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My Thoughts on 30

30 in the bay

30 in the bay

 

It’s been about two months since I’ve turned 30. And in the days leading up to it, you can’t help but say a variation of the same words to yourself and out loud about a hundred times. Shit, I’m 30. The word thirty just sounds so grown up. So adult. And the thing is, there’s a security blanket about being in your 20s, up to the moment you turn 30, there’s this unspoken pass you get because you’re young. You’re on the same team as college students. But once you’re in the 30 club, you’re in the same club as moms….lots of moms and grown up people who understand taxes and pay their bills and own houses.

Of course, 30 is still young and 40 is still young and so is 50 and 60, if you’re doing right. But 30 definitely feels like a turn. A life change. A new decade is a big deal.

But I didn’t have any expectations for the occasion, I didn’t want a crown or a sash or a night of debauchery to prove I was still young. I just wanted to be with the people I loved the most, in hopes that I carry that love, energy and friendship into this new decade.

This decade is going to be a big one with lots of exciting and scary and wonderful and awful experiences. And I’m ready.

 

-Sandi

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I Am My Ancestor’s Wildest Dream

 

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This week was emotionally exhaustive. Donald Trump will be President come January 2017 and if that thought doesn’t make you sad or anxious, then consider yourself privileged. This election was different and felt personal. I went to sleep Tuesday after accepting near-defeat and woke up at 3am to see my fears confirmed. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I was heartbroken.

I cried for the kids that were counting on us to keep their families together and for my loved ones whose fate in this country is uncertain. I cried because even though I know first-hand racism and sexism exist, I wanted to believe that we had come further as a country and that there were statements that we all understood as inflammatory and unacceptable. I cried because as a Latina, as a woman, and as a daughter of immigrants, it was a slap in the face that the majority of this country does not care about my rights.

I had hope that we as Americans had come further. That there were things that a majority of us understood as unacceptable. Xenophobia, sexism, racism. These are ideas that should supersede any political party agenda. And regardless if you know that these isms have always been a part of American politics, the difference here is the blatancy of this to-be presidency. Words matter. They matter to impressionable kids and adults who refuse to engage in critical thinking. The words of Mr.Trump have given every bigot the license to openly express their hateful views.

It’s daunting to think about all the work we still have to do as a nation. But in these troubled times, all I can think to get up every day is to remind myself that I come from a line of strong people. Parents who survived a war. Parents who fled to a new country with nothing. Ancestors who survived colonialism. Strong women who have survived physical and sexual assault. They can fight so I can fight. So I’ll stay mad and to speak up and to be unapologetically brown and be proud and stand up for myself and for anyone else that is threatened.

They can fight so I can fight. Here’s hoping we all stay mad, informed, engaged and alert.

 

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Me Siento Muy Excited

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When people become legends they drift further away from being real people and become ideas. Ideas that are then sold and made marketable, they become posters and t-shirts and hyped-up make-up collections. But at the core, there is some message that they seem to encapsulate that resonates in different ways for different people. That ability to morph that essence to fit and resonate with different people is what makes someone a legend. In over 20 years, the power of Selena Quintanilla-Perez has grown and surpassed beyond the tangible achievements she was able to reach in her 23 years.

I was 10 when I saw the movie Selena, I remember watching her story…an American Latina figuring out how to succeed in this in-between world where you’re seen as too Latino for Americans and too American for Latinos. It’s a struggle that remains over 20 years later. You feel this responsibility to represent your Latino culture when you’re American. I make it a point to speak the language, eat the food and listen to the music. But my Americanness is something I carry with me, and it follows and lingers.

As it should, I’m proud of being American. But being born here is a privilege, and I know that but when encountering people who were born in Latin America, your born-right citizenship becomes this ding against your credibility. Your Spanglish becomes further evidence of everything you’re not. Selena represented all this. This was summed up seamlessly in her movie with the scene where Selena is being interviewed and she’s at a loss to explain how she feels in Spanish, so she says, “Me siento muy excited.” She was the first person I can remember representing this for me. Representing this in-between state where you unapologetically throw in English words when the Spanish words won’t come to you and sub in Spanish slang when English just won’t do.

These ideas that Selena so effortless represented were needed when I was 10 and are still needed now – 20 years later. She was a powerful and beautiful mujer who represents so many things.

So here’s to her and to hoping she keeps inspiring us to embrace the in-between.

 

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Coming Back Home

 

San Francisco was the first city I learned to love on my own. It was a love that wasn’t inherited by family circumstance or history, it was a love I sought out on my own and held close all for my own reasons. I moved to San Francisco when I was 18, never having spent a night anywhere else but my parent’s house. San Francisco gave me a second family and a second home. My love for SF happened instantly. Probably spurred like a lot of young love, by the fact my parents never saw the beauty or the appeal of it in the same way I saw it.

However, in these three years since I’ve moved back to L.A., that love has shifted and changed to something new and my life in San Francisco has grown hazier in my memories. Replaced by new and shiny experiences. Crowded trains replaced with long car rides. Foggy mornings and a vacant sun replaced with sweaty and overbearing heat. A tiny overpriced one bedroom apartment replaced with a spacious rent-free suburban home.

It was an amicable split, but like any split…it’s healthy to take some time apart and focus on your new love. That lovelorn feeling had all but been lost, but this weekend I was able to capture a little of that magic.

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This weekend, we walked around our old neighborhood. Strolling to old neighborhood favorites, reminiscing over what looks familiar and noticing all that’s different. Bound without the constant, meter-filling worry of a car, it felt like old times. We hopped from neighborhood to neighborhood like we never left. The city was as it always was beautiful.

Comparing  my SF experiences to my new life is futile. The way I love now is with the lens of foresight and maturity, it’s well-thought and intentional. The love I felt for SF was instant and fueled by an environment where I was allowed to make mistakes and grow as a person. It was young love and although that same love can never be captured, it’s nice to know that I can occasionally visit those same streets and feel like I’m home.

 

-Sandi

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Las Vegas Hangover

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I often tell people, I don’t watch television to learn anything new. You can find me watching couples fight over their first house purchase, obnoxious chef-celebrities eat foot high cheeseburgers and reality TV families travel the world to appear at various clubs. I’m sure it makes me sound dumb, but I stand by it and I feel secure enough intellectually to not let the reaction I get from people when I say that faze me. To me TV is a time to let other voices besides my own fill my head. My brain is constantly going 90 miles per hour. Thought after thought after overanalytical thought crowding itself in my head that makes me question everything, all the time. It’s exhausting. And it’s something I’m fighting to manage as I near 30.

Going to Vegas for me is like watching TV but it’s engaging all my senses. It gives me a colorful, noisy and obnoxious world to fill my sight, ears and brain with that is way louder than my thoughts. It’s not something that comes intuitively but it’s a healthy exercise in self-control to enjoy a place like Las Vegas.

It had been about seven years since I last went to Las Vegas and some of the things I remember from that first trip were: wearing heels that I couldn’t quite handle, being ogled by a nightclub nightman that was sizing girls up to see if they were attractive enough to pay for overpriced drinks, and the muggy weather. All that said, it was still fun. The novelty of being 22 in Vegas with my best friend made it all worth it. There’s a sort of freedom that Vegas gives you and thankfully I was with someone that was just as cautious as I was to fully partake in the Vegas experience.

So this time, I tried to mentally prepare myself.  There’s a pre-desensitisation that you have to go through before driving in or landing in Las Vegas for a person like me to fully enjoy it. A cloak of ignorance to everything around you. You have to make a pact with yourself to ignore the smoke, ignore the offensive and sexist comments that are hurled at you, ignore the prostitutes giving sad men a reason to smile and ignore the debauchery.

…and that’s what I did. I turned off the part of me that’s rightfully offended for and by many things. I felt like I was just floating past Vegas not a permanent resident that needed to correct all the wrong I saw. I was a passerby enjoying it for what it’s worth and then going back to my life where I can proudly say I voice my opinion readily and often to the things I don’t find just. It’s a technique that’s well-suited for a short weekend.

Here’s hoping I can continue to live in the present and postpone the over analyzation until a little later when the urge to write kicks in.

 

-Sandi

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