Archive for ‘comunidad’

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.

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August 22, 2011

on art, trains + borders.

by la rebelde

This summer I started training to become a docent at the Chinese American Museum (CAM) over at the Pueblo de los Angeles Historical Monument — aka Placita Olvera.  Although I ultimately decided that I could not give the time to it that it deserved, I learned so much from the few training sessions I attended.  As a historian, trained by elite academic institutions, it is, to me, imperative to know how people understand historical narratives — people who don’t sit around and read tons of historical monographs written by others who do the same.  I was reminded how difficult it is to put lots of information into a teeny tiny chunk of time.

Back in July, when Manito D and Nicole were visiting, we saw the Street Art exhibit at the MOCA.  It was pretty remarkable.  Over the previous months, I’d read the critiques of the exhibit — particularly how the exhibit did not include many Los Angeles based street artists.  Walking through the museum, the omission was glaring.  Still, it was well-done.  I wish I’d had more time to read about the artists and the history of graffiti.

My favorite was the wall of train cars.  I have always been fascinated by train graffiti.  My ex was a graffiti artist and DJ, and we spent hours talking about it, how he planned his pieces, stories of jumping over fences to get at a train car in a rail yard.  In my MA program, I wrote my thesis on Chinese and Mexican railroad workers and U.S. empire.  Now my book begins and ends with the railroads, although they are not the center of the story.  Mexican workers lived in train cars — boxcars that railroad companies used to house workers, and which, according to reformers and city officials, were part of the “housing problem” in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Chinese and Mexican children played on or near the tracks, and recalled the feeling of rattling floorboards as the trains passed by their homes.  Folks who lived in boxcars built homes and communities, despite the poor housing conditions that were available to them.  Train car graffiti just smacks US imperialism in the face by highlighting everyday lives of actual people.  Especially when it covers the corporate signage on the sides of cars, and then those cars travel across the continent.

Patrick Martinez’ pieces (the ones he is standing in front of in this photo) are at the Chinese American Museum as part of their “Dreams Deferred” exhibit.  It is a great exhibit where LA street artists respond to immigration reform.  The same week I went to the exhibit at the MOCA, I was fortunate to attend a session led by one of the curators at CAM, who told us in more detail about the artists and their pieces.  What’s truly amazing about it, to me, is how, in the conjunction with the Museum’s exhibit, called Remembering Angel Island, the art exhibit links Chinese exclusion and current day immigration/border restriction debates.  The Angel Island exhibit highlights the experiences of border-crossing for Chinese, in the midst of border restriction during Chinese Exclusion, in a way that shows their dignity, their experience of crossing the border, of enduring interrogation by US officials, of living in inhumane conditions while in confinement, all so they could make a life, join family members, live.  The artists featured in the Dreams Deferred address current-day renderings of border restrictions.  It is not very different today.

The MOCA exhibit got all the play, because well, it’s the MOCA.  If you didn’t get to see it, maybe you can catch it in another city if it moves.  Unfortunately, it left LA already.

But I have to say, the CAM exhibit is more powerful and more meaningful, in part because it is more politically focused on one topic, but also because it is historicized well.  Both the street art and Angel Island exhibits are incredible. Go see them before they leave in December/January!

(photo via Patrick Martinez | Hustlemania @ Known Gallery)

June 20, 2011

all of us.

by la rebelde

That’s me and Manito D in the photo.  Last weekend, my abuelita threw a giant graduation party for my prim@s, Manito D and I in Taos.  She invited 250 of our closest relatives and friends to celebrate at the Taoseño.  The Taoseño is an important building in our family because back in the day, it was a bowling alley, and my abuelit@s owned it for a short time during the 1950s.  Now it’s a favorite gathering place for family functions because the bar area (where the bowling lanes used to be) is big enough to host large parties.  They also have pretty tasty enchiladas.  Can’t go wrong there!

Anyway, I hadn’t had a chance to *really* celebrate finishing the pinche ph.d.  I’d gone out for drinks after my defense, and friends treated me to nice dinners here and there, which was great!  And I love them — I have great friends.  But I pretty much spent the next few months mulling over the mean things some profes said about me and my work.  Critique on your work is one thing, but critique on your integrity is another.  Yeah, still getting over that.

So the celebration was soul lifting because it was my family, my elders, who told me over and over how proud of me they are, how big an achievement it is for me, for us.  I definitely could not have done it without the hard work of those who came before me, or without the love and support of friends and family.  The degree isn’t about me, it’s about all of us.

Until a couple days ago, I hadn’t had a chance to read all of the beautiful cards I received that day.  Two, in particular, got me all teary-eyed.  One was from my older primo David, who is a healer.  At the party he came up to me, hugged me and told me that my grandpa is proud of me and watching down from heaven.  And he gave me a bendición.  I wish I had been able to talk to him more that day.  The other was from my good, good amiga, Nicole. She has an amazing gift for words that I can only hope to emulate:

“What I wish for you on this day of family celebration is that the difficulties lift for a moment so you can truly see/feel, as I do, just how much you have accomplished, how your life and work honors your family, your elders, your community.  Be proud of yourself, and everything you have done to get to this place.  You lift all of us with you.”

I will be forever thankful.

August 2, 2009

all in a day.

by la rebelde

Home. I’m home for a week or so. Haven’t been home since my abuelo left us. His physical absence is everywhere. My grandma is having a hard time. I wish there was something I could do to ease the pain that brings the tears to sting her eyes. “There’s days worse than others,” she told me just minutes ago. When my grandpa became very ill, she stopped paying attention to her own body–only focused on caring for his.  Now she focuses on hers. Tomorrow we take her to have a cataract removed. The other eye will be done in a few weeks.  On the way to the casino, for her daily dose of bingo, she walks faster than I do.  And tonight we sat together in front of my computer with Manito D and youtubed her favorite mariachi songs.  I am grateful for her health.

Niños. Manito D has a way with the children. Over the last few weeks, he has been building a patio/porch from his own design. And he has been doing most of the work by himself. Well, almost by himself–the neighborhood boys from his block, about 13-14 years old, have all been coming over everyday to help out. Why? Because Manito D is “so cool!” This is what they have testified. I’d have to agree. Yesterday he helped them each make their own picnic table/bench to take home for their familias. Five minutes ago, he was up on the rooftop with two of the kids. They tap, tap, tap, nails into shingles to keep the rain and the snow out. Grandma pulled out a 5 dollar bill, “Go buy them a box of ice cream!” The patio is going to be beautiful…even more so, because it became a community project. Photos of the patio in-progress to come soon.

Writing. There’s always writing to do.  And writing I did…well, at least for a couple hours.  In between the rooftop banging, cleaning the bathroom, getting groceries and making dinner.

Sopa. This morning after I took my grandma to mass, we all had breakfast at García’s. They have a new dessert menu. Yum! We didn’t try any of the new items because, well, sopaipillas come with. I had the refried special: 1 egg, scrambled. frijolitos. papitas. chile, red. y una tortilla. I didn’t eat the sopa. My papa and I discussed how, for us, “sopa” means both breadpudding and a nickname for sopaipilla (not soup for us!) Then we couldn’t remember what other people call breadpudding. Took us at least 10 minutes before my papa asked one of the meseras, who is from México. Capirotada!

May 3, 2009

misunderstandings.

by la rebelde

“this morning

the people hanging out

by the coffee shop

laugh and languish

their carefree tourist manner void of history, of memory

neither attachment nor sentiment to time and place

no scars as enduring testaments

to the questions posed, the answers given”

–Leo Romero, “One Last Cruise: Taos Plaza”

Over the last couple months, my tío has been sending me email letters once a week, updating me on familia and sharing his writing. He’s been writing stories of his childhood and stories he remembers from the elders. It’s his latest post-retirement project. Clearly story-telling runs in the familia. But more on that later…

Last week, when an amiga shared with me the work of nuevomexicano poet, Leo Romero, I wanted to pass it along. I enjoy many of them, but this poem about Taos Plaza was especially striking to me because it tells the story of how the plaza has changed with the influx of large numbers of white hippie types and artists. Back in the day, local people—and by local people I mean, mexicano (no they don’t generally call themselves that in NM, but I do) and native people whose familias go way, WAY back on that tierra—used the plaza for everyday life, like groceries and sodas, passing time together, community events and meeting primos (if you’re from northern nuevomexico, you know that calling someone primo is not only about cousins, but is often a term of endearment and confianza). Back then, the plaza was not for perusing pastel-colored objectifying tourist-oriented artwork. And not for searching for cheap imported kitschy fake southwestern crap like teeny clear plastic boxes of “Mexican jumping beans,” tacky t-shirts and mass produced pottery, like it is today. But I digress.

I emailed the poem to mis manitos, prima and primo, like I usually do, and this time I included my tío. The next day, my tío wrote back very excitedly: Congratulations! I guess we will be planning a trip to small-midwestern-college-town to see you graduate! When I read your email, my heart leaped with joy about your accomplishments! He’d seen my “professional” signature, which says I’m a “Doctoral Candidate” and mistook it for an announcement on having completed the degree.

His email was so warm and so genuine, that I almost didn’t have the heart to write back and tell him that I’m not done, that it will be at least another year before I can even think about a graduation, that this has been a rough year and I’ve fallen so far behind with my pinche dissertation. But I did write back—within three minutes of his message—clarifying that I’m not graduating…not yet.

Then this morning my papá called to tell me that my tío had been over to visit, had informed my papá and my abuela of my news, and that abuelita “had better start packing her suitcases, because we have a graduation to attend!” Papá was worried that I’d told my tío before telling him. Primo called too, just to clarify, and asked if I was going to break the news to my tío or if I wanted him to.  Who knows what more is left of the fallout.

Even though I knew it already (well… sorta), it’s heartening to know how much my tío supports my efforts at this Ph.D. thing.  And even though we haven’t talked about it much, I know that we share the commitment toward story-telling, toward recognizing the importance of time and place in (re)creating histories and living memories.

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.

November 22, 2007

history and thanksgiving.

by la rebelde
I have a poster in my study area from a conference that was titled “liberation through learning.” It was a gift from an elder of my college dormitory, where our programming and spaces were dedicated toward anti-racism and anti-colonialism–and the other “-isms” having to do with inequalities too. The conference itself happened a few years before I started college.

But it was in that dorm, with that community, that I started to learn how to articulate my experiences, to confront inequality through conversation and activism, to do my best to contest privilege–my own included. I have changed so much since then, but I am still learning. And I am thankful for having been a part of that community, with or without the dramatic moments.

This article reminded me of them and their legacy. And why I do what I do.

clipped from www.alternet.org

Abuses of history go on in the former empire and the former colony. History can be one of the many ways we create and impose hierarchy, or it can be part of a process of liberation. The truth won’t set us free, but the telling of truth at least opens the possibility of freedom.

As Americans sit down on Thanksgiving Day to gorge themselves on the bounty of empire, many will worry about the expansive effects of overeating on their waistlines. We would be better to think about the constricting effects of the day’s mythology on our minds.

blog it

You can read the entire article by Robert Jensen here.

August 8, 2007

what are you?

by la rebelde

Mi manito took my 8-year-old Sobrino to the movies, during fiesta time in northern nuevo méxico. At the theater they ran into young girl from a nearby town, still decked out in her dress and crown, clearly proud to have been named queen this year. (btw-fiesta queens are usually seniors in high school—17 or 18 years old.) Manito introduced Sobrino who was standing next to him.

“So what, did you have jungle-fever?” she asked Manito.

“You did not just say that to me in front of my son!” he responded, making his annoyance clear.

“What are you?” she asked, turning to Sobrino.

“I’m Mexican!” he stated defiantly.

She was taken aback by his confidence. “Oh yea? Well, what’s your mom?”

Sobrino looked up at Manito, unsure about how to respond. “It’s okay. Be proud of who you are. Tell her about your mom.”

“My mom is black,” he said.

“See, I was right!” she exclaimed, self-satisfied.

This was the story Manito relayed to me a couple weeks ago. He was real pissed. As was I, upon hearing the story. This was, after all, a fiesta queen. And if we understand correctly, she was chosen by her peers and her community to represent her town as queen. She must have good grades and speak well in front of a crowd. To paraphrase Manito, that’s a bullshit way to represent. Oh, and also freakin’ racist. Yea dude.


When I was a kid, I always hated the “what are you?” question. And hearing about Sobrino’s experience makes me more angry than I felt when it has happened to me. Actually, the “what are you?” question bothers me less now than it did then, but that may be because these kinds of questions tended to surface only when my classmates saw my mom. Otherwise it probably didn’t occur to them that I’m Chinese Am too—until I started going to Chinese School (which only lasted for a year) or when they saw my middle name. I didn’t know how to respond to it. Even now, it surprises me—making me take a brief moment of stunned silence before I respond. And I usually have to decide whether the person is actually ignorant, an asshole, or just careless with his/her words. I see the multiracial issue taking shape in other ways in my life, but not so much in these overt ways anymore.

Manito and I discussed the pros and cons of different responses to the “What are you?” question. And whether stating the obvious—“I’m a human being”—can be misunderstood to mean that you are not proud of who you are. Or if asking the same question back—“what are YOU?”—does any good. Because if the person is pendej@ enough to ask it in the first place, they probably are too pendej@ to understand how fucked up it is.

The fact is, the “what are you?” question denies your humanity. It is more a statement than a question. Most of the time there’s an underlying judgement of sex that mixture implies. And after that, it depends on how the conversation goes. Maybe it’s the half-this-half-that thing which I HATE with a loathing indescribable. Or maybe it’s the oh-mixed-people-are-so-beautiful thing (which I tend to think is true, but that’s probably also linked to some kind of arrogant, leo-ish sorta thing–and then again, who isn’t mixed anyhow?). Or maybe it’s the oh-what-an-interesting-mix or the aren’t-you-just-a-model-of-the-American-melting-pot bullshit. Whichever way the conversation goes, it will most likely make you out to be only partially human (and therefore either an animal or not of this earth), and will probably mathematically divvy up your body parts across the globe, reifying all those socially constructed, geopolitical boundaries.

Funny. That fiesta queen (who’s probably related to us in some way because everyone from that area is) didn’t ask Manito the “what are you?” question. And Sobrino didn’t say anything about being Chinese too. The thing is, when the “what are you?” question comes up, it’s only a moment–but it’s a moment with strong ripple effects.

So, how to prepare mi sobrino to respond to this question and questions like it. It will surely come up in his life again. And you’d think that his papá and his tía, being multiracial people who have thought a lot about this sort of thing, would have an answer. But we don’t. Manito’s response, not because Sobrino is multiracial, but because he is brown (meaning not white), is to foster a sense of pride. He wants Sobrino to know and love his familia, to understand our histories and cultures, to feel as comfortable with himself as possible, so that he can confront other obstacles. Maybe that’s all we can strive for.

August 4, 2007

check marks.

by la rebelde

I’ve gotten some great responses on my previous post about commenting on student papers. And I’ve been thinking more about check marks and whether or not they are useful.

Despite the disdain I expressed in the post, I have to admit that I’ve used check marks on my students’ papers before. But I am always clear with the students, when I return their papers, that check marks mean I’ve read that portion of their papers, that I am following what they are saying. This is not ideal of course, but it is what graduate student teaching assistants must do when they are grading…oh, 50-200 essays over a week or two. I am usually guilty of writing too many comments, of spending too much time on giving feedback and trying to synthesize their arguments, at the expense of my own work while grading. I know that sometimes I just have to get through the essays, but I often feel badly when I can’t give more meaningful feedback. Except with final exams, because I know they will most likely not pick them up.

When I was working on my MA thesis several years ago, I had a profe who provided no analytical feedback, but only wrote check marks and circled punctuation mistakes in my citations (despite my note informing him of a glitch in my Endnote program, which I would certainly fix by the time I submitted the final draft). His most substantial comment was that I needed to beef up my footnotes, so that I could prove to him that I knew the literature–that I had done my homework and could demonstrate that I was a historian, not someone in American Studies. Pretty ridiculous, I know. I asked him, point-blank, if he had any suggestions for my analysis or my argument. He sidestepped the question. I remember feeling that his red markings on my pages were only condescending and patronizing. (This was also because of some horribly mean and sexist remarks he made about my ability to finish on time–which I didn’t and he made sure of that. But that’s another post that I may or may not ever write.) Luckily, I don’t have anyone like that on my committee now.

Four years later, I am much more confident and knowledgeable about my work. At this point, check marks, along with words like “yuck,” only mean that the reader is not engaging with me, my ideas, or my writing. And maybe it’s a matter of differing approaches to mentorship or pedagogy. Perhaps, just because I would give more substantial feedback for my students and colleagues, doesn’t mean I should expect everyone to give the same. I’m still thinking about that one.

I guess what I am wondering about is the usefulness of check marks on graduate student work–particularly work that is done at the a.b.d. stage. Isn’t the purpose of feedback at that time supposed to address questions of engagement with the field, structures of arguments, rigor of analysis? Or is this a bigger question of mentorship? If being a good mentor–in whatever capacity–is one’s goal, how does one approach feedback on papers? And to take that one step further, if it is part of one’s political convictions that creating mentorship relationships is a necessary process for building community in an academic setting (and beyond), especially for people from marginalized groups, what is our responsibility to our students and peers when it comes to giving feedback on writing? What do you think?

July 13, 2007

the internets and the realness.

by la rebelde

So one of my personal life-goals in the last few years has been to work on becoming a better incarnation of myself. To decide how I want to live my life, both for myself and as a member of communities. To spend time around people who are fundamentally generous AND intellectually rigorous. And by that I mean, people who question their roles in the world, how they are participants of oppressive systems at all times, and how love and liberation have to go hand-in-hand. (I know that’s all cheesy and oh-so-Obie of me, but that’s how I see it.) Most of my amig@s are these things and they are great mentors (in the collective sense, ya know?).

And lately I’ve been wondering about the role of technology in the building of communities, part of which, of course, is the formation of relationships. Not to get all Appadurai-theoretical on my own ass, but seriously. In the last few years I have joined email listserves that are supposed to aid in the creation of diasporic communities. I created a friendster profile to keep connected to old friends with whom I’ve lost touch over the years. I began to read my horoscope online on a regular basis just because I like to (although if there were no internets, I would read it daily in the paper-paper). I “chat” daily in abbreviated writing, with friends on instant messenger thingies. I’ve started writing this blog to become part of different communities/dialogs and work on my writing voice. And, most recently, I completed my fako myspace profile because several friends “discovered” my fako profile and invited me, so I tentatively uploaded a photo and filled in some stuff so it would be fako no more. I spend hours each day in front of the computer screen communicating with people without actually speaking to them on the phone or seeing their faces. In some ways, since my life and the lives of those in my communities are so transient and because we don’t freakin stop moving all around the world, we have no choice but to keep calling when we can and checking up on each other online when we can and finding time to visit in person when we can.

And it’s a lot of work. Friendships. Community. Relationships. They take commitment, time and energy to maintain, to grow.

Last week, at the wedding celebration of one of my closest amigas, elarkay, I was reunited with another of my old college roommates, who I see all too rarely, and who I dearly love even if we don’t call each other as often as we should. We lost track of time chatting over dinner. It was so great to remember how much we are still a part of each other’s lives. (I’ve been having a lot of these reunions lately!) She was asking about my “love life.” (Funny, I never call it that, but for lack of a better word, I’ll resort to the language of my middle school years. She’s been happily married for over 3 years now.) And she pointed out that the last few boys I’ve been involved with (or whatever the heck you call it) have resorted to communication largely via text. “Dating these days is so confusing to me with this texting and internet stuff. I don’t understand it!” she said. I don’t freakin understand it either! In my last serious relationship—which was long-distance for way too long—I’d barely discovered the cell phone. Shoooo.

But she’s right. Texting has been the communication of choice by these boys when we are not physically in the same room. Phone calls? MAYBE rarely, but texts on the regular. And I admit, I fully participate in this texting disaster because it seems that once it starts, it’s hard to stop it. Texting should be in addition to conversation, not in place of. And now? Myspace messages, comments, etc. We communicate on freakin myspace! And I didn’t even want to be on the dang myspace to begin with!

This is exactly why I have not even tried to date online. Because I cannot picture myself with someone who does not also see themselves as committed to being part of a community. And online dating doesn’t seem to be real to me because these online profiles and stuff don’t seem real to me. And isn’t all of this—friendships, communities, relationships, familia—supposed to be real? As in, not fake, no frontin, no bullshit? I mean, I enjoy hearing from amig@s now and again—even just the “what’s up homegirl, i was just thinking about you and thought i’d drop a quick line” kind of deals. But c’mon now!

Even my profa, communicates in incomplete, 3-4-word email sentences. I’ll write a long email updating my committee on the progress of my dissertation–something they asked me to do–and she’ll write back a two-word reply. I should note, however, that she also managed to limit our preliminary exam discussion meetings to only 20 minutes flat! (We were supposed to discuss about 15-20 books per meeting.)

Anyway, the other night, mi manito and I were sippin’ some beers and shootin the shitz. I was telling him that when I ask people how they are doing, I really mean it, but oftentimes they don’t actually answer the question. (Of course, people might not wish to share how they are actually feeling at the moment, so they might be avoiding the question. Or they could be assuming that I’m asking the question and not really meaning it.) Manito thinks that too much internet communication encourages people to build a stock of phrases that they use to begin or end messages/conversations with, most of which imply face-to-face connections. For example, “talk to you soon” or “see you soon”—only, you’re not going to talk “soon” or see each other “soon.” Manito’s pretty hardcore, so he even suggested that such stock phrases might reveal a lack of self-confidence—that we type these things because we feel we should, not because we actually mean it. He thinks I should just delete the online profiles all together—especially the myspace.

Yeah dude. The thing is, I’ve been able to get in touch with so many college and grad school friends who I haven’t heard from in years by using these online networking things… so I’m hesitant to scrap the online community thing all together. And yet, I envy my grandparents, who still rent their telephone (the kind you actually have to DIAL) from the phone company and only know how to call people who are already programmed into their cell phone (mi papá bought it for them, of course). They have real conversations with real people—even if only for 5 minutes at a time before they get frustrated that the conversation is not face-to-face.

In some ways, I think, the internet seems like just a tool to build community, as long as it doesn’t remain the sole means of communication, it can be a really good thing I think. AND online communication is different with people who you’ve already built relationships with. But sometimes I’m just so frustrated because it feels really impersonal and it’s difficult to move beyond the impersonal through typing. So here’s the pregunta: What do you think about building relationships/community via the internets? Have we become too dependent on technological advances (cell phone texting included)? Or is it just a matter of learning to love the internets?

p.s. I tend to think blogging and goodreads are different if only because they are often about storytelling. And I do love storytelling! (but that’s another post for another day.)