25 June 2019

Moments of Control

Today was one of those days when you, as a parent, are presented with this choice: hold your child down, control that child's body, because you believe it is necessary -- or walk away.

I remember having this choice when my little one was an infant, maybe a toddler, and we needed him to be securely in his carseat.  I remember having to hold him down while my partner buckled him in.

Today, a couple years later, this child is nearly 4.  And, once again, we are in this situation.  I am in this situation.  This time, it's about vaccines. 

I want to give myself some grace; the last few vaccine sessions went smoothly.  Our little one wasn't happy about the shot, but he went along with it.  I sensed he understood it was mandatory for him to go to "his school," the school he loves immensely, where he knows his friends are, where he loves the songs and games and toys and snacks.

This time, was different.  Perhaps it was nap time, perhaps it is his age, perhaps it is that we are going through a huge time of transition: dadda is gone to work in Alaska and we have no home presently.
Whatever the reason, my child ends up yelling at me that he does not want the shot and he backs away terrified.  Honestly, I want to post a pic of what his face and body look like at this moment  -- oh, lorde, how awful -- and a pic of mine -- lorde have mercy, but I just can't.  Up until this moment, that face and those words never existed in our family's world. 

I imagine, though, it's a meme like this:
sad comfort eating GIF


So, 30 minutes into this terribly traumatic doctor's visits, and I am finally holding my child in my lap while the nurse holds his legs, and another nurse pops in and says, "What if we reschedule?"

And, I say, "yes."

03 March 2019

A Letter of Interest

Interest: I am the granddaughter of Priscilla of New Mexico and Concepcion of Cebu. I am the mother of Jaguar of Long Beach. I am an artist and a thinker. I am a reader. I am a survivor. I teach Gender Studies part time at the University. I choose to teach part time so that I can be a full time mother. I am 40 years old this year. I live, sometimes, above the poverty line, and I want you to know that I consider this thriving not just surviving. I am my ancestors’ wildest dream as a mother and a professor. I get to spend time with my child. I write because I cannot help myself. I write to process my day’s work and to affirm my family and home culture. I collaborate whenever I can. I co-founded a podcast called Las Doctoras. I am co-authoring a book called Semillas de las Abuelas. I am co-facilitating a workshop for mothers and daughters on first menstruation. I aim to work only 30 hours a week. I try to not buy new things but to reuse and reduce and recycle. I have to put my hands in the Earth every day. I like to have frijoles de la olla on the stove. I had them cooking while I gave birth at home. My comfort food. I believe children are magic; I create space to witness and affirm my child’s magic. 

Person: A medium once told me my heart told her that I am more eccentric than I let on. As a Virgo, I dress simply. I speak with intention. I control my environment as much as I can. As a survivor of trauma, I live simply. I cultivate spaces of clarity and safety. I hate the TV. I listen to when I feel uncomfortable and when I do not know how I feel. I organize. I meditate. As a traveler, I love packing up my duffle bag backpack for the next adventure. Airports are among my favorite places. I pass as a local in many countries. I learn the local dances. I paint what I see. I write what I experience as a woman of color. 

Artist: In the morning, my child and I wake, and together we make art: writing and painting. I have a water-color station for us set up in our home to pull us into this art time. I am working on an oracle deck for children as a part of Semillas de las Abuelas. The cards of the deck contain poems and paintings. Each morning, I work on one of these cards. Community/ Comunidad. Earth/Tierra. Share/Compartir. In the afternoon, while my child naps, I work on my manuscript Becoming a Woman of Color: A Travel Memoir. I read from my work-in-progress at a reading in San Francisco for Weekday Wanderlust facilitated by Don George of Lonely Planet and my travel/memoir writing teacher from VONA (Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation), Faith Adiele. I submit this piece for this application. 

Artist-Parent: I compelled to integrate mothering into my artwork. I want my motherhood to change my life as a person and as an artist. I believe that this union will bring greater gifts than I can even imagine. I understand that the messages I receive in dominant sources of media suggest otherwise, and I choose to listen to the messages of my ancestors. These messages reveal to me that my mother-child relationship is key to art and life and more. And, at the same time, the balance can be challenging to create. There is little model. I require time alone in my artistic process. I require moments to reflect in meditation which my child can only participate in in short bursts. Thus, my ideal balance is to create moments of play and paint and lying on the ground and laughing as well as moments of observing my world and my creative work and writing in the early morning hours. This is my calling and daily practice. 

Interest: This award would permit me to write, to have the time to write, to have the means to write, the room to write. Currently, I write in the bathroom or in the car recording notes on my phone or while my child naps. I write, and, at the same time, I long for space and time to cultivate my art. I long for the monetary energy to take space to write, create, breathe, and be present to the thoughts and stories in me. This award would be pivotal in my creative work.

08 November 2018

Finding a Community: Las Doctoras and Latina Mothers Collaborative

It's hard to believe that a year has gone by since I joined the Latina Mothers Collaborative (LMC).  Invited by my dear friend Carolina Adame, which I know from our Spanish-based unschoooling group La Manada.  In my first meeting with LMC, I found in this intimate group of muxeres like minded friends.  One of these muxers, Dr. Renee Lemus, I knew before the collaborative; our children attended Maple Village together.  We had talked at length, watching our children play unstructured and safe, about our doctorates, our gender and ethnic studies classes, and our identities as latinas.  I found a sister this year for sure. And together, we are embarking on a dream journey: Las Doctoras, an online class outside the university with our social media presence on IG as @las.doctoras   We are even working on Las Doctoras, a podcast to explore the topics at hand.  Really there is so much to be grateful for this season of  holidays and joy.

02 November 2018

A Sense of Freedom

Sometimes you just want to get out. Out of the daily grind. Out of the mother’s circles. Out of the weekly commitments. Out of whatever routine you’ve developed for yourself. Yourself, that is, and your family. Sometimes you just want to get out of the family life that is now your life.  This life may be some of choosing; however, at the end of the day, this life feels like it has been chosen for you. I mean: do you really want two cars and a commute to work and a closet full of clothes that you continually have to give away and get new ones? Do you really want to read books on parenting and simplicity and consciousness, and do you really want to have late fines from the library and a calendar starting to brim with holiday plans for the next few months? All these things could be so normal and so beautiful, but sometimes don’t you just want to be free of it all?  And not just sometimes but all the time?

Perhaps it’s how I hold it? How I hold these life doings. Too heavy. Too significant. Perhaps it is how my parents held them? How I saw them carried out in my family? How my parents saw my grandparents carry on with life.

Image result for statue of person emerging from metal


This sculpture is about the struggle for achievement of freedom through the creative process. Zenos Frudakis

31 December 2017

A Newsletter

Summer 2018 Newsletter: EASE AND JOY


Mid June, and I am finally writing our annual newsletter. Bebe is playing, I am teaching a couple Gender Studies courses online with CSUDH, and Zack, after finishing his semester at CSULB, is off to Alaska to fish for Salmon. 

Our summertime intentions include: ease and joy and rest and...writing.  So let me begin with writing you all a little note about what’s been happening in our lives. These are the late spring/ summer days of Little Robinbird and Abuelo Oliverdog with Dada and Mama, in the style that Mama shares at bedtime with “Bebe”: Once upon a time, in the beach loft on the Peninsula in Long Beach, Little Robinbird and Abuelo Oliverdog woke up and usually found that the sky was blue, the sun was out, and the ocean was calling. Robinbird would stretch and say, “Good morning, Mama and Dada” and “Hi, Oliver”  or just tell us a story about how a snake bit him but then a bird carried the snake away; Mama, inspired by one of Robinbird’s books, might say to Robinbird “Your eyes are the ocean, your skin the golden Earth, your smile the sun, your laughter the playful wind.” Then, the little family would climb downstairs for coffee. Oliverdog would follow with a slow but steady hop down as well, and each would say ‘mornnin’ to the family whose photographs decorated the stairwell wall.  (Abuela Grammie passed this year, and she has an honored place there).  Robinbird would help Mama make breakfast and water the ‘babies’: the little peas and cilantro and malunggay growing on the porch. Sometimes, if Mama was very lucky, while Robinbird pretend played, Mama took a moment to journal at her “sit spot.”  Soon, Oliverdog would ask (by scratching at the door) for a walk, and so began outdoor time walking or bicycling around the boardwalk. Art or music indoor time followed, and after lunch would be naptime. On the walls of their room, you’d find Mama’s artwork, Dada’s octopus ink print from our Alaska travels last summer, and a painting of the ocean that Mama and Robinbird created this year. Later afternoon brought beachtime with friends or an adventure to the museum or aquarium or Disneyland.  Altogether, it was a pretty wonderful summer for “Team Sea Jaguar,” but for Dada being in Alaska. Mama was so grateful for her Little Robinbird and  Abuelo Oliver. Fin.

And, that is our lovely little life. Last summer, we traveled to Hawaii and the Northwest. This summer, we have a Caribbean cruise and the Colorado Plateau.  We hope to see you all very soon. Bebe can show you his grito he’s working on, and we'll all shout “I am proud to be your family!” - Mama Cristina

15 January 2017

Diwang Pinay

Image result for diwang pinay

Last evening, I spent at the Uptown Business Center in North Long Beach with mujeres from Gabriela, a Filipina led organization that advocates for gender issues.

Together, we read true stories of the lived realities of Filipina migrant women who have been manipulated, trafficked, into the US.  Told lies, brought into great debt, and coming from a great need to provide for their families, these Pinays somehow survive.  The story we read aloud last night from the account of an Ate C struck home with me.  It's a story of abuse that is not unlike the story of my Lola.  Although nearly 80 years has passed since Lola came to the US as a War Bride following WWII, these Pinays continue to experience abusive relationships tied in with desparate hopes for the American Dream or Nightmare if you will. For my Lola, this was surviving in a relationship to a violent white (in every sense of the word) husband (my grandfather) in Missouri and then California, and for the Ate whose story I read last night, surviving in the hell of under valued caretaking of white elders in Arizona.

I had to risk it. 
 -- not enough for my family.
They were selling us.
-- I told my children I was ok.
They listened to my conversations and told me not complain.
-- money for education, money for food.
I knew I was in trouble. 
-- (crying)
I borrowed money to pay for training, the passage, the visa.
-- my god. 
There was a naked old man on the couch.
-- trembling.
I arrived in Phoenix and waited for over 8 hours. 
-- my god. 
I had to risk it. 
-- my friends drove out from San Diego with their grandkids in the middle of the night. 
Just me a three elderly people to take care of. 5 hours of sleep a night.
-- my god. 
I had to risk it. 
-- I called my friends. 
I told my children I was ok. 

13 January 2017

Challenges...and essay challenge 2017

Took on a challenge to write weekly, and here it is January 12, and I've not written a thing.  Today, I finally took a moment in the chaos of motherhood to, at least, begin:
Here's my inspiration:

from “In the Subjunctive Mood” by Michelle Morano:

IN language, as in life, moods are complicated, but at least in language there are only two. The indicative mood is for knowledge, facts, absolutes, for describing what’s real or definite.  You’d use the indicative to say, for example:
            I was in love.
            Or, The man I loved tried to kill himself.
            Or, I moved to Spain because the man I loved, the man who tried to kill himself, was driving me insane.
            The indicative helps you tell what happened or is happening or will happen in the future (when you believe you know for sure what the future will bring).
            The subjunctive mood, on the other hand, is uncertain.  It helps you tell what could have been or might be or what you want but may not get.  You’d use the subjunctive to say:
            I thought he’d improve without me.
            Or, I left so that he’d begin to take care of himself.
            Or later, after your perspective has been altered, by time and distance and a couple of cervezas in a brightly lit bar, you might say:
            I deserted him (indicative).
            I left him alone with his crazy self for a year (indicative).
            Because I hoped (after which begins the subjunctive) that being apart might allow us to come together again.

Indicative mood and facts -- for example:
I am a mother.
Or, my child is giving the dog his pacifier.
Or, the light is coming through the window on the couch so perfectly just now; I can see the waves glisten too.
Or, I need a nap because I am a mother and my child is sharing his pacifier with the dog and the couch is so perfect for a nap just now.

Subjunctive mood and uncertainty -- for example:
I thought we could lay down together and take a nap.
Or, I am waiting for my partner to get home so I might nap.

Later, after my perspective is altered -- if I ever get a drink -- I could say:
I’ve been up all night nursing a sick and teething baby.
I will be starting the semester teaching in a couple weeks.
Because I am swamped with sleeplessness and teaching prep I hoped that my child would nap with me in the sun.