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.