Thursday, May 31, 2007


I had a dream Tuesday night that there were two, bulky looking men who handed me a baby to take care of. I realized as they were passing her to me that she was my niece and, in looking at the men, I realized they were police or at least uniformed.

This goes back to my feeling of motherliness. I don't know if the dream is in response to all this feeling (though, who imagines a baby just handed to you?) or if I'm anticipating a possible outcome considering what's going on in their life.

Here's a pic of them. My scanner broke so I took a capture shot from the webcam, hence the strange look.

Cute, no? Mati (Deja Matilda) and my child, Delhi Micaela! Pictures of me in the 1970s look the same!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

safe space :: madison, wisconsin // not a safe space :: guantanamo

I remember a couple of years ago I was invited, along with ten or so other queer activists, to a media training workshop given by a media education group in Madison (pictured). Madison is a super safe space and probably #1 city for lesbian couples. I was able to walk around freely, buy books from one of the oldest feminist bookstores in the country, enjoy a cup of coffee at one of numerous available cafes. It hardly seemed like real life.

We learned how to work with the media, be responsive to queer issues discussed in the media (mainly print), and respond timely with concise information, quotes, stats, etc.

We did a couple of samples together, disciminating a couple of topic points and focused on Guantanamo.

I never spoke up but should have. While the others talked about human rights, Geneva pacts, etc., I thought about how I, as a Cuban American, saw those who were kept at Guantanamo as Cubans. Despite their being from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq or Afghanistan, I saw them as now under the military thumb of Americans on land that was seized by Americans but that belonged to Cubans and Cuba. How must the Cubans view not just Guantanamo but Guantanamo's new role, new duties?

It hurt me that there were no screaming Cubans outside Guantanamo. It hurt me that I couldn't say anything. I had more than one relative or family friend stay in the prisons of Cuba after the revolution. The desperation they must feel - their lives squandered, military personnel and government officials surrounding them like parasites. My Tio Cheo made it out of the prisons and was one of the Marielitos but he was never the same. He drank himself to near death, smiled a faraway smile sometimes and, in looking at you in the face, would look like he was going to cry. He died of cancer. There's no story in the world out there for him. My grandfather's cousin, Pedro Luis Boitel, was more well known but died during a hunger strike on May 25, 1972. I was not even one year old.

Well, today, another Guantanamo detainee died - killing himself rather than staying there. My god, what possible information could they still be trying to collect after being subjected to mistreatment, forced detainment, and inconsistent protections and legal aid for 5 years! When are they gonna shut this crap down? And I don't just mean the camp but the whole damned base!? The House of Reps is trying to shut the camp now.

I'm really hurting today. I read the news item while at my desk at work earlier today and felt so ridiculous, trying to balance numbers while one man was dying. I keep crying.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

did you say mother?

While SA is known for its #1 murder-suicide rates (ex or lover killing a partner/wife), we may soon have the designation of #1 state for murder-suicides of abusive mothers with children -

One mother hung her babies. Yes, hung them. With rope. In a closet.

Another used a stun gun on hers. Multiple times.

Still another bit her son repeatedly. Gave him black eyes.

My brother was arrested a couple of weeks ago and, despite the bond, was picked up last week because of the warrant out for his arrest - he is already on parole. His daughter, who looks surprisingly like me, is just gorgeous (not just because she looks like me). I wish, considering how he and her mother have been inconsistent, thinking of themselves more, etc, that I could have the baby to raise. I told my mother I would do it without hesitation.

More odd, I've had this incredible mother drive in me lately. I really do want another child. I don't want to have to make it because I think, given my situation, that would be an ego-based decision. Also, I don't think I could handle the physical demand - I had a hard time the last time around. Rather, adopting or being with someone with kids - those are things I'd really like to do.

And while I know there's no way in hell that it's fair to compare mothers, to pit them against each other, I try, harder and harder everyday, to be a damned good mother. At least once a week, someone will look at me with a questioning eye, or ask - outright - if my child is mine or where her father is. My child is getting asked the same question at her school - where, even at age 7 and 8, kids know the difference between "absent father" and "no father".

And for all the heavy-handed queer parenting surveys of the past, one thing is clear - queer parents are raising their children in increasingly diverse settings, teaching them to accept others, to see past preconceived notions and stereotypes. When asked about her father, my child will tell anyone - families come in all shapes and sizes - we just happen to be a small family of two living in a house of love.

No, queer families are not beyond the hideousness that is shown in the media. In fact, queer women/lesbians are made to feel even more responsible for any upbringing that is not excellent (I know - I carry the burden!). But, hopefully, given our attempts and desire to create family - our need to not be alone but to develop community - we may have the kind of support to avoid stories of broken children and broken families. Seems the straights can, once again, learn from us. Lord, let's hope we let them - division only makes for more of the stories linked here.


I just realized how truly asleep and bitter I have become - how I do not fight for my freedom. While I can claim awareness and separateness from the way this country works itself into our minds, I am still part of its system. It's distasteful, truly ugly -

"We felt that doing nothing in a period of repressive violence is itself a form of violence. That's really the part that I think is the hardest for people to understand. If you sit in your house, live your white life and go to your white job, and allow the country that you live in to murder people and to commit genocide, and you sit there and you don't do anything about it, that's violence." - Naomi Jaffe

How do I take part, really take part, in no longer being a silent participant in all the hate, this war, the terrorist economy?

Cindy Sheehan has quit her activism, begun in 2005 after her son's death while serving in the military. The recent vote allowing for more funding and no deadlines for Iraq did it to her. It took her a lot to give up. She had all kind of poeple on her side but, instead of realizing that she was working within the dichotomy provided by our government (reps vs. dems, soldier supporters vs. war haters, etc.), she grew frustrated. Not to say that she wouldn't have grown frustrated if she'd taken steps outside of these spaces, but she might have felt as though she was really reaching something. Instead, Cindy discovered a movement "that often puts personal egos above peace and human life."

No surprise. Most of my activism work has revealed that ugly truth. It was just a month ago that I got this forward in an email about a supposedly great article about liberation - i clicked away only to see my ex supervisor from allgo talking what he used to always talked while he stuffed his mouth with tacos and mexican cokes - but there was little movement.

I'll be open to say that I didn't care for Cindy's "insider" view - that she was devasted that her son entered a war neither of them supported but couldn't change his opinion or his reasoning - sometimes saying nothing implies support - or that she thought she could work within the system because she was an average American mom (make note Americans - your voice is no stronger than anyone elses' in this place) - but I know the hurt when you discover those who were on your side were not really on your side or worse, are with you only while your face is sweet and your mouth is using the same language they would have you use.

Pobrecita - her struggle is not just the struggle of being an activist in a fucked up system - it's the
struggle of what a mother has to do in order to grieve for her son. She should not have felt so alone in either of these processes.

Friday, May 25, 2007

parenting/mothering - can you feel the madness already?

I have been debating writing articles again - I did so years ago in alternative monthlies, etc. and got into trouble for my big mouth. Still, I loved the rush of having to cement your thoughts, back them up - who likes a blowhard at the bus stop who is telling you that the economy is not in recession? Give me facts, brother!

So, in looking at all of my areas of expertise, I realized that one, I don't know anything and 2, I have an inappropriate crush on (adult) Hillary Duff and I get to see lots of her while my child is, like a drug fiend, turning on the tv constantly to catch "just a few minutes!" of the Disney Channel.

Yes, I've had a hard time focusing lately - but this did remind me that I am a pretty interesting parent. I think there are a lot of artsy-new world parents out there whose kids are exceptional, charming and already activists, artists, orators. So, why not write about parenting, mothering specifically I suppose since I am a mother - though I do like being labeled a parent instead. "Mother" seems to imply ownership or rights to another individual - hardly fair to tie someone down, no?

And I'm not saying here that I'm a great parent - just an interesting one. Those who've taken on parenting (no, not just those who've made kids) all know we have our moments where you really want to go to the bathroom not to pee but to get away for a few minutes!

Coincidently, I came across NY Times columnist Judith Warner's blog. Pretty cool and she is level headed. I like that she proposes her own questions and assumptions and expands and answers these. Check it out for yourself.

Also good, scope out this she recently said:

I think we can learn that families need, in a very concrete way, to be supported – not through nice phrases about “family values” or “valuing motherhood,” but through measures that make life more affordable and less scary. We mothers need to feel that we are not essentially on our own in dealing with and caring for our children. We need institutions we can trust – from pediatric care practices on up through good day care and public schools. We need political leadership to develop incentives to make companies more responsive to families’ scheduling needs. We need, as a nation, to put our money where our mouth is on family values.

Boy, am I living this realization.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


I have two ideas in my head regarding Cliffy:

1. I was so wrong to ask for my house key. I can trust her - she's not the kind to go to my house without first calling to make sure - and i do still care for her tremendously. she's always got something going on with family or work and just can't give a lot of time.

2. My house key floating around with her is a symbol of my heart out there, exposed. I can trust her with my home but not with my heart. I love her but we have never been something that she could manage and I realize I can't either.

So, she leaves me a message to say that she has a lot going on but then cuts herself off to tell me that I don't want to hear it. That hurts because it's untrue.

So I'm having these pieces of conversation with friends and we talk about the hurt that stops us from really enjoying ourselves, even stops us for allowing another person to enjoy us. In doing cleanup on the blog, I went through some entries from after my breakup with Ya Vez and, despite all the turmoil, I was happy to hear the young voice that was ready for the next step, for the future.

Eddie had said my voice changed. Maybe the bulk of this change happened with Cliffy. Our relationship struck me deeply and wasn't ever clean or smooth, despite our outward appearances. Ya Vez was intense and she really screwed me up but I came out of that fire reborn - a phoenix truly. I find myself still struggling a little, acting out my life and developing goals because I'm hoping some part of me will wake up and complete those things I know I want to accomplish. I felt horrible having to tell Cliffy that she was so far away from me. I've had some conversations with strangers in the last few days that have, whether by phone or in person, been so close. But, I remember Cliffy's slow withdrawal. How she could be sitting two feet from me and not be there.

I started a poem in my head last night, "corrections", that put these somnambulistic ideas to the forefront, that talked about the energy of arms crossed, the intent on our faces and in our bodies, the way someone closes their eyes while waiting for a kiss - that trust. The way a face may rest at someone's chest. Somnambulistic because we so often sleepwalk through our lives. I'm not necessarily pagan or wiccan but know that everything carries its distinct energy and, in bringing things together, energies are heightened. Like talking to plants, praying for someone miles and miles away, believing you are not alone.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

que queer

I'm developing a piece for the Esperanza P&J Center's call for submissions for Que Queer, a art exhibit for queer/trans/2spirit/etc to be displayed during gay pride month.

I thought about it for 2 weeks and really wanted to do something but didn't really feel the ganas. Then, in cleaning up my room and storing winter things, I found these bits and pieces of cards, notes, reminders, etc of my ill fated-much emoted relationship with Cliffy.

So, I'm working on a piece and have 3 days to complete it. Crazy, no? Ay, why not.

Cliffy and I were disasterous and wonderful and she always, always made me want to write.

mea culpa - refusing mimetic expectations of behavior... or, I've been a very bad girl

In my search for obscure texts to stimulate my writing, I came across the philosophy behind generative anthropology.

This ability to make meanings, this mimesis, makes us learn from others in order to remove that source of learning as a threat or to redefine that source. If that's the case, for philosophers working in generative anthropology, Western Culture might be seen as the ultimate example (i.e. "melting pot"), taking ideas from the individuals present, consuming them and regurgitating a new, clean version, sometimes without the persons present.

In some ways, in dealing with an issue with my daughter, I directly think of what my mother did and, adding some of my ideals and the feminist liberal thinking I brainwash into my daughter, inevitably do something near opposite my mother's example.

I love this idea, even if it seems to argue with itself - isn't activism a constant revolution in the mind, where we live in the world of dominance but end up tearing it away? I suppose I could go Audre Lorde here and say we cannot tear down the master's house with his tools, but there is something in Plato's idea that poets don't tell truths, they are guided by madness, inspiration (when we are lucky) - they reorganize mimetic ideas to retell, redefine what is viewed. Well, maybe he just didn't like poets - he did place philosophers as the highest ranking citizens. Hmmm.

I am saying all this, and its in my mind because I've been trying to write about the politics, around food sources, energy sources, individuals, etc - but hate that I always seem to write better when I'm getting laid. How high-minded is that? It's like I can't focus - my mind so busy I need something to just settle me down.

I have been reading the santeria stories of Oya. I'm still working on that play in poem form and came across one where Yemaya (orisha of the ocean, mother) tricked Oya (orisha of the cemetary, warrior, lover) into trading her the ocean for the cemetary. Oya, angry over being tricked, still ended up in charge of the winds, of abrupt change, of fire and earth and renewal.

I like staying in that space. It allows me to trick myself into writing and, if I fail and just get laid instead, it allows me to find the power through that doorway. No guilt here. Guilt implies conflict and, if I am creating, there is no conflict, only joy. Sheer, immense joy at accessing freedom.

Monday, May 21, 2007

new shoes

I am feeling a little like this today:

all glittery and frosting, tired but chipper. mm hmm.

poem fragment : untitled

Considering I haven't written in about 3 weeks, I am submitting my humble effort, completed today, while listening to Delhi and Roberto during the guitar lesson. Oh, I did have "Cry me a river" by Julie London (meow!) on my mind.


places for palm rests
loosened shoulders
feet up

we can say all we want -
that the person we love
is our home
but where do we put our dirty dishes?

not my best, so to make up for it here's some gorgeous fotos of Julie London.

Friday, May 18, 2007

town? hall? meeting?

Well, if you think of townhall meetings there are usually a bunch of riled-up people in attendance who are ready to have their voice heard. I was thinking Harper Valley PTA.

Alas, what I attended the other night was not a townhall meeting. It was an information session, complete with opportunities to pick up information at the front table, opportunities to join stonewall and/or new era democrat organizations and, of course, opportunities to give money in support.

I think money should be given to those things we believe in. I think people who have money don't give enough and those who don't have a lot tend to give more than they should, especially since these organizations don't go out of their way to recognize those who are working class, queer (not lgbt or some other alphabet representation) and/or aren't american citizens.

The audience was given the opportunity to ask questions at the end of 1 1/2 hours of tedious discussion about what each organization does and who they represent (well, everyone, of course!). Thank God, they sometimes remembered why we had all gathered and actually gave some information about the bills.

Also cute was that Paul Scott, Executive Director of Equality Texas, in seeing children at the event and in pulling a sympathy card (1 stone => 2 birds), talked about the changes in child protective services that were set to happen LAST year.

Oh, but back to the questions - we were allowed to ask 3 questions total and I, of course, submitted one that was glossed over, something along the lines of "why is it that, within media directed to and for queers, organizations like yours look for "normalized" versions of queers, i.e. partnered, middle class, American citizens. What is your organization doing to address the needs of those outside of this realm, who will be most affected by the upcoming laws?

And Paul Scott talked about how "we haven't done enough in communities of color" same as Randall Ellis used to say "we need to do more work with people of color" except Randall was attractive to men of color (just ask Vandi!) and seemed to get it, even if he didn't know how to get into poc communities. Then Paul Scott decided to talk about transwomen inclusion, sidestepping his apologetic and well-intentioned sentence about poc. Yes, the trans group in Austin was right in protesting LGRL's standards at the time but one minority as an example for another isn't an easy alternative. Both have their own unique issues.

The guy from HRC didn't say much beyond Paul Scott, except to say that his organization is viewed as white, upper middle class men who like to go out - and then he didn't quite refute it. Well, I suppose, since he was Latino, he refuted part of it.

I won't even comment on the whole Democrat representation because not one but two democratic organizations were present, assuming we will all sheepishly vote that way. I suppose I shouldn't get angry anymore - I don't have the typical mindset and there is no way that someone with my kind of lip will ever make it to that kind of stage.

Onto better things... It's Friday!

Thursday, May 17, 2007


I'm parking at Crossroads Park & Ride lately. The good: I'm saving gas - this is especially good since I recently saw an executive from one of the oil companies excusing every "presumption" the American consumer has about oil production and the reason for increasing gas prices. I was actually convinced for a moment - I was coaxed in by his answers that seemed to make sense. I mean, sure, why not dig deeper, open up Alaska more, for more opportunities? And of course he is for alternative fuel but he makes sense when he says that corn isn't the answer because it's a food source and that can go to people! I just don't feel qualified enough about the history around this but I need to be. It's ridiculous to me that I don't have the information I need to either really agree with him or be able to refute him.

The bad of the park and ride: having to wait for the ONE bus that comes every 1/2 hour of so that goes from UTSA (my current income source) to the park and ride. I'm not a patient woman so I work late to get to the bus stop 2 minutes before the bus is supposed to arrive only to have to wait 10 more minutes. I haven't been doing my yoga or breathing lately, or writing consistently! so, I have been a little ansy.

Another plus side: I've been reading books on the ride up and down to the University. I just finished Blindness by Jose Saramago. It took me a while to get into it, then I was completely engrossed and disgusted, then I didn't want to read any more of it, and then I was glad it was done. What turmoil! I need a light comedy after that book! The story goes that this white blindness takes over a country, leaving everyone without vision while the country stops production, falls into anarchy and its citizens become less and less human. It's a macabre work, almost as emotion producing as when you truly learn of destruction (9/11, Darfur) and see it. I haven't had a book affect me that way in awhile but alternative realities and science fiction have their base in truth and theory, in probable outcomes when looking at the world right now - and that is scary enough.

I think, as a writer, it's curious that the book shows a writer who, with blank paper and a ball point pen, manages to write his and his family's story, despite blindness, and likes ballpoint pens because he can feel where the marks are. It is also sad that he quietly dismisses his own story as not as valuable as that of the main narrator and the group of people she is saving because the narrator is the one person who can still see and, among her group, are those who were the first to be blinded.

More later. I'm still processing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

ah, parenting, the lege and media for the single queer mother

Almost a year ago I went to a gathering Family Pride put together with Equality Texas. It was a media training meant to inform queer parents on how to deal with the media but, more than that, it was an opportunity to have the organizations meet would be queer media darlings for future stories.

At one point one of the Equality Texas staff (nameless) suggested my daughter and I could be on the cover of any number of pamphlets they had which shows a rainbow of faces, with pairs of adults and one or more children all around. I haven't gotten that call. I don't fit the preferred mold of queer parent: two, intelligent (possibly educated) adults in a committed relationship for 5 of more years, with kids (bi-racial or opposite gender from the parents is the best!) who happen to have a huge back yard with oak trees and a dog.

Talk about minority in a minority in a minority.

So, I get emails from Family Pride regularly. They are numbered to show the 52 things I can do to be an out and proud family. And I got one, sometimes two, emails a day awhile back when Kevin Bacon was "challenging" us to give money to this national organization. But I didn't get an email telling me they were having a coloring contest where children could draw their family and say why they loved their family. Well, that contest has ended and here are the winners. Of course, everyone is paired up. Are there no single queer parents out there?

Equality is no better. I would love to support them but with brunch fundraisers costing $75 minimum per person and not even a reduced amount for children (do we not have children?), it would be $150 just for me to watch my daughter play with the scrambled eggs with her fork and sneak the 3rd waffle so that later I'm cursing the maple syrup high she would walk out with.

I have to hand it to them, though. Initial emails from "friends of Equality Texas" didn't give prices and I actually debated going and realized that if I had to go 3 pages into a website to get the price for this brunch I could not afford it. Those guys at ET really have earned their degrees in media presentation, I'm telling you.

I'm going to a LGBT Legislative Townhall tonight to see the latest on some of lege work that may affect queers in Texas and the US.

Among them:

Before Congress
The Hate Crimes bill
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act
"Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" repeal

Before Texas lege
Hate Crimes bill
Insurance Nondiscrimination
Student Harassment Bill
Foster Children’s Bill of Rights
CPS reform

It's gonna be a fun night.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

happy mother's day

I got this card from mothers rising:

I spent last night running around. I developed a tremendous migraine on the way home and ended up sitting in the car for a few minutes with the air conditioner blowing on high right into my face.

Once that left, I had a good time with Delhi. She was in trouble with me earlier in the week for stealing my cell phone (a sign of the more difficult things that will come). We drove around looking at rental properties and making comments. Then I went home and cleaned up the house.

I'm feeling like my foundation's a little uneasy this week. It doesn't help I've not slept more than 4 hours in the last two weeks. It really doesn't help that my mother keeps putting this mini crisis about my niece in my lap or that she's being super controlling.

I hate that the city, long known for recognizing the needs of youth and admitting they have to address them, cannot offer true alternatives to after school care and summer care for kids. Maybe then I wouldn't have to hear from my mother that if I move 2 miles further and Delhi's school is further she wouldn't be happy to pick her up. I completely appreciate her help with my daughter. And I was super stoked to be able to help her with her car when she needed it - I don't often get the chance to help her, but I don't understand why driving a little more is that big a deal, and why she can't see how a move would be an improvement for me and for the little one. I mean, saving money and being in a safer neighborhood would be great, the chance of Delhi liking her school would be even greater.

So I find myself more than naturally upset that, for the things I want to accomplish, there aren't many resources available. How am I to work a full time job to support my child but not have adequate funding or spaces for quality child care? When I found out I was pregnant I went on assistance (food stamps, TANF, and child care assistance) for 3 months and was on WIC for a year. I needed the temporary support and it was helpful. My next job paid too much and I really was okay without the additional help. It's unfortunately, however, that unless you are without adequate income you can't find alternate ways of supporting. And I'm not exactly living in a co-op friendly city or I would see how to encompass alternative parenting circles so that my daughter could enjoy other children and parents can support each other.

I had a dream a couple of days ago that I was looking for a large home to rent with a couple and their kids. It seemed perfect. There was always someone to play with Delhi, I could cook and have people enjoy it (delhi's not a big veggie fan) and have other things taken care of and we were building community. It's a slow process, I suppose, building that trust and not giving a shit about what people on the outside might call you. I'm tired though. Just plain tired.

I think that the country needs to have done more to support women than just have it recognized by some male president and co-opted by consumerist culture. Oh, Anne Jarvis, where have we gone wrong?

Friday, May 04, 2007

just like Bobo...

man, my grandfather was like no one else. this week my mother's car was being repaired (still!) from the accident she had in november. there was one part that's held the repair techs up so all week I've dropped off the tiger, picked my my mom (the lion), and drove to the park and ride to take the bus to work, leaving my mom with the car for her work.

it's actually been nice, a new morning ritual away from the routine, and i've been able to hear all kinds of stories.

i got a new cell phone because the cricket plan I was on estaba narajas girl so. the little one was desperate to have the phone, I suspect to call me to just say hi, and she took with her to school today. i called it just to be trouble but had put the ringer really low so she didn't hear it. so this morning, because she slept at my mom's i had to pick them both up and take myself to the park and ride first (with one bus, I'm 15 minutes late - the bus before gets me there 30 early!) then my mother was going to take my daughter to school. we told her that she might be late.

well, as soon as I was dropped off, my daughter pulled the cell phone and told my mother the time continually. I left a message at my mother's work to see how they got along this morning and my mother wrote:

i just got your message, she got off fine, in a hurry and reading the time off of the the dammed cell phone every three seconds and telling me what time it was. she wanted to know why we didn't take her first, i told her that it wasn't just about her, if you missed the bus, i would have to take you all the way out there and if i had an accident because of her rushing me she would probably be two hours late because it takes the police that long to get there. she finally put the phone away and didn't give me the time anymore. god, she's just like bobo.

I've been hearing family stories all week because of the time we are spending together. including stories about Bobo, my grandfather and mother's father. I've also been hearing how the Cuban parenting method endeavors, despite distance to culture and family - my cousin, with 3 of her own, recently overhead her youngest (4 years old) tell one of his brother's friends (at 15 years old) that he was going to set his ass on fire.

Seems like the less Cuban is in the kid, the more they express it.