29 July 2013

Reading for Chapter 5

It was time to move on to Chapter 5, which focuses on literary criticism.  Thankfully, I'm used to lit crit, so I hope this chapter moves smoothly so that I can return with gusto to revising Chapter 4. 

My role model for this chapter is AnaLouise Keating again.  This weekend I began to really dive into her Women Reading Women Writing: Self-Invention in Paula Gunn Allen, Gloria Anzaldua, and Audre Lorde.  It's an amazing book as you can imagine, and it's right up my alley.

Keating writes of Allen, Anzaldua, and Lorde:

Rather than deny the contradictions they experience as they negotiate among numerous groups, they explore them in writing.  By thus translating their lives into words, they reinvent themselves and enact new forms of identity, nondual modes of subjectivity that blur the boundaries between apparently distinct peoples.  …maintain that language does simply reflect reality but instead reshapes it. Yet they take this belief in language’s performative powers even further by associating it with precolonial nonwestern oral traditions.  In so doing, they simultaneously spiritualize and politicize their words. – AnaLouise Keating, Women Reading Women Writing

I keep writing in the margins, "YES! Me too! This is what I desire to do!" 
I do believe indeed that language reshapes reality.  And, speaking of language as prayer as incantations as spells, yesterday I wrote some words for a friend publishing a book on pre-Filipino text Baybayin (http://www.sulatngkaluluwa.com/).  Here's a snippet of what I wrote about the word he'll translate for me:

Golondrina Ibon
Cristina Rose
Los Angeles, California, USA
La Golondrina Ibon, the river swallow bird, is my guide.  She speaks to me about my ancestors, and she teaches me to be more “como pajaritas,” like birds, flying and enjoying all that life has to offer.  She is a hard-worker too and builds her nests along the rivers, rivers that cross borders and cover the Earth.  Putting her efforts into nepantla and babaylan endeavors, she is a Mestiza creatrix.  Her erotic and empowered energy transform everything she touches.  

23 July 2013

Obstacles as Opportunities: Life is What Happens to You When You're Busy Making Other Plans

Golodrina Creative Meditations
Last night I was speaking with my friend who sees letters and numbers in color.  "Cristina Rose Smith" comes out altogether as a mix of true red, tomato red (ochre I call it), and watermelon red.  There's some brown in there with the "n" in Cristina; however, when I add "Golondrina" (the Spanish word for river swallow and also the name of the town my Gram is from in New Mexico), my name takes on much more brown because "G" is also a brown color, a dark Earthy brown.  

And, I like that because I've been thinking about my Earth colored skin, and I've been seeking a more grounded sense of self.  In fact, I feel more grounded just thinking my name is a dark Earth brown and my body is a copper Earth brown.  Of course, I also appreciate all the reds in my name too.

So, reds and browns.  What does this have to do with my dissertation? I think a good deal because a lot is coming up for me, which is not a new story in my blog world or my personal world.  I mean, let's be honest, I talk about this all the time.

And, lately, I've been wondering how part of my issues, which are pretty intense these last few weeks, are related to my hesitancy to give up -- even if it's an illusion! -- my sense of White privilege.  I wrote a friend, ""I think there's safety for me to take sides with my Whiteness, and I can understand how my ancestors before me chose to identify as Hispanos/as instead of indio or Mexican or Filipino."

Although I've been identified as a "woman of color," what happens when I self-identify myself, and I still struggle with what that would be called.  I'm aware more and more that multi-ethnic or Mestiza have been, as AnaLouise Keating writes of multicultural, "co-opted and used to support existing conditions."  She says this so well when she puts forward:

"Rather than examine racism and other power issues, commodified multiculturalisms ...ignore systematic issues by offering facile celebrations of diversity that encourage individuals simply to 'tolerate' difference."

I'm sad to confess I think this is where I'm lingering, in commodified or "melting pot" multiculturalism.  Yet, I desire to break through this lens and box, and I'm learning so much from Keating and other scholars. 

And, I know that the intensity and challenges I'm encountering in my writing journey are obstacles and opportunities and the real real real substance of life. (So, too, I want to say, are the funerals and family time I've had these last few days.)  

Let me not forget this, I pray.

Ancestor Altar with Maps and Images

20 July 2013

Chapter 4 Taking and Being a Bit Longer

Well, it's bound to happen, right?  My dissertation's fourth chapter is taking over my life.  It's taking longer than my designated time, and it looks like it will be the whole dissertation the way I'm writing right now.  I'm trying to bring in too much; that is, I'm trying to bring in my whole educational experience at CIIS, all the women's spirituality papers I've ever written.  And, I'm struggling with a perfectionist tendency that shows up for me under stress as well as particularly with my academic writing.

So, I need to de-stress. I need to "reduce the emphasis" (maybe on this chapter?), AND I NEED TO RELAX.

I tried to relax yesterday, and I feel like I failed miserably.  I ended up leaving cerebral stress for emotional distress.  Quite honestly, I think it was all quite circumstantial. Certain circumstances combusted yesterday, and I just wasn't prepared.  Coming from a stressed place, I responded rigidly, which has caused all this residual strain on my body and spirit.

Thankfully, the news about my paper being accepted to present at the Gloria Anzaldua Conference this year encourages me that I am on the right track, even if it is a labyrinthine one.

17 July 2013

A Fresh Start: New Computer

Yesterday I finally made the decision to buy a new computer and one with a much larger screen.  My old HP mini, the first computer I ever owned, was a good traveling companion because it was so compact (10 inches I think).  However, I'm more aware than ever that NOW is the time to take care of my body,* and I'm hoping the larger screen will be kinder to my eyes.* So, now, I have this new Dell (on sale at Costco!), and it is nearly a 16 inch screen. I mean, it's nice, but it's going to take a moment to get used to it.  I do think the width of the screen creates a nice reaction in my body; I mean, I feel my chest expanding instead of contracting to meet the space the computer takes up. Ergo, it feels good!

I'm also back "home" in Los Angeles with my dog Oliver, and that feels good too.  And then, tomorrow, my partner arrives back from Alaska, and the sun is shining and it's time for a trip to the dog beach!!  YET! First things first, today is back to the routine of setting up a creative space to write this here dissertation: journal, stretch, meditate, blog, water-color golondrinas, and then, presto, here I go.

I believe in myself. I believe I have something to say.  I believe in my voice. I believe in my many voices.  I believe in my creativity.

my creativity nook

*with shoes that are kind to my feet too!
*I've trained my eyes since I was a kid (so fond of reading) to focus on the near.  They plateaued in their degeneration during my 20s, that is, plateaued up until last year.  I found out when I had my eye exam on my layover in Korea that I'm no longer -5 but now a -6.  Sigh.  I love you eyes!

09 July 2013


Got me some tutoring today.  I sure appreciate these weekly check ins.  A little bit more formal than friend accountability and very productive, Ebede is a great tutor!

Oh, and here's the book that is rocking my world these days:

And now, I have to go. My meter is out. Short blog today, but it's been a productive morning. 

08 July 2013

Empowering Myself

Recently a friend told me about a bunch of Ted Talks I just had to see.  This one above has really stuck with me.  I've been standing like Wonder Woman these days to be more active in helping my body heal my mind and spirit.  In fact, actually, as I look back at different women's circles I've been a part of, open, expansive stances and dances are a vital part of our time together.  I love just thinking that I stumbled into circles where we are healing our whole selves through empowered embodiment.

Of course, my favorite Ted Talk is Brown's bit on vulnerability.

The other message I keep receiving these days is about writing  a little everyday.

Write 50 words . That’s a paragraph.
Write 400 words . That’s a page.
Write 300 pages. That’s a manuscript.

Now, it's funny because I say to myself, "Wait now, I don't have a computer yet! How am I supposed to write everyday!"  How crazy is it that I think "real writing" must involve a computer?  So, to heal that part of me that is so dependent on technology, I've been pulling out large pieces of paper to scribble notes and jot down ideas and organize and outline in new ways.  I've even made the beginning of an interactive presentation on prezi.com.

And, today, I'd like to report, I spent mostly at the computer ...writing. I have a goodly outline and intro to my fourth chapter. Yay for me.

05 July 2013

Importance of a Day Off

Feeling those old feelings of pressure and guilt when I'm not working all the time on my dissertation.  Yesterday, the July 4th holiday, I was able to take a day off.

Taking a day a week and perhaps a weekend a month to rest is something I know is invaluable.  And, I'm reminded of a mentor who told me that in a day there are three parts, and we must make sure to take one part for ourselves to relax in any way we see fit. 

I am aware of that fact that in a productive and task-oriented society, resting is a subversive act of resistance as I've heard some say.  In my life, I assume that resting encourages the dynamic process of being as present as possible moment to moment with space for self-reflection.  Such a life rarely manifests every single moment, but we are lucky if we have a handful of present moments in our day, week, month, or year.  Rest is the means, I believe, to cultivate our creative fire.  They, rest and fire, are in a trans-formative relationship.  (I'm reading the writing of Lyn Hejinian, and this paragraph is, in part, an attempt to emulate her style).

In my process of celebrating rest and fire, and in the midst of summertime, a friend and I read Mary Oliver's "Peonies":

     Do you love this world?
      Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
       Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
   and softly,
      and exclaiming of their dearness,
       fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
    their eagerness
      to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
        nothing, forever?

02 July 2013

Researching Biracial/Multiracial/Multicultural/Transcultural Women

Big Sur
 Over the last week, I've continued to have computer and wifi issues.  To add to these challenges, I've also had car, and, most recently, phone issues. It's been frustrating to say the least, but, thankfully, I have friends who remind me that these are opportunities and not merely obstacles for learning new ways of communicating!  May I continue to remember. May I continue to remember.

Thankfully, what I'm finding is that I've got some good books on my shelf that have been waiting for me.  These books I've read include Biracial Women in Therapy, Miscegenation Blues, Transcultural Education, and Women of Color ("The Labyrinth of Identity" for mixed-race women).

Another book I read explored Nuevomexicanas identifying as/wearing the mask of Spanish or Hispana to be more respected, but then forgetting their indigenous roots altogether after a generation.

And, then there was the book about the trinity of La Virgen, La Malinche, and La Llorona.

Altogether, after these reads, I was grieving for what has been lost. Also, I was encouraged to remember and to share my voice(s! yes, there are many). 

And,this last weekend, I also had the gift of a weekend away in Big Sur with fellow artists.  It was a nurturing time for my creativity, and I am grateful.