Monday, January 31, 2005

Conversations With Abuela

My nearly 90 year old abuelita was talking to my mother the other night complaining.
" Ay I'm not sleeping well. I wake up in the middle of the night with these horrible pains in my feet. I have to massage my heels for a few minutes really hard so that the pain will let up enough for me to fall back asleep."
"Mami why don't you take an aspirin before you go to bed like the doctor told you?" my mother asks.
"Ay no mi'ja. The doctor said to take aspirin for the pain in my leg not in my feet. And anyway eventually they will just have to cut off my legs or feet."
"Mami why do you have pains in your leg?" my mother asks.
" Arthritis"
" They cut off people's legs or feet when they have gangrene or something like that not because of arthritis" My mother informs her.
" I guess I better take the aspirin like the doctor said then".

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Oh the Irony

This morning I was checking the MapucheRican's schoolbag. We did math and phonics work. Then I pull out the baggie of books she is sent home with to read over the weekend.
There in the plastic baggie is The True Story of Pocahontas

The story is so true not once is her real names mention. She comes across as the typical noble savage stereotype.
"They all think Indians are savages, but Pocahontas acts like a princess. She stands very straight. She smiles and speaks softly. How pretty she is."

How many ways is the above quote wrong?

So here I go. obviously I have to now sit with the MapucheRican and discuss the book with her. Do I send a note to the teacher saying how inappropriate this is?

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Revisionist Parenting

La MapucheRican and all second graders in her school have a big biography project. Each student has to choose a historical person to write a report about, make a book about, make a diorama about, and do an oral presentation in class dressed as their chosen person.

la MapucheRican chose Frida Kahlo
so I'm actually pretty excited about doing this project with her because it will touch upon so many issues I feel are important for her to learn about.

On Friday I stood in a hallway in la MapucheRican's school chatting with some other parents about the upcoming project. We exchanged information on the chosen subjects for the project. Someone chose Sally Ride. Another one chose Amelia Earhart.
"My daughter is going to do the sanitized Pocahontas" one mother said.
I could feel the blood begin to rush to my face. The mother felt that her daughter couldn't handle the true story of kidnapping, forced Christianization and the idea that John Smith and Walt Disney make up stories. ::Gasp::.
" I don't lie to my daughter about facts" I said very firmly. Especially facts that could potentially impact her view of herself as a female of color in this country. Especially facts that relate to her own indigenous roots.
I was asked how I explained the movie version.
"My daughter never saw the movie version," I stated.
"My daughter also didn't do an assignment that was sent home about the first Thanksgiving because it was untrue,"
I went to school and handed the worksheet back to the teacher myself.

I can already picture biography day and seeing the little girl dressed as a Disneyfied version of the Powhatan girl named Matoaka. Something about that picture really bothers me.

Why is it ok for people to take a historical figure and change her story because it makes them uncomfortable? I rarely hear people say that they are going to do a non-controversial report on Columbus, that's because like most of the Eurocentric history, it is assumed that what is presented is correct. It is always the story of the other that needs to be reworked to save face or to adjust to the comfort level of the non-oppressed person.

I am always told I am too judgmental. Too sensitive. Maybe I shouldn't give a shit what some other kid grows up thinking except that one day in the not too distant future that same miseducated child will be in a social or professional relationship with my brown daughter and that miseducated person will think it is ok to silence the narrative of my daughter, her perspective. Children learn by example.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Fragments of a Deleted Post

I wrote a post yesterday about an ex of mine who recently got into contact with me via this blog. Now the purpose of this blog never has been as a billboard calling all ex's but has ended up being one of it's uses. Hell apparently it's how el Cubano kept up with what was happening with me when we were out of touch.

I waxed nostalgic about being 18 and in love and in the struggle. I wrote about making out in cafes in the west village and working security together at our first rallies. He had a long nickname for me. I had short nicknames for us both. It was sweet. I wrote about how it was seven years since we last had communicated. We sat in a restaurant in the village and I ws already pregnant with the MapucheRican. It was uncomfortable for us both, the ghost of a miscarriage still hovering between us.

The breakup was because of his mistrust of me, my mistrust of him, and his mother, whom I would run into after I had the MapcuheRican at rallies, rallies she had once hated. She would gush about his new girlfriend and how nice she was and pretty and pretty much better than me. Then behind my back she would tell people I organized with that I was a slut and a liar and recreate the history of my relationship with her son.

After seven years he is the ex I have gone the longest without hearing from. I wrote about hearing from him made me laugh and made me think about decisions I have made. I don'r regret any of the decisions I have made. They all happen for a reason. I believe in that.

I also believe people are placed in the path of our life for a reason. Some people keep reappearing. El Cubano has been the one reappearing the longest, even before either one of us knew it or knew each other. I believe that means something. I kmow he does too.

I didn't want to delete my post. I wanted only to delete some of the comments that followed my orginal post. Comments filled with misunderstanding and judgement and misinterpretation.

This blog has gotten me writing gigs and now it gets me into arguements with people I love. It is an extention of me and I think maybe, just maybe that is why people read it whether they love me, hate me, or miss me.

There is a blizzard approaching today. I mean that in more ways then people could imagine.

Friday, January 21, 2005

What I want Certain People to Know

Ask anyone who knows me. Ask all the parents I work with. Ask my students. Ask my friends. Ask my daughter. Ask my family. My speech is peppered with references to it. Plans beyond the summer cannot involve anything on the east coast because I don't plan to be on the east coast. I am set on moving to Los Angeles. As much as I am impulsive about somethings, especially when it only concerns me. When it comes to my daughter I try to be methodical. Maybe too methodical. I need to know what school district I am going to live in? What will be her zoned school? Is it on a year round schedule or a traditional schedule? But there is no where I would rather be than there.

I am in love. Not in a giddy love is blind kind of way but in a way that understands that true love is alot of work and compromise and that I and the other have faults. There is no one I would rather be with.

I don't know how to be more clear.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Just Can't Say Goodbye

I was one of those people, those people who joked about moving out of the United States if George W. Bush were reelected. In every joke there is a little bit of sincerity. I wasn’t alone. There were articles and talk on the television about packing it all up and moving up to Canada. I personally was thinking of flying south, to Chile, where I had once lived and where half of my daughter’s roots are grounded. Now I’m under no illusion that Chile is some democratic paradise. In my time there I stood in enough tear gas and had too many children beg me for food to know better. But at least there my daughter would be taught in Spanish and be taught English.

This week G.W. Bush will be inaugurated into his second term as president of the United States and I still live in the United States with no plans to leave anytime soon. Some people did leave, however. In fact, some who saw the writing in the wall before Election Day left before all the votes were counted. One such person, Bee Lavender, had her Dear John letter to the United States published in the latest issue of Bitch magazine. Her letter and discussions on some of the mama’ing boards I am a part of (Mama’s Quilt, MESSIRAP) reminded me that talk of leaving and actually following through are divided along class and race lines.

I stopped believing in the American dream a long time ago. I was raised primarily by a single mother who didn’t have health insurance (I remember my parents arguing over which of them was responsible for paying for my sister’s and my own health care costs). I remember my mother asking my great-aunt for money for new socks for me to wear on my first communion. I remember mash potato dinners. I was lucky enough however to go to private schools and even a nice small liberal arts college in New England, on scholarship of course. By then I had begun to uncover my own roots. Why were my parents here instead of Puerto Rico where they were born and partially raised? Why did my grandparents come here? Why do we claim Puerto Rican as our nationality when Puerto Ricans are born into United States citizenship? The reality of colonialism had set in and I stopped saying the pledge of allegiance in school and everywhere else. I also became an activist. I witnessed mothers of color mourning and fighting for justice in the name of their children who were unjustly murdered by police, prison officials, or racist gangs. I met young men and women who were assaulted because of where they came from. I had a child and as a single mother struggled to pay doctor and hospital bills. I fought to get my daughter in a good public school then had to fight to get her out of English as a Second Language program because just because we speak Spanish doesn’t mean we don’t speak English.

What bothered me about Bee Lavender’s goodbye letter to the United States and other people’s talk of leaving is that there was no discussion or acknowledgement about the privilege in leaving. Let us look at the class privilege issue. Even if I really wanted to leave I don’t have the resources to do so. As it is I rely on an intricate network of family and friends to survive as a single mother, a network so wound up with my daily routine that even my current plans to leave the state of New York feel scary and possibly overwhelming.
Lavender writes that it may not feel like such a loss that someone like her moved away but that her husband leaving is hard to ignore since he is “scientist engaged in essential
Research”. Those are the ones that can leave. Very few teachers and artists on our limited incomes could leave, even if we wanted to. I’m sure that Lavender is not suggesting that a mass exodus of female artists and teachers wouldn’t have an impact on the culture of the United States. Also I am sure that she is not implying that only males with higher education fall into the category of the “best and brightest”.

Now let me bring the issue down to race/imperialism. Despite having been born in the United States, the U.S. has never felt like home to me. It didn’t welcome my family with open arms into the safety of citizenship under the Jones Act. In fact it sterilized my grandmother and other Puerto Rican women. President Bush is President of Puerto Rico too except not one single person living on the island could vote for him or against him for that matter. So when people say that I should go back where I came from with all my complaints and criticisms of the United States I want to know where is it I’m expected to go? The fact is I have no place to go. Bee Lavender talks about how much happier she is in England and how much better things are for her in England and I don’t doubt her for a second and I am happy for her. But I wonder how much better things would be for a single woman of color, a married woman of color, a lesbian woman of color anywhere in the world. Much better? Marginally better?

I’m not even sure how I’m going to afford my cross-country trip to another state with another Republican governor. I’m not expecting life to be that much easier. Yes I will be partnered and I will be warmer. Simply moving away however can never erase certain issues and that’s even if you can move away.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Mala Don't Play That

I was originally going to write about the upcoming inauguration and relate it to vows I made and others made, to leave the country if Bush were re-elected. I promise to write about that later or tomorrow. But I am compelled to explore and comment on an article in ColorLines titled Playing With Race about race play in the BDSM community.

Now I consider myself pretty damned sexually liberated. I've had partners that span geographic, race, class, language, gender and sexual orientations (interestingly enough when thinking about writing this I realized I've never been with a woman of color, but that's a whole different exploration). I've been fortunate enough to have done many things people would label "kinky" and now am happily settled into a sexual relationship that includes plenty of roughness and fantasizing with a man I deeply love (ok I could stand to have sex with this man more often but a few thousand miles between us limits this) . But even I have my boundaries. Those boundaries for me include monogamy because I've realized that I am just too damn jealous and insecure to be in a polyamorus relationship. I am not into watersports or anything involving ahem "bathroom" activities. Spanking and biting is fine but hitting me in the face is not. And my lovers are not allowed to call me a spic.

It's not that I'm shy around the word spic. I use it in my poetry and analyze it and break it down. I've written about being "A Lighter Shade of Spic" and wrote a poetic response to the use of the word spic in a parenting web community I used to be active in. Spic is what my mother called me in high school after I participated in a Shakespeare competition because she said when I performed I had an accent. A customer at the strip club I worked in called me a dirty spic as he slipped me a few dollars.
Can you see why spic isn't sexy?

Things can get rough in the bedroom with my partner and me but it is all consensual and I have never ever felt threatened in the least by him but I can't imagine consenting to playing Taina to him playing conquistador. I would not tolerate being called his Spic Slut. I have no problem playing the submissive but submissive to me doesn't mean replicating oppressions I deal with on a day to day. Y menos with a white man.

With many of the white men and non-latino men overall that I have been with, I have felt reduced to a sexual stereotype. What was my normal sex drive was made into hot-blooded "latin-ness". Any new move I brought into the bedroom was "spicy". They loved calling me "mami".

When I worked as a stripper, the stereotype of my identity was a commodity. Only one customer ever called me a spic but I was many times over someone's mami chula, someone's Latina fantasy, the other they would never dare bring home but had no problem getting a lap dance from.

I hate to be judgmental about people's personal sexual practices but when a Republican Latino I went on a few dates on (no sex) told me that his cock had no politics, I had to laugh outloud.
Sexuality and how one expresses it is very political no? and something about the whole race play thing doesn't sit right with me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

NYC Tsunami Benefit Posted by Hello

That is Like So Junior High School

In Junior High School no one would start and kissing or sex rumor about me if I was the last Rican in a Catholic school uniform well because there wasn't a damn thing sexy about me in junior high. I had a bad perm and no fashion sense and anyway I was a good girl. I went to church on Sundays and a few times during the week to help in the rectory. I was a nerd. Hell even in high school after I was first kissed at 16 no one spread dirt on me because I only had three boyfriends in high school: my first kiss, my first fuck, and my first engagement (seriously).

So maybe now , along with my colorful choices in hair color, am I getting to live the joy that was the writing in the boys bathroom. Of course even now, at 27, and certifiably sexable, the bulk of the rumors are about my best friend la fea. Apparently in the Queens rockero scene, who you don't fuck is what makes you a slut/whore/puta. Because pobre de la fea who rejected not only el loco Boli but a coke using Ecua-Rockero, apparently slept with both of them and rumor has it, who knows who else in La Kueva.
The problem is not only did she not sleep with either one but she hasn't slept with anyone from the rockero inner circle that is la kueva. The problem is that the boys who are spreading these lies (the rejected ones) are in their mid-thirties!!!! The problem is that now la Fea is in a nice relationship with someone who so far seems to be normal and the rumors are beating on his eardrums and making him be irrationally jealous and suspicious, which is an entire issue in and of itself.

Apparently it doesn't matter how many people you have slept with but who those people are. I made the huge mistake of fucking el Boliviano. Huge mistake (well it wasn't that huge ::wink wink::). My sources tell me that it was said of the tertulias that " get a few drinks in those two and see what you can get", those two being la fea and me. Nothing like a rumor makes me want to go to la tertulia tonight more than ever and tell some people off, to their faces and in poetic form. Nothing like an independent, talented, political, hot ass chica like me who dares to talk about sex, abortion, and all the politics tied up into being a woman of color to start talking shit about. In my not so humble opinion this is more than about alcohol and who is fucking who. It is an attempt to discredit women who are not afraid of their sexuality. Now I really want to do that performance piece about who had been in my bed, complete with slide show and the biography of my pussy (two things floating in my head). Porque carajo it takes way more than a few drinks to get into my tangita and it takes way more than a bunch of sad middle aged rockeros talking shit about what they wished they would have done inside that tangita to shut me the hell up.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Distance Between Us

El Cubano called me two nights ago and asked me if I noticed the distance between us. He wasn't talking about the obvious thousands of physical miles that separate us. He was talking about an emotional distance that I consciously put between us when he was here. I admit it. I created that gap but it wasn't out of love lost. In fact it was the opposite. At my best I can be affectionate, touchy-feely. At my worst, clingy, dependent and demanding. I knew that el Cubano was coming to me in a somewhat fragile state given his situation in LA. And yes I had selfish motivations in having him come to NYC because yes I wanted to see him, yes I wanted to kiss him, and yes I wanted to fuck him, but overwhelmingly I wanted to create a sort of safe space for him if he were to slip into a deeper depression. I wanted to prevent that deeper depression from happening maybe and the only way to do that was to pull back a little even if that meant that my desires, wants, needs weren't met.

The safe space wasn't created initially. In fact el Cubano was thrown into a ring where he felt he had to defend himself, against his father mostly, who brought his own issues to the table and was surprisingly insensitive towards el Cubano's feelings.

It took a few days for el Cubano to settle into himself and I felt more like a caretaker than a partner, not to say I didn't get some of my needs taken care of and not to say that we didn't have our moments, like New Year's Eve and days spent in my apartment talking. I was a caretaker but not like a parent. I let him sleep when he wanted to, leave when he felt he needed to destress.

On the day that el Cubano returned to Los Angeles, 3 days later than originally scheduled, we were more like a couple and I allowed myself to be closer to him and that's why we ended up having a small argument and I ended up crying. A part of me didn't want him to leave. I knew he had to though. And yes while there was a certain distance between us during his stay here in the end I felt closer to him.

Sometimes a little distance goes a long way.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Cuando Te Falta Palabras

Actually I never run out of things to write about but I lovingly stole this from la Ms. Cherry Galette who was inspired by a certain resident of Unfurnished Brooklyn.

1. la Mala
2. MAMI!!!!
3. The name on my birth certificate

1. onemamimala
2. la12rumala
3. mamitamala

1. I'm very generous, sometimes to a fault
2. I'm a great fuck
3. I'm smart, well intellectual

1. I'm snotty
2. I'm judgemental
3. The way I hurt myself

1. African
2. Indigenous (Taino)
3.European (Spanish)

In a word: Rican

1. Being alone - as in lonliness not like being alone in a room
2. King Friday from Mr. Roger's 'Hood ( I had a nightmare when I was a kid and it scared me for life)
3. My self

1. Cigarettes
2. Writing
3. la MapucheRican

1. Pink Panties with Ruffles on them
2. El Cubano's ring that he forgot here
3. My tee shirt with a quote from el Che

I have so many so I'll just put down what's currently in my cd players
1. Machito y su Orquesta
2. Lila Downs
3. Lhasa

1. Porque Tu Sufres
2. Tengo Miedo de Quererte
3. Pa' Llegar a Tu Lado

1. Tango
2. Living in a new place
3. Finishing What I Start

1. Trust
2. Understanding
3. Lots of really good kissing and sex

1. Always a Bridesmaid never a bride
2. I have had more than 50 lovers
3. I no longer have a police record

1. Nice Eyes
2. Nice hair
3. A big well ya know cuz yeah size matters to me

1. Vote Republican
2. Quit Smoking
3. Play sports

1. Writing
2. Reading
3. Going to museums

1. Have sex with el Cubano
2. Find a job in Los Angeles
3. Move to Los Angeles

1. Attorney
2. Club/restaurant/store/cafe owner
3. Armed Guerilla Revolutionary

1. Cuba
2. Argentina
3. Brazil

1. Alejandro Lautaro
2. Ernesto Alejandro
3. Alejandro Ernesto

My next baby obviously best be a boy

1. Write my family history
2. Get married
3. Have a house in Puerto Rico

1. I'm always touching myself
2. I curse alot
3. I hate shopping

1. I can't play sports for shit
2. I get all weepy at movies, upon hearing a song or watching a certin commercial, when having sex, when someone looks at me the wrong way, ok ok I cry really easily
3. I like taking care of people

1. Gael Garcia Bernal
2. Olivier Martinez
3. Angelina Jolie

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Knocked Down

I thought I was ok but then last night it all hit me. Maybe because I was over the exhaustion from el Cubano's stay but I suddenly was sad and irritable and snappy with la MapucheRican. She now is sick again, so that doesn't help. Then last night my sister observed something going on with my mother, an uncontrollable twitching in her hand. My mother tried to hide it from us by literally sitting on her hand as we were all talking. When my sister asked her about it, my mother broke down and cried. Turns out my mother has been like this for awhile but hasn't gotten it checked out. It could be something neurological or stress related, since there is so much fucking stress in this house. My mother is concerned about not being able to afford what she would have to pay to get it checked out since she has such shitty insurance but my sister and I told her not to worry about it that we would take care of it. So basically I am broke off my ass again and any plans towards my saving for my moving to Los Angeles are put on hold until I figure out what is wrong with my mom.

I ran out last night to buy medicine for la MapucheRican and cigarettes for myself and I broke down. All I could think as I sat in the stairway of my building was how I didn't want to be here in NY anymore. A part of me doesn't want to deal with whatever is happening with my mom, not because I don't love my mother but because I know that I am going to take the responsibility. No matter that my sister is making more money than me and has no one to support other than herself and her shopping habit. My money will pay for fixing the bathroom today and my mother's upcoming doctor's visit plus all the other shit I feed into this household.

I need to save money to go for therapy, and to move, and my own healthcare needs, and la MapucheRican and I have to watch my sister buy another coat, another pair of boots, etc etc. Yeah ok so I'm fucking bitter. I'm tired of always being the self sacrificing one and fucking no one sacrificing for me.

My mother told me the other day, "you should go back to school Mala" , yeah no shit but while my mother pays thousands of dollars for my sister to go to school and consistently fail I get shit.

Then this morning I see an email from la MapucheRican's father complaining about how the Chilean Forestry Service offered him a job but he didn't take it b/c he felt they weren't offering him enough. Have I mentioned that this man has given me 200 dollars in la MapucheRican's 7 and a half years of life? And those 200 dollars came from a job I got for him the last time he was here, years ago? Excuse me for not feeling so bad for him.

I was originally going to reappear at la Kueva tonight but now my drinking money is literally going into the toilet.

Ok ok enough pity party.

Friday, January 07, 2005

All By MySelf

Today was the first day since December 23 that I spent all alone and it was wonderful. Don't get me wrong I love having my daughter around and I loved having el Cubano here but it was exhausting (did I make him that tired when I was out in LA). It was a combination of the stress he brought with him, plus the stress of his not so understanding father, plus the holidays, plus him getting sick, plus the daily sex, plus his snoring, plus the running around, well you get the picture. I mean I miss him too. He just left yesterday and we fought in the airport. He was stressed about getting a flight to LA (after all he was originally scheduled to leave on Monday), I was stressed about picking up la MapucheRican on time, and I honestly was sad about him leaving. With the constant postponment of his departure, a part of me hoped he would stay for good. I liked having him around. We talked alot,had alot of great sex, laughed, went out with la MapucheRican. I even was getting used to the snoring and his endless showers. But his place isn't here. He's back in LA and will get everything he needs to get together, together.

Today I did some research, began working on a new poem, did four loads of laundry (mostly bedsheets and towels ::wink wink::), did some yoga, got freaking annoyed because I have to spend a hundred and some dollars to get the toilet fixed.

Tommorow or maybe even later I will post little details of my time with el Cubano, but for now I must fold laundry.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Bringing in the New Year With a

dare I say bang? Not that there was champagne or fireworks, at least not literal ones. El Cubano arrived from LA and it actually took me a second to recognize him since he decided to grow a beard since I last saw him about two months ago. la MapucheRican saw him right away and ran to him and hugged him.

New Year's Eve didn't go exactly as planned because el Cubano's father wasn't as understanding as we would have liked. In the end it was just the three of us, el Cubano, la MapucheRican, and myself watching tv, laughing, kissing. It was quiet but in many ways it was nice. La MapucheRican said she wanted all the New Years to be like that, just the three of us.

Yes yes I did get to say goodbye to the old year by some booty from my man and I also got to welcome the new year that way too.

Oh el Cubano bought these two lava lamps for la MapucheRican since she was so enamored with one that he has. She was happy as could be. I think it might be one of her favorite gifts so far this holiday.

All in all I was just happy to be with two people that I love completely despite all the stresses.