“Meet Kikito, he turned 1 year old last April. The piece is visible close to the Tecate border for a month” – JR (https://twitter.com/JRart)
“Meet Kikito, he turned 1 year old last April. The piece is visible close to the Tecate border for a month” – JR (https://twitter.com/JRart)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
….on a recent visit to The Broad.
The phrase “alone in a crowd” has some pretty sad connotations. The idea that even in a room full of people, you can still feel isolated and lonely…it’s a tragic feeling. However, recently I feel like I’ve discovered that there’s something kind of beautiful about it. Recently I had a full day of just me. A day adventure by myself in a crowded city.
I went to a lookout point with a breakfast burrito and some iced coffee (from Cofax) and was met with a few tourists. I went to The Broad museum and stood in line for about an hour with another 50 people then walked around a crowded museum with endless chatter. Then went to grab some food and went to a nearby beach where there were groups of friends, couples, and a few too many models having their photograph taken against the scenic backdrop. I was surrounded by people all day but had no one next to me.
There’s something beautiful about having no one but yourself to please. Taking the wrong turn or being stuck in traffic don’t seem so bad when you have no one there to turn to and complain to or apologize to. Having nothing but your own thoughts as you walk through a crowd is sort of liberating. It’s the realization that happiness and feeling fulfilled and grateful and content is possible amidst a busy and crowded life. There’s always going to be noise, and crowds, and opinions, and work and stress. But as long as you can come back to that place, that quiet place in your head…then you’ll always feel grounded. Realizing that the most important person to make happy is yourself feels like an obvious sentiment but it’s so easily overlooked. We can’t be good partners, good friends or good employees if we’re constantly concerned with other people’s reactions and happiness.
That’s a tough one for me, I’m constantly worried about how other people are perceiving my actions. If people think I’m being nice enough, understanding enough, “good” enough. I know I shouldn’t but it’s my anxiety ridden default. These moments when I’m by myself with my thoughts in a busy room, remind me that there is no one else’s standards that I should be trying to meet. If I love hanging with myself all day then it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks because no one knows me as well as I know me. The people that do like me, love me or tolerate me…well that’s just icing on the cake.
That sense of independence of operating alone and being to make yourself happy in the midst of traffic, and smog and noise is unbelievably liberating. The next time I’m feeling insecure, or unheard, or overwhelmed I’ll have to remember that I am in charge of what makes me happy. I have a place in my mind that I can come back to, where it’s quiet and peaceful. And that place is accessible in a crowded room or by myself.