26 November 2013

"There's Just So Much to Learn": Appropriation and Honoring My Ancestors

This morning I wake and ready myself to dive into my Methodologies chapter.  I write how I take a "Mestiza approach -- with feminist and Indigenous lenses (with Earth-based, Creativity-centered, Multi/Trans-celebrating, and Spiritually-engaged attributes) -- applied to ethnoautobiographical and literary critical methodologies."  Kind of a mouthful I guess.  My writing mentor asked me, after we read a poem of mine, about the complicated sentence structures I use in my academic work in contrast to the simplicity of my poetry.

I need to think about that.

I also rise up this morning and begin to think a little bit more about my journey in navigating life as Mestiza in conjunction with these concerns about appropriation.  I read an article this morning entitled "What's the Difference Between Cultural Exchange and Cultural Appropriation?"  and I am a bit caught to the quick.  I'm in love with these popular sweaters these days, and I wonder about this trend to wear Indigenous looking patterns.  I marvel at how I feel compelled to have one, and I don't even watch TV!

Still, I've been pretending I am Pocahontas for a long time. You know, as I was reading Miscegenation Blues: Voices of Mixed Race Women and I read a woman's story about being black and white, and yet feeling like the Tahitian women she saw on the television were really her people.  I think that's how I felt about Disney's Pocahontas and how I felt about Mariah Carey as a teen too.  I grew up watching a lot of television, and feeling Out of Place in my LA suburban hometown.  I didn't feel that a Xicana or Filipina sense of self was available to me, and so I looked around and found role models where I could.

Now, as an adult embracing my multi: ethnicitites, cultures, and homelands, I struggle knowing how to honor my Indigenous ancestors while recognizing my Euroamerican privileges.  I've said it before, and I feel it a lot.

I love my lola and abuelo, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from the cultural exchanges I have been invited to be a part of as a granddaughter, but I hear concerns (internal and external) about always giving respect.  My mentor uses the phrase babaylan-inspired, and after a conversation with a Mestiza mujer about her own concerns of Anzaldua's use of the word nepantla, I say nepantera -inspired as well.

And, yet, I know there is more.  There really is just so much to learn, and (sigh) I trust I am on the right path because it is in my story, family's story, family's bloodline, family's family family....

21 November 2013

(Re)engaging with My Beloved Dissertation

My morning set up in Highland Park: note my prezi presentation on the computer, my dissertation art project on my left leg, my working introduction on my right, the ankle on my ankle, the candle lit, and the cozy-ness of it all. 
This week is the week I am saying, "Yes, precious dissertation, I do love you, and I am going to (re)engage!  It's been a few weeks of other writing, and it's been good; however, I am back with renewed commitment: tuned into KCRW, prezi presentation re-worked and ready to share, etc etc etc... and I HAVE A PLAN!!!

In Big Sur
And, my plan is not just for this week, but for the next 3 and a half months until I defend in February.  In part, this plan involves less social networking and more bear like hibernating in the cave of writing and editing.  This works well with the coming winter, and I believe it will also help to be in Los Angeles and living with family and old friends.  It's time to devote energy to the here and now!  (This has its benefits, and actually as I was writing, one of them manifested: a friend brought me a bagel and lox!).
Of course, I've now just given this blog a half hour of my morning.  And, I couldn't help diving into some creative filtering with another old foto. 

14 November 2013

Here I am: At the Gloria Anzaldúa Society's Conference (held every 18 months!)

And, it feels important.  First, I just feel honored to be among such amazing mujeres, one of them my wonderful second reader for my dissertation. 

The fact that tomorrow, around 10am, I will be sharing my own research and voice, leaves me a bit intimated but also in deep gratitude.  

Tonight at the opening reception, I read Anzaldúa's words, "writing is a sensuous act," and I felt inspired.  Why, yes! Thank you, Gloria, for reminding me that writing is or can be an embodied practice observing and bringing about transformation.  I certainly understand that as well as what you spoke about when you said, "We want to feel the wounds...and put ourselves back together in a powerful composition [so that] wounds become bridges."  

In fact, these last couple weeks -- as I have been writing for the dissertation, for proposals, and for paper presentations -- have brought about a good deal of wounds, bridges, and transformation.  With the solar eclipse and new moon, FIRE and fierceness followed me, and I initiated new conversations and relationships in my life.  It felt powerful to be able to manifest my desires.  

Then, the following weekend, at the Alchemy Conference, I tripped coming down a staircase and fell backward onto my ankle, spraining it badly.  Needless to say, the weekend became one of vulnerability and of receiving profound love and medicine from the women-healers at the conference.  My sacral chakra wounding also seemed very strong, and perhaps it was also that I was ovulating, but I cried a lot that weekend.  As a friend and colleague asked me today, I'm wondering, "what's at the top and bottom of the stairs? and why would I (coming down the staircase) almost fall forward in the middle, push back, and fall backward instead"?

Finally, after stopping home in LA to rest a bit and see my Oliver dog, I journeyed to San Antonio where I am staying with my kindred spirit from our childlike highschool and college days.  And, at the conference here (El Mundo Zurdo), I will be presenting a condensed form of my dissertation and using the time as a chance to practice my dissertation defense.  

However, at the same time, I'm considering taking an additional semester for school for a variety of reasons -- a change in relationships, waiting for some money to come through, taking time to publish in the safety of school, taking a break while I can/before I start a job --  and I spoke with my dissertation chair today too.  She called me actually, which is kind of amazing, and I listened.  I hope to talk with my second reader tomorrow about it all too.

Now, one more read through, then bed, and then la mañana.

06 November 2013

Dia de los muerto/as as a Filipina!: More Dissertation Praxis

Indigenous Dance Moves
with my dissertation external committee member, Dr. Leny Strobel
These last few weeks have been a calm before the storm.  Just now, it is a busy busy week with more than a couple deadlines on the horizon.  I am calling this next week or so...."midterms"....in the hopes that I will take these tasks up with the gusto that I had while as an undergrad.  The Autumn darkness, I pray, will aid me in my entrance into this comfy and empowering cave of empowered writing, smart editing, and delightful concentration.  Yep, that sounds like a good vision, no?   

Before I do enter the cave, I wanted to pause and reflect in much gratitude about the past couple weeks.  I have had, once again, lovely opportunities to put my dissertation into practice.  For Dia de Los Muerto/as, I participated in an event in Santa Rosa in which the Xicana community invited the Filipina community to participate in the altars and in offering a dance.  

In honor of my lola and my abuela, I wore a ceremonial outfit that brought together pieces from New Mexican traditions as well as the tribes of the Philippines. 

Beautiful Filipina Community! 
All I can say, is WOW!  What a new thing for me to be a part of this Xicana/o world and yet come as a babaylan-inspired Mestiza Filipina!  I loved it, and I love thinking more and more about my mixed heritage, about being a Mexipina, and about being a spider with a foot in many worlds.