Monday, November 28, 2011

A delirious state

I keep running a fever above 102℉ (39℃) since yesterday--in fact, I am certain I have a fever right now since I feel extremely cold but my skin is burning to the touch. Perfect timing if you ask me with all of the final papers and studying I have to do. I even missed the UCD General Strike today...or maybe I participated considering I have only moved from my bed to the couch and from the couch back to my bed. No school for me, just hallucinations. The day has been a haze, alternating between reality and a feverish dream like state.
In my feverish delirium this morning, I thought I was back here:

I even called out to (insert name here). It's my biggest held secret and it is better this way because this way it is only mine. The truth is, it's not wanderlust, it is love that takes me back to feverish August nights. They were so painfully short in memory and right now I feel a yearning...I want to go back. Or maybe I am stuck in a perpetual delirium, alternating in between a feverish lustful and loving influenza of the heart, body, and mind.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Eulogy to my grandmother

This blog actually started out as a response to an email of a friend asking me how I was feeling from the death of my grandmother. Then I realized it was probably more than this person actually wanted to read so I decided to respond with a simple ok and spill the wreckage here:

I am doing mostly kinda depends on the moment. Sometimes I spontaneously burst into tears and cry. Right now I am fighting them because I have so much to do tonight since I decided to ignore my responsibilities for today in order to reflect. I needed to figure out why I am constantly bursting into tears because it made little sense to me, that I keep crying like this since yesterday after I received the call from my father that my grandmother had died. 

To be honest, my relationship to my grandmother was minimal--after all she lived in Guatemala my whole life and I saw her a total of maybe 7-10 times--I am not even sure how accurate this number is. Mostly my memories of her consist of her telling me I am gorda (meaning fat in Spanish). Not really my most treasured memories but at least I met the woman. Maybe it was her way of showing affection and saying, "Your dad takes good care of you." Either way, it's true and it doesn't really matter to me at this point. 

The more morbid side of me has thought about this day. I knew it would happen some day and I always thought that it would be like hearing the death of a celebrity in the news. Sort of like when I found out Steve Jobs died recently and I thought, "I hope his family is ok." And I would carry on with my life as if nothing had changed in my life. Yet when my call ended with my father, I bursted into tears. I was walking from downtown Davis to my house. There I was on 2nd St crying as I tried to hurry home to hideaway in my little nest of safety. I couldn't make sense of the feeling. Did I love this woman? Who was she to me? 

It didn't take long that evening to figure out the source of pain: my father's voice. The most painful aspect of my grandmother's death has been hearing  and seeing my father cry (this is only the fourth) about her death and knowing he wanted nothing more than to say goodbye in person before she passed away and that he didn't make it. My heartbreaks knowing he is Guatemala right now without me. I guess, it's more of a selfish pain that I feel because I want to be there with him to protect him or maybe I need him to protect me from my own thoughts? Maybe I am seeking reassurance that he is going to be ok?

As a little girl, my dad was like a superhero to me. There had never been anyone like him, he was my Zorro (the one and only Halloween costume I remember him wearing when I was about four years old). Yet, in the last few years I have noticed him getting considerably older and physically weaker. His once invincible muscular arms and legs seem to be part of some distant past, some kind of romanticized version of my father as this magical man capable of performing amazing physical feats. I was certain my dad could have beaten up any one of my ex-boyfriends. In fact, you know kids sometimes "joking" around say, "well my daddy can totally beat up your daddy." You remember that? Well, I told my ex (my daughter's father) that my papa could totally beat not his dad but him up. He looked at me and laughed but I was serious--I really believed it then. Man, I thought my dad was like Arnold back in his bodybuilding days...that man did not really exist but nonetheless it was the reality I was certain of. 

So yeah, I thought my dad was my superhero, someone I could turn to no matter what. Now-a-days, I am far more reluctant to call when I need something because I don't want to stress him out--in fact, I don't do it anymore, I seek to solve my problems on my own. This is probably a mixture of self-responsibilty and this growing need to protect my father in some strange existential way that I am yet not able to articulate. When I go visit my parents, I look at his tired face and his ability to fall asleep in the mist of loud conversations, which he pretends to be a part of with a random comment that makes little to no sense to the conversation. I guess what I am trying to say with all of this is that the death of my grandmother just puts into perspective my father's own mortality. My father is aging. My dad is going to die. One day, I will lose him. Death is real.
So these tears that keep surfacing are my tears to him. He is grieving his mother but I am grieving him. My grieving is selfish because I won't miss my grandmother but I will miss father. I need to save him, somehow! Yet there is nothing I can do...

Another part of me knows that now my father is forever a changed man. The man my father was before my grandmother's death is now gone because I have seen the consequences of losing a mother. My maternal grandmother died December 30, 1998 and this date changed my mother forever. My mother always tells me the mourning of both parents being deceased is forever present and makes one feel like an orphan in the world because the people that have brought you into the world are gone. She says that you are no longer someone's child, you're an orphan.
I am not saying my dad will be like my mother, they are very different people with two very different outlooks on life but I know for a fact my father is forever changed and forever will feel this loss. Remember earlier when I said I had seen my father cry only three times prior to this? Well, one was a drunken night when I was a little girl where he was telling me he loved me, the other was when he talked about my grandfather (who died when my dad was only eighteen), and when I got married. Don't get me wrong, I honor this woman who raised twelve children on her own, my father being only the second oldest. But my grandmother is more of folklore to me, a women I only know through stories spun together by my father. I love her because she gave me him. For this I will be eternally grateful but I do not mourn her because she had her life, eighty-two years of it. I mourn for my father--he is now more vulnerable than ever--he is an orphan. I am not sure what it is like to be an adult Guatemalan man despite my vivid imagination but as a Latin-American (almost) thirty year old woman, I sometimes feel like I need my papa and my mami. There is a part of me that has refused to grow up and is vulnerable. From what I hear, this child remains a part of our lives and at times needs consoling. I imagine this child is present right now in my father. I want to cradle this child and hold him. I want him to feel comforted. This would comfort me.

This is why I want to be with him because I know he is in pain...I want to protect him from himself because he is only going to act like a "man" (in that Latin-American tradition) and hold the pain inside. He is going to feel obligated to be strong for the rest of my extended family. I don't want him to have to do that. He needs me. 
Maybe I am elevating his ability to open up with me, maybe even this is some other fiction that resides in my head, but I honestly feel like he opens up to me more than anyone else. Not that he pours his soul but he exposes a little bit more of that vulnerability he was raised to eternally keep hidden. My father has never been a man of expressive emotions but I know inside of him lives an immensity of love, devotion, and optimism I have never known in anyone else. My dad is amazing, he is the type of person that you want to be next to in tragedy, he would turn it into a moment of thankful reflection. He'd be the one to remind you of everything you do have--that's my dad, eternal optimism. According to him, it will always gets better. And believe me, as much as it has irritated me at times because I want to be victimized, it is always my ultimate conclusion to my problems. 

Yesterday when I drove him to San Francisco International, I could hear him crying. I couldn't see it because it was dark but the occasional wiping of the nose would confirm my suspicions. I wanted to cry too, I wanted to tell him that it was going to be ok. I didn't know how. I tried to talk to him about his feelings but I noticed that he was not really paying attention and possibly a little frustrated because I kept talking about it so finally I talked about frivolous things. I talked about my dreams and passions to which he seemed like he was only half listening, not that I expected more. The thing is, I was sharing these things with him because I wanted him to see that despite my rebellious years, he was continually (and still is) a source of inspiration for me. He never gave up, he never does. So in-between the frivolous words of my conversation of academics and the philosophical undercurrents of Arte Povera, I was secretly whispering into my words,"I am just like you, you see? I keep following my dream even when I have had to fight against the ocean currents that have knocked me down and constantly taken me back to shore." 

I have never been the most conventional person or followed the most conventional path. I have been difficult and I am far from the conservative political ideals of my father. We don't agree on religion either. He thinks I am an atheist. Sometimes we sit in uncomfortable silences on the phone when he tries to "check" on me seemingly nonchalant. And sometimes even though we are both speaking in Spanish, it is like we are speaking two different languages. We rarely see eye-to-eye. My father is a man of mystery, part illusion and fantasy, some constructed from photographs, my faulty memory, and his fantastical stories interwoven with magic and white lies. Fundamentally, I am just like him. I am hardheaded, fire-spitting, won't take shit, hardworking just took me nearly thirty years to realize it. 

Although it may not seem like it, this really is a eulogy to my grandmother, even though my grief is not because if I am a consequence of my father, well then, I am eternally grateful to this woman I never really knew and helped form the first man I have ever loved.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Italia = amore o ossessione?

I have 236 pages of reading tonight to complete for my classes tomorrow and I have read maybe 97 pages or so. I am so easily distracted and I have one obsession driving me crazy right now: Italy.
Instead of doing the reading I was assigned as homework, I have spent the last couple of hours reading, looking, etc about Italy...more specifically Rome. Maybe it doesn't help that I am reading Renaissance literature this summer and am studying the Italian Futurists in my "Avant-Gardism" class. Maybe all this love of Italy is birthed from the fact that I cannot get away from it. She is everywhere but then again she is here by choice, she is not forced upon me. After all, I have chosen to double major in Italian.
Did the whole universe conspire to this love? Was that fateful day in which I left to what I thought to be "randomness" to learn a new language predestined?
I cannot say. All I can say that that July of 2009 when I pulled "Italian" from my plastic bag, I was somewhat relieved that I wasn't going to have to learn a whole new script for Arabic. I remember immediately going to Livemocha and beginning my Italian "courses." Arguably we could say that Italian is so similar to Spanish and this has greatly facilitated my learning of it but I was also rather obsessive in my learning. I used to listen to the radio constantly, watched movies, tried to read in Italian--I am still amazed now when I listen (much less frequently) and I understand. I can understand! Isn't that amazing? Furthermore, people understand me! I speak and they understand me! I am by no means fluent but I am still amazed. I am amazed that what was once undecipherable is now intelligible language. Is it this that made me fall in love? Have I replaced all sense of romantic love into a country? It is possible.
I often say I am glad I am not Italian and I am very serious when I say this because if I was I probably would not love Italy as I do. The beauty of Italy is that it is not my own but foreign. Even in all of its foreignness it is mine because she has it all: art, food, language, music, landscape. She is not mine by obligation, she is mine because I have chosen her to be my lover and she always welcomes me with open arms. She does not stifle me. She accepts me with all my virtues and faults. And I have proof she loves me back because even when I visited her in winter she provided me beautiful sunny days and only rained the day of my departure.
Le sigh.
Do not ask me why I love her because I cannot tell you why. I just feel it. You know that sensation, the one that gives you butterflies in your tummy, that makes your chest ache, that makes you smile immediately at the thought...Italy is this to me. I cannot help but think of Carrie Bradshaw (sorry for those who never saw Sex in the City) and how she describe New York City as her lover. I understand now fully what she meant. The idea of Italy is so powerful in my mind, the ideal portrait of the Old World still living. Granted all of Europe contains this element but in Italy it is different. Maybe her landscape often reminds me of California and there is some comfort in that. Maybe it is the fact that the art I have loved from my childhood is housed in the Uffizi in Florence. Maybe it is the incredible diverse amounts of cheese and wine. Maybe it is the people and their melodious language accompanied by hand gestures. Non so e non posso spiegarlo, solo so che l'ho nel cuore.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Caution: I come with a warning label

I caution you
run as fast as you can
because I am fire
a sharp tongued

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Las dos Marianas

Las dos Fridas, 1939
Frida Kahlo
Since I was a little girl I can remember struggling with my own sense of identity. As the daughter of a Nicaraguan mother and a Guatemalan father born in California, I often wondered what my position within American society is. Am I American? Am I Latina? Do I speak English or Spanish better? It seems like I was never American or Latina enough. If behave a certain way and my mother will say, "¡Ay que Americana eres!" (Oh, you are so American!) or maybe I am with my American friends and I will hear, "Oh, you are so Latina!" I used to think this was some kind of struggle that would eventually end for me, that one day I will find my place within society but here I am twenty-nine years later still caught in some type of purgatory of cultural identity.

Las dos Fridas
I don't remember how I learned of this painting or even how old I was when I first saw it but what I do know is how profoundly this image affected me even without knowing who Frida Kahlo was. What I can tell you is how this image followed me like a silent ghost in the recesses of my unconsciousness until I was about sixteen years old and picked up a book at my high school library during lunch one day and experienced Gestalt's "aha" moment. There it was, this image that had embodied my experience of cultural identity on a page staring back at me like a reflection of some vague notion living within me.

On the surface it is obvious that the image is of self-conflict, Frida Kahlo finds herself torn between two identities. On the lefthand side is the European influenced Frida. She is dressed in a white dress of European influence with little flowers located on the bottom border. In her righthand she holds a pair of scissors attempting to stop blood from dripping onto her dress from a vein. There is an open cavity in her chest where we see her visible heart that is cross-sectioned and is connected to the vein dripping onto her dress to the Frida to her left. The Frida on the righthand side is the Mexican Frida, she is wearing the traditional indigenous garment of Mexico (specifically Mexico City area). Her chest cavity is also opened but unlike the Frida on the left, her heart is complete and in her lefthand she is holding a tiny photo of her husband Diego Rivera. At the very epicenter of the painting both Fridas are joined by the hands reinforcing Fridas double penetrating stares onto the viewer. While analyzing this image not only are the two Fridas a direct reference to her internal conflict of identity but it also speaks in symbolism. The gray cloudy background only adds to the sense of confusion and uncertainty.

I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that this image spoke to "little" Mariana, my rebel and turmoiled Mariana, and now adult Mariana. There is something in me that has not changed even after all these years. I am still lost in my sense of cultural identity. I do not feel a citizen of any country or part of any culture. Although I do identify with certain parts, I am not faithful to any. I will never be Latina enough. I will never be American enough. Case closed.

So where do I go from here? Lately, I have been having some guilt about my studies. I am starting to feel a traitor to my Latina side. After all, I am so involved with the study of European art and as if this were not enough, I have become somewhat obsessed with European life. I can speak fluent Spanish, advanced Italian, moderate level of French and more obviously, I speak fluent English. My whole life is a representation of the colonization and domination of European culture, to only be reinforced by American imperialism. Sitting in my classes, I feel so departed from my Latina identity. Who have I become? What is the importance of identity?

Las dos Fridas has been on my mind lately. These are some of the questions that this painting deals with, Frida Kahlo is asking herself about her position in society, her identity as a woman, and artist. She was a socialist, an advocate of the indigenous groups, she dealt with the conflict of her unfaithful husband--she was struggling with a multifaceted struggle of her identities. Her figure is parted into two physical parts but these two selves contain other smaller parts of identity. I don't want to go too deep into further analysis of these smaller parts which depart from my purpose but they are certainly worth exploring at some point.

I conclude this thought with this: I want to do my honors thesis on Frida Kahlo. I am not sure what I want to do or what the goal of this thesis will be but I feel a moral obligation to write about her. I know a part of this exploration is personal but the personal often times transcends to a greater population. I know that my confusion of cultural identity is a commonplace occurrence of 1st generation born Latinos. We struggle with our sense of identity, with the duality of the cultural components that formulate Latin American identity itself and because art is a reflection of the human experience, it is this that has inspired my desire to further explore Frida Kahlo and her cultural significance in the history of art.

Friday, March 18, 2011


I have been photographing chemtrails from my iphone a lot lately. I see them everywhere so I decided why not start photographing them. Granted, I am always on the move and I rarely carry my DSLR for practical reasons so I have been making cell photography my main medium these days. My friend Naomi was so kind to send me the info on an app to download called Instagram. Although I try to avoid social networks because I am paranoid and I think they are tracking systems, I do love the idea! Anyway, I am obsessed with this app now. I love it! Not only can you share photos but it has a handy editing tool. Anyway, here is a screenshot of the program and some chemtrail photos I have taken and then used Instagram to edit.

Taken in Elk Grove - 17-Mar-2011

Taken near UC Davis - 10-Mar-2011

Taken near CCAS - 13-Feb-2011

Taken northbound on Highway 99 - 02-Feb-2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I heart U too

I love coffee. Every morning I make my latte with a lot of joy and tenderness. It is a labor of love and an art if you ask me. After all, coffee as savory as it can be, it can also be quite disgusting if it isn't done just right. I love my espresso maker so much that the day I bought it last April, I took a picture of myself with it (see below). I prepare 3 shots of espresso as I warm up a cup of vanilla soy milk on the stove. First, I pour the espresso into my favorite glass, then add the soy milk and my final touch of agave syrup. It may not the most authentic Italian coffee but I love it all the same. What is the best part of making a latte? Making a design with the milk. But this morning...

to be honest, I was running late this morning and I was not able to prepare my coffee. So I proceeded with the next best thing, to go to Temple Coffee and ordered a soy latte. Granted, I think it is a peccato to pay over $4 for a latte when I make a delicious one myself or when I know I can get away paying 0,80€ in Italy but at least Temple has good coffee and my coffee expresses the same affection for me as I do to it even if not prepared by my own hands. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tis the night before my birthday...

On the eve of my twenty-nineth birthday I cannot help but to reflect on my life, about the things I have done and the future that awaits me. Sure, there are plenty of things in my life that I could have done without or that I could have done better but all-in-all, I have very little to complain about and as for my future, although it is more uncertain than say that of a Pre-Med major, I am lucky to have the opportunity to learn.

Every morning during my commute to Davis, I listen to NPR. I listen to the news and as of recent, the news is dominated by the revolutions in the Middle East. I am proud that there are revolutions occurring...people standing up for what they believe in. Yet, that is easy to say from my privileged position. I hate hearing about the current violence, the suffering of innocent people. I hate knowing that for some right now, a peaceful sleep does not exist and turmoil dominates daily life. I hate there is nothing that I can do to change it. Today it is Libya dominating the media, but it would be naive of me to ignore the fact that there there is pain and suffering happening around the globe--injustice and exploitation of people to help maintain and perpetuate my way of life. It is easy to complain about simple things when there is little to complain about.

For those that know me, and know me well (or maybe those that have caught me in my rants), know my political opinions about our form of government and the downfalls of our capitalist society but yet, I have to admit that I l am fortunate. I am thankful for the opportunity to receive a higher education...the opportunity to talk!

Today after my "Great Cities" class, I had an insightful and satisfying conversation with my professor. As I walked away in the downpour to my car parked about 1.5 miles (2,4 km) away, I kept thinking how amazing it is to discuss ideas! Furthermore, to have someone knowledgable on the subject to give me input. This is not an opportunity given to everyone and I recognize this. I could not find the room to complain despite being cold and being soaked from head to toe. I could not find the capacity to complain that I had to put my last $20 into my car tank as I drove soaking wet to the gas station. Even know as I write this, I cannot find the words to complain that I have to study for my Italian exam tomorrow. Passato Remoto is nothing compared to the thought of having a war breakout just outside my door.

There is a point in this blog...I swear!

So ok, I loathe that I am turning another year older. I don't like that I am going to have to collect some change from around the house to fill up my car with gas again here soon. I don't like that my favorite pair (and second to only pair of jeans) are about to have a hole in them. There are plenty of things that I don't like about my life and I am unsatisfied about but I have very little room to complain. I have a roof over my head. I have food on the table. I have clothes to wear. I have the chance to get an education. So what if I have an Italian exam tomorrow and I am not adequately prepared? There are people dying out in the world, don't have a place to sleep, don't have food, etc.
Everyday I want to wake up and feel fortunate, I want to feel empathy, I want to live and learn, I want to love, and I want peace.

I am not saying the status quo is ok, there are plenty of things that can be changed right here but I am fortunate and from my position of privilege, I cannot complain! Things could be much harder. I could be in Iraq, the Congo, in the slums of India, let's not to go so far, the slums of Guatemala. I am thankful. I repeat one hundred times: I am thankful.
What will I do with this marvelous opportunity in my life? What will I do with the privilege given to me? I must be the best I can be. To make other's sacrifice's worthwhile. I cannot change the world but I will do everything in my power to make the world a better place, beginning with me.
Here is to another year...Happy Birthday me.

Addition at 19.55:
Yasmin was curious as to what I was writing and asked me to read it to her (occasionally she likes me to read my term papers to her too, hahaha). Afterwards she said that it was really moving and yes, she actually used the word "moving." She said that she also wishes there was less violence in the world and said, "We need peace not war so everyone can be happy." And there it is: Se lo capisce una bambina, il mondo completo devi capirlo. :)
Ok, now I must really study for this exam tomorrow. Arrivederci!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Random post of the day: Objects of Death

Random projects of art that I have done in the last few months.

I need to travel!