Dad came back

And I’m not sure if I’m more disappointed in my mom, or my dad. My dad did his usual guilt trip, and my mom ended up calling him the next day to tell him she was worried about him sleeping in the truck. She invited him back in the house. And although it seems she hasn’t stopped living even when his bad energy is around, she doesn’t understand that she’s enabling him. And although I’m worried about my dad, too, it’s about time we stop worrying about him and gain our sanity back. We’ve worried about him our whole lives. is dad going to be drunk at dinner again? Is he going to say something stupid to my friend? Should I cancel the party since my dad is going to be here? Is he going to remember to come to my
choir concert this time?

I’m emotionally drained. And really it’s gotten to the point where I feel the one thing that can truly revive me is sand and salt water. I seriously need some west coast waves and sunsets in my life. It’s been over a year.
My dad has everything he could ever need. I don’t think I’ll ever understand what it is he wants. Because it obviously isn’t us. And it seems like it never has been. And now, because of it, I feel I have this complex that I have an initial freak out when someone doesn’t want me like I want them. I’m trying to get over that.
My ex girlfriend was pretty good at keeping me around. She said once that someone told her she was manipulative, and at that time I didn’t want to believe it. She just seemed so sweet and innocent. And now I look back and yeah, she kind of was. But as I look back, part of me wishes I had taken some of that manipulation, and learned how to do it, just to keep my dad around. And then reality hits. What’s the point if he’ll never truly understand what it means to be a dad. He never has, and he never will.
I just hope one day, if I have kids or adopt them, that I truly will embody being a parent. Like all of it, without excuses. And I hope if I’m with someone, he or she doesn’t turn out to be like my dad. I really hope it’s not true that we stay with what we know.

People tend to leave

My dad left last Saturday, refusing to tell anyone where he was going. Before he had left, and before I knew about it I texted him telling him to stop trying to contact me. I blocked his number and deleted him from Facebook. Today was my first normal feeling day since, although that underlying uneasiness won’t ever go away. I’ve recently realized that I’ve had many people die in my lifetime, all 24 years of it. I know, I’m old. I first took notice of it almost a year ago when one of my best friend Michelle’s grandpa died. She had such a difficult time with it, and although I empathized with her, it felt so normal to see someone in a casket. I knew him, too. He was a phenomenal man with an awesome track record and national recognition. So I could imagine that constantly being reminded by newspaper articles and her grandpa’s fans wasn’t easy. But one night she just broke down, which led me to ask her if she had ever lost anyone. She said it was the first time and she didn’t see how I could have handled it. All I could say to her was that it gets easier.
And now I think, is that morbid? That death just gets easier? That something so life changing could become just another event that you learn to get over quicker and quicker. And I understand that it could be a defense mechanism. Maybe our bodies can’t handle anymore stress so they just don’t react.

A few years ago I was head over heals for this guy who turned out to be a robotic fucking asshole. He avoided me for two weeks at the end of it all, then when he decided to suck it up and talk to me, he told me he had never loved me and all those times he had said he did were lies. You know that feeling that your heart is being torn into tiny little pieces then spread all in between your ribcage? Yeah, it was one of those. It so happened I had a scheduled visit with the shrink that week, and what started as an attempt to get over daddy issues, turned into nonstop tears over a robot. Miss Margaret told me that losing someone in that way was like having someone in your life die. And yeah, I realized I had to morn just the same.
I’ve seen more caskets than I would have imagine I’d see at my age, and I’ve had many close people die or just leave voluntarily. And although I know death is a part of life, deep down I can’t help be fear that heart wrenching feeling again.
I’ve been hanging out with someone lately, let’s call her Erin. During one of our late night, couch laying talks we asked each other our biggest irrational and rational fear. My biggest rational fear used to be people leaving my world without knowing that I loved them, like really loved them. When she asked, my rational fear switched to being my irrational, and a new rational fear moved in its place. It turned irrational because no matter what I did for my dad, he always tried to guilt trip us, acting like he wasn’t loved. And the reality is that if it weren’t for us in his life, if it weren’t for my mother, he’d be a single mess probably living in a dumpy apartment in East LA. My rational fear turned into people leaving me. Death, change of heart, friendships. And because of this newfound fear I’m starting to realize this constant push and pull between letting myself be vulnerable with people, and hiding it all.
I can’t seem to find a balance, and I’m starting to wonder if I ever will.

He called on Christmas Eve

He didn’t call me for 5 months. Not after a tornado, bad weather, and after hearing that I ended up in a ditch. Not after my Mom refused to stop telling him my life. He texted me a few times, usually photos of paintings he was working on. I don’t know what he expected to come of it, that I would write back how talented he is? How it’s about freaking time he did something he enjoyed, instead of always complaining how much he didn’t have time for it.

But I guess my dad had time to call me finally, on Christmas Eve. And of course, I was having a nice, cozy dinner with Evangelista and her awesome family. I wasn’t about to answer the phone because he finally realized we hadn’t talked in months.

So I waited until Christmas day to call him back. I didn’t want to FaceTime him, but he did try the night before, so I figured it was only fair to give him a chance at it. Sooo, I FaceTimed him, and he sat there for a few seconds holding back tears. Yeah I missed him, but I wanted so badly to be able to reach through that phone and knock his head. This call could have happened months ago. And sure I could have called him, but he would have missed the point if I had. Or so I thought.

Small talk ensued and then I asked about the Christmas card he had sent. The first line read “I haven’t called because I know you don’t want me to.” He said well you didn’t. “Damnet Dad, no. You weren’t listening. I said call me when you are ready to stop lying to me. At this point, I gave up hoping you’d stop drinking. But I couldn’t take the lying.” And with all seriousness, he said, “Oh, then I must have read that wrong.”

And there went 5 months of not talking.

See I thought my dad was hardhead, but shit, not this hardheaded. I asked if he was done, done drinking I meant. And he said he was. I guess I won’t believe it until it hits a year.

He never did say he wouldn’t lie to me anymore.

We moved sand with our hands

“Okay, now let’s think about this. Come here, sit with me,” The Bullfighter said to me, motioning me to the floor.
We both sat on our knees, staring at eachother, waiting for the other to say something.
“Face the other way, put your hand together,” he said, “and ohhhhmmmmmmm.”
I tried not to laugh but did what he said. I put my hands together as if to pray to some non-existent being.
“Ohhhhmmmmmm,” I repeated, halfheartedly. He knew.
“No no no, like feel it in your being. Ohhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmm.”
“Ohhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmm.”
Then we changed hand positions.
“Ohhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmm,” we said in unison.
“Now come back here, and sit like a frog.”
“Um, yeah, I don’t think I’ve done that since I was five,” I said, struggling to switch positions.
“Yeah, um ok me, too. Scratch that. Ohhhhmmmmmmmm.”
I tried not to laugh, but my smile was way too obvious.

“Okay, now lets search in the sand.” The Bullfighter moved on to grabbing at the beige carpet, acting like it had more weight and volume than it actually did. He grabbed a handful of sand and tossed it at me. And for some reason I almost felt it.

So I followed. I reached out my hand and took hold of some sand, then held it up and watched it pour slowly down in a straight line. The wind picked up some sand dust and spun it around us. I spread my fingers and ran them through the sand, “I’m searching for an answer. I see something dark, and bold. Dark and bold. And I see something real.”

“Will I be ugly?” asked The Bullfighter.

“Sure, if you want to be.”

“I want to be just real, myself. Just flat out ragged.” He explained.

“Well yeah, you. Whatever is you. As real as you can be.”

Just barely before I finished talking, another band member brought over a magnetic board with word magnets. So randomly necessary.

“Oh god, I’m glad there aren’t any kids around,” The Bullfighter said.

“What? Why?”

“Because I’m about to write the most inappropriate sentence ever.”

We dove into the word magnets, pulling them off, sticking them back on. Arranging, rearranging, borrowing from one another. I got so into my word play that I didn’t even notice what he was trying to spell out.

“Do you have the contracted word ‘don’t’?”

“I don’t see one,” I answered, not really trying to find one. “I’m picking out words to describe the shoot.”

“How does it make you feel? How do you want others to feel?” He asked.

We fought over words and stole from each other. It felt like a race against our own minds and creativity. I stopped only because I ran out of words to describe what I wanted.

“Bold, black, dark, inspired, raw, photo, emotion, true, creative, tattered, anger,” The Bullfighter read my words aloud. “Yeah, I see you.” We then stopped, and looked at each other, into our inner workings. “Hey everyone,” He said to the group, “Listen up! She’s got something to say.”

Everyone quieted down without a fight. 

“Everyone is going to take this plain white paper, and a marker. Go into that room alone, and just write. Whatever. Just write. About the music, about your day, about your life or philosophy on life. On anything that moves you.”

The Trombonist got up first, grabbed his necessities and left the room. Music blared through the hallway and we turned down the lighting. Somewhere in the midst of silly banter, The Bullfighter took my camera and told me it was my turn. This is rare, but when it happens I try to set the example of a good model–not that it always works, but why not?

We went into the kitchen, and my clothes happend to match the scenery so perfectly. He swung open cabinets and centered me in the room. 

“That look you did earlier, do it. Now clench your fists, like you blew open the cabinets.”

I did what he said at first, with a half an ounce of doubt. So this is what it feels like. Shit, this is hard. 

“Yes that! Right there! keep that.” The Bullfighter said, stepping back between the refrigerator and the table to get a better angle. “Yes! Right there!”

I occasionally turned the camera to fix the settings, resulting in occasional photos of me reaching out. In the end, bright, tungsten-tinted portraits in a wrath of kitchen supplies and alcohol bottles. Teal, orange, yellow, brown. Young, alive. 

Brilliant.

And all in a matter of minutes. 

I sat there looking at him, and he looked at me. For a split second, our artistic minds seemed to switch. Music was on my mind and photography was on his. 

One of the best part of being an artist? Collaborating with other artists, to the point that brainwaves sync up into a harmony of sounds and colors. Ultimately high from the experience, it reminded me why I do what I do. 

 

Hammock eyes

We laid in the hammock, The Thinker and I, underneath the ceiling of a welcoming home to friends and those we didn’t really know. Just minutes before we walked down the street around 1AM, planning to call it a night, when we heard yells from a porch across the street. “Hey you guys! Come hang out with us!” We had no clue who it could be, but for some reason couldn’t resist. A huge hug from a cuddly friend, and an embrace from a new one. More followed as we entered the house. Hula-hooping, hammock swinging, singing and dancing and kissing and laughing. New people to get to know and a few friends who probably knew my middle name. Such a random, yet meant-to-be encounter. After we talked a bit, then danced and sang a bit, we laid a bit in that hammock. As we swung slightly from side to side, your arm under my neck, we talked about absurd things I can’t even remember now–and probably some serious things. All I knew, and know, is that it felt so right at that moment. The swinging and laughing in the background, and the fact that it didn’t phase anyone if we hula-hooped, danced, chugged 50 beers, or just laid together apart from everyone else enjoying only each others words. All of it was surreal, with a hint of truth. The mixture of it all, and your eyes, kept me consumed.

The strength of the women in my life.

My grandmother moved to the United States from Mexico when she was in her 20’s, looking for work to feed my mother. She gave up everything she knew to start a new life. However, immigration told her she could only choose one, a life in Mexico, or one in the Unites States. Under her agreement, she was not allowed to declare residency in the United States, and even if she did, she was not allowed to travel across the border. She did both. My grandmother couldn’t go two years without seeing her daughter.

My mother crossed the border with a student visa when she was 9. She excelled in school, way more than any other kid. The education system here has never been the best. She grew up in an era of racism, gang wars, and through the second wave of feminism. She bought mens 501s and sat in bathtubs of blue waters to fit them to her female curves. She sewed her own prom dresses and wore her hair long and wavy like a true Californian. And through it all, she never got along with her step-dad, who treated her like a servant–demanding the world and more from her. And although I wish she had it easier, as no one should wish hardship on others, it made her the strongest woman I know. Her nurturing raised me, my sister, my friends, and children we have never seen again since their grade school years. She taught us all how to hold pencils and ride bikes, how to be polite and how to stand up for our own beliefs. She’s a powerhouse of a being who isn’t afraid to admit her faults and never feels the unknown. And I love her so.

Recently, my mother told me a story about her crossing the border. My grandmother had illegally crossed back to Mexico after illegally declaring residency so she could visit my mother, numerous times. On my grandmothers cross back to the United States, with my mom’s small hand in hers, the immigration guard checking their papers said to them, “I knew it. I knew there was a reason you kept crossing back over. I’ve checked your papers each time and something told me not to turn you in. She’s your reason.”

There are good people in this world. Sometimes they don’t know it, and most of the time the rest of the world doesn’t see it. If it weren’t for that guard keeping it silent, I may not be here today, my mother probably wouldn’t either and my grandmother could have been in huge trouble. But here we are.

And the strength of the women in my family. They are all so beautifully strong. I can only hope I have a sliver of that strength in myself.

Happy United States Mother’s Day!

welcome home

Last night, I sat in a room surrounded by some of the most talented people I know. I sang along with musicians from Colorado and then hugged and kissed familiar and new people. I talked about my origins and they talked about theirs. And either the wine enlightened me to a point of drastic appreciation, or it was always there and there was never an opportunity to relish in it. But I sat there, and looked around the room, listening to acoustic guitar and a voice that gave me chills. All I could think, wow, what a great life I have. I’m so glad I’m staying. I’m so glad to be a part of a group that encourages my art, and I encourage theirs. They don’t need to take part in my everyday. They don’t need to know where I am at, every second of my life. They don’t want to either. And they don’t forget their strengths or weakness, or mine. And best of all, the conversations are real. Real people, real problems, mature outlooks on life, with the balance and energy of child’s play, and a balance between the harsh realities of this world and their ideals in fixing it. So much talent, so much strength and fragility. I’m so incredibly glad to be a part of it. My friend always says to me when he hugs me, “Welcome home.” Home I will stay.

I’m done, and my friends were there

I love the moments when it feels like time stands still. I was sitting on the famous red couches, in between two of my good friends. We were surrounded by more friends, all passing around a smoothie. We would talk loudly, over each other fighting for the spotlight, then stop and take it all in. It’s like we all simultaneously knew to shut up and breathe in the moment. And we did. And in one of those moments, I realized how much I matter to all of these people around me. They came out to see my stuff in the gallery show, then sat with me in a building I once called home, until we finally figured out what to do with our night. And in that moment, I felt like I was walking on the rim of a raindrop suspended in time. I love every single one of them. So much.

And it’s in the simplest of things. They don’t need to spend money on me, or go everywhere with me. I don’t even have to see them everyday, not even once a week. I don’t need to know where they are or the details about what’s new in their lives, and they know that the details of mine don’t change what they love about me. They went to my show, and then just sat with me, and would occasionally remind me how done I am. They’re just as excited as I am to have more time with me. And that simple knowledge gets me every time. They don’t overdo it because they don’t try, and they shouldn’t. We just all click. As we should.

If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be staying in this small town I now call home.

 

I’ll Be Fine

A few days ago I was on my way to pick up my best friend from the airport, 3 hours away. For some reason, at some odd moment in the car ride, I decided to call my dad with the intention that by the time we said our good byes, he would know I liked both women and men. So I told him, with the expectation that he would be upset or annoyed or even disown me. Instead I shed tears of relief the second he said, “you know I will always love you.”

And I thought that was going to be bad. It wasn’t at all. I think it helps being 2thousand miles away, when they realize that they actually do miss me no matter who I like.

Then last night I decided to tell my mom. Thinking I had the more difficult of the two out of the way, I felt confident. “This is a lot for me to handle right now,” she said. “Take care of yourself.” I told her I don’t know what she means. “Don’t expose yourself. You know as your mom I’ll always worry about you.”

I love you, too.

I hope she comes to realize that out of everyone in my family, I am very aware of my location. It is not “liberal” west coast, it is not the best place for people like me on many levels. I am very aware of my surroundings, and even more so aware that I am not white. Overall, not that I am going to try to hide it anymore, but my sexual orientation is something that isn’t obvious. It never has been even when I was home. Little does she know that I worry more about my safety out here because I am a woman and because I am not white. After years of dealing with that, this is easy.

I’ll be fine mom.