Archive for May, 2011

May 31, 2011

dreaming in color.

by la rebelde

It’s not often that I remember my dreams.  If I do remember one when I wake up, the memory of it is gone after about an hour or so, as if it drifted out of my head while I was busy eating breakfast.  Strange.

There are some that I remember quite vividly, and can still recall them as if they were real.  One I blogged about before.  Some of my more life-like dreams have recurring characters, who are not actually in my life.  One, in particular, used to visit me often.  He is brown and beautifully sexy…and faceless.

The first time he appeared, I was 27 or 28 years old.  The dream took place far in the future and I was in the midst of an argument with my mom.  She had grown old and was suffering from some kind of illness–Alzheimer’s maybe?  We were arguing about cleaning the house, only, the house wasn’t our house.  It was my tía’s house with the 70s-style wood cabinets and copper decorations along the ceiling to compliment yellow floral wallpaper.  One minute my mom was lucid, the next she was not.  We’d just eaten canned peaches from a gigantic costco-size can and were about to put the extra in the fridge.  I took a plastic container from the cabinet.  But she started obsessively opening utensil drawers, insisting that the extra peaches should be stored there.  Before I could do anything about it, she poured the whole can of peaches into the drawer with the spoons and spatulas.  A huge drippy, sticky mess.  She went on as if it hadn’t happened.

I was upset — frustrated about the immediate situation, and scared about what was happening to her health and how we (mis ‘manitos and I) would care for her in her older age.  But I had no idea how to talk to her because she could not hear me.  Faceless brown guy swooped in, hugged me, and took me to the other room.  We sat on the couch and he held me until I calmed down.  He told me it would be okay, that he would be with me, mis ‘manitos, and my mom as we struggled through this rough part of our lives.  I remember waking up feeling like things would be okay, like all the stress in my life was surmountable because I was not alone.

He came to me several times over the next few years.  One amiga used to call him “peaches guy.”  And just this afternoon, I shared the story with a different amiga.  Feeling a little bashful and silly, I asked her, “Do you remember those dreams I used to have with the peaches guy?” I thought she could not possibly remember that. But she did.

He has not visited me in at least 5 years…until this week.

Maybe the spirits of the universe have been trying to tell me something.  This time, I guess I should pay better attention to what’s going on with me that warrants such a nice visit.

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May 23, 2011

1871.

by la rebelde

I recently attended the play, The Chinese Massacre (Annotated), written by Tom Jacobson and directed by Jeff Liu. If you haven’t already seen it, go!  It is playing over at Circle X Theater Co.   There are only three more showings left this weekend!  And it’s always good to support community-based theater.  Plus, you can bring wine and beer inside the theater.

Historians and journalists have presented the events during 1871 that have come to be called the “Chinese Massacre” in many ways, most commonly as the last chapter in Los Angeles’ “wild west” story, just before U.S. whites aggressively asserted so-called “law and order.”  As a recent article in the LA Weekly demonstrates, it is popularly known as LA’s first race riot, and continues to be sensationalized in present-day dime-novel style. If we think of “race” in terms of US-based cultural constructions of race, it may have been LA’s first race riot.  But considering the history of Spanish colonization before the United States occupied this land, and then the fact that the United States still occupies this land, the events of 1871 are a much more complex and part of a longer trajectory of imperialism and violence.

It is an important marker in the historical experiences of Chinese in Southern California — an especially violent anti-Chinese event. Between 18-22 Chinese men and boys were killed, mostly by lynching.  Those who were indicted for their murder were both white and Mexican.  It is also an important marker in the transition from Spanish-Mexican to U.S. rule.  Of course I could go on and on, but you’ll have to read my book for that! (If it ever gets published…if I ever finish writing it…)

The play was excellent!  Although some of it was fictionalized, the main story about the 1871 events was really well-done.  And I think some of the fictional parts were necessary for the audience to understand what was going on historically at the time.   Tom Jacobson brilliantly includes insightful annotations, with information about source materials as well as key information about LA and the region that help the audience to contextualize the story.  Not only that, but he also notes the connections to other “race riots” in LA history, notably the Zoot Suit Riots and the Watts Riots, as a way to encourage the audience to think about the larger history of rioting in LA, even if in vastly different historical moments.  Jeff Liu took great care to make sure accents and representations were well and justly executed.  I wish I knew more about theater, or I would say so much more and I would say it much more elegantly.

Go see it!

May 17, 2011

what was missing.

by la rebelde

I have been thinking a lot lately about whether and how to come back to blogging. I stopped blogging regularly because I got caught up with my pinche dissertation. It was a rough time, rougher than I ever expected. The last year of grad school was the roughest year in my life, in fact. Not that I expected it to be a walk in the park, but really, I was put through the wringer in a way one of my mentors called “unprecedented.” Back when I slumped on blog posts, a good friend reminded me that my dissertation should not take away the joy of writing and the importance of putting words on the page about things that matter. That was over two years ago.

The other day I had a writing meeting with a friend/camarada who is finishing up her own pinche dissertation. We exchanged intros to our pieces and then had a trans-pacific video chat. (Thank goodness for the internets!) She pointed out that I need to trust my story-telling voice, because it’s good. “You know, the one you write with on your blog,” she said — another reminder that story-telling is the reason I started doing this history work in the first place. I didn’t go to grad school just because I thought history is “interesting.”  I went because I believed — I still believe — that telling/knowing our stories and exposing the functions and consequences of power and imperialism are necessary for liberation.

This is where I have to begin from now on — to write from my heart, from my gut.  What was missing during the last nine months of dissertation writing was me. It’s definitely time for a comeback. Maybe here, maybe somewhere else. But it’s long overdue.

By the way, I’m glad to see that some of my favorite bloggers are still around. If any of you are still following me, know that I have kept up with your blogs even if I haven’t commented very often.

peace + love.