Archive for July, 2006

Suspended? ME???

Well boys and girls, the latest news is that I’ve been suspended from the lovely institution where I go, wait, make that, USED TO go to grad school, and teach.

The school is claiming that I have exceeded my limit (6 years) to complete the degree. They are not including in that calculation that I left the program for 4 years!!! I had to reapply to get back in. I have one course and a thesis to go and I’m being told that either I lose my credits or I have to wait for a year and then come back and reapply through a bureaucratic masturbation session that makes no sense.

WTF???? Not only have I been a productive scholar, a responsible teacher, a member of committees in this department and on the coordinating team of several conferences, but I haven’t even been here that bloody long!

The disturbing part of this is that I just got the letter YESTERDAY. The semester starts August 9th. You do the math and figure out how much time that gives me to:

a. try to stop them from kicking me out

b. find a job (ha!)

Did I mention offices were closed today? Include that in your calculations.

So, my world is suddenly upside down. I am blessed with wonderful friends who are being most encouraging (and shitty pessimistic friends who are close to my heart! LOL) and I can’t even express how much the support and help means to me. I am freaking out. I have budgeted to make it to my first paycheck–well make it is an overstatement… squeak through to my first paycheck. Mag has been job hunting for TWO months and had no luck. I am the only financial support in our household and now I’m told I have no income and no school. No way!

This institution has been unsupportive to me so many times that I sometimes wonder what I’m still doing there.

So, forgive the unenlightened/ening rant and go light a candle, walk a maze, say a prayer, whirl, or eat a chocolate sundae, whatever you chose to get close to the divine, in my name.

Pretty soon you’ll see a paypal account set up so you can donate loose change to my dogfood fund (for the dogs people por favor!).

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Latinavangelist

Before we decide to take away my red lipstick and hoop earrings and change my last name to Smith I get one last chance.

I’ve been notified by the Latina Licensing Review Board that this is it, I’m in danger of getting the red flag–yes, I watched the football world cup (soccer to yanks) which might account for the leniency.

In lieu of going through my abuela qepd’s stuff (what my drug addicted uncle hasn’t claimed when he’s broken into the house by literally breaking padlocks) to recover the plastic furniture covers so I can squeak when I sit in a traditional manner, I’m taking other measures.

Let me tell you about it, but first I have to go stir my sofrito. I actually DO make it from scratch still. As I have in every apartment I’ve lived with cooking facilities beyond a hotplate or an iron available. In Maryland, in Manhattan, in Boise my housewarming dinner was consistent: arroz con habichuelas. Except in Boise where I had to buy frijoles instead, pero ni modo. 😉

And every place I’ve lived, I’ve faced the consequences of being Latina. No, not the invitations to parties or churches or family bbqs. The being followed in stores, the racial slurs and death threats–including KKK flyers and Aryan Nations propaganda. Not the carefree dancing-in-the-streets variety of latinadom: the “wow but your English is so good,” the “you don’t have an accent,” the “why don’t you try babysitting jobs?”

Is my Latina-dom defined by adversity? Is it another form of drag, another shortcut to identity used to facilitate social interaction (or dysfunction)?

How shall I work towards redemption?

Shall I acquire a taste for nopalitos while I dance salsa with a hibiscus flower in my hair and pantallas de coco in my ears?

Shall I buy trendy latina t-shirts just in case I’m mistaken for ____________. Pick one: Indian, Pakistani, Arab, Native American, Samoan, etc.

Shall I become a latinavangelist and share chuletas and vianda with the world? Sofrito as salvation?

Yum.

Amen?

I have been to a variety of church services in my life. Not growing up in a religious household was both liberating and constraining. It freed me from enforced loyalty to any one religion, church or creed but it also had the effect of making organized religion all the more foreign and mysterious to me. I am not fully versed in all the strange rituals religions follow in their services.

A few years ago I was privileged enough to attend an Islamic prayer service as part of an Interfaith alliance. We were providing a human shield so that the services could be held even after both the school and mosque buildings had been vandalized and threats had been made against the community. The rituals reminded me of the first time I attended a Catholic service: The ritualized gesture, the ablutions and the responses had been foreign to me in both cases. Even though I didn’t understand the religion, the language or really exactly what was going on, I felt the breath of the sacred in that service.

This weekend I went to watch a procession (by water) in honor of the Virgin del Carmen who is the patron saint of fishermen. I am partial to her as I am to all things water. The procession departed from a small fishing barrio. The boats were humble and were already in the water for the most part when we got there. Kids were running around and diving off the boats, older women stood around with their rosaries, old fishermen stood watch and gossiped, some young women still had curlers in their hair.

A statue of the Virgin was secured onto one boat that was still on the shore. She was beautifully decorated with flowers and ribbons and love made visible. When the men gathered round to push the boat into the water no prayers were needed. Their wading, their gentle carrying, their devotion and respect were visible. We all watched, many like me in tears, others taking pictures. The boat took the lead with others getting into a line behind her as they headed for a neighboring fishing village. The procession was small but awesome. There were about 10 or so boats total and the crowd dissipated relatively quickly. Many were going to the next village to hear the mass and receive the procession, still others were headed home to life. The older fisherman and a few of the older women were left watching. As I was walking down the shore, watching the line- up we noticed a dog jump into the water. It was a mutt, medium sized dog. It swam out quite a ways while we watched. We were all starting to get concerned as we watched it keep swimming out to sea. I’d never seen a dog go quite so far. I was already thinking to myself that if it started to flag I’d have to dive in after it. But no, it was headed for a boat that had stayed behind the others. It kept swimming out to the boat. The dog was unaffected by the waves pushing on it, it just kept going. It would not turn back. The owners saw him and hoisted him onto the boat and then headed out to join the procession. The old fisherman decided that the dog just really wanted to join the Virgencita and pay his respects in the procession. Amen!

I did not go on to hear the mass. That simple ritual was enough to me. Some of the most sacred moments I’ve had have been simple ones… usually outdoors too: Chanting on the beach, Pagan dances under the stars, an evening service during a regional MCC church camp held just as the sun is setting, blessings by the river, group meditations.

Then there are the rowdy, the loud blessings: singing in a gospel choir and watching a little girl with Down Syndrome rock out to the music, the sheer power of voices in song, the thundering of an organ, the chorus of Amen! and Hallelujah! The loud drum circles growing louder and louder, the blessings of sound.

And, of course, there’s always the blessing of service, of giving and helping and working to make the world a better place. Those are countless moments of smiles, of time, love, energy, money, compassion given freely.

I think one of the coolest things I grew to understand growing up in a non-religious household is that God/dess is everywhere, and in everything. No one building, or, for that matter, no one religion, has licensing rights for the sacred. Every breath, every smile, every heart wrenching tear, every kiss, every fight, every orgasm, every ripe fragrant mango, every one of Whitman’s blades of grass has God/dess in it.

Amen.

Fun at the gym

I love the gym! I went back this last week after a long ass time away due to transportation, scheduling and sheer laziness issues. Not only is it fun because I get to do some public sweatin’, heavy breathin’, with ocassional moanin’ and groanin’ when I’m inspired… but it’s also the best place for people watching and for gender studies.

Pre hiatus I regularly worked out in the “Women’s side” rather than the mixed side. As I went back I decided to try something new and went over to the mixed side for cardio and women’s side for strength training. Sweet!

I’ve been watching the differences in the way women and men work out, the differences in the women’s side and the mixed side.

The other day I was on my treadmill happily going nowhere when two women walked in. They settled in on the elliptical machines in front of me and proceeded to chat loud enough to facilitate eavesdropping. They were working out at different levels, one of the women was very fit, the other one was a little overweight but working hard on the machines. They chatted about all kinds of stuff: a recent date, a friend’s relationship troubles, etc.

Meanwhile the men in the rest of the gym have been preening and grunting and doing their sweaty man thing. And looking around to see who’s watching. Unless a woman is exceptionally fit, you don’t usually notice them posturing so obviously for any observers. Men with beer bellies were nonetheless strutting their stuff.

In walk two male friends. Now I’m on the exercise bike next to treadmills, still going nowhere but not nearly as happy about it.

The two guys are there to work out together and one of them is clearly more fit than the other and is taking the lead. He puffs his chest out and directs the other guy to the treadmills. Then the competition begins. Fit guy advises Regular guy set his treadmill higher so he can really work. Regular guy is struggling but manly as he ups the speed. They proceed to talk about manly feats: some stunt on a dirtbike, a crazy buddy who does extreme sports, a hot girl one guy saw last week. Then Fit guy instructs Regular guy to up the speed so they can run a bit. Regular guy suggests a number. Fit guy laughs and makes fun of the pace. Regular guy ups his speed.

When they are done with that they go off to do a their training circuit. Regular guy is killing himself to keep up with Fit guy. I am guessing Regular guy will be sore for a month. If not injured from trying to lift more than he’s able to.

The (tired) adage says that women cooperate and men compete. I don’t know if this is true across the board but it sure seems to be true at the gym! Women’s competition is cooperative and men’s cooperation is competitive and it sure is fun to watch!

Estacion Literaria

Comin’ up:

Estacion Literaria VIII: Historias en la Frontera

Featuring — Norma E. Cantu, PhD
Distinguished scholar of Chicana/Chicano literature and Women’s Studies, professor of English at the University of Texas, San Antonio and award winning writer of Canicula: Snapshots a Girlhood in La Frontera (English version – U of New Mexico Press, Spanish version – Houghton Mifflin); Chicana Traditions: Change and Continuity (U of Illinois Press): Telling to Live: Latina Feminist Testimonios (Duke University Press) will be reading from her work on:

July 20th @ 7:00 pm at La Tertulia, Old San Juan
204 O’Donnell Street (across from Plaza Colon) 787-724-8200

&

July 25th @ 7:30 pm at Borders Books in the Mayaguez Mall

Open Mike to follow at both locations:
In support of raising money for pastiche. Autographed copies of her book are available for sale or bring your own copies.
~~~~~~~~~~~~

I will be attending both events and reading. Don’t miss it! Oh, and if you want to carpool to tertulia let me know!

Love

“Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground” Rumi

House of Fear

I think for Halloween I will charge admission to my house and invite all my friends to come get spooked because I can cover most of my friends’ fears right here.

Let’s see… first I have mice. Obligatory disclaimer and context: I live on acres of jungle. The land next to us was recently cleared so there are tons of homeless critters who appreciate the jungle and end up over here. I also don’t have screens on half of the house (although with the funds from the house of fear I might be able to put some in!). Hence, critters and bugs (we even had a bird hang out in here not too long ago) come in at will or cuando les da la gana. So, yeah. Mice come around. Of course, I have a few friends who are terrified of mice…

Next, of course, there are bugs. Remember, no screens. This includes the lovely flying roaches we all love so much. Another fear covered.

And spiders. Check!

And furthermore, we have two dogs. One of whom is almost a pony weighing over 100lbs. Of course, one of my friends is afraid of dogs.

And two cats. Yes, those spooky soul sucking creatures… Next?

At night, there are tons of bats around (not in the house though, that would be interesting). We appreciate them because they eat bugs and they are cool. But some people don’t share our love of the critters.

I need to work on a few more… maybe move my house closer to water, get a few snakes (who would eat the mice, this is all coming together!) and possibly a clown or two. By October I should have it all ready to go.