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No Ideas But in Things

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There’s a scene in the critically acclaimed masterpiece Ratatouille when the antagonist, Ego, asks a waiter for “perspective.” I’ll come back to that in a bit.

For people who know what they want out of life, we’re told initially that we can accomplish all of it with the right amount of nerve. We’re told that “Anyone can cook,” that the Rockys of the world can win, and more recently, we can get our own jazz clubs and become the actors we know we were born to be, as seen in La La Land.

When I watched La La Land, it struck me that the only reason I was applying to grad school was simply to avoid the shamed label of “unemployed with a degree.” Although I do love academia, as it has been one of the few places that I truly feel welcomed in, I don’t want to compromise my dreams for the comforts of practicality. I have known that I wanted to be a writer since I was about four but officially, I decided to pursue it in 2010. I had a professor tell me that when she was my age, she would “sit and burn away at the typewriter,” and that “You’ve got to write about things that make your bones ache.”

I have a lot of things that make my bones ache.

Yet, I was willing to put it on hold so that I wouldn’t have to worry about things like, social stigma or whatever. Literally, who cares? I need to trust in my abilities to figure things out, because so far, I’ve done okay. I have no reason to believe I’ll fail otherwise.

Here’s the thing about Paterson: (Spoilers are ahead, I suppose.)

The film is about a bus driver who writes poetry during his lunch breaks in a little notebook. He’s married to his eccentric and beautiful wife Laura, and they live in Paterson, New Jersey. His name is also Paterson.

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Paterson, the man, writes his poems, and drives and listens to the gentle buzz of his city. Laura is worried that his writing will be lost because he doesn’t make copies of his poems. Spoiler: the little book is actually destroyed, but there are no outbreaks, no tears, no punching of walls. Paterson sulks instead, goes for a walk and simply begins a new book.

The film takes us over the city, and runs like a poem, each day of the week a new stanza. There is repetition, imagery, and a sleepy tone. But that’s it. That’s the film. Nothing happens, and I can see why some would call the film boring. However, poetry is like that too. But we can learn to read, and there we make meaning, whatever that may be.

Paterson gave me that perspective that Ego talked about. It made me question exactly why I was so worried about life after graduation. My apprehensions are rooted in my insecurities – that I’ll never write anything good and I’ll be chained to a 9-5, married to someone I don’t love but trapped because I have 3 kids to think about. And I never realized my full potential which is the most heartbreaking aspect of it all.

Gotta love that slippery slope fallacy.

My New Year’s Resolution every year is to write more and after watching the film, I was even more inspired and ready to go to the bookstore to buy a new notebook and William Carlos Williams’ epic poem, Paterson for fuel.

I went to the bookstore and didn’t find either. I did find though, a book with a bright cover called Real Artists Have Day Jobs by Sara Benincasa. And I guess maybe, I shouldn’t be so ready to dismiss that (despite the obvious capitalist agenda entrenched in that title).

Here’s a segment NPR did about the film. Listen, then go watch it.

4.5/5 🚌

Chill? I’ve Heard of Her…

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Coffee shop wisdom found at Steelhead Coffee in the LBC.

Time is something I think about a lot. I think my favorite quote about time is this one, “And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.” That’s in Kurt Vonnegut’s postmodern masterpiece Slaughterhouse-Five.

I’m wrapping up my penultimate semester of my undergraduate career and I recently turned twenty-one. So naturally, I’m thinking about the passage of time more than usual and how there are people who have known me since I was twelve and there are people who I’ve known me since I was seventeen and how radically different those two versions of me are, and yet they are still the same person.

I feel like I was just a seventeen year old kid, fresh from my high school graduation, ready to eat the big bad world in one gulp. Now, I feel tired, and not as bold as I was due to life kicking my ass a couple of times these past four years. I think I feel tired because I wasted a lot of energy trying to “get my shit together fast af” now that I was out of my hometown, and in a bigger city where things happen.

It’s been such a blur, this whole college thing. But I am proud to say that in the blur of memories that I have, most of it was colorful. Most of it was laughter, most of it was positive new things and most importantly, most of it was getting to know people that I cannot see myself living without.

That being said, this semester, despite the fact that I’m not doing a lot of things has been the hardest. I always feel like I have to be doing  something to have on my resume in order to boost my chances of not starving after graduation, or worse, moving back to Lancaster. I feel like I’ve gotta because or else I’ll feel like I did with high school – that I didn’t make the most of it. This is my biggest fear, to regret the things I could’ve done.

I went to a coffee shop to work on an annotated bibliography. I went to the bathroom, and a phrase I’ve heard many times was nicely, part of the decor. “Take it easy.”

I’ve always felt that doing things the easy way was a cop out, and due to my ego, I constantly feel like I need to challenge myself. I’ve never known how to take things easy, but I’m trying to. I’ve always been real quick to neglect self-care in the name of doing things that I think will help me reach my goals, but I’m starting to realize that it’s so important to take care of myself too. How the fuck am I supposed to accomplish my dreams if I’m sick and tired all of the time? How am I to enjoy things if I’m unhealthy, whether it be physically, emotionally, mentally, or all three? I have to make it mine, the present. I have to take it easy, and remember to breathe.

But then, Inner Me is like “BITCH, YOU ARE WASTING TIME RELAXING AND THE WORLD IS FLYING BY YOU.” But that’s not true, I don’t think. I must have faith in opportunities, that they are abundant and that there is plenty of time to get it together. And I think as I end my first week as a twenty-one year old, I need to be less hard on myself and not rush.

I think about seventeen year old me, and how angry and desperate she was to get out, to have experiences previously denied like kissing boys, and going to parties, etc. Whenever I fail at something, I always feel like I’m failing her. But I’d like to think that she’s proud of the person she’ll/she’s become/ing, accomplishing big dreams like going to England, and finally writing something she’s proud of, finally finding her voice as a writer.

I think of seventeen year old me, with all her anxieties and grab-life-by-the-throat attitude would want me to take it easy. Present Jacky is starting to really appreciate the fact that I really am doing the best that I can under the circumstances. And as the end of this shithole year approaches, it’s important to bring that into 2017. To take our defeats and extract what we learned from them, not the bitterness of them, and to not be so hard on ourselves. Because no one fucks up on purpose, and fucking up is as inevitable as 405 traffic. So we ought to make our peace with the way some shit turns out, recover and try again later.

Recovering is the part I need to work on, because I never give myself the time to do it! But that’s my new goal for the upcoming year, to take it easy on myself because like I said, I am doing my best, and so are you. Time? An infinite construct. Me? A real breathing human person, made out of stardust, with physical limitations. Thus I need to learn how to fucking chill.

Battle of America

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I was talking to my dear friend Renee over the phone at work, and she asked me: How have you been, since the election?

One word summation: tense. Right now, I feel that anyone who opposes Trump feels like that scene in Deathly Hallows Part II, where the Order is casting their spells over Hogwarts in preparation of Voldemort’s storm making its way, ready to tear shit up. It feels like we’re all getting ready to fight He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Now, it sounds dramatic but fiction is truth and that’s the only way I know how to explain what I’m feeling. I’ve been listening to NPR constantly, trying to get some insight about the storm that’s to come. So far of what I’ve read/heard, we have every single right to be worried.

I’ve been asking people older than me, if it’s ever been this bad. I’m only 20 and I want to think about this critically: does this just feel bad because it’s the first time I’ve really experienced the tangible consequences of a shitty President? Or are we actually at the cusp of dramatic social change? Most people I’ve asked, people well into the later half of their lives have shaken their heads, stating that I’m not being melodramatic. That we are in a really bad spot.

I’ve been thinking about my role in this and what to do, how to help. I ended up thinking about the humanities and how they’re so important. No other branch of learning teaches you how to think critically about the world than the liberal arts. As liberal arts students, I’ll boldly state that we are the gatekeepers of the essence of what makes us human, whether you are in art, literature, anthropology, or psychology, etc. There’s a reason why people don’t want you majoring in this fields, and it’s because this is where power lies. It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that’s only to take away the credibility of the statement.

That being said, I watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them today as part of the self-care I’ve been neglecting. I remembered how much I loved the Wizarding World, and how much it shaped who I am, right now. I remembered how with Harry Potter, it is the first time I began to question things about myself, my personality and the type of person I wanted to become. I wanted to know what Hogwarts House I would fit in the most, and I began to be reflect inwardly. I was eleven, and I was already asking the big questions, like who am I? And what makes a person a good person and why does this matter. This is the power of stories.

My goal has always been to be a writer, but with the current political chaos, I wondered if I should put my dreams on hold, to I fight for the rights of people I love. I thought about going to law school for a second. And then I slapped myself, because I realized I started to undermine the importance of stories. Stories are who we are and they help us become who we will be, and we need them more now, than ever.

It was 11:32pm on November 8, 2016. I went outside for a cigarette when the radio hosts on NPR declared Trump as the projected winner of the 2016 Presidential Election. I didn’t cry, I just smoked a cigarette, making me sick. In retrospect, it forced me to feel something when I was numb. But I remain hopeful, because in most stories, good always trumps evil (pun intended). It’s gonna be four years of Hell, and there have been casualties already. If you’re feeling shitty, I ask you to revisit your favorite Good v. Evil story, whether it’s HP or Star Wars, or Lord of the Rings. You’ll find an inspiration to keep going. I know I did.

Go Beach

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At my middle school, we used to have College Days, where you wore a shirt from some university. They also had these competitions where whatever classroom that had the highest number of participants wearing these shirts, a pizza party was thrown for the class.

My parents never went to college. My parents studied what you would call Marketing in Guatemala, but they fled their country in the early 90s because professors were being kidnapped, students beheaded and buses were being set on fire. Thus, they never graduated. However, these days they like to watch Superbowl commercials and analyze them for fun.

And so, I never wore a college shirt because I didn’t have one. Many people might ask why I didn’t just wear a generic USC or UCLA shirt that you could buy at Walmart and help my fellow classmates in the fight for the pizza party, but young Jacky was terribly honest, and by-the-book. To me, it would’ve meant to lie if I had just worn any shirt instead of a college shirt from your parent’s or other family member’s alma mater. So I just never participated. I guess I’ve always been an all or nothing type of gal.

This tradition followed me through high school, where we had Spirit Days. Same concept applied, except that I was more self-conscious about the fact that I didn’t have a college shirt. Seeing kids rep Fresno State, Loyola Marymount, Cal, or UCSD with shirts that were worn because of multiple washes, little holes in them because of multiple uses, made me feel shitty. I wanted to be in on the ~fun~ too.

I’m reflecting on these times as I start my last and final year of undergrad at CSULB tomorrow. I have a lot of hoodies and I have a CSULB sticker on my car. Sometimes, Steph, my best friend/roommate/biggest pain in my ass, comments on my display of school spirit.

“You really like our school, huh?” she says.

And sometimes I tell her that CSULB made it possible for me to leave my armpit of a hometown at 17, so how could I not. Or I tell her how Long Beach feels like home in a way that Lancaster or LA never did. I tell her about how I used my sacred birthday money to pay for my college applications and that CSULB said “Yes” to my 4 years of hard work, while I was rejected from other places. I tell her about how my brother wears a CSULB shirt when he has his own Spirit Days to participate in. I tell her how my dad eagerly tells anyone who will listen that I go “a la U” in Long Beach.

Or I just I tell Steph to shut up ❤

I've heard people scoff and sniff at the fact that I go to a State School but I don't give a shit. I'll be the first in a long line of Linares' with a degree this upcoming May. Not to mention, if it wasn't for the friends and professors that I've gotten the privilege to meet at CSULB, ya girl wouldn't be this woke. I know folks who go to snooty institutions and don't have a clue as to what White privilege is, in other words, a basic ass concept you learn in a 101 class. Run and tell that!

So here's to my last chapter at CSULB. It's going to be filled with stressful mornings, tired afternoons, weekends swimming with assignments, and nights tainted with bad decisions. It's going to be filled with fresh memories, ample amounts of booze and good times. Plus, Drake, Yoncé, and Frank all dropped albums so we're set on the tunez for the Senior Year soundtrack. It's gonna be lit fam.

 

 

Rewriting History

IMG_5075When we’re trying to get over someone, the most common advice given is, “Avoid things that remind you of them.” This is conflicting to me personally, as I hold Augustus Waters’ philosophy of “I’m not in the business of denying myself simple pleasures,” close in my the way I live my life.

And this is because usually, if I dig you, I’m gonna want to do things I like with you. Naturally.

Thus, following this advice I found myself not doing things I liked for the sake of not being reminded of the times various Princes turned out to be Mr. Wickhams. The most recent things on my list of STUFF TO AVOID 4EVER was “That Ramen Place we went to on Valentine’s Day.”

Well, my beautiful friend Renee and I were frolicking in LA and we got hungry. We were near said Ramen Place and since it was the only place close to us that I knew, I suggested it with apprehension.

“We’ll rewrite history, little bae.” Renee said, as she took my hand and we floated to the restaurant.

My apprehension dissolved when she said that because, like in most situations, she was right. It dawned on me that I could change the way I felt about some place, book, song, or what have you by changing the association of the thing with something or someone positive.

And thus I went from “That Ramen Place I went to with Trashcan” to “That Ramen Place I went to with the homegirl Renee, after we went to the The Last Bookstore and The Broad for the first time!” It’s almost like an act of defiance.

We’ll call Trashcan, Wickham for the sake of class. The last time I saw Wickham, we had a nice date at Redondo Beach. And so, in order to change the way I felt about Redondo, I took Renee to the pier because she had never been. I had never been to Mitzsuwa Marketplace which is also in same area, so we ate exquisite ramen there and then headed to the pier in the hope of seeing seals.

It was much darker than when I had gone originally, but Renee and I had plum wine by the pier where we sat and discussed the books we had been reading lately, and had an excellent night filled with giggles, hand holding and bonding. It was great, and very healing! The thought of Redondo Beach and ramen no longer give me the impulse to vomit. Instead, I have made quality memories with one of my best friends. I recommend everyone who might be a little blue due to a Wickham in their life to give this a try, when you’re ready to do some rewrites. All at a good and steady pace, of course.  

A Kid Called Me Chewbacca Once

Skirts are shorter, lines for ice cream are getting longer, and school’s out — SUMMER16 is finally here.

With summer’s arrival we find ourselves, in the words of Aubrey Graham, “wearing less and going out more.” The wearing less part has always been a bit of an issue for me, however, because I’ve always been a hairy girl.

I’ve had to overcome a lot of barriers to finally see my dark, thick and curly hair as a blessing because my whole life I was told otherwise — my desire to be a blonde, blue eyed dreamboat comes from unrealistic beauty standards that are constantly perpetuated as the ultimate aspiration.

But that’s for a later blog post

Growing up, I was always bullied by mean kids who would call me “changa” or monkey, because I had more leg hair as an eight year old than most grown men. This caused me to want to start shaving and alter myself in order for kids to leave me alone. But naturally, the older I grew and the more woke I became about body politics, I realized that this bullying was just another shitty product of the patriarchy. I came to accept my leg hair, and accepting my leg hair accommodated my lazy demeanor, because honestly, shaving is such a waste of energy and time.

Mind you, I’ve only recently come to accept my leg hair. The problem with mainstream feminism (aka White feminism) is that it excludes other people’s experiences. For example, rarely does anyone talk about mustache hair (which I have by the way), chin hair, happy trails, or the fact that POC pubic hair tends to be a lot more abundant and noticeable than anyone else’s. My hair looks like black thread compared to the peach fuzz you see on most White feminists. And not that their experience is any less valid, my bone to pick is that mine isn’t included in the convo.

Thus, you can imagine how refreshing it was for me to see this Refinery29 article on body hair. It’s nice to see good art celebrating a natural part of life — hair.

So it’s summer, and I have yet to buy a 2 piece bathing suit due to my secret (not so secret now I guess) shame about my nontraditional hair. It’s a paradox because on the one hand, I’m very proud of it to where I’ll refuse to shave it, but on the other, I don’t want anyone to see it.

I’m trying not to be too hard on myself because I’m sure we all have toxic things we’ve internalized that we need to overcome. I’m sure that in the near future, you’ll catch me at the beach, chillin’ in a two piece.

I Need a Hero

I was in my film writing class, struggling with my script last week. Professor was saying something about “playing up the disconnect” my main character had while being in another country. Someone suggested I watch Girls, Lena Dunham’s TV show on HBO so that I can see how she writes Shoshana’s journey in Japan.

Luckily enough, my roommate was on that very episode my classmate recommended so I begrudgingly watched it and without meaning too, without expecting it either, I fell in love.

Backtrack to 2012:

I was a junior going on senior in high school, from a small town that shares a mall with other neighboring towns. I saw the trailer for Girls and I was totally on board with young women in a city figuring life out. Mom watched the pilot and didn’t approve of me seeing it however. She’s pretty overprotective and didn’t see Dunham’s work as fit for 16 year old me and I, an obedient child with bushy eyebrows, would follow her rules and stay away from “la muchacha shuka.”

While I was blooming into a feminist/social justice warrior in the following years, I began to learn of Dunham’s tendencies to be hella problematic. Thus, I was prompted to boycott her work, which I found easy because I had never seen any of it anyhow.

Now in 2016:

I was hooked from the random episode of season 5 that I watched. I was invested in these characters, asking my roommate questions about them as she continued season 5 without me. I love Girls, and I hate admitting that it’s one of my favorites. It’s difficult for me to admit I love the work of a notorious White feminist. I even shamefully asked my roommate to get me a copy of Dunham’s film Tiny Furniture.

Often times, I see people like Dunham, or like Fey and Poehler, etc. and think, “If they can do it, so can I.” But then I remember that they don’t have the obstacles I have. They don’t have first generation Brown girl problems or have any concept of what that means. I despair because I feel like I deserve a hero, like I need someone to look up to, someone who looks like me and comes from the same background as me, to keep me motivated in pursuing this writer dream. This is why representation is important.

I vent this to another writer friend, another fellow Woman of Color and she replies, “Do it, and be a hero for others. Do it for the little Brown girls. They’re waiting.” And she’s right. As the saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat and I’ll just have to figure out the Chapina way soon enough.