I'm originally from South Texas, but I've lived in Iowa for ~20 years. In addition to being a writer, I'm a wife and mother. I have chronic depression, but it's under control and I don't need medical/lifestyle advice, thankyouverymuch. (Some more labels: Latina! atheist! anarchist! bisexual!) I love horror movies, cars, gothic country, jigsaw puzzles, gin, NBC's Hannibal, whisky, dark chocolate, art journals...
I have written a series of posts, "Writing Latin@ Characters Well." I've provided links to each post below and will update this master list as necessary.
What are you?
Where are you from?
No, really. Where are you from?
But you don't *look* Latin@.
Say something in Spanish!
I LOVE Mexican food!
Putting out those fiery stereotypes
Banging down more stereotypes
Ingroup versus Outgroup conversations
Thanks for visiting. I hope we can be friends. :)
The kids were arranged in small groups and told to imagine themselves as pilgrims on the Mayflower. They were supposed to decide on a form of government for themselves, and they were given several options: monarchy, a council of five wise men, voting by all adults, voting by all adult men, voting by all pilgrims age 10 and up. Tweetie thought everyone over the age of 10 should get a say. All the other children in her group insisted on replicating the historical sequence of events and chose voting by the men. Tweetie tried to explain that life expectancies were different back then and 10 yr olds had a lot of responsibilities and so they should get to vote, too. (Interestingly, she doesn't seem to have made the feminist argument. If she could just get them to let in the kids, the sexism would be moot.) Her group said, NOPE NOPE NOPE. Apparently, "debate" got pretty heated and the teacher had to intervene to explain that everyone's opinion was valid but majority ruled. (The irony!)
The next stage of the lesson was for two small groups to meet and negotiate on a common form of government, and there Tweetie found some other students who thought her way and she felt better. Because, I suspect, regardless of what the larger group decided, she and those other renegades were going to break off and do their own thing.
Listening to the teacher's account, I tried not to smile too broadly. My little anarchist... Once at home, we did discuss temporary truces and other negotiation tactics, but I'm not concerned. My daughter is strong-willed and principled, traits that would be lauded and rewarded if she were male. She already knows how to go along to get along. Withstanding peer pressure (and scorn) will be a more valuable skill in the years to come.
- Mood:proud mama
- Music:MLP marathon
I am not a member of SFWA. Maybe one day. I like the idea of their grievance committee, which helps to resolve contract disputes, and I can see the value of their emergency medical fund. I know there are smart, mega-talented people working their asses off to make SFWA an excellent organization.
I also know that SFWA, whether or not I am a member, represents "my" genres to the public. So when SFWA's official publication's cover is one I'd be embarrassed to carry around in public—woman in a barely breast-defying chain-mail bikini, in the snow?—I shake my head in chagrin.
When two of their long-standing writers "Dialogue" about "lady editors", "lady writers", and see fit to comment on said professionals' physical appearances when the topic is supposedly their work and legacy, I roll my eyes and hope none of my non-genre friends ever see this travesty.
When another SFWA columnist upholds Barbie as the role model for young girls "because she maintained her quiet dignity the way a woman should", I grit my teeth and swap sarcastic jokes with other SF writers on Twitter.
When, in SFWA's next Bulletin, the authors of the "lady editors" piece are permitted a lengthy rebuttal of (completely justified and well-reasoned, passionate) critiques, and that rebuttal is essentially "liberal fascists!" and "CENSORSHIP!!!", I feel like SFWA is a sinking ship and I'm caught in its sucking vortex. (For the text of their article, scroll to bottom of this link roundup or read this evisceration.)
But when some jackass uses SFWA tools to spread his racist hate, to denigrate a fellow member with more talent in her pinky finger than he has in his whole waste of organs, to call her a savage and her plea for reconciliation within the SF community "a call for its decline into irrelevance"…?
I cannot, in the parlance of our times, even.
Forgive me if this seems like old news, if I am hopelessly late in joining the choir. The irony is, I had to choose whether to speak out against this racism and misogyny in the SF community OR work on my science fiction novel with a female protag and characters of color fighting for their lives within a quarantined environment. I didn't have the spoons to do both. I wonder why.
Other writers have already written passionately and insightfully about SFWA's inability (or unwillingness) to quash these concerted efforts to sabotage the organization's credibility. I agree that the racist dickblister should be expelled from SFWA for hate speech and improper conduct. I agree that SFWA should take proactive measures to ensure a safe environment for all its members, rather than working around the pus buckets.
I don't want to belong to an organization where I must survey the scene and wonder, Which of these folks doubts that I'm "equally homo sapiens sapiens"? How many of these guys wish I were a pink plastic doll whose mouth didn't open? This is not a free speech issue. My humanity is not up for debate. I will not join a group that allows members to behave as if it is.
- Mood: enraged
Well, now I'm at a point that I can remove the blinders.
I am so sick of hearing that people who call out racist, sexist, classist, or colonialist behavior are just "looking to be offended." Last week, I certainly wasn't looking to be offended. I was barely even looking! And yet I was deeply offended.
I was fucking offended by the US House of Representatives even debating a farm bill that would've cut more than $20 billion from the food stamps program over the next ten years. My family used food stamps when I was growing up. My mother worked night shifts as a waitress to support three kids, and we would've starved without food stamps. I saw how hard it was for her to get those food stamps, too. Not just psychologically, but logistically. Hours she should've spent sleeping, she wasted on bureaucratic bullshit to prove how bad off we were, because god forbid we get a loaf of bread or carton of milk we didn't deserve. The rate of misappropriated food stamps is a measly 3 to 4 percent, and most of that is due to honest clerical errors, not intent to deceive or steal. The 234 representatives who were willing to pass that bill were willing to let children and old people and poor people starve.
What's more, before the bill got voted down, the House passed two amendments on it, one that would've allowed states to administer drug tests to food stamp applicants. So on top of everything else, my mother might've had to pee in a cup? My fury is too vast for me to keep track of the alphabet, so I'll try numbers.
1) Drug testing is an attempt to shame people out of applying, with its implication that if you need assistance, you must be an addict, with all the moralistic baggage that accompanies such a label.
2) Drug testing is an attempt to scare people out of applying, because what the hell happens if you test positive?
3) Lest we forget: False Positives. They Happen.
4) How many hoops must hungry people jump through before they're "deserving" of aid?
5) WHO THE FUCK CARES if an applicant is using drugs if they and/or their dependents might die without those food stamps?! Really, you're saying that if my mom had a toke to blur the edges of her hard-scrabble life, my siblings and I wouldn't deserve to eat?
6) If you report the guardian for illegal drug use, what the fuck do you think happens to their dependents?
Don't get me started on the other amendment, which would've required applicants to meet federal welfare work requirements. (Although you, dear reader, are welcome to rant about that one in the comments!)
I suppose I should not be surprised that the House deliberated over whether or not to let people starve when it also passed a ban on abortions 20 weeks after conception. Twenty weeks is five months of pregnancy. Do representatives sincerely believe anyone that far along would choose to terminate without a Really Good Reason? Maybe it's because I'm a writer, but I can think of a whole helluva lot of awful scenarios to explain why someone would seek an abortion at that stage of pregnancy. Which is pretty ironic, considering my genres of choice are often considered "escapist." Furthermore, I can imagine the time taken to plead one's case before a complete stranger might result in irreparable harm that a speedy abortion could prevent. But I honestly don't think it's because of my storytelling prowess or even my capacity to become pregnant that I know it's not my place to judge what another person would do in any of these terrible situations. I have so often been powerless, I will not rob fellow humans of power over their own bodies. And I'll be damned if my legislators get away with it. Not in my name.
Two other items of national note that offended me, because I was looking, ie., because I haven't gouged out my eyes or eardrums yet:
Congress's ongoing immigration reform debates
Kickstarter: We Were Wrong – you bet your ass you were, and your apology is too little, too fucking late.
- Mood: pissed off
During the Open Secrets reading at WisCon, Emily Nordling tweeted: "I just want to listen to poetry all day every day and I don't think that is too much to ask." I concur.
My book haul from WisCon includes two new coloring books, Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace and Unicorns Are Jerks. I didn't realize the creator, Theo Nicole Lorenz, was actually AT WisCon. *smdh* Just as well, as I'm not the smoothest operator even when I'm not starstruck.
I also dropped a bundle at the PM Press table. I'd been mooning over Barred for Life: How Black Flag's Iconic Logo Became Punk Rock's Secret Handshake for over a year, so I picked up that. Also, Anarchist Pedagogies, because, as I told diatryma, when anarchists talk about eradicating public education, I get chills--the bad kind--because if it weren't for public ed...I don't know where I'd be. And I bought Don't Leave Your Friends Behind: Concrete Ways to Support Families in Social Justice Movements and Communities and Ursula Le Guin's Wild Girls, Plus...
From Crossed Genres, I picked up INK by Sabrina Vourvoulias, which has been on my to-buy list for a long time. And now I've got a signed copy!
And from the freebies table, I snagged The Arbitrary Placement of Walls, a collection of short stories by Martha Soukup, which I know nothing about but it was reviewed by Locus and blurbed by Neil Gaiman, so...all signs point to Yes?
- Flavor of the Day:Hazelnut
- Mood: busy
Tweetie is doing a unit on immigration in social studies. She asked if she had any immigrants in her family history. I reminded her that her paternal grandparents are immigrants from Mexico. Her classmates are a somewhat cosmopolitan bunch, so they've had conversations about how one child's siblings are a mix of immigrants and citizens, and about families with multiple immigrations over generations. This morning she and I wondered whether babies adopted from other countries can really be considered immigrants, if they can't remember anything about their birth country. When does national identity "sink in"?
We didn't have a unit on immigration when I was growing up in Texas. Not until, I'd guess, junior high, and even then it was an abstract kind of footnote about waves of immigrants to the United States in the past. I understand the many reasons the school curriculum ignored the elephant in the classroom. (1) When most students directly or indirectly had *lived* the immigrant experience, what more could a textbook tell them? (2) Schools didn't have the resources to deal with the emotional consequences of broaching the topic. (3) Such discussions would have violated the unofficial "don't ask, don't tell" policy that schools adopted regarding the immigration status of its students.
I wonder if the curriculum in Texas has changed with respect to immigration. I'm glad that Tweetie gets to have these conversations, but I'm also uncomfortably aware that she can only do so in a school environment because the Powers that Be have deemed it safe and right. Only after giving up proximity to the issue are we "allowed" to learn about it.
- Flavor of the Day:Iced Gingerbread coffee
- Mood: thoughtful
- Music:"Bulls on Parade," Rage against the Machine
1. Programmable coffeemakers. We never had one when I was a kid, so these seem amazing to me. Mine is a minimal set-up; I load it up the night before and push "delay brew" and it switches on in the morning. It's easier to wake up when you know you have coffee waiting, and I need coffee before I'm able to brew coffee these days (fumbly fingers and fumblier brain on dark winter mornings). So, YAY, Mr.Coffee--even if he is starting to sound like a dragon.
2. Killian's Irish Red. I don't drink a lot of beer, and I usually prefer hard ciders, but I had this red lager last week and when I tried to have it again at a different pub, the bar was OUT and I was DEVASTATED. The waiter was unsettled when I actually cried out in horror, then mayhaps offended when I rejected his suggested pale lager substitutes with another outburst. (Eventually he warmed up to me. To hubby, not so much.) BUT, to focus on the HAPPY, I love this beer and would like to marry it.
3. DVD director commentaries--most recently, the Sons of Anarchy season 4 commentary. The actual commentary was rarely substantive and there were too many participants to keep track of who was saying what all the time, but I felt really, really relieved to hear the creator Kurt Sutter's relentless stammering. Even Tweetie mentioned all his "uhh, you know, um..."s (before she asked why all those guys cursed so much). And this is comforting to me because I think Sutter's show is excellent and the story choices often masterful and to know that this talented, successful man can sound as awkward as I do when my nouns go missing, well it was reassuring.
4. Speaking of Sons of Anarchy, Happy Lohman, who gets all the best lines in SoA, including this timeless gem: "He's got to die. Like a lot."
5. My media savvy daughter. We were watching tv the other night, and an Obama campaign commercial came on. As the female narrator delivered a conspiratorial-toned dressing-down of Romney, Tweetie looked at me and whispered, "Negative campaigning." I was flabbergasted she could tell, even though it was "our" candidate's commercial, just from the voice it used. I was so proud.
- Flavor of the Day:Iced Tea
- Mood: okay
Thanks to silk_noir, I just listened to this again the other day with Tweetie. I think it is the most beautiful, patriotic version of our national anthem, ever. Tribute and interrogation and commentary and elegy and challenge, all in one. If this song is to be our anthem, why not take ownership of it, as Hendrix has done? We didn't choose it; might as well make the most of it.
The summer after I graduated from high school, there was Woodstock '94. I was as excited as any of my buddies--I mean, NIN, Metallica, and Green Day? But I was also confused. I was the only person my age I knew who could identify a Crosby, Stills, and Nash song in 30 seconds, or differentiate it from a Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young one. (Thanks, Dad. You were a lousy, fucked-up father and a shitty husband and role model, but I'll keep the music.) Before age 14, I'd seen the Woodstock documentary, listened to recordings, and written papers about the music festival. By senior year, I'd moved on to more contemporary music and I loved grunge and metal. But I could still see the Woodstock reboot for what it was: a cynical way to cash in on faux-nostalgia among concert-goers who'd never experienced the original--I mean, NIN, Metallica, and Green Day?!
- Mood: busy
Once, over state money going to fund abortions for women who qualify for Medicaid. "Are you willing to take over $1.5 billion of federal dollars away from the health and safety of every woman, every child and every family involved in Medicaid in this state?" Sen. Jack Hatch (D) asked, which makes me think the Republican proposals were equivalent to the Texas debacle that forfeited HHR monies. To which the Republicans said (paraphrasing now because the actual statement is too vile to use here), "How many babies are you willing to kill?"
Then, yesterday they yelled about whether aging sex offenders should be allowed into nursing homes. This was an especially volatile debate because an elderly woman is suing the state Department of Human Services for allowing an 83-year-old sex offender into a nursing home, where he later raped her. Lots of accusations from the Republicans about Democrats throwing "Granny" under the bus. (Apparently ignoring the fact that *all* nursing home residents are vulnerable to sexual predators, not only the women.)
I think the first instance is much ado by overreaching politicians over a scenario infrequent to begin with. The second instance is much more troubling to me, because it is *not* an infrequent threat. Our prison populations are aging, their sentences are running out, and most of these offenders will not have been rehabilitated and will not receive transitional support for their late-life care. Where will they go? Who will take care of them? Must nursing homes now also police some residents to protect others? The issue is complicated and important and emotional, and screaming about it in legislative overtime won't solve a damn thing.
- Flavor of the Day:Julien's Breakfast Blend, Verena Street
- Mood: worried
- Music:cucumberseed's playlist
The July/August issue of Poets & Writers has a profile on author Bonnie Jo Campbell. (What a name, right?! Fun to say. Sounds like she might spit in yer eye.) Campbell wrote Once Upon a River, which is about teenager Margo Crane, "a kind of modern-day Annie Oakley, on a river odyssey through rural Michigan." Campbell is described as a worrier by nature, and says:
"It's a tough world in every single way, and to negotiate it is hard. You see people struggling and making bad decisions, and you worry about them and wonder, 'How are you going to get out of this one?' But that's where my fiction comes from, the worrying. It's a kind of obsessing, and I think it's obsessing that leads to good writing."
I find it extremely comforting to think I may yet find reward for this relentless worrying I do, like a dog wagging its tail.
Like most everyone, I am watching the London riots. In my case, I am "worrying from afar," in the sense that I'm in the States but also that, for my own mental health, I'm only taking in a sliver of all the available coverage. This blog post from Laurie Penny (Penny Red) is getting a lot of attention, and for good reason--although, as ever, proceed with caution when choosing to read the comments, especially if "shoot 'em all" attitudes make you as sick as they make me. This line of Penny's in particular resonated for me:
"Most of the people who will be writing, speaking and pontificating about the disorder this weekend have absolutely no idea what it is like to grow up in a community where there are no jobs, no space to live or move, and the police are on the streets stopping-and-searching you as you come home from school."
Should we be surprised when groups that have long been treated as less than human begin to treat others--even potential allies--with the same disregard and abuse? How long can people whose rights are trampled be expected to respect the rights of others? Forbearance forever? Peace at any price? What I do not advocate, I can still understand. That's the oath I took when I became a writer.
And so I worry, and I wonder about Britain's establishment, "How are you going to get out of this one?" For that matter, how are we here in the States? Because the situation is all-too-familiar...
- Flavor of the Day:iced coffee
- Mood: pensive
- Music:cicada song
This documentary (or prankumentary, depending on whom you talk to) about street art is thoroughly entertaining, albeit sometimes in a cringe-worthy kind of way. I wouldn't have minded a bit more analysis of the art itself, but that approach would probably detract from the iconoclastic, free-thinking ethic that the artists promote.
1) Infantilization of nonnative English speakers is widespread and insulting. And may come back to bite you in the ass. I think a lot of the artists who trusted Thierry Guetta to film their exploits did so from a combination of egoism, practical self-interest, and deprecation of Guetta's intellect. They did not perceive him as a threat because he spoke English poorly.
2) In America, it must be a lot easier to be a working street artist if one is a white male. I cannot imagine the police officers in this film, who were neither courteous nor patient, indulging mis primos, let alone black artists, as much as they indulged the white men featured in the film. True, the artists had a camera man, which may have mitigated the officers' natural attack response, but I still can't see officers letting off Hispanic or black men the way they did the artists here.
3) What must it be like to be a female street artist, even a white one? From the sex worker bios I've read, it seems men in perceived (even if only self-perceived) authority positions feel perfectly entitled to interrogate any woman as to where she is going. If the woman rebuffs the questions, she comes under harsher scrutiny. Imagine fending off curious, even hostile men at night while carrying art supplies to create quasi-legal art. At least one woman (white) appeared in the documentary--I believe it's Swoon--and it's noteworthy that her brief scene includes Guetta teasing her as she struggles to get a nearly life-size wallpaper portrait to adhere to a wall. He says something like, "I bet you wish you were taller." She laughs and says, with equal parts frustration and embarrassment, STFU (or something like that). Guetta is not shown making any effort to help her, although he engages in death-defying climbing antics to abet male artists.
4) It looks a lot easier to critique materialism, imperialism, and privilege when one is a product thereof. Easier, and more profitable. So much of a street artist's success rests on how well they can blend into a crowd and how long they can work unmolested before someone questions their right to do so. If I, as a short, round brown woman, go out and mark up buildings, I get noticed, harassed, and thrown in the slammer. If I somehow manage to succeed at my art, I'm more likely to be considered an artist of color than a famous street artist.
When Guetta beats his heroes at their own game, his art is belittled. How can this French guy who barely speaks English possibly understand the true nature of street art? It's ludicrous, a scam, a joke. He is an outsider. How dare he critique the very system that marginalizes him? Personally, I don't consider Guetta's work to be art, at least not what went on exhibition, but the point still stands.
- Flavor of the Day:Dunkin Donuts Medium
- Mood: okay
- Music:Houses of the Holy, LZ
1. When J and I are listening to a CD we've had for some time and have listened to before and it cycles back to the first song and he suddenly asks, "What are we listening to?" as if it's something from another planet.
2. When my best friend refers to Def Leppard or Led Zeppelin as heavy metal. (And damn, how it pains me to misspell "leopard"!)
3. This coffee table made from a 1950s jet engine turbine:
Is it furniture or an instrument of death? Both?
4. In last night's State of the Union address, Obama kept saying we, as Americans, have these common ideals under all our differences, but do we really? When some folks genuinely think it's their right to say who can marry whom, who can and can't have health care, or who is a "real" American...? Seems like anything I might have in common with those folks is too slim a ledge on which to build consensus.
- Flavor of the Day:Cafe con Miel
- Mood: confused
- Music:Rock n Roll, Led Zeppelin
- Mood: pissed off
Last week, Tweetie got a new LeapPad book. When she points to certain words, the LeapPad defines them for her. I wasn't paying too much attention until she pointed to jealousy and the computer voice said, "A bad feeling toward another person."
"Hey what now?" I thought. "Did I just hear what I think I heard?"
I intervened, explained to Tweetie that emotions aren't good or bad, they just are. It's how we turn emotions into deeds that can be bad or good. I told her jealousy is more like wanting what someone else has, or wishing they didn't have it if you couldn't have it too. Which she seemed to grok. Better definition and less moralizing.
I grew up in a loud, raucous family. Growing up, I'd hear my grandma and her sisters shouting (in Spanish), "Get OUT! Shut UP!" and the like. I thought they were really fighting until someone set me straight. My gram and grampa would start hollering at each other and my brother or I would cry, "Stop fighting," and the inevitable response was, "We're not fighting, we're DISCUSSING!" Fighting meant bloodshed.
I didn't realize until I was in jr high that not all families heckled the tv, or each other. That not all families had screaming fits over whether a fan stayed plugged in or not, that the way my grandparents cursed at us might've qualified as abuse. Part of this was just run-of-the-mill kid ignorance--we don't know all families aren't like ours. But part of my comfort with this emotional gauntlet was that I soon learned, no matter how much we cried or screamed at each other, no matter how miserable and uncomfortable we were for a while, it passed.
So...Anger. I can haz it. I can hear it, I can show it, I can deal with it.
Watching RaceFail, MammothFail, and the still-unfolding postmortems, I've been baffled by how some adults do not seem equipped to deal with strong emotions during arguments. The instinct seems to be to smooth things over, squelch valid, healthy emotional responses, restrict one's tone. But denying emotions does not rid us of them, nor should it. Like physical pain, emotional pain indicates that something is WRONG. If we ignore it, we can't fix it.
And sometimes the inability to cope with these unpleasant emotions prompts people to shut down the arguments that stir up such emotions. Which is even worse.
On a related, or lateral, note, I appreciated asim 's "cranky essay," The Future is made up of our Pasts, especially this astute observation:
No. But the silence that ensued from not continuing to grapple with them, sets some groups, ones willing to evolve into new, healthy paradigms apart from those who will be, eventually, ignored."
- Flavor of the Day:Dunkin Medium
- Mood: groggy
- Music:Red Hot Chili Peppers