I am not interested in your patriarchy

This year has been a very strange year of discovering what I like about writing, and what I do not like about writing. For example, I absolutely love to write in noisy spaces. Noisy spaces are where people gossip. It’s like watching fireworks in a San Fernando Valley back alley – spectacularly familiar and unpredictable.

I am finding it more difficult to write about things that I don’t relate to: like an A-typical family where the man is the head of the home, the mother is at stay at home mom, and the children fall into the 2.5 ratio. I mean, that just wasn’t my reality. I think it is no longer a lot of people’s realities. It doesn’t make me happy to write this, unless it’s to prove a point.

Lately, I have noticed that when I sit down to write – the stories that pour out of me are mostly about women struggles. Specifically women of color, and women with an immigrant background. This is because it reflects my reality and my personal journey. When I write about this, it comes out like a soft song. Sometimes it’s coherent, sometimes it’s just fragments – but I know that’s what it is. It’s me trying to grab onto my voice, my style, my inner power.

I feel as though a lot of women have been silenced and trapped into a corner of the house because of religious and traditional roles. These roles are still valued in our Latin@ communities. It’s history and realities engulf me when I am in family gatherings. I am constantly defending why I have yet to get married or have children. Being in a woman in your thirties, in a predominantly Latino family, is a task.

Once, my mother laughed at me when my boyfriend said I did “not cook enough” for him at home. He was trying to be funny, but he wasn’t trying to be funny. He and I were not jiving that day, and I believe his comment stemmed out of our earlier arguments. It was his jab to me that night. I may be wrong, but that’s what it felt like.

It was an awkward situation. My mother gets told to cook all the time by my younger brother and stepfather. She has felt those pressures and the judgement from other women in her family too. Her laughing at me, was both uncomfortable and sad. I was sad for the both of us because in that moment patriarchy took over our conversation and we didn’t challenge it, we bowed to it by succumbing to what it meant to cook for a man. Let’s talk about it: love, devotion, and etc. etc. etc.

Why should that have to be a factor? And why that task not placed upon the male figure as well? Is my value as a partner only as good as my cooking routine? And what of my mother? She escapes every now and then to go to school, to do some odd jobs. She does it to give herself a little bit of freedom from my stepfather’s paychecks. I know she also longs to detach herself from the stay at home mom role and value system, so why laugh at me? Why not say: “Well maybe it’s because you haven’t cooked for her in a while. When is the last time you showed how devoted you are to my daughter?” Was she laughing at herself too? Or maybe she was laughing at all Latinas as if saying: “Hey guess what? You’re in your thirties now. Pop them babies and put on that apron. Either way you look at it, that’s how your success is valued from here on out.” But women do this, we shoot ourselves down all the time.

I don’t like this. I don’t want to do this. I refuse this.

The more I focus on what women do in order to succeed in LIFE, the more I notice that these inequalities affect the way women relate to each other. In the process of comparing our sizes, what we cook for our man, how well we dress at events, when we should get married, and blah blah blah – I don’t think I’ve ever been taught to stop, look, and listen to other women. Why are we taught to mistrust each other?

This morning I spoke with a religious family member of male gender. In his eyes, I was not being Christian enough. In his point of view, my value as a woman of faith seems lost and therefore, I may not be able to contribute towards x, y, z. I will confess, that I may seem lost at times, but that’s besides the point. My relationship with my faith is none of his business. In fact, I was appalled by his need to break things down to me, as if I had not hear a sermon before. Being raised in a Christian church, I can tell you I remember the laws of the book. I may not be able to recite verbatim, but I know what Love is.

I realized, that Latinas like me, who are in their early thirties, who have chosen to not have a family, who are focusing on their education and careers – can be seen as failures or selfish. I will not blanket the entire American population (and when I say American I mean North and South, because guess what the South is also AMERICA). I know for a fact that progress is bettering the realities for a lot of people all over the world. This morning, however, I felt slightly mistreated. It felt like yet again, I was being confronted with patriarchy. Not the word of God, but Patriarchy.

I wonder how all these years the Christianity and similar faiths like it, have been used to give power to the son, the male, the one to inherit the land. It felt like, for a moment, I was being told that I am not enough for God. Again, I don’t know how that’s any of your business. My puzzling gaze towards his comments ended the conversation. I had no words. I just nodded, and felt as if once again I wasn’t doing enough to challenge this Patriarchy.

I grew up believing the following: (1) Man is made in the image of God, (2) women would not be here were it not for man giving us a rib, (3) women bit the apple, so it’s our fault there is suffering, (4) the pain of childbirth and our moon cycles are punishments for this betrayal. Is it for this reason, the man believes he can speak down to a woman? That men are raised to believe their word is final? I call BS. Whatever it is you think God is, God may not be that for me. I may be wrong about it all, but you also may be wrong about it all. Either way, I don’t believe that super power over the feminine figure (body, mind and spirit) was in Jesus’ mind when he died for us.

My voice and writing is becoming clearer. I am not interested in your patriarchy.

Note: I am discussing something that is more of a personal experience and relatable to me as a Latina Immigrant myself. I focus on a heterosexual relationship when writing about family roles. 

Raining in Los Angeles

Although I am working remotely for two companies (PT) … technically, I am still unemployed in Los Angeles. I’ve reached otu to some potential gigs, but have been debating if whether my next step is work — or travel/work. The company I recently applied to (and was hoping to get a bite from) recently laid off a surmountable amount of people…and I’m like, is that a sign? The temp work with my friend and her dog was just not the place for me, and the film/tv industry is rapidly changing. YouTube, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and other online sources have become THE places to receive and try out new forms of entertainment. From television shows, to programs made for some of these online networks exclusively, and everyone in the industry — from P.A. to talent are trying to adapt to this new found way of entertaining the public.

And again, what about the writer? Before leaving for the Bay Area, I worked at a studio and witnessed a Writer’s Strike. It was kind of scary. Storytellers refusing to write, studios not giving up funds for creatives, and all the other technicalities that come with the contract: distribution rights, titles, royalties, etc. etc. etc.

So where does a writer who was raised in LA, left for Bay Area schooling, and is now BACK in LA  fit in?

I can dwell in the dark abyss, but really — this is also an opportunity to return to my writing. With this extra time, I can go back to my unfinished projects – polish them to get them up and running.

Also–I hereby offer my services to:

  • musicians (I writer lyrics!)
  • writers who need an assistant
  • creative writing groups that need a facilitator

I have to think of more (fun) things to do (potential work?) … but this list will do for now.

It’s raining in LA, and all I can do is drink this weak instant coffee and eat my 2 day old birthday cake. Sigh.

Working with friends and their dogs

I may start this new cool hip job in Los Angeles, and I should be excited. Except it means that I will be working under a close friend. A friend who is a supervisor, if you will. And I don’t know how to deal with that. I mean, her dog hates me. It has been proven by the fact that when I was there with her, the dog barked at me non stop. Is that a sign? A sign that I should NOT do it…accept, try—should I defect and let it go telling myself, well at least I can still have a relationship with my pal! Or should I bite the ****** and go for it. Go for this new exciting career change which deals with people pleasing and all the things I love to do.

Last Friday I worked as a temp to help with phones. The day went great. But I have to admit, there’s something insulting when a dog barks at you to leave an office. I was to make the dog comfortable due to its anxiety. You’re lucky I love you, I told the friend.

Is this a risk worth taking? I don’t know. Already my pal told me I will have less time for writing. Sigh. I feel like I’m being sucked away at by some invisible machine that wants me to bend and kneel. What of my writing? WHAT OF IT?!

What of surviving in this world?

What of retirement?

I sip my mango juice by this computer and ponder quietly to myself. Soon it will be time for beer with friends, a chance to escape reality for at least a little bit.

Happy new year Blog Land!

Walking on Valencia St in SF & Being 30-something

Today I am meeting a friend at a small concert venue, and to kill time I walked down Valencia St in San Francisco. This is what I encountered —

I encountered babies with no shoes. Parents with no cares. French tourists taking pictures of the tall and colorful homes. “Ethnic” shop after “ethnic” shop. I found most of them a little disturbing, including one that had a bunch of animal heads displayed all over the walls. I did not go in there at all. The first two shops I entered were all about leather. Leather is in this fall, I suppose. Pink, green, brown, mustard and caca colored bags that were really cute. But I feel guilty when I buy leather, so I resisted. I walked about one shop smelling their soaps labelled, “Lavendar, Mud, and Sulphur” with a side note “good for your skin.” Where have I been? I thought to myself.

Everyone smelled like fresh lavender and hemp. The restaurant man greeted me, but instantly wanted to know what my deal was because I was only ordering one tapas plate, a side dish and beer. Where am I? I thought to myself. It was right before rush hour after all, so maybe they just wanted to get rid of the weird lady sipping beer, watching the Cubs and Giants game, while simultaneously watching youtube videos of the internets latest and greatest ice bucket challenge: The Foo Fighters. Thanks for bringing back a classic horror film sirs and also, why am I watching this?

And I felt absolutely out of place. In fact, I still feel out of place as I sit here writing about this.

Sitting here in this cafe that has high ceilings and plays this new music that young-ins who are referred to as “hipsters” listen to. I kind of like the music, but I kind of feel guilty for liking it. San Francisco is changing, and I can’t even say I’ve been here long enough to witness it, but you can hear about it wherever you go.

I went into a shopkeepers store and she told me about trade shows and showrooms and I felt like I was 18 again and working for a fashion designer back in LA/Pasadena. She had beautiful small earrings and talked my ear off about no longer considering showrooms as the end and be all of fashion and gifts. Go to etsy.com she said and get to know the artist there, sometimes I get work from there to sell in my shop. Everything is changing around me, and all this time me stuck in my room with a  computer and daydreams. Where have I been?

Then a regular walks in as I am putting on one a grey skirts. They strike up a conversation about being in their mid 30s and going back to graduate school and about moving out of Google town. “You don’t work for Google do you?” the regular asks me, and I quickly nod — NO! But Google aside, all I could think was, well I am not that much younger than these two ladies. The regular kept calling her classmates, “kids!” and I wondered how long it would be when I would start saying that to people who are younger than me —  and meaning it. Then I wondered, have I even noticed that I’m getting old? I don’t think I have! I don’t think anyone does. How do we get here? Where have I been?

Then the store owner pops out her cell phone and shows us her new tiny house. She bought it made. She’s going to start living in the country because the Mission District is no longer a great support for her business. “Yeah, take your show on the road!” I tell her. She’s got a groovy style going on for her, and I think she’d do well with a traveling shop. But then she started talking about farming and selling food and her trinkets and things she makes all natural. It was about the time when she started talking about making a compost toilet that I realized I have yet to touch upon these complexities myself.

Aside from my goal of writing, from practicing it, from venting and talking about it — what else is there? I mean, even if you do get published, how likely is it that it would support you forever? I read somewhere that the average author (who gets published) has about 10 good years on them —and then they get forgotten or lost in the mist…like guerillas. You just fade out. And I had a mini freak out beside the Jane Austen buttons, there as she talked and talked about retiring early, not worrying about her shop anymore, and moving to Oregon with her new tiny house on wheels. Her dreams, simple and right in her hands. Her cash, her earnings all walking out the door with her. The grey hairs on her head reflecting not just wisdom but adventure and she screamed in her shop– “I inspire myself!” I tell her thank you, take the skirt with me and walk out the door.

Step by step, I find the nearest coffee shop and stumble into one of them feeling stupefied and hot all over. I ask for a bathroom, but then retract and ask for an Americano first, for the beer and the shopkeeper had a toll on me. I was feeling sweaty and estranged from reality. Where have I been?

It seems like Valencia St and San Francisco had a plan for me today. Get your a$$ in gear! I think I am going to look into starting a CD account. This lady needs a plan because readers — you never know. AND now I am here still in this coffee shop, sitting under a speaker that spews out Bob Dylan talking about…

You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin’ out
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal.

How does it feel (?)
How does it feel (?)

?

It feels weird Bob.

It feels really f*cking weird.

it’s romantic to hurt sometimes

We planned on something romantic tonight, something to get us out of our eat tapas and watch a movie routine. Let’s go for Peruvian food! Haven’t done that in a while. But the potatoes were frozen and the cream in the papa a la huancaina had lumps. The chicha had some strange essence to it, and so did the lomo saltado. It was not fun, and my Peruvian pride dwindled into a ball of guilt. I looked around the restaurant at the smiling faces, and cried within – you are being lied to! This is not Peruvian! You are eating a LIE! I kept it inside instead, and finished the plate that tasted more like a teriyaki steak and stir fry. He tried my rice, it was undercooked. We both grimaced across the table and whispered our fake foodie review on a non existent food blog or article. One out of five stars. Finally, in a long while, we agreed on something. The meal sucked, on a major level.

Wanting the taste of failure to leave our tongues, we drove to the city to get our ice cream fix. Didn’t want to risk a dessert fiasco at the Peruvian place. I wanted to throw up the beef from the lomo, but nothing came out.  We got to the ice cream spot. I downed as much of the banana split that I could fit into my already hurting belly. It settled the sadness and engulfed my taste buds with banana, strawberry chunks, and sugary stuff that made me forget the sad sad dinner meal. My legs nestled around his, and he unsatisfied with the way the meal had distorted his tastebuds, so much so that he couldn’t taste the fudge.

We drove on the 101 towards the golden gate bridge, which is actually red…not golden. And he took me up a side road in hopes to take me to a cliff. We get there and the gate is closed. Fail two for the night. We drove to the side point view and tried to take a picture in pitch darkness, it didn’t work. Hug me, I asked to which he grabbed my stomach and pressed against me as if administering the heimlich maneuver. My urges to throw up returned to me. The couple in the car beside us were hot boxing it together. Why can’t you be kind? I asked, and he laughed. I looked at the glittering stars and thought to myself, you deserve this…and I believed it. For some strange reason. I think aliens were sending me wave signals. I said, let’s go back home. We’ll take the Richmond bridge.

We drove over the bridge and listened to Brazilian Yemanja music. I sang along while he groaned under his breath. His ears have been sensitive to South American and Salsa music all night. This is going to be my life, I said to myself.

We argued on the road. We judged each others’  driving skills. We huffed and puffed and tired our hearts. When we got home, I just wanted to go to sleep, but instead I sat by the computer hoping that this stomach pain could go away. And then I resolute to this tonight. Romance has its good days and bad days. Tonight was a painful night, for our bodies and for our hearts. Yet, it makes me appreciate the good days even more. And frankly, I am sure we’re going to laugh about it someday. Why?

Because we writers know, that pain = comedy.

Interesting Tales From PERÚ

IMG_2723
Me looking longingly out to the Pacific Ocean in La Punta, Perú. Wondering when the radiation from Japan will reach the waters.

Hi Blog Land. I’m just got back from visiting family in Perú. Last time I was here, I went to Cuzco and had me quite the adventure. This time around, I spent it helping my family with work, with their children, and well … I spent most of it inside my grandmother’s house. Which has been awesome really…I mean, I can’t complain! I have plenty of food, lots of company, and nobody got on my nerves. : /

Lady Chambi next door who sells the cheapest little treats like potahter chips and Cua-Cua chocolate wafers was my favorite every other day visit. Sometimes when she wasn’t too busy, she’d give me the low down on the neighborhood dirt, but mostly she talked about her daughter who lives in New York and is obviously cooler than me.  The man who bought the Jehova witness church two doors down from Chambi now runs a studio rental space, and we get to hear people partying all the flipping time. I mean, it was  totally great. Though I should have arrived later in December because from December 3-10th (basically ALL of my visit) – everyone was having some type of deadline for work or graduating from some kind of class. Every night the Jehova witness party center had amazing music coming through the walls, but I couldn’t join because my auntie would pass me her flipping adorable baby who I just couldn’t stop kissing.

Maybe it’s just sinking in, that I’m getting older. That I’ll be thirty in just a few days. Seeing my young aunties making babies, my tiny cousins all grown up and graduating from high school, my grandpa asking me the dreaded questions: So when are you going to have one? Are you married? Why aren’t you married? You’ve been DATING for six years?! What’s wrong with you? Blah blah blah are you a lesbian? : / 

Perú…I wouldn’t change you for the world.

I have to explain to all my family in Perú, that though they may think I am an old bat—in the states–women my age are still going out, still doing their thing, still getting their career going. But grandpa doesn’t buy it. “If anything,” he says, “you can be the baby’s godmother. That way, at least you can have one for pretend.” Sigh.

Meantime, I am happy to report that my grandmother’s window, when left open and unattended, has the juiciest mini stories around. Here’s a few things I overheard a few Peruvian men and women talk about this morning with a little bit of embellishment because that’s how I do:

Translated Eavesdropping on Peruvians outside my grandmother’s living room window:

  • “You owe me too much money man!” / “I know, I know I’ll pay you back soon.” / “I don’t believe you!!” / “Get your hands off me!” (voices fade)
  • “If Jesus were here right now, he’d point at her and call her a whore!”
  • “Did he call you?” / “We have different phone carriers.” / “Stupid CLARO!”
  • “Today I am not going to let him come in the house, what does he think he can just come in and out whenever he wants! I’m not a hotel!”
  • “I love you,” / “What did you say?” / “Look, a tree!”
  • “Supposedly I know her, but I don’t see how. We’re just going to say that we know each other and smile from now on.”

Prop open a window, and let the magic in writers!

Forever yours.

LM

Can I live in your house?

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 1.44.23 PM

You know what’s so cool about apartment hunting? Nothing.

You go to an Open House, there are others there scoping out the place, they give you fake smiles because  you’re in competition, and there’s an air of death in the room. Dog eat dog! It’s a weird human and animal interaction all at once. We plead with our eyes to the landlord or property manager—Can we live in your house? And she/he/it knows they hold the power, and they can smell fear. Yes, the power trip these people must go through during these showings must be intense.  Anyways my boyfriend had to come up for this search because frankly I can’t do it alone. I’ve been moving so much in my life, I’m pretty easy. Just give me affordable. As longs as it has a stove, a bathroom, a space for a bed I’m happy. Unfortunately, my partner likes other things too. This complicates our life. I mean, it’s nice to try and get those things but at the same time — are we ready for them? Ugh growing up is super weird. You have to start thinking about having your own space, where will I work, blah blah blah.

So yeah I guess the other news is I’m moving in with my boyfriend. It’s freaking me out a little, not going to lie. We are living together fairly soon. Why? You might ask? Well, because driving each other crazy through Skype is not as fun as doing it in person. So here I go doing another adult thing and living with someone I care about. Potentially ruining our relationship or making it stronger. Who knows? I guess one never knows until one tries.

He did most of the searching because frankly I get overwhelmed with too many choices, like: Where do you want to live? What career path are you finally choosing? Do you want cream in your coffee? WHAT’S WITH ALL THE QUESTIONS?! EVERYONE STEP BACK!!

I suppose it’s time to make a choice.  I freak out easily because I have a lot on my plate. I suppose most people do, but c’est la vie. Wish me luck Blog Land, I fear I am going to need it.

Reflecting over Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona -or- Excuses, excuses!

“I don’t want to!” she thinks to herself.

Hi Blog Land. I just finished watching that movie, Vicky Cristina Barcelona , and it made me think about all those times I have neglected my art. The characters in this film, also neglect a part of their art, and mainly because of sex stuff — but I thought man, being an artist is hard. In the case of the Juan character — he gets distracted by his insanely sexy but jealous ex-wife, Maria Elena. Cristina finishes a short film that in the end means nothing to her. Then she does photography but loses passion for it as she does for her two lovers. Vicky is just a neurotic person who can’t make up her mind on what she wants and she gets shot on her hand. Near the end of this film, I was like what the hell?

Why are you writing this Lis? 

I am writing this because after watching this movie — I feel incredibly guilty about the neglect I have been displaying to my craft. This blog which was supposed to liberate me from the obligations and crap I go through as a freelancer and as an artist. It was to be a place of solace for the millions of interesting moments I live and see that take over my brain life an infestation of flowers that won’t allow me to focus on work. I float away and lose both myself and the work. I need to start writing things down, again.

Anyways, I want to apologize for not being present, Reader…whoever you are. I should be practicing. The more I distance myself the more my ESL traumas return, and I forget how to formulate a sentence in English. Oy!   So tonight I am going to rant about the things that have kept me from writing. All my fault, but all need to be expressed. It needs to be exorcised out of me. Here it goes:

I edit videos for a living now (kind of). My computer is not really built for this kind of work. I live with about 4-5 hard drives alternating in a small usb space. It drives me crazy. I feel so much radiation coming at me, soon aliens won’t want to touch me! Anyways, instead of letters below my fingers, now all I see are command triggers. Sad.

I have a television. It’s not quite Netflix, and it’s not quite YouTube…it’s something I used to enjoy back before my laptop and I began living together. I bought it off a teacher, and it has no antenna…or dish, or whatever you kids are calling it nowadays. But I have a shit ton of dvds and sometimes I indulge in a Harry Potter marathon while eating ice cream at 11:00am. Sue me.

My roommates and I are playing music now. We really enjoy it. It is super fun to start jamming out with a song and practice it. We shrill like five year olds when something feels fun, but then 3 hours later its like…where’d the time go?

Back to Reading. I have been reading more and more lately — which is great, but also it has become scary to go to my novel notebook since. I think its all in my head. Intimidation? Either way, the reading is going to help with the writing when I am ready for it I suppose.

My Muse was on vacation. I think she got fed up on waiting for me and walked out the door while I was taking a shower one day. Then I became a robot mechanically attached to my computer.

I perform in San Francisco and other Bay Area places. I love performing! I want to do it forever. Rehearsals take up a lot of time though. And then when I come home, all I want to do is sleep.

My teeth hurt. I need to get my wisdom teeth out asap. Uf.

Philosophical struggles. Sometimes I lay in bed and think about how I am going to explain to God moving in with my boyfriend next year. We’re not married. I conclude that limbo might be my future home.

The Earth is falling apart. It’s been really hard actually to function after seeing the news, or watching people wanting to get richer and fracking and all that…but it’s creating earthquakes and I think we’re going to disappear in just a couple of years.

My boyfriend and I are moving in together (eventually). This has been keeping me up at night sometimes. I miss him. I love him. And sometimes I want to choke him — not kill him, but you know hurt him a little. Figuratively speaking, of course. I’m sure the feeling is mutual. At night I wonder…oy, are we going to make it when we live together? :/

I am working on 4-5 projects at once: video editing, dance film, novel, grant writing, PR work, and the list goes on. Sometimes I feel like I’m splitting into million of pieces and writing is the last thing on my mind.

Well you get the point. Those are my excuses. There! It’s out of me. Now I can go back to being creative and ranting the night away so that I can clear my head and get some work done. I hope your summer went well. Utah was interesting for me. Now I am back in Berkeley…and I feel like I can breathe again.

Spurts of Writing and This Crazy World

IMG_1012
A Sugar House Sunset post Thunder Storm (Summer 2013)

Okay so I’ve only written a section of Chapter 1 for my new Fantasy story. I’ve been getting spurts of writing every now and then, especially in Utah — but now I’m back in Berkeley and I have no idea what the next few days of freedom will have for me. I went to a coffee shop and ended up reading an article about people reacting negatively to a mixed race Cheerios commercial. It was definitely a little procrastinating moment, but it was good to watch. Sometimes I forget about the crazies in this world. Here I am trying to write about long tailed creatures who live in a desert, while this country battles the issue of racism. Some try to sweep it under the rug, some say things are blown out of proportion, some are in denial about their own identity, some (like me) want to understand without feeling angry. It’s difficult. I think maybe that’s why I stop writing sometimes. The sense of hope in art and storytelling just falls by the wayside and I think, why should one care? It’s terrible to admit this, but it crosses my mind.  I met a man at a party and told him that my projects seem hopeless at times. He told me he felt the same when he was in prison once. He said it served as a lesson because of what he looked like. Because he was black, he had to adapt. I cried very quietly and smiled at him, and he said, “It’s okay. This world needs good guys and bad guys, it’s just the way it is,” and he lightly touched my shoulder. I guess I haven’t made peace with that reality. Many authors have expressed their frustrations through art, I guess this Fantasy project can serve for that purpose. I have to better define the world, my characters, and why they exist. They are reaching out their hands waiting for me, and I feel as if I’m almost there. Why am I making this? should be the question I ask myself. It’s becoming clear. I am so sick of the ignorance in this world, and I want to do something about it.