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.

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7 Long Years

A ver if I post here if anyone notices. It’s been so long, so long since I wrote anything that was just about me. Now, in this new iteration of my life in Los Angeles, it’s all about the organizational we and everything else is swallowed by the silence of private life. It’s suffocating, and this is my attempt to give myself some breathing room. Puede ser que nadie se va dar cuenta. Que esto se convierte en mi esquina privida del internet. I’m not trying to make deep political statements here. I’m just me – struggling with co-habitation, struggling with my new role in the NPIC, and always, always struggling with mami’hood.

Today, I’m sick. Canceled a meeting at work because of a cold that I’ve been ignoring all week and now that cold has caught up with me in the middle of a SoCal heatwave. Coughing and tight chest so for the first time in a really long time, I’ve been basically in bed. Reading, now writing. Getting up to make sure my children are alive and fed and busy doing something.

The children are hardly the ones when I stopped writing here. One started community college, the other is in third grade aka the year the testing begins.

A ver dejo esto como prueba – a ver quien se fija antes qie digo mas. Do people even blog anymore?

Un Año Que Viene, Otro Que Se Va

It’s that time of year, time to wrap presents, make coquito, and look back at the year that is just about to come to a close and what a year it has been. I’ve traveled more for work more than ever. I committed more time to blogging and writing and relationships ended and started and not in that order. A ver los cambios y plans….

blogging

First off, you will note that I am not even at my mamitamala.com blog because I can’t!!! It’s been a little frustrating pero hopefully in the new year I will have my own domain and server and get back on the mamita mala blogging track. One of my resolutions this year was to blog everyday here  pero I was battling techinical difficulties, work, mamihood, and struggling with how much to reveal/not reveal in this space, including being unusually quiet about things I would normally scream about or the equivalent of screaming on a blog anyway. Me thinks that this new year I will have my own domain, server space and a new design pero also a new lease on returning to my roots as la Mamita Mala, meaning unapologetically honest and naked porque that’s what this space was created for. Not for you who choose to read but for me who needs to write and kind of likes being an exhibitionist.

So I will be working to make this more a regular space, especially now as I enter in single mami’hood again. I want this space to be about negotiating my mami’hood identity with my puta identity with my poeta identity and yeah maybe make some progress on this damn book. At one point during this year

Relationships

Ay so much to say here with so many concerns about privacy and others’ feelings. So mcuh of my blogging this past year was censored. No one requested that it be that way, it was something I chose to do to protect people’s feelings and at one point my own physical safety. In this past year I went from cohabitating, to being physically abused, to having what would be called “an affair” I suppose, to separating and becoming a single mami again. And it’s even more complicated than it sounds.

Pero in all of that I strengthened my own identity. I was able to bond with other radical woc in Detriot, I survived and then some  thanks to the circle of sanity in Denver during the DNC. I recognized how tenuous and superficial some relationships with other artists are especially when they question your Latino cred. I realized how little I have in common with the so called white attachment parenting anti-racist community. I realized how little I want to be a feminist when I am so much more than what that label could ever hold.

My own relationship with myself has come full circle. I disappoint and amaze myself. I fall in and out of love with myself and alot of it has to do with if I am true to myself or not and I spent so much of this year not being true to myself. When I did start to open up to what I really wanted, needed and deserved, the shift in feeling was amazing. That’s not to say that i am not working on a million parts of myself pero I almost killed Mamita Mala this past year, not the blog pero that whole side of my identity because I thought it would be easier than dealing with the backlash. Pero then I realized that I, Mamita Mala was too important to kill off, that I have so uch more to do with so many people. So as I tie up a few loose ends in my life, like making sure I have a roof over my kids’ heads, in 2009 Mamita Mala will rise again.

Writing and Reading

This past year my writing has taken me all around the country, speaking to college students and organizations, speaking at political events and recording powerful poetry. I was inspired to write in Spanish and then translate to English for the first time ever pero no I still haven’t written my damn book pero in the new year it will be because it has to be. I already have readings lined up for January and am working on Feburary and I am planning on maybe speanding the summer out of the city to write away with less distractions.

May the new year bring happiness, light, clarity and justice and love (and some good sex would be nice too).

FA 3020

Yes, I can be added as another single Rican mother to the food stamp rolls, for a month and a half at least.

::sigh::

I went, for the first time ever to the food stamp office yesterday. I entered holding my breath and my nerves. When I got to the first floor, the line was short and I naively thought “Hey, this doesn’t seem too bad”. Little did I know that that first floor was just to get a number to go upstairs, which was a special kind of hell and humiliation.

FA 3020, scribbled on a green paper because the systems were down. I went up to the second floor and was ushered past three lines and one packed waiting room to a another packed waiting room, painted prison/public school green, with school like chairs with desks attached. The room was filled with other parents with children, and single men and woman, mostly people of color. Some filled out papers, others listened to music or were reading the paper. There were young people, old people, and everyone in between, all waiting for their number to be callled. I had to wait three hours for my number to be called. In those three hours I was engaged in the joyous task of entertaining a restless almost two year old, who wanted to run through all the waiting rooms. The security guards were nice, pero why were there so many security guards. Four on this one floor I was on.  Did they expect us to revolt after waiting for hours? It would have been a good option, but we all knew better. Our ability to feed our children and ourselves was dependent on these people. So we sat. Trying to hush our children. One young guy behind me started kicking it to me. I was like, “really? At the food stamp office?” Pero I found myself talking to him anyway. It was a distraction from the numbing atmosphere that prepared no one for the moment when their number was called.

When my number was finally called, I was led to the back, which opened up into a maze of cubicles with case workers. At this point poroto was beside herself with exhaustion and was restless and cranky. The Russian woman wo was my caseworker took my application and my documents.

“You make less money then your rent. That’s a problem. Why don’t you apply for cash benefits?”
“because I work and don’t want to be put in a job training program” I told her honestly. And I also didn’t want to deal with another office. Not now anyway.
“Well this means we will have to give you a deferral until you can prove you can pay your rent.”
“If I can’t pay my rent, according to my paperwork, isn’t that proof enough I need food stamps? “. I didn’t ask her this outloud. i just tried to comfort my now screaming toddler.

“You need to take your client out of here,” Another case worker yelled over her cubicle wall. Apparently Poroto’s cries were disturbing her.
“I’ll just have you do a telephone interview so you can get out of here” my caseworker told me before going to make copies of what I brought her: pay stubs, bank statements, utility bills, birth certificates, and Social Security Cards.
As soon as the casewoker left, Poroto reached on the desk and grabbed a pen.
“Oh no mami, you can’t let your baby start going through papers on the desk”, another caseworker with knee high electric blue suede boots chided.
“What she needs is a good smack,”
“I don’t believe in hitting my children,” I answered quickly and strongly.
“Well she can’t act like that in here, ” the blue booted case worker told me before walking away loudly telling all the other cubicles how my child was out of control.
That was when I wanted to cry.

Here I was a work at home mami, a woman who has worked all her damn life, a woman who was told her whole life by her own single mother that she did it all without a penny of government assistance, a woman who by my own account is pretty damn smart and talented, and a good damn mother and I felt like the smallest, ugliest stastistic stereotype, everything I was never supossed to be.

I fought the tears and gratefully accepted the blowpop offered to poroto by a male caseworker. My caseworker arrived, handed me a stack of papers and told my that my telephone interview would be tommorrow morning. I was then sent downstairs, again, this time to get fingerprinted.

The last time I had been fingerprinted was in the basement of One Police Plaza after getting arrested in a protest. There was no ink pad here though. Everything was done by electronic scanning. As I pressed my fingers into the scanner, I felt a little pedacito of me move through the wires and in between the unique black and white pattern that was my fingerprint on the screen.

Then I was done.
For now.
I left the building into the cold Long Island City industrial street and walked a little bit. Poroto fell asleep and I wept.