 10 years ago, the same non-profits ,whose practices I disparaged , are now part of my day to day.  10 years ago I imagined what it would be like to not fund raise (now crowdfund) for basic needs. I don’t have to imagine but there are still basic needs unmet.

I still haven’t written that damn book(s) -although I’m working on it. I still haven’t finished school – although I’m working on it. I still haven’t found that safety that romantic/sexual love was supposed to bring. That I think I’ve given up on. I’ve provided a decent life for my daughters but have also put them at great risk and now I seek a different type of safety. A different kind of security that can only come through deep heartache and learning from that heartache.

I’ve always given few fucks about certain things like rules, expectations but now from a place of precarious comfort and privilege I give even less fucks. I still have deep desires, deep hopes, and deep expectations of what I am capable of. I have proven to myself that jumping in the pool ( to steal a baby daddy’s quote) , holding my breath and hoping I will surface yields some progress but also costs so so much.

So 10 years later- the first day of a new month, when the veil between this world and others is transparent I don’t just ask the spirits, what they would do, but I ask my past self. And the answer is clear – as Audre Lorde said – it is better to speak. We were never meant to survive and yet here we still are. IMG_20181027_170314715_HDR

We Are One Another’s Survival

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I haven’t written for a few days. I was travelling – physically to Detroit, emotionally and archivally much further back. Returning to Detroit after 5-6 years Detroit has changed so much. If I felt shock at the Q line and the stores and restaurants along Cass, I can only imagine what it feels like to people who live there.

The people I was with for two days felt, seemed so young to me, not just in age but also experience and I had to muster kindness and gentleness at times, reminding myself how little I knew and how much I thought I knew as a young organizer of 20, of 30 even. How hard it is to balance trying to become “professional” with your values. Not that I have that figured out. In therapy today I wondered aloud how Richie (Perez) did it. How did he work in a big non-profit while fighting so many institutions that in many ways bolstered his place of work and vice versa. I was reminded at how impossible it is really to compartmentalize ourselves when we are driven by values. For example I was surprised to see at this meeting someone I know through my professional life and I had to consciously let go of the worry that I would seem less ED like because of my life as a media maker was exposed.

As I went back – including looking back at what my connection was to Detroit – a collection of women of color some of whom I have shared almost half of my life with virtually and actually it became obvious how much we are one another’s survival. I mean this metaphorically, as I have been blessed to witness how some of these women have evolved into authors, educators, artists. Nothing makes me happier than walking into a bookstore and seeing some of their names on the spines of books but I also mean this literally. Thinking back to how I blogged, texted, and cried into computer keyboards and in some of these women’s arms when I was physically abused by one of my partners, when my gas was shut off and I was going to be evicted. They gave me pep talks as I sobbed into my phone on my way to blogger meetups and they sent me their life’s savings so that my kids and I wouldn’t be homeless. All while they too were struggling to live in a world that told us and still tells us that we don’t matter, that our stories don’t matter. We remind(ed) one another that we do matter and that together we are powerful and real.

On my last night in Detroit, three of us women of color sat in a car in the parking lot of a kabob place in Hamtramck. It was maybe six degrees outside but the inside of the car was warm and warm tears fell from my closed eyes as I listened to a dear friend of mine pray in Arabic. This is a friend of mine who has stayed with me and my kids in my tiny ass apartment in Corona, Queens and in my current home in Los Angeles. I may not know exactly what her words meant but I know they felt like our survival. They felt like our power. We all breathed differently after that prayer and I’m still breathing differently now.

We Have Lived Volumes

I’m proud of how 2018 is going, despite the heartbreaking reminders of what a terrible, unjust world we live in, country we live in, city I live in. There are sounds, breaths, smiles, whispers, words, text messages, emails, this week that remind me me how much I am held up, how much I hold others, how much we all hold each other and how will survive this and be survived – if we put some work in. If we put some love in.

 

I didn’t blog yesterday because what I wanted to share  – the rage I was feeling yesterday at so many things, situations, people, institutions – when I started to write so much came out – too much came out and it’s not for here. This isn’t the right medium for it. I poured it into my manuscript(s – because like Bianca wrote to me on twitter it’s a mash up that will turn into a brick y toma, Rosana said volumes). Oh have I lived volumes and we have lived them together.  

 

I’m proud of myself for sitting down nightly – even after feeling – even when feeling beat down and disheartened and just tired and writing. Writing for my blog, writing the book(s). This week I also start an online class on memoir writing because I’ve never taken a writing class in my whole life even though I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. And the process has been, is kind of amazing. Last night I wrote – furiously – about the cycles I have been able to witness and be a part of (for better or worse) and ended up smiling remembering the first time I learned to use a french press. And that memory – sweet, tender, fraught – was a metaphor for everything. How in the midst of so much we can and do still connect with people over the mundane and not so mundane. These are the touchstones to our survival.

 

There was also a bit of a panic yesterday – over the things revealed/remembered/recalled. Things that have not been made public that will see light and oh how ever would I do them justice in that light. How – technically speaking in terms of form but in terms of also the emotion that gets transferred in the process of remembering and trying to pin that memory down into a sentence, a paragraph, a page.

 

But today I am proud. Today I am grateful. Today I shared some time thanks to technology with people, mujeres who were part of an early point of my journey and I part of theirs and we spoke, planned, dreamed. Brilliant is a word that Lex uses often and rightfully so. This journey continues through the work we are all doing in our respective corners and the way we converge together.

 

It’s exciting and it gives me hope.  IMG_20180106_164927257.jpg

The gods have given us talents , we will be judged for how we use them

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I’m reading Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Talents for this new year and it feels appropriate. I’m not deep enough into the book to make a deep commentary about how it connects to (predicts? Seriously she predicts the whole “MAGA” meme) the current historic/political moment in the United States. What I am holding/taking from the book now has to do with my goals/visions (don’t say resolutions) for the new year.

I spent the last week of 2017 in the city that helped create me, with the family that helped mold me. My mother and I have developed this ritual/routine on the last night of my visits “home”. We kill a bottle of wine (or two), catch up on our lives as two adult women, while reality tv plays in the background.

I don’t know if it was the wine, the time of year, or the comfort of being the closest thing I’ve ever known to home but I had to confess my regrets about my writing, my lack of discipline, and my inability to trust myself and value myself enough (more).

This is one of the reasons why I decided to restart the blog. I missed the sound (action) of my own voice. I miss the practice of daily writing for an audience – imaginary or real – even though more than anything I’m writing for myself. There are also opportunities coming – spaces for me to reclaim myself as a media maker and as someone who actually had a role in creating the culture of online/digital media especially for women of color, for mamis, for put@s (or is it putx – my age is shoring) and for how multiple identities intersect with politics and how they are interpreted and spun and sold back to us by media claiming to know about us, be about us, be us.

The digital news/journalism realm has proven itself to be cyclical in nature and in lock step with politics especially thinking about how media, politicians and non-profit organizations work together to create narratives. Conversations about the DREAM Act being discussed alongside conversations about the rising power of white supremacy take me back to the late 2000s when we were talking about the minutemen and the DREAM Act and of course I could go back even further but you’ll have to buy the book I’m going to write this year for that.

And yes – I told my mom this. Half drunk, definitely full of myself, and on the real – exacerbated by seeing the same spin in a new decade with sort of new tools with young(er) writers thinking they invented analysis and the means to share that analysis.

So yeah I told my mom I’m writing a book. I may have tweeted about it. Now I’m blogging about it. I guess that means I need to do it.

PS – I know at least one of my beloved work wives has been reading the relaunch and I’m grateful for the audience and for the accountability. Hold me to all these things. It’s for all of us.

 

Volver a Empezar (2018)

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I am actually writing this as 2017 is coming to a close. It is the night of the last new moon of the year and I have a horrible cold that I swear was my body and spirit detoxing from a hard hard year.

The cold came a day after a day of hangover symptoms even though I didn’t have alcohol. Peeps in my office had me convinced that office yoga moved some energy in me. I also could have just been exhausted from two weeks of travelling (LA to Chicago to NY to LA to San Fran and to LA again). Did I mention I traveled with my 10 year old?

2017 was an intense year that screamed at me that things needed to change in my life. The outside world was doing its own screaming. We have our 45th president. I turned 40. My personal/family life was a mess so I began therapy. My adult child moved out. My partner and I started couple’s therapy. Two exes told me how wonderful I was for them because of all I did for them and all of this left me heartbroken and feeling like, to quote my 10 year old, my cup of care was empty.

There are a few things that did manifest themselves at the end of 2017 that seem to me like breakthroughs/visions. One of those things is how much I miss writing and performing and that the veil that I think exists between me as a “professional” and me as a media maker is an illusion. People in the NPIC where I now draw a paycheck knew me (and resented/disliked me) as Mamita Mala. No one talks about it because in the Los Angeles NPIC very few people are direct about anything. There is a lot of chisme and talking behind people’s backs. I prefer to be direct.

In December when my dear amiga brought me to an open mic and I read a piece almost as old as my older child, word got around quick. It felt good when I read at make/shift’s closing and it gave me the opportunity to reclaim and stand in my role as media make/writer. So I will spend much of 2018 figuring out how I reclaim and hold that part of me alongside the rest of me.

I’m not leaving my job anytime soon – as I – much to chagrin of many – am good at it, and I actually enjoy working with the people I work with and there are goals that I have for the org I serve that I would like to see achieved.  However I’m under no illusion that I will be in my role forever. That’s not healthy – not for the org or for me, and honestly while Los Angeles has been so good to me, it also has broken my heart and left me feeling very very lonely. I suspect I will also figure out a path that will eventually bring me back to New York. Again this will likely be a long path but it needs to be drawn.

Also I have recognized that for much of my life I have sacrificed too much of myself for the care of others – especially lovers- in the hopes of someone, someday eventually offering that much care and attention to me. It has proven a fruitless war with myself thus far – although there have been many beautiful moments of love, affection, beauty, sweetness and yes – good sex. There is something however to the words of lovers who have called me nurturing and even a doormat, all at my own expense and perhaps even at the expense of the well-being of my children.

So much of 2018 will also be about learning to put myself first, get my needs met first and not externally. I can take care of myself ( I have made it thus far – a little wounded but alive) and I need to put a more concerted effort in mothering myself, my work/writing, and my children.

The ever present exhibitionist in me invites you along for this journey

Welcome 2018

Pa’lante

 

 

NaBloPoMo 2015 Day 1 – Dia de Los Muertos

I heard (read) about this Blog Month thing from Viva la Feminista y dije porque no.

To be honest I’ve been hesitant about blogging because:

A: There are things I would write more honestly about if I knew my pareja wouldn’t read them.

B: There are things I would write more honestly about if I knew people who want me to fail at my new gig wouldn’t read them.

And really the two go together. I don’t feel like my partner thinks I can be a good Executive Director and I know there are plenty of people who don’t want me to be. I try not to talk about my job too much to my partner who nitpicks at my word choice or will question my credentials/skills/knowledge. And I purposely am keeping space between myself/my org’s work and some other people who have a complex history with my organization.

And it’s like I have come full circle, to when I was a young single mom, deep into organizing in NYC but felt a little outside of the circle. I’m not young. I’m not really a single mother since my partner and I live together and I’m not as broke as/living from pay check to pay check. And yet I feel like there still aren’t many spaces for women of color in organizing to be honest about how race, gender, ethnicity, sex, motherhood in our day to day lives interacts with our roles/places in organizing (and especially in the messy, super competitive Los Angeles immigration non-profit world).

So I will try – this will be an attempt at thinly veiled honesty.

7 Long Years

A ver if I post here if anyone notices. It’s been so long, so long since I wrote anything that was just about me. Now, in this new iteration of my life in Los Angeles, it’s all about the organizational we and everything else is swallowed by the silence of private life. It’s suffocating, and this is my attempt to give myself some breathing room. Puede ser que nadie se va dar cuenta. Que esto se convierte en mi esquina privida del internet. I’m not trying to make deep political statements here. I’m just me – struggling with co-habitation, struggling with my new role in the NPIC, and always, always struggling with mami’hood.

Today, I’m sick. Canceled a meeting at work because of a cold that I’ve been ignoring all week and now that cold has caught up with me in the middle of a SoCal heatwave. Coughing and tight chest so for the first time in a really long time, I’ve been basically in bed. Reading, now writing. Getting up to make sure my children are alive and fed and busy doing something.

The children are hardly the ones when I stopped writing here. One started community college, the other is in third grade aka the year the testing begins.

A ver dejo esto como prueba – a ver quien se fija antes qie digo mas. Do people even blog anymore?