Tag Archives: los angeles

The Longest Dream (12.30.09)

27 Mar

Part One: Lost

I was lost in the wilderness,
Attempting to escape claws and tangling ravines.
A wilderness that held my true colors and passions,
But my colors faded away into everything else.
I needed to stand out,
I had to stand alone,
By myself.
 
Lost in transitions,
I ran in multiple directions.
My own path was windy,
Filled with distractions,
Filled with guilt,
Filled with curiosity,
Filled with doubt.
 

Part Two: I Want To Be Art

An October day offered me new colors. It placed a brush and pallet in my hands.
I was gifted a magical wall and the love flowed out of me.
My colors blended into the concrete, becoming one.
And I became a little girl again.
Nothing mattered, except the present;
You didn’t matter.
He didn’t matter.
And neither did she.
It was just me and the colors of life.
Colors of creation.
With Mountains and Oceans,
The Lightning and Fire,
The Rain Drops and Snow Flakes,
The Clouds and the four Winds,
The Rainbow and the Seashells,
The Flowers and Trees,
I danced cumbias with them all.
 
Somehow it made sense,
This is what everyday should look like…
This is what life should be…
Creation and Art.
 
A wish, a want, a need was born!
I wish to paint like the wind does, all across the sky.
I want to be movement the way the mountains rise.
I need to reach my dreams and the passing clouds.
I want to create.
I want to be Art.
 

Part Three: Doubt

But I doubted myself,
I doubted my destiny.
Unknowing where to begin or continue,
Love laughed at me,
Love made me feel ashamed,
Love made me want to disappear,
And yet I held onto love with all my strength.
I doubted who I needed to become.
A daughter who could be responsible,
A writer who could be infinite with words,
A painter who could paint walls around the world,
A friend who could listen, give time and compassion.
A woman of wisdom who flies with the owls and speaks only when needed.
A woman to share love with all who are worthy.
I was drenched in confusion,
Distracted without a core.
I could not be there for myself,
I prayed for my solitude.
I yelled at the past,
I made a mess of the present,
I denied the future,
I denied myself.
 

Part Four: The Need To Know

I needed to leave.
All these questions and doubts needed an answer.
I needed to know what my destiny would become.
So I flew off,  over pink mountains, past superstitious roads, and crawled up a mountain of Turtles.
I arrived and I prayed,
For everyone.
Myself,
I could not forget myself.
I thanked the ancestors,
I thanked the Hawk, the Crows, and the Ladybugs that joined me on my journey.
The Rock held me up,
The Sun began to set amongst the most expansive Sky I ever saw,
Dusk lasted a lifetime.
And the Cold moved in amongst the heat of the Fires.
 
I descended into the Arroyo,
The smell and dampness allowed me to remember.
I walked into my dream,
The Eagle and the Bat were one in the same
It was me, it was I
 
I was in the middle of my spiral,
my own transformation.
I felt lost searching for a place to call home by midnight.
Then a stranger showed me the way,
A stranger like an angel.
He shared love stories with me,
I shared my stories as well.

“There are no guarantees.”
“Stop being afraid,
Let love be love”, he said.
 
It made me nervous so i walked away.
 
Outside the cold went thru my spine,
I shook it off and starred at the tree.
Completely leafless,
But filled with spirits,
We looked up into the branches.
Two little love birds gave each other warmth.
The Tree did not protect them from the weather,
They just had each other.
This is all they needed,
Love.
 

Part Five: The Longest Dream

I dreamt the longest dream,
I met the older me.
She held my hand and answered my questions;
You are a painter.
You are a writer.
You are a daughter.
You are a dreamer.
You are a lover.
You are magic.
 
In my dream I had wings,
I glided with the Clouds,
The Road below was umber,
The Hawk was my guardian,
The Sky above was every yellow, orange and blue that ever existed.
I Woke up with the sun and chased it all the way to the ocean’s side
The west side, the wild-west, the concrete jungle that waits…
 
As the sun set I realized I was ready
Ready to love, forgive, be challenged, be blessed…
I am ready grandmother.
I am ready grandfather.
I laughed and cried with the wind.
I am ready.
The greatest me has arrived.
Into the city of angels,
I return to join you.
I am not waking up yet, I am living my dream…
 
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I just got dropped off here

8 May

“Just because i was born here, doesn’t mean i have to stay here”

That’s what i keep telling myself. There are hardcore loyalists to the city of Los Angeles. And i love my home. But in the larger timeline that exists amongst my family and ancestors… i just got dropped of here. My mom and dad dont even live here anymore. They both retired and are kicking it in Guatemala. The cost of living is more affordable for them over there. And I just happen to be born in Los Angeles, CA.

So since i returned from college in 2006, I’ve been trying to assemble my life, my home, my friends/community, family connections, career, etc. Its been a cool little journey so far. Ive found some really cool friends along the way. And I also found the person im in love with here. But I cant shake off the feeling of flying somewhere else.

A couple full moons ago, Olivia Chumasero of the Farmlab, reminded us during a gathering about how we are just visitors to this land. This was placed in the context of acknowledging the indigenous people of this land, the Tongva,  who were displaced off this land we now inhabit and call L.A.. I thought back to my ancestral land and I fully identified with being a visitor here. And that’s why i dont have to stay here.

A tree has several roots. I have a stubborn root that stretches all the way from Central America, then another one stuck in the Southbay/South Central. I even had a tiny root growing while i lived in Santa Cruz, but I had to yank that one out and take it back to L.A. Now im contending my next growth.

As i consider my future, and the generations to come, I realize that I have an opportunity to give my children a different home where they can grow there own little roots. Then i realized that they are just wanna head out somewhere else too and grow roots in some other corner of the world. Before I knew it, my mind traveled into the future and i saw my child deciding to move to New York for his/her career move. And so before Ive even given birth, im already aware that I have to say good bye.

I put myself in my mother’s shoes. All her daughters spread out across L.A… and she brought us here. The irony is she cant completely afford to stay with her family. Its a struggle. And its hard for her and for all of us. She’s coming back though, and my nephews and nieces are gonna have a grandmother again for a few months. Then she’s gotta go back. Ill probably go back with her to Guate for a few weeks. This is the root that needs lots of watering.

Definition of Feminism

8 Mar

I wrote this 10 years ago during my freshman year in college…

“My Definition of Feminism”

A feminist is a woman who seeks knowledge on all or most subjects. Challenges herself and the norm. Speaks her mind when treated unfairly and asks for respect. Makes choices about her body and keeps her body healthy. A woman who can love her body for every curve there exists. It is a woman with self-esteem, confidence, and strength. She will not depend on a male or anyone else. If in a bad relationship whether with a man or a woman, she knows when to get out and move on. A woman who is not afraid to step out of what is expected of her so that she can make herself happy. A woman who helps other women and men to recognize the value of women.

Thats about it. Pretty simple. But pretty heartfelt.

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMYN’S DAY! ITS A BEAUTIFUL DAY, ITS A FULL MOON AND IM DOWN TO CELEBRATE OUR FEMININITY, OUR COURAGE, AND OUR POWER!

Here’s how I’m celebrating tonight!

AF3IRM LA: Celebrating the Working Womyn 

in collaboration with

Mujeres de Maiz & Ovarian Cycles

Cindi Santana and the Ovarian Psycos

14 Oct

Memorial for Cindi Santana @ Coyolxauqui Plaza | Oct. 12, 2011

The October Luna Ride:

And so it happened, the full moon showed up from the northeast and i left my house on my bike. I took the train to union station and biked to Hollenbeck Park, the meeting grounds for this month’s Luna Ride. The Luna Rides are called together by the lovely and beautiful Ovarian Psycos, aka the Ovas! Representing Womyn’s independence, sacredness and wildness at full speed, i joined these ladies to ride with the warm October wind.

As we left the park i counted 28 of us and took up a whole car lane. With the full moon on our east side in full bloom, i thought to myself, “we exchanged brooms for bikes but not our spirits”. Our bike route that night would take us to the Moon Goddess, Coyolxauqui, literally. A  replica of the Moon Goddess Monument that was excavated from Templo Mayor, sits in City Terrace, East LA. Here we would gather for ceremony to honor and remember Cindi Santana and the victims/survivors of domestic violence. Cindi Santana lived to be 17years old, a senior high school student in South Gate, CA that was beaten and stabbed by her ex-boyfriend. Youth dating violence is not new, its older than the time my mother was first hit by her partner 40 years ago. And it is more wide-spread than we could ever imagine:  “One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.” (1)

Domestic violence is a truth that has lingered in my life since before me (my gramma ancestors survived rape and pillage from Europeans, the church, and eventually her partners). When i was in the womb i was already aware of domestic violence, as my mom survived, so did I… Along with 1 out of every 4 womyn. (2)

As we remembered Cindi, we told stories to heal ourselves from pasts that sometimes we bury in shame. Many prayers  and offerings were shared during our ceremony. I want to re-write some of those prayers and share them with you: 

Prayer for children who are surviving domestic violence with their mothers

Prayers for sisters, cousins, mothers, and friends who have survived domestic violence.

Prayers for sisters, cousins, mothers, and friends who have been murdered by their partner. 

Prayer for the mother of Cindi Santana

Prayer for men

Prayer for womyn to speak up if they are in a violent relationship.

Prayer for womyn to walk away from violent relationships.

Prayer for womyn’s eyes to see their own worth and value.

Prayer for womyn’s heart, womb, and mind. 

I wouldn’t usually share sacred prayers said in ceremony, but bc we need to talk about violence in our homes and in our relationships, i have to let people know why we do what we do. I have to share why as a womyn, wefind ourselves in ancient ceremonies as helicopters, cars, and flashing lights fill our urban lifetime. Our realities may not always be understood, but its time for a change in how we love, respect, and honor our womb and our womyn. If your partner is a womyn, take the time to reflect in the ways you love and honor her. And if you dont do this to the best of your ability, humble yourself to change, learn from her, and be a better person. 

If you’re a womyn who finds herself in an fucked up, whack ass, messed up, fearful, emotionally tolling, stressful, worry-some, and/or trapped situation, speak up. Get help. There is help. Start with asking your mom, she knows more than anyone about survivorship. Tell a sister, a friend, a cousin. Call a toll-free number. Listen to your spirit and fight for your freedom. We have to be free! We have to! 

Infinite Fuerza by Ajtun, 2008 (c)

(1) Information found at LoveisRespect.Org 

(2) Information found at Domestic Violence Resource Center

I remember Santa Cruz

27 Sep

This past weekend I returned to Santa Cruz for my 2nd time since graduating in 2006. It’s been 5 years of forgetting, forgiving, and healing from the college/first love/subtly racist hippie town experience. I was unable to return for a while, some of my last memories were painful. I remember when i left i was running away from the Ana in that town. How i got to that town had similar causes…Going to UC Santa Cruz was my ticket out of South Central Los Angeles when I was 18. and between the ages of 18 and 23 I learned to make friends, pass classes, and get by in an affluent, white, expensive-organic food eating, subtly racist beach town…

I grew a lot in Santa Cruz. One post could not capture it all. Lets just say this place offered a wide range of experiences. Positive and negative. I delved a lot into identity politics. I organized on campus for issues that truly concerned me as a student of color. I believed in the retention and outreach of students of color into the university system. I believed in education for people like me. I spoke out at ignorant comments in class. And realized by my third year that I was spending too much time and energy being angry bc I had to explain and defend myself. I worked at finding a place for myself at the university. I found friends through organizing. I remember the threat of resources and mentors being cut out, tuition hikes every year, and my classes holding only a handful of students of color.

Around town, i remember the restaurant with the server that looked down on me for being brown, i remember shopping at Trader Jose for the first time in my life and a man giving me dirty looks for shopping at his store. I remember fighting with a roommate because she was White. damn… I remember when I didn’t want to be angry anymore…

I remember ghost stories. I remember where the caves and best views of the ocean were. I remember walking down windy downtown streets, looking for hot coffee and a quiet place to study. I remember surfers, sunny days, and someone I fell in love with.

I remember the break up. It wasn’t easy, and the poor communication or lack of courage in communicating only hurt the situation.I remember the changes in me as a person. I remember i could only stretch and grow so much in Santa Cruz. I remember a court case where a supposed “friend” did not want to return my deposit money. I remember that woman lying. I remember the friends that believed her and stopped being my friends. yup…

I remember being jailed. I was on my way home, i was pulled over while I was trying to exit HWY 1 to get home on Soquel Ave. I was questioned, made to jump, walk a straight line, and count 30 seconds. I was fine, coherent, but brown. I was trying to get home. I remember them shinning their light in my eyes, blinding and blurring my eyesight. I remember the breathalyzer breaking and they couldnt prove i was intoxicated. I remember it did not matter to them whether i was drunk or not, they wanted to be in the right. I was humiliated, taken to a hospital.  They made me wait for a 3rd person’s opinion on whether or not i was drunk… those stupid cops couldnt decide on their own. i walked a straight line again. I walked straight. But it did not matter, I was hand-cuffed. I was put in jail. I was fuckin cold. I was angry. again.

I never had to go to court. My case was thrown out by the DA. There was no evidence against me. duh. I was only brown.

I am from South Central/the South Bay. I was in my early 20’s. And there were a lot of things that were being figured out during that period of growth. I didn’t go back to Santa Cruz bc th growing pains were too close to my heart and my identity. I didn’t go back because i wanted to desperately forget. In my own healing, i learned to forgive myself. I learned to let go of the hurt. I kept growing…

I went back this past weekend. I had fun. I had really good breakfast food. I went back to the old places i really enjoyed eating at. I still went to the best place i know where the waves crash. A place where my friend and i made friends with a gopher. I saw dolphins in the waves. I walked around a chilly downtown. i had breakfast with a friend and we questioned what really happened to us. Sometimes you dont want to believe someone said something to you or looked at you funky because of the color of your skin. But…it did happen… over and over…

I bought a clif bar at trader joes. The rich hippies and the homeless are still there. Homeless folks can’t collect plastic from trash cans, they will be cited. Homeless folks also cant pick food out of the Whole Foods or any food’s trash bin. Its illegal to take someone else’s trash in Santa Cruz. Classism exists. So does Racism.

I wish I didnt see these things. I wish they were made up in my head. But these inhumane, disrespectful subtleties happen. Everyday. Sometimes worst.

I remembered why i left and didnt go back.

Trust, i rather remember my friends, why i stayed there for 5 years,  and called it my home back then…

Full Cirle

29 Aug

Circles are made to create unity. Circles and cycles mark the movement of the stars, the Earth and the Universe. Seasons and blessings come in cirles. And we live the sacred circle of life.

Visiting Medicine Wheel: Sacred Circle

In June of 2010 I was in Cypress Park holding my first Solo Exhibition of my art-work. Exactly one year later, a full circle was marked. I was in Cypress Park again, at Nightingale Middle School, directly across the street from the art space where my solo happened. This time, I was introducing myself to the parents and the youth I was going to embark on a journey with for the summer. Previous to this day, tt had been unclear whether or not I would be a camp counselor. The position i applied for was denied to me, but I did not realize the true blessings behind the change in positions. My ancestors and Creator was in the process of answering my prayers and they made the switches to place me as a counselor with high school students returning for their second year of leadership development in Wyoming. Instead of being stationed at a camp site, I was going to hike over 50+ miles at Big Horn National Park with 2 different groups of young womyn from Los Angeles.

C5 Dollz on our hardest day of hiking!

Trek Counselors and Guides at 9810

Photographs and words could not describe the magic and the blessings of the sights and sounds I experienced. I made friendships with trek guides from New Jersey, Maryland, Texas, Ohia, and Cali. I made strong bonds with high schools students spread through out Los Angeles, from Huntington Park to South Central, to Northridge. I taught, I learned, I cried, I laughed, I climbed, and I swam, but what I did most was thank Creator everyday for the beauty before me. Whether it was mountain peaks and Lost Lakes or the youth and their everlasting sillyness, everything and everyone shared a beautiful spirit.

My own spirit felt like it was glowing.

Finding Lost Lake

Everything was so clear out in the mountains. Everything was true and rich; every color, every sound, every bloom. During my first trek, i saw many caterpillars and by the time i returned for my second trek, I saw countless butterflies. I swam in rivers  and drank water from them, knowing and seeing the direct source of the water I was surrounded by was an amazing blessing. 

In nature, everything is purposeful. Every leaf, every wind, every thunderstorm, and every bird singing serves a magical purpose of life and spirit. Having been back in the city for a few weeks now, I notice the noise, the confusion, and the empytness in people’s souls. This man made reality is harsh. It is not an easy one to live by day to day.

When I was in the mountains, i would go scouting for trails through forests and mountains I had never seen before. I would come across animals and rivers and never once was I afraid. I felt free and beautiful. The other day, I walked from 3rd Street to 7th Street in Downtown L.A., and men would stop there cars to honk or ask me where I was headed. Men would stare at every crosswalk and I walked with my head held high, but my spirit was sad for the level of disrespect I was receiving. I reminded myself that I have felt this vulnerability and uncomfortableness before. And healing is also a never ending cycle. 

I thank Creator and the ancestors for placing me in the mountains this summer and allowing my spirit to heal, grow, and evolve. Inspired from nature, I too seek my true purpose. I know that working with youth is my path. 

My first session with the Frig Friggies at Lily Lake

Transformation: Who we were when we entered the mountains is not who we are after climbing out.

Mi Chikis

17 May

It was two months ago this day, that I put my Chikis to sleep. Its taken this length of time to finally talk and write about her. After making the decision to put her down, it was very hard to think about her, it made me really sad.

I found Chikis Jaguar Ajtun on a cold September night in L.A., abandoned  in a box underneath a light post. As i was walking by I heard her little desperate meows. When i found the box I knew there was no going back once i opened it. Inside was this beautiful little baby kitten starring up at me. She meowed one last time and then cuddled inside my hands for warmth.

I took her inside and fed her milk. She was so little. I started to call her Chikis. By the next day, she learned her name and would come out from underneath the bed when i called for her. I took her to the vet, she weighed 6 ounces and was dehydrated and flea infested. The vets saw her and their hearts melted. People around me began to fall in love with her. Mean while i was trying to figure out whether to keep her or not. I figured a few weeks of care and then i would let someone else take her up.

I was not able to let go of her. I fell in love with Chikis. She was special and I needed to stop being selfish. I decided i would care for her. She came to me during a time that I needed to practice self love and self care, and she would be my constant reminder.

From the beginning I took her painting with me. I figured if she’s gonna be a callejera, it was gonna be because I was a callejera as well. I also took her to work bc someone had to feed her, she was too little to feed herself. Everyone at work loved her, including my boss. Chikis would fall asleep on my supervisor’s lap as she worked on the computer typing away reports. I would sneak her around in my purse, she fit perfectly, she was the size of an orange.

Chikis grew up and was no longer little. She became far from little. She gained excessive weight due to a liver problem. She also became blind and was no longer agile.  She never stopped being sick and was always having digestion problems. I took her to several vets but no one could tell me what was really wrong with her. Vets are expensive and I didn’t know what to do.

It made me sad to see her over-weight, unable to clean herself, and always bumping into things. She was smart and found her self around the apt., but she was also becoming sicker. I couldn’t take it any longer. I had to make the decision to put her to sleep. I asked my co-worker for help and she went with me the morning of March 17th, 2011 to put her to sleep. I sat in the car with Chikis asleep on my lap. When i was ready i put her in a box carrier and went inside the office vet. I sat there and signed all the paperwork crying my eyes out. I signed and paid and had boogers running down my face. I was a mess. The vet just looked at me confused. I was so sad. I said one last good bye and walked away. I cried my eyes out the rest of the day. I became sick too.

Who knew a cat or a pet could cause so much emotion. I love Chikis. But I promise to never take up another animal until i have my own home with a backyard where my pets can play and be happy. I want to have chickens, ducks, dogs, and cats. Maybe some rabbits too. I’ll make a little altar so that all my pets can honor her. She was my first pet and she taught me so much love.