The Second Shift is Real

When I first moved to Los Angeles the problem, according to my pareja, was that I wasn’t getting enough freelance work. I had a column charting my move from Caribbean centric single mami’hood NYC life to Mexican/Central American centric cohabitation in Los Angeles. I was writing posts for political websites and blogging for my own sites. But it wasn’t bringing enough checks and I, seemingly, wasn’t pulling my weight economically or in terms of caring for a home my pareja owns to warrant my existence with my two children. So I begrudgingly took a job in retail – selling men’s shoes and suits in a national department store chain. Something not that unusual I guess. Just last week in meeting with a freelance marketing/branding expert I learned that she had begun working the overnight shift in another national chain to pay her bills. She is a single white women with better educational credentials than me. When I was able to get out of what a young, single, childless person within the “movement” gave me passive aggressive grief about, not always “working” in “movements”, I thought that would ease the tension. A long term freelance gig working with immigrants with an org I knew meant more money. It also meant I could go back to school. But then according to my pareja, I wasn’t studying enough. I wasn’t saving enough, and I still wasn’t paying enough into the household or doing a good enough job keeping house.

Now I’m an executive at a non-profit organization. I work more than 40 hours a week. I make a decent salary and my pareja can no longer say I don’t pay my fair share. But the complaints have shifted to other areas tied to my gender. I’m not a good enough mother. I don’t take good enough care of myself. I work too much and may not even be that good at it. The house is still not clean enough and I’m the one who does the bulk of the cooking, cleaning and food shopping.

It’s too easy to think yes I’m the problem, internalize that message that no matter what I don it’s not enough and I have to do more. But deep down I know better. I know I’m trying the best that I can and that’s good enough pero igual. Duele. It hurts and it’s not the healthiest way to live/work/be.

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The Ones Who Date Night Vs The Ones Who Fight

We used to be the ones who did date nights,the ones who professed our admiration which grew into love. First in private direct messages, letters, phone calls, Twitter, Hangouts, telegrams, cross-country bedroom visits, morning after coffee and pillow talk. We even had our own hashtag that others used when they would witness our exchanges. It was cliche and delightful.  Post sex languorous tears over our fears for our children, their future, and  what that meant in terms of our own mortality. We would talk about and begin to plan a commitment ceremony, never a wedding. We talked about a baby. We tried new restaurants. You took me to happy hours in the city I moved to to be with you and introduced me to all of your friends who swore they never saw you happier.

But then reality set in. You said I didn’t know how to live in a house that you owned, wasn’t rented. It was the second house you owned. Eventually I paid part of the mortgage, but it was never mine. Never ours.

In fact soon even I wasn’t yours. Sure we lived together but our lives were lived parallel to one another, not intertwined. You refer to me as your roommate, despite the fact that we actually share a bed and bodily fluids. Problems you were having became “single papi problems”, a not so gentle poke at my years as a single mother and how I was able to leverage support and even work from that experience.

We used to be the ones who did date nights, together. Now, on the eve of our first country flight our children have placed bets to see how long it will be before we fight.

SPEAK!

I am honored to be part of this powerful project with some powerful women. If you listen closely you can hear la Mala spitting some words.

Participating in this project has been life changing and affirming for me plus it brings together some of the most amazing radical women of color that exist.

Speak! is a women of color led media collective and in the summer
months of 2008, they created a CD compilation of spoken word, poetry,
and song. This is the first self-named album.

With womyn contributors from all over the country, Speak! is a
testament of struggle, hope, and love. Many of the contributors are in
the Radical Women of Color blogosphere and will be familiar names to
you. Instead of just reading their work, you’ll be able to hear their
voices.

Proceeds of this album will go toward funding mothers and/or
financially restricted activists wanting to attend the Allied Media
Conference in Detroit, MI this July. This is our own grassroots
organizing at its finest with financial assistance from the AMC. We
collaborated and conference called for months and here it is, ready
for your purchasing.

In addition to these moving testaments, there will be a zine,
featuring more of our work and a curriculum available to further
process the meaning of each piece for yourself, education, or a group
discussion. The possibilities are endless.

You get all of this for less than $20, you can order one for yourself
or buy a gift card for friend which can be redeemed to buy the CD.
Stay on your toes and look for more information come January 1, 2009.
Only 200 copies are available.

Forward this promo vid widely and to the ends of your contact list.
See the link here.

Slipping into Solteria?

Expectations set me up for heartbreak every time

and it’s not the fault of the other

it’s my fault

my poetic temperment and wanting to hold out hope for the best in people

thinking egotistically that I bring that out in people.

Pero no.

It never seems to work that way.

During one of our “talks” over vino on how we were going to move forward he surprised me,

surprised me by saying his ideal was for him to stay in what seems to be the cheapest apartment in Queens

and for the chicas and I to move out.

My reaction?

First to get physically sick and vomit.

The next morning I was angry.

I have now moved into scared and depressed.

And alot of this these seems to hinge on my status of soltera/single.

He asked me during that same “talk” if I was single,

meaning if I was dating/seeing/fucking anyone else

cuz if I was, he seemed to be saying, I would be out on my ass sooner.

Funny thing is I couldn’t really answer if I was single.

I mean I’m here living with my daughter’s father but we are broken up

and there are a whole mess of other factors that I dare not write here

that demand the question of my status be answered.

And I know some are reading this smiling a little

saying it’s my karma for the way I’ve chosen to live my life

pero the poeta in me still holds on to a little hope

still has some expectations

that it will all be ok.

Indiscretion

There was none here.

There was no foolishness

no not knowing.

I knew

he knew

and soon everyone else that need to did as well

even if we continue to play it off

each discussing the other in pronouns, initials, pseudonyms, and geographical locations

relegating certain acts to certain spaces and places.

Ya pa’que vale la mentira

la actuacion

el drama

of pretending things are the same

of saying we are going one place

when we are going somewhere else.

The hurt of reality has been cut into skin

now all that is left is the healing

the scabbing over

the scarification

and the remembering not to forget

so you don’t fall again.

__________________________________________________________________________________

Seems silly that he lied to me like that

after the more serious omissions and lies I have said and not said.

Pero he told me he was going to the museum today

with his family

with the free pass I gave him.

Pero then as I went off to buy a bottle of wine

to celebrate having the apartment the way I want it

with me and my daughters

I spotted him there

buying a bottle of wine

and I remembered

the how and the where that would happen before.

I don’t know why he felt he couldn’t tell me

the real plan for day

or why he just said nothing except he was going out.

It struck me.

I watched him from afar

waited for him to leave before buying my own celebratory bottle.

I’ve been Away

I took a vacation. A time away from the craziness that is the logistics of a breakup. A time away from the need to post a certain number of blogposts per day in order to reach a certain number of hits, a certain amount of money. A time away from the constant demands of mami’hood and responsibilities to communities.

Vacations are pure escapism yet my vacation in a super secret location was also about living painful realities, sitting with them, hiding from them, and facing them again. It was about sleeping in and witnessing patterns of daily life you dreamed about. It was about long walks under moonlit skies, wine, coffee, nakedness, food, familiar sounds coming from unfamiliar places, breathing in new air, mourning and then hoping again only to mourn some more.

I made a game about not telling people where I was going, about being all clandestina when it wasn’t a game at all, rather a request, a courtesy, a respect for myself and others and I guess a need. A need I still am not content with and resent the same way I resent all the compromises i make. I have started to question when consideration for someone else trumps your own path to happiness and if it should.

Now I brace for the long winter of change, emotionally sleep and hibernate, using my stores of knowledge and experience to survive and wait for the spring hoping it will remain true to its promise of new beginnings and rebirth.

Things I’d Rather Not Think About at 6:00 am

When I open my eyes I think about coffee.

I wonder what will I blog about for VivirLatino.

I wonder who is awake on twitter.

I wonder how long Miss Poroto will sleep.

Now I also worry,

worry about how long will i have this bed to sleep in,

worry about not being able to afford this apartment

knowing that there are no cheaper apartments

and that my poor income as a writer/artist/blogger won’t sustain me and two kids.

I worry because I know there is no room for me at my mother’s or my tia’s or anywhere really

pero we also can’t do this anymore,

not for too much longer anyway,

sharing space where we both feel constrained.

I hate not being able to do shit my way,

write when I want  to, need to

talk to someone when I want to, need to.

I hate having to look over my shoulder because I have no privacy

and there are conversations I don’t want you to see/hear.

Pero there is no where to go.

Not even for you.

We picked a bad time to do this.

With the economy so bad,

your jobs/my jobs

don’t leave us with many options except to endure

and it’s not that I don’t care

or don’t have some love for you still

pero I’m scared

of living here like this

and of having no other options.

When I open my eyes

I think about coffee

I think about where I want to be

and where I am

and how will I get from here

to there.