Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Born Day Reflections at 30

And thus the passage of time marked by life is upon me once again. It took me a while to own it, but I'm maturing quite nicely if I do say so myself. I like older Erick versus younger Erick. Things make a lot more sense these days then they ever have. As if some sort of veil was lifted and all of a sudden I got a hold of all this maturity I never knew I had. Trips me out sometimes.

None the less, I be 30 years old. For all the societal hype that's place on specific numbers in one's lifetime, this is one of those numbers in which a big deal is made. No longer in my twenties, jokes galore about getting older, and of course the ever looming pressure of being successful and/or accomplished. Whether it's self imposed or from outside forces, 30 is touted as the age in which an individual has their shit together and is on the path they're going to follow the rest of their life. Continually building atop a foundation set in their 20s that will continue into the 30s and beyond. Mean while, I'm over here trying to level up all my pokemon to level 100.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Personal Space and Living on my Own

It trips me out that I’m living in a space in which at one point, my family of six would have all shared that studio apartment together. I was able to get my shit together before I got DACA. I no longer needed to live with or crash at someone’s house any more because of the stability that comes with a regular job and paycheck. I got DACA after the fact that I was already living on my own; it just made things easier once I got it.

And now as I prepare to move into a bigger and better apartment by myself, I can’t help but to reflect on my past living situations. Whether it was living at home with my family or living with friends and their families, having a space to call my own has never been easy. When I lived with my family, everything was shared between my three younger sisters and my parents. At times, we had the luxury of all of us having our own separate rooms and in tough times, all six of us shared a studio apartment as we rushed to turn off electronics and not make any noise cause the buildings manager was knocking on our door for that months rent.

Yet, it wasn’t always like that. When my family lived in Mexico, we had it as good as a working class family could get. We lived in an apartment building, which from what I remember was spacious enough for my parents, my two sisters and myself. In fact, we had extended family regularly stay with us in that apartment as they made they way to the US. We lived in Mexico City at the time. Then everything changed once my family got to the US.

For one, my father made the spontaneous decision to move to the US out of some random impulse, much like buying a pack of gum at the supermarket. My mom had to get rid of everything we owned that wasn’t clothes or personal keep sakes. I have feint memories of packing things up and getting ready for the move, which at the time was to my great grandmas ranch in Michoacán, where my mom is from. We lived on that ranch for a few months until my father saved up enough money to pay for my mom and sisters to cross over. I on the other hand fell asleep inside a car in Mexico and woke up in Boyle Heights.

For a few good months, we bounced around from relative to relative when we first got here. All the extended family that stayed with us in Mexico was pretty much beholden to return the favor. That burned a ton of bridges for a bunch of different reasons that can be summed up as family politics, but eventually my father managed to move us into a place of our own in Watts, off 91st and Central. We spent a few years there before my father moved us to Long Beach for three years. Then we moved back to Watts/Willowbrook, followed by Inglewood, Pico Union and Boyle Heights once again.

I didn’t start living with friends until 2007 when my family relocated to Utah. I lived with them for about two months. I came back to LA to visit friends and go to a comic book convention, but instead I just ended up staying. I was never the best houseguest and my experiences were nothing like the 1995 movie staring Sinbad and Phil Hartman. My parents ended up moving back to LA for a brief time, and I moved back in with them during that time, but eventually they moved back to Utah because they just couldn’t hustle and make it in LA like they use to. Not wanting to go to Utah, I started staying with friends again and bounced around for a bit as I balanced everything else around me.

I’ve learned a lot about myself through those experiences for better and for worse. Not having your own personal space takes it toll when all you wanna do is just have time alone. Obviously, there’s a stark comparison on how I’ve lived the last year on my own to when I lived with others. When I lived with others, I pretty much did everything I could to stay out as late as I could hanging out, drinking, going on bike rides etc. I’d tried to do the same for holidays and celebrations because I hate being an awkward third wheel, but when you live in someone else’s home, it can’t be helped.

Now adays, I have the freedom of shutting out the world when I don’t feel like being a part of it, mostly holidays, and just tune out everything. I can spend an entire day in my underwear, watching anime and playing video games till I go blind. I’ve been enjoying myself and I’m grateful to everyone that has helped me reach this point in my life. I was never the perfect house guest, but I will never forget the generosity others have shared with me by open up their home when I didn’t have one.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Oppression Olympics: Drivers Licenses

The privilege of being able to get a drivers license and being able to drive a vehicle, the quintessence of being a teenager and taking those first steps of independence. If you had talked to me a few years ago, I would have been griping like the kids in this Latino USA piece, one of my favorite podcast, on not having the privilege to drive legally. Hell, I’ve had a DACA work permit for a little more than a year and I still haven’t bothered getting my drivers license, but that speaks to my privileges, living in a metropolitan city like Los Angeles and being able to ride my bike everywhere.

None the less, that’s what it all comes down to, privilege. For as long as I can remember, status has been tied to car ownership. Whether it was delivered through pop-culture or through my own immediate and extended family, you weren’t shit if you didn’t have a car. Like something outta Scarface, you know: first you get the green card, then you get the license, then you get the car, then you get the women. I imagine for women it’s similar, but instead of getting other women, they get-to-get away from douchebag guys and no longer rely on others for rides. It’s different for everyone.

Monday, June 02, 2014

A Spatial Quandary

If I’m undocumented, technically I have a temporary work permit, what say, if any, do I have in the community(ies) I have lived in, in the last 23 years? I ask myself this question because it was asked of me, paraphrasing here, over twitter in loop with an on-going conversation about my online actions/words directed toward anyone not from the community, i.e. hipsters. Using the stereotypical definition of a hipster, it also raises questions on racism on my end toward anyone that isn’t a minority and in my view, appears “white.”

It’s a slippery slope that I’m still balancing and defining clearly for myself. Given how easy is it is to hate and talk shit, specially though the veil of the Internet, spitting venom toward others I deem the creators of problems that affect me, makes me look and come off no different than any other racist, bigot, homophobe, xenophobe out there ranting about how immigrants (mostly Latino/a) are ruining their country and that they should go back where they came from. I kid you not. It may be in my own way, but I never miss a chance to shit talk hipsters and demand that they stay outta my neighborhood. Thus, am I replicating the same kind of hate that is continually hurled toward immigrant communities or is there some sort of pass/loop hole that I have to justify my "hate" toward “hipsters” and if I’m gonna be real about it son, white people?

Monday, May 05, 2014

Experiencing Everyday Sexism

Dressing up as Princess Leia for Wondercon, a comic book convention, imparted me with a brief glimpse of the every day sexism women have to put up with. Totally not the experience I had in mind going into the convention, but an important one that allowed me to reflect further within myself, and my relationships with women. However, before getting into that recent experience, a bit of history to help contextualize things.

I grew up with women in my life. I’m the oldest and the only male in my immediate family. I have three younger sisters, my mom, and my dad. For all the B.S. male masculinity my dad tried to impose on me, I know I take after my mom. Still though, I got the standard male-oldest son preferential treatment at the end of the day. There was this one time when one my sisters called out my mom on the double standard between us. It’s was funny to me at the time just because of the way the conversation went down, but in that moment I didn’t think nothing of it, I had no reason to, I’m a guy.

As such, I never felt an obligation growing up to ponder or even reflect on my actions as a heterosexual Latino male. Traditional gender roles were the norm in my family because that’s what my parents grew up with and that’s what I saw. Again, I never had an inclination to fully analyze the male centric bias that is passed down as tradition, I’m a guy and on the winning end of that deal.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

My Storycorps Recording



Storycorps is,"an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives." Every once in a while, they'll do a special focus on neighborhoods or recording individuals that were present during a historic event. My recording was part of their Historias project, which was to collect stories of Latino families and their experience in the United States.

This recording was made in 2010 and I did it with the help of my friend Laura. I initially went in to this recording session with the thought that since these recordings are recorded in the library of Congress, I wanted to share my experiences growing up undocumented in the US. In that aspect, I succeed. I also got confused and during the recording, I would say stigmata when I was trying to say stigma, which is pretty hilarious when you hear me say it a few times.

Anyway, check it out and have a listen. It's a pretty cool glimpse into my mind set four years ago, and while my life has taken a different path now, the stuff I talk about with regards to my life is on point.