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

The Wormhole of Memory

Image by David Samuel

I have not been good at blogging. It’s not for a lack of things I want to say/write about. It’s a lack of wanting to share them. Which is strange because I didn’t used to have a problem with sharing and when I decided to start blogging again this year I wanted to share more. But I have found that as I’m working on my first memoir project, the writing work of going inward and backward, there is a conflict between that and and blogging writing.

 

I’m grateful for all the digital footprints I have left. They are useful as I reflect, remember and one day my manuscript will be a book and it will be public and people can dissect and disagree and digest. But this process of going back has me being more cautious : fact checking and memory checking, because yes the memory does need to be checked.

 

Before there were blogs, before there were bulletin boards, before there was livejournal there were regular journals and I have kept these for as long as I can remember. They are lined with images cut out from magazines and newspapers reflecting my interests and curiosities (as well as maturity). Some of them are lined with hearts and arrows and whoever was the object of my desire at the moment and whatever nickname they gave me and the names I gave them or what I called them : Nene, Stupid Married Boy, la Lengua, el Chileno, El Cubano, El Colombiano, etc etc etc. As I got older I began to put an index in the front inside covers : No more hearts around names but there were names, significant events, important places, and the date the journal was opened and closed.

 

But these handwritten musings, recollections, reflections are one sided. I’m grateful for processes that the memoir class I enrolled in have me engaged in. I’m questioning my recollections and writing notes as to who I need to ask to verify. My feelings aren’t up for debate but other things could be. But then there are people I will never ask. People I don’t ever want to speak to again or if I did speak to them could unleash a regression or worse – an obsession with nostalgia that I am prone to.

 

Cue the internet. My father never told me much about his childhood so I don’t know much about what La Trocha, Vega Baja is like. This led me to googling that then to googling his former jobs to confirm memories and scandals. Then I googled his wife and then found my half siblings – one who lives in Los Angeles. I found weddings and babies and whole life without me, my sister, my children.

 

I expected to be sadder or angrier than I was. I was both those things but in a very matter of fact way that 20 some years gives you.

 

But  there were also happier wormholes, like finding pictures of my piano and ballet teachers (yes, I took ballet and piano) and the studios where I went every Saturday Morning for much of my childhood. Despite the trite joke about how you get to Carnegie Hall (practice, practice, practice), those studios aren’t there anymore. My piano and ballet teachers have long died and my father and his kids, my half-siblings went on with their lives without me. It’s not something to be sad or angry about. It just is or rather it just was.

 

 

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.

 

Tanto Espacio Y Todavia Falta

I feel like I’ve been living in borrowed space, borrowed time with borrowed people for a little bit now. It’s been a week or so since I’ve been locked out of my online casita, MamitaMala. It’s funny. I was Mamita Mala before I was a blogger and yet, blogging and the community carved from it, has been unbelievably important, full of impact and implications. So, call me an addict for missing the blog as an outlet, but it really is an extension of myself and my life reaching in and then out.

So the chica, who struggles with the desire for home and homeland, the mujer who fights against borders, outlines and claims another space, an tent city for my exiled words, aqui.

It feels a little silly, the attention paid to the details here. The dark colors reflecting my morning/mourning mood this morning and now the meticulously designed banner courtesy of Xolagrafik , (mil gracias Nezua for capturing) reflecting the Nuyorican poeta/puta. All this for a home that is not permanant, pero rather an in between space.

Pero it makes sense. It reflects my in between heart that knows where it wants to be but has a long way to go to get there.

So si, bienvenida to the neon lit ciudad until it too, burns away.