Prose

The Savior - 1 Year Anniversary Reflections

Savior-Author

1 Year Anniversary Release of
"The Savior" 

Reflection on launching a zine, growth as an artist and community building.

Collage Gif

A year ago, my first zine "The Savior" was released into the world. I didn't even know I made a zine or that anyone would want to read my words. I'm forever grateful to those who were involved in the conception of it: My Tio and Dad who wanted to read my work, my sister and friends Suzy and Lizzie who encouraged me to put it on the internet, Zaira of Central American Art & Beauty who shared it with the Central American community. Of course, my eternal gratitude to everyone who has received a copy and embraced it with open arms.

In the last 12 months, my humble words stapled together on copy paper has grown into a new life I would have never imagined. I blossomed into an artist and found strength in my voice. I discovered the power of representation. I found my community of POC creatives and Central Americans. I was nourished by the warm reception, encouragement and support of my community. 

But the work that I do is not just for me. In the last year of sharing my work, I have connected with so many people with similar struggles, histories and all with the same hunger. It's an oddly soothing feeling to be isolated for so long and then to finally meet others who have a similar heartache and heavy soul. I never had a sense of community before but now, we're finding each other to heal with art. 

There is so much healing to be done since our diaspora community of Central American families, refugees and many other vulnerable populations are being attacked everyday. As we're trying to heal, we're constantly slammed against the wall, ripped apart and told our lives mean nothing. How to process nightmare situations on top of an eternal heartache for your people and fragmented history? How do we find survival in the immorality and dehumanization of it all? What value is left when even children are targets?  

I don't have the answer to any of it and I can't begin to process the hell landscape our people are experiencing at the moment. In the disenfranchising waves of it all, it's easy to drown. The hard part is to push forward, that our existence is resistance. As art has taught me, know that you're not alone with these feels. Here's a long list of organizations who are fighting back. Follow LatinaRebels for curated news articles. #CentralAmericanTwitter offers food pics and solidarity.

In my small humble way, I'll be donating 25% of all my sales from 6/21-6/30/18 to RAICES, a refugee and immigrant center for education and legal services. They are in the front lines of serving the families in detention centers.

Yes, the news is draining. Yes, it feels like it's hard to breathe some days. Even more reason to do what you can when you can. No se me agüite con todo esto. Even though we as a community have been through centuries of abuse, we are resilient and together, can move volcanoes. Thank you all for the support y juntos venceremos cualquier pesadilla para seguir adelante.

May 2018 News

Wake Up... It's Da First of the Month

 Collage piece and encouragement made by my creative sister,  Mayra Guevara .

Collage piece and encouragement made by my creative sister, Mayra Guevara.

I took April 2018 to work on a few projects and I'm proud to announce the following news for my favorite month, MAY! This first of the month marks a lot of changes, opportunities and my tenacious commitment to doing my best. Thank y'all for the support and peep the updates below:

I Have an Art Show in San Antonio on 5/17
Sadly, I won't be able to attend in person but if you're in the area, check out the amazing artists featured in the show.

I'm Performing with VHS Presents: Family on 5/19
For the first time, I'm showing home movies from 1997-1999. Expect a lot of cuteness. 

I'm Presenting on a Panel in L.A. on 5/26 & I'm Vending at the Los Angeles Zine Fest on 5/27 
Los Angeles, I'm coming to see you!  This has been a dream in the making. I can't believe it's coming true. I'll be leading a workshop at the festival so check me out. I'm also presenting on a Central American panel with a bunch of cool people. Come say hi, beautiful people of LA!

 Me & My Dog Canelo Being All Cute Together

Me & My Dog Canelo Being All Cute Together

I'm Available for Hire
April 30, 2018 marked my last day at my full-time job at a nonprofit. I had a great 7 years at that job and I'm ready to move on to greener pastures. This means I'm available for hire in the following fields: translations jobs (Spanish/English), transcription, freelance writing gigs, business analyst and management consulting (nonprofit/profit). Shoot me a message if you have any leads or words of comfort as I enter this new phase of my career.

I'm Turning 32
I love my birthday so much. I'm thrilled to be aging gracefully in L.A. a few days before the L.A. Zine Festival. Even though I'm another lady without a baby (in my culture, that's a big deal), I am finding peace where I am in life and truly living my best life (especially with my cute little dog). My Venmo and Paypal are open for birthday gifts!

Thank you again for all the words of encouragement and support.
I'm eager to see what the future holds and I'm ready for it!

Platos Fuertes de Tia Lena

Tuve la linda oportunidad de pasar un fin de semana con mi familia en Memphis, Tennessee en los fines de enero 2018. De tantos Tios y Tias que tengo, son pocas las memorias de infancia que tengo con ellos. Cómo muchos de nosotros salvadoreños que somos de familias grandes, la triste realidad es que el tiempo y la distancia desafortunadamente hacen las familias más pequeñas. Mi Tia Lena ha sido la Tia con quien tengo muchísimas memorias de esa época feliz de niñez. Ella es la hermana mayor de mi papá y llegaron al mismo tiempo a este país. Crecieron sus hijos juntos y rodeados con mucho amor.

Los caminos de las vida nos tocaron diferente rumbos, pero a pesar de la millas de distancia en geografía, siempre seguimos unidos. El amor entre familia corre profundamente en la legacía de estos hermanitos. 

Mi Tia Lena ha sido una fuente de inspiración, fé y amor para mi desarrollo. Tuve la hermosa oportunidad de pláticar con ella, aprender su sabiduría y comer un cachimbo de chicharrones y tortillas hechas a mano. Ademas de ser tan sabia, mi Tia es un maravilla en la cocina. Ella le pone tanto cariño en cada cucharada que sirve. La comida tiene un sabroso toque a la experiencia, como de un chile que no se puede comprar. Cuando estábamos en la cocina, me quedaba admirada a su facilidez con el aceite caliente, con su agilidad en cómo palmeaba las tortillas para hechar al comal. Me ponía a pensar de cuantas tortillas había hecho en su vida, de todos los buches que se han llenado con sus tortillas. Nuestras pláticas empezaban en la cocina. La cocina siempre ha representado un espacio sagrado en el hogar, adonde las mujeres pueden compartir y aprender de una a otra en un ambiente sano y salvo. 

Unas de las pasadas que cuenta mi papá es cuando pasaron tiempos duros en Honduras, antes de la guerra de 1969 cuando muchos Salvadoreños vivían y trabajaban en Honduras. Mi Tia Lena, apenas de la edad de 13 años, ya podía hacer un almuerzo para su hermanos con sólo 10 centavos. Lena compraba 2 centavos de chacaras (unos guineos/plátanos gordos). Después con los 8 centavos de sobra, compraba asientos (los pedacitos de chicharrones de puerco, bien fritos que sobran en el aceite) y huaraches (un tipo de pan dulce) para comer con un cafecito. Ella también era buena para pescar chacalines en la quebrada, para que su hermanitos no comieran la tortilla sola. 

Mi Tia Lena demuestra su amor y cariño atravez de su comida. Cada tortilla hecha a mano, cada quesadilla horneada, lleva la tradiciones de su madre, su abuela y todas las mujeres valientes de nuestra familia. Me sentí chiflada con tanta sabrosura en mi visita con Tia que decidí dedicar éste ensayo a la maravilla que es ella, de lo que representa su comida y las fuerzas que ella demuestra en su ser.

Cuando sea grande, quiero ser como mi Tia Lena. 

Toda La Sabrosura

Mami Made

Mami Made is the sewing craft line I run with my Mom. Mami has sewn all her life. She learned  this necessary life skill while growing up in the rural countryside of El Salvador.  Her mother taught her to stitch as well as the insightful tactic of looking at fragmented pieces then making something out of it.  I write in further detail about Mami's handmade magic in My Mother's Hands.

The idea behind Mami Made was that Mami has always made beautiful practical things for me. After a night of listening to the purr of her sewing machine, my light bulb blinked on:  why not share her craft with the world? She thrives in the process of creating something from thread and fabric. My sister is an Art Therapist so the process of making art to heal runs in the family. Mami glows when she gives that item to its new owner. Mami Made is a way to nurture my Mother's creative spirit and share her craft.  

Below is a visual appreciation of the love that Mami stitches in each of her craft. Whether she's making my prom dress, a princess dress for her granddaughter, a vintage style cocktail dress to fit all my curves, Mami pours her humble love in every inch.

Thanks again to Remezcla for showcasing Mami Made

Unlearning My Sex Shame & Other Kinks

“Si vienes con una pata más larga que la otra, mejor ni vengas / if you come home knocked up, don’t even bother coming home,” my mother’s reaction when she found out that I held hands with Coco, my high school boyfriend. He was quiet, white and the first boy to actually ask me out. Naturally, my tomboy dweeb self was over the Coco moon. The one time I actually let him walk me to the public school bus, my Mom picked me up by surprise and caught me Coco-handed. She held her anger the whole drive home back to our immigrant, working-class barrio. The sex-shame volcano exploded once we got home.

Nada de Naranjas

Unlearning is 

a real team effort

a work in progress

She obviously thought the worst: that I’m going to get pregnant, that I’ll drop out of school, that I’ll ruin my whole life if I am in the back of Coco’s Volvo, fogging up the windows. That all their hard work would be trashed if I were to get knocked up. I get it. Statistically, I know I was the candidate for teenage pregnancy: poor, first-generation, working class, brown, Catholic in a red state. Also, being first-generation, I have to learn everything the hard way, trial-by-fire. Clearly, sex was one lesson I couldn’t learn hands on. I could understand the anger but I also was accused of something I didn’t do, much less even knew the mechanics of it.

In reality, I was book-loving dork who read the dictionary and newspaper for fun. I was super shy and only had a handful of friends. I wore wide legged jeans and baggy shirts to hide my lumpy growing body. I made my own jewelry and begged my tired parents to take me to the library every weekend. Pro-Hoe Yeiry wouldn’t even make an appearance until after college!

From that tirade, my mother instilled the fear of pregnancy without explaining sex to me. I was left with so many questions.

  • Is my virginity the only significant part of my identity?
  • Why does my hymen determine the integrity and honor of my family?
  • Does wanting to learn and explore my body make me a Puta?
  • Why is being a puta or santa my only options to exist in the world?

There was no Google God to pray to about this issue. All I had was a Catholicism rigidness and a very literal encyclopedia that had medical illustrations under the term “anatomy”. I’m a 16 year old living in Texas, with an abstinence-only education that barely even mentioned a maxi pad. I’m a stranger in my lumpy soft body. I don’t even know the texture of my hair. I have no idea where a tampon goes. But only married women are allowed to wear tampons, right? All I know is that I’m totally alone in this and I’m “supposed” to know things that no one had explained to me.

I internalized and hardened with the sex-loathing lava that exploded all over me. How was I to get pregnant if I didn’t even know what pieces went together? How was I to make sense of things when extreme hypotheticals were thrown at me? It was not a conversation. I had no choice but to obey some archaic belief where my hymen ties the family together. Let’s not break any of it.

Coco broke up with me over the phone during Christmas. He didn’t give a specific reason and just said it was best if we didn’t see each other. I agreed only because I was so confused that he didn’t like me anymore. I never shared with him the shit I got because he was white and he wouldn’t understand. Plus, there is only so much emotional intimacy a 16 year old can hold.

It took 15 years after that explosion to finally make peace with my body.

It took 15 years after that explosion to finally make peace with my body. There was not one road but a series of steps and tumbles that led to my sexual education. I learned more about myself through every relationship and one-night-stands. I healed from the emotional abuse I endured in my 20’s. I learned the cavernous chambers of sexual identity and pleasure. Finally, hands-on learning I can understand!

Unlearning is a real team effort. My older sister’s sex-positive attitude was a light at the end of the cervix. Years of therapy has given me the voice to speak up. A community of feminist peers with their support and communal learning, provided the space to learn and exchange. I have a great gyno who answers all the questions I have. I read books, pamphlets, brochures. I even got the courage to grab fistfuls of free NYC condoms. Anything to further my knowledge. I experimented and learned and laughed, all while shedding my internalized sex-shame one clothing layer at a time.

Unlearning is a work in progress. I still get shy about the topic with my Mom, although now she’s trying to be more open about it since I’m obviously an adult. I’m learning more about my body over time and how to listen to it. How to respond to it and to know what feels good or not. Owning my pleasure meant listening to my body. To be patient with my body. To be accepting of the wisdom it’s telling me; not to reject it because of some other external factor (i.e.: this partner won’t like me if I say this or this is what I’m “supposed” to do).

I am also assertive and vocal of continuous consent, very important for all parties involved. I no longer carry the extra weight of worrying what others will think or say just because I am living my truth. I own every inch of my body and it’s a daily affirmation I make to keep this peace. This body is not for a future spouse, or for childrearing or a trophy for someone’s stupid honor: it’s all my own, no one else’s. Managing my anxiety has also provided me the mental clarity to be present. To enjoy the moment and frankly, to breathe. I am able to be present in the moment, be aware of myself and to accept peace in myself.

No one tells you this about sex: it’s okay to take your time. In this hypersexed/youth-obsessed culture, sex can be weird. Sex can be complicated. The most important part about this sexual education is you: your comfort, your consent, your pleasure, your health, your safety. I don’t have the answers but I’m still learning to not feel any shame or guilt for any piece of me. Solo cuidate / take care of yourself in the process (condoms, birth control, abstinence, whatever works for you). Light up all the candles to the Google Gods and do research to learn.

Sexual education does not mean a direct pregnancy/life-sentence.

It’s a fucking conversation.

“The Sweet Respite That is Sleep but Contaminated By The Conscious Mind”

In my dreams I am still angry
You look like 2008
I feel like 2017
We’re stuck in 2015

You ask me what’s wrong
Which makes me more mad
How could you not remember?

I pull out the encyclopedia of rage
I furiously flip through pages
of all the things I should have said

My finger points to the maddening diagrams

See that?
It’s logic
that always makes sense
unlike you

The walls are melting
I have to pee
Why are you here?

 Shell of a Redwood Tree in Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Shell of a Redwood Tree in Big Basin Redwoods State Park

"Quime" - An Excerpt from "Blood Lines"

I'm currently writing a historical fiction piece titled "Blood Lines" which follows a family's trajectory, based in Central America in the late 1960's - early 1970's. Below is an excerpt chapter titled "Quime", which introduces one of the characters at a young age. 

quebrada1

The dirt path behind the house led straight to the creek. The tiny body of shallow water served as the main artery pumping life through the village. Every morning, the neighboring women would carry piles of dirty clothes in broken plastic buckets on top of their heads and congregate to wash on the smooth stones. They would talk about who stopped by for dinner last night, the severe need for rain in these parts, which crop their husband was working on in the field. The piles of clothes and the over sharing of their mundane details never seemed to end. Their chubby little babies would bathe next to the pile of wet clothes or follow each other, waddling in the shallow water. Picking at little algae and thwarting attempts to put it in their mouth. Quime knew to come after the women had washed their clothes. He didn’t like all their questions:

How’s your mother?
Why aren’t you at school right now?  

When is your grandmother going to stop by for lunch?

So he took extra long to do his daily chores that morning before heading to the creek. The first thing he did every morning was feed the chickens and count them to ensure none had gone missing overnight. He found a lazy few still roosting on the tree branches, nestled among the leaves. He joined his younger sister Lena to the well and brought back four containers of fresh water to use for the day. That way the younger kids and their mother wouldn’t have to make an extra trip at noon, the hottest and most crowded part of the day. Lastly, he swept the front porch from all the dirt kicked up from last evening’s winds. The winter rains were delayed this time of year and every wind without precipitation felt like another empty promise from a disappointing lover. Even the earth began to crack open from the drought. Quime found a new tiny canyon to jump over every morning.

From the porch, he could hear the women’s retreating flip-flop steps back to their adobe houses. The babies cooed in the broken plastic bins full of clean clothes, both worn out from their time in the water. This was finally his moment. Quime put the broom back in the kitchen corner and grabbed his bucket. Excited by having the creek to himself, he jumped onto the dirt path broken in by so much foot traffic behind the house. He knew which part of the barbed wire between the wooden post would bend the easiest to pass through. The path had its own clearing from the surrounding trees and plants. They all knew to move to the left or to the right to let the humans through.

Quime held his bucket and patted the sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand. His dark hair was beginning to stick to his forehead from all the sweat. The immediate heat from the overhead sun told him of the approaching noon time. He didn’t have much time until the younger kids came home from school for lunchtime, as if the growling in his stomach was not enough of an alert. Quime quickly walked over to his lucky boulder. He wiped the dry leaves from the top and walked around to make sure nothing had changed from the day before. Satisfied with his inspection, he sat down and waited. The water was clear enough to see the bottom and the speed was quick enough to wash down all the soap bubbles from the previous visitors.

The water’s surface reflected the sun’s perpendicular position. The blinding sunlight made sure everyone who saw it would know who was on top. Squinting, Quime kept a close eye to the water. The tropical birds called out like old neighbors to each other. The wind moved through their feathers and whispered in Quime’s ears. The creek’s baby rapids hushed collectively past him. With his bucket in hand, Quime was ready. He saw the first wiggle a few meters away. He stood up to get a closer look at the source. Water splashed around the spot. Quime walked over, taking position to launch. A little chumpa was grazing the nearby rocks. Finally! Overly taken by the immediate prospect of lunch, Quime grabbed his bucket and dove in. Despite the small brain and puny eyes of the chumpa, it moved too quickly for Quime and sent him crashing knee first onto the smooth wet stones. Hot flashes of emotions and river water washed over the 10 year-old and his scraped knee. “How can this fish be so small and so fast? All this time I waited for nothing! I can’t go home with an empty bucket. What are the kids going to eat? Why didn’t I wait longer to jump? Wasn’t my lucky rock supposed to protect me for me from this? What kind of luck is this, anyway? It didn’t make any sense!” Grabbing his sore knee, the rhetorical questions throbbed all over him.

Quime finally got up and sat on the formerly lucky, now boring, boulder to soak in all his feels.  He saw his prize so clearly in front of him and despite all best effort, the chumpa got away. Quime will remember this as his first time feeling a deep set failure. That no matter how hard he works, how meticulous his timing is, how high his hopes are, how small his goals are, they can all be spat upon for no reason. And life will continue to go on without caring how you feel, like a chumpa swimming along the stream.

 

quebrada2

Pasion y Poder and Me

 Photo Courtesy of Univision

Photo Courtesy of Univision

It started off as a joke. The last novela I got into was in 2009. And again, Fernando Colunga was the lead hottie. As he has been for the last 20 years. My Mom was in town visiting and immediately asked if we had a TV so she wouldn't miss her novela that night. "Sorry Ma, no cable but we have the Internet," I replied. After a quick search, "Pasion y Poder" was on Hulu. And the most recent episode too! Relief. Thank you, Latino Marketing Departments.

In the first 30 minutes of the episode, I'm cracking jokes like a culturally relevant Mystery Science Theater robot.

“Can you believe her outfit? Who wears tight dresses to work in an orphanage?”

“Who are they fooling with that wig?”

“Why does that dude always have crazy eyes when he dramatically takes off his glasses?”

I'm live tweeting for my own amusement with #PasionPoder, as watermarked on every scene by the network. My rational brain pulls apart the synthetic drama fibers one by one. Lodging my thoughts in the non sequitur Twitterverse.

"Tengo que ir a la oficina" Is Franco code for Marintia's apartment  #PasionPoder

"I didn't tell you because you're dumb, Gaby" is what Franco is saying #PasionPoder #WTF

< So many perfect reaction gifs. >

The novela tweetfam validates this. We become united to the mockery and loyal to the drama. This is how we connect. Live tweeting becomes my cultural melding of irony spiced with emotional investment. It’s than just the “likes”. It’s more of like, helll yeahhhh!

Then, the irony fades dramatically. A genuine interest in the drama encircles as the ridiculously good looking actors drive further into my innate chismosa genes.

“Who's that?”

“How are they related?”

“Do they love each other?”

Mom's laser focus promptly answers all my toddler questions. She fills me in with all the backstory I have missed. She leaves no plot stone unturned.

“Julia must decide between Eladio, her husband who lied to her for 20 years about his child out-of-wedlock, and Arturo, her former fiancee who fathered a child outside of their union? And that’s just the start…”

"Damn... I'm hooked," I sigh deeply. The last time I sighed this deeply was when I caught the feels for a Tinder dude. This can't end well.

Over 2,000 miles away, Dad sighs at a scene with the protagonist and his daughter. Arturo disapproves of Regina’s boyfriend David because his mother is the former fiancee who dumped him when she discovered his illegitimate son. Now the children of the former couple are in love, and no one understands why. What a drama bomb, I tell you.

It's an emotionally loaded scene. "Fake tears on fake eyelashes" real. Dad sighs at the huge display of televised affection. There is no irony here. There are only projections of all his feels. It's the Dad equivalent of me ugly crying at every episode of Jane The Virgin. I don't know this though; he hasn't called me. The abyss that's carving between the TV dad and his daughter is mirroring ours. Will Regina listen to her father? Will Arturo accept his daughter's choices? Am I going to call first or will he? He’s not too disappointed in me, right? We're too similar and too stubborn to be in this nuclear family Cold War.

If only we are made aware of our character flaws as clearly as these novela characters. If only things were as consistent as the way Eladio knots his ties or the way Justino loves Clara. Where in this novela world, we are guaranteed a happy ending because one is not promised in ours. Give the people what they want. Give them poetic justice. Let the bad people lose and good people win. Let Death be as predictable as rolling down a staircase. Give them a catchy theme song at every make out scene. Give them the love they are missing in their lives. And wrap it up in an hour. Dinner is waiting. 

 

 

Nostalgia as Family

My Maternal Grandmother's House in Polvo, El Salvador.

Nostalgia has always been another member of the family. It sits with us at every meal, chomping away with its mouth open. It joins conversations without an invitation “...because it brings me back to that one time...” It comes in heavy doses around the holidays. “What year did we stop having a turkey? The same year Tia moved away.” It can infuriate me because it reminds me of the person that I was in any frozen juncture. “Remember when you were small and powerless?” it mocks in its crystal clear form. There’s no logic that my adult brain can break through that iceberg of time. “Yeah, I remember,” as I concede, forever wishing to give my younger self a sip of my adult confidence.

When I was younger, I loathed memory. It angered me to know that there were places I would never visit with people I would never meet. This quandary created an insatiable yearning for what could have been. "You really should have been there," it says in the same subtle elitism as someone who just came back from a semester of studying abroad. "It's not the same trying to explain it," ze says in a souvenir accent. My deceased uncle seemed like an charismatic personality if only his illness didn't end his life 9 years before my birth. My dead great­grandfather could have told me the story of us, the one that set on fire with all the other historical documents during the Salvadoran civil war. The innate nature of the past didn’t allow me meet them. All this knowledge out there and I'm stuck here in the 90's with all these poopy feelings and no internet/social skills to commiserate with strangers. This created in me a resentment for the past.

As adolescence raged on, I learn to take the yearning and morph it into an affinity for all things vintage. Vintage clothes and vintage sounds. Digging into the past was my way to reclaim all the things that were lost upon my generation. I was determined to make up for lost time. This also was encouraged by my impoverished childhood, repurposing vintage clothes as an aesthetic choice versus the distressing financial reality that I could not afford “cool” mass produced clothes. Those Doc Marten boots and I were never meant to be.

By that time, the world wide web began to bloom in its full dial­up beauty. My Dad brought home a found computer by the dumpster and I found the internet. Those modem sounds are forever etched into my subconscious like Mana’s “Sueños Liquidos” because my sister kept replaying it every single damn bedtime. The internet represented this anonymous network of people and places I’ll never meet, all a click away. Anything I ever wondered was within reach and I never had to remember anything again. LiveJournal blog posts carved my identity. Cryptic AIM away messages called my true form. The “cool” way to arrange my top 8 on Myspace was a mantle of who I cared about. I didn’t need memory. I had the internet. All these login accounts were my horcruxes: pieces of me scattered over the http://.

Fast forward to my early twenties when anxiety grows into a new useless organ in my body. The novelty of the internet wore off and I retreat into myself. I deactive my public accounts. I grow insecure. Fixating on the past becomes a need to confirm the present. Did I say the right thing? Am I reading nonverbal cues correctly? Retracing steps so clearly where the mind becomes blurred with imaginary reactions and a million drafts of every message ever sent. The present tense made me tense. The emotionally abusive relationship of my early 20’s was rocket fuel to this anxious combustion. Nostalgia stuck by me, for better or for worse, to remind me of who I used to be to in contrast who I wasn’t at that moment. After the nuclear holocaust of that break­up, memory served to remind me of what use to grow organically on these scorched fields. Which condiments do I like again? What used to be my favorite movie? I took back the power to make my new self, from the ashes of the old one.

Now in the infinite wisdom of 29, I embrace memory for all its faults and for reminding me of who I used to be, for who I am now. I embrace all my former version of myself like humble Salvadoran Matryoshka dolls. I am the sum of my decision­making, the product of the previous generation’s risk­taking, the difference between here and there. I listen more intently to what my older Tios have to say. I soak in every anecdote from my parents. After years of self­work, I no longer cringe at the past. I can sit all my little muñequitas peacefully. Who I am now is enough. I even lay out a table setting for nostalgia at the dinner table now. I welcome it with open arms even if it didn’t call before arriving. “Remember when you were obsessed with Gloria Trevi’s ‘Pelo Suelto? You were so cute when you danced it with messy hair” it starts. “Ay... Yes, I do. But I’m not doing the “Sopa de Caracol” dance,” I smile.

Published in Chiflada Zine, October 2015

Letter to Younger Self

Dear Younger Yeiry,

 The author, Yeiry Guevara, at 10 years old.

The author, Yeiry Guevara, at 10 years old.

I’m so sorry to have disappointed you. Growing was harder than you originally thought. Knowledge did not grow on trees. Wisdom found you only after you left the party. Independence was won after an internally bloody war.

You are not where you thought you would be.
You don’t have the square corner office, Ms. Non-Manager.
You don’t have a husband or any children to call your own.
You are not the perfect daughter you once prided your identity on.
You are not the perfect friend you once pictured yourself.
You are a mediocre sister.
You don’t write anymore.

Your creative writing has gnawed its’ own tail, bored from being chained to a tree of procrastination.
Your poetry has atrophied and all your idealism has dried up like the water reserves in California.

Not all news are bleak.

Things are way better than you originally thought.
You acknowledge your flaws now.
You know how to dress for your size.
You now longer have to memorize joke books to develop a sense of humor.
You are vulnerable and you are not weak.
You’ve built your own website and it’s pretty cool.
You’ve made a bunch of stuff and you’re super proud of it.
You have opinions and are articulate enough to be assertive.
You also know so many cool words.
You are funny.

You are self-aware enough to know when you aren’t.
You are a better daughter, sister, friend than you think.
On the outside, you’re a boss; but on the inside, you’re a softie.
You can let loved ones in on your loving, squishy, cotton candy insides.
If you believe in anything, believe that it’s going to be okay.
It will get shittier than now, but it will not break you.
Believe in me.
You are unbreakable.

Eternal Love,

Yeiry

How To Clean Your Apartment With a Broken Heart

Roll up your sleeves.
Throw everything away.
Put the hurt in plastic garbage bags.
Tie it tight and shut your eyes.
No more eye tears. No more bag tears.

Be gentle with the grief as it is as fragile as dust bunnies.
Sweep it up with all the hurting memories,
you know, the ones where you’re both gushing over
the genius of Samuel R. Delany.

From those fragmented moments when
time was an illusion and
you fall asleep talking, 
staying woke AF as pillow talk to each other.

Where did all this intimacy come from?
How much dead skin cells can I possibly shed?

Cry a little
Dust a bit
Don’t lose mopping momentum

Don’t shut out the parts that ache. 

Dale tiempo al tiempo. Diosito dijo que no era para ti.

The nostalgia swims heavy in the air like the fragrant Pine-Sol bucket.
Don’t miss a spot.
Don’t call them.
There’s nothing to say like there’s nothing to make the floor dry faster.

Sit there with your feelings and wonder,
how can a place so small,
fit so many things,
very much like the four chambers of your heart.

YouTube Tutorials I Would Watch

  • How to Sew Your Own Maria la del Barrio Hat
  • How to Apply Eyeliner Like a 60’s French Girl
  • How to Use Contrazoom Shots Tastefully
  • How to Contour Your Face When Your Face Isn’t Shapely
  • How to Make Dinner for One With Dignity
  • How to Make a Succulent Garden With Practical Directions and Little Money
  • How to Be $ocial While Broke
  • How to Sleep Without a Bed
  • How to Wear Pigtails As a Grown-ass Woman

Commodification of My Idols

I'm getting nauseas by the commodification of my idols. It's as if white people are just noticing how "cute" we are. How our latin@ culture is just "darling". They make products from our images but refuse to maintain eye contact during a conversation. They are profiting a dollar from the art while refusing to acknowledge me and my educated peers as anything beyond "the help".

I don't need a Selena lapel pin.

I really don't need a punk rock envisioning of what Frida Kahlo may look like if she had tattoos.

These women are not yours to own.

The works they creation from their pain is not yours. Our hearts were broken alongside theirs and please stop making them what they are not: products for your Etsy shop, Halloween dress for your baby, or theme for a dance party.

My culture is not a costume.