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Estas Historias

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My home and comfort have been built around painful recollections of guerilla warfare.

I’ve heard these stories all my life – missing people, blood on the kitchen floor, rushing past hung bodies as you walk to school.

These stories are told over breakfast and in between drinks. Cushioned with laughter, saddled with sadness, and said with forced smiles and cold stares. All said in the same accent, in the same language that reminds me of home.

Living miles away from these memories, they’re still the building blocks of the two people that make me everything I am. These stories of war and a tiny country torn by war are a part of me.

So as I sit here, four days away from when you’re supposed to make your arrival, I wonder what place they’ll have in your life.

Will you find comfort in these sad stories? Estas historias, will they make you feel at home?

Is there any need for these stories to live on? Maybe they belong in the past so you can build a new identity not built on the foundation of war.

As your mother, I just hope that these stories find a natural place in your upbringing. That each word lands smoothly and fits perfectly in your life.

That estas historias find you when you need them and when you need to feel strong, when you need to feel inspired and when you need to feel grateful.

I hope they serve you, and I hope they ground you. I hope you feel connected to this country you may never visit. I hope you feel connected to this generation that sacrificed everything for you to one day be here and not worry about a soldier standing outside your door.

Estas historias are difficult. They’re heartbreaking, and they’re heavy. They’re heavy with the lives that were lost, but they’re a part of my mother and father, and so they’re a part of your mother, and so I hope they’re a part of you.

 

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Pregnancy, so far

Pregnancy is a 40-week practice in trust, patience, and management of never-ending expectations.

There are the expectations of yourself and your body. Then there are the expectations that everyone else places on you. Expectations of what your body can do, expectations of what you’re capable of, and expectations to express all these feelings in a few short words when everyone asks how you’re doing.

There’s the trust you need to develop in your body. The trust that your body will work to create a healthy human being. The trust that each pain, each ache is all for a purpose. All while your body is working overtime inside, but you don’t have the physical proof of that yet so for now it’s just an unnerving trust that everything you’re feeling inside and out is “right”.

You hear so many stories of how nature, fate and our bodies don’t always work to create the outcome we want. So many women whose path to motherhood is dotted with tragedy. The first weeks of pregnancy were a scary balance of trying to find a middle ground between excitement and caution. What would make me lucky enough to have a different outcome?

It’s patience. Patience as the weeks go by that everything is OK. I’ve known I was pregnant as soon as you can know. So for those 8 weeks after I found out, all I could do was pray and hope and dream that you would keep growing and growing. It’s the most scared I’ve been and the most relieved I’ve been when I heard your heartbeat.

It was the best song I’ve ever heard, and I wish I could hear it all day every day as a constant reminder that you’re OK.

About 18 weeks in, and it’s starting to feel more real as my body starts to round. But emotions and trust and expectations are still a work in progress. I am happy, content, scared, excited, nervous and exhausted. About 20 times a day.

But I know that when I see your face, I’ll know that every doubt, every ache, every fear, every overthought thought, every worry and every emotion was worth it. It will all be worth it to see you soon, baby boy.

 

-Sandi

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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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