Penny Dreadfuls

Crossroads of a database animal

A Little Bit About Me
bandolero
zanazibar





" Si el conocimiento no se religa con

la experiencia se vuelve inconexo,

pierde potencia: la capacidad

de enunciar con poder."

- Abdiel Echevarría Cabán

I don’t usually write about my past in terms other than the vaguest I can get away with.  There are a couple of reasons for that, which I won’t get into details now.  I’d rather talk about why I’ve decided to break the trend.  The truth of the matter is that I write to exorcise my demons and I rarely expect anyone other than myself to get something out of these scribbles.   I struggle to remind myself and to remind others every single day that I am a sentient being, not a list of identities you can checkmark across an Excel sheet.  I am not an abstract.  Our experiences, our histories, the lingering affects that haunt us, all these things are forever written, in one fashion or another, into our bodies, our behaviors and our opinions.  It is easy to forget ( especially when friction occurs) that no one exists in a vacuum, and that I do not  exist aanthing other than  boogeyman for others.  I, for one, refuse to pay that currency in order to have a place to speak.  I refuse.  I am the Lucács and the Anzaldúa I read in my literary theory class when I was 16.  I am also the sting of leather in my shoulders when my father would punish me for things that I can honestly not remember: I am what I am.  I am made of thoughts, ideas, opinions, yes; but I am also made of nerve endings, histories, diseases, scars. For the life of me, I cannot differentiate these two realms into discreet spaces for the benefit of others.  I feel power rush through me when I write because I’m writing with every experience that has left a strong impression on me, with every love handle I have to offer to my lovers, with every language I have ever spoken: I enunciate from the position of power only I can give myself.

My childhood memories are in complete disarray: I have some memories here and there, random bits of the quotidian and the extraordinary that I recall, but I can’t say I have a cohesive, linear understanding of my history or of myself as a person until high school and, to a more expansive degree, college.  I do remember I spent a lot of my earlier years in my grandmother’s house, because it was much closer to the elementary school my sister and I were in than my mother’s. My grandma would babysit us while mom finished her two teaching jobs at 9 or so in her house on the barrio Baldoriotty.  I recall some things here and there: the sound of the Latin Jazz playing at the restaurant down the street was overwhelming as a kid. I think about it and now I find it so hauntingly beautiful, the lone trombone in its solo of solitude, suffusing the air with loneliness.  I remember that we had to turn off all lights by 7 PM or the hive of Africanized bees right outside the house would fly in a frenzied stupor looking for the last light they could find in all this darkness.  I also remember that the neighbor to the left, Don Titi, was a lecher, and we had to be careful to not expose anything as my sister and I got sprinkled with the hose outside, under a banana tree.  We’d wear big white T-shirts and soap our bodies under them.  This is how we showered when we stayed there.  The neighbor in the front, Doña Margó, was pretty quiet and kept to herself.  I only entered her house once or twice and the only impression I got from it was from the dozens of candles melting into litanies for our saints.  The one on the right, Doña Genoveva, was a devout Catholic living with a mentally challenged adult son.  I don’t know what illness he had, but we’d just call him El Loco and stay out of his way.  Sometimes you could hear his screams and her cries.  It wasn’t until much later in my life that I realized those were the pleading cries of someone begging to not be brutalized.

My grandma would take care of us as best she knew, telling us bedtime stories of her life in the farm, walking us to school, feeding us water bread and black coffee for breakfast.  She had a habit for hoarding that incremented the amount of dusty, marvelous junk her house was littered with.  I think that’s where I learned to love chaos. At those early years, probably 4-6, she would also fondle me and perform what I later learned was oral sex on me.  Like most children, I didn’t understand what was going on, only that it was something else grandma did. She is illiterate and has lived a brutal life…I’m convinced she has some degree of mental retardation that was never diagnosed or treated because next to nothing from anyone in my family has been diagnosed till a it’s been a step before death.  I’ve forgiven her, for I’m sure she didn’t know what she was doing.

My father, Teodoro died in 1994, and I can’t say I care much for that.  I don’t remember anything about him other than one occasion where he beat me with his belt.  What had more impact is that as soon as he hit the dust, my mother started dating a former student of hers, Harold.  It wasn’t long before he was living with us in the house my mother owned.   He was a cocaine addict, in and out of police stations for domestic abuse next to every week.  When I was younger, the fights deeply affected me, and I tried desperately to keep the family together; my infantile solution was to suggest we compensate every beating with a family activity, like taking us to the park or buying us ice cream.  I never got either adult to take my suggestions seriously, but they did get me to deeply abhor the idea of ever trying to sustain a ‘normal’ nuclear family as an adult. For 8 years, from 4 to 12, this was the house I’d go to; this, to me, was normalcy. Normal was also the plague of roaches we had: at any given point we had thousands that would come out in a display of the force of urban nature, reclaiming every nook and cranny of the kitchen, the living room and the bathrooms that they could get a hold of.  I don’t know when they got there, but I do know they were there when I left.

School was both a blessing and a curse: I was too socially awkward to have any contact other than the bullying I was subjected to, but at least it wasn’t home.  At one point when I was 9, I got some psychometric examinations done: 153 IQ and the maturity level of a 15 year old.  Neither of those numbers did anything for me other than get me a grade skipped. Middle school had little impact on me: I was still going to a school next to the projects, still bullied, still kept to myself and my Pokemon cards.  I had started collecting them on the sixth grade, but only collecting them.  I had no one to play the game with me, but I was content looking at the beautiful art.  I was especially fond of Ken Sugimori’s art.  I remember my mom once complained that I spoke of these cards as if they were living beings.   At that point, my life would have been much better if they had been real.  I became aware of my sexual and romantic attraction to these nonhuman creatures.  A schoolmate, Sarah,  once teased me, asking me in the middle of the cafeteria if I had sex with the pokemon in my cards.  I think the reason it bothered me so much is because I knew I had no way to live out that desire.

High school had me shipped off to a boarding school.  While my mom didn’t kick me out per se, it’s not like she gave me a choice.  She was going to move heaven and hell for me to be among the creole elite, the top 100 high schoolers in the island.  There I sorta had to learn to socialize, although I was still awkward and quite the introvert.  The most important thing I got out of my time there was meeting Danilea, a dark-skinned beauty with a mind as gorgeous as her body.  I was instantly smitten by her, longing her touch and her approval.  I wrote more bad poetry than any one angsty teen has the right to inflict upon the world, and it was also the first time I let the fear of being happy overtake me to the point I tried to put some distance; that awkward space of the abjected object of desire. Though it brought much internal strife, meeting her gave me the methodology to redirect my grief, my anger and my pain to more productive endeavors; she gave me a lexicon for loving. My senior year if high school was a drunken haze of 3 am movie theater outings and skipping classes to walk a half hour to the local museum and admire the delightful thighs of the sculpture of Sappho.

I am in no way exaggerating when I say that I learned to be a human being in college.  I caught up with a lot of the developmental milestones that I had been lagging in previously. I learned to talk to other people. I learned to eat in front of other people and to socialize at the table. I traveled to the Dominican Republic, the USA, Italy and South Korea. I learned precious things in every trip. I met my best friend, Abdiel, who has had my back through the time and the distance in a way no one else ever has. I would take a ride with him every other weekend to go to Isabela and spend long evening hours talking about Latin American politics and writing with my fellows, my teachers. I got stabbed in a botched robbery when I was 17. That time, I was petrified by fear and trauma and refused to leave my room for a full week. Little by little, I learned that life goes on and I can move forward.

I moved to the US when I was 19. I felt like I had no choice, given how poor the living conditions in Puerto Rico were during the Fortuno years. Indiana was kinda bland from the get-go, but it was new and exciting. I saw snow for the first time that winter. I spent many sleepless nights with many people who grew near and dear to my heart. I met one of the most influential people in my life, Susan Stryker. If I have felt like I ever had a mentor, it definitely is her. I spent two years in Indiana, and they were pretty calm and smooth, given my past.

I have spent two or so years in Arizona. All in all, I think things have been petty great for me. I have been letting go of things, places and people that don't help me to become a happier, better person. I quit grad school. I broke up with a partner. I moved to a new apartment that is the first place I have lived in which is mine, and no words can express how deeply gratifying that is. I work for the state of Arizona serving some of the most vulnerable populations we have. I am still thinking, still writing, partly at the behest of Susan; the least I can do to thank her for all that she has done for me is to keep writing. I am now a parent and it is one of the most gratifying experiences of my life.

This has been my path. I have done great things and terrible mistakes but I wouldn't change a thing. I have dreamed more than it is wise, expected more than what was realistic and gave more of myself than what was safe. For these things, I am grateful.


Alebrijes
biohazard
zanazibar
Alebrijes_in_Oaxaca,_Mexico_2009


It’s been a while since I updated this.  I figured I might as well keep my peeps in the loop.  I broke up with one of my partners and for now the only person I am dating is Nicole.  I moved out and got an apartment on my own.  I’ve been spending this month reorganizing, reassembling, reassessing, rediscovering; no clean break from anything but a loop tying back to that flight en la guagua aérea.   Susan Stryker, who has had my back in more ways than one, asked me to keep writing.  And I agree. I think it’s important for me to make my piece.  My peace.

In another section of the garden of forking paths, I would have been able to create with this lover a symphony called home. But that is not the path I find myself in.  The path that I am in is the one I forge myself; and like Julia de Burgos, yo misma fui mi ruta. Y mi ruta no es la ruta de aquell@s que me quieren blanca, que me quieren alba, que me quieren nácar.  A serape hangs in my living room covered in Oaxacan alebrijes.  It is similar to the figurines of saints mi abuela would keep in every nook and cranny of her home.  I look to their excess of color or just their excess in general, their sheer impossibility, the paradox of supporting more than one image should hold, for comfort.  These are also my excesses and while they might not be what everyone wants, what everyone likes, what everyone is comfortable with, they are the fabric of my existence.  I embrace it with open arms, as I embrace the things about me that I still need to work on.  I am a perpetual work in progress, and I am ok with this.  And I finally feel like I have a home that can reflect that, a room of my own.  And maybe that is why I keep those alebrijes where I can look at them every morning, so I can remember that I love and forgive myself, even if no one else will.  I know some of you have been going through some equally difficult times.  Some of you just came out as queer to your parents.  Some of you are expats.  Some of you are just finding out you are further in the middle of the gender spectrum than you thought you were.  To all of you: whatever you do, don’t forget how to love yourself.  Even if someone you love doesn’t love you back.  Even if your life is in constant threat by being written off as sacred life, as life not worth living or sustaining.  Love yourself above all things, with all your flaws and despite all odds.  Celebrate every inch of your skin and your personality, even those you’d like to change.  In these times when things matter increasingly more and people matter increasingly less, the biggest act of subversion might be to have some compassion for yourself.

Love yourselves, forgive yourselves, and be compassionate to yourselves above everything else.  Embrace the impossibility of who you are and like the alebrijes that decorate my spaces, hopefully you will remind someone of how to live past the bombardment  of micro and macro aggressions that try to convince you to feel bad for who you are.  Be an alebrije.  Be impossible.  And love every minute of it.
 

Farewell
Headphones
zanazibar
          F A R E W E L L

                       1

DESDE el fondo de ti, y arrodillado,
un niño triste, como yo, nos mira.

Por esa vida que arderá en sus venas
tendrían que amarrarse nuestras vidas.

Por esas manos, hijas de tus manos,
tendrían que matar las manos mías.

Por sus ojos abiertos en la tierra
veré en los tuyos lágrimas un día.

                       2

YO NO lo quiero, Amada.

Para que nada nos amarre
que no nos una nada.

Ni la palabra que aromó tu boca,
ni lo que no dijeron las palabras.

Ni la fiesta de amor que no tuvimos,
ni tus sollozos junto a la ventana.

                       3

(AMO el amor de los marineros
que besan y se van.

Dejan una promesa.
No vuelven nunca más.

En cada puerto una mujer espera:
los marineros besan y se van.

Una noche se acuestan con la muerte
en el lecho del mar.

                       4

AMO el amor que se reparte
en besos, lecho y pan.

Amor que puede ser eterno
y puede ser fugaz.

Amor que quiere libertarse
para volver a amar.

Amor divinizado que se acerca
Amor divinizado que se va.)

                       5

YA NO se encantarán mis ojos en tus ojos,
ya no se endulzará junto a ti mi dolor.

Pero hacia donde vaya llevaré tu mirada
y hacia donde camines llevarás mi dolor.

Fui tuyo, fuiste mía. Qué más? Juntos hicimos
un recodo en la ruta donde el amor pasó.

Fui tuyo, fuiste mía. Tu serás del que te ame,
del que corte en tu huerto lo que he sembrado yo.

Yo me voy. Estoy triste: pero siempre estoy triste.
Vengo desde tus brazos. No sé hacia dónde voy.

...Desde tu corazón me dice adiós un niño.
Y yo le digo adiós.



Sometimes all you need is love
bandolero
zanazibar
I am still around, but holy shit is has been two very difficult weeks.

I still love my job, but half the time I want to bitchslap the people that work for CPS and the other half of the time I want to bitchslap the people I try to help.  Good lord, they do stupid shit sometimes.  But I guess if people didn't fuck up, I'd be out of a job.

My car got hit last week-some bitch started pulling out rapidly without looking after I was halfway out and caused 2500 worth of damages to my car.  Of course, the fucking bitch is trying to pin it on me because god forbid it was the white bitch being a reckless driver.

Other than that, stuff has just been a bit rough in general.  Lots of work, had to deal with SSRI withdrawal, some relationship stuff and isolation/con depression.  To top it off, Nicole is leaving tomorrow.  I am already bracing for how much that is gonna suck.

Today I just took a day to say fuck it and make myself happier.  Nicole cut my hair and helped me get some measurements for my partial suit.  She told me she is considering becoming a teacher and getting her certification here in Tucson.  I am very hopeful for this news and very thankful of how she works to make me feel better.

I need to go to more cons.  Anyone hitting up any cons this year?  I wanna hang out with folks.  

[Rant] Against Proper Justice
Headphones
zanazibar
"El que mayor virtud pretende, necesita ser sufrido"
-Mi Muy Ilustre Abuela

Summun ius, summa injuria
-Cicero

“ The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. ”
- Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

The following proposition is, I am sure, bound to be controversial and ignite outrage; after all, telling people to re-conceptualize their paradigms often brings with it that guttural resistance that only fear can bring.

Today I have an immodest proposal: I ask you to consider that the Left needs less Social Justice and more compassion.

What would drive me to say such a thing?  Isn't Social Justice the bottom line of progressive movements, the very fiber at the center of what we do?  The answer to that is: well, sort of.  Social justice movements and the people who have tirelessly work in them are at the epicenter of what has made the US as a nation flourish; everything from anti-slavery to Stonewall to the Civil Rights Movements have developed better living spaces for those of us still in this country by choice, circumstance or necessity.  My respect to everyone who fought and to everyone who suffered through these injustices, and to everyone who still carries this shared sense of hurting; praise be to every Black man lynched atop a tree whose image ended in a greeting card; praise be to every person who has traversed the Sonoran desert when the Coyotes left them stranded in the middle of the journey; praise be to every Puerto Rican Islander who got sent off to fight in the name of a president they never had the right to choose; praise be on every body that has endured the dripping attrition on the soul of enduring poverty, systemic disempowerment, persecution, shunning, shaming or trauma: if I have any Fellow Travelers, it is you, the ones who society left behind.  I am an old-school Catholic, you see, and like Miguel de Unamuno posited in his seminal work, On the Tragic Sense of Life, that suffering provides us with the lexicon of love, that we recognize a shared sense of hurting that create the bonds in which love compassion can blossom.

However, "social justice" at the present moment has become less about compassion and more about integrating "diversity" into the ever-increasing self-regulated docility that Michel Foucault extensively wrote about.  It is less about understanding others and their contexts and more about policing our own communities for "excitable speech".  This self-monitoring and regulation of "oppressed" communities, this aptly-embraced self-cannibalization, squeezes out the very ambiguity and contingency that makes a marginal life marginally livable.  Canonizing and categorizing the spheres of affect and speech that "we" will allow each other to inhabit is a reproduction of the mechanistic docility of wider social patterns; everything suo jure.

I, for one, refuse to accept a project of otherness predicated on rubrics.  I refuse to engage in 'social justice' under the jurisdiction of self-regulative systems of collective indifference to nuance.  I choose instead to be compassionate; to make a conscious effort to relate to others and understand them from where they stand, not from where I do; I choose to allow a space for ambiguity, even if I am not always comfortable with it; I elect to try to see how other ways of thought are possible as opposed to reading for intentionality or blame.

We need more kindness and less self-righteousness.  We need more forgiveness and less anger.  We need more patience and less belittling.  We need to genuinely care for people beyond the concepts we believe they can embody (or not).  We need less postmodern word games, less concerns for taxonomy and more concerns about alleviating our collective sufferings; after all, perhaps it might be that the people with the 'right' to try to speak about 'social justice' are those that try to ameliorate the precariousness of our own disadvantages and those of others.  The rest of us are voyeurs, whether or not we mean to be.  

An update to show I am still alive
Headphones
zanazibar
Just so you know, I'm still alive.  Wheeeee~

Lemme give you a short explanation of why this page has been so quiet in 2013:

-I started a new job as a Parent Aide.  It's my first salaried position ever and I love it!  I basically help parents improve their parenting skills so that they can get their children back from CPS custody. I also supervise the visits between children and parents.  It's a lot of work, but it's a labor of love, really.  My boss really likes my work so far and I am so relieved to be doing well on something other than academia (that was one of the things keeping me from leaving grad school sooner, to be honest.)

- I am still dating Nicole and Rax.  Both relationships are pretty fucking awesome and I am proud to have both of them as my partners.  Living as a partner to Rax has really helped me get used to Tucson and see it for the good things-believe me, it does grow on you!

-I've been making friends in Tucson and it is pretty nice!  I also have a social life, going to the swap meet, to my flagship hobby shop, getting to really know my way around town better.

-I have kept thinking about theory, though clearly not as much as I did before.  I will write something worthy of being put up, sometime.

-There's the possibility that there will be a child a couple of ties removed from me, and I am very excited about that and about that would mean for some of those I love.  I am not gonna lie, I am excited to be of help in any capacity that I can.  I love kids.  I think despite the difficulties I would have raising a child in the US (see my post about that a couple of months ago), I would still very much like to try it.

-I am in the final stages of negotiating getting a fursuit.  Yes, I will be "that furry".  Deal with it.

-I have become a lot more confident and comfortable without grad school reminding me of how little I matter outside of my space as a statistic of a rate of attrition.  Seriously, fuck that place.  I did meet with Susan Stryker for a beer (and some ass-grabbing) this week and it made me think that I do miss theory.  I will go back to writing about it; Susan did stress that she thinks I should not stop writing.

-I am in the process of getting my ass to Indianapolis for Independence Day Weekend.  I'll let y'all know how goes it.

Also, as a PSA: does anyone need Copic markers or other art supplies?  I get them for stupid cheap at the swap meet so lemme know if there's something you're looking for.
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Ennui
Headphones
zanazibar
I've been a lazy fuck so I haven't updated this in a while. Wheeeeeeeeee!!

The basics: I am still alive, still in Tucson, still out of grad school and still working at a group home.  I am doing ok for the most part, getting used to life outside of the ivory tower. 2 jobs, 3 relationships, still one very busy fucker.

I'm working on figuring out what I want to do and how to go from where I currently stand.  I've decided I'd like to pursue a career in behavioral health as either a family service specialist or a case manager.  I have an interview this week for an opening in the former, so here's hoping!

Work would be ok if the working conditions didn't suck so hard.  Overworked, understaffed, underpaid and unappreciated.  I feel like my boss has a lot of growing up to do professionally.  A LOT.  I'm not gonna get into too many details here, but basically: I am still employed here and actively looking for a job elsewhere.  Fun times.

My relationships have suffered a bit from my ridiculous schedule and overall lack of wanting to do anything other than sleep when I get back home, but even with that, I feel they are all much better than when I was in grad school.  I want to be able to give the best of me to my partners and I am working on achieving the work-life balance that will help me do that.

I haven't written anything theoretical in a while; not for lack of ideas, but because I am still resentful of grad school.  I think the wound is still too fresh to try this again just yet.

I have been playing a lot of Pokemon recently.  It's one of those things I drop for a bit but always come back to.

That's about it for now.  I will try to write something more substantial but I've been at work for like 10 hours and huh brain cells what are those.

The Road to Recovery
Headphones
zanazibar

Hello everyone,

  Been in a while.  Like I promised, I’ll try to make a point to scribble on this corner of the internet more often.   I took my last class a couple of weeks ago and my advisor cried as she bid me farewell.  It was hard for me because I am always brought to my knees and humbled when someone genuinely cares for me.  It breaks the veil of cynicism that I cover myself with in order to let go of people, places and goals. 

started my new job and I genuinely like it so far.  I work in a therapeutic group home for girls 12-18 who have a number of mental, emotional and behavioral conditions.  I’ve only been working there for a while but I get a sense of accomplishment out of it that I never quite got out of grad school.  I'm looking after the children who everyone else ignores.  If I can help just one of them do better for themselves, I will have more impact than I did in grad school.  My schedule is all over the place and it increasingly looks like I'll be working the overnight shift but I don't have a clear sense of where that is going until I sit down with my boss and discuss it.

  Being out of academia almost feels like waking up from a bizarre and debilitating dream.  This week’s been one of the first where I’ve been able to look at my behavior and pinpoint things I need and want to change and how to go about making those changes.  I still carry the weight of my past on my shoulders, but for whatever reason things seem so much clearer; it’s like I used school to not work on my issues and now that I am no longer using it as a crutch I don’t need, I can finally walk on my own two feet.  It’s weird.  

  I'm working on life after grad school: drafting retirement plans, consolidating my loans, putting together a good resume, saving for long-term goals, working on getting additional certifications and also just enjoying life for now.  I still find myself reading-and enjoying-queer theory, but I think it'll definitely take a backseat in my priority list for a while.  I'll start attending couples therapy soon to get over some issues that came up in one of my relationships.  I'm hopeful for the therapy,  this relationship and my others as well. I'll be off to Further Confusion (a furry con) soon and I'll probably update then.

Meanwhile, how y'all doing?

Tags:

Let It Out
hope
zanazibar
Does anyone still read this?   

I've been away for a couple of months.  Mostly, I haven't felt like I have much to write about.  It's not that a lot things haven't happened: I'm quitting grad school for good, I got a full time job as a behavioral health technician that I will start on December 10th and I am now dating a third person, my (boy)friend Anders. Nick came and went, she is now back in Sacramento with her folks, probably until 2013.  

Overall, I feel I am in a better place mentally, emotionally, romantically, professionally and spiritually than last year at this time. I'm looking forward to seeing what the future holds and to fill this space yet again with something other than silence: being away from grad school actually helps with that.

I'll update with more details on what's going on with me soon, but for now, hope you are all well.

Brincando el charco
bandolero
zanazibar
"Brincar el charco" is a Puerto Rican expression that literally translates as "jumping the puddle". It describes the act of migrating from the island to the continental US.  It seeks to ameliorate the pain of migration by downplaying it, by making the Atlantic Ocean a mere puddle to jump across.  I celebrated (and mourned) jumping that puddle three years ago on August 17; I hadn't mentioned it before because simply put I've been too busy readjusting to graduate school. You know, it wasn't until this summer that I realized how profoundly traumatic migration was, how much it still impacts my life, how little I've integrated to that America sin acento after three full years of being here.

I'm continuing the process of orienting myself in the world, and I think I've made some good inroads into it.  I don't think  I want to drop grad school right now, but I definitely want to spend less time overwhelmed my school and more time picking up other skills.  While I am very much interested in gender studies, I want something else to do, I don't want to limit myself to a single track.  Therefore, I dropped one of my courses so I can devote more time and energy to other pursuits.

First of all, I am teaching a course on Science, Technology and Society.  One of the things I want to do is devote time to mastering the art of teaching and giving my students the best class I can.  So far it's been a little dicey because my boss has been out of the state since class began but up to this point I'm really enjoying it.  I've also decided I want to pick up Computer Science/coding; so far, I'm just doing open courseware on it.   I'll let you know how that goes, so far I have to say I've had more fun doing that than I've had with gender studies in a while.  
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