Thursday, January 19, 2006
I miss Cliffy today. Have kept myself busy but still feel it. Maybe it's because I could imagine her hands up into my skirt. Maybe because I think she would have liked living here instead - that we could have made a go at it and things would have been good since we'd still visit Austin plenty and she'd be able to see her family more.
In looking for places to live, there were a couple of really great spaces not too far from her mother.
Argh! I need to pull this stuff of Cliffy out of me. It feels like I'm full of deep ocean water and reminders of her are small pieces of paper floating on the top. They cling to me but can't necessarily be cupped out.
I don't know if it's all the movement and work I'm putting in but I've been so quick to get turned on. I was minding my own self tonight, having done some "career" clothes shopping and ordered some food and a double vanilla soy latte (new favorite - but the coffee has to be good or the soy no vale pa' na!).
The dyke-y girl who made my latte called me honey a few times and I got all warm. Earlier at work, this dyke-y girl opened the door and I got red in my face. I say "dyke-y" because I am guessing they are - who knows what they really go for. Either way, I don't get why I'm so quickly aroused.
On yahoo messenger even, someone saw my profile and IM'd me to see if I was interested in being a domme. I told them I wanted to sub and only for a woman. Dudes, they just keep
trying - can't see I like the girls!
So much so right now, I saw a green shirt at one store that said "Everyone loves an Italian girl". I'm not Italian but I could agree with it.
On the super plus side, I feel good at the new job. My boss is smart, hands-off but approachable. It's even nice to drive around during lunch. I've forgotten what to do with lunch breaks but there are a couple of great shops. I'm near all the queer community so there's always something to do after work.
Today, however, I took a couple of poems to Burger King and sat with a spicy chicken sandwich (I like anglo versions of "spicy" - such a tease). A woman working the tables called me "child" a couple of times and told me the sun was too beautiful to be looking at work. She said I had a nice smile.
I must be opening up in different ways - I know I feel different. I even bought a skirt today. Don't tell anyone but I haven't worn a skirt since 5th grade - I truly recall believing that I didn't have to dress like what people considered appropriate for those viewed as female.
I am missing my clothes. I didn't pack up everything, just those that would match each other so I'm dressing kind of dull right now. Too much pastel and black.
I really am missing Austin but, while it's kid and artist and bohemian friendly, it's just not working class friendly. And, despite some incredible friends I call family, I am partnerless and hating the "community" which had been sold to me as something incredible - I had very little holding me there. San Anto has its own issues but damned if I've not been smiling like mad the last couple of days at the excitement of true, viable, people of color-specific arts! I didn't
realize how good I had it.
Smiling more because right now, in Austin, a couple of Latino arts groups are shitting in their pants for not having had a larger vision. Somehow being more concerned about $500 in grant money is more important that assisting an organization, in trouble, that is helping others succeed. I shouldn't even say Latinos - it's down home Mexican Americans messing with each other instead of scaring dominant culture with 500 years of cultura.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Used to be I thought love between Cliffy and I wasn'tenough. Now, neither is magic. If not love or magic to motivate us, what makes us move/choose?
I went to work today. It's a place that's more structured than I'd realized or would like. I'm used to nonprofits with few boundaries, where everyone does everything. Maybe that's why this group is doing so well financially, and seems to be doing good work.
On my way home I happened by a bus stop and saw an old aquaintance. I got plenty of rides home when I was without a vehicle so I turned around and gave him a ride. Within a half breath, talk of my former workplace started. Girls, it's worse than I could have imagined: people not representing themselves correctly, friends helping friends, CDC money no longer trickling in, and those remaining thinking they have all the answers but coming to other groups with more questions than solutions. People keep asking me to do something, say something, start some fire or point some fingers. Where do you start?
All this week people have been talking to me about karma. My only beef with the whole idea is that it becomes so pseudo-spiritual to believe in those aspects of a religion without having to commit to the rest. Then, if karma is what keeps us from acting up, why do we have a mouth and eyes to see injustice at all? Why are there whistleblowers who, like a surge of energy, make a change within what's considered appropriate or customary behavior.
My head was all over today. I need sleep even if I'm craving a double espreso con panna.
Friday, January 13, 2006
Tigrette wrote me a great note saying:
It's just Mamaaaaaa Magic! Yes, It is!
I got a job. An incredible job. Doing good work. Making a difference, getting paid well and working with people who are smart, humble and earthy.
A strong part of me is sad that Cliffy didn't have the courage to wait for me, for this job to come through. But some foundation in me, some root is quivering with the good fortune that was given to me in not being with Cliffy now. Better now than to have waited for something horrible, like a family death or incredible illness, and find myself without support.
I have been writing my play, which circles around Oya, the orisha of wind, the guide for the newly dead, the woman warrior, the woman who survives hardships and is stronger for them.
Today I worked on the warnings she gives. While I didn't find a color code like the government's, I did develop, based on her stories, a list of warnings.
1st warning: Lightening that does not touch the sky. She is reminding us to look at our actions.
2nd warning: Strong wind before a storm, and the storm. She is more tangible, reminding us of the correct way to walk.
3rd warning: Tornado. She is walking the earth. Something on the earth needs her attention.
4th warning: Hurricanes, monsoons, tsunamis, other major water expressions. Watch out.
But in each destructive act, there is regrowth and development, a chance for true change.
Makes me think of Hurricane Katrina and how quickly people of color journalists and bloggers and community members were, despite the tragedy, hopeful that real change could be made - that life could be turned completely for the better. That, I see, takes hope too. Well, that and belief in the commitment and work needed to manifest hope.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
the coffee press
over cafe con leche and pan tostado
Pipo would tell me
throw everything to the ocean
each time he moved
all that came along was the coffee press,
seersucker suit and white loafers
two and a half years later, I am still in boxes,
holding close only the mortar and pestle he gave me
in each move, less and less goes in boxes
the ocean is always swallowing us, Pipo says,
returning only the necessary
I had jury duty today and thought, since I was downtown, I would leave this shirt I had recreated for Cliffy at her work. I didn't want to see her. The last words she told me, right outside my door, was that she'd call me. No call yet. I don't know what I would tell her if she did call.
Still, I didn't know how to get this shirt to her without having to see her. I was presuming she wasn't going to want to see me anyhow. All the signs told me not to bother. I mean, on the highway back toward town there was a huge recliner on the highway blocking my way. As I got a block away from the day care she works at my radio started buzzing in and out like some magnetic freakout then, just as the light on Trinity and Cesar turned green, the car ahead of me went and, defying the lights, this truck barreled into it right in front of me. It had taken the red light on the cross-street. Majorly fucked up scene.
I drove past the back entrance of her job and had to back up because all I wanted was to find her car and hook her shirt on the it somehow. I couldn't find it but a woman was just walking into the day care's gate and I called out to her and asked her to give it to Cliffy. She told me that Cliffy was actually watching her class then so she could give it to her right away.
So, I was happy to at least not see Cliffy directly. My mother told me to just throw the shirt away. Another friend told me that it was a good shirt and I should just keep it. I was true to myself in that I wasn't giving her the shirt in order to see her again or be near her. Rather, it was important to me to complete the promise I'd made to recreate her shirt for her in the way she wanted. I didn't realize until now, writing this, that I might be doing it in reaction to Cliffy's not keeping her promise.
I'm still not feeling well and this kind of action just tells me I'm still reactive instead of proactive. In many ways, I feel like bringing everyone down a peg, calling them on their shit. I feel like fighting.
Krissy told me yesterday, in our time together, that I was like a mama leopard, some big cat, who was napping. I was loving and warm but everyone should know not to agitate me. This cat's awake today - and not liking what she sees.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
To explain why we become attached to our birthplaces, we pretend that we are trees and speak of “roots.” Look under your feet. You will not find gnarled growths sprouting through the soles. Roots, I sometimes think, are a conservative myth, designed to keep us in our places.
– Salman Rushdie
Monday, January 09, 2006
I made the mistake of trying to write something last night in my notebook only to find a note Cliffy wrote for me in there sometime around Thanksgiving : "Te quiero Mi Tigressa - yo -".
What a difference a month makes.
My favorite part of the year was always from September through mid-December. I loved that my birthday was right in there with Fall, Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, even Thanksgiving. It always served as a time I got the most writing done, felt freer and more capable. I remember walking down Haskell and Holly streets in East Austin, taking Tigrette trick or treating and Cliffy following in the van. I loved the coolness of the evening, how hot Cliffy looked in her leather jacket, how much energy was in the air. How hot I looked in my corset. We were ourselves but not ourselves - we were more and hopeful and liberated.
I feel like I lost some of this very important part of my time because now, in not feeling so great about myself and my potential, I wonder how present Cliffy really was. I recognize we all have histories filled with hurt and danger. That past can make it hard to be present. But how long do we carry these things? How do we truly unload them with the assurance they may bubble up in the mind but that they have no hold on us? Are any of our relationships real if they are only in respect to the incredible baggage we are capable of holding? It would be nice to each have our time of the year (like I had mine), where we actively untangled those past hurts from our veins and nerves, and truly transformed ourselves each year. Ourselves but not ourselves - so much more.
Friday, January 06, 2006
Well, I did it.
My face was flushed and puffy, my hands shaky, and my Word footer function not working. Still, I did it. I thought I'd sleep like a baby last night but I woke up throughout the night.
In some ways, I've really appreciated having this deadline because it let me focus on something besides Cliffy's cowardice and the fact that I still love her. Now, I don't know what my mind won't conceive of without some larger thing to concentrate on.
I have to thank Laura, Love Joy and Spenta for their great insight into my work. A special thanks to Laura for the coffee and lunch. Thanks to Krissy for hearing me. To Carole for her incredible assurances - how you hit the mark, girl! To Gloria for kicking my ass with her loud talking. And to V and L (those who are "Sweetness") for occupying some of my time. Thanks also to my mother for the copies made and for the quick trip to the post office.
Well, I'm on fire now.
Not done writing but I see the manuscript now. About half assembled, the rest already seems to have its place, you know?
I knocked out last night after dinner, after reviewing some pieces I only have hard copies for. Woke up this morning at 4, 4:30, 5:15 and finally 5:30 to get back to work. I feel like I should have stayed up later but I'm not torturing myself. Worse, it took me forever to get to sleep anyway. I was missing Cliffy and wanted to call her. I wanted her to be a part of my completing this manuscript and, when I saw my initial cover page and working title [The Year of the Soup] I realized I had dedicated it to her. I realize though, that, it seems more appropriate to dedicate it to this last year. More than anything, this year was like the kind of teachers you hate but you realize, after, that they taught you more than any other had before. So, despite missing her, I did stay in bed and did not call her. I truly needed sleep. When I was young I could stay up 2 or 3 days, on fumes, and get my work done all while hitting the subconscious. Now, mama feels it!
I went to Tigrette's school this morning to pick up her materials and books. Her teacher is going to miss her. She even gave me a hug. She did tell me the little one made Honor Roll (woo hoo!) and would mail her certificate to her.
Okay, so I have to go - heading to SA to finish the winning manuscript and make some copies at a "borrowed" copier. I think I can "borrow" a postage machine too... Need to do a search on the 24 hour post office down there. Tigrette already told me she'd help me mail it off, put a blessing on it. Help me out - lift you hand, bless my package from wherever you are. Blessings back to you too.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
If I lived in Miami, besides being browner and happier, I would have gone to Little Haiti and bought a can of Oya's spray. She's powerful. Here, in Central Texas, you say "Oya" and most don't know what you are talking about. Further south, they'll think you are asking for a big pot to make beans in.
I just started thinking of bijol, my favorite food coloring agent. I must be getting hungry. I've been forgetful the last few days. Coffee really is a hunger suppressant - yesterday I didn't eat until 4 in the afternoon.
I feel better today than yesterday as far as my writing. Still having trouble sleeping so I was up until 4 a.m. and woke at 7. Today's the do or die day to finish the actual poems for the manuscript and finalize their order tonight and tomorrow. So what am I doing writing a blog entry?
Maybe because I was cleaning my desk area and found, again, Cliffy's birthday card to me, where she wrote "te quiero chingos".
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
there's one old message there from Cliffy.
I've been working on my poems and wrote more on a poem I'd started months and months ago (the first time Cliffy and I were together). Scope it:
your skin still carries the vein breaks of a strong fever,
that reminder of warmth evident in your hands
migrant spirits born by fire
your heat so strong your mother
ran to her mother’s
for tila and a touch on your tender head
bus ride to the border
three hours of heat
stealing into you
just one of the journeys
you were meant to decipher
others journeys met with you
and slowly, rather than feed the fire,
they wore your skin far too thin
made your eyes smoldering but sleepy
there was no one there to do a cura
to teach the prayer
to keep your spirit moving
your words don’t join
to hold the memory
what shivering has replaced your warmth?
like animals sneaking into your home for winter,
there isn’t enough blood circulating to stave off the cold
some transfusion your arms hooked
to the walls of your mother’s house
My friend Laura actually helped me look through a lot of poems as well as give me some much needed company. Because we've always had the same taste, and as I was in the mood to get rid of some stuff, I gave her a few frames, books and some Frida magnets. It feels good to give it up. She, in return, gave me incredible insight into some of my pieces. I'm enjoying the kind of work I've been creating lately : texture heavy with surrealism. And, surprising even to me, more individualistic. Feels right since poetry is so personal/specific.
Let's see if you are cute! Here's a partial checklist:
(These are characteristics meant to describe animals, technically, but aren't we all animals?)
[ ] bright forward-facing eyes set low on a big round face
[ ] a pair of big round ears
[ ] floppy limbs
[ ] a side-to-side, teeter-totter gait
Cute cues indicating:
[ ] extreme youth
[ ] vulnerability
[ ] harmlessness
[ ] needy
[ ] attracts affection
[ ] demands a lap
[ ] is commonplace and generous
[ ] is content on occasion to cosegregate with homeliness
[ ] is quick and cheap (comodified/easily manipulated by/toying)
[ ] is infantile
If it weren't for the harmlessness characteristic, I'd have scored perfectly!
But I've done it again. It is so short and feels great. I have to admit, it was nice to have the haircutter, this attractive femme Latina with higlights, run her fingers through.
At this point, with everything going on, I may never have my hair long again.
Krissy's promised me a great time tomorrow night with an evening out to see a group called echoset and I could use it - an excuse for lipstick. I got a card today in the mail addressed to Cliffy and me, announcing a commitment ceremony for two friends. Another friend ended her marriage after two decades because she was transitioning. From her account of their way of being, they had a lot of love and support for each other. I'm happy for my friends doing the ceremony and, while it's sad that my other friend is now divorced, I'm glad all of them have been able to find some deep-rooted joy in having come together with someone. The whole thing makes me wonder how you ever know who is forever. There should be some sort of test you give each other beforehand.
Today my chest feels like it has a huge square box inside it. Like scar tissue or man-made materials replacing my insides. I can't move it out with my mind but I can't see inside the box either. Dark red, purple, viscous thing doesn't let me take deep breaths. I'm up late, wrote some, mostly awake because I'm dreading going to bed.
but I tell her over and over again that what happened was an adult mental thing
and had nothing to do with her.
While Tigrette didn't tell me what Cliffy told her, she did say that Cliffy said it wasn't her or my fault but that she didn't have enough to support both me and Tigrette.
I asked Tigrette if she understood and she said yes then asked me what support meant.
I hoped Cliffy could have told her in real words, not therapeutic language.
Instead I had to tell her that some people have trouble giving so much of their energy and heart to another and that it's not necessarily a good or bad thing but that Cliffy just didn't have the capability to really commit to being there for the long-term.
Telling her that helped me a little. I feel incompetent in a lot of ways. I should have known she had this defect. In some ways, my inability to get a response from her when I was sick or my back hurt, even in the beginning of our relationship, should have told me that she had to be in the center.
I grew up in a house where the center/centering person was the one who gave the most and held the idea of family - someone who ensured we all worked the mission statement. In hers, apparently, the centered person is the person with male energy within a dichotomous world.
Cliffy talked about wanting true equality in her relationship but I think she freaked when I didn't take the lead in the way we worked our lives. I left a lot up to her in the mental sphere and let her have her masculine role. I actively did not make choices which would have her be someplace she didn't want to be or doing something she didn't want to do. I deferred, not from some butch/femme mystique, but because I like to work the quiet and detail-oriented aspects of a relationship.
Cliffy's changed me. Inside me, I had again put aside the potential/the vision/the full expression of my capabilities because she could sleep for hours on end, then get up and watch tv, already knowing dinner would be ready. Because she didn't like her job most days but wouldn't look for another. Because she would never leave this town.
I don't want to be held down.
When Cliffy and I got together, we talked about supporting each other. She even suggested that, if my writing had me going somewhere else in the country, she could be supportive and be a parent to Tigrette. She even called her "my daughter" to her co-workers and told me that Tigrette was acting more and more like her. Inside, however, there was always this delay in me - that she might leave or, on a daily basis, that she might feel too sick or achy to give attention to Tigrette. She might choose tv over my child. As a mother, I rarely am able to choose anything over my child, no matter how achy or sick or flustered.
On New Year's Eve, Tigrette and I sat on the patio and watched some fireworks. As it got cold, we came in for hot chocolate and we talked as she sat on my lap. That was the first time in a long time that I've felt calm. Despite Cliffy's quiet demeanor, she always carried this look on her face, like she might run.
How do you explain that to a child? How do you explain fifty years of behavior that makes you loved by many but loving few?
Monday, January 02, 2006
I sent lots of resumes out - Murphy's law that suddenly there are plenty of jobs opening up. I'll keep telling myself it's that the holidays are over and people get back to business.
Tigrette left today and cried so much. I had a hard time holding back my face and just told her to let it out. Everything always tells us not to cry - I didn't want her censoring herself.
Not just because of Tigrette though : my heart or some unspecified ceramic bowl behind my heart is aching. I feel my chest contract and can't stretch the pain out. I actually would love to sleep on someone's couch, far away from this apartment.
It felt wider once Cliffy moved her stuff out but this morning, with my baby gone, the spirit of it is gone and the walls are so incredibly tall.
Sunday, January 01, 2006
1. live healthier (around healthier people, with healthier food, in healthy environments)
2. devour knowledge that's new too me. there's a long list of things I want to just pick up and make my own
3. live in my body - truly enjoy and be present (I used to struggle with this more but have felt it creeping up in me in the last month or so)
4. fuck this city - just move on. there's so little in this city that is awe-inspiring or tangible - why am I here?
5. write, really write. I want to be like those people who win awards and everyone in the so-called "arts" community is saying who is that? and it becomes obvious that the "arts" community is not much more than a clique.
I had a strange day. Cliffy left today. I actually felt good about it. Truly, why would I want to be with someone who couldn't support me and keep herself strong and actually communicate with me? It's hard to do but, maybe because I work at it or maybe because I'm a mother, I still try to do all those things. I spoke with a friend of mine, Love Joy, about what was going on and she told me, straight up, that Cliffy was wrong in the way she behaved. I know she doesn't know Cliffy and so, of course, she's on my side, but it meant a lot that I wasn't the sole voice in my head saying that the way she behaved was inappropriate.
Worse in all this is Cliffy's inability to even talk at a time when she is supposedly clear on what she needs to do. I asked her, in turning the shoes the other way, if she would have left me if she'd become sick or lost her job or had some crisis. Would she so quickly say "It's not fair to you that I be here - maybe I need to leave rather than you support me through this stress"? Of course not.
I revert to my earlier truths : I don't need a traditional relationship (if at all at this point). Rather, I need someone who will truly engage and be open, available and committed. Committed meaning the understanding that everything takes work and compromise.
One thing for sure : I won't be silent this time around when people tell me how good Cliffy is. Yes, she looks good and she says the right things and she openly hugs and offers herself - as long as you don't actually take her on that offer. She played me, lied to me, refused to be clear, sat with me pretending we were okay. She cannot open herself up a little, cannot commit fully even to her own goals let alone to the idea of family as defined by queers. She can't even call her own friends unless she needs to unload. She remains aloof. She wants someone to care for her - someone who doesn't need any care. I won't be La Mala here - I'm tired of playing that role in this fucking town.
She's left me in a worse place than even those who have been verbally abusive to me had left me - because she's quiet and can so clearly see her own side. I knew our relationship wasn't completely even but I didn't think she would give up so quickly. I thought her promise to truly be there with me meant something. She left me not trusting anyone, not even trusting my own ability to choose a good partner or trust my own instincts.
What was bad is that Cliffy's leaving affects Tigrette's future as well as mine. We were completely enmeshed - we three. I don't know where I'll be in one month if I don't find work. Unlike Cliffy, my friends are just as poor as I am and they see me more for who I am, not some idealized image of me that withstands because Cliffy doesn't commit a whole hell of a lot to anyone. So, I could be homeless and with my daughter. I am not trying for a guilt trip. It does burn me, however, that Cliffy can't talk to work something out to such a degree that her decision affects so much. Last time she left me it was mostly my heart and head that ached. This time, I feel the ache even in my belly and I see the pain in my daughter's face. Like she needed any more change.
I told Tigrette I'd have to move her to the nearby school instead of the school she was in this past semester because, with us living far South, I can't afford the time or gas to get her to school 20 minutes away. Cliffy, working near Tigrette's school, would take her in the a.m. Tigrette was incredibly hurt.
But as I thought about it more, I called my mother and asked her to take the little one for a semester in San Anto. If I don't find something here before month's end, I'd end up there anyway, you know?
Cliffy, for some reason only known to her, tried to play like she was still considering staying as a family when, last night, she offered we meet up with two great pals of mine. Yo, toda pendeja, les llamo - I completely bought that she was trying. This morning I had to cancel our gathering. Who thinks to commit themselves to even a simple gathering? What was it Cliffy? It wasn't enough that you hurt me with your inability to keep a promise? You had to also give me false hope with this ridiculous offer? Why have me make this call at all. In fact, why not pack up that very day, when you came home instead of sit in front of the tv and say nothing for hours, then eat dinner, watch more tv, tell me you were going to leave then go back to watch more tv and then sleep in the bed next to me? Cliffy, you did this last time too - you could have at least been original.
Once Tigrette and I had planned out when she would be going to San Anto, we called those friends back and they were so great in reminding me both how blessed I am to have the little one and how blessed to have access to people who know and support me, even if I can count them on one hand.
We went to lunch and played a game of Cadoo that had us laughing out loud. I still have to work out plenty in my head and had to stop myself from crying any more in front of Tigrette. We got home, packed some of her things and had dinner then watched the fireworks as we sat on the porch with some hot chocolate. I am always amazed (but shouldn't be any more) at how she can tell me, with such an open heart and with such clarity, that she loves me and will miss me but knows that we'll be okay. She asked me why our family was only two people but said that it was still family. I've taught her something, huh? - taught her what I had to fight so hard to make in my own heart and life. There are some adults who still don't understand this.