loving in the war years: when it all falls apart

in the middle of mourning, news came that a family member has stage four cancer. and that it had spread, far and wide.

and everything just stopped. work, laughter, joy, mourning. grey overcast rolled over life and i couldn’t move.

i lost a dear friend to breast cancer. a different family member was throwing up blood, but guilt and shame over an addiction made him assume the blood was caused by the addiction. it was cancer. another family member died a long slow painful death from a cancer nobody had ever heard of.

and now here we are again.

not only is there the pain of a loved one being ill, but there’s that Death guy again, staring at me straight in my face. challenging me. he’s not going away. in fact, he just keeps getting closer and closer. i can’t avoid him, i can’t pretend he doesn’t exist. not anymore.

what is my relationship with death? what am i going to do about the fact that i’m going to die at some point?

i’ve written and contemplated a lot about death. as a kid, i was terrified of ‘not being’ anymore, and so the dying part terrified me. the moment when you switch from being alive to being dead. but now i am older and i’ve experienced death of loved ones and meditated with death and written stories about it…and i’m less afraid of not existing. and utterly terrified of not ‘being alive’ before i no longer exist.

a person i follow on twitter asked the question, what do you hope to be doing in 5 years? it’s a great question, one that i have long struggled to answer. but it’s also a question that she asked right around the time we were finding out about this family member. and so the question was not one that lead to joyful answers or determination. it lead to the worst case of nihilism i think i’ve ever had. and boy, let me tell you, i can do nihilism hard core.

what is the point of being alive? what’s the point of any of this? why are we here? what intention did god or the universe or whatever created this planet and humans have for any of us?

these are not new questions, these are questions that have hounded and terrorized most of humanity for the entirety of its existence. but as i sit here, a middle aged person that is about the same age as so many of the others i’ve known who have died, i wonder why am i here and not them. why do kids in war torn regions get killed and not me? what decided which hundreds of thousands of people would be killed when the atomic bombs were dropped and which wouldn’t?

is there a god or a universal law that decides these things? and if so, what is the criteria? what was the deciding factor that let the mother be killed but not the baby that is left suckling at her breast?

the randomness, the lack of rules. there is no way to assure ourselves that we will die in our sleep at a very old age. it is discombobulating. but it is terrifying to think that the lives of the people who are killed by wars, who die from cancer, who are hit by cars (as my dear friend was), who’ve ‘reached their time’–have no meaning. that it doesn’t matter what they did or accomplished in their five year time line or what they checked off their bucket list or what they did that morning or what they wanted to do that evening…it is terrifying to think that there is no meaning to the lives they lived. that there is no meaning to my life.

that we’re all here on earth just waiting for the moment until we die.

i’ve always thought that i was put on this earth to be the greatest and best me that god intended me to be. but i don’t know anymore. i could’ve been at the bar in florida that was shot up. I could’ve been the driver on I-94 that was smeared across the pavement. i could’ve been the one who was told the cancer was back and it spread. everywhere.

that i’m not the one who died yesterday doesn’t give meaning to my life today. or does it? should it?what is the point of doing this, of doing life?

what happens if i die, and i’ve never done all that i wanted to do? or i’ve never dreamed as greatly as god intended me to dream?

i am blanketed by grey immobilizing hopelessness, while a blistering fire of desperation burns in my guts. there is no hope. but there’s so little time. i must get a bucket list, i must get that job i always wanted, i must win the lottery, i must i must i must i must…

i will eventually be the one that death doesn’t walk away from. what do i do until then?

i don’t move. i haven’t moved. i snarl and hiss at my partner and wearily cart children to school and dutifully wait for them seven hours later. rote life. rote living. terrorized by death.

what am i going to do? what is any of us going to do?







loving in the war years: day eighteen


it is something we are so rarely allowed to feel or to see or to even imagine
lasts more than 2 or 3 days.

i’ve studied war for over a decade now, and what shocks me, still, after all this time,
are the people. 50, 60, 70 years after vietnam, korea, ww2…they still cry when talking about loved ones lost. they still get choked up and can’t go on. they still hurt,
after all these years,
from the empty place that used to hold their loved one.

so different from the movies. so different from the television shows. that assure us. after one episode. after one glorious show down in court. after one big battle or one big yell or one big slow motion attack of the murderer…
it is better.

i was once yelled at by a person for mentioning being against a past war. i’ve been yelled at before over my anti-war stance, so i wasn’t surprised or even taken off guard. not until the tears started and the soft ‘you don’t know what it was like back then, you don’t have any idea what it was like, half of my friends never came home’ fell out of quivering lips over and over again. i didn’t have the heart to tell this person, this grieving person, still grieving after all those years, that their grief was why i was against war.

i just patted their back. and looked the other way. so they could pretend i didn’t see their tears.

what does grief look like?
what does it smell like?
taste like?
sound like?

is it different for everybody?
or is grief the one universal that draws us all together?

is the complete invisibilization of grief the only way the current world can continue to exist?

~(re)Birthing 2016~

We learn that we have no obligation to be who we were

2015 was a very successful year for me. Not because I made more money than ever before or because had a better job or got a house or any of those traditional markers of success. In fact, since I wasn’t paid for a contract job for almost a year, I am currently swimming in a global warming sized ocean of debt. And now, after only finally getting paid a few months ago, my contract is set to run out this year. Paycheck-less again. Oh, and I am renting. Still.

But 2015 was also the year of ‘unsticking’ for me. At the beginning of 2015, I recognized how much of my life had been spent ‘stuck’ in utter fear–and as a result, how much of that fear kept me in unhealthy patterns and destructive relationships. So I pledged 2015 to ‘unstick.’ To pulling my head out of the sand, to loosening the glue of fear, to oiling the rusty life that I was living.

And to that end, 2015 was one of the most successful years I’ve experienced in a very long time. I took chances that I never would’ve dreamed of taking in previous years. For the most part, they were small chances. Chances that I knew I would find success at. Deciding not to take something personally. Laying a ‘healthy boundary’ brick down when nobody was looking.

But there were also a few bigger chances. Two of them are intertwined–I started a new blog and Patreon to fund the writing on it. And I confronted the thing I’ve been most afraid of, the thing that terrorized me into the ‘stuck’ life I was living: shame.

I am currently working on a nice long blog post about these two chances I took. These two chances that made 2015 the best, most productive year I’ve had in a very long time. So I’m not going to get into it too much right now.

But I wanted to mention these things because they are directly relevant to what I will dedicate 2016 to. I read the quote above, “We learn that we have no obligation to be who we were…” and I felt liberated. Free. It was a key that not only unlocked the prison of fear I’ve contained myself with, but opened the door to a world I’ve never allowed myself to see or feel or be a part of.

2016 is the year of (re)Birth. It is the year that I shift, grow, release and become. It is the year I step on the earth for the first time, that I feel the burn of the sun on my skin, fill my body with the same air the dinosaurs breathed, see the same stars my ancestors prayed under.

I don’t know what (re)birthing will mean for my writing. I don’t know what it will mean for me, period. Birthing is an uncertain process. It’s painful, even violent at times. But it’s also creating. Creation. It is the blessed promise of life.

Of life.

That  I can share this time with you all through this blog is only possible because of the generosity of so many supporters. Whether you are a patreon supporter or you’ve retweeted things or you’ve been a steady reader through all the different ‘faces’ I’ve been through online or you’ve made individual donations or you’ve left a kind comment or sent healing thoughts–I thank each and every one of you. Deeply. And I look forward to sharing this year with you.

With love.

from the olden days: (re)thinking walking: shifting priorities


This is a picture of a field in Colorado that used to be home/hunting grounds for several indigenous tribes of Colorado. It was also a base camp for poor white settlers desperate for gold. I spent most of my time there while I was in Colorado.


My life is shifting right now. It’s been shifting for a while–but just as you often tinker around with an idea before you fully commit to it–I’ve been tinkering.


Now–I’m committing.

The world brings a reality to my existence that I can’t really explain. The earth, the water, the trees. I can hear them whispering…


How do I sit comfortably in this field?
When my cells and DNA and blood created the history of it?

The blood lines destroyed
The destroyer of bloodlines…

This is not abstract hippy earth mother shit for me.

A family member has an official certificate of discharge for a long dead relative who fought in the “the Indian wars.”

The other side of the family knows what tribe they came from–that technically, we are not Mexicans. We also know there comes a time when you can’t go home any more…

I saw a film once that brings me to tears still.

A group of black people from throughout the world used DNA testing to find what tribes they were stolen from.

A young british black woman sits on tribal lands surrounded by her ancestor’s people. They ask her for money. She says no. They say: Go away–we don’t need you anymore.

The necessity of her–the hole left by her ancestor’s disappearance–long since filled by others.

There comes a time when you can’t go home.

But you can understand.

You can look at what a location is right now,
and understand
the price paid

for the streets, the cars, the inescapable ungodly fucking noise.

And you can ask yourself, was it worth it?
Is it worth it?


Commitment to new priorities.

I am a person who learns by sight, by touch, by repetition.

Walking, day after day after day,


I see questions I never knew existed.
I taste answers that my tongue knows no words for.

how do i sit in this space:



How do i turn a taste into words?



the olden days: (re)thinking walking: righteous uncomfortability

Background: I grew up in a very conservative city with very conservative strictly religious Mexican men being the norm. My own father was not religious, but was very very strict–and so I have always associated ‘strict’ with ‘Mexicanness.” Of course by ‘strict,’ I mean deeply conservative, extremely old fashioned, stifling rules on gender and gender roles–all the stuff that make it really hard for a young queer Chicana to exist, basically. When I went to Colorado, it was the first time I had experienced a different way of being Mexican, of being Chicana.

A scene: When I was in Colorado, there was this park that I walked through everyday. There was hardly anybody there on weekdays, but on the weekends, every Mexican in Boulder was there. If there *is* a best thing about national parks, it’s that if they are close enough to home, it just takes a little ingenuity to create a whole day of good times for very poor people. There was fishing and eating and dancing and Frisbee throwing. One family was sitting tightly packed on a small bench, and laughing their asses off every time the young son popped a rubber toy at people walking buy. The sun was brilliant, the air was warm and dry, and when you looked up, there were those awesome Rocky Mountains watching you.

As I walked on that particular day, I noticed a young Mexican girl on a bike. She had long ink black hair and was wearing pink shorts and a stripped shirt with spaghetti noodle straps. Her bike was one of those old beat up banana seat kinds–the kind that was really popular back in the 70s. She was fat and had light brown skin–and she was flying down the pathway, peddling as fast as she could.

I smiled as I watched her, she reminded me of myself–still at the age where she’s oblivious to the societal mandates of what “fat brown bodies” are supposed to do and be. Free.

The path began it’s ascent, and I stopped watching her to focus on getting my own butt where it needed to go. When I say you’re going up mountains in Colorado, I mean you’re going up mountains. A “hill” is really a paved mountain that will hit a 90 degree angle after about three or four feet. When you’re used to “hills” being something that your kids roll down for fun, this type of hill is a bit intimidating, to say the least.

As I was huffing up this hill, I noticed that the girl was not alone–her father was behind her, and because the ascent slowed her down, had just caught up to her. He was wearing blue jeans, work boots and a nice shirt. And was clearly more than a little uncomfortable trying to get that bike up the hill. With a few quick strides, I had caught up to him, and only because I had sympathy in my soul and a history of being lapped by walkers while on my own bike, that I didn’t charge past him.

I heard a bunch of clicking and cursing, and knew that he had changed gears–I snuck a few looks over to him and saw his feet peddling madly and his bike barely moving. He was on first gear.

His daughter was not so lucky. She was going, if possible, even slower than her father. Her bike almost tipped over, twice.

But by that time, her father was going so slow that when he stood up on the peddles to try to go faster, he did tip over after his foot slipped off the peddle and almost slammed him face first into the handlebars.

Which, of course, caused his daughter to laugh.

But as she laughed, she stopped next to her father, offered some encouraging words and began peddling again. The father realigned the bike, got his feet firmly planted on the peddles and pushed off.

I have to say I admire the dude. If you have ever tried to move a bike on first gear up a mountain while wearing blue jeans and work boots, you know he was working a feat worthy of Lance Armstrong’s admiration.

And that he and she were both doing this while surrounded by white, trim grandmas in spandex, bikers on thousand dollar bikes, runners with pure bred dogs –all of whom were going faster than they were–it’s like they were facing down the Devil from hell himself.

But the thing is, after the daughter started laughing–the father got moving again, and then he started laughing too. His entire persona of bad ass macho Mexican man was completely obliterated–in front of a bunch of rich white people no less–and he was laughing. A daughter was watching her father fail miserably at being a bad ass macho Mexican man–and both he and she were laughing together.


After a little while, the pair stopped their trek up the mountain and got off their bikes. They walked the bikes around until they were facing the opposite direction. I could hear the labored way the father was still laughing and trying to catch his breath at the same time.

They each got back onto their bikes and then kicked off. This time, there was no struggle–the bikes slowly rolled at first and then were flying. As the girl passed me, her feet were up on her cross bar and her hair was streaming behind her. She maneuvered easily through the speed walking grandmas and thousand dollar bikes.

The father kept his feet firmly planted on the peddles. He called out a few words that I didn’t understand, but that I assumed were words of caution to his daughter. The high screeching sound of of breaks controlling descent followed him all the way down the mountain. He didn’t go as fast, and he didn’t move as easily through the crowds.

By the time he reached the bottom of the mountain his daughter was well ahead of him. He eventually melted into the rest of the crowd and I didn’t see them again.

As I turned and continued my walk up the mountainside, I couldn’t stop smiling.

The world can be righted.

My feet beat the words into a rhythm on the sidewalk.

The world can be righted.

the olden days: (re)thinking walking: taking up space

I’ve been taking my kids to acupuncture. So far things have worked out very well. We all get into the car after a treatment and there is blessed quiet. Everybody chilling and feeling good in the same way makes for a happy ride back home!

I noticed something though. This last Saturday when we were at the clinic (me, W*, son and BabyBFP), everybody was settling in to their individual recliners, waiting for our poker lady to come poke us in turn. And as I looked over at BabyBFP, I started to get really anxious. She had brought her American Girl doll (which is about 21 inches long), several books, a huge pen with frilly feather thingys at the top, and then had also grabbed several pillows, three blankets, and had kicked her chair back as far as it would go. And then as she was settling in, she looked at me and asked where her water was. One of the women at the desk brought her over a cup so that I didn’t have to.

Yes, my daughter is a diva. ANd it’s something that I alternately enjoy and am horrified with. Right at that moment, I was horrified. Not only was she making GROWN UPS run water to her punk behind (and then she asks the poker lady, “Um, is there a table or something that I could put next to my chair to hold my water?” Yes, because we’re on a CRUISE LINE, child, and we’re all here to SERVE YOU), but she kept *taking up so much space*.

I kept thinking that over and over again as I watched her. She’s taking up SO much space! She’s being so HUGE with her personality. Look at her laying all her crap out like she OWNS the place! OMG, look at how much space she’s taking up!!

Only, she was taking up the same amount of space as everybody else there (one recliner), in fact, technically, she was taking up *less* space because she had all her crap laid out, there by boxing her in a bit more.

The whole time she was following the protocol of the clinic, whispering if she needed to talk, mostly not talking, staying on her chair, reading quietly so she wouldn’t disturb others–but I sat there, horrified, watching her. She asked for the water in a normal voice (as opposed to a snotty, where’s my water woman???), and was overall polite to the older folks there.

But she took up SO much space. Her belief that she had the right to spread out and be comfortable? Her belief that she had the right to ask for “extras” to improve her quality of comfort?

How dare she?

How dare *she*?

How *DARE* she take up that space? Or take it for granted that she has the *right* to comfort?

Especially when I, her mami, am 35 yrs old and still struggling through the whole “oh, I didn’t want to bother her” phenomenon? Especially when I, her 35 yr old mami, was just talking to a friend the other night, telling her about how there is literally 5 pictures of me in the whole house that are “post pregnancies”–because I am fat and ugly now, no longer the hot piece of ass I was pre-pregnancies, and I don’t want to offend other people by thinking that I have the right to have my picture taken.

As I told my friend, it’s like I’m erasing myself from history.

Erasing myself from existence–because my fat, ugly, old ass self doesn’t have the *right* to take up that space, right? You have to *earn* that right to take up that kind of space right?


I know in my head all about the politics of taking up space. Of women of color, girls of color, taking up space. Of marginalized bodies taking up space. Of how those bodies are punished and controlled and violated for the audacity of taking up space. I’ve spent the last year blogging and walking and doing activist work that is connected to examining and asserting the right to space–the right of all human beings to take up space–because space belongs to HUMANS, not capital or companies or the nation/state.

But when my heart sees my cocky little girl setting up three pillows and thee blankets on a fully opened chair so that she can throw her legs over the side and read while her health gently takes care of itself????

I cringe.

We all have so much untraining to do within ourselves. So much “hegemony” that has implanted itself in our souls and guts like the alien creature Sigourney Weaver had to kill over and over again. And we’ll only ever recognize it in us by doing what it is that we’ve been trained to think we aren’t supposed to do, like my daughter. It’s only sometimes that we recognize the pattern…

Yelling at our kids so that they’re smaller ….
Beating our kids so that they’re smaller….
Silencing our kids so that they don’t disturb…
Ignoring our kids because they haven’t “earned the right” to do…

Refusing a photograph, refusing a hug, cleaning when we’re too tired, saying yes when it hurts, smiling when you dont want to…

A movement most certainly needs marches, parades, flyering, chanting and collective action.

But it also needs those moments–those moments where a mami keeps her damn mouth shut and thinks about why her tongue is begging to do some lashing. And it needs those moments as well, where whole communities sit and think about why tongue lashings are embraced so hard even when tongue lashings are really alien creatures in disguise.

And it needs those moments where individuals and whole communities talk about how to blast that fucking alien to shreds AND what to do with the lashing tongue when it is anxious to start up. What other glorious things are there for that tongue to do? What other things are there for it to do when it is stressed out and unnerved?

And who knows how much energy that tongue would have if it stopped wasting all it’s time licking alien claws?

Would it make us free?

the olden days: thinking about porn

This is an old post from my old blog that I found because somebody linked me to it on twitter. All the links to the post are dead, so I just deleted them. I am also quite embarrassed that I used ‘pron’ rather than porn, back in the olden days of blogging, we used to do cute little things like that to try to keep google et al from finding your blog. How I miss those days.

So when I first came to blogging I was vehemently anti-porn. And then I came across the sex positive feminists in the blogosphere, and although I had serious misgivings with what they were saying, I was willing to listen. I’ve spent a lot of time listening–I’ve figured out from Queer Dude that there is a difference between sex positive and pro-pron people. From other bloggers, I figured out that pro-pron people feel feminist liberation can come from female controlled and centered pron. That queer and transgendered folks also find liberatory aspects in pron. From Radfems, I found out that radfems feel there is a difference between a free expression of female sexuality (which is good) and pron (which is, in general, bad). And most importantly, that there are women of color who are grappling with all of these issues as well.

Now, knowing all the stuff that I know, I am not so vehemently anti-pron any more–but I’m also not feeling the pro-pron thing either. I have these random thoughts that individually may not make must sense, but pulled all together under one post sort of make up the beginning of an opinion. They are as follows:

** Renegade Evolution has a post up about Women, Subversion, Capitalism, Practicality & Feminism. I disagree with her presentation and argument of “the master’s tools” and what it means for feminists. And the discussion really made me think of how pron has been styled into the “choice” debate–Pron is supposed to be empowering because women enter it “by choice” OR women have no “choice” thus, it is disempowering.

** As with other “choice” debates (abortion is the biggie), “choice” rests its foundation on the beliefs that 1. the person making the choice is valued by society and 2. the choice the made is valued by society. In the abortion debates, people like Dorthy Roberts (and lots of other RWOC theorists) argue that “choice” is harmful to women of color (and other marginalized women) because it continues the agenda against women of color such that women of color are systematically violated for making the “wrong” choice. For example, the choice to have a baby is certainly available to all women in the U.S., but it is generally only poor white women, disabled women and women of color that must contend with back to work programs, sterilization without consent, losing children through child protective services, imprisonment, etc. Also, many times, under the guise of “feminist choice’ white feminists employ violent and harmful policies of reproductive control over women of color–for example, the unquestioned support of Planned Parenthood (a corporation with a proven track record of systematic “population control” policies.)

** In terms of pron, I see the choice debate as being harmful to women of color in the pron business (and the sex industry in general), because it assumes that a black woman (and all woc) making the choice to do pron is valued by society in the same way that a white woman making the choice to do pron is. That is, all women are the same, they all hold the same level of power, and they all are considered *desirable* by those who either do or don’t consume the product they do or don’t deliver.

** The assumption that all women are the same–that there are no hierarchies of oppression, marginalization, and/or violence that exist between women blatantly disregards the capitalistic system that has always and probably will always value white, thin, able-bodied blond women in terms of “product” more than any other woman. As I said at RE’s–it’s not necessary for the u.s. to bomb Denmark for U.S. citizens to value sexual services performed by blond white women. But as different scholars argue about arab and asian sex workers, it wasn’t until the u.s. began to actively colonize these areas that sex as performed by arab/asian workers came into demand.

** Similarly, it’s not necessary for the U.S. to be a “Christian Nation” for U.S. citizens to value white female virginity. Snow White is a virgin. So is Cinderella, Ariel, Belle, and Sleeping Beauty. What little girl in the U.S. doesn’t want to be a princess? There’s a reason why Asian, Arab and indigenous princesses all came along before the black princess did. Notice anything about this pic?

** Angela Davis argues that racism will always exist within the confines of a capitalistic system. Furthermore, there is no way to eliminate racism from the structure of capitalism as capitalism is dependent upon racism for its survival. Other activists/scholars build upon her argument and argue that disablism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, nationalism etc will always be present within a capitalistic system as capitalism rests on a foundation of inequality. Each ‘ism is used to varying degrees by a capitalistic system to reinforce hierarchies that keep 2-8 percent of the world’s population in control of everybody else.

** An example of racism directly related to pron–on a female owned, created, centered pron site there was the following phrase over the pic’s of a black female sex worker, “It’s not very often you come across a great female black performer, but…” Even within women centered porn, great black female sex workers are the exception not the rule. How do black women negotiate that particular type of racism? How do black sex workers negotiate racism that is present in the “solution”?

** On the other hand, how does the elimination of one industry in a capitalistic system eliminate racism in every other industry in the U.S.?

** A woman in Detroit was recently arrested for selling sexual services with her seven year old daughter online. She brought a bag with her to the hotel meet up that was filled with sex toys. She promised the undercover cop she was working with that he had free access to do what he chose with her daughter. As more details have come out, this apparently was not the first time she has done this with the seven year old, and she has four other children that the police suspect have also been sold in this way.

** From UBUNTU’s website:

The consequences for sex workers of color may be greater in terms of community acceptance and stigmatization. Scholar Elizabeth Higgonbotham coined the phrase “the politics of respectability” to describe how racial oppression can be broken down if oppressed folks are just respectable enough. Basically, people of color who engage in stigmatized behavior are seen as reflecting poorly on their people and disparaged for their actions. The politics of respectability most certainly enters the Duke rape situation when we see community leaders like Jesse Jackson offering to give the survivor a full-ride scholarship to pay for the remainder of her education so that she does not have to strip. While it is certainly a wonderful thing that a single mother of two no longer has to worry about how to pay for school, the gift confuses the issue. The problem is not that she was stripping. The problem is that she was raped.

** I believe this quote is one of the only quotes on any feminist site I have ever seen discussing pron that confronts the idea of “choice”. The problem (or solution) is NOT that women are choosing to enter into sex work, the problem is that they are being raped and violated while working. The problem is that it’s OK to rape, fuck, beat, threaten, intimidate, stalk, verbally assault those who perform acts of sex. If it is ok to violate those who sell sex as a product (and thereby presumably, within a capitalistic system, have power), why on earth wouldn’t it be ok to violate those who don’t? In other words, if it’s ok to violate a factory worker in the U.S. that belongs to a Union, why would anybody think that it’s not ok to violate a factory worker in Mexico that doesn’t belong to a union?

** If sex work is valued by feminists in a way that decenters “choice” and recenters, for example, community health (as UBUNTU has chosen to do), how might that hold feminists accountable to the seven year old child sold by her mother? How might it hold feminists accountable to women of color sex workers? Or to hetero married non-sex workers? Or to sex workers in other nations? Or to those who are being sold into sexual slavery?

** Beth Richie:

For if we’re truly committed to ending violence against women, then we must start in the hardest places, the places like jails and prisons and other correctional facilities. The places where our work has not had an impact yet. I think we have to stop looking for the easy clients, and we have to stop being the friendly colored girls as some of our anti-violence programs require us to be. We must not deny the part of ourselves and the part of our work that is least acceptable to the mainstream public. Just because we’re a lesbian. Or maybe because a survivor is addicted and relapsing, or because she may be young and pregnant, again. Or because she’s a sex worker or because she does not have legal status in this country. We must not let those who really object to all of us and our work, co-opt some of us and the work we’re trying to do. And if this anti-violence movement could ever really be legitimate in a patriarchal, racist society–in a society where building more jails and prisons is a growth industry, where racism is allowed to flourish through hate speech, hate actions and hateful neglect of communities of color. Where violence against women and poor people in this country is condoned and celebrated. Not only in this country, but around the world. Where some women don’t matter except to serve those in power, as nurses or secretaries, sex workers, wives or prisoners.

…we need listen more closely and remember the voices of the women of color who are farthest from this room. We need to listen to the hardest stories of the failure of our work. We need an analysis that is based on the experiences and needs of not just some of the women, that ‘every woman’ somewhere, but of all of us. All women. We must take leadership in this movement from those who, up until now, have been excluded from this movement. Not only by white women, but by some women of color too. And ultimately, we need to be accountable not to those in power, but to the powerless.

My summation:
** The solution rests not in eliminating an industry (which makes feminists accountable and dependent upon the legal system in a particular nation/state), but in community power and health (which makes feminists accountable to their communities and specifically, the women of their communities)

** Which also means that the answer is not individual action within the system as RE stated, but collective action against the system.

I’m not sure if these thoughts finally amount to any spectacular understanding of pron, sex work, or life in general. They represent me working through an issue from a third space more than anything. I welcome discussion from others who are also working through issues from a third space. Comments are on moderation.


One time I saw a cat try to cross a four lane highway. He wasn’t a full fledged cat, yet. His body was still small and fluffy, but he had those long legs and huge paws that said he would be a huge cat once he was finished growing. The last thing I saw before the tire of a car in front of me smashed into him was his too-long teenage kitty legs stretched as far as they would go, like a teeny leopard streaking across a jungle of concrete.

I wondered what on earth would make a cat take the chance of crossing over four lanes of highway–was it something wonderful? Something that might feed his belly for a couple of days? Or was it something that made it too terrifying to stay where he was?


My father and I are sitting in a tiny smoke filled restaurant. It’s early morning, before school. There are men in factory blue uniforms all around us, several of them greet my father as we walk in and find a table. For a while, my father is busy chatting with the other men. But eventually he turns to me.

I feel his gaze on my face. I don’t know what to do or say. My sweaty hands twist together under the table.

Then I feel his head turn away from me. Back toward his friends.
He doesn’t know what to do or say either. He picks up a menu and opens it.
I don’t know what is worse, his attention or the lack of it.
I try to ignore the twisting in my stomach.

It is my birthday.

I didn’t want to watch Battle Star Galactica. But I finally did, and I couldn’t stop watching. I’m not finished with the series yet, but I’m watching at least three shows a day, if not more. I always knew that one of the main characters on the show, Admiral Adama, was played by Chicano actor, Edward James Olmos–but I never really understood what that meant until I started watching the series. What it meant to see this little Chicano commanding an entire fleet of ships, giving orders, daring people to not obeyz. What it means to see a Chicano defy the first rule of science fiction–that there is no place in space for Chicanos. Not unless there’s a plantation somewhere that needs workers to harvest food for the heros.

And who can think of Edward James Olmos as anything BUT Chicano? The ulimate pachuco? He was one of the first actors to openly claim the deeply politicized “Chicano” rather than the more ambivalent “Mexican-American” or the assimilated “Spanish.”

The proud thrust of the head, the deep lean in the stance, the defiant care given to each article of clothing–the sneer, the confidence, the control–Admiral Adama learned everything he knows from El Pachuco. A born leader. Meant for more than endless picking in fields that don’t belong to us. Admiral Adama is as scary as he is admired. People don’t stand up to him or question him, they know better. But they also speak of him with a sense of awe. They trust his control.

But then Lieutenant Adama shows up. The son of El Pachuco hurts to look at. Only barely able to meet his father’s eyes. More comfortable addressing his father with “sir” than the more vulnerable “dad.” And angry. So angry he ran away and only came back because there was no place else to run to. Only world-wide apocalypse could force the son to face his father again.

The son is not simply “everything the father is not.” It’s more complicated than that.

The son is the crack in the fierce arrogance of El Pachuco.
The son does not trust the father. Or his control.
The son knows better.
And so is afraid.

I wanted to be my Dad when I was a kid.

Talking with a friend the other day, I remembered sitting in my childhood living room, watching the MTV official release of the Billy Joel video, Uptown Girl. Remember that video? Where Christie Brinkley is in a flowing white dress and Billie Joel is in workers blues? Watching that video as a child, I understood for the first time that my dad was important. Somebody that people made videos about. Somebody that people admired. Somebody the girl wanted.

I wanted to be that man. I wanted to be my dad.

Everything that he was, I was not.
He was brave, I was not, he was smart, I was not, he was a good worker, I was not, he was desirable, I was not. Everything he was, I was not.

I wanted to be my dad.
Not a mistake.


The place where one lives permanently, esp. as a member of a family or household.

esp. as a member of a family or household.

esp. as a member of a family


I’m the son nobody wanted. I’m the son my chicano dad didn’t want. I’m the son that my Chicano dad never learned to want, once he got to know me better. That’s what’s supposed to happen, right? The unwanted pregnancy turns into a wanted kid?

I had a Chicana friend who had a Dad like mine. She wound up the coddled baby of the family. The apple of the eye, the protected princess, the one who got that cherished name. m’ija. m’ijita when the love was overwhelming.

I couldn’t talk to her for months after I found out that she confronted her father and the way he treated her. And wound up in his lap, their tears mixing, their love reaching to each other and finally touching, the start of a new world. How do you talk to somebody through clawing jealousy? How do you keep misplaced anger from burning down the wrong thing?

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned I’m not alone. There are lots of father’s that never wanted their children. Lots of men that never will want the children they create. Will Smith in the Fresh Prince of Bel Air loses it in front of his uncle. Why didn’t that bastard want me?

Why didn’t he want me?

I have learned that this is question that can never be answered. That even if I could ask it of the man who lived in the same house with me for 17 years, the answer will be imperfect. Men answer “I don’t know” to hard questions. To escape the vulnerability, to escape the fear.

El Pachuco doesn’t care if he is loved. He doesn’t need to love. That’s what makes him so fierce. Desirable. What we all want to be. That’s what makes us love him and trust him.

But El Pachuco is afraid. He is more comfortable running than he is with staying. He often doesn’t need to run because he was never there to begin with. He doesn’t need to be loved–not because he is brave, but because he is afraid. Unused to the work of love, unused to the work of home. Unused to being vulnerable to another person.

So if he stayed, he sits, a stranger in his house. All around him too afraid to speak, to afraid to be noticed, by the man in the chair with beer and the always on TV. By the man who now uses work to keep his family from getting too close.

Your father has worked all day! If you bother him, you’re going to be whipped!

A home is a human right. A home is the definition of family.

esp. as a member of a family or household

Who are you if you never let yourself have a family?

Who are you if you share a house with somebody who never wanted a family?

Who never wanted you?

i try to imagine that letter. you know–the one that all the therapists say to write to people who you have things to say to, but can’t say them. i try to imagine it, but it’s too preposterous for even my imagination to talk to my father. what do i say to a person who doesn’t want to talk?

i am learning more and more the story of my femmé self. but the part of me that i counted on for so long–the part of me that is tuff and kept me alive and fought even when i didnt think i could fight anymore–i don’t know who that macha is, who that son is. what story the macha son needs to tell.

it’s been harder for me to come to terms with the son, harder than it ever was for the daughter. i never hated the daughter. the daughter, i did not value–and so the journey was learning to value her. when you go on that journey with other latinas who love through sharing what they’ve learned on their own journeys–this is almost a fun journey.

the son–i actively hated. the son–i punched, kicked, beat, and even stabbed. it was the son who cut. not the daughter. the father was everything the son was not. neither one of us had the skills or resources to notice or point out that the father was broken. or that the son was trying to break himself to be like him.

the son is all the mistakes the father has never made.

dear father.
dear sir.

I crumple up the paper. i don’t try the letter writing again.


I thought becoming a mother might change how I felt about my father. That it would plant a seed of sympathy and understanding that I could grow over time. Indeed, I can tell you the stories of being Pachuco tuff with my kids. Ordering them to stop crying.

But the truth is, parenting just reaffirmed that I was the coward. The mistake. I was not prepared to do what it would take to make those kids shut up, cuz God only knows you can’t just tell them to be quiet and expect them to listen. You need to actually do something to make them stop. But I didnt have the heart to hit them, or even just to scare them.

But boy did I know how to run. One day I pull the car off to the side of the road, tears blinding me, gagging me as they loosen mucus in my nose and throat.

W* and I were fighting. The kids were angry at us for fighting and kept yelling at us to stop. I wanted to stop, tried to force my mouth into quiet. But I couldn’t. I kept yelling and yelling, until leaving was the only thing left to do. I slammed the door with extra emphasis as I left. Fuck them.

But then the tears came, and I had to pull off to the side of the road. I knew the choice in front of me. I could leave. I could keep driving and never ever come back. Then it would all be over–the fighting, the mistakes, the fear.

Or I could go back.

I know what choice El Pachuco would make. And I knew that I couldn’t make that same choice. I can’t leave my family. I can’t leave my home.

I take a deep breath, dry my tears and turn the car around, towards home. W*s arms wrap around me when I get there, and we apologize. We talk to the kids together. It isn’t until later that it finally occurs to me that it’s not cowardice that keeps me there, it’s love.

But, I argue with myself, the son–he is the coward. The father’s mistake.



The other day a white *F*eminist said that she “could care less” about minority representation on film. Another white *F*eminist said she doesn’t include characters of color in her work because “she doesn’t know any people of color.”

You have to write what you know, they argue.

There is a scene in Battlestar Galactica.

El Pachuco wants to stay in a dangerous situation in the hopes of finding the girl that he loves like a daughter. He fights to stay in that situation, trying to buy time. He uses the power of El Pachuco bully others into staying when they all want to leave. He fights for the girl he loves like a daughter. But who isn’t his daughter.

Eventually, El Pachuco realizes–-it’s time to go. He is potentially sacrificing the lives of his entire fleet for one person. It’s time to go–and face the devastating loss of the girl he loves like a daughter. But who isn’t his daughter.

The cowardly son asks El Pachuco that terrifying question–the one that tears at the throats of all of us with El Pachuco for fathers. Would you have done all this if she had been me? Or: Do love me, too? Do you love me as much as you love this girl–who isn’t even your daughter?

Are you brave enough love?
Are you brave enough to love me?

Edward James Olmos knows not to be outraged that this son would ask this father such a question. Olmos knows he is a Chicano, and he accepts his responsibility as an actor to his community. He knows that we need stories too–that we need more than just Chicanos in space. Edward James Olmos knows what it means for El Pachuco to pull his son (m’ijito) into his arms and whisper fiercely, if it was you? I never would’ve left.

El Pachuco has finally stopped running.
El Pachuco is finally a dad.
El Pachuco finally is brave enough to love.

Because we need stories too.


our land is the freeways, the highways, the backroads nobody knows about but us.
gloria anzaldua defined us as movers, and border crossers–but she was careful to point out that the goal is to get back home. even if it’s not the home we left. if we have to build it ourselves.

because what are we, without a home?
what would happen if we stopped using all the roads slicing through our communities to run? and used them to come back home?

even if it’s not the home we left?
how can stories help us to build the home that is our human right?
our human right.
because we’re not mistakes.


I am sitting in my car, waiting to pick up kids from school. I’ve been traveling all day, up and down I-75, back and forth over I-94, across M-13 to finally wind up in a line of cars filled with parents waiting for the school bell to release their children
My butt hurts from the hours of sitting. My hair is whipped into a rats nest from the open windows on freeways. The radio blares as I flip through the pictures on my i-pod. I find the one I am looking for. Of me. The sun is over my shoulder, my face is in the shadow. My eyelashes stand out against my cheeks. I see my son’s eyes in mine. My eyes that are my father’s.

It is just family in this moment. Just us.
We are together. Our human right.

El Pachuco has finally stopped running.
El Pachuco is finally a mami.
El Pachuco finally is brave enough to love.
I would never leave.


It is our story.