Saturday, March 10, 2018

the significance of that weekend in texas

Six months ago, I took my last 501 work trip to Corpus Christi (and later, Austin). I spent the first humid morning exploring by foot. I realized I recognized the small Texan city from having passed through more than ten years prior, on a spring break trip that most definitely reflected my age at that time (17). So much had changed since. I imagine I would've had the same enthusiasm to stop by Selena's memorial though. I was transported to singing along to her cassette tape in my dad's car, my mom explaining to me, months later, why he'd come home from work so upset. I recalled how special it'd been when we to dinner and to see Jennifer Lopez's debut.
I'd flown to Corpus, Christi to supervise an event a new colleague was running. All went well. The following morning, we drove to Austin. I strolled from my Airbnb to another Austin-based colleague's home. We ended up on Rainey Street, others met us, and before long we were on a day-drinking adventure. I admired the easy, laid back approach to strong cocktails and good conversation, local beer and live music. It'd been awhile. I felt fortunate. I thought back to my road trip, when I'd just barely driven through.
On that last day in Texas, I traversed the entire city, UT Austin and the original Whole Foods included. I paused only for a Skype interview with an Executive Director, that has become my boss. Then I called my mom to join in my inspired excitement. What an opportunity! One that's moved me from Los Angeles to San Francisco, the California town I've seemingly always hoped to belong to.
So here I am, approaching 30, writing from the first city I've deliberately chosen as my own. It's amazing to reflect on just how much has been lived in the past decade+. Most worthwhile experiences have been documented on this blog; others, reserved for conversations with my closest confidantes, many of whom are still scattered around the world. And all the while an SF routine is in the making. Starting a new job, establishing new relationships, and creating a whole new branch of life is no less challenging simply because it's been done before. Thanks for bearing with me as I've come to acknowledge such wisdom. We'll be traveling again soon.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

brussels with my brother

For the first time since 2011, I'll be home for Thanksgiving. Dare I say I'm nervous? I'd considered a staycation in L.A., serving turkey to the homeless... but then my grandmother was diagnosed. And so I decided to be in New York with her (though, uncomfortably, I keep forgetting my grandpa won't be there, too). We'll drive down to my aunt's apartment on the Upper West Side and enjoy that grand home-cooked meal I've missed. We'll be all together again, maybe. I'm really hoping my brother will be able to make it as well.
You may recall that he and I spent the holiday together last year. He was finishing up his master's at University of Amsterdam and wouldn't be able to make it home; I had far too many vacation days to use before I lost them. It was quite the adventure. I flew into Paris (where I crossed paths with my sister), then Amsterdam, and then, Brussels. I wanted to go somewhere he hadn't yet been.
We explored some, he caught up on sleep, and I indulged in more contemporary art. Brussels is delightfully walkable and was dressed up in all its spirited glory. As for Thanksgiving, we were lucky to have found a traditional feast hosted by The American Club of Brussels. I can't express how stimulating it was to be surrounded by such diversity of people, experiences, and ideas, again.
My heart was so full of gratitude as my favorite American fête came to a close then. And really, despite my stress and anxiety, that feeling is not far out of reach now: in early December, I'll move to San Francisco (!) and join the team at the International Institute of the Bay Area, backed by the support of more L.A.-based friends I ever imagined possible and that of my quirky family; what's more: I'm financially-able to spend time with both before and after the transition (Christmas). Wishing the same good fortune to you and yours ♥

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

about charlottesville

I remember how it felt, at the age of 9, to learn racism still existed—to "realize" that to be Mexican meant something, and it wasn't good, not here. I was stunned, shaken into a shame that took years to release; and from which many an admissions essay was inspired.
Since then I've become more critical of my privilege that existed throughout and the guilt that followed. I may have grown up in a bigoted country (albeit quietly), but I wouldn't argue individually-targeted oppression. I've been very fortunate; my parents' hard work and sacrifice literally paid off. And all the while, systemic inequalities continue to persist. To have felt ostracized and to have unabashedly been marginalized is an entire spectrum of nuanced experience. Valid, real, true. Bless this fractured America of ours.

Neither hate nor violence is new to this world, and yet... the events that took place in Charlottesville were viscerally sickening; as is the lack of poignant and morally sound leadership. Hearing about Barcelona and seeing Detroit this past weekend (however imperfect a film) further emphasized my disillusionment. I can't imagine a more necessary time to be reading Rebecca's Solnit's Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities. Nor to stumble across a horoscope such as this one: "It’s easy to take on the imagined weight of this whole world, more and more, until you can hardly stand underneath it. Don’t imagine away your own power, this week. Don’t imagine away the strength you have to keep moving, to keep living, to make the changes on the ground that matter." What does that look like you, too, might have asked yourself. It's not too late:

Get informed about what exactly happened in Charlottesville. Understand the why. Sit with your discomfort while doing so.

Make a donation to organizations that are making a difference now. Regularly fight passivity as well as hate.

Show up, because... yes, there are still points to protesting.

Do not stop paying attention, please.
These days, it’s especially important to have a great source of news and push yourself outside your bubble. Two podcasts we highly recommend: Code Switch, an eye-opening weekly NPR podcast hosted by journalists of color who address the trickiest questions about race in America. And The Daily, a 20-minute weekday podcast from The New York Times. (Yesterday’s episode included first-hand footage from a correspondent in Charlottesville; and today’s episode detailed a city councilor’s experience during the fight over the Robert E. Lee monument, and the chain of events that led to this weekend’s violence.)
It’s Been a Minute is another podcast to add to your playlist. Host Sam Sanders took on the topic of “Charlottesville and White People” in his latest episode. For his part, Sanders sees the hashtag #ThisIsNotUs, which went viral in the aftermath of Charlottesville, as unhelpful. “Even if we don’t think we’re part of the problem, we’re part of the system that has a problem,” he says. “That means that every day we have to ask ourselves what we’re doing to make things better or worse. And a hashtag like #ThisIsNotUs… that’s just a cop-out. -Cup of Jo
No matter your defined race at this moment in time, recognize white privilege. white supremacy, white male terrorism.

Positively influence the next generation—whether or not you're a parent or an educator.

Take better care of yourself and those you care about (as an ally, if applicable).