Archive for ‘amigas’

August 30, 2011

one year ago.

by la rebelde

On this day, one year ago, I filed my pinche dissertation.  Over the last month I have thinking a lot about where I was, spiritually, this time last year.  My soul had been bruised deeply, but still I kept writing, kept reading, kept thinking, kept feeling.  Read. Write. Read. Write.  Everyday.  Make the deadline.  Cite the right books, articles, and arguments.  Prove you are worthy of their approval.

Be the scholar they say you can’t be.
Be the activist-scholar they don’t want you to be.
Be the love you imagine it possible and necessary to be.

On my birthday last year, my friends pleaded with me to take a short break.  “Even just two hours to celebrate over brunch!” I finally gave in.  “But only for 2 hours!” I’d said.  Manito C came to keep me company for a couple days.  He read novels while I wrote.  Friends who live far away called to check in on me, read my writing, helped me hold on to what I had earned.  They are phenomenal.

All you need is a signature.  The only way I finished was to write from the heart.  I’m still learning how to do that.

On this day, one year ago, I became a Doctor.  It was confirmed with the small, but not-so-small, email  from my U, attached to which was a .pdf of a certificate saying I’d completed all the steps, jumped through all the hoops, checked off all the boxes big and small, to attain the degree.  It was the most anti-climactic moment of my entire educational experience.

And then I slept for three weeks.

Today my friend and I were making small talk with a woman at a coffeeshop.  She asked if I was a college student.  Before I could reply, my friend said, no she’s a professor!  Sometimes my friends are more excited about it than I am.  I still feel weird saying I’m a professor.  But I am one.  The woman said I look “too young to be a professor.”  Funny, my abuela said that to my profesora a few years ago. I guess professors are supposed to be stuffy white-haired old men with tweed, instead of spunky 30-something brown women in mini-skirt, hoop earrings and purple nail polish.

Healing is a long process.  Along the way, I realized the process is as much about the events of the last year as it is the historia of my Self, and the recasting of my spirit from a stronger place, a place of love and community.  I’m glad to be here, no longer there, moving toward where I want to be, and creating new stories.

June 13, 2009

stream of consciousness.

by la rebelde

PERHAPS it was a series of events. I don’t think I realized what was going on—the number of things I was mulling over inside consciously…or maybe unconsciously. My amigas seemed to know what was going on with me before I did. They know when I’m off my game. And I am lucky to have them in my life.

MOURNING. A couple months ago, I thought to myself, I’m not sure that I even know how to mourn. The last time I was in Nuevo México, I spent all my time taking care of my abuelita and everyone else, that I didn’t have time to confront my own emotions about my abuelito having left this world for a better one. Now, I haven’t been a mass-going sister since I went away for college when I was 18, just 3 years after I decided not to be confirmed and 5 years after I finished my 9th year of Catholic schooling. But during many hours spent at church, at rosarios, at mass, the novena, with familia, I was reminded of the power of meditation, of praying in a way that I find healing. In the weeks following my abuelito’s passing, three of my amigas have lost close family members. Praying, thinking, talking in my thoughts with ancestors past. I am still learning.

AMIGAS.  Jennifer’s and Joseph’s wedding.  A four-day-long reunion with amigas I’ve known for ten years now (ten years!).  Good times catching up, sharing tasty meals and lots and lots of dancing!  Despite my exhaustion from driving all around LA and Bakersfield, it was refreshing. And a welcome follow-up to my trip to Austin just a few weeks before (a reunion, as well, minus the dancing). It’s not that I’d forgotten how amazing it is to be around good friends, it’s just that it has been a while since I spent time with more than one good friend at once. There’s so much that doesn’t need to be explained when you’re with friends you’ve known for so long.

MANITO D. He had been working the graveyard shift at the drugstore for a couple of months, to make up hours lost since my abuelito’s health took a turn for the worse. He experienced not one, but two, robberies at gunpoint within a month. The second one was really scary. I’m so thankful that he is okay and that he has some time off to heal and focus on himself. He told me the other day that between my abuelito’s passing and having his life threatened twice, he’s been thinking a lot about life, how precious it is, and how he doesn’t want to put off spending time with people he loves and on things that are really important to him. For me too, it is a reminder.

BABIES. Two of my closest amigas in the whole world are making new life in their wombs. They will be the first mothers among my close friends. It’s exciting! And I anticipate that it will mean big changes for our relationships as well, although I’m not sure yet what these changes will look like.

MOVING. I wrote my last post in the midst of all of these things. For a month I spent a lot of energy weighing the pros and cons of moving to small-midwestern-college-town versus staying in Los Angeles. I am not one to think quantitatively. And in the end, I realized that I could make many different lists (I am good at making lists!). I could see which list was longer. I could make a good argument for either place, arguments that would be in my best interest in one way or another. But some decisions cannot be based on lists. Three years ago, during the oral defense of my comprehensive exams, my profes asked me, at what kind of institution do you see yourself teaching when you finish? I told them it depended on what was going on in my life, that place is more important to me than the type of school, that academia alone is not going to make me happy. They were shocked that I’d said it out loud.

LOS ANGELES. I decided to stay here. I still cannot quite put all of these thoughts that I have collected over the last year or more into words. Perhaps I don’t need to. Who knows what the coming year will bring for me and my loved ones? But I have a good feeling about it!

August 16, 2008

31.

by la rebelde


“I’m tilting! I’m tilting!” was all I could say as I gripped the handlebars of mis amigas’ lowrider…I mean, recumbent…bicycle last weekend. Tocaya jogged alongside me on the bike path as I tried to stay upright, both of us laughing our asses off. Since I never learned to ride a bike, my amazing amigas—who I’ve known since our first year of college when we were roommates in the “Latina quad”—decided they would be the patient ones who would teach me…before I turned 31 the following Monday. I’d had other lessons before. A few years ago one my colegas rented a bike for my birthday, but they didn’t have any small enough for me, so I left that parking lot with bruised shins and bruised crotch. Ay.

In the springtime before I turned 8 years old, my parents got me the best bike ever! It was pink like strawberry milk, with a white basket in front and red, pink and white tassels on the handlebars. Strawberry Shortcake—my favorite—graced the basket. I rode it up and down our street—a dirt road with a dead-end—but I was afraid to take off the training wheels. A few months later I got real sick and spent a week in the hospital. “No climbing trees, no riding bikes,” said Dr. Pinkerton who looked like the Pink Panther. “Not until we’re sure you are better.” The next summer we moved and I wasn’t allowed to ride my bike on the street because, for some reason, cholos liked to have their drug deals go down right in front of our house. And, well, I was a girl. My brothers got to explore the neighborhood in ways I never did, even though they were younger. In the meantime, I got to read books…lots of books. So I never learned to ride and Strawberry Shortcake sat, rusting in the shed out back.

Last weekend, mis amigas and I decided that if I learned to ride the recumbent, we wouldn’t have to rent one. And besides, it’s the only one mis amigas had that could adjust to my very small stature. After a brief trial run, we changed our minds and headed to the rental place where the hipster dude recommended a cute little pale blue bike—just my size.

I’m not sure how much time passed—maybe 2 or 3 hours. But I learned how to ride. I had great teachers. And while there wasn’t enough time for me to master the ability to ride in a straight line so that we could hit the bike path, I felt the wind in my hair…as I rode circles and circles in a parking lot. I almost fell off a couple times, but I never once fell on my ass!

31 is different than 30. 30 is exciting—it’s almost not even not-twenties. 31, however, is definitely, firmly in the thirties. It’s sort of anti-climactic really. But 31 is going to be a great year, I can feel it already!

* This photo was taken from Mount Tom in western Massachusetts. I don’t have a photo of the bike path, but I took this photo looking toward the bike path. I know…I really think ahead with this blog thing.
**I am, of course, reminded of Cindylu’s love for the number 31. I wonder what she will write when she turns 31.

June 19, 2008

amazing gifts.

by la rebelde

It goes without saying, the best thing about traveling for academic purposes is rolling deep—spending time with amigas/os who live far away and reminding yourself why it is you do what you do. On the flip side, if you are a single person who lives alone and is writing a dissertation, the return to solitude can be even more pronounced—in a lonely apartment, the silence deafening. That’s why I watch so much t.v.

The last two weeks were non-stop activity— exciting, relaxing, eye-straining, mundane, frustrating, nerve-wracking, and relieving—in that order.

The bulk of it—7 days straight, in fact—was spent scoring AP exam essays in Louisville. It’s no fun, but I do it for the money—7 days work for 1 month’s rent and utilities is nothing to scoff at. But I don’t believe in AP the way the high school teachers I worked with do. They’re invested because they teach students to pass this test. Those students sometimes end up in my classroom, and oftentimes they are resistant to working on critical thinking skills. “It’s the arrogance of youth,” I’ve been told. “No, it’s not,” I’ve responded. “It’s the arrogance of privilege.” Kids who take AP classes aren’t any smarter than those who don’t. For the most part, they just went to wealthy high schools with mostly white student bodies. But I digress. Seven days spent in Louisville allowed me to refresh my knowledge of Jacksonian America and the Vietnam War. It gave me time with 2 amigas/colegas who I greatly respect. And it forced me to take some time away from my impending dissertation. I took this photo on an evening walk along the Ohio River—the historian in me couldn’t help but think of the many folks who crossed this border-river to “freedom” in the North, sort of like the Río Grande/Bravo.

Lucky for me, I spent a few days with a close amiga in Lexington before heading to Louisville. Although we speak often on the phone, it was somehow different to be in her space, to see where she goes everyday, to meet the people she spends time with. Amiga has been subletting a fabulous house from her friend who is studying away. There’s something about the character of those southern houses surrounded by greenery and flowers–the architecture, the porches, the history. It was a quaint neighborhood, where I imagine many faculty live—definitely not working-class and mostly white (I know you’re surprised about that one). We had a great time, just staying up late talking.

After Louisville, I traveled directly to the Berks conference on the History of Women. It was the first time I presented at a major conference. My amigas/colegas and I stayed with a profe who was generous enough to share his home. He and two Chicana scholars attended our panel. I looked at them the entire time I was speaking and for good reason. During the Q + A, a white man asked a question—or rather, made a comment—about my work, suggesting that I hadn’t used primary documents, that I’d relied on the work of long-established historians. This kind of comment is a straight up diss for historians. He clearly hadn’t paid attention to my talk. I responded by discussing my sources and turning the discussion more toward the difficulty of finding sources about working-class women of color—there just aren’t many out there, especially ones that were created a hundred years ago. One profe responded to his question also by challenging his assumptions. Fortunately other folks asked good questions. I was grateful that the brown folks in the audience had come to support us, and could be angry for me, for us, when I was too nervous, anxious and tired to be angry for myself.

This is how I spent the first two weeks of June. Everyday was spent with good friends—four in total. The nourishment of time spent with amigas, mentors and community was good for my soul. They are amazing gifts. And I often wish I could put all of my amigas/os, who are scattered around the globe now, in my pocket to carry with me all the time.

May 27, 2008

got muses?

by la rebelde

An amiga recently shared with me her experience attending a creative writing workshop. Like me, she is an academic whose field of study continually recreates an investment in different kinds of objectivity—quite different from the kind of poetry and flower talk that her fellow participants discussed. They had to share poems with each other. It made me think, gosh, I’ve never written poetry—in fact, my version would probably be to write a narrative and then press the return-button at different points that looked…nice. I struggle with creativity in my writing. Creativity is not part of the standard historian training package. But how to find my own voice in my academic writing, or any writing?

My advisers have recently critiqued me for “letting historiography overpower my own voice”—as in, relying on established scholars to say what I want to say for me. I get that I should do that. In fact, I didn’t want to do that in the first place, but I thought I had to. Anyway, I’m working on developing my writing voice. I mean, I have lots of ideas that I can speak about for hours, but writing it is a different story.

At amiga’s workshop, some folks discussed how they lost their muses. According to wikipedia, in Greek mythology, muses are

“a sisterhood of goddesses or spirits, their number set at nine by Classical times, who embody the arts and inspire the creation process with their graces through remembered and improvised song and stage, writing, traditional music, and dance.”

But, in my world, is it a person, place or thing? If not a person, does it have a personality? (For some reason it conjures up memories of some movie with Sharon Stone or some other blonde actress who was supposed to be a sexy muse….but I digress.) Would a muse help one with creativity in writing—even a historian? I’m just not sure I ever had one (or many). And if I didn’t know I had one in the first place, maybe I’ve lost mine without my knowing it. And if I didn’t know I lost my muse, it may have been gone for a long, long time.

***

“I’d rather work on my dissertation, than work on this conference paper,” I told another amiga a couple weeks ago. I wasn’t kidding. I’d reached a point where I felt that writing my dissertation would somehow be easier—because there wouldn’t be the pressure of writing a concise and interesting narrative in 10 pages or less. Or maybe it was because I kept psyching myself out by focusing on the larger project instead of focusing on the 10 pages. Either way, it was not a good situation.

Later on, a third amiga popped up on my gchat to see how my paper had gone and whether I’d submitted it in to the commenter. I had. “How do you feel about it?” she asked. “It’s not my best work…but then again, maybe it is—and that’s the scary thing.”

The thing about being in the dissertation stage is that I know a whole heck of a lot of stuff. I also know good writing when I see it. The process of making my writing good? That’s a whole other story—yet to be realized. At the same time, I know my thinking is so much sharper than it was in years past—I’ve worked hard at that I’m pretty sure that my writing has improved too. But because now it’s my turn to write new stuff, this process has become a bit overwhelming.

***

The last few weeks have been a writing disaster. But not for lack of inspiration–I like my dissertation topic. For that reason, luckily, I have not stopped writing. And I have not become paralyzed by the academic banter—I refuse to. But I have potentially, unknowingly lost my muse. And if this is the case, then I need to find one (or more than one). So, queridos readers, do you have a muse? Have you ever lost your muse? How did you find it again or keep it from leaving?

May 6, 2008

on business.

by la rebelde

I’ve been away from Los Angeles for a while. All “on business” as they say. My favorite part about traveling “on business” is that I get to reconnect with friends I haven’t seen in a long time. (Obviously, “business” is not the central thing.) I’d forgotten what it was like to be around amigas/os constantly. When I was in small-midwestern-college-town, I was almost a social butterfly! I say almost because I wasn’t trying to be social—I just enjoyed hanging out with friends. It was a work-hard-play-hard kind of lifestyle—studying until 11 or 12 and hitting up my favorite lounge bar for a tequila gimlet (my favorite drink, in case you were wondering) before going home. Very different from the life I lead in LA, where amigas/os are harder to come by. Now, back in my apartment, I’m reminded of what it’s like to be alone again.

Well, I’m not completely alone, actually. My good amiga has been crashing in my study while she completes her comprehensive exams, which she has a week to do. It’s nice to know someone else is around, even if just for a few days. And just like several of my LA friends before her, she’ll be moving up north, to the bay area, in a couple weeks. I’m happy for her, but sad to see her go.

I spent this last semester exceedingly worried about my funding situation for the next school year (which also meant I put unnecessary stress on myself to write faster, but that’s another post altogether). I poured over fellowship and grant applications, hoping that I’d get one so that I could stay in Los Angeles. So that I wouldn’t have to go back to small-midwestern-college-town where white liberals abound and where I too easily fall into the (un)comfortable space of invisibility—privileged invisibility. So that I could feel more settled and postpone the inevitable academic process of uprooting my home and my life just one more year. So that I could continue getting to know the spaces and, more importantly, the communities who live in the legacy of the histories that I’m trying to learn about.

After much thought and agony—and a pile of rejection letters—I decided it would be worth taking out loans and possibly teaching so that I could stay in LA. And then I got one! I haven’t gotten the official letter yet, but I got a fellowship that will pay for my food and shelter for one more year. I should be happier than I am, because, hell, I’m a privileged-ass person in this world. But I’m anxious about what lies in store for the next year—whether I’ll find new friends and a larger community. And whether I’ll be able to bust out this pinche dissertation, so I can (hopefully?) move on to a post-doc or a job situation. I guess time will tell. In the meantime, I shall write.

April 13, 2008

on making friends.

by la rebelde

A few weeks ago I was catching up with a close amiga who is also fairly new to her current city. We are both still in search of good friends our respective areas. I have a few in the LA area, but we don’t get to see each other as often as we should. And one (maybe two) is moving away soon, which makes me kind of sad. Amiga was saying that when she met certain friends, she knew immediately that they’d be “friends for life.” That’s only happened to me a couple of times. With others, it’s taken some time for us to become comfortable with each other. I suppose it’s that way with relationships of all sorts.
*
I arrived (fashionably) late to the party. It wasn’t the kind of party I’m used to. The birthday girl (BG) was in her third trimester, so things were pretty low-key. There was no alcohol, no dancing, but there were cupcakes, which I love!

I’ve only hung out with BG a couple times. She’s one of those LA acquaintances who I like, but haven’t gotten to know very well yet. And she and her husband were the only people I knew there. When I arrived, all dozen party-goers were sitting in a circle on the floor around the coffee table, where all the snacks were laid out. They seemed to know each other already and were in the midst of a vibrant conversation about random topics like pop music. I took a chair next to someone who sat alone on the side.

I’m not usually the super-shy type, but I have to admit, I felt awkward and out of place. Like it was not my crowd, not my niche. The feeling was reinforced when folks started trying to remember happy birthday songs in Spanish, which they’d learned in their intro Spanish classes—exactly the reason I hated Spanish class in school. They meant well, but it was a very, shall we say, multicultural moment. (I should add that there was only one other Latino person there besides me. Everyone else was white or Asian Am.)

After a good while, the hostess very generously tried to bring me into the conversation. She introduced everyone in the room—turns out a lot of them didn’t actually know each other like I thought. Most of them were straight couples—and they introduced themselves along with their couple-ness. “I go with so-and-so.” They laughed at themselves for making those comments—even compared themselves to Ken and Barbie. “Ken goes with Barbie.” Yea, I thought to myself, definitely not my crowd. But maybe they were just reflecting each other’s awkwardness. Quien sabe.

Things got better once we started decorating cupcakes and folks started to move around a lot. I had a couple of really great conversations. And I was reminded that friendships sometimes have to be made, that they’re not always instantaneous. I don’t know if I’ll become good friends with anyone I met there. But I hope to see BG again soon. And maybe a couple of the others too. (As long as there’s no Ken-and-Barbie talk…or Spanish class song-singing. I’m just saying.)

*I did not make or decorate this cupcake. It was bakery-bought by the hosts.

March 12, 2008

baskin in sunshine.

by la rebelde

This afternoon was one of those perfect springtime afternoons.

After my Spanish conversation class, I met up with a couple of amigas for lunch at Philippe’s, “the birth place of the French dip sandwich.” I’d seen it on the food network a few weeks ago. “An L.A. institution,” they’d said. It was crazy crowded, but we made our orders and found our way to an open table. We each put a bunch of Dijon mustard in our sandwiches, which made our noses wrinkle and tears well up in our eyes. It was pretty yummy, but not six bucks-yummy–not when there’s a $3 Vietnamese sandwich to be had across the street. At least now we can say we’ve been there.

Afterward, one amiga went back to work while the other and I strolled through Placita Olvera. She was looking for a gift for a friend. Then we sat on the plaza, eating creamy-tart mango con chile, watching the world go by and ducking the little birds that zipped through the air between our heads. The sun was shining and amiga—who’s been away at school couldn’t stop talking about how much she loves L.A. I’d forgotten what it’s like to hang out with someone who loves their hometown that much—especially those big city folks from LA and NYC. They have a whole other kind of exceptionalism, which can be really cool when its not oppressive. If you’ve ever known a die-hard New Yorker, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

The whole time I tried to keep my dissertation out of my head. Last night I’d been overwhelmed by my writing and this afternoon I was straight chillin’ at the site of my dissertation story—only a hundred years later. I tried to keep my stories to myself. That’s really hard for historians, because really, we could talk about it forever.

Now back at my desk in my apartment, I still feel the nourishment of sun on my skin. But now I must get back to the writing. And all I want to do is chill with my amigas.

March 6, 2008

on bizcochitos, tomato soup and knowledge-making.

by la rebelde

I was watching an “Ace of Cakes” marathon on the Food Network the other day. In case you haven’t seen the show, Charm City Cakes is a bakery in Baltimore where artist-bakers design these amazing cakes in 3D form, like airplanes and those giant balloons that rich kids like to bounce in at their birthday parties. Very cool stuff—the cakes, not the bouncing, although that might be fun.

They aired the one where they make a cake for a zoo event in the shape of a standing elephant, complete with wrinkly skin. Then, as if it couldn’t get any better, they made one of an old school NYC subway train—those metallic rounded cars, complete with full-on, 6-foot tall graffiti. These cakes seem totally extravagant and expensive and it makes me wonder who the heck actually pays for such fancy cakes for events like a 5-year-old’s birthday party. But I really like watching them construct the sculptures and paint the designs.

**

Yesterday I spent over six hours at this great Chicano coffeeshop just writing—writing like the wind. It’s funny how a super-productive day can feel really good, even if you leave feeling like you’ll need a million more hours just to say what you need to say. And today I changed my primary focus of the chapter…again for the 4th time in 3 weeks. I guess that’s the nature of a dissertation. And hopefully it will be the better for it.

I only wonder when the stress will subside.

**

Just this weekend, I was talking with a grad school amiga about how often there are moments when I think, I could be so much happier doing something else—something other than academia. And yet, I keep on, despite the personal and political contradictions that plague my existence as an intellectual and as someone committed to the liberatory possibilities of community-building. She has similar experiences–that’s why she’s my girl.

My struggle lately—or perhaps all along—has been the issue of owning knowledge (which I wrote about here before). I am haunted by the constant need to demonstrate that I, as a historian, am “doing something new” even though one could argue that nothing really is “new” because all studies build on work and ideas that have come before theirs. (And by work and ideas, I mean the broadest senses in which we might think about theorizing knowledge-making and the labor needed to make that happen, inside or outside the boundaries of the academy.)

The haunting spirals into frustration when people who work outside my subfield (gender and Asian American history, for example) who find it necessary to tell me that my topic has “been done” by citing the three texts they’ve read about gender and the three they’ve read about Asian Am history. (Nevermind that I am looking at those subfields together along with other subfields too. And of course, there actually are scholars who have come before me who have looked at those subfields together. Gasp!) This is not the first time that’s happened–when well-meaning folks suggest that I need to “position” (read defend) myself against others who have studied similar themes so as to prove that my entire dissertation does not simply repeat their narratives–and it won’t be the last. Of course, there are expectations that one be clear about one’s interventions in “the field,” that one must write in conversation with key texts. That’s really important, especially for brown/women academics because we always seem to have to defend our existence in the academic world. My frustration arises from what happens along the fissure between asking how you understand your study in relation to a specific theory/argument/story, and the somewhat accusatory, implied question of whether you have read key books in your own field. Perhaps this is a question about colonialism, respect, community and pedagogy (something I learned a great deal about from my compañeras/os in tejas).

But this is not about those people—who actually are trying to help and who gave me some great feedback. It is about the culture of knowledge production in the academy/field that fundamentally reproduces false notions of objectivity despite all the work folks have done to show how knowledge-making is shaped by perspective, that it is socially constructed, colonialist and all that jazz—a culture that encourages people to be competitive and selfish. When it gets to that, it’s not about learning or sharing–it’s about showing off and one-upping everyone else. That’s why I left grad school back in 2000, thinking I would probably never return and hoping I would never be one of those scholars who forgot to learn.

I could go on and on.

**

My point here is that, even on the good days of writing or researching or teaching—the really exciting days—I still constantly consider stopping this academic thing and becoming an artist-baker-coffeeshop-bookstore-running person instead. I could make cinnamon rolls, pan dulce, bizcochitos, sopapillas, pozole and a really good tomato soup. I could stock books, magazines and artwork that tell our stories. Hopefully people I love, even if I don’t know them, would feel comfortable spending time there. That way, at least I could participate in the creation of a space in which community and learning comes first, rather than owning knowledge. And maybe then the idealist in me won’t be smudged away by cynicism and frustration.

February 4, 2008

patching together a life.

by la rebelde

I was sitting in front of my computer, as I had been for the last 10+ hours, when my good amiga popped up on my instant messenger. We caught up about life things, making the thousands of miles in between us seem like nothing, if even for a moment. As we chatted I was reminded of something she’d said a few days earlier in an email.

“It’s tough patching together a life sometimes, huh?” she’d written.
Yes! I remember thinking. But I hadn’t responded that day—I was too distracted. Not by my work, mind you. I was more distracted by myself.

I had been doing work off and on, in spurts coinciding with deadlines. When I really get going (or when I’m feeling sorry for myself for not getting going), I sometimes don’t leave my apartment unless there’s a specific reason, like my Spanish class or the rare lunch with a friend. These are not the most ideal working conditions for me. I’m really not diggin the academic isolation thing. I’m used to being around lots of people, people I love and trust, who like to share ideas and food and drink and laughter, who don’t take life so seriously they forget to have fun.

Call it a case of the post-holiday loneliness blues, I guess. I really miss my familia and my amig@s–all of them are scattered across the globe right now and only a couple live close enough to drive to. It was one of those weeks where I couldn’t help but think, Dang, what the heck was I thinking when I decided to move to LA?? I’ve been living here for almost a year and a half—A YEAR AND A HALF—and it’s still hard to find community and make this place home. But the thing is, I know exactly what I was thinking when I moved here. I was thinking I could write a dissertation, that I could be a part of the communities that I write about, that I could develop a real sense of the tierra on which they lived and the futures they’d helped to shape, that I could forge new friendships and maybe find a nice brown man to be my guy. I knew I wouldn’t get any of that if I’d stayed in small-midwestern-college-town. Well, I might get the dissertation done there, but it wouldn’t be the same.

And it’s not that I regret having moved here. I stand by what I said before about there not being any other place I’d rather be right now. But that doesn’t necessarily make happiness.

Lately, I’ve been told over and over—by academics and non-academics alike—that things will be better once I’m done with this degree. But that’s not convincing. Sure it will be better to be attached to a college/university (where you live) because then at least you see other human beings on a regular basis. And sure, once you have a job (if you get a job) you’ll finally have a livable income and hopefully some more stability. But I absolutely hate the idea that I’m waiting for my life to begin…after I birth this pinche dissertation. Shouldn’t it begin now? or yesterday even? Why should I be defined by my dissertation?

Well, all of this is just a bunch of rambling complaining because in the scheme of things, I’m a fortunate and privileged person. I have food to eat, an apartment to live in and people who care about me. But if my amiga is right, a life must to be patched together, not thought of in separate parts. This is one of the things I’ll be thinking about as the lunar new year passes this year. The others, I might write about later.