If they go to war with my people

January 31, 2017

That is a photo of me at 7 years old, in my First Grade class, with my sister in my arms. I loved getting to wear the navy coat and white head covering because it meant I was growing up.  Right now, I am working on growing my eyebrows back out to the way they were then.

I have recently made new friends with my body. I don’t mean this in the trite way it is usually expressed when people say “I have learned to love my body.” I mean that I recently had an experience of viscerally being in awe-some gratitude of the physical existence of my body. A few weeks ago, I wept in shame and regret for all the times I pushed it too hard, or neglected it. I felt sorry for criticizing it as a daily practice, rather than marveling at its fantastic functional abilities. I have a good, good body, I thought. And this time, I really felt it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spend time remembering my childhood: From the beginning the seeds were sown for me to feel somehow different, strange, unlike the masses. Outside home, I heard a great deal about God and the importance of God in one’s life. I thought that I loved God, and imagined her as a benevolent “she.”

At home, my parents challenged my feelings. They told me about the atrocities committed in the name of religion – about murders and hangings of their own friends. Sometimes, I just wished they would believe in God like everyone else, so I could feel normal.

At school, I was taught to chant “death to America.” At home, I was told that this hatred was a consequence of governments in conflict, and not a statement by or about the people.

At school, I learned to read and write in Farsi. At home, I recited poetry, danced, and sang Persian songs.

At bedtime, I delighted in my father’s voice recounting the narrative of evolution, where tiny floating cells became fish, birds and mammals. Everything had worldly import.

Before my family and I left for Canada, I remember my mother’s sister saying to me: “You’re so pretty, when you go to Canada all the boys will fawn over you.”   Nobody knew about racism and internalized oppression. Everyone looked forward to our perfect, amazing life in the West.

Besides, my parents had given me too much understanding to believe that whatever could be purchased by good looks would be enough for me. They made sure I would want more, for better or worse.

Friends, your love and affection so powerfully contradict the hateful terror of everything, that I am moved to sudden, violent tears. These tears heal broken pieces of my soul. I am grateful for the ends of tree branches in the dead of winter, and for earth that I can walk on. As long as these things exist, I will make it.

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A timely imaginary

November 20, 2016

An excerpt from Dangerous Border Crossers by Guillermo Gomez-Pena

 

The Self-deportation Project, 1995

Let’s exercise our political imagination for a moment. It is the immediate future in a typical US city, which is to say, a city full of immigrants, people of color and people who speak other languages… like Spanglish. You perceive yourself as an ‘angry white male,’ but no one knows about it. Not even your beautiful ‘Hispanic’ wife or your interracial kids.

You wake up one day and go to work. You need to stop for gas, but the gas station is closed (You don’t know that all the attendants went back to Old Mexico the day before.) You drive around looking for an open gas station until you run out of gas. You call a cab, but there are no cabs because the drivers, mainly Latino, quite the day before. Somehow you make it to the office to find your colleagues watching TV in total disbelief. A nervous President Clinton is pleading for all unemployed Anglos and African-Americans to show up immediately to the closest emergency labor recruitment center. The country is paralyzed. The disappeared Latino labor force must be replaced overnight.

At lunch time you discover that most restaurants are closed. Someone explains to you that the chefs and the waiters were all part of an epic self-deportation program. Since you are fairly apolitical, you still don’t quite get it. Many stores and hotels are closed (for obvious reasons) and the banks are going crazy. All across the country, millions of Mexicans, with their suitcases in hand are lining up at bank counters to withdraw their accounts on their back to their homelands.

You begin to worry about your family. You decide to go home, walking of course, ’cause your car, remember, is parked somewhere on the other side of town without gas. Your Hispanic wife is devastated. Most of her relatives chose to go back to the old country. She is also furious because Juan, the gardener, and Maria, the babysitter, are nowhere to be found. She explains she had to stay home to take care of the kids and missed all of her work appointments. She even had to take the kids to do the shopping, which Maria normally does. They stood in an eternal line at the supermarket, only to find that there was no fresh produce. According to the supermarket manager, there were no truckers to deliver it. Now your kids are crying because they miss Maria.

You go to bed in total perplexity, and you dream… in Spanish. Or better said, you have a nightmare in Spanish: you see yourself picking fruit under a criminal sun for ten hours a day, your hands covered with a monstrous skin disease produced by pesticides. You wake up sweating.

Next morning, you turn on the TV. A panicked President delivers the bad news: very few people responded to his desperate call for workers. The unemployed ‘citizens’ were clearly not inspired by the idea of working for minimum wage and no benefits. The nation’s tourist, construction, garment and food industries are all in disarray. San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Jose, Fresno, San Francisco, Phoenix, Tucson, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Denver, San Antonio, Houston, Chicago and a myriad other smaller cities have declared bankruptcy. And so have many national banks. And if this weren’t enough, the President concludes, within days, crops across the country will begin to rot because there’s simply no one to pick them. Luckily, Mexico has offered to send some emergency food supplies, and maybe even some Mexicans. In very broken Spanglish, or rather gringonol, a desperate President Clinton proceeds to beg the remaining Mexicans to stay [misspelled Spanish]: “Queridous amigous: querremos que ustedis recapaciten y nou abandounen sus trabayos mas. Les subireimos el salary y les dareimos muchious benefits y su terjeita verdi instantanea. Por favour.” “

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A lament for lost objects

October 02, 2016

I had a table, a big, beautiful table. And a desk. Strong, commanding chairs. One of the hardest things about moving is losing my objects. I have forever lost these specific material things, and am temporarily without my tools: my needles and pins, scrap pieces of fabric and yarn, my patterns, iron, paints and jars full of buttons.

I move and I lose everything. I lose all the beauty I make, and all the objects that hold my scent. All the rich, thingy beings with which I was intimately related.

The tiny coffee table I bought for $7 that I used as a space for a seated altar. On it I had placed a giant, obscenely heavy mirror that I would stare into. Collections of stones, small notes, and keepsakes would sit ahead of the mirror and on the table. Two yoga blocks were the perfect accessory to raise me to just the right height for the altar/coffee table.

The soft, supple wooden floor that supported us all. And in the other room, the dining table I used as a work desk, so generously offering its surface for making.

The dresser on which sat the rest of my trinkets, and which sometimes gathered dust, while the drawers always overflowed with too many clothes.

I am lost without these friends and the space they gave me. I have lost my orientation. The single wooden chair I found at a rummage sale that gave me delightful perspective. The intention with which these objects and I found each other. The perfectness of our union.

img_1775How hard it was to part with that short coffee table despite its nil economic value. How I long now for a chair I chose.

How I desire for keeping such things in my life, nurturing them, getting to spend the rest of my years with them, until death do us part.

How I despise the disposability with which I am expected to treat them. How I resent the ease with which I am supposed to give them up and move on.

“They are just material objects, you know. Are you that attached to things?”

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I will stay loyal to the dance

February 23, 2016

I will stay loyal to the dance.

She has fed me so well over the years, in every moment of dispossession.

And all she asks for return is my time and respect.

 

 

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Something Speaks

January 24, 2016

I am up until dawn, with a gaping hole in my chest.

 

I know you can tell that I breathe fire.

I am a horrid, hairy creature.

I’m a grotesque nightmare, woman monster.

I’m an animal, a fucking animal!

I’m a volcano, spewing blood-red lava onto your clean furniture.

 

I am desperate and needy.

I am fiending for your love.

I cower at your feet. Love me, love me, please.

I am a leech ready to suck your blood.

I will take over your life.

 

I am tits and ass.

I am exotic eyes and eyebrows.

I might as well be Kim Kardashian.

I am a one-eyed, shaded thing at the bar.

A voluptuous head of hair, unveiled and exposed, for you.

 

I am dying for you to see me.

I’m terrified that you will see me.

 

I am destroyed by the very thought of you.
I can’t sleep, I can never sleep.

I have forgotten who I am.
I must be alone. I need to be alone.
I know how to be alone.

 

Not black or white, I’m somewhere in the middle hues.

I am not in the news but ain’t I a woman too?

How it feels to be free? I, too, wish I knew.

 

 

I’m a soft, motherly vessel.

I’m “such a good listener.”

 

I am an angry woman.

Loud and hostile.

I am bitter and depressed.

I am soooo irrational.

 

I know you hate me so I think that I hate you.

But I love you, oh I love you!

Please, please let me love you.

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Empty Room

April 14, 2015

Just give me a room
for survival
 Give me sixty measly minutes
to die and come to life
it seems all people want each other for is accomplishing tasks, checking the empty boxes for completion
remove the brains out of bodies
and the selves out of communities, where they could otherwise engage
with themselves and with each other.

I can’t complain, however,
when I lie down on the wooden floor, in the silence of myself
and have sixty measly minutes
to be nothing
to disintegrate, dissolve, then reappear

 

It is clear that I travelled 2,000 miles
for this room.
 
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Unfathomably big

April 13, 2015

It’s unfathomably big.
I feel it strongly.
I witness myself transforming.  I’m not sure that the experiences I recall actually happened to “me”


Life is like a puzzle in the shape of a jewel, and each day I am playing with the pieces.
But it comes to fit together somehow, more each day. The jewel finds its shape, its faceted character.


Eras of my life, they come in approximately two to three year spans. They are universes unto themselves.
A bossanova guitar tune, and I am sucked back in time – six years ago. She was still alive. She made the place what it was. She walked the sunny Oakland streets in her sandals and pedicured toes, humming to herself.
We ate pistachios together. We enjoyed the bounty of the California soil, water, air, together. It was a life for a few years. It was a life we knew together.


When I used to play guitar, it was as a girl with a stormy and tumultuous heart.
I hold the instrument now; everything is different. Some storms contain themselves in the wisdom of years past, loves lost, promises broken, knowings become unknown.
I hold the instrument now, lightly. Lightly, as though the heavier life becomes, the more we learn to float above it.
Light is my hold on what is, and what ought to be.
Light is my knowing of who I am.


Open is the door for a new becoming.
fiery sky
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Shame

February 13, 2015

I am shameful. I have transgressed. The center of my chest itches to be scratched.
I retreat, I recede, I withdraw my wounded self into the shell from which I came.

 

I want to dissolve.

I want to go back in time and destroy things.
Nobody is perfect, but I am all too familiar with my own imperfection.

I am all too familiar with the colors of my imperfection.

I am all too familiar with the gritty taste of my own imperfections.

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Sensing the world

December 19, 2014

I speak a physical language. Everything that moves me, does so in its form, its texture, the sensual aspects of experiencing it.
I am deeply excited by books, but more by their covers, the size and opacity of the text against a white page, the heft and weight of the compiled paper, the colors chosen for the cover, the dimensions and how they fit against my body as I hold the book, walking home from the library.
Then I love them stacked one on top of the other, like ready-made building blocks, piles and piles of thoughts and ruminations waiting to be devoured.
I love buildings, the way they rise up from the ground. I love the intersection between wall and ground, and the way leaves and dust gather at this important juncture. I love the way sunlight falls against the surfaces of brick, pavement, wood. I love the shadows they create along the street, and the way these shadows changing reminds me of the day’s passing. I love the way trees line streets, each strangely shaped like the human beings that walk along the same paths, neighbors of different worlds.
I love the way branches extend out into a million directions, pointing in all which ways, shivering in the breeze, ecstatic, enigmatic. I love the room I sit in right now, and the perfect barrier that is a glass wall, giving me all the light from outdoor, while protecting me from the elements. Letting me sit, comfortably, and revel in the outside from a safe nook.
I love people and the strange ways they speak, some even like singing. Some lilting up and down in their sentences, some wanting to fill every space with thought. The shape of the laughter or the giggle, I love the texture of each of their voices, and that I can remember a person by just the way they might respond to a “hello!”
I love roads, and all manner of paths, that suggest a going-to somewhere, a change, a discovery from a long or short journey. I love the psychic message I receive from the universe when I say, “I’m going for a walk” as if that statement is evoking the spirits of let-me-work-through-this-ponder-a-bit-and-let-me-find-an-answer-to-these-questions-swrling-inside-me.
I love the heaviness of fog and cloud, I love the lightness of a clear, bright day. I love the bitter, terrifying cold, I love the way rain makes the world feel like one giant puddle.
I wish I could have a life of reveling in all manner of these things forever.
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Writing tonight it keeps coming

September 29, 2014

Tonight, I remember that I know how to watch the sun set. My mind can dance again.

Holding everything without dropppp drop drop droping

 

 

the water is deeeeeeee

 

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e

 

e

eep.

 

note

 

I want to open something that is closed right now.

I think I can do this forever.

It’s not done yet.

___________________                                                         _______________________

The world is empty.

I am full.

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