Sunday, May 20, 2018

this is... 30

So now that I’m 30 – and all mature (winky face) – I thought I’d take a little longer to reflect on what my goals/list should be…

To be real – turning 30 has been very scary for me; it’s a new decade, I feel like it is the decade where “I’m supposed to know what I am doing with my life” – I’m supposed to master adulting… (yeah – it’s a word) – As a muxer – I feel like there is an expectation that I should have a kid by now…yadaayadda

To be super real – yeah – I might want all those things (eventually) but I ALSO want so MUCH MORE…

In no particular order:

1.      I need to learn how to love myself again; I’m angry, I’m bitter, life is not fair – regardless I need to love myself and cannot expect myself to be perfect and I need to stop comparing my present to my past self
2.      I need a new and consistent personal project to dive into; one thing that I have learned over the years is that I do my best work when my plate is close to full – I tend to drop all the balls I am juggling when I have too much time to relax/consume media/tv (on the internet)
3.      Draft my memoir; my life is super interesting up to this point – who better to document it…
4.      Bring my whole self to work; be Xicana at work – there was a time that I was really in people’s faces about the stereotypes they made and would call them out and try to educate…at one point it became too emotionally exhausting and I just stopped going to work on certain “holidays” – I am trying to find the right moments to embrace the “diversity”
5.      I want to pursue sitting on a Board for a museum here in San Francisco (Mexican Museum)
6.      I need to find a new Mentor
7.      I need to find someone to Mentor
8.      Explore hosting my own PODCAST
9.      Take an actual vacation
10.   Audit some graduate courses in the bay area
11.   Continued work on fitnesssssss and health
12.   Buy a house; or just get a bigger space
13.   Continue to save money
14.   Update budget
15.   Practice patience
16.   Practice your creativity – like the world is missing out, you are missing out by not sharing
17.   Build more altars
18.   Sleep at 7-8 hours a night
19.   Read more actual books
20.   Become an expert in my industry
21.   Attend more local events; support local artists, continue to build a community
22.   Write more letters to mom
23.   Ask Tia Lety to let you make copies of all her digital files of mom
24.   Purge more of the material things in your life
25.   Stop eating things that are bad for you!
26.   Continue to talk about yourself in the 3rd person – it is so cool
27.   Make yourself at least 10 awesome playlists for all occasions
28.   Start collecting vinyl records
29.   Ask Jaime to teach you how to DJ
30.   Spend time with family

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

29 flew right by - here is how I did

A little late – but here is how I did my 29th year; 30thyear list coming your way soon-ish
1.     Pursue a new and different career, be passionate about the work you put into the world; got a new and exciting job, learning a new industry. :) I shoulda done this years ago. 
2.     Continue writing, regardless how hard it is to write about myself, my mom, and others in my life, telling and writing stories make me feel whole; I need to do this
3.     Santa Barbara trip, with Karla + Tania; trip is planned - days are blocked. Can’t wait :) 
4.     Save more money, continue saving more money --> Need to pay off those student loans! wooo (grown up Karen); doing this, also got rid of hella stuff, material things and trying to become a little more strict and sticking to a budget.
5.     Graduate School is waiting for you - Where is Professor CHICXICANA? This is on the back burner for now... but I’m not giving up on this 
6.     More giving back to the community yo!; I definitely started doing this and I am still working on it. 
7.     Coordinate an art show with Adrian; oh man we did so much together in my 29th year, día de Los muertos at SOMArts and he helped install the first art show I curated- extra special thanks to El Comalito Collective for the opportunity 
8.     Start writing some poetry, it doesn't have to be complex or hella deep - it can be about pizza; fail 
9.     Spend more time talking to dad, record his voice - he doesn't leave voicemails; use your recorder; definitely do this but feel weird recording him 
10.  Throw yourself a unicorn themed birthday extravaganza; done 
11.  Can you go dancing more often? I am pretty sure you use to like that; nope :( 
12.  Spend time with Alexia and Annayeli, they are getting old - do some arts and crafts; yes
13.  Take more photos; nope 
14.  Buy yourself a nice camera; nope remember how I’m strict with spending 
15.  Can you stop buying shoes where do you put them all?; nope :( I love shoes 
16.  Hangout with your sister more - take her on a trip to like Vegas or something; nope I need to do this 
17.  Visit Hector; fail 
18.  Make Jaime talk more, maybe try to help him learn how to cook?; haha more like cook for Jaime 
19.  Go for walks more often; yes - we walk to bart now
20.  Be less in a hurry; working on it
21.  Can you please start sleeping before 1AM on weeknights, your body is starting to hate the 4 hours of sleep; hella trying it’s a work in process 
22.  Write your letters to mom, it will help Karen - remember she is always with you; you need to process your feelings; started -  need to do more 
23.  Learn to have patience - life is hard, and no it is not going to get any easier, you just need to be better at life and managing how you process it; I’m getting there… I think
24.  Be nicer to Adrian - you are hella crazy sometimes - he is messy - just accept it; I try – I need to try harder
25.  Stop eating so much pizza (hahaha, jk) - but really... – hahaha – kinda getting better
26.  Paint your nails different colors – I’ve been doing this and practicing more self-care
27.  Wash clothes more often, not like every three weeks, that pile is getting crazy; I got good for a bit but it’s hard when you have to go to a laundry mat and go get cash… though there are hella ATMs around me
28.  Keep working towards your health goals; trying and failing and trying again
29.  Stop saying you are old, all the actual OLD people around you are starting to feel self-conscious; OMG I’m getting old – but I feel forever 25…  

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Inspiration behind Ser Muxer: Lo que (no) me dijo mami about being a Xingonx - Call for art

"Many of us are learning to sit perfectly still, to sense the presence of the Soul and commune with Her. We are beginning to realize that we are not wholly at the mercy of circumstance, nor are our lives completely out of our hands. That if we posture as victims we will be victims, that hopelessness is suicide, that self-attacks stop us on our tracks. We are slowly moving past the resistance within, leaving behind the defeated images. We have come to realize that we are not alone in our struggles nor separate nor autonomous but that we - white black straight queer female male - are connected and interdependent. We are each accountable for what is happening down the street, south of the border or across the sea. And those of us who have more of anything: brains, physical strength, political power, spiritual energies, are learning to share them with those that don't have them. We are learning to depend more and more on our own sources for survival, learning not to let the weight of this burden, the bridge, break our backs... Mujeres, a no dejar que el peligro del viaje y la inmensidad del territorio nos asuste - a mirar hacia adelante y abrir paso en el monte (Women, let's not let the danger of the journey and the vastness of the territory scare us - let's look forward and open paths in these woods). Caminante no hay puentes, se hace puentes al andar (Voyager, there are no bridges, one builds them as one walks)."

-Gloria Anzaldua, This Bridge Called My Back

I am really beyond excited for the opportunity to curate Ser Muxer: Lo que (no) me dijo mami about being a Xingonx - THANK YOU El Comalito Collective. The call for art was inspired by the quote above and various relationships throughout my life and how they've either challenged, inspired and empowered me to be the Xingona that I am. On days that I feel not so Xingona - I remember my mother's own struggle(s) and her wise palabras (words) - "Ponte las pilas" (literal translation: put on your batteries, actual meaning is to wake up and be aware) and "Lista desde chiquita" (literal translation: be ready even if you are young, actual meaning is to be alert now). I truly believe that as muxeres - the relationships we have with one another are the most powerful and at times serve as reinforcement to move forward - fighting, working, being - to be a force. The call for art is intended to generate work that documents and represents these relationships among muxeres as it is especially important for present day and for generations to come. I see relationships as bridges - we build them as we walk through life, they shape us, we shape them - we must be fearless, Xingonas.

xoxo, chicXicana

Unfinished painting, Karen Tafoya, 2013
When I first moved to the bay area in 2012 - I came here looking for community. I came here because as an undergraduate at UCSB - I was so amazed by the murals in my readers and on the screens of power point presentations of my Chican@ Studies classes. I romanticized San Francisco and hoped it was what was described in the 70s and 80s. I am still looking to build bridges.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Holidays and tamales

Holidays are weird.
I think they kinda have always been - I'm not sure.

Don't get me wrong - I love the idea of having designated days off of work - but the whole social construct of things and commercial/capitalization is what bothers me.

I understand and value having time to spend with family - I really do - maybe I am jaded because of how holidays have been since 2012 and I can't shake it - perhaps I have become the Grinch - I don't know.

The Holidays are weird because they are hard.

In 2012 - I ditched my family for the first time and spent the time with my significant other's family. In 2013, my mom ditched us and went to go visit my brother Hector in Mexico - which makes sense since he is out there in Mexico without family. And well in 2014 she passed away - so Holidays just were not the same.

I always told myself that I would eat tamales next time she made some - or that she would just save me some in the freezer - but then time passed and nothing was as I expected it to be, and I took that time for granted - it's part of the guilt I carry and I don't know how I will let that go. And her birthday falls right in the middle of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This is year four. As a family we have to pull it together - for each other and for my dad and for her. We spend time together, eating food that will never taste as good as hers, missing her and trying to keep it together. She would probably laugh at me and tell me to stop exhausting myself, overthinking what to make and how to manage to get from point A to point B back to point A in less than 24 hours to ensure that time with family is spent regardless of the 100 miles in between.

She would tell me to stop being such a crybaby and to stop talking so much about her - she would say "hay Ester, you are so annoying" - HA.

I wish we could replicate her tamales.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Dia de los Muertos

Today is Dia de los Muertos - no it is not "Mexican Halloween"

I can go into detail about what it is and how it came about but that is not what I intended this post to be. This post is about why and how I started celebrating this day.

Although I am Mexican-American and the daughter of Catholic Mexican immigrants it was not my parents who introduced me to this day - nor the celebration and remembrance of those who have physically left this earth/life. I was 15 - trying to figure myself out - in high school - with my eyes on my future; building up what would get me into college. I made sure to take all the classes I needed, get good grades, join clubs - play volleyball, etc. There was a new club - Hispanic Youth Leadership Council - I figured sure - I can be apart of this - regardless how I eventually came to feel about the word Hispanic (I promise to write about this whole concept one day). SO I joined this club; there were a lot cool events we got to be apart of - some students even got to do this lip sync contest - I am not coordinated enough so that wasn't the route I took. Here is where I was introduced to Dia de los Muertos - there was a contest somewhere either in Modesto or nearby that I decided I wanted to be a part of - myself along with other students and some staff built an altar dedicated to Mexican singer-songwriter Jose Alfredo Jimenez Sandoval.

I enjoyed learning about the history and the traditional elements that were in the altar as well as learning about this singer-songwriter and his influence on Mexican music - and more importantly how he left a legacy and continued to live on. I continued to build altars dedicated to Mexican/Latino Icons after that - then I went to college, ah Santa Barbara; alone, with no one I knew for 300 miles.

Most of my friends either went to UC Davis or Stanislaus - so I had to make new friends and build a new community - I also took this time to redefine or fine tune my identity. During my first quarter at UCSB - I struggled - I felt alone - I felt out of place and I was extremely homesick - I was planning on only sticking it out through December and then transferring but a Dia de los Muertos event changed everything...

I found flyer that read, "Dia de los Muertos brought to you by the Chican@ Studies department" - at that time I had no idea what being Chicana/o was - I was cool calling myself Hispanic/ was at this event that I found community at UCSB, where I decided I would double major in Chican@ Studies and that I would not transfer.

Fast foward to 2012 - I moved to Oakland, again - not knowing many people - but now at least I was less than a 100 miles from home. I began building my altars and with the help/opportunity from a friend I was able to volunteer at local high schools and bring that same experience I had in high school to others.

In 2014, when my mom passes away - Dia de los Muertos - took on a whole different significance for me - I have a permanent altar for my mom year round - my dad does as well. I built her a nicho, she became the subject of my guest lectures on Dia de los Muertos and altars...

It has become our family tradition to visit her grave on this day and build her a mini altar/take her an offering. This year, 2017, was very special - I was able to participate in the SOMArts - Dia de los Muertos exhibition - - with the help of my husband and niece, I was able to build and dedicate a public altar to my mother.  I never thought that this day would become this important to me - but it has. In a way it has help me cope with the idea that she is not physically here - but she lives on through her legacy and us.

I am on my way to pick up my dad now to visit my mother and then I will be building nichos with my nieces. If you haven't already checked out the exhibit at SOMArts - please do so - it is up until next Thursday, November 9th, 2017. Here is the Facebook Event Invite - please check it out! thank you.

xo, chicXicana

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Siempre vivirás Maria

Te extraño y quisiera que fisicamente estuvieras aquí
Se que te fuiste al cielo - y me estas cuidando desde ayi 

Me miro en el espejo y veo mi rostro
Y con los años que pasan - empiezo a parecerme mas a ti

Extraño las regañabas, las llamadas - solamente para saber como estaba y si me había recogido 
Extraño tus recados; tu voz, tus chistes, tus dichos
Y mas importante tu sabiduría

“Lista desde chiquita” siempre me decías 
Porque sabias que como mujer - o por ser tu hija 
Tendria que ser fuerte y un poquito rebelde
Para sobrevivir lo que la vida tiene escrito para mi

Se que estas cerca 
Te veo en otros como te veo en mi 
Tengo fotos, memorias y tradiciones para recordarme de ti 
Y la vida que viviste y la que me diste a mi

Estas en las flores, las tortillas, los tamales y los frijoles 

Siempre vivirás para mi 


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Dear Ama, letter #3

Hay días que me siento tan sola. Hay días en que siento que hay bastante gente, pero no son mi gente y la verdad es que no le tengo confianza a nadie. 

Me perdi, ya ni se quien soy - ni quien quiero ser - solo se que te estraño.

My problems are 1st world problems. I'm sad, I am not dying, I am not starving - I don't think I've ever really struggled in my life - things could be a lot worse. I need to learn how to appreciate my life and be grateful for everything that I have.

I tell myself that I am not trying hard enough; I don't know if I will ever be happy - but I don't know that I ever knew what it was to be happy before everything.

I think that for the last few years I've let your death define me and my sadness, my anger; I don't know or think that that's okay. I've made my attempts to overcome it - and failed and tried again. Throughout this process I've overheard and been told that I need to get over it. I've even been told that it shouldn't be this big of a deal - I'm angry - at everyone that has negative things to say about me being sad - I get that they may not understand - and my heart is not big enough to try to understand them - I never wish this type of loss on anyone - and until they experience it (because life is not forever) then they will understand.

I feel ugly most days, I want to stay inside and away from everyone. I feel guilty because I don't love myself as much as before and I feel like I've broken so many promises I made myself.

I feel like a soda that someone dropped then picked up and shook and I've been bottling up all this anger, emotions and I might explode - what if I go crazy? Could a crazy person reason with their own logic about all their emotions? is that what defines a crazy person.

I pray - but only to ask to be graced with instances that remind me of you and that your spirit shows up randomly. When I run into Mexican women your age, dressed similarly to what you'd wear and they smile at me - I know it is you and it makes my day better.

I feel like I am about to start something new - remember about that time I told you about death and rebirth - and how during our lives we are constantly dying and being reborn - I am entering coatlicue state.