Sometimes I feel like an accident. I wasn’t meant to happen. All these feelings, mixed up and complicated by strangers I hardly know. Yet something always lingers on and i have no way to make sense of it all. I miss writing. I miss something, some part of myself. Always felt like I’d be moving somewhere, not quite sure where that somewhere would be. It’s like here I am, lisetning to indie music like I am 17 years old again. Dream big, I want to write, I want to publish people’s books, I want to go to law school, I am going to continue to be a community organizer. I am going to fall in love with someone who loves me and together our love will change the world. I will let go, I will move on. Too often, I feel like I live in a world that is turned against us. Like if our hurt someone how mattered less than everyone’s else’s hurt. It is partly because a culture of extreme narccicism. Immature and incredibly selffish people, like Bryan, like my sister. They will just run you over with a car and laugh about it in your face. I am just not like that. I am sensitive towards other people. I have this timidness towards people. I am not as open as I would like to be. I am afraid I am still naive. I don’t feel like I am in the position to take risks, As if I can no longer afford to take any more risks, like what I really need is myself to survive. As hard as that is, it seems better than allowing myself to become broken again. I don’t understand people my own age, honestly I apologize to everyone out there for all the shitty things us 23 year olds do. We ruin lives, we make mistakes, we have no idea what we are doing with out lives. I am still living with my parents in Downey. I havent been in a relationship in four years. I like older people. I respect their healthy respect for themselves and others. It’s funny that it’s supposed to be the best time of our lives because I feel like I go through each day just hoping the sky doesn’t just collapse on me. Like if I could just hold myself together for a minute longer, it will be ok. No one turns the stones over to examine them closely, no one turns me over to get a real sense of where I’ve been, am I ok. Does this stone have a projected life path they want to continue to go? How has the water, the elements, the heat and air affected it’s shape? Crushed under weight for years, wiggled through rocks, tossed into lakes, rippling across the water.
It’s not about one person really. I am not here to upset the cosmic balance. I am not making ontological or metaphysical claims. But rather, just observing it all. The mental/emotional disruption that I feel like I can only be losely joined thorugh ideas, movements, waves of intellectuals and artists willing to risk their lives, pull of dangerous stunts, and moves to destroy and change the world. By destruction, I mean absolutely rewrite and reimagine the way we live. Outside the boxes of every ideological system set before us. More radical than I know less and less people really imagine. I want to upset the cosmic balance in that sense, I am not here to be sad or silent. THAT’s the point of my existence, it’s just alliance, solidarity. it is me holding your hand until you feel better, hugging you after you puke, kissing your lips before I drive away. It is staying up late to finish zines, putting in hours turoting, teaching, writing more applications. Just hoping. Hoping too hard. So hard for something better, trying not to internnally collapse. Applying to everything BRO. Working my ass off, sending my shit everywhere, keep on keep on hoping for the best as shit get’s harder every year. It is us being together, relieved we don’t have to suffer from being apart for another eternal moment, as we fade away, struggling harder into the background. The love I couldn’t let go, the government, the metaphors
If you are wondering where are we going, let me give you a clue; nowhere unless you want to go somewhere. And that desire to go somewhere would nescesitate a plan, an action, a decision. It’s all a choice. That’s why I don’t sympthaize with cynicism anymore. It’s our world for the taking, no? May as well kick, scream, love, and fuck while we still can.
omg, I just wanna work at verso.
I think I’m sad. I can’t seen to find myself again. Did I leave it at the store? The artist in the everyday, but when you know something is missing. Is it psychic? Is it loss? Have I evaporated and melted away into the space-time-continuum. It’s the paralysis and the stress, pressure I place onto myself. It’s like trying so hard to go somewhere, I feel like I keep ok getting lost in myself, trapped into tiny moments, into my own delusions and hallucinations. Even when I reflect and try to think critically, there us a part or myself that tears myself apart, like I am trying to live my life on some impossible standard, the trap of “trying to save the world” romantic idealism. I don’t find great hope or salvation in the structures, which neither protect or save us. I never feel like I am just doing “my job” but I get pulled into other ideas, tracks, or distractions. Even when I try to narrow my focus, my imagination is too reckless and wanders off, imagining, daydreaming, perhaps longing for something I can only describe through mirrors. It’s not just communism or a communist fantasy, it’s the play I get lost in, I’m the different actors, there are different potentials and outcomes. The only problem is that even when I think I’m certain I’ve settled into a role that fits, the script always changes, and I don’t know who I am acting out anymore. We get lost in the illogic of capitalism; disgust and horror become the norm, banality and violence become all too common. I just don’t know how much longer it will last..
I’ve been reading different pieces from various feminist and academic projects and participating in my own feminist transformative justice project, and I notice there is a silence from radical feminists who are braking boundaries and uniting communities through their work. I’m just reflecting on all the conditions we are living in, the shit we are living through. I am reflecting on how as people of color, as womyn, as members of the lgbt community, and as feminists working through our own lives and words to shift and radicalize feminism, we don’t give ourselves enough credit. I am tired of men and women laughing in my face about my ideas, my passions, and about the work I do with friends I care so strongly for. Community accountability is a real radical alternative process to the punitive criminal justice system in a way I think it should continue to shift how we imagine or conceptualize ‘justice’. There needs to be a movement supporting womyn of color doing this difficult work, and there also needs to be a shift in how we imagine feminist politics— as reorganized into empowering communities and reallocating resources to the working class. I want to continue to share my visions and insights on the process of organizing for community accountability as part of anti-racist, anti-capitalist, anti-violence work,with careful respect to all those involved,and also reflect to its relation on the macro- social and interpersonal level. Feminism is not just a ‘cute thing’ like dying your hair or sewing a patch, it is part of the critical voices which makes demands for community empowerment and strives for a better future for all.
I have been thinking (or rather, obsessing) over the question of fantasy, questioning to what extent are fantasies, whether our own contructions or projections are useful. And the answer is yes to all of these, and what these fantasies reveal is interesting in how we ontologically locate and forumulate certain heteronormative notions (norms), but also complicating them at the same time. I want to take two, or maybe three songs from Beyonce’s latest self titled video album, “Drunk in Love”, “Yonce/Paritition”, and “Bow Down” to deconstruct and complicate (or re-complicate, Idk it’s all fair theory game) to get out why I also take pleasure in them, reflecting more critically on my own desires. I think for feminists such as myself, who are not mainstream ‘desired’ bodies, these moments of reflection can be fun, deep, enlightening, and also empowering. What it reveals is how Beyonce’s own image, art, performance, and music, produced by the same patriarchal capitalist imperial mass media machine, does not just play with hertero-male sexual desires, such as the “Jay-Z” mogul male gaze, but also creates a more open fluid libidinal space. Here we can continue to listen/consume/ and enjoy music about sexuality that expands the discursive space of sex, the moment somone asks “is this song about making straight love to Jay-Z, or is about her making love to herself?” there is much to appreciate all around. The music production with the video are designed to be reveled, the backtrack to any popular dance club gay or straight (but I am more interested in the gay, honestly). For example, “Drunk in Love” is “dominated by trap beats in chunks and bass instrument” while “it’s lyrics depeict female sexuality as Knowles adopts sensual and confident vocals” (wikipedia, sue me). If you know anything about Trap music, is that it has become insanely popular and marketable, and is often associated with a the lives of abject bodies, of womyn, people of color, and the scene of the strip club (there is a burlesque club in Los Angeles that plays trap/chopped and screwed music exclusively, where the bodies and the music are both present and productive). Rappers such as Juicy-J have popularized the genre while also playing into the hypersexualization of these abject bodies. Therefore, it is no surprise that Beyonce has embraced the beats but also interesting how it is also creating a space between public/private exhanges and performances of gender roles and still made available for mainstream readio ears. I also think it is interesting in how the music and performance from such a commercial female popstar can be reinterperted and queered. For example, this performance by choreopgrapher Yanis Marshall.
I’ve been drinking, I’ve been drinking
I get filthy when that liquor get into me
I’ve been thinking, I’ve been thinking
Why can’t I keep my fingers off it, baby?
I want you, na na
Why can’t I keep my fingers off you, baby?
I want you, na na
[Verse 1: Beyoncé]
Cigars on ice, cigars on ice
Feeling like an animal with these cameras all in my grill
Flashing lights, flashing lights
You got me faded, faded, faded
Baby, I want you, na na
Can’t keep your eyes off my fatty
Daddy, I want you, na na
Drunk in love, I want you
We woke up in the kitchen saying
"How the hell did this shit happen?", oh baby
Drunk in love, we be all night
Last thing I remember is our
Beautiful bodies grinding off in that club
Drunk in love
We be all night, love, love
We be all night, love, love
[Verse 2: Beyoncé]
We be all night, and everything alright
No complaints for my body, so fluorescent under these lights
Boy, I’m drinking, park it in my lot, 7-11
I’m rubbing on it, rub-rubbing
If you scared, call that reverend
Boy, I’m drinking, get my brain right
Armand de Brignac, gangster wife
Louis sheets, he sweat it out like washed rags, he wet it up
Boy, I’m drinking, I’m singing on the mic ‘til my voice hoarse
Then I fill the tub up halfway then ride it with my surfboard
Graining on that wood, graining, graining on that wood
I’m swerving on that, swerving, swerving on that big body Benz
Serving all this, swerve, surfing all of this good good
[Bridge] + [Hook]
[Verse 3: Jay Z]
That D’ussé is the shit if I do say so myself
If I do say so myself, if I do say so myself
Hold up, stumble all in the house time to back up all that mouth
That you had all in the car, talking ‘bout you the baddest bitch thus far
Talking ‘bout you be repping that Third, wanna see all that shit that I heard
Know I sling Clint Eastwood, hope you can handle this curve, uh
Foreplay in a foyer, fucked up my Warhol
Slid the panties right to the side
Ain’t got the time to take drawers off: on sight
Catch a charge I might, beat the box up like Mike
In ‘97 I bite, I’m Ike Turner, turn up
Baby know I don’t play, now eat the cake, Anna Mae
Said, “Eat the cake, Anna Mae!”
I’m nice, for y’all to reach these heights you gon’ need G3
4, 5, 6 flights, sleep tight
We sex again in the morning, your breasteses is my breakfast
We going in, we be all night
[Verse 4: Beyoncé]
Never tired, never tired
I been sippin’, that’s the only thing
That’s keeping me on fire, me on fire
Didn’t mean to spill that liquor all on my attire
I’ve been drinking, watermelon
(I got got your body right here, daddy, I want you, right now)
Can’t keep your eyes off my fatty
Daddy, I want you
On the strip club (watch Rihanna’s “Pour It Up” for further reflection) and further analysis of sexualized objects of exchange, desire, and an interesting jab at respectability politics
1. “Drunk in Love"The duo along with Noel Fisher, Andre Eric Proctor, Rasool Diaz, Brian Soko,Timothy Mosley, Jerome Harmon and Boots composed the song for Knowles’ fifth studio album Beyoncé(2013). Musically, “Drunk in Love” is dominated by trap beatsin chunks and bass instrument. Its lyrics depict female sexuality as Knowles adopts sensual and confident vocals. Jay-Z performs a rap verse on the song. Contemporary music critics wrote generally positive reviews for the “Drunk in Love”, many of whom called it a follow-up to Knowles’ and Jay-Z’s 2003 song “Crazy in Love”. (Wikipedia)
I am feeling weird, so I guess I will write a little diary like post on this blog like thing. I am feeling torn and I am struggling how to really define what “success” looks like for me and why that might look different compared to other’s people’s ideas with success. Right now having a job with a bacehlor’s degree in any humanities field is considered a “success”. Living in a nice house and not being in a messed up relationship is a success. Having good friends and a loving family feels like success. I feel blessed, what I really want out of life is to continue to feel like I am useful, smart, and making a difference. I quit my BCBG internship because I realized something about myself, that I am more interested in being smart than selling clothes. That being smart makes me feel better and is a better way to help others less fortunate. Even if it was switching to an internship at a nonprofit in legal aid immigration, I felt like I was actually helping people and I was humbled by the experience. I wasn’t surrounded by the rich and famous, there were no celebrities or fashion shoots, but I was excited to learn about the different cases and have the opportunity to talk to clients. It felt real. I miss that internship, but you learn to value what you have, when you have, so don’t mess up those internship experiences! (I was just there for a few months)
I am now reflecting how it’s like to be back in Boyle Heights (which I’ve grown to really love, wouldn’t leave, would love to work at the International Institute goddamit) and it feels good to know that I am helping others in small ways. It feels like a dark irony, working at a catholic school, as if all my secularism is coming back to haunt me. I am easily the youngest person working there, and most of the time I feel like the most bored. The only other person with a bitchier attitude is the lunch lady, who probably hates her job and every blessed child of god she has to clean up after. I like kids, I like when they read to me, but sometimes it is so damn boring. I get way too excited to have even a bit of adult small talk, I start fantisizing we get into a deep discussion on college majors, theology, and philsophical themes, but of course, that never happens. Instead I am rolling up cotton balls for Santa Claus craft projects and getting pre-schoolers ready for their nap time. Like they can’t trust me to do anything else, hooray! I am kind of used to that though, at my previous internship at the Public Law Center, they treated me like any law topic would instantly be over my head, never mind I have a degree, that I have a deep desire and interest in learning as much as I can! It makes me feel like a closted intellectual like “No, I have no idea what that means, tell me all about it.” It’s awkward, and I don’t know if that’s how being an adult is supposed to feel, because that’s how I feel around other adults ( not in my close social circles) all the time. I like to be trusted to look up things on my own, screw-up, and then go from there. I do service. I am mother teresa in ways I would have never wanted to be. I am so glad I took the GRE because it helped me confirm, at least to myself, that I will go to graduate school and continue to write and research and hopefully get published. That all the study and mental stress is so worth it, because it is going to feel so beautiful to accomplish something and be proud of myself. I am rethinking law school because it’s just another ludicrous option with limited opportunities, where writing, research, and pushing myself creatively and intllectually is still involved. I got a year from now to apply, so I can do it, I believe in myself now in ways I didn’t even imagine I could before.
I still remember my last tutoring gig where I would visit kid’s homes in Long Beach, 13 an hour, that’s 260 a week, not bad kid. BUT I MADE MORE MONEY DOING THAT THAN I DO NOW (520 every two weeks, alright, with time to read and write about Judith Butler and teoria literaria). I don’t know where all that money went, I don’t know where my time went, I don’t know where my mind went. This is the point where I feel a little depressed about my CURRENT situation and deeply question the decisions I have made up to this point. I think during my break I am going to continue to look for a BETTER job, where I feel more like a professional and less than then the, make her do whatever because I am not even being paid by hourly. I am smart, it will get better…
Femenistas Clandestinas: An Underground Feminims Photo Project
Sylvia Rivera (1951-2002) was a Puerto Rican and Venezuelan trans and queer activist from New York City. She is well known for her influence in the social justice struggles of the 1960’s and 70’s, including the Gay Liberation Movement and Third World Liberation Movements. She participated in the Stonewall Riots and famously fought her way on stage at the 1970 Christopher Street Liberation March (soon to become the Gay Pride Parade) and called out the mainstreaming and destruction of the Gay Liberation Movement. Sylvia Rivera is a fierce reminder to live, think, feel and act complexly. From her complex experience as a person with multiple marginalized identities, she thought and fought back for queer and trans youth of color, especially those who were experiencing poverty and homelessness. She knew that even those who represent marginalized identities still had the capacity to perpetuate structural oppression. The self-proclaimed “feminists” who condemned her and used transphobic rhetoric to exclude her from participating in their activist circles were just as responsible for perpetuating patriarchy as anyone else. People with power and privilege decontextualized and appropriated social justice rhetoric to serve their own interests. They were mainstreaming liberation movements, moving from collectivity to privatization and subsequently separating the theory and struggle from the people who created it in the first place. These thoughts, the work and the actions of the most vulnerable populations were being turned around on them and used to exclude them. I remember Sylvia Rivera’s struggle and her unwavering commitment to truly radical, compassionate and complex activism when I feel helpless and alone. Her strength continues to be an inspiration for me to fiercely advocate for myself and other highly vulnerable communities, even if it seems no one will listen. She taught me how to create theory and action starting from my most intimate understandings of my own experience and deep love for my people.
My grandma Alicia migrated from Zacatecas, Mexico, to the barrio of Boyle Heights in Los Angeles in the 1970s. She was a survivor of domestic violence and a single mother of six children. Her 8th grade education in a rural school permitted her to work at several low-paying jobs while in the U.S. When I was a child, I was left in her care while my parents were at work. She would make me tacos de papa when she was feeling extra generous, and she would watch 1930s Mexican films whenever they would air on television. She would take me all around the city with her on the bus, since she didn’t own a car, and she would often tell me how much she missed her father and siblings who still lived on the ranch where she grew up in Mexico.
In 2005, she lost her life to cancer, and her children, including my father, have since grown apart from one another without her unifying presence in their lives. When I remember my grandma, I remember a matriarch that spent so much energy loving me and teaching me about my (and her) cultural heritage. I remember a woman who worked the night shifts so that her children could be the first in their families to attend college. I recall a mujer that never spoke to me much about the history of physical & emotional violence inflicted upon her by her ex-husband, who fathered five of her six children, but I do remember her pride for being, as she would say, both a mother and a father. Her life is a powerful embodiment of feminism for me because she taught me that we needed to reject the machismo found in my grandfather, my dad, and other men in our communities. She knew, as I do now, that it is the women who take up the reigns and fill the many gaps that Latino men often create.
My Mom and my Mami. These mujeres are stubborn, focused, generous, and intelligent. They’ll tell you how it is but they know how to laugh, and know how to appreciate life. These are the women that taught me to be resourceful, to make use of home remedies, to buy things on sale, to pay attention, to pick things up quickly, to ask for the things I deserve, and to do things for myself. When I was younger, I remember going on long walks with Mami and having to work to keep up with her as she wound in and out of dirt paths with agility, pulling me over, under, and through. She would always make me eat lots of oranges, cut up with salt on the side. She’s healthy and put together, a Tica on a mission, a world traveler with serious cooking skills. While she’s reached a point of comfort now, she never forgets her home and the journey she made to Connecticut with her siblings to work and where she raised my mother by herself.
My Mom has always shown me that it’s ok to leave things behind and start over, that as long as you have family and as long as you have yourself, it’s ok to be scared at first, you’ll adjust. While you may be pulled between places, you can take your home with you. As I go through college very far from home, I think of how my mom left for Costa Rica at 18 with only her broken Spanish to have her world turned upside down. A few years later she moved to Nicaragua with my father following the destruction of the revolution to join a new family.
They have kept our family afloat time and time again. Even though they value the men in their lives, they have always known when to put up boundaries, when to put themselves first and assert their independence. While Mami and my Mom have their differences, they have survived together in this country and fulfilled their dreams of making connections and relationships beyond it. I hope I can match their courage and strength to do the same.
She is my manager, my mentor, my second mother. Yolie Aleman-Rodriguez is one of my biggest influences. With her story of oppression and resistance, she was able to open my eyes to the harsh realities of a heteropatriarchal society as well as the power of being your own person and finding happiness. Being a Latina woman, her family constantly reminded her of her assumed future: a house wife. After running away from a home that prevented her from being her own person, she discovered her strengths and has since then accomplished all of her goals. Named the 2012 Woman of the Year by Mujer, Inc., she has taught me to do what makes me happy because at the end of the day, I am the only person who matters.
The woman who is my Latina feminist icon is my mom, Valerie. She grew up in the projects of El Barrio (NYC) and was the first one in her family to go to college. She’s now a lawyer and single mother, helping to put my brother and I through college. She always taught me to be myself and has always supported my dreams and always makes sure that no matter how I identify or what I do I am welcome and wanted at home. My mom has taught me that it’s okay to be silly while being hardworking, and that it’s okay to not always be confident and “strong.” I aspire to be even a quarter of the woman that my mother is.