Sunday, December 07, 2014

Cultural Chameleon

Every so often I'm reminded of the unique ability I have to inhabit different spaces. It's an ability a lot of people I know have. I was at a comic book art show held at an art gallery that is located in the middle of the callejones. As I looked down into the streets from the third floor of this gallery, I felt a kind of slap come across me. I'm so use to going from one space to another that I rarely think about what that means in terms of culture, social norms, and privileges.

While I can be in these different spaces, I get looks from of curiosity and bewilderment, as if I don't belong there. I've been living like this for as long as I can remember, but it wasn't until college that I was able to aptly put a name behind it. Nepantla is a Nahuatl word meaning 'in between' or 'the space in the middle.' There's a lot of other meanings attached to that word in Chicano/a academic spaces, but I I'm not attached to it.

It's easy for someone like me to gravitate to a word like that, whether it is in Nahuatl or any other language. My life is a representation of 'living in between' due to my immigration status and the spaces I inhabit in my day to day life. For all the existential quandaries I've had over the years, I can't imagine my life being any other way. The fact that I can go from talking to someone about their cat art to being able to connect with a street vendor with a few simple words is price less.

I have the privilege of being part of a culture that traces its history thousands of years. I live in a community that creates are that connects the present to the past. I work at a job that connects issues across classes, races, and cities. I transition countless of times on a daily basis and I forget that. Like water, I take the shape of the container I am in, but I am still water. I can be solid, liquid or a gas, but I am still water.

That's why I don't like limiting myself to just one single identity when I can be part of many. It is in that cross pollination that new ideas are born. Mash ups of Lucha Libre and Star Wars. Eastern philosophy and hip-hop. Being Americanized yet not being a US citizen. I forget how good I have it when it comes to being able to participate, understand, and love the works of other cultures while still finding threads that connect it to mine.

When I make connects between cultures, stories, art etc I get this feeling in my chest. A feeling of discovery and to tell everyone I know about it. Over the years, that feeling has stayed the same but my wanting to share with anyone else has not. I tried sharing these connections with others but few get it and fewer share the same passion for it that I do. As such, I keep it to myself, which pains me at times. Here I am finding connections between anime and my working class experiences and I can share them with no one. No one else to talk to about them and flush it out even further.

From the outside it just looks like I'm obsessed with pop-culture, cartoons, and cats. That fine. The growth of others is not my responsibility, nor will I go out of my way to make those connections for someone. Like true great art, it is never fully appreciated by the masses for what it is. As I'm getting older, I'm learning to let go of this want that pushes me to share what I love because no one else will understand it. I'll just keep it for myself in the space in-between.        

Sunday, November 30, 2014

What Happened to Yesterdays Snow?

I can't remember the last time I things were this good in my life. (Knocks on wood.) For everything that's going on in the world right now with people getting killed by cops, students missing, and Obama's latest immigration announcement, I have a lot going for me. I like it. This is new for me and its been having positive affects on my over all disposition and outlook on life. Even now, during the most loathsome time of the year, I'm enjoying myself by being around people I want to be with and not those I have to be forced to be with. Amazing how having a choice can make a world of difference.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Melancholy Solitude

I've been finding myself at wits end as of late. Frustrated at this point really. It's just one of those things in which you want it to happen, but then you're suppose to not want it so then it does happen. At the end of the day, all I can really do is just let out a big ol' sigh and carry on. Dating has become a sort maze I put myself through for various reasons and while I may complicate things further, I wouldn't feel comfortable without having clear communication and intention. But more than anything, as I continue to date and put myself out there, I realize that maybe this is what I need. Not that I enjoy being let down mind you, rather it presents an opportunity for me to continue working on the aspect of myself that deals with those setbacks when things don't work out.

While I can't help be melancholy, I do look at the positive and the growth I have made for myself. What would have taken months to realize now only takes weeks. I'm a better communicator, I do what I can to be mindful of the other person and make sure there is a balance in how things are split and shared going into something. Above everything else, I've had to work through a lot of issues that dug into me and were tied with being undocumented.

I don't think that'll ever stop being an issue, for different reasons, but I'm in a better place with than I've ever been. It's not so much about being able to access services, the system, and all that jazz, but more with my past experiences and how those turned out for the worst because I didn't have both the mental and emotional maturity to process those experiences in a healthy fashion. Just thinking back on how I use to deal with dating and set backs and I can't help but laugh.

However my experiences dating come to an end, I'm in a place where it doesn't throw me in a loop or sidetrack me like it would have once. I like that, yet I'm still left with a sort of longing for companionship above anything else. I do so much that I eventually get to a point in which I wanna share it with someone else. Whether it's going to the movies, museum, art show or even a gala event, I want to share that with someone else who can appreciate it as much as I do or is willing to learn about it with me. I enjoy doing all this stuff by myself, but the experience of sharing with someone else makes it even more special.

But I think that has been an underlying issue with me all this time. Past relationships I've been in, I've been doing the same thing. I'm the one getting invited to cool art shows, parties, movies etc. I'm the one that's like: let's check this out, you know. Whether it's something subconscious or just how things turns out, I have yet to date someone who gives me a run for my money. And it's not like I'm looking for someone that knows about more events or things to do, but someone that'll compliment that. And vice versa. I dunno, it's complicated and the fact I can't define it for myself only adds to the frustration.

At the end of the day, I want what anyone else wants out of a romantic relationship: to be with someone they can connect to one a deeper emotional, metal, spiritual level. To be with someone that will compliment you and vice versa. Someone you can growth with. Learn from each other and try new things. Someone I can cuddle with while watching netflix, you know. Seems like the solution to my problems would be to adopt a cat/dog, but I'm gonna avoid that route altogether and just stick it out. When it comes to matters of the heart, I have endless patience.  


Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Echoic Childhood Memories

Of all the sounds I remember growing up around as a kid, the music my father played in his drunken stuper's late into the night. Most Latinos/as and working class folks know what I'm talking about. Unless you didn't have a father figure in your life, which just makes this post awkward. Anyway, drunken father figures playing music really loud, yeah.

Growing up I wondered what the hell was going and why he needed 4 ft tall speakers to blast music I had no comprehension of, till now. Acting like a delayed recording that is only now kick in for various reasons, I find myself latching on to anything that plucks the strings of nostalgia. However, a lot of those romanticized memories come with the kind of emotional baggage and trauma that can slap you out of no where.

As a kid, I knew that my father getting drunk meant a few different things. It meant that random people would be over to the house, there would be barbecue on deck, a beer run to a store that also mean getting to buy a bunch of junk food and soda. That they would go late into the night talking about all sorts of random things while simultaneously playing music so loud that you can't hear anyone talk. And no matter how hard we pleaded with him to turn the music down or to go to sleep, it would just make it worse.

While I'm able to comprehend the situations I was in growing up with an alcoholic father, I find myself mirroring his behavior, for better or for worst. While I don't have kids to emotionally scar nor four foot speakers to blast music from when I'm drunk. I only have four inch speakers attached to a back pack, but some of the music is the same though. Sort of.

Rediscovering those tunes I heard in the middle of night as I tried to go to sleep have a different meaning now that I'm older and sober. I have a choice in how I can remember this music and I chose to enjoy it for what it is, music about heart-break and romance. Needless to say that my current binge of musical taste was inspired by real life events, but that's for another time.

Music today doesn't hold a candle to oldies and classics like Los Angeles Negros. It was another time and era, but their music is timeless. I literally spend hours listening to albums and playlist to rediscover as many bands as possible. And while my current obsession I'll eventually give way to heavy metal or wu-tang, I'll continue basking in them.


Saturday, October 04, 2014

Of What Could Have Been

Often times, I find myself in spaces in which I wonder how I got there. Not so much that I'm lost and I'm somewhere I don't know where I am, but that in the scope of everything in between friendships and acquaintances I find myself in unique spaces. Lot of it has to do with networks and the spaces I put myself in. Art shows, concerts, political rallies etc. And every once in a while I look at where I am and I ponder of what could have been. Finding yourself surrounded by professionals and more college degrees than I can shake a stick at.

That kind of stuff comes to my mind not only because I'm observant of my surroundings, but because I've recently been dwelling on the fact that I am a college drop out. When I started out in school, I wanted to get a journalism degree and graduate with that. For all those years I've spent at my community college and then getting politically active with the DREAMER/undocumented student movement, I reassessed those journalistic endeavors and decided to focus those skills somewhere else.

So what does it say when I find myself in spaces that celebrate institutional success in academia, politics, and other high end professions? I like to think that it's a combination of the work I do mixed with those I know and sprinkled with a little bit of actively putting myself in these spaces. Comparisons and wondering what if can't be helped in terms of self reflection. I goes along with the territory. But it's something I don't dwell on much.

For everything that could have been and is yet to be, I'm proud of who I am and how I got here. I respect friends who put in their time in academia for years and they work hard for their hustle. Game recognize game if you will. I like dwelling in these moments every once in a while because they provide an opportunity to continue to analyze my own personal growth and to keep it at 100.  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I Never Tell My Story The Same Way Twice

Recently, upworthy, a click-bait wed site, decided to highlight an old-ish documentary I was a part of, Limbo. I for one thought it was hilarious how they dug it up and got some clicks out of it. There was a cool minute of folks seeing it for the first time and recognizing me. I'm proud to have done this documentary and I'm always happy to share it when appropriate with others, but something about Upworthy just bugs me the wrong way. It feels like my work is being taken for someone else's purposes, as if they're not sharing it correctly, that make sense? Nother thing I started to think about was how I never told the same story twice. I catered to different crowds, but more than anything I just got at "telling my story." I've practiced it so many times that I knew which points to hit and at what crowds to not only engage the audience, but to fuck with people too. They expect you to be all sob story and inspirational because you've over come adversity, but I'd be up there telling jokes and being all casual about it, because that's how I am. For example.....

In this video, which was made a year ago, I am completely being myself and purposely doing what you see me doing in those pics. Why? cause fuck it, that's why. I'm not trying to look "cool" or show off, nah. At that point I was just tired of the same old rhetoric that is that of the "DREAMERS" movement. I've since long stopped identifying that way and have moved beyond it because of the complexities of the human experience. But I ain't gonna lie, I ham that shit up hahaha