lunes, diciembre 31, 2007

Nina Simone, Feeling Good

Birds flyin' high, you know how I feel
Sun in the sky, you know how I feel
Breeze driftin' on by, you know how I feel
It's a new dawn; it's a new day; it's a new life for me;

Fish in the sea, you know how I feel
River runnin' free you know how I feel
Blossom on the tree you know how I feel
It's a new dawn; it's a new day; it's a new life for me;
And I'm feeling good

Dragonfly out in the sun, you know what I mean
Butterflies all havin' fun, you know what I mean
Sleep in peace when day is done; that's what I mean
And this old world is a new world and a bold world for me

Stars when you shine, you know how I feel
Scent of a pine, you know how I feel
Freedom is mine, and I know how I feel
It's a new dawn; it's a new day; it's a new life for me;

domingo, diciembre 30, 2007

Assisted Living

Sheila Ortiz Taylor's mystery is a delightful novel, a cozy, a comedy-of-manners, and a new take on industry growth in the aging of Baby Boomers.

As a long-time reader of Ortiz-Taylor's fiction, I was thrilled to see in Violet March a reincarnation of the sharp and witty Aunt Vi from Faultline (1982). With her purple state-of-the-art walker, which she can turn on a dime, Violet March is an intrepid sleuth. The ensemble of supporting characters includes Diana Reyes, a Chicana lesbian accountant with a suspicion that someone is cooking the books. (Violet occasional envisions Death himself as an accountant.) I particularly like the sympathetic ways Ortiz Taylor portrays the different aged inhabitants of Casa de Sueños: a musician composes in his mind an Opera on Aging. I'm fascinated by the cosmology of the grounds (modeled on either Dante's Inferno or Paradiso, depending on your perspective). No doubt that is why people are dying to get in. and get out.

You'll enjoy this novel if you're looking for a murder mystery with a quirky heroine. Or, if you've just finished reading Ortiz Taylor's other novels, including Coachella, Faultline, or Outrageous, you'll be happy to reach for Assisted Living.

I really want to recommend this novel to specific people who I think would like it, but I'm afraid they might take it as some comment on their age...

martes, diciembre 04, 2007

Novel knitting news...

Okay, we're four days into December, and I need to fess up. I did not finish my novel. I did not write 50,000 words. I did write 25,000 words, (about 95 pages) and generated some cool ideas, interesting situations, and characters I really care about. La BendyPalm is a most fabulous writing partner, and we swapped drafts pretty much daily.

I discovered my own penchant for blowing things up, high drama scenes, crazy xikana nationalism, and adventurous women. And there were these crowds of supporting characters: prostitutes, children, drag queens, nannies...

In the meantime, my house is not that clean. My inner Stepford Wife** has been locked in a closet writing, but yesterday I let her out to clean the front entryway.

L* has been very patient with me through all this.

My progress was solid until around the middle of the month, when I had stacks of grading that my students actually expected would be returned to them, graded. Then I traveled to New Mexico for the guajolote days, and was fully engaged with all my family there. I wrote a story with my niece and youngest nephew about all the rest of the familia. My mom's comadre cooked us up an enormous traditional feast, complete with homemade, yeast biscuits. She made a cherry pie and my sister made a pecan pie, and everyone lavished me with lots of tender-lovin'-care.

And I brought back chile. Lots of chile. Not as much as if we had a decent freezer: five red, three green. And last night my love made us black bean chilequiles filled with chard and bañados in New Mexico red. Oh, what a joy! Oh, what a delight! We licked our bowls clean and then went back in the kitchen to scrape tastes from the baking dish. Let's just say, my L* is one in a million.

Alas, no leftovers for lunch today.

It snowed when I was in Roswell, and they don't ordinarily get much snow, so it just must be me (last year when L* and I tried to go to New Mexico after chirstmas we were completely snowed out. I mean they closed the interstate!)

Now it's back to work full time for the last great push. It's going to be quite a month, as our international familia is coming to town with the newest grandbaby.

I just wanted to let y'all know that the novel didn't kill me.

**don't take that Stepford Wife stuff too seriously. I'm just so spacey and pokey when it comes to housekeeping that I practically need to join a cult just to remember to put away things when I take them out, do my laundry, empty the trash before it spills on the floor, and so forth. and I ask for a lot of praise for these little tasks! everybody tell me how good I'm being!!

lunes, noviembre 05, 2007


A tip of the nib to all the bloggers out there participating in NaBloPoMo, National blog Posting Month, in which they will post every single day in November. I'm already enjoying all the extra posts out there.

I'm saving up all my pennies for the novel though. You can see my progress in the red bar in the yellow widget to the Right---> (currently 9,325 out of 50,000 words).

So far I've still managed to take care of things like scooping cat litter and getting dressed and putting on makeup. I'm sticking to the minimum of 1667 words per day. Money in the bank.

The current soundtrack is eclectic in the extreme. I call it Kweer Country, actually, and it's already cycled through Willie, Dolly, Johnny, Reba, and Joan, and now it's on Loretta:

It'll be over my dead body,
so get out while you can
'Cause you ain't woman enough to take my man.


You better move your feet
if you don't want to eat
a meal that's called Fist City.

viernes, noviembre 02, 2007

Los Días de los Muertos

L* and I saw this in Crafty Chica's book and fell in love with it.
Here's to all the wonderful animalitos our friends and family have lost this past year.

miércoles, octubre 24, 2007

Midterm #1

Whew, L* was a harsh taskmaster with me today, but she got me to finish all of my midterm grading for class A. Class B takes their exams tomorrow, so it was really important I get rid of the old ones.

A bizarre development. Nxi the cat has had several accidents today, both times in my study, and both events in close vicinity to the stack of midterm exams (blue books, actually).

Not all that close, gracias a las diosas. I don't even want to picture having to grade and return fouled exams!)

Well, I'm due for a bubble bath and a masque after all that hard work.


lunes, octubre 22, 2007

A Matrix of Animalitos

If you look at the wireless networks in our neighborhood, you'll see ours, plus one called solyluna and one called roosterandpig, and one with the rather uninspired name of Wireless###.

As we drove past a mural in the Mission on Saturday, I looked at the animals painted there and realized that "rooster and pig" must refer to the Chinese zodiac signs of that particular couple. Then we started talking about our signs, Rat and Snake, although I had to confirm the snake on google when I got home. But I was pretty sure.

And when we were at the El Dia de los Muertos celebration at the Oakland museum, they were doing prayers to the four directions. And then I went to Xoloitscuintle's web page and he had the aztec calendar there, so I had to go look up both of our birthdays. And, we both have the Tochtli the rabbit in our birthdays,

Tochtli, the Killer Rabbit

which is so cute with its fangs. and i remember how my sister and I used to always express our fears of "killer rabbits" in rural new mexico. (this was before monty python).

So I was thinking of tattoos again and wondering if there were aztecan or mayan rats or mice or snakes that would look cool. Snakes for sure. But so far I'm getting distracted because there are actual species (genus?) of animals, the Aztec Mouse (Peromyscus aztecus) and the Mayan mouse (Peromyscus mayensis).

So if you know of a cool aztec rat or mouse, let us know.
The Snake is waiting!

Aztec/Mixtec Double-headed Serpent, 15th-16th century

sábado, octubre 20, 2007

The War on Los Días de los Muertos

Posada's Catrina

Okay, ignore that Right-wing drivel about the War on Christmas. We have a serious problema going on at craft stores across the country. At least the mainstream ones: Michael's Crafts, Joann Etc, Beverly Fabric.

(I won't even start with Hobby Lobby. Which I usually refer to as "Hobby Lobby which is closed on Sunday so that their employees may worship with their families" Several people to whom I have said this respond with "Lots of places are closed on Sunday. That doesn't make them überChristian." Ah, but Hobby Lobby has a sign by the front door, specifically saying "We are closed on Sunday so that our Employees may Worship with their Families." I always want to go after that sign with a sharpie and write in "even the Jews." But you know that's a big lie: I'm sure the employee application has a question about worshipping with your family on Sunday.)

Okay, but back to my point: La Guerra contra los Días de los Muertos.

Admittedly, it is already the middle of October, which means fifty percent of the floor space at these craft stores is devoted to...yes, Christmas.

Now, L* and I have been enjoying The Crafty Chica's Collection. Now you know Crafty Chica rocks for los Días de los Muertos. One of the great pieces she has in there is this fabulous little shrine with Calaveras. She says to buy a "dollhouse cabinet" from a craft store. Between us, L* and I have been to all three of the big craft stores in the area, and no luck on the dollhouse cabinets. Nor were there any wooden boxes that would work for shadow boxes or shrines. That's a little suspicious, don't you think?

Here's what's more suspicious: no marigolds. There's a lot of fake flowers to be found and Michaels crafts, and at this time of the year, many yellows, golds, oranges, and reds. Chrysanthemums, sunflowers, black-eyed susans. No marigolds though. That's odd, isn't it? this is really the season for marigolds. But no, none.

Nor are there any skulls or skeletons to be found. Mummies, ghosts, jack-o-lanterns, tombstones, black cats, witches, cobwebs, yes. all of those. but calaveras, no.

I'm beginning to sense a conspiracy! It's like they're going out of their way to make it impossible to build a traditional altar. Okay, so if there's no marigolds, we can always make them out of crepe paper and florist wire and tape. Except, hmmmm, no crepe paper. Yeah, something's rotten in the state of craftilandia!

No molds for sugar skulls (and I totally want to try filling them with plaster of paris and seeing how they come out.). And you can find those everywhere online and at Oakland's El Corazon del Pueblo (support your local arts stores and panaderías!) But not at any of these crafty lady stores. Which have an obscene amount of wedding swag.

In fact, I'm sensing a whole heteronormative narrative here: bridal-to-baby. I would suspect an anti-queer agenda. If it weren't for all the feather boas. And glitter. And rhinestones. And spangles. And Christopher Lowell.

Crafty Chica has good directions for papier-mache skulls, by the way. That's on our list.

Anyway, I think we need to launch a soldadera campaign to reclaim the days of the dead. It's not just about white kids parading through the Mission! It's not just about hipsters and art galleries. It's about serious rasquachi home-made altares.

Soldadera Calavera

(You think I'm exaggerating, but some cemeteries are now coming out with reglas for what you can put on a grave--no food, no tin can containers, et cetera. Clearly targeting fabulous people-of-color ceremonies)

Note: This is my 400th posting to this blog!

miércoles, octubre 03, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Today is my L*'s Birthday!

martes, octubre 02, 2007

I'm In

Official NaNoWriMo 2007 Participant

Okay, I'm gonna do it.

I only wish I had structured an Ethnic Writers class around it this year. Just imagine! We could spend all of September and October reading and outlining, November writing our asses off and December celebrating (and editing--but december is short!)

Oooh, and then I could do a spring class which would have the pre-requisite of the Nanowrimo 50,000 word novel, and we could workshop it all semester long.

A girl can dream, can't she?

domingo, septiembre 30, 2007

Throwing up my Immortal Soul

Well, that's what if felt like, anyway. Yesterday a stomach virus hit me like a Mack truck, in L*'s words. And she should know, having been awakened by the sounds of my retching. We are praying that--though it is no doubt a highly contagious virus--L* was not infected.

Students turned in projects and quizzes this week, which is no doubt how I got myself infected. (Another reason for online education, right there!) Of course, my brilliant decision to give blood nine days ago probably had a depressing effect on my immune system: in other words, my body was holding out a welcome sign to all viruses passing by.

L* took very good care of me, rushing out to the grocery store, plying me with pedialyte and saltines, and warning me away from other things I considered ingesting. She also had the best medication in her stash, which worked (and knocked me out) so that by last night I was feeling more myself again. I took a bath, put on clean pyjamas, brushed my teeth, washed my hair. you know, the things that make me feel like a person. I listened to tapes by Pema Chodrön and Clarissa Pinkola Estes, to soothe my restless mind.

L*, by the way, spent the day working on her manda. Earlier this year she revised an article she'd previously submitted to the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. She rebuilt the altar, promising a manda to la Virgen when her article was accepted.

For her manda, L is creating a mosaic of La Virgen. It's coming along beautifully and fully absorbs L*'s attention, so she is able to set aside worries like sick girlfriends and work for classes. So much so that she is going to a cafe this afternoon to work on her classes, where she will not be distracted by la Virgen's siren song.

The International Journal of Psychoanalysis

L*'s article "Primal Scenes of Miscegenation" will soon be appearing in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis.

Go L*!
Go L*!

Yeah, baby!

domingo, septiembre 23, 2007

Second Annual "Suck it up, Princess" posting...

It's already three o'clock and most of my day has been spent in hole-punching, printing, and putting in a binder.

Yes, it's annual review time again. The university has a new system for putting together the file (aka the box) and this year it's definitely binders. I'll have a lot more printing to do later: Many of the lecture notes that I put in last year were formatted in landscape, rather than portrait, because I was using a file box, rather than a binder.

And absolutely no sheet protectors. Because someone somewhere in the RTP process feels that a sheet protector is an accusation that s/he will be sloshing a latte all over my precious document. In fact, sheet protectors are designed to protect my dossier from me sloshing red wine all over it. Too bad for me. Because you know L* has that system of using a sheet protector as a mini-file, with course syllabus, handouts, etc. But such is not allowed.

I did, however, shamelessly copy L*'s cover-sheets for the binder, inserting the logo for my own university in place of the one for hers, and using Times New Roman in place of her fabulous font. I'm very conservative when it comes to fonts.

At OSU the rating system was 1-5 with 5 being excellent. Here it's 1-5 with 1 being excellent. I hope they read all my copious footnotes explaining this. If not, well, maybe they'll generously read this to indicate that I really sucked at teaching when I started, but have since shown tremendous improvement.

So, hole-punching. Not a big deal, right? Until you're going through the (literally!) hundreds of student evaluations from Women's Studies 101, wherein students complain that the films were boring and made them fall asleep; criticize me for reading from my lecture notes (after they whined and whined till I put said lecture notes online, so that they could then say "she's just reading the lecture notes."; that course material was obscene and/or inappropriate; that as white heterosexual males they felt completely alienated--if not traumatized--by the experience; that some some of the texts "were absolute crap: I couldn't believe they were in a college class"; that I should have included more material on gays and lesbians (big homophobe that I am).

Sigh. The good news, of course is that a) I did my time on Maple Drive and b) I don't ever have to deal with those particular students again. California students are a whole 'nother story. Not to romanticize them, --and btw right now I have a couple of guys who snicker and make me want to throw them out on their ear(s)--but the issues are largely different issues. California students NEVER write "before I took this class I never knew about people of color." They will, of course, take pride in declaring themselves "color-blind" and dismiss the significance of history, especially in relation to race, class, and gender. "Why can't we all just get along?"

So far I've got almost all of TEACHING in the first binder. That just leaves PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT and SERVICE (binders 2 and 3).

It's still not pretty like L*'s is, but it's a start.

miércoles, septiembre 19, 2007

I'm a mentor!

Okay so I just started, but I'm so excited!

It took me forever to get approved, all because I was dragging my feet on the TB test. Though I did have one done over a month ago, only to find that they'd made a mistake scheduling me and I would have to go to urgent care over the weekend to have someone read it. In San Francisco...

Needless to say, the second part never happened. And after weeks of trying to get an appointment, I finally instead broke down and went to the night-time Berkeley free clinic to get one done.

My loquera says it was prob'ly a good experience for me.

I felt like an uptight bourgeoise, and also a little like my grandma lupe who used to clutch her purse all the time.

I also felt like I was stealing from the poor people who don't have private insurance.

And I felt like a mess for not having my act more together.

But fast forward. I have been matched! I am a mentor.

If you know of any novels to catch the attention of girls (age 14) who love science and math but hate English and History, I'd love to hear about them.

(or non fiction)

lunes, septiembre 17, 2007

Letting Go of Resentments, or, When the Past tries to Haunt You

Note: I've gone back and edited this piece to remove some of the nastier bits...

You know, I'm all about letting go of resentments. I was recently making a list of resentments I have and was surprised to find so many were dropping of the list. That's so far away now, I don't really cherish any ill-feelings towards that person. Maybe I don't cherish any positive feelings for them, or want them in my life in any way shape or form, but I don't put energy into wishing them ill, or for that matter, thinking about them at all.

Until reminders of their presence is forced upon me.

A good friend of mine called to let me know she'd run into my 'ex. Now, of the three (?) people who might have some claim to the title "ex," three of them are white and two of them are male. I know someone once told me they'd met "your ex-boyfriend," and that made me mad too, just that one of those guys might be claiming to be my ex-boyfriend. My preferred term is "transition guy."

You can tell already that I'm a handful, can't you?

So back to this woman. She told my friend that "she and I were married for four years" but that now Ktrion "hates me." My friend, who knows me well and also has no reason to see me angry or hateful was understandably puzzled by this comment.

But all my letting go of resentments aside, I have to admit that I am irked to find that this white woman is claiming her ex-status with me as a way of giving her "i'm a white woman but with good politics" spiel some kind of credibility.

Also, I am irked that this person claims we were "married" for four years. Since she did not act as such at the time. I'm just saying, there's a contradiction there.

Granted, there was a ceremony. One I refer to now as "my delayed Quinceañera." All Chicana dykes need some kind of coming-out, coming-of-age ceremony. And somehow being an adult woman is usually tied to either childbirth or marriage. And, okay, I wanted my family to acknowledge and support me in my queerness.

She also expressed having "worried" about me after hearing that I was in Columbus, Ohio. You know, worried, in that way that white women worry about women of color. Again, this is a person who had shown a distinct lack of interest in my emotional well-being, during the historical period in which she was in a position to affect same. And such a statement certainly did not acknowledge me as a strong, a fierce woman of color,... with, by the way, a partner who loves and supports me and cares about my physical and mental well-being, talks with me after a hard day so that I know I'm not all alone against the craziness

The few years I spent with that person some fifteen years ago or so, by no means hold up to any kind of comparison to my relationship with L*, which has created poetry, survived two dissertations, three cross-country moves, one marathon, several homes, two cats, health, illness, family deaths, the traumas of academe and the joy of true partnership with a mature, loving, giving, smart-as-nails partner. (yes, partnership with a partner. i said that.)

L* taught me that trust can be grown, that love isn't a battlefield, that a relationship can foster creativity and growth, and change. And many many more things. Y'all KNOW I love me some L*.

I don't want my life tainted by resentments. I have so much to be thankful for. So many wonderful people in my life. So lucky to be here. With L*.


So Tongue-2-Tongue was weekend before last. I had a really good time: The conference was pretty upfront about it's own shortcomings, about how it couldn't do all it wanted to.

What I liked about it: all the tranzboiz; the conversations about gender identity, genderqueer, and tranz identities it provoked, even among folks who've known each other for years and years; the performances; Laura Aguilar's portrait of Retter from the Latina Lesbian series; seeing Alma Lopez's paintings in person; seeing Persephone after 10 (?) years, all fabulous and in charge: Discussion and mobilization around Victoria Arrellano; the OTHER after-party at Casa YoMo, including screening and discussion of Laura Aguilar's video; the vegetarian Chinese restaurant in Monterey Park; L*'s interjection about Queer Nation as part of our genealogy; seeing L* and Alice Hom together; talks with L* in the car afterward, sharing impressions & ideas.

What I didn't like: the smokers; the women who hijacked workshops and strategy sessions to make it "all about ME!" (whether this was sheer diva-locity or just plain crazy ranting); thinking there was going to be a BdP performance and then finding out no; not getting to hear from more activists in the queer African American communities; running out of time and energy at the last session.

sábado, septiembre 15, 2007

In between editing

We got news this week that an anthology for which we wrote an article now has a publisher interested. That's the good news. The bad news (of course) is that we have to get down to it and do all those edits we've been putting off.

If you've heard us brag about how much fun it is to write together, about how easy it is, about how we feel like our self-worth isn't necessarily determined by these printed words....well, we've had a little backsliding. Ideas that seemed great a month ago now seem like they're on crack. Some of our quotations have become garbled (though copy-editing, et cetera) so that they no longer make any kind of sense and we have to go back to the sources to see what they're actually saying.

We worked on it for three or four hours last night. Were hoping to get it finished. But didn't.

Google docs is no longer working for us: it messes with our formatting in MSWord, doesn't let us insert new footnotes, and doesn't let us use comments. Damn! It worked so well there for a while.

Now we're back to emailing the drafts back and forth. L* is on right now, beefing up the article with some important sources that didn't make it into the last draft. When she's unable to copy and paste from .pdf files, she dictates to me and I type it up and email it back to her.

Should we cite from Borderlands first edition (black)? When we were working on the article, we were using the page numbers for the second edition (yellow), but that meant the in-text citation is: (Anzaldúa 1999). And that doesn't adequately represent the chronology. Plus, now Aunt Lute has come out with a third edition (red)...

lunes, septiembre 03, 2007

Herstorian and Gadfly Yolanda Retter

We heard last week of the passing of Yolanda Vargas Retter. It was a tremendous shock.

Yolanda Retter, 59; lesbian scholar and author of 'Queers in Space'

Yolanda Retter, an activist, archivist and scholar who devoted the last four decades to raising the visibility of lesbians and minorities and preserving their history, died Aug. 18 at her home in Van Nuys after a brief illness. She was 59.

Widely respected in the Los Angeles lesbian community despite her abrasive style and radical stances, Retter called herself a "gadfly on the body politic" who took on many roles in her drive to achieve social justice for overlooked groups, particularly lesbians of color.

She was a pivotal advocate for lesbians during the early years of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, the country's first social service agency to exclusively serve gays. She helped organize lesbian history repositories at USC, UCLA and in West Hollywood. For the last four years, she was the librarian and archivist for the UCLA Chicano
Studies Resource Center, where she was instrumental in expanding holdings related to Latinas as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Calling herself a "herstorian," she created the Lesbian History Project website, which was once rated by Lycos as one of its most popular sites. It is off-line, but friends of Retter expect to relaunch it within a few weeks.

LA Times Obit, continued.

martes, agosto 21, 2007

Oh dear...

You Are a Boston Creme Donut

You have a tough exterior. No one wants to mess with you. But on the inside, you're a total pushover and completely soft. You're a traditionalist, and you don't change easily. You're likely to eat the same doughnut every morning, and pout if it's sold out.

viernes, agosto 10, 2007

Quelle Coincidence!

If you made it through the super-long meme on poetry, than you'll appreciate this. Last night, after she entered the sleep borderlands, L* announced that she wanted to go to the performance at Galeria de La Raza going on Friday, August 10. I checked with her this morning when she was lucid and she said yes, she wanted to go.

I couldn't help but notice that Lorna Dee Cervantes was listed among the artists. Didn't see a sign of her when we got there though. Nor through the first set. During the break, she magically appeared, and was the final artist of the night.

Get this: she led with Bird Ave !! (the link is to her blog which has a youtube video of her reading "Bird Ave")

What a world.

Here's to poetry!

jueves, agosto 09, 2007

Poetry for Carter

My friend Carter posted this on his MySpace, and challenged me to give it up, but I'm so long-winded, I thought I should post it here instead, where I can fix all the formatting the way I want.


Okay this is tough. I went to a Catholic school in Bell Gardens which was, shall we say, somewhat stifled in the creativity department.

We memorized poetry (see below) but it mostly wasn't very good and left little impression.

However, I most remember my English professor at Eastern New Mexico University (Portales), Dr. Patrice Caldwell (who, by the way had an identical twin, a mirror-twin, who was also an English professor...)

...reciting to us William Carlos Williams, "This is Just to Say..."

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

but before I forget, let me tell you recent story involving this poem:

A couple of weeks ago, while we were in bed I recited the plum poem to L*
Because it is, in my view, the original fridge poem

(actually, i forgot the line "forgive me" when I was saying it to her)

She seemed rather perturbed by the poem and said that "he" must have been very angry at "her" to have eaten her plums that "she" was saving for breakfast.

In particular, I think she was putting herself in the position of someone who is really looking forward to her morning plums and is greeted with this poem instead.

Now, you must know that L* has been eating LOTS AND LOTS of organic fruits over the past year, and especially the last few months (and upon advice from her acupuncturist and her nutritionist) she's trying to have at least 5 servings a day. Also, with the ambien, she likes to get up and eat in the middle of the night. So upon arising, I frequently find evidence in my clean kitchen: strawberry tops, apricot pits, et cetera.

So I had bought some small plums earlier that week, and they were a little soft so I put them in the fridge so they would last.

L* is not a great fan of plums: she prefers nectarines and apricots and maybe even peaches (i don't like the fuzz, myself).

So that night she was making a list of all the organic vegetables she was going to get at the store.

We were pretty much out of everything at that point. Oh, I said, If you're going to buy more fruit, I'd better finish those plums in the morning.

PLUMS!! she declared PLUMS?? YOU HAVE PLUMS?!!

for all the world as if I'd been holding out on her.

And in a voice not unlike a Wild Thing.

I told her where they were in the fridge, so she could find them if she got up in the night.

Of course the next morning, there was an empty bag and two plum pits, and L* had a whole different perspective on the plum poem.

"delicious, so sweet and so cold!"

Oh, but wait, there's one I remember from one of my books when I was little...

It's really long to paste in here,

It's The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes.

I was mesmerized by that poem, but it might also have had something to do with the illustration of the woman all tied up with the rifle at her breast and her dark hair all awry...

(I would never have been allowed to recite "The Highwayman" at Catholic school, even apart from the illustration)


did I warn you this was bad? It's not even really a poem, but...

I never saw a purple cow
I never hope to see one
But I can tell you anyhow
I'd rather see than be one.

I love that Carter chose Robert Frost's Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. I had to be a lot older (and live in some really cold places) before I could fully appreciate that poem. I liked it in college in Indiana (which was cold) but that's because I liked being young and morbid and shocking. I like it for wholly different reasons now.

I'm pretty sure that I memorized parts of The Song of Hiawatha, too, but I'm also pretty sure that Lucille Ball performed some part of it in I Love Lucy, and so that always affected my experience of the poem. As an English major, I developed a bad habit of reading Emily Dickinson's poems to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas." It's amazing I ever became a poet.

3. I READ/don't read POETRY BECAUSE...

Poetry is a short cut: It tells truth to power. It touches your heart. It cuts to the chase. In my classes, I like to read poetry aloud, especially the pissed-off kinds of poems. (see below)

Poem for a Young White Man... by Lorna Dee Cervantes or Diane Burns's Sure, You Can Ask Me a Personal Question.

I first heard both of these poems in graduate school in Colorado.

Lorna Dee gave a reading at a symposium on gender & poetry, and "Poem for a Young White Man…" and "Bird Ave" and "Beneath the Shadow of the Freeway" changed my life forever. Literally rocked my world. Several years later, there was a conference on "the Novel in the Americas." One afternoon panel was on women, and none of men came to the panel: not the colleagues in the department, not one the big-name stars that had been brought in. This was not a separatist panel, the men just weren't interested in hearing about women's writing. They took a long lunch instead. Linda Hogan opened the session with Diane Burns's poem, and read in her clear quiet voice. I still get chills.

Melvin Dixon's "Aunt Ida Pieces a Quilt"
(I will put the whole poem here, 'cause it's hard to link to. And because everyone should read this poem.)

They brought me some of his clothes. The hospital gown.
Those too-tight dungarees, his blue choir robe
with the gold sash. How that boy could sing!
His favorite color in a necktie. A Sunday shirt.
What I'm gonna do with all this stuff?
I can remember Junie without this business.
My niece Francine say they quilting all over the country.
So many good boys like her boy, gone.

At my age I ain't studying no needle and thread.
My eyes ain't so good now and my fingers lock in a fist,
they so eaten up with arthritis. This old back
don't take kindly to bending over a frame no more.
Francine say ain't I a mess carrying on like this.
I could make two quilts the time I spend running my mouth.

Just cut his name out the cloths, stitch something nice
about him. Something to bring him back. You can do it,
Francine say. Best sewing our family ever had.
Quilting ain't that easy, I say. Never was easy.
Y'all got to help me remember him good.

Most of my quilts was made down South. My Mama
and my Mama's Mama taught me. Popped me on the tail
if I missed a stitch or threw the pattern out of line.
I did "Bright Star" and "Lonesome Square" and "Rally Round,"
what many folks don't bother with nowadays. Then Elmo and me
married and came North where the cold in Connecticut
cuts you like a knife. We was warm, though.
We had sackcloth and calico and cotton. 100% pure.
What they got now but polyester-rayon. Factory made.

Let me tell you something. In all my quilts there's a secret
nobody knows. Every last one of them got my name Ida
stitched on the backside in red thread.

That's where Junie got his flair. Don't let anybody fool you.
When he got the Youth Choir standing up and singing
the whole church would rock. He'd throw up his hands
from them wide blue sleeves and the church would hush
right down to the funeral parlor fans whisking the air.
He'd toss his head back and holler and we'd all cry holy.

And never mind his too-tight dungarees.
I caught him switching down the street one Saturday night,
and I seen him more than once. I said, Junie,
You ain't got to let the whole world know your business.
Who cared where he went when he wanted to have fun.
He'd be singing his heart out come Sunday morning.

When Francine say she gonna hang this quilt in the church
I like to fall out. A quilt ain't no show piece,
it's to keep you warm. Francine say it can do both.
Now I ain't so old fashioned I can't change,
but I made Francine come over and bring her daughter
Belinda. We cut and tacked his name, JUNIE.
Just plain and simple. "JUNIE, our boy."
Cut the J in blue, the U in gold. N in dungarees
just as tight as you please. The I from the hospital gown
and the white shirt he wore First Sunday. Belinda
put the necktie E in the cross stitch I showed her.

Wouldn't you know we got to talking about Junie.
We could smell him in the cloth.
Underarm. Afro-Sheen pomade. Gravy stains.
I forgot all about my arthritis.
When Francine left me to finish up, I swear
I heard Junie giggling right along with me
as I stitched Ida on the backside in red thread.

Francine say she gonna send this quilt to Washington
like folks doing from all across the country,
so many good people gone. Babies, mothers, fathers,
and boys like our Junie. Francine say
they gonna piece this quilt to another one,
another name and another patch
all in a larger quilt getting larger and larger.

Maybe we all like that, patches waiting to be pieced.
Well, I don't know about Washington.
We need Junie here with us. And Maxine,
she cousin May's husband's sister's people,
she having a baby and here comes winter already.
The cold cutting like knives. Now where did I put that needle?


One I go back to again and again is Gloria Anzaldúa's "To Live in the Borderlands Means You"

To live in the borderlands means you
are neither hispana india negra española
ni gabacha, eres mestiza, mulata, half-breed
caught in the crossfire between camps while carrying all five races
on your back
not knowing which side to turn to, run from;

To live in the Borderlands means knowing
that the indian in you, betrayed for 500 years,
is no longer speaking to you,
that mexicanas call you rajetas,
that denying the Anglo inside you
is as bad as having denied the Indian or Black;

Cuando vives en la frontera
people walk through you, wind steals your voice,
you're a burra, buey, scapegoat
forerunner of a new race,
half and half - both woman and man, neither-
a new gender;

To live in the Borderlands means to
put chile in the borscht
eat whole wheat tortillas
speak Tex-Mex with a Brooklyn accent;
be stopped by la migra at the border check points;

Living in the Borderlands mens you fight hard to
resist the gold elixir beckoning from the bottle,
the pull of the gun barrel,
the rope crushing the hollow of your throat;

In the Borderlands
you are the battleground
where enemies are kin to each other;
you are at home, a stranger,
the border disputes have been settled
the volley of shots have shattered the truce
you are wounded, lost in action
dead, fighting back;

To live in the Borderlands means
the mill with the razor white teeth wants to shred off
your olive-red skin, crush out the kernel, your heart
pound you pinch you roll you out
smelling like white bread but dead;
To survive in the Borderlands
you must live sin fronteras
be a crossroads


I don't talk about it that much. It's still scary to say "I'm a poet." But I am.


I get a headache if I read too much poetry in one sitting. I get drunk and stupid. I'm not fit company and am very moody. Novels, on the other hand, I can read 24-7.


The most fun to teach. My students always think that they don't like poetry, and I like to get 'em to change their minds.


We saw some great poetry and performance in "Mi Cuerpo, Mi Revolución," Friday, June 15, 2007 @ Galeria de la Raza from 7:30-9:30PM part of QUELACO, the Queer Latino Arts Festival. Natro and Yosimar Reyes rocked the house, as did Meliza Bañales.


Painful. In a good way.

Surf camp

We were so sun-protected that we got no tan at all! okay my hands are slightly darker, with a sharp line at the wrist.

They warned us ahead of time to use 40 sunblock and of course we considered the fact that they were presuming a gringo audience, but we also know that that kind of thinking is a quick way to getting fried to a crisp!

When i was twelve, my sister and I went to hawaii for about a month. my gringo uncle (the child molester) was in the military and had just finished med school, and they were assigned to hawaii. He and my aunt and her three kids and their one were all covered by military, as were his two (chicana) daughters from a previous marriage. the other two daughters weren't coming, so my sister and i masqueraded as them, including being issued military i.d. cards.

we assumed their names (with many mistakes) and ages (ditto): My sixteen year-old sister Christine was trying to pass as a twelve year-old Sabrina,and at twelve I was supposed to be a nine year-old Rochelle.

This was in 1978, and our first week there, everyone laid on the beach in baby oil and fried like they'd never fried before. (not me, I was nerdy and was using a "shade" sunscreen, with a big SPF of 6 (!!), but it did the job)

I'm assuming I'm not opening myself or my sister to any legal action here, since we were both minors.

I want to make it clear that my gringo uncle called all the shots,and thus assumed all responsibility. My parents had no idea it was anything so fraudulent.

Oh, but the purpose of telling this story, is that after a month in Hawaii, we had gotten so much sun, that when we flew home to New Mexico, our parents didn't recognize us. They literally walked past us.

In Costa Rica, I did, in fact, get a burn on the part in my hair, on days 2, and 3. (day one I put sunscreen there. On day four i wore my hat into the water, since I wasn't getting my butt kicked by the waves anymore) but nothing serious. though I'll get a nasty case of dandruff in about a week.

Here's a picture of the zip line (but not the bruises).

It reminded me again of northern New Mexico. Like if Abey Maes and his cousin Charlie strung up wire cables so you could zip across the Mora Valley. Like, "isn't this a little dangerous?" I tried not to think about that girl who's feet were cut off by a loose cable at an amusement park.

lunes, agosto 06, 2007

Back from vacation

L* and I went to surf camp for vacation. L* was the only boi amongst a whole posse of grrls: needless to say, L* became the camp hero.

We are exhausted and blissed out and happy to be home again.

miércoles, julio 11, 2007

My mom got an interview!

On Monday, my mom got called
to interview for the Art teacher position.

She had the interview yesterday.

She would be totally awesome at this job
and it would be good for her too.

Please say a little prayer for her to San Pancracio,
or to whomever you generally pray.

If your creative urges are of a speculative nature

Brown Rab Fish Girl posted this announcement of a travel grant for writing speculative fiction.

Brown Rab Fish Girl rocks. Me, I woulda kept the information to myself.

lunes, julio 09, 2007

Make mine blue and bronze...

The sorting hat says that I belong in Ravenclaw!

Said Ravenclaw, We'll teach those whose intelligence is surest

Ravenclaw students tend to be clever, witty, intelligent, and knowledgeable.
Notable residents include Cho Chang and Padma Patil (objects of Harry and Ron's affections), and Luna Lovegood (daughter of The Quibbler magazine's editor).

Take the most scientific Harry Potter
ever created.

Get Sorted Now!

Ravenclaw: 94
Hufflepuff: 86
Gryffindor: 72
Slytherin: 55

viernes, julio 06, 2007

My Mom is an Artist

(as is my girlfriend)

I've been e-mailing with my mom yesterday and today. She's applying for a position as an art teacher in a small town near where she lives.

And I've also been reading--I think I've mentioned this--The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron, and it's all about how to get your creativity unblocked: to see what's standing between you and your potential and how to get around it.

Two things she mentions in this are Poisonous Playmates and CrazyMakers.

And I've just been thinking that it's amazing that my Mom ever became an artist living with my dad. Because he's---well---how can I say this? He obsessively finds fault. He sees himself as this great proofreader, and he's going to circle everything in red so that you can see your faults and become a perfectionist like him.

And for an artist, it's all about turning down the Critic and turning up the Creator, otherwise you'll never have the courage to paint, draw, sing, because it won't be perfect. You need to be able to say, "I don't know where this going" without someone standing over your shoulder.

L* has this portrait she did of me that we call "Caesar." She painted it when we were visiting my parents, and after she had the color she wanted for the skin tone, she outlined the picture. While the eyes were still blank, my dad walked by and said "you're painting a picture of Caesar!" Fortunately, My L* did not let this deter her, and painted on.

Good Stretching by Good Friends

L* and I have been real homebodies this past year. I think we always have that tendency, and partly it's just because L* always makes our home so warm and loving and nurturing, and also she's such a good cook!

But with everything that happened in the past year, it became so central to have a retreat.

Now, though, we need to stretch and grow, to move out of the comfortable routine. Our friend Yoli is visiting this week, and we've also recently got together with Josie & Trish, and they've all really rocked our world.

L* and I always says that we go out to maybe one movie a year. (Last year it was AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH and CHILDREN OF MEN--a busy year for us!). In the last two weeks we've gone out to THREE films: one with J&T, one with Yoli, and one with all together. And it's been so much fun! We've also watched more movies on video than we have in months and months. In fact, we've had 3 netflix sitting unopened on our sideboard for at least four months, before I sent some of them back.

In the theatres: Shelter Me (Italian, part of the LGBTQ film festival), Waitress, Sicko
In the home: Mi Madre Les Gustan las Mujeres (at T&J's house), Reinas, and Laura Aguilar' video on her art.

Both Mi Madre and Reinas made me want to write musicals. When my mom was visiting, we went to see Legally Blonde: The Musical in San Francisco, and it was a lot of fun like these Spanish movies. (Great song: "Gay? or European?") In fact, both of these films fall in the category of Queer Films fun for the Whole Family.

I think I've mentioned that I've been feeling more ambivalent about the blog lately. Partly that's just because now that this past year is behind us, everything else seems so mundane. How can I talk about knitting and movies, after writing about chemotherapy and homophobia in the medical establishment?

But that's really the nature of blogs. It's not keen investigative reporting. It's what's going on in life. And we're adjusting to "the new normal" and figuring out what that's going to look like.

martes, julio 03, 2007

Good neighbors

Good neighbors--

when they see you picking plums from the one branch of their tree that hangs over into your yard--

--bring you plums!

lunes, julio 02, 2007

Okay, I lied: I'm not giving these up


Digital Diva had this one her website, and then I saw it and had to try it. I betcha those girls in Miami will score pretty high on this, whereas the team in Denver...well, the have lots of loved ones around them... Although I can definitely see El Paso gunning down zombies with determination.

Now, L* I bet s/he would score way higher than me. S/he certainly can run faster and longer and had the forethought to lay in the foodstuffs.

lunes, junio 25, 2007

And if you can't be a Lady...

Okay, I promise I'm going to give these up soon...

You Are 64% Gentleman

You are definitely a gentleman. You're very considerate and you have excellent manners.
Occasionally, you slip and do something foolish... but usually no one notices!

The funny thing is I came across this quiz when looking at someone's boyfriend's page on myspace. and I got the exact same rating he did!

Afterwards, I realized if there was a quiz for a gentleman, there had to be a quiz for lady, and so I googled it.

You Are 72% Lady

Overall, you are a refined lady with excellent manners.

But you also know when to relax and not get too serious about etiquette

domingo, junio 24, 2007


I haven't blogged in a long time. Partly, that's because L* got started on MySpace, and once s/he started being really active there, the blog started feeling superfluous. But I know all our friends in blogland aren't all on MySpace.

So I'm going to get back into it. I've been doing a lot more writing in general. L* and I wrote two articles in the past couple of months.

L* has been going to yoga, lifting weights, getting brown, working in the garden.

Here's a post direct from L*:

Friday, June 1

Today I met Rita Moreno!

Rita Moreno was given an honorary PhD at our U President's "inauguration."

After the ceremony, I ditched the free food. I had to meet her.

Eventually, using my best super-sleuth abilities, I found where her limo was waiting.

Before long, I spotted her! I placed myself between her and the limo and with all my courage, I said, "Hi, my name is L*. I'm a big fan of yours and I just had to meet you." My little butch heart was beating a mile a minute. I told her that I taught her films in my classes.

I was wearing my PhD robes so SHE STOPPED to chat! She asked me what I teach. And, like a nerd, instead of saying "Latino film" (which I am currently teaching!), I said, "Ethnic Studies," which wasn't really the best conversation starter in that circumstance.

Just then, another Latina came up to meet her, too. And, I blurted out (I swear to god...these exact words): "you were so cute up there on stage." I TOLD RITA MORENO SHE WAS "CUTE."

I really am a nerd.

BTW, this nerd was looking particularly dyke/boi today (my fantasy anyway). My hair was spiked up in a little faux mohawk. I was wearing my vans. Rita Moreno must be way cool because she was just all smiles even through all my bumbling.

And, actually, she is beautiful. But watching her do a little dance to the exit processional (she was up there with all the stuffy suits) WAS really really cute.


jueves, junio 14, 2007

Is this Girly or What?

You scored as Jean Grey, Jean Grey is likely the most powerful X-Man. She loves Cyclops very much but she has a soft spot for Wolverine. She's psychic so she can sense how others are feeling and tries to help them. She also has to control her amazing powers or the malevolent Phoenix entity could take control of her and wreak havok. Powers: Telekinetic, Telepathic

Jean Grey
















Emma Frost






Most Comprehensive X-Men Personality Quiz 2.0
created with

miércoles, junio 13, 2007

I thought I'd be more girly...

You Are 32% Girly

You are a pretty hardcore tomboy, and a very free spirit.
Gender roles be dammed, you like to do things your way.

Obviously, I thought I'd register more girly than this, but I have issues with the survey.

viernes, junio 01, 2007

Grading is done!

Thanks to a lot of email chat from NSM in Miami, I was able to finish my grading on schedule. She has reminded me that I long ago promised her some Harry Potter knits in Slytherin colors, and she expects to be bumped to the top of my to-do list. As soon as I can make a trip to the yarn store, I will be happy to comply!

This week, in an effort to avoid grading, I turned out a rather good looking novelty hat for our nephew in Shanghai, Tang Tang.

the hortensia hat in blue and purple with green fluff

The colors remind me of hortensia. I hope that in China they're as into silly hats for babies as we are here! I used a yarn that was a big hit with Denver crowd and which (they claim) always prompts cries of "where did you get that hat?" I know they're soothing my crafty ego, and I love them for it!

There are several other babies to whom I've promised hats. Of course, only in the Bay Area is this still a reasonable baby gift in June!

L* has been cooking up a storm on her myspace page (into which realm, indeed, I have been lured). You have to go there for the details on the Rita Moreno story. And here I thought I should be worried about younger femmes!

I'm almost done reading Atomik Aztex. So far I want to share it with my colleague Jason, 'cause I think he would get the biggest kick out of it. I think it's targeted to people who like that Burciaga poem in three languages & caló, but maybe I'm just fooling myself and it's really for the comix crowd.

I've been getting interlibrary loan books in preparation for my Queer Women of Color lit class in the fall. So I've also been having a lot of fun reading Chea Villanueva. In the 1980's and 90's, Villanueva was a Filipina dyke living in the Bay Area and publishing pretty regularly in lesbian anthologies, women of color, butch and fem venues. And then blip, not a word after 1997. Now I'm trying to get my hands on a film called "The Trappings of Transhood," whose subjects include Chea Vincent Villanueva. Now I really can't wait!

I also have to make a trip to the San Francisco Public Library, which is the only place that has all of Villanueva's books. A couple were self-published collector's editions at Modern Times, Old Wive's Tales and A Different Light, back in the day. I still kick myself for not having bought The Chinagirls when I saw it in 1990. Big mistake!

L* hooked up with one of her old QueerNation/LA friends, and guess what! He crochets! He inspired me to finish a shawl I've been planning of la Yoli. L* had picked out the soft yarn in a bright bougainvillea. So last week I finished it and sent it off on Tuesday when the post office reopened after a long weekend.

lunes, mayo 28, 2007

Santora: Beg, Borrow, or Steal

To read Santora, I had to request a copy through Interlibrary Loan. This 2001 novel by "Resurreción Cruz" (a pseudonym) is right up my alley. Think Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate meets Ana Castillo'sSo Far from God in the Mission District ("Dolores Heights") with more than a dash of Judy Grahn's The Queen of Swords thrown in for good measure.

This novel is a lot of fun with a lot of cool saints showing up. (Of course, I disagree with her about several, but that's half the fun.)The apparition in the Mission is the bomb, and el Diablo...he's a keeper.

I wish there were more about Diva, la FTM and a bit less on Shandra la gabacha culture-vulture. Again, that's me trying to impose my desires on somebody else's novel.

The cover art (both front and back) is true to life. The names are great fun. The curanderismo is pretty sensitive.

So buy it, order it through interlibrary loan, get it before it's gone!

sábado, mayo 19, 2007

Our Lady: Virgin of Flames?

Sometimes when I have free time between classes, I roam around our campus bookstore. It's a pretty good one, an independent. Even if they don't stock my book, they have a nice mix of old and new, borrowed and blue.

So one day I saw la famosa Our Lady by Alma Lopez. On a bookcover! Of a novel!

(it previously appeared--in censored form--on Puro Teatro, an anthology of Latino plays)

I was thrilled and excited. I promised myself to remember the book title and find out more about it.

I forgot the title and author (you knew this was coming) and the next time I was in the bookstore, it was nowhere to be found! I mean, I cruised that place like a seriously focused geek, looked at every single book in every single display. I'm sure I suffered brain damage from the "college humor" section.

But no luck.

Well, today I was on amazon and got one of those, "you might also be interested in" and there it was!

The Virgin of Flames by Chris Abani. (the link is to Powells, because Amazon uses those images that are no good for swiping)

Nigerian author. Salvadoran protagonist. Chicana Art. Welcome to Los Angeles.

Designing classes for my students, and a treat awaits

I was telling L* that I was approved to teach the seminar on Queer Women of Color writing. L* wanted to know what books I was planning, and I rattled off a list. This was followed by a stern shaking of L*'s head.

"Think about your students. What do they want to read? Make it fun!" i.e., they don't want to read the tortured, tragic, and highly problematic texts that so interest me right now.

You know, I have kind of been sensing that the students are troubled by my obsession with torture, truth, repressed memories, trauma, war crimes, genocide, etc. The students in my ethnic lit class are really good sports about it all, but clearly a little positive representation would be greatly appreciated.

And in the Queer of Color class, it came to a head when I showed The Wedding Banquet and it was just met with this overwhelming enthusiasm. I was like "huh?" and the students explained "nobody died!"

Students like texts where nobody dies.

So I'm revamping my courses for next year, with the students in mind. The queer of color class, for example is going to include Carla Trujillo's What Night Brings, and an E.Lynn Harris novel, and Bino Realuyo and Craig Womack. (okay, so the last two are still haunting and yearning)

And the QWOC lit class: well, once I started making a list of books that would appeal to my students' generation, it's a pretty long list! I'm going to have to narrow it down. Felicia Luna Lemus' Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties is definitely on the list. and Jewelle Gomez's The Gilda Stories.

I'm still really upset about all the books that are out of print: Emma Pérez's Gulf Dreams, All of Chrsytos's work (I really wanted to teach In Her I Am this year and was wrecked when it wasn't available), Willyce Kim's novels. Chea Villanueva's work. (I can't find my copy of Jessie's Song anywhere, and it's driving me a little bit crazy.)

This is precisely why I need to be teaching this stuff: If the books aren't available, how will the next generation know they even existed?

I got L* a copy of Like Son for an end of the school year treat.

sábado, mayo 12, 2007

virtual retail therapy

so, today I'm craving a handbag.

gucci handbag

a really nice handbag.

If you know me, you'll know that my preferred handbag is either a rasquache bag,

rasquache bag

a canvas tote filled with yarn, or the ones given to me by my employer at a workshop or retreat, with the university's name and logo.

But in my mind, I'm thinking of that Ugly Betty episode (swag) where Christina gave Betty the gucci bag, and it made Betty so happy. It made her feel like when she was a little girl and her mother had this fabulous handbag and she gave it to Betty, and Betty strutted around all proud with her mother's handbag. That's what I'm wanting: that feeling.

This week (a tree grows in guadaljara) Betty was carrying a Lucky handbag.

Lucky brand handbag

Also very cute. Prob'ly more realistically priced. If you're used to paying money for handbags. Which I'm not. And would it give me the feeling I'm looking for?

I'm posting the pictures here, and so then it will be like i bought them.

jueves, mayo 10, 2007


tofu burrito

You should have seen my students
when I said "tofu burritos."
Cristina la Gallina
imagined a burrito
carved out of tofu
like a turkey of tofu
or spam

jueves, mayo 03, 2007

Craig Womack, Drowning in Fire

Womack's novel is brilliant. Breath-taking. Wrenching. Haunting. Rich.

Like eggs scrambled with wild onions and commodity cheese.

Not everyone will see the genius of this novel. Some people will always insist that if a book isn't EASY, it's not good.

First, though, Womack's novel is easy: easy like Sunday morning. Like the sexual fantasies of a queer teenage boy and what would actually happen if they come true.

It's also hard. Like the truly dark secrets of children who experience betrayal before they can develop trust. Like US History and that country's shameless betrayal of its on ideals on its way to capitalize off the Indians.

Like the storytelling of the elders that we all think are totally crazy until we later realize they're speaking absolute truth.

Beautiful. Inspiring. May it draw a little more from you than you were planning to give.

If you're the kind of reader who asks questions like "What does Puerto Rican nationalism have to do with lesbian identity" then you may end up scratching your head at the end of this book, because it's not the way you'll expect it to be.

For me, though, this is not only the novel I've been waiting my whole life to read, it's one that shows me how the thing is done.

sábado, abril 28, 2007

A brief interlude in the writing marathon

You know how sometimes editor's deadlines come and you still haven't gotten to writing the article? And how sometimes people are asking you to write something and you say yes even though you have a bunch of stuff you're supposed to do first?

Well, enough is enough. L* put her foot down with me, and this weekend I'm working hard to finish an article that was due in February.

So I've been at the computer working since yesterday morning, more or less singlemindedly.

L* went off to her Sunday morning yoga and asked if I'd seen the news?

No, what's wrong?

Apparently a gas tanker exploded early this morning. No one was killed (unbelievable) but driving from Oakland to San Francisco (or perhaps driving back) is going to be no-go for the forseeable future. I think the regular I-80 traffic might go through, but everything coming up from 880 south and 580 (the 580 is our freeway) is not happening.

"They are urging people to telecommute if possible"

Ummm...anyway, now I have to pull my mind back from this and my work week ahead, and buckle down and finish this article.

jueves, abril 26, 2007

Haircuts: Men $35, Women $45, Transgenders $40

L* got the transgender rate on her haircut on Tuesday. She went back to the place she first got it cut before chemo. She's such a cute little guy now, especially when she's wearing her green polo shirt.

L* has been very patient with the strange emotional baggage that we've all been attaching to her hair. By "we all" I mean both her parents and I. Example 1: L*'s dad tells her she looks like her Nana with her curls. Example 2: ktrion tells L* she looks like Nikki Giovanni. These are all (unintentional) attempts to keep L* from cutting her hair.

But she cut it: and she didn't loose any of her strength. And she is looking muy guapo!

In Alma Lopez's film Boi Hair, Lisette, Claudia, and Alice are discussing the difficulty of getting a boi cut, and how the hairdressers always want to give you some Lady-cut: even gay guys--who you'd think would know better! L* has been much afflicted by this of late.

viernes, abril 06, 2007

NACCS Community Award

Every year, the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies honors local community activists at each annual convention, to acknowledge the importance of social change to our academic endeavors, and to recommit ourselves to our communities.

This year, NACCS gave an award to Sylvia Guerrero and (in memoriam) to her transgender daughter, the late Gwen Araujo.

Since the murder of Gwen Araujo in 2002, Sylvia Guerrero has done tremendous outreach, especially to bay area high schools, about the challenges faced and the rights owing to transgendered teens. Guerrero is being honored for her advocacy and for her work to pass AB 1160, which eliminated the "gay panic" defense
for assault and murder.

During the awards ceremony, Sylvia Guerrero noted that, although she has received many awards, this was
the first time she has been acknowledged by a Latina/o organization. She spoke movingly of the need for Latinos, who value tradition and familia, to truly love, accept, and honor all of our children.

Guerrero's brother mentioned that his father had marched with César Chávez and instilled in his children a sense of pride in being Latino. He spoke about the long struggle of Latinos in the US, and the eagerness to work hard if it could make life better for our children. "We struggled for our lives then," he said, "We didn't think she would have to struggle for her life now." He told the audience that his niece Gwen was a proud Latina. And old-school Latinos need to learn to deal with it.

Sylvia Guerrero and her family received two standing ovations.

NACCS Lesbian BiMujeres and Trans Caucus Resolution

This photo was taken by L* at the memorial service for Ruby Ordeñana in the Mission on March 23. We are now at the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies conference, in San Jose.

NACCS Conference
Spring 2007--San Jose, California
Lesbian, Bisexual Mujeres, Trans Caucus Resolution

Title: Resolution to Support The Gwen Araujo Community Award and to draw attention to the recent brutal murder of Ruby Ordeñana, March 2007.

WHEREAS the NACCS Northern California Foco is presenting a Community Award to Gwen Araujo and her mother Sylvia Guerrero, who worked hard to support AB 1160, the “Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act” which amends jury instructions to state that the use of the so-called "panic defense'' is inconsistent with California's comprehensive hate crimes law.

We the Lesbian, Bisexual Mujeres, Trans Caucus wish to recognize and
acknowledge the importance and timeliness of this award considering two recent murders of TransMujeres, most notably the brutal murder of Ruby Ordeñana in San Francisco on March 16, 2007.

WHEREAS the murder of transpeople is part of the violent systemic policing of non-conforming gender expression in families, schools, work places, and communities.

We the Lesbian, Bisexual Mujeres, Trans Caucus acknowledge the necessity for a letter to be drafted by the NACCS Board which will strongly state the necessity for education, resource materials, and demand respect for Trans self-determination in life and in death.

WHEREAS this resolution will not have by-law implications, it will incur a small monetary burden: cost of mailings.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The Lesbian, Bisexual Mujeres, Trans Caucus shall work with the Board to write this letter and have it published in Noticias de NACCS as well as have it sent to the City of San Francisco, the San Francisco Police Department, the District Attorney’s Office, the Nicaraguan consulate, and local media.

Submitted by the Lesbian, Bisexual Mujeres, Trans Caucus

--March 22 Community Flyer about the death of Ruby Ordeñana

Community Mourns Murder of Latina Transgender Woman
Requests Attendance at Vigil to Demand Change

San Francisco, California (March 22, 2007) - A Nicaraguan transgender woman, Ruby Ordeñana (aka Ruby Rodriguez) 24 years old, was murdered on Friday, March 16, 2007. Her body was found on the corner of Cesar Chavez and Indiana Streets in the Mission District of San Francisco. The murder is currently under investigation by the San Francisco Police Department. Community United Against Violence (CUAV), EL-LA, San Francisco LGBT Community Center, TRANS Project, allies, and community members will hold a community vigil in her honor on Friday, March 23, 2007 at 6:00PM, on the corner of 24th Street and Mission Street in the Mission District.

Organizers request that the community bring a white candle to the vigil. There will also be an additional altar set up on Cesar Chavez and Indiana Street, and community members are encouraged to bring flowers, photographs, cards and good wishes to this site. Let us not forget Ruby. She was an exceptional woman who was intent on improving her life. Ruby participated in various support groups and language classes, and idolized Chicana singer Selena.

This murder comes at the heels of at least two other violent deaths of transgender women of color in the San Francisco Bay Area over the past six months. Transgender people, particularly low-income transgender women of color, are disproportionately poor, homeless, criminalized and imprisoned as a result of systemic discrimination in
our daily attempts to access safe housing, healthcare, employment, and education.

Unfortunately, Ruby's murder is not an exception, but an everyday fear for many transgender people who are targeted and brutalized by institutions and society at large. Our communities mourn Ruby's death and ask for a renewed commitment to real safety for transgender communities. It is vital that the Mayor's Office, the San Francisco Police Department, and the District Attorney's Office work to end the cycles of criminalization, poverty, and violence in transgender communities and communities of color.

jueves, abril 05, 2007


There was a Querido sighting on Wednesday.

L* is quite sure she saw Querido. But she was in her car, so didn't introduce herself.

miércoles, marzo 21, 2007

"You should blog more about our food"

L* and I are secretly at work on the Postcolonial Cookbook: a guide for queer people of color reclaiming our foods and our health.

(Should the "queer" really go in there?)

Tonight for dinner, we're having chile beans: organic red, black, and pinto beans, simmered in a crock pot all day with garlic, onions, comino, coriander, paprika (lots), cayenne, oregano, white pepper, salt and a can of organic roasted crushed tomatoes. Serve topped with cilantro, green onions, organic low-fat monterey jack cheese and sliced avocado.

chile beans

Yum!The food of the ancestors!

L* came up with this recipe when she read that the food HIGHEST in antioxidents was the "small red bean." Since we are partial to pinto and black beans, we had to stretch to incorporate the small red.

From WebMD:

"June 17, 2004 -- Blueberries may be the poster children for antioxidant abundance, but a new study suggests the humble bean may be a more deserving candidate.

The largest and most advanced analysis of the antioxidant content of common foods to date shows that disease-fighting antioxidants may be found in unexpected fruits and vegetables, such as beans, artichokes, and even the much-maligned Russet potato.

Researchers found that small red beans contain more disease-fighting antioxidants than both wild and cultivated blueberries, which have been heralded in recent years for their high antioxidant content. In fact, three of the top five antioxidant-rich foods studied were beans.

The study also shows that nuts and spices, such as ground cloves, cinnamon, and oregano, are rich in antioxidants, although they are generally consumed in much smaller amounts than fruits and vegetables."

Find the entire list of top antioxidant foods here:

If your budget can't stretch to cover blueberries at five dollars a half-pint, consider the red bean.

Reclaim your food, people.

sábado, marzo 17, 2007

Garden day

L* has been in scavenging mood lately: she wants to drive around until she finds a piece of furniture on the side of the road and then bring it home and paint it.

So far, the pickings have been slim. She's acquired a couple of frames, and something that will make a good plant stand or garden altar.

Today she brought home a tire. so we can make a planter for the garden. I'm sure you've seen them!

three tire planters posted online at Wuvie

So, of course, we're googling directions on how to cut these puppies and turn them inside out. And while looking, I found the most beautiful tropical bird planters, also made from tires.

Those girls in Miami have got to see this! It's right up their alley!

picture of toucan planter

The tropical birds are for sale only, no directions. I've also heard rumors of a tire planter that looks like a swan.

Speaking of Those Girls in Miami, L* just got back from Home Depot, where she went to get mounting brackets to put up the most fabulous TRES REYES present from TGiM. It's painted full of love and beauty, and all the joy that L*'s garden represents.

I'll post pictures when it's up.

L*'s other project is to move the geraniums over to the other side of the garden so that she'll have a whole strip where she can plant corn. I can't wait! Our own milpa!

viernes, marzo 16, 2007


"We share 25% of our DNA with bananas. Get over yourself." --T-shirt slogan

The local Sangha just sent me a message that started with this slogan.
It made me want a banana.

Alma Lopez is back online

Hey, you know you stop checking somebody's blog for a whole year and you miss out on the resurrection. Alma Lopez is back bloggin for real. I just stumbled (almost literally) across her site: it was originally more of a place holder, with announcements of upcoming shows, but now she's showing you how it's done. Me, I still haven't figured out labels yet.

Alma's entries are really compelling, and really map out more of queer Latin@ health.

domingo, marzo 11, 2007

Buscando Querido

I'm sorry: writing under the title "Looking for Querido" makes me feel like a big ol' slut. Like Jill Clayburg in Looking for Mr. Goodbar.

But we were out at La Peña last night and ran into Marcia who said--as she does everytime we see her--you know my friend Querido lives in your neighborhood. Have you met Querido yet?" Marcia tells us her friend Querido is about our age, FTM.

We have not met Querido. That there should be a (nother?) Latino FTM on our block, and us not to have met would be just too crazy. If he had any other name, we could perhaps do the Marlon Brando and stand out on the street (in our torn t-shirt and jeans) and bellow out his name: "STELLA!"

But standing out on the street yelling "QUERIDO!" well! it will definitely have the neighborhood talking.

Not to mention starting rumors that one or the other of us is looking for a new Querido.

(Note: We're NOT!)

Side note:

In Bino Realuyo's novel the Umbrella Country the family is always renting out the second bedroom to boarders. The boarders are always women, and they then share in all the family meals, spaces, conversations, etc. At one point, the main character's mother and tía say that the new boarders are queridas. And this is said in the whisper of escándolo. So the first time I read this, I'm thinking....lovers? lesbians? But then it becomes clear: they're not queridas to each other. Each one is the querida of some married man. They're mistresses!

So maybe a neighborhood flyer is the answer. Again, we don't want to put Looking for Querido, because it makes us sound like loose wo/men.

My solution is to make a flyer with a picture of a kitten on it.



picture of someone's lost cat

Then, "Have you seen Querido" will be innocuous to all the other neighbors, and only Querido will know it's directed at him. And he might actually call us. My only fear is that our next door neighbors will recognize L*'s phone number from the flier and worry that we've lost one of our cats.