Monday, June 22, 2015

Guest on the Nerd Out

It should come to no surprise to anyone who knows me that I love being a nerd, geek, dork, otaku etc. I dressed up as Princess Leia for pete's sake. In my circle of friends, I rarely get the chance to nerd out because I'm just too cool and no one else can keep up with me. You have to understand that I'm not some casual fan or really into whatever. No, it goes way deeper than that for me. Right down to my core really. I learned pop culture and the English language from watching the Simpsons and 90s sitcoms. I formulated my identity through comic book characters before I knew what to call myself. The nerd life taught me life lessons that I still use today, no joke.
That's why I was excited to be on the Nerd Out with the homie Ritzy Periwinkle and her homie La Lisa. We got to talking about all sorts of stuff, specially after a few glasses of Jameson. Listen to the show here and be sure to follow the Nerd Out #nerdsuphosdown.      

Friday, June 19, 2015

Kinfolk

I don't have the best relationship with my family and that's ok. Growing up I always wondered why my family wasn't like the ones I saw on tv. It took a minute for me to catch on and realize why my family was nothing like the ones I saw on tv, despite finding things here and there in common. However, my family was nothing like my friends families either. While we were all Latinos/as, I would hear stories of relatives doing this and that. Of parties, traditions, and rights of passage that seem like everyone except me went through. It took me longer to figure out all of that than it did to learn to play along and just agree with everyone else so as to avoid being singled out or awkward. Lotta good that did me.

Then there's the whole being undocumented thing as well. For years I thought that was the singularity that separated my familial experiences from everyone else's. No, turns out that wasn't it either. I realized that once I got involved in DREAM Act/immigrant rights organizing spaces. While everyone else shared stories of perseverance and aspiration, I just kept making comic book references. Every other person would mention what their families sacrifice for us to be here and have a better life. That we persevered and fought for our families and all this and all that. I never identified with any of that, but I did agree to it for the sake of being part of the group and again, not being one to be singled out and make things awkward.

It's so much easier to just agree with folks and be done with it than trying to stick out and counter them. That's pretty much how I still go about things when someone inquires as to my family. It's easier for me to tell them what they wanna hear so they'll leave me alone and not ask about it again till I bring it up or there's some sort of parental holiday around the corner. While I share some of the dysfunction that's in my family, it is never more than what others share when talking about there's. It's in that dysfunction that common ties are found and we can all look at each other and say, 'you're family is just like my family. Let us laugh out loud and go on about our day."

It has taken me years of processing mentally and emotionally to be where I am with my family right now. For so long it was easy to just blame everything on them because I had no control over anything. I didn't get to choose what school I went to, where we lived, how I spent my free time or any of that adolescent growing up stuff. I was a kid, of course I didn't have control over anything, let alone any kind of understanding. In those times, I felt robbed and cheated outta things. I always questioned why I couldn't hang out with friends and why I had to help with the family business. Why did I have to work while everyone else was having fun, stuff like that.

I get all of that now and I realize how important those experiences are in my development as an individual, but that still doesn't excuse them. I still carry some of that anger and frustration with me, but not out of resentment. No, it's more along the lines with tragedy really. My biggest turn around point came when I realized how my parents raise me and my sisters. The rotten tree didn't start with either of them, but with their own families. I heard how they grew up and what they went through and it clicked you know. I saw why things played out a certain way, usually a violent way. Why there was never any understanding, talking or even the sharing of any kind of affection. That shit was just implied and done out of some guilt trip so as to not feel left out and awkward.

I realized that I will never get that kind of relationship I wanted with my parents because they never had those kinds of relationships themselves. What's that you say? I can be the bigger person? I could drop the decades of drama and trauma and create the relationship I want? Nah, it don't work like that B. It's already draining enough to change what I learned from them, let alone trying to save them. Nah son, things don't work that way. Not everyone can have a healthy relationship with their parents and that's ok. I know my family and I know where the lines are. I choose to live away from them for too many reasons to get into, but one of them is for my own well being.

Distancing myself rather building is the easy way out when it comes to my family, but it's also the healthiest. I learned all I could from them and I have made those lessons my own to either continue building on them or stopping them completely. In many ways I'm fortunate enough to have both my parents still be alive and some what healthy. I have a lot of friends who grew up in single parent homes or who have lost them to the next world. I grew up with both of them, for better or for worse. I stopped romanticizing my relationship with them and my experiences growing up.

I stopped blaming them long ago as well, but that doesn't change what happened. I'm not expecting an answer or retribution for what happened. I have moved beyond that and made up my mind on where I'm going from there. It's a decision strictly for my own self preservation. It's not my responsibility to save anyone, not even my family. Doesn't mean that I don't care for them any less, after all, they're my family. I am who I am in part because of them.      
 

 

     

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Housing

Moving is such a pain, but then again, having the privilege of stable housing can be easily taken for granted. A big part of my life has always revolved around my housing situation. Growing in Mexico, I lived comfortably in an apartment building with my family and then a ranch out in rural Mexico. It wasn't until I came to the US that having stable housing was something that was always out of arms reach. First placed I stayed at when I first got here was an uncles apartment. From there it was another then another, bouncing around from relative to relative. At one point, my family and I ended up in a studio apartment with 10 people living there all at once. There were intervals in which things got better and there was stability, but it never lasted.

My father would draw out the process anyway he could to buy extra time from whatever place we were getting kicked out of. I myself in the better part of the last couple of years relied on others for housing support. From crashing on a couch to sleeping on the floor of a crowded room at a friends house. The generosity and sympathy others have had with me is the only reason I'm still around today. I was never the greatest of house guest, but I did what I could to help out and to get out of the way, but it was never easy. I was just another burden.

Its only been in the last two years or so that I've had the financial stability to live on my own. To have a place that I can call my own, walk around without pants, and do whatever the hell I want without having to be considerate because I am a guest in someone else's home. For a good couple of years, I just went from one friends house to another. Always in transition, never setting my roots down because I knew the situation was only temporary and I would be moving before I knew it. I think back on those years and I choke up a bit at the generosity and compassion shared with me.

Now I find myself moving once again, but this time by choice. Living alone isn't feasible in the long run, specially in a city like Los Angeles, so I'm moving in with a friend to cut down on cost where I can. I'm grateful that I'm able to move in a friend who I trust to be part of this new chapter in our friendship. At this point, it's safe to say that they are going to get the best of me. All my years of being a guest and having to share spaces have helped me be mindful of the space I occupy, how things get decorated, cleaned, and how to make a place feel like a home.    

I'm genuinely excited for this next phase of my life, specially since this is the first time I'm going to be sharing space with someone on an even plane. There will be growing pains and we will have to get use to each other and our habits, but that goes for any kind of relationship. This new place isn't where I'm going to set my roots down, but at least I can let them stretch out a bit and enjoy the comfort of a different pot and fresh soil.
 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Willing Subjugation

Deathlok Annual #1 (1992)
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is voluntary. If you qualify and can afford it. If you want to ease the different responsibilities we all carry as individuals to our family, friends, loved ones, and to society. DACA makes all of that and more easier to carry, but it also piles on more stuff for an individual to carry once that status is achieved. Couple of days ago I started getting serious about what I would need to do if my DACA renewal didn't arrive before it expired. Fact is that in the last two years that I've had this quasi-legal status, I've gotten too soft. I no longer have to hustle as hard as I use to before having it. I'm pretty comfortable where I am. Having stability is something I have little familiarity with. I've been use to going from one point to another all my life that at times, I find myself wondering how I ended up where I currently am. My life consist of going to work and coming home. I still see friends and go out once in a while, but for the better part, that's about it. Part of it is because I live on my own. Back when I would be crashing at someones house, I would go out and stay out for as long as I could because I didn't want to be where I was staying at. I wanted to be out of the way as much as possible. Now a days I just find myself bored with stuff that's going on around me, partly because I've been around it for so long. I know others wish they lived in an active community like the one I live in, but it's all the same stuff over and over again. Same faces, same art, same music, same pedo.

When I finally got my DACA in the mail, there was a sigh of both relief and of frustration. The thing is no more than a privilege card. A physical manifestation of years of work people all over the country put in to make it happen. A physical manifestation of the political games played in this country with the lives of immigrants. A physical manifestation of the willing subjugation I and a about a half a million other immigrants sign up for because we can and because we want the easier path. Every day I'm inundated with stories, pictures, videos, art etc. on the different kind of suffering and torture immigrants are going through in this country. Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand.

I make no qualms about my decisions and my politics. I don't hold up my nose and say 'no' from whatever moral high horse people need to get on. I talk a bunch of trash, but I take ownership of that as well. For me, it's important to know what I'm really looking at every time I look at my work permit and the access it gives me that others don't have. DACA is a lot like those mail order DVD clubs. You get a few for a penny, but then you have to buy 3 more at regular price. It's important for me to always remember that because I don't want to the kind of individual that sees that work permit as the answer and frankly, salvation to all of my problems as an individual.

Blindly accepting DACA as salvation in your life means you don't want to see the world for how it really is. You're too selfish to care about others and while actions you take may say other wise, deep down you're just scared of having it taken away from you. Of having to go back the kind of quality of life you had before DACA and how much that sucked. You aren't about that life and if you were, you're trying to leave it as far behind as possible. I know because that's the kind of stuff I thought about when I entertained the idea of not having a work permit anymore. That's my reality. I like romanticizing what my life has been as a kind of badge for others to see. I earned my stripes and as such, I lose no sleep as to what others think. My work permit is a physical manifestation of that.  

 

     

Sunday, March 22, 2015

One Bad Day

It should go without saying that living the kind of live I have, metal and emotional trauma are a given. From living in poor, working class communities that are subjected to both gang and police violence to environmental racism. Then you have the over crowded school system, systemic oppression, lack of access to resources and unhealthy family dynamics to spice things up a bit. Then on top of all that and then some, you add being undocumented to the mix. The deck gets stacked pretty fast and it can be over whelming at times.      

For the better part of my life, I've been able to work on my issues. To get to a place in which I'm no longer held down by them or even worse, lead down a road that isn't healthy. I've hit those bottoms and I've been lucky enough to be able to pick myself up from there. Never under the same circumstances. As I've gotten older and my understanding of things has expanded, I'm able to work my way through things in my own way. What works for me work work for everyone else, which is why I've never felt the need to seek professional help or getting diagnosed by a quack. 

For the better part, writing has always been my default in trying to figure things out. Among my friends, I've always been the one listening, rarely do I talk out my issues. I'm too set in my ways. At this point in my life, I acknowledge depression and my unorthodox mental health as being parts of me. It's not a condition nor a disease that can be treated away. I own it, it doesn't own me. That's what works for me. Most days are good, but every once in a while I have a bad day. 

Triggered simply enough by something I may come across or in this latest instance, just a culmination of frustrations related to work and my everyday routine. Holding down three different jobs is taking its toll on me. I had to renew my DACA so that's been on the back of my mind as well. I'm also waiting to do my taxes to see how much I'm going to owe because I know I am going to owe. With everything kinda caving in on me and exhausted from my trips, I find myself down on the dumps. 

Then I start to think about of where I've been and how good I have things now. Seems no matter how good I'm doing, there will always be room left for wanting more and to try and fill that feeling of emptiness I have. But it'll all pass in time. I usually just go through the motions and ride it out. It's part of who I am. Unless I post something on social media, most folks won't even know the difference. But then again, that's not something I'm not trying to blast out either. It's not like I'm publishing all this online for everyone to read. No, it's mostly just for me so I can work my way through things.    


Friday, March 20, 2015

Serendipitous Travels

Traveling for me truly is a treat. I hardly get to do it, so I take advantage of it when I can. Its not so much that I don't travel because of my immigration status, although having a work permit & state issued ID makes it easier, but that shit is expensive. My trips to Austin and Washington DC were on someone else's dime. I was attending two separate conferences, which is why I was able to get support in getting out there. Twas my first time in Austin, but second time in Texas and DC. I went in representing those who got me my trips, which meant I had to network and participate more than I would like. While it doesn't seem like it, I'm hella anti-social sometimes. Plus, I've been to a bunch of comic book conventions, so anything that doesn't have people dressed up in costumes is let down.

For the better part, I had a great time in Austin because I was there with my compa. We shared a room and he introduced me to folks at the conference since it was my first time. We did a lot of drinking and horsing around at night, while keeping it professional in the day. We stayed in downtown Austin and didn't get to explore anything else, so my time there sucked. The water tasted weird, I got sick from drinking Austin beer, and everything was hella gentrified. Yeah, they had a bike share program and separated bike lanes, but it was clear that they were there for tourist. Breakfast tacos are over rated. Not to mention that the few people of color I saw where those working at restaurants or as servers at the convention.

DC on the other had was a lot more fun. Again, we stayed in Downtown at a hotel that was walking distance from that conference, but what made the difference was connecting with community folks there. When I got to DC, I ended up going straight to a bar to meet up with a friend I was going to stay with. That turned into a three day bender that continued on throughout the trip. My first time to DC consisted of just hanging out in Downtown and trying to find a place that played cumbias. I went in to this trip trying to do the same and I was successful. Call it Serendipity.

It was through that friend that I was staying with that I was able to connect to old and new friends that showed me and the homies a great time. On top of that, I was also able to hang out with a friend I met online in real life for the first time. So yeah, I had a blast in DC because of the people that were there. As such, I was able to see and learn more about the communities holding it down out there. It's easy to forget how connected our fights are, despite geographical differences, but being in those spaces really nailed it home.

While I was physically tired from my previous conference the week before and going on a bender for three days, the homies and I rocked the presentation we were giving. I relied on them to get me outta the couch and to go exploring despite the cold and the joint pains I had, but I needed that trip. I can't remember that last time I had that much fun dancing, drinking, and doing karaoke to Selena. Cause I'll do anything for Salinas. Nights like that are far and few these days because I'm too comfortable in my city. It's only when someone is visiting from outta town or that I'm traveling that I wanna jarcorear. Maybe I'm just getting old.

That being said, I'm grateful for the opportunities I got to represent spaces I work in and for at difference conferences. For too long, I've been use to just representing myself and no one else that I didn't give two fucks as to how others saw me or what they thought of me. I was there to handle my scandal in the day and get crunk at night. Not so much this time around, which I blame on my encroaching maturity, but I'm finding the right balance that allows me to be true to myself.

That being said, this'll probably be the last time I travel for the year. Going out of state is expensive and I have my sights set in visiting New York as I make my pilgrimage to Shaolin for the first time. Not to mention that I know a few folks out there who have couches and floors I can crash. I just have to get my ducks in order to make it happen. For now, it's just something to look forward to.