Saturday, March 26, 2005

Gym Puta

I haven't disappeared into a black hole like my boyfriend (who finally called me by the way). I actually have just been swamped with work, the kind you get paid for. Between teaching students and writing on everything from the mechanization of genocide, Vincent Gallo, and elementary school science fairs, I have found a new obsession. Her name is the gym.

I mentioned in an earlier post that my sister and mother had gotten together to buy me a two year membership at a local gym. I don't know if this was an underhanded way of them telling me I was out of shape or ::gasp:: fat, although I doubt it as my mother can often be heard yelling at me to stick my belly in or asking me if I'm pregnant. I would like to think that their joint gift had more to do with my low grade depression that has pretty much kept me from doing anything beyond the bare minimum required for my survival.

Going to the all women's gym has become part of my daily routine. I drop la MapucheRican off at school. I stop for coffee and have a cigarette. Then I hit the gym for an hour or two.

When I first went , I had to take this orientation, to learn how to properly use the machines. After the orientation they try to sell you personal training then they weigh and measure you. Now I hadn't weighed myself in the longest. When the tiny, skinny white personal trainer asked me how much I thought I weighed, I should have known it was a set up. I threw a random number out there. Turns out I was about 12 pounds more than that number. Hmm I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Anyway. So far my biggest fears were the electric treadmills and step class. I was sure that I'd end up rolling or worse, flying off the electric treadmill like people do in cartoons and sitcoms. But now I have come to learn to love the treadmill. Part of it seems really silly though. I mean shouldn't I just maybe run outside? Get some fresh air instead of smelling sweat? I also think it's hilarious how woman will actually fight over a treadmill. Like literally ladies are pulling other ladies off. You have to sign up for the treadmills by the half hour because of the demand and let me tell you when you are on your 29th minute there is someone tapping their feet behind her all up your ass waiting.

It took me a good two weeks to finally try a step class. I was afraid to look like an ass but I figure how hard could it be. I have rhythm and was a dancer in many ways mira I did ballet and modern dance too, it wasn't just pole work). And sure enough I did pretty well in my first step class. but my favorite class is kickboxing.

I like the fact that it is an all women's gym. I don't feel like I have to worry about my hair or makeup or if my workout clothes are nice enough. There are all shapes and sizes and that goes for the staff as well as the other members. And hey there's even babysitting that la MapucheRican loves.

The best thing about the gym is I really don't think about anything when I'm there. I run on the treadmill, lift weights, go around the world with knees (people who have done step should know what I am talking about). I don't think about my boyfriend, my work, my responsibilities. Hell I don't even think about those unexpected 12 pounds.
All that makes it worthwhile.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

He’s Just Not That Into You

I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I read this book. Almost because the book I read before the pink covered one was a book about policing community policing and quality of life policing history and strategies. Almost because well hell I have a good excuse for reading a book that I would categorize as beneath my intellectual level. I have no money right now to spend on some of the books I do want to read like a book by Marcela Serrano and Nabokov among many others (you should really see my book list ).
So really you are lucky I am reading anything at all.

I picked up the book off my sister’s desk because she has an endless supply of fluffy self-help for single women type books. He’s Not Just That Into You was sitting next to Closing the Deal (I started reading that too but thinking about marriage right now just makes me more depressed).

Yes the book is based on a Sex and the City episode. Miranda feels like she has been liberated when a man not calling her or accepting her invitation to come upstairs after a date means that well that guy is just not into her (yes I am ashamed that I remember the episode. Damn that cable on-demand shit that let me catch up on what I missed when I refused to watch Sex and the City when everyone else was watching it).

The book is extremely old fashioned in so many ways and goes against so many things I value, like degrading myself and self-loathing. Ok I am kidding. The book really allows the male to have the control in the relationship (yes the book read “He’s Not Just That Into You” the you implied being a hetero female. Everyone else is spared). He’s just not that into if he doesn’t call. He’s just not that into you if he doesn’t fuck you. He’s just not that into if he doesn’t call you for three weeks, that’s right we are going on three weeks of El Cubano not calling me, not even collect!!!! Oh wait that was not a chapter in the book. Anyway so the idea is if a man doesn’t call you back, is married, disappears, doesn’t bang you etc. etc. etc. then you should dump him and wait because there is a man who will do all those things and more. Because we are beautiful women (yes the book keeps telling the presumed female reader how hot and desirable she is).

What the book doesn’t say is that sometime relationships are work and that not everything is going to be easy. I mean is everything supposed to just be given to me? I’m not justifying asshole behavior. In fact I am trying to reject things that aren’t good for me including people. But maybe I’m a hopeless romantic. Doesn’t love conquer all in the end?

So yes He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo is like that cute but not so smart friend of yours. She’s fun for about 10 minutes then you’re bored because she just repeats herself. But it was a New York Times Best-Seller so what the hell do I know.

I do know that there is a counter-book out called Be Honest--You're Not That Into Him Either. I suppose I should read that too but since my sister doesn’t own it and I ain’t buying it, I’ll sneak reads every time I go to the gym since the book store is next to the sweat palace.

So tell me how do you know someone isn’t into you or how do you show you aren’t into someone?

Me, when I’m not into someone I never call them. Like never. And I am always too busy or too tired to go out. My daughter being sick or me not having a sitter are always good signs too that I am really not that into you. Of course all these things may be true but if they happen all the time well I am just not that into you.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Over 10,000 Hits

Wow someone is reading my blog. I mean It can't be just me. I'm sure half those hits are ex-lovers/boyfriends (it feels like half my readership is). The other half are mostly my mami amigas. And then all you anon readers who love seeing me crash, burn, and rise up again.

In honor of the 10,000 hit mark I am asking people to ask me anything they want to and I promise to answer. Ok except where I live or anything that revealing.


I mailed el Cubano a silly article I had clipped hoping he would mail me a note. His cell phone wasn’t working. I called his job and sure enough they told me he didn’t work there anymore. I didn’t know if he had quit or was fired. That’s when I began to get nervous. I tracked down the email of a former co-worker of his, who knows some people that el Cubano knows. No response from that person (who knows who I am). I then called el Cubano’s father but he had heard from him less recently than I had. That’s when I broke down. Yes I know that el Cubano is a grown man and capable of taking care of himself but of course I thought the worse.

The next morning I had the LAPD’s number, the numbers of area hospitals and even jails. That was on day seven, the same day my period came a week late (probably because of the stress. I haven’t had sex in months!!). That same day, before I began making phone calls el Cubano sent me an email. In it he apologized for disappearing and explained briefly but without much detail what was going on. He said he had contacted his father and asked him to call me. He said he loved the MapucheRican and me and that he would try and call me soon. His father still hasn’t called me. He still hasn’t called me. It has now been two and a half weeks since I have spoken to him.

To my own credit I haven’t completely fallen apart. I haven’t really broken down and had a good cry about the whole thing. I haven’t reverted to drinking or fucking strangers. I’ve been depressed though. So depressed and mopey that my sister and my mother joined forces and got me a membership to a local gym (or maybe they were trying to tell me I was out of shape?). I have been going to gym at least every other day and am sore enough to prove it. I have allowed myself to go out and not be a slave to the phone. I have joined a friend for hot green mango tea during a snowstorm. I went to a party at the Copacabana thrown by a newspaper I have written for. I still though do jump and run to the phone when it rings hoping it’s him.

All of this brings out huge issues for me. There is nothing worse for me than living in the limbo of uncertainty. I can already hear/see el Cubano yelling/getting mad about what I am going to write next. This has made me wonder about the state of our relationship. Does he not calling me for two and half weeks equal breaking up with me? I know I know Cubanito. If you wanted to break up with me you would have said so. You are always very direct except when you’re not communicating.

This has made me wonder about my moving. Yes I should want to move because I want to move and I still do. I would love to live in Los Angeles. But the plan was a partnership. It is hard to make plans to move with someone when that someone has gone MIA.

I know some of you will now take this opportunity to say “I told you so” or bring up el Cubano’s history and mental health. I am thinking of those things too.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Running Away, Thinking About You

I have hesitated writing about some of the personal turmoil happening in my life, partially because I have no solution that my heart and head can agree on. Also it was a respect thing. I told my partner that I wasn’t going to write about him but now I am writing about him, hoping it will cause him to act. Plus, hasn’t this blog always been about me, la Mala and all the identities wrapped up in that name, exposing herself. Yes I am an exhibitionist. Maybe all writers are. And while I didn’t want to write about it (would seeing the little 12 point letters on screen make it feel more real?), it was all I wanted to write about. This is why over the past few weeks my blog as been a tedious trickle of mindless posts.

When I was 11 or 12 I wanted to be a rock star. I was forming bands with my stepsister in the basement of the house on Alstyne Ave. I was forming bands in the schoolyard of Our Lady of the Angeles with my friends. I always wrote the songs. There was one that I can still remember some of.

Running away, thinking about you,
Is the only thing I can really do.
The pressure has taken me too far.
I’m stuck in this madness.
But don’t you know that love is so cruel?

Of course it’s corny! I was 11 or 12!! But the point is that I got really good at running away. At first it was into books and into my journals. Then it would be into corners of my apartment, usually next to a warm steam radiator, where I could cry and physically hurt myself with no one knowing. When I entered adulthood I would run away into bars and the beds of strangers. I could disappear for hours. Once I ran away for two days. Sometimes I couldn’t help myself. The impulse to escape was so strong that it moved me and blocked everything else out, including my family and child (who was always safe with my mother or sister). Sometimes when I would return after running away I would have only partial memories of what went on. This went on up until about two years ago.

I still want to run away sometimes, into corners, into bars, into beds but I work actively against the impulses more. I have replaced those impulses with others (smoking, exercising, meditating, writing, and masturbating). It is struggle though. Part of it is my fucked up upbringing which left me with a heavy bag of abandonment and esteem issues. Part of it is pathology. I am diagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder chica.

It is because of my background and struggles that I can understand the desire to tune out and drop out of the world. So the first few days that I didn’t hear from el Cubano I was ok. We had been arguing a lot because I wasn’t as available as he would have liked me to be but we still spoke at least once a day (no you do not want to see my phone bill). I knew he was having job and housing issues. But it was when the days turned into a week that I began to really worry. The last time he didn’t call me for a few days, he told me that he probably wouldn’t be in contact with me. But this just happened out of the blue.

To be continued…………….

Monday, March 14, 2005

Bushwick Bargains

Bushwick, I mean East Williamsburg for all you hipsters, has always been known for its values. Bargain stores line Knickerbocker. Hell I once was a bridesmaid in a Bushwick wedding and got these great strappy sandles at a Payless there. Dominican beautyshops compete with cuchifrito stands. In the summer all of life seems to move onto the sidewalks. I have good memories of Bushwick. Friends who have lived there. Lovers who have lived there.

Over lunch last week, one of my sources told me a story coming out of Bushwick because when hipsters move to Bushwick so do local chain stores. A certain local chain clothing store that recently opened in Bushwick had suffered numerous robberies at gun point. After a few managerial changes and adding an armed security guard, things seemed to be getting better. There were less robberies but the shrinkage was still sky high. That's when the company installed video cameras.

The video cameras showed the burly store manager and his armed security guard opening the store early. They would bring in local prostitutes and have sex with them in the store then tell the sex workers to pick what they wanted from the stores selection.

Needless to say the manager and security guard were fired. I do not know if criminal charges were brought against them but I do know that this week the sex workers in Bushwick aren't wearing new clothes.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

More on Fat Actress

I came across this article this morning from the Village Voice on Fat Actress.

Telly Tubby

How many fat jokes can writers think of when writing about this show????!!!!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Big BS

I haven't actually seen the show. It's not that I'm a Kirstie Alley fan or not but between her pimping for Jenny Craig (I admit I have a problem with businesses based solely on controlling what women eat and making them feel bad about it) and the commercials of her dancing around which I think are suppossed to be funny because everyone knows that fat women dancing are funny, I've stayed away. Then I heard about a little story line that involves an African American man. Has anyone seen the show and what do you all think?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Happy International Working Women's Day

I believe in the multiple roles of women and in tasks we take on , in the the work that we do and do not get credited for, like having children, raising them, teaching children. We are artists, scientists, construction workers and on and on. We build, we incite, we carry through, we push forward. We are beautiful. We are briliant. We are sexy. We are strong. We are powerful.

Hermanas- greet all you sisters warmly and lovingly today and everyday.

Hermanos- Pay us the respect we deserve.

Happy International Women's Day.

I am feeling especially strong and powerful today. It's amazing what a little trip to have some warm mango green tea with a friend can do for the spirit of a stressed out mami/artist. The snow isn't even bothering me today.

But This Baby Doesn't Match My Jeans!!!

If babies and children are the hot new accessory then damn have I been fashionable for the past few years without even trying. Who knew that the barely brushed hair that many single mamas deal with was chic? Or that stained clothing was the new status symbol? Maybe soon there will be exclusive mami based clubs like you can't get in unless you have a child? It's like the new velvet rope!!!

Oh yeah except it isn't. Places in general still aren't more baby/kid friendly. I still am the only woman in my circle who has a kid. Single mother hood certainly is not as cool or celebrated in real life as it is on television or in Hollywood with its nannies and assistants. The article only very quickly refers to non affluent mothers (aka poor or working class) and non-white mothers which according to the article pretty much means only black.

Motherhood certainly didn't look like it stepped off the pages of Vogue this morning trying to balance holding an umbrella, my daughter's hand, and her science fair project in the rain. Did I mention the umbrella was for my daughter not for me?
Pass me a towel please.

Monday, March 07, 2005

It's Not Good Enough for the U.S.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Donde Estas Corazon?

If you can collect call me.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

I Was a Little Eichmann

I only sat down tonight to read the entirely of Ward Churchill’s essay in which the controversial “little Eichmanns” quote is contained. The same quote that had the power to have speaking engagements revoked, and death threats forcing resignations. I probably didn’t feel the need to read the essay right away because I knew that anything that pissed off Pataki that much was probably on the right track or maybe it was because I knew as a woman of color, a woman who considers herself a colonial subject I would probably agree with Churchill. In my own defense, because I can see my more conservative readers standing up straight and getting ready to attack me, I am a New Yorker and a survivor of the 9-11-01 attacks (not to be confused with the 9-11-73 attacks) as is my mother and that I knew many people who died in the World Trade Center.

Earlier I watched Ward Churchill on Real Time with Bill Maher. Of course he was placed opposite a brother of an employee of Cantor-Fitzgerald who died in the World Trade Center. This put Churchill in the position of sort of being cajoled into apologizing to the brother for his statements. I did not know the particular person who died in the World Trade Center represented on the show by his surviving brother. I did work with Cantor-Fitzgerald employees at the time of the attacks however. I can’t speak and won’t dare to speak for all inside the towers. Especially not people who were working minimum wage jobs cleaning or serving at Windows on the World. Not for my mother who was a manager in one of the retail stores inside one of the towers when the plane hit (she made it out ok). Hell I won’t even speak about people at Raytheon, a defense company I have protested, who had offices in the World Trade Center. I will however speak for myself , not as the single mom who was stuck in a smoke filled dark subway car for a few hours on my way to work on 9-11-01 as the Twin Towers collapsed above me but as the little Eichmann I could have been and in some respects was.

I wasn’t going to work to clean a toilet or sell clothes. I was going to work in one of the largest investment banking firms in the city and dare I say the world. I wasn’t a top executive. Hell I was just a lowly temp when I started. I needed to feed my daughter so I filed papers. And I struggled even with the decision to do that because in my activist, woman of color, mami, colonized woman gut, I felt something was wrong with it. I was so good at filing that eventually I was trained to actually learn what I was filing, Foreign Exchange trade confirmations. In my three years, my salary grew and I was learning how to write the confirms up and what each part meant. Of course I was still a temp. C’mon you didn’t think they’d promote the spic that easily. That only happens in movies and then the spic has a heart of gold and a desire to assimilate. Anyway the more I learned the smarter and more skilled I became yes but also the more horrified. For example when Chavez of Venezuela was overthrown (by whom I will not get into) the office was in a tizzy but not because they gave a shit about the people of Venezuela or who could be behind the coup but rather because we had huge multinational corporations with trades pending and we didn’t want to lose our deals with them and our money. I witnessed and was a part of the same frenzy with Argentina. I happened to be the only Spanish speaker in the department. I also happened to be the only Latina. I tried to get those confirms in and signed and spoke to people in the third world offices, laughing in Spanish.
Tonight, as Ward Churchill explained his quote, when I read the entire essay and even as I write this, I cry. I was a little Eichmann. I was no innocent. I facilitated the devastation in Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina. And deep down I knew it. Maybe that’s why when after three years of moving up the temp ladder I was finally offered a full time position with benefits that included not just medical and paid vacation but stock options and an incredible salary to boot, I walked away. I said no. I resigned and left. Everyone thought I was crazy. People still think I am for that decision. Hell I went from Wall Street to a strip club because dancing half naked felt cleaner, more honest than the shit going down in that office and offices like it. I never have regretted the decision.

Churchill’s comments weren’t anti-United States. They were not pro-terrorist. They were about reality. When I walked out into the downtown sunlight from the subway tunnel I had been trapped in, I also yes walked into ash and fire, and streams of people crying. Hell I cried thinking my mother was dead. I never however asked why. Because deep down in my gut, my woman of color, colonized, mami gut I knew why. It would be wise for others, those who say that they don’t understand, to read Churchill’s entire essay or better yet read his book. Then study the history of the United States beyond the history books and Fox News and CNN. Visit Vieques, Palestine, Colombia, Haiti, Chile, the Congo or any third world nation and not as a tourist. You know what, hell freaking spend a day in the projects of Washington Heights, el Barrio, Corona. Then explain why.

Special thanks to Mean Regression for having some good links on her page about this.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Felicidades Manga

No I am not congratulating my sleeve on anything. When I was a little bilingual baby I could never say the word grandma. So I would call out , " Manga!". My maternal grandmother took care of my sister and I often when my parents were going through their separation and divorce. When my mother tried to kill herself my abuelita took care of us. I remember riding in her shopping cart through Jamaica, Queens and her treating me to a whole box of Andes chocolates. She would let me stay up late and watch wrestling with my grandfather then we would watch Walter Mercado, Iris Chacon interrupted only by commercials by Mirta de Perales and her fabulous shampoos ( I remember the yellow shampoo with the green lettering on the bottle). For breakfast all cereals were called corn flakes. Lunch was always hot dogs or pizza.

It was only when I became a teenager that I realized what a fresca my abuelita was. She curses all the time. Says that of she could do it again she would have never gotten married, she would have had lots of lovers instead. She uses the word chocha like no one's business and when my grandfather became very sick she loved him and took care of him but would also scream at him " Carajo!!". When someone speaks to her in English she just smiles demurely and acts like she has no idea what they saying then she will proceed to tell you word for word what they said.

Her tiny apartment has always been a safe haven for her grandchildren in times of need. As I write this she has a cousin of mine who lost her apartment staying with her. I may not always agree with the extent of her generosity but I respect it.

Today my abuelita turns 93 years old. Recently after not cooking for weeks because of her bad arthritis that keeps in her bed most of the time (the only thing wrong with her), she's begin cooking again.

Abuelita eres un inspiracion.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Parking Lot Memories Spared

Last week it was made official that negotiations with a realtor working with Wal-Mart to build a brand spanking nuevo store in my community had ended. I personally couldn’t be happier.

Yes I appreciate a bargain as much as the next person. In fact I probably appreciate a bargain more than the next person unless that next person is a single struggling mama of color like me. I admit that when I was in Maine, in the shadows of my undergraduate career, I could sometimes be found wandering the brightly lit aisles of Sam Walton’s empire. Hell it beat the crappy ass campus parties and it was open 24 hours and was way closer than L.L. Beane. I don’t remember ever actually buying anything at Wal-mart although it’s quite possible that I bought deodorant or some other necessity, the same way I buy such things at the local Target now. But back then Wal-Mart was more of a social experience and a grounding experience because sometimes I could meet and talk with migrant Mexican workers and their families. There were so few people of color and Latinos in my liberal arts college that those few moments of hearing and speaking Spanish were mini miracles that contributed to my survival.

But here in Rego Park, on the border with Elmhurst, I don’t need to use big box stores with their cheap products and low prices to socialize. That’s hwy there are bodegas and fruit stands. Besides the Rego Park area is already filled with huge chain stores and malls. The proposed Wal-mart would have been built just two blocks from my house. In fact I can see the parking lot if I look out one of the windows in my apartment. The parking lot sits between a small mall complex that includes a Sears, Marshall’s, Circuit City, Bed Bath & Beyond and Old Navy the newly rebuilt Queens Center Mall. Surrounding these malls are Target and numerous fast food joints to feed all the hungry shoppers. Directly across the street from the super complexes, on my side of the boulevard, at least two storefronts are empty, being unable to keep up with the rising rents.

What I found really interesting is that there wasn’t a huge local community outcry against the proposed Wal-Mart save from the politicians. Their talk was all focused on the effect the store would have on whatever was left of the local smaller merchants and the traffic. There was hushed talk about the effect that such stores have on wages. There was no talk about the overall unfair and criminal labor practices of Wal-Mart. Compare this to the outrage and protests surround the opening of the local strip club Wiggles. And no I’m not just pointing out the disparity because I used to be a stripper (not at Wiggles).

I have a feeling Wal-Mart will try again. The empty parking lot has been a proposed site for a multiplex movie theater. There have been reports of rapes over the years happening in the isolated location. There has never been a public suggestion about building a school on the site, part of a very overcrowded school district. No cultural center has been suggested either. I’ll be long gone form here by the time anything is built on the spot. For now I’m glad it will stay in my mind as a place where every spring a carnival comes and now where workers are potentially locked in overnight.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Why I Wish My Daughter Were in Catholic School

I wish my daughter were in Catholic school so that I wouldn't have to tromp in the freshly fallen snow to take her to school. All the Catholic schools in my hood are closed. Snow days. Remember those?Waking up early to listen to the radio rattle off school closings and you sitting there, fingers crossed? Growing up I was the lucky one since I went to Catholic school and my sister went to public school. Public schools don't close for anything. They are going to hell.

See why Catholic school is good?