Friday, December 26, 2008

Karla and the Beautiful, Tender, Heatbreakingly Remarkable, Very Very Good Year

(Me, peaceful and happy after getting my tattoo)

I moved across the country, healed big over my biggest traumas, I read 19 books, water colored on my rooftop on sunny days, learned how to deal with a snow day. I fell in love. I learned how to wear scarves for function instead of fashion. I experienced 4 seasons in an actual city, not on an mp3. I learned how to run. I forgave my father and was able to have him as an active part of my life. I found function in my little dysfunctional family. I went salsa dancing at least 20 to 30 times. I washed a sad friends feet in honey to remind her that we walk in sweetness. I allowed myself to be devastatingly heartbroken. I picked myself back up again. I made succulent, delicious, mouthwatering mistakes... and meals.

I laughed... a lot.

My little brother got engaged to a wonderful woman, they called me at 3am screaming with their joy and news. She came to visit me and we became sisters. We got a black president! The white guy, he didn't even come close. I saw brown people create and perform their own musical, it won a Tony and my heart. I got a tattoo!!! It means the movement of creation on earth and the will of the creator be done. It reminds me of how God carried me with his blessings from challenge into happiness. He fought along side me against my greatest demons and reminded me I was a warrior. I started active conversations with God. I left the door open for someone and it was the right call.

I let myself be rip roaringly angry and pissy and then I didn't beat myself up about it. I yelled at someone in defense of my heart, because I finally fundamentally understood and followed through with honoring how amazing that heart is and how much it deserves to be both protected AND pushed out on a limb. I danced in my room every week and basically put on a concert for myself all the time. I talked to my best friend - every. single. week. Even though we were very far away from each other, he still celebrates and mourns with me, cause its how we do. I stood up for two of my friends to people who had their head in their ass.

I managed to make myself my biggest project and I enjoyed the work so much, that I re-upped the contract. I made enchiladas, tostadas, guacamole, and Mexican tissue flowers for days - just because it makes me happy. I indulged... in everything. I made a poem with a friend. I wrote my own stories. I honored my story. In the same week, I saw the St. Louis Arch, the Seattle Space Neeedle, and the Lincoln Memorial. I committed, heart and soul to myself, and then asked me to marry me. Save the date cards will be in the mail soon. It was a year of abundance, not perfection. And I am abundantly happy as a result.

I was thinking of what direction I was piloting my story this year, the New Years resolutions and all that; it occurs to me that we must celebrate and as Rey reminded me "savor" every bit of the good parts. This year was probably one of the most blessed years of my life. I'm savoring them. Thank you for playing a part in my story. You fam, you're a blessing. I relish having you and celebrating with you. You are the beautiful treasure of my life. My world is better because of you, in challenge and in joy. I hope this year was as amazing for you as it was for me.

2008, if you were a person, I would hug you, kiss you, make out with you and send you on your way. Thank you for being such an amazing year. I will savor what I have left of you and then joyously welcome your homie 2009. Friends, feel free to savor with me. Its so important.

My full heart to yours,

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Most Blessed People in the History of the World

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer."
- President-Elect Barack Obama

I am overcome with emotion. All day, I randomly would get this knot in my throat. Every single time I heard someone say the words "President-Elect Obama" my heart fluttered. It is my privilege to bear witness to the history of my country at this time. I am sure that as the next few months and years play out I will both agree and disagree with the decisions of my chosen leader. But I really would just like to say, that in the next days, I am committed to allowing myself to be washed in joy.

Watching people celebrate last night, it was so clear to me how game changing this was. What it meant to people of all colors, both genders, and all nationalities was just a blessing. Many people who previously may not have identified this way started to identify themselves as Americans. And then together, as a community, an engaged electorate, we became the most blessed people in the history of the world. Never in any other country, at any other time, has so much been an option for all. Even in our economic crisis, our two wars, our ailing schools, and our obscene debt; there have never been a people as wealthy as ours. Never have people of color in any other country been able to aspire as high and seen proof of the possibility. Never have all people been as equal as we are at this very moment in our precious country.

It can and should be better. It can be so much more than what we currently have and it will be. As a community, we will continue to work to make it what our children deserve... what we deserve.

For today, for this moment, I choose to revel in our absolute blessings to have been born in a place full of this much hope and passion and community.

"For that is the true genius of America – that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow."
- President-Elect Barack Obama

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Things I Love About My Younger Brother

I had a pretty mellow day and in reflection I came up with all of these things I love about my little brother. My heart was so full with them, I had to write them all down. Here is my best shot.

Dear Hermanito,

This is a snapshot of my love for you, I could never fully capture it in words, but I hope that it gives you an idea about how much love and admiration there is.

I love that you are a hard worker. Every time we talk on the phone you are heading into work or coming out of it. You fight as hard for your future as any person I know. You do it quietly, you don't make a big show of it, but your determination to be the caretaker of your future family floors me.

I love that you have never uttered the words "I'm a grown ass man." to me. I'll call you little brother or baby brother or boo boo, and you don't even wince. You recognize that my affection for you, isn't even close to an indicator of how grown you are. And that makes you the most grown ass man I know.

I love that you give a damn about what other people think. Your first and foremost concern is always how you feel and how your family feels, not what anyone else would say. It gives you this independence that I love.

I love that you are a protector. In the toughest time period of my life, the one person I wanted around was you. I called you, and I sounded like an absolute mess, and as hard as it would have been, if I asked you to, I know you would have jumped in a car in that minute to travel 6 hours to give me a hug. And that, is a security, I carry with me at all times.

I love that not only have you loved one woman for the last seven years, but that you committed to her. You were gutsy enough to take this huge leap. You valued her and her contribution in your life enough to become a man. And come to think of it, you valued yourself enough to know that taking that step was actually valuing yourself a bunch too.

I love how chill you are. It drives me crazy a lot of the time, but baby brother, I can always count on you to tell me "Eh, its gonna be okay, its only --fill in the blank--."

I love how you forgive us. Whether its me or our dad, you forgive so beautifully. It's like nothing we could ever do, would ever take your love away. You show me what it means to be unconditional with love.

I love how you take care of our folks. I've been all crazy and gallivanting across the country trying to save the world. And you've stayed with them and loved them, and helped them. Its so awesome, and takes so much more strength than anyone could know.

I love that when we were kids, you would play with my dolls because I asked you to. And even though it was a GI Joe or something, I always made it Jem's boyfriend and you let me run the show. You were happy with just spending time together.

I love how much fun you get out of poking at people. You are at 24 (almost 25) still this little kid in a candy store. You probably would still sit in my room as I dragged you out by an ankle and laugh while I got furious just because you like seeing me mad. So I kinda get annoyed by that, but I love it too, no lie.

I love that you still have patience with me drunk dialing you like a 21 year old. You would never know I'm the older sibling, but thank you for laughing.

I love that no matter how long its been since I've called or returned a call you always pick up and say "Hey babe, how's it goin?" And hold no ill will over my spazzyness.

I love that you show love to my friends. You recognize in a way that our family always had a hard time with, how much they are family to me too. And you care about them and welcome them as a part of our lives.

So I'm going to stop being cheesy, because I'm sure you're rolling your eyes at this point. But I just needed to tell you a few of the things. Because you really are just such a special person. And I'm having time lately, to reflect on all of the blessings in my life, and you are one of them. You and your future wife are two of them. And I love you with all my heart and I just hope you know how much.

With all my heart,

Tu Hermana

Saturday, September 06, 2008

To all the boys I've loved before - Mayda Del Valle

I believe I've posted the link before, but this poem speaks to me...

to all the boys I’ve loved before

part 1:

we are not your mothers
and are not meant to be
it is not our responsibility to raise you into respectful beings
you have been weaned from the breast of a woman for years
yet you come to us
wounded and half filled with promises you can only keep half the time
trying to suckle our sense of self dry
we’ve become much to accustomed to sleepless nights and damp pillows
have become accustomed to waiting for our empty beds
to be weighed down with the bodies of men heavy with the scent
and the hands of other women
mornings with swollen puffy eyes are becoming routine
and we simply wanting to be loved
simply wanting to be able to love ourselves unconditionally
simply wanting to be held and feel safe
simply wanting the truth of whether you can really love us or not
play Hester Prynn
wear scarlet letters on our chests
become adulteresses
cheating ourselves out of what we truly deserve
willing to settle for less
willing to act like a little less than a goddesses
willing to sleep with the enemy
men too scared to stop acting like boys
thinking we can love away their scars
so we take the lashes of the insecurities they pour on us
and lick our wounds in quiet mourning for the little girls we lose by the minute
fast fading memories of playing hopscotch
and skippin’ rope
we now play freeze tag with each other’s hearts
play hide and seek with our love
if we just don’t breathe maybe we won’t get caught
up in the spider’s web we weave while waiting for what we give away to be returned

part 2:
you said you had a photographic memory
but apparently you forgot that honesty
begins by being real with yourself
and the ones you claim you love
should have never wasted my time
and just acted like the man you claimed and told the world you were
made a production of setting my folks at ease with tales of how you’d do all it ever took to never break my heart
I guess you thought you were talking to a roomful of the deaf and blind
figured they didn’t hear you
coz I never saw it coming
but the truth cannot be hidden
what’s clouded in darkness will always come to light my love
you shoulda known that
claiming you saw my light so clearly and brightly
so I left
chasing paper trails of promises you’d already set on fire
left with nothing but the ashes of who you’d written that you were
and singed fingers from trying to grasp the impossible

and the only thing I’ve really lost
are lukewarm kisses
that for too long I kept trying to tune the beat of my heart, a few lies, and stories
about honesty and truth

I guess shit happens
I just wish it wasn’t me

and I guess
it’s so much better to have loved and lost
than never to have loved at all
I know that’s some easy shit to say

but I’m still gonna try to live by it
I’m still gonna try to put my faith to rest in it

I will sleep on dry pillows now in a bed big enough to love myself in
I will awake these coming mornings with my eyes dry and shining
full of the knowledge I am priceless and worth nothing but honesty
I will remove the scarlet letter from my chest and hold the hand of the little girl I used to be
and say I’m sorry to her
I’m sorry for cheating you out of the joy you have always deserved
and I will wait
for a man
to come along
that can give me the truth of how much he can really love me

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Generation Change Vs. Baby Boomers - Why we don't get each other

It's been awhile guys! I think the last time I wrote I was just starting the uphill climb of workshop season... the roller coaster just left me off. I'm dizzy, exhilerated and maybe had a touch of nausea at the end - but no worse for wear. I've since made many a mistake as a result of the broken heart I wrote about, gotten a tattoo (finally!), become incredibly comfortable with myself, taken a vacation and made some more friends. All in all, standard fare.

Anyway, back at the business at hand. I was moved to write, so let me do just that.

I watched on Thursday as Barack Obama delivered what was to my heart and my head one of the best speeches ever. I was in a room with over 300 people around my age, and literally, you could have heard a pin drop. A lot of young people, some who completely agree with his policies - some who don't, enthralled with this man's words. We want to be led and low and behold, here came what seems like a leader. And low and behold, we are following. None of which, we see any problems with.

I've heard much being said about the "cult of personality" and the very fabric of the "change" message being non-substantive. And I wanted to take a quick second to respond to that. My preface, is that I am in a world of social-change makers, a group that grew up with the words "Social Entrepreneur" in their lexicon and pulled on the word regularly. So my views are most definitely colored by this. I will speak in the we as a member of my generation for the sake of this post, but I am fully aware that we are a diverse set of individuals with many different thoughts. This is my effort to bring some clarity and respond directly to those of you in the Baby Boom who are confused. Now that my preamble is done:

When it comes to this "Cult of personality" or that "Change" is somehow non-substantive. We think its bull. We have grown-up in a world where people younger than us have made millions because of their innovation. Where information and thoughts that used to be held close to the vest are posted online. Where being a change agent went from the picket signs and protests of your generation (which btw, we admire) to the ideas and scalability analysis of ours (which we dread but are willing to do for progress sake). We have watched as one of the richest men of our time retired from Microsoft to tackle programs in the social sector because it was the "exciting" challenge. We've been relatively unscared of failure and fairly entitled when it comes to moving up in the world. We digest information quicker, because it is accessible to us at the touches of a keyboard. We trust more. We don't believe that we are going to be led off a cliff if we let our guard down, and if it was coming, we trust ourselves to be able to spot it waaaay in advance.

We don't get dues paying. We empathize with it on some levels. It hurts our hearts that you had to spend years upon years proving what you knew to people, to only then advance one step. But this generation, it doesn't have time for that. We grew up in communities where people are dying. Dying from gun shots, health problems, and a lack of education. We get learning, we get that its important and necessary, we get the need for professional development - but see that totally separate from paying dues. That is inefficient to us. Your generation has thrust us into a ton of jobs where we were trial by fire, mostly mis-managed, and we exceled. Ya, there are definitely some of us who struggle, and for that, we want to create mechanisms that bridge the gap. We refuse to be sedintary and just watch it happen.

We see the world in this very high stakes light. With every moment we waste, another kid/family/elder is put at risk. So ya, we've got lofty plans, lofty ideals, and we're fairly unapologetic for it. No doubt, we will likely over do it. But we'd rather over plan and over program and then find ways to make things efficient than leave our people out in the wash. Give us ideas and we'll run with them, otherwise, let us create and see what happens.

We know that the way that you got ahead was keeping your head down. Be good, resilient, put up with a load of crap, earn your salt and you will be rewarded. We know that the second you got ballsy about something, there were some mean people around to put you in your place. And really, I thank you for putting up with all of that for me. Very few in your generation wanted to be seen as the rabble rouser past the age of 22. In our generation, we delight in it, and being a true rabble rouser (different from a brat) really starts at that age.

As a result the concept of "Change" is a lot scarier to you, than it is to me. You think its a luxury, and I think its an imperative.

About a year ago, I had a conversation with my dad where he was worried about my success. Now, I thought this was silly. I graduated from college (a luxury to him, necessity to me; required both of us to sacrifice), got a good job, progressively got better jobs, have been around the world and my own country as a result of the life I lead. And he was worried about my future. When we got down to the thick of it, his concern was that I was not settled down. I could own a house by now, have picked a husband, at very least - picked a neighborhood. But those weren't the things that were going to make me happy. Changing, traveling, getting to know, and enjoying my world makes me happy. At the time, he saw my life as dangerous. "What happens," he said "if everything falls apart. " and my response was "Then I build it back up." I hugged him, because I love that he loves me that much. My father spent his life worrying about putting a roof over our collective heads, I spend my life in self-analysis - worrying about how I best leverage myself in the world. He is barely learning how to write email and I update a feeling on my facebook status.

It's a gap of mutual understanding. We grew up in different worlds. Please know that I get that nothing comes without hard work. Which I also know, not every member of my generation understands... but it's more of us than you think. And we're willing to fight; some of us, everyday, all day - to insure not only a secure future but a resplendant, promising one. When I see Senator Obama, my thought is this, "Oh God, someone who gets and is willing to lead me there." I haven't been led a lot in my life. I have trusted only a handful of people to lead me. I think the same can be said by many people in my generation. So when you see us captivated and hopeful, don't tear it down. You don't understand it, but on some levels, you don't need to. Let us be led. Let us lead.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Lessons from falling in love...

(The Heart Chakra)

The last 9 months of my life can really be described as a turning point for me. I have at once, hit rock bottom, hit it again, hit it one more time and then turned around and looked at my pieces, maybe, more completely than I ever have. I went to my fathers home country and discovered that I loved him and understood him enough to forgive him for the role he has played in my story. I fell in love with a man (for the first time - not that I've ceased to count Eric, but it was a very different love), only to find out that he wasn't ready to love me back, only to find out that I had at the same time totally fell in love with myself. And now, as Nia pointed out to me, I am the star of my own story for the first time in my life and I am both relishing and getting used to that.

Even when its yourself, loving someone isn't always easy, its a commitment, one you have to renew every day. The temptation to prioritize other things, people, situations is always there. Falling in love means partnership, and being your own partner is the business, but it is the most challenging partnership you enter into. ;c)

For some reason, I always thought that when you fell in love that it meant all of your issues with love went away or it meant that you had gotten past them enough to really be in it. I had this impression that it became easy to roll around in and a particular person became enough of a reason to drop your bs. That's cute isn't it? Wholly untrue, but really sweet on some level. Love is this altered state where you not only see your partners shit but your own and you just have forgiveness for it. Love involves this whole other level of empathy for yours and your partners pieces. I love everything about you and everything that made you what you are. I see you. I'm willing to give my fear over because I think you're that amazing. This comes with its share of high and low.

There is this scene in "Love Actually" where a little boy is telling his stepfather that he's miserable because he's in love and the stepfather says "That's all?" and the little boy replies "What could be worse than the total agony of being in love?" Word.

And its agony because you see with so much clarity, all the things the world doesn't pause to point out about this empathy, about this beauty, about this miracle of a person and yourself that on some level, ready or not as you may be for it, its fantastic and horrendous.

So to fall in love with myself, I basically had to learn a skill that I never had. And the beauty of the skill is that you can't unlearn it, you can only block it or refuse to allow it. That's a little cowardly. And though numbing out has always been a problem for me, its not because I wanted to do it, its because I didn't know I was doing it and I didn't know how to stop it. But I do now. Suffice to say, I've spent the last three weeks crying, laughing and adjusting to the idea of being in love with me and the need to let go of loving this other person. Now I'm totally unfamiliar with this process. So feel free to input on what's next, but here's where I'm at. unLoving someone else is a gradual process, and it doesn't mean that you think they are sheisty and you kick everything away (necessarily), it just means that you love both of you enough to let go of the role they played in your life and finding ways to show yourself extra love through that. I woke up last Monday and was like, alright, I'm done with the wallowing now. I've got a priority to attend to and thats the courage to love myself as deeply as I would love someone else.

The level of forgiveness and love that I have discovered for the people in my life helps me see for the first time my stories with a greater clarity. There are so many stories that I have living inside of me that no one has heard. That really I've hesitated to look at because of the amount of blame and sorrow they contained. Before, each of them was this indicator on how unloved I was. A measuring cup of what my parents/friends/self/life couldn't give me and/or each other. A barometer on how I should have known better. It was full of so much judgment. And that's just not how it works. Parents, siblings, people, you are fallible. And before you know and are aware of your issues, you don't know and aren't aware of your issues, so why do you insist on punishing yourself for that ignorance. On some level, for me anyway, it was easier to do that then sac up the courage to love myself and the people around me in the way I deserved. And thats just what it is friend.

In any event, with my new found clarity, I have discovered that the sorrow doesn't go away because you can see it. You have to talk about your stories so the iron grip of them doesn't choke away your abilities. I've started to discover that I mangle the stories too, like I anticipate this reaction, that involves so much judgment, but when I finally tell them - judgment isn't there. No one blames me or the people I love for our mistakes either. Converting my stories into a history book and not my bible is a process that takes faith. Faith that God gave me all that I needed to learn the lessons he had predestined. Faith that I am strong enough to weather not only having lived the story itself but coming to peace with it. Faith that I have the strength to love myself enough to open up the spaces for other people to love me too.

So the next few months, I'll be writing down a lot of my stories. I don't need to cage them up anymore. In fact, I want to find peace with them. And that, is love.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Divide and Conquer

I grew up 45 minutes outside of Los Angeles in a town by the name of Pomona. The LA riots however were just as prevalent in my hood as any hood in the middle of LA. The night they happened I was in fifth grade, and the season finale of the Cosby Show was on TV. My family and I lived in a two bedroom house in a not-so-great part of town. In looking out of my window, I could see angry people reeking havoc. I have this very vivid mental picture of this woman, Latina and pregnant, throwing a trash can through the window of Church's Chicken across the street. People had bricks, and they were screaming, and my eleven year old brain prayed that they did not turn their anger towards my apartment. Though I have to admit, as upsetting as it was, I might have been more upset at the possibility that the news cycle would interrupt the finale of The Cosby Show.

The next day, at school, I was one of 4 other kids. The others; a white male, an Asian female, 2 black females and myself; did diligent work and play for an entire day while exhausted teachers tried to collapse their classrooms and decide who stayed with the remaining children. I remember overhearing my fourth grade teacher (a woman I now get was probably around my age now) talking with my fifth grade teacher (an older very respected but ornery woman) "We should talk to them about all this. They must be scared." and my fifth grade teacher responding "And what do you suppose we say, we can't make them unscared. Last night was the product of a whole lot of crazy we can't control."

I bring this memory up because it was the end of a certain kind of innocence for me. The way the news covered the trial and the aftermath of the trial, built this anger in the community that lasted for years. My middle school experience for the next three years was marked with racial rioting. My school was put on lock-down on a number of occasions. What this meant, we were locked into the confines of the school until a parent came to pick us up, because the racial rioting at the high school endangered our safety.

And steadily, I watched as the racial divisions at my own school became fiercer and fiercer until there were "race problem" at the middle school level as well. I watched many things at the age of 12 that left many scars. I could tell you many stories of moments when my heart broke because of what I saw happen with and around my peers. At the end of the day, the worst part, is how much anger we all carried around. All of us. Actually, scratch that, the worst part, is we had no idea why we were angry. We just knew this world around us was very unfair and for some reason skin color mattered and though many of us wanted to "deal" with it. There was so much anger and so much violence, you had very little power over it. And this likely created even more anger.

I write this today because I have been watching the racial divisions that are being marked up and discussed as far as the presidential campaign goes. Its exploiting our community. I have watched stories and read articles about Latinos and Asians that simply won't vote for Senator Obama because of his race. Where those voting blocs are addressed as unreachable for the good Senator.

Now let me be clear, the Senator's Latino strategy has been pretty crappy and started pretty late in the game. Really, I don't even know if there has been an Asian American strategy. Given all he's overcome to be this kind of a contender at this point, I can forgive it. You can't handle the whole pie in one sitting, you take it in slices and the Clinton's have just been eating for way longer. Doesn't make Senator Clinton the best candidate, just the one with the luxury of being at the table longest.

But really, I'm pissed off at the way this is being marketed. Because it sounds like a simple news story for the journalistic world, a valid point that can be addressed from time to time. But what this is doing is causing scars and divisions in communities that really don't need more. It's a news story for whatever conglomerate prints or airs it. But its years of living in racial discord and violence for a middle school kid. Repercussions of which, we won't even see immediately. And that, is bullshit. You can't dangle the lives of people out there for fodder and take to responsibility for what it does.

I've been so proud of the black leaders of this country for seeing this. There have been many slaps in the face to the black community throughout this presidential race. Yet, these leaders, knowing the fall out of any quote that divides have stayed away from speaking. Choosing instead, to be "above the fray" and working to keep some sanity for everyone. So as a constituent, a Latina, and a kid who grew up in the middle of racial havoc; thank you for thinking of all of us. Thank you for acknowledging that in division there is danger. And though at the mountain top it sounds like an interesting discussion, without adding the many layers and many truth and many lies within the arguments, down in the valley's its not interesting. Its hurtful.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


I have often written on here about the impact that having strong women in my life has made on me. I knoooow I wax poetic about it. I do. But I have to tell you, there is a reason and you're just going to have to bear with me one more time. I was out with an old girlfriend tonight, a woman who is basically my twin, haha. I mean, we have some differences but the way we look and interact with the world is so similar, we might as well be family.

In short, I adore her. I mean, adore. This girl just knocks my socks off, she's one of those people that has such grace, you just wanna be in her presence. The deal is, that when one of us is "going through something" we both withdraw from the world and struggle with how to fit. We struggle with how to let people be there for us. Accepting love is a task on our to-do list that we haven't quite mastered. So we kinda take turns, this friend and I, being able to commune and needing our own space. But I get it. And she gets it. So when we DO get together, its like finding sisterhood in your backyard. We laugh, talk about some deep issues - personal, professional, global - gossip about boys, and just vibe.

I am so blessed. To have these strong women in my life. I know i have said it before. But really, I must reemphasize. It is key to the development of your person. A woman, uncomfortable with women, is missing a piece of her soul. Its the piece that knows how to truly connect with herself. That is not to say we aren't going through thangs and trying to constantly figure ourselves out, but damn, the phrase "I just don't get along with girls. I don't know why they hate me so much." is a BIG RED FLAG about a woman, still struggling to find comfort in her own skin.

Sisters, get yourself some women. Some good women. To be for you, family. To be for you, guidance. To be for you, period. I mean, I love men. And when I say love, I mean loooooove me some mens. They are so special and wonderful in their own right. So I'm no she-woman-man-hater. But ladies, get yourself some girls that sweep you off your feet. Because at the end of the day, it keeps your base firm to have these women. To be sisters. They are calligraphers to your stories, and though survivable, the world looks just not quite complete in their absence.

So thank you darlin, for reminding me of how important you and the rest of my girlfriends are. It is in our presence that we commune, become whole, remember ourselves, find courage, and get the strength to be and define our womanhood. So that when the right brother sweeps us off our feet, we actually had our own feet to stand on in the first place.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Seduce Me

This is a beautiful poem Nia directed me to by one of my favorite poets Mayda Del Valle. This thing is breathtaking. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Seduce me

write me a poem

tell me about the scent of musk at the nape of my neck

that you dream of spending sultry summer days between

my breasts

that if you could taste me

it would be mangoes and tropical breezes on your tongue

keeping you up at 2am

for weeks

staring at black ceilings

legs entwined in sheets

wiping your brow

wondering when the next will be

seduce me

write me a poem

drop those weak pick up lines

and overwhelm me with quotes from Nerudas 100 love sonnets

tell me i walk in beauty like the night

trace the lines in the palm of my left hand


then read and whisper their meaning to me

tell me my life line crosses your destiny

imprint your words on me like overnight scratchmarks

leave butterflies in my stomach

with honeysuckle syllables

that remind me of first kisses

and holding hands at recess

seduce me

write me a poem

that prays my name

and preaches our passion

chant a litany of our lovemaking to come

under your breath

with the faith of withered hands holding rosaries in cathedrals

until images of us entwined in each other

burn themselves inside our minds

like incense at mass

seduce me

write me a poem

with your eyes

lock glances for a moment

across a crowded room

soft smirk on full lips

and a slow deliberate blink followed by a flutter of


that says

damn I wish...

seduce me

write me a poem

with your body

approach me with the certainty of the tide

move to me without doubt or question

make me your origin

and your destination

let music be the catalyst that lets our bodies meet

spin me in and out of conga rhythms

lead me into a Coltrane wail

grind me into the bass-line

of between the sheets...

then pull me close enough

to feel our hearts beat together

when we dance

seduce me

write me a poem

that speaks of our timelessness

remind me it was you I loved in a past life

on some faraway continent

tell me I carry you in my genes

that I can't forget you if I tried

that our memories are engraved into eternity

that time is just a theory to us

seduce me

write me a poem

that needs no words

compose a silent sonnet on soft bare skin

where your caress on exposed back

speaks that syllable I need to hear you

a poem

where melding bodies become

the book

where shallow breathing becomes prose



seduce me


inspire me to write you the poem

that shows you how to love me

by Mayda Del Valle

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Una Fiera, a political conversation with mama about the country breaking her heart

I was a militant socialist of a 10 year old, quick to invoke every freedom fighter I had ever heard discourse in documentaries or on TV whenever I spoke about the need for change. I would say by the time I was in fourth grade, I spoke exuberantly about the lack of resources kids in the hood had to experience and the unfairness of the world. Now as an adult, I wonder where I got the rhetoric. I mean clearly, I was 10 and my ability to know nuanced views about the issues was incredibly limited. And I wouldn't say that my parents spoke about politics in the same way I did. I mean my parents and I have always aligned ideologically/politically. Having grown up in their house, I took away many and most of their liberal ideals. Though, I believe I was always the one to start conversations around politics in the house. They were always trying to reign me back in and had a fair level of concern with my anger at the injustices of the world. And I hesitate to downplay my ten year old angst because it meant something to me. I just knew our ability to make change and I didn't have the patience to be older before I started vocalizing it.

16 years later, I am on the phone with my mother and we are discussing the Democratic primary. Having been so aligned, it is the first time we have ever not been in full agreement on an election. I am an Obama supporter and she is tenuously in the Clinton camp. After his South Carolina win, I call, not to brag, but to ask where she is at. And she tells me, "Mija, people in politics are just so mean, and the country is so evil. He seems like such a good man, how can a good man survive this. If they killed him, it would be devastating for the country, I don't know how Latinos and Blacks would ever recover."

And there it was, the fear many people of color in this country carry when it comes to the thought of an Obama presidency, what if he's killed.

"Is this why you aren't voting for him mama? I thought you liked her." "I do mija, I think she's really smart y una fiera (a wild animal) when she's attacked and when she is attacking. Pero, I think he is a good man with the right ideas, but it scares me, what could happen to him. This is a country that does not love us and it does not want us here."

The media has made so many assessments about the Latino vote and where it will go and why the Clinton's (and yes I say that plural for a reason)likely have a stronghold on it. How the supposed hatred in brown/black relations make Latinos voting for an Obama presidency unlikely. But I gotta tell you. I have yet to see any "expert" discussing it on tv that is actually Latino. Not a one of them has the language ability to even watch Univision or Telemundo. And it really pisses me off. They also assume that Latino is never black, when obviously, so much of the Dominican, Puerto Rican, Hatian, Central American and Cuban populations have the ability to be both Black and Latino. No doubt, there is a history of racism in the Latino world. The more light-skinned you are, the more revered in some places. But I would come close to making the bold assessment that this is pretty much a global problem that has roots in a looong line of socio-economic oppression. And that there are just as many allies in these communities as people who create division.

My mother's reasoning, actually resonates to me, much louder as the true fears behind the Latino community. I would venture to say that Latinos in this country have felt in the last 3 years even more than usual that we are not wanted here. It has played psychological havoc on our community and our children. Trust me, having been told in the past to go back to my own country, having being born in San Gabriel, California... you just feel like a less than to a country that is supposed to thrive as a result of its diverse population. My mother fears another blow. This woman who fought so hard to study and fight for her citizenship. Who fought for her children to become educated here. Whose admiration of this country just a few short years ago (pre-Bush re-election) was so unfailing. Her patriotism while I was growing up was almost blind. It frustrated me, yet at the same time infused me with hope and belief in this country.

And this is what it comes to? She starts to vote in elections here, the way she and my father would have voted for elections in their mother country? Based on fear and a lack of belief in the ability of change?

Is it my luxury at my 26 years to still have hope? To still ardently believe that as a country we are capable of getting past years of division. And to believe in a leader whose been more aware of my experiences growing up with a lack of power and privilege. Don't get me wrong, some of the fissures, I know they will always exist. But some of it, it just doesn't need to be this way. I want to be "una fiera" for that kind of belief.

So I close this entry with how my mother and I ended our conversation...

"Mama, I'm tired. I'm not going to vote in this election based out of a fear of what could happen. Or because this is the least evil person that could be the most evil and pull it off. I want to believe because I always believed. I have to take a leap of faith mama and if something bad happens deal with it, fight against it, and move on. Because the country shouldn't have broken your heart like this, you never spoke about this country like this."

"It's so much more corrupt than I ever thought it was Karla. But for your sake mija, I hope you are right. I don't want it to make you feel the way it makes me feel. And you do with your heart and your brain what you think should happen. And then we'll both pray."

"Si mama, we'll both pray."

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Happy 100th!

This would officially be my 100th post on my blog. Yay!

I want to thank everyone whose ever read the words I write on here. They come from my heart, and it has allowed me to keep alive my love of writing. Which in truth, is both sanctuary and therapy for me. I have all of these words in me on any given moment in time and this blog helps me put them in the world. The release of them is as vital to me as meal times.

This week, in my search for balance, I had a friend challenge me to write a list of the things that bring me pleasure. Just pleasure. Not something I do for someone else, to benefit anything or anyone but me and my heart. In the short run, I was pretty stumped. It took me sometime to sift through. And if you would permit me, I would like to write the list down now.

1. Writing my blog
2. Writing in my journals (yes, there are thoughts I have, the larger world is not privy to.)
3. Singing
4. Dancing
5. Cooking
6. Latin American Art (as of late, particularly art depicting Mayan culture)
8. Reading (For enlightenment, education, and general girlyness)

In the coming year, I'd like to put some elbow grease in one of these and work on expanding the list. May your lists fill you with just as much, if not more, joy.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Epiphanies and Illness

I've had time to reflect in the last two day about how I ever got myself to this space in my health life. I got so sick, it was scary. I believe it is the longest any illness has put me out of commission. I've spent an entire week literally in bed because my body just didn't have it in me to do anything else. I thought I had reflected at the beginning of being sick, why I got this sick, but really, I didn't. I came up with the boiler plate answers. But the last two days I've been lucid enough to really get it.

I'm an epiphany kind of person. I'll have moments of insight and get clarity like no other. Even the lessons that take a great amount of time to garner, usually hit me like a brick in a moment of a-ha. The way that I take care of myself has inspired many of these epiphanies. Moments where I go "Okay, now, this time, I will take care of myself." "Now I will be my biggest priority." "Now, I'm gonna do it."

It's a pretty lame repetition. I've gotta admit. Its lackluster at this point. The epiphany means nothing. I know, at this fundamental level, that what is missing is me treating myself like the most wonderful precious thing that I have in my life. Or even, like I would treat any other person.

I have this reverence and regard for people, organizations, and good work. Its one of the things I love most about me. That I genuinely care and am deeply vested in the world around me. But that level of care, it just doesn't translate well when I'm dealing with myself. You would think it would be so easy, once you know, you just do it right? I mean its basic, this is wrong, fix it, do better. But I never seem to grasp this particular principle.

So how do you do it? Does anyone know? How do you gear 26 years of making yourself less of a priority than the world around you into a change of lifestyle? I don't want it this way anymore. I don't want to get so sick or so sad or so overwhelmed that I hit a wall and have to crawl back to level out. I want to value me, my body, my spirit, and my heart so much that I am there for me. All of this growth and introspection and self-evaluation that I've been fortunate enough to do, I've always done it in relation to the other. "I'm going to learn this and be a better daughter" "I'm going to do this and be a better manager." "I'm going to learn this and be better with kids." "I'm going to learn this and be better for my family." and in all honesty, I struggle to remember a time when I've thought, genuinely, "I'm going to learn this to be a better Karla for Karla." To an extent, even the counseling I've done has been to not be a mess for other people. And I want it for me. I mean really really want it for me. But I don't know how to get it.

And thats the epiphany this illness has given me. I don't want to make myself or those concerned about me any more empty promises. I just wanna hold my shit down for me. And really get why that means something. And move forward. Because the cycle, its not cute, and I don't wanna be in it anymore, but how? I'm just in such prayer as to how...

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

That Brown Girl

So this is day 5 of stick to bed illness and I'm frustrated, so I figured I would just write about something thats been bothering me. Cause when you are laid up in bed unable to do more than go from room to living room, you kinda wanna nag about something. Rather than nag the good people that are being so sweet to me, I am going to nag about an actual issue. Maybe this way, I spare us all, haha.

The East Coast is the most "Latina" I've ever felt. I mean, don't get me wrong, I am Latina and proud of it. But when living in CA, I can't say that I totally was aware of my ethnicity, every, single, day. I was aware of it in the way that I am proud of my identity, have very cultural ways of being, speak in Spanish regularly. But not aware in the way that I felt when people looked at me they saw "Latin girl" and I gotta say, I definitely do here in our fair nations capitol.

There are things about DC that are much better in so far as diversity than SF. I love walking into places and being in diverse settings without even trying. I love feeling like there is so much out there to explore. But really guys, every single day, someone reminds me I am brown. It's the "Hola" I get when everyone else gets a hello. It's the habit of anyone in throwing distance coming to tell me whenever they have had ANY kind of Latin food. My favorite was someone coming to me on and telling me they had great Peruvian this weekend, like I should hand out a diversity doggie biscuit. Do you go up to Filipino men or women and say "I had the best Chinese this weekend!" No. You don't. And if you do, stop. Now.

I have even had someone go as far as saying "Ole!" when I accomplished something. Its just gotten to be a little ridiculous. I get confused for other Latin co-workers, though I'm relatively new to the city - I get asked for Latin food recommendations, the amount of men at bars whose opening line when they come up to me is some Spanish phrase they have no idea how to pronounce is staggering.

The East Coast is different. Or maybe its the northeast. Whatever the case, its happened enough times where I know I have an obligation to point out these faux paux's but struggle with how you correct in a way that is clean. Especially when I've let it get to the point where I've heard so many of the comments, every new comment makes me have to pause and breathe. I just know I am about 2 months away from becoming "that brown girl". And don't get me wrong. I'm glad I came out here. Though my initial instinct that this place could never be permanent I feel was right on. It will be interesting navigating being "exotic" to my new community. I'll post something the first time anyone calls me spicy. Oh and please believe, its happened before, so it wouldn't be an out of left field surprise. For now, I guess you gotta do what you gotta do. I'm proud of my heritage, I'll just have to find a way to bridge gaps between it and my new community.

Okay, back to napping. Muah.