Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
I seem to be failing miserably at being able to upload my entries on a daily basis. As such, I've decided to give in and take my entries from daily to weekly. Given the amount of free time and resources I actually have right now, I think it would be much more manageable. However, I'm still going to continue taking a photo a day and using them to illustrate my entries - which was my main objective to begin with. That's why I'm not going to change my project name - it will continue to be a 365 reflection of beauty in my world.
With that... my entry for the second half of the week of July 6th -
When I was at UCLA, I wrote for the Latino newspaper, La Gente de Aztlan. As part of our training, our media adviser gave us the duty of creating a newspaper that reflected who we were.
My end product looked more like a zine constructed in a garage rather than a newspaper. Images pasted together, headlines and pull-out quotes masquerading as ransom notes. My adviser liked the idea. I did too, but I still felt a little apprehensive of my collaged personality.
When I was in High School, I found myself hanging out with a group of students who were of mixed cultural backgrounds. I really enjoyed their company and our discussions that we'd have in the student garden. On one of those days in the garden, one of the males in the group (admittingly, one I had a crush on) turned to me and said "you're amazingly beautiful." It caught me off guard and I blushed, it was an incredible feeling to hear that. Then I came to a point where I felt I wanted to fill the part of me that had a passionate connection to my own culture. I was and still am proud of my family's heritage and history and it's something I had always enjoyed reading about. I connected with a Latino group on campus and went to one of their meetings during lunch. That same day, the "friend" who had, just weeks before, told me how amazingly beautiful I was saw me walking out of the meeting space and approached me to declare "I didn't think you were like that, like one of THEM."
I assume he meant like a person who was a "separatist," as they would often describe some of the cultural groups on campus. I say assume because they didn't speak to me after that day. It was hurtful. I let one of my many pieces come out and suddenly I was an ugly person to them.
I still feel fragmented, made up of pieces haphazardly pieced together and bound by reused tape and clamps. The things I enjoy are varied, the things I'm passionate about spray themselves across a spectrum of personalities. Some people would say eclectic, others would say indecisive, but I no longer think ugly.
The photos above were taken in my apartment, which houses many of my various interests and personality ...errr... traits. I threw in an obscure picture of myself as well, a sort of representation of how I often portray myself in the "real world."
I'm often told "you don't talk much" or "you seem very complex" when I'm sitting at a table full of talkative people. I usually agree and smile. Well, it's not that I'm very quiet, nor that I'm complex. I'm just a bit of everything so showing nothing is sometimes easier for people to understand or accept.
But, this is who I am. I'm constructed of various parts of the world that have been somehow cemented into my being like a strange piece of folk art. I could probably stand in between the Watts Towers and be akin to the giant structures.
As I've gotten older, I've come to accept and embrace the many pieces of me. The top photo, I feel, is very representative of me. I had decided to paint my model doll one day, and couldn't decide what color to paint it nor what face to give it. So I took each "limb" and painted everything that came to mind. If you'd ever want to see me naked - well, there I am. In all exestentialchicanasurrealistnerdgeekglamopunkrockartsyfartsypoorkidtechnofileguerrilla glory.
And it feels fine.
Friday, July 8, 2011
I will admit, I'm not a very patriotic person. I lean to the left in my political and social views and I frankly don't care for the corruption and torture this country has historically spread throughout the world.
But, it's fourth of July ... and fireworks have to be lit.
(Legal notice: the fireworks in the photo are coming from a few blocks away, NOT my parent's front yard.)
My family may, or may have not, lit fireworks on the fourth of July. My nieces and nephew may, or may have not sat in lawn chairs and let out little screams of excitement when colorful sparks flew across the sky.
But we were together, and we did enjoy each other's company.
When I got to my brother's house, my family was all there drying off from a day-long swimming session in the pool. The BBQs were just cooling down and beers were almost all consumed. Despite all of that, as soon as I walked in, my sister jumped up and ordered burgers to be thrown on the grill. My nephew took over this assignment and I was told to sit down.
My mom looked at me and said "don't say that we don't love you."
Jokingly I said "Javier (my nephew) loves me."
She rolled her eyes and told me to "shattap."
Somewhere in between, my oldest brother and I got into some random argument (about cell phones I believe) which is what we typically do when we're in a room together. Argue about something I think is right and he thinks is wrong. Well, to say they're arguments is a little misleading. It's more of a one-liner ping-pong game:
"I don't believe it!"
"Get out of here!"
"Believe what you will"
(My brother usually does the cursing.)
It's more amusing than frustrating, really.
Later, we strolled to the front yard to watch the "uncertified" firework show in Pacoima. As the fireworks went up, I told my nephew stories of when we were kids and how my dad used to build contraptions similar to the ones used in Mexico to hold fireworks. He asked if they had always been illegal and I explained that it wasn't too long ago that they outlawed the firey suckers.
They sky kept going BOOM BOOM BOOM, for two or three hours straight. Everyone was smiling, happy, enjoying the night. Everything negative I felt the week before was being burned away.
I felt content. Everything in my little world was right for the night. If I could only hold on to this feeling...
(feel free to insert Journey jokes now.)
Monday, June 27, 2011
Today is my friend Todd's birthday and a few people gathered at the local watering hole for a few drinks and to wish Todd well, including yours truly. I was feeling a bit ... off... tonight because of something that happened to me earlier. I didn't want to let it get to me and I was trying my hardest to put it in the back of my head.
Luckily, the night turned out to be incredibly entertaining. All of the people gathered around the table were in high spirits having continual conversation all around the table. Todd sat with his wife and was beaming with light and happiness. Slowly the event that had me continually shrinking into my own brain started to vanish, and I started to become immersed in the light of the people around me.
In all honesty, I can't say that the all of the people who surrounded me are, or ever will be "true" friends. Those that you can call to bail you out of trouble... or worse. But they were people who allowed me to share in their joy for that night; and, in doing so, pulled me out of some place I probably would have rather not been. I was able to refocus my priorities, feel an appreciation for life and re-envision what I wanted for myself.
The night didn't transpire in some magical place filled with luxury and decadence. It was.. in a bar. What I've dubbed "the old man bar" at that. But still, I feel thankful that I was able to share in at least a few hours of "funnitude" with Todd, my friends and his friends. Thanks for a beautiful night Todd, and Happy Birthday once again!.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
I have a great love for books. I wouldn't say an unnatural love, just a great, deep love. I've often been asked if I'd get one of those Kindle or Zoobs or whathaveyous and I immediately and firmly reply "no."
There's nothing more gratifying than reaching the last page of a good book and closing its back cover. Or folding down corners of pages and making little doodles in the margins, or sticking little mementos in between the pages and finding them later, like bus tickets and photographs.
One of my favorite past times is going to old bookstores or to flea markets and leafing through the older copies of books. While I'm intersted in the books themselves, I'm also secretely hoping that an old photograph falls out or that I stumble upon a dedication on the front pages.
Something like "Dear John, The poem on page 45 reminded me of the time we forgot the time...."
Ah yeah, I'm a hopeless romantic sometimes, but I feel that these little treasures fuel my imagination and hope for the human race.
Aside from their potential for harboring memories, I also love the way words can move you, can provoke memory or emotion.
Pablo Neruda has a poem, La Palabra that says:
You can say anything you want, yessir, but it's the words that sing, they soar and descend...I bow to them...I love them, I cling to them, I run them down, I bite into them, I melt them down...I love words so much...The unexpected ones...The ones I wait for greedily or stalk until, suddenly, they drop...
While I know today is father's day and it would make more sense to do an entry about how beautiful I think my father is, I felt compelled to share this snapshot. It still relates to my father, and my mother.
For as long as I can remember, my parents have had birds in the home. Sometimes they've been loud squawking ones, other times they're quiet and demur. These birds in the photo have been a part of our backyard for what seems like years. Although, I know it hasn't been more than a couple of years.
They're very quiet and have attempted to procreate many times over. Some have been successful, others not so much. When the female is placed in a neighboring cage after she lays her eggs, they seem to gravitate to each other through the cage.
I could be completely misinterpreting it and it could be out of fear and not companionship that they do this. Nevertheless, these birds are beautiful creatures. I've always had an affinity toward birds, perhaps because they remind me so much of my parents.
I love how delicate they seem and how strong they really are. How they're able to fly for miles at a time with things so light as a group of feathers attached to their bodies. I love that they're always singing and constantly moving. How they build their homes where a home needs to be.
I love them so much I've had one made a permanent part of my body. (I believe this will be another entry sometime in the future.)
I love to imagine that I can be a bird and fly home when I want to, or see the world when I need to.
I work at an organization called Proyecto Pastoral, for those of you who weren't aware. Every year they host a woman's conference. Over 300 women attend and are provided with workshops on healing, wholeness, health and empowerment, among others. From the very beginning, I took it upon myself (and the rest of the youth program staff) to coordinate the Young Women's workshops.
It's always an empowering day for everyone, that goes without saying. The thing that always strikes me the most is the work that is done behind the scenes. When all the women are in the workshops, the staff and volunteers are outside hauling boxes of free items, cases of water, folding and unfolding chairs, dragging garbage bags back and forth. It's incredible, the amount of energy that goes into creating this day long conference.
Today was the third conference I assisted with. I regret that this was the only photo I was able to snap of this day. The photo above is one workshop I was assisting with on, of all things, deconstructing beauty.
It was pure coincidence, honestly.
Most of the young women in the workshop talked about beauty being on the inside and creating power with our personalities. Those young women who had more traditional views of beauty were younger women, and those who had not been a part of the conference before.
The young women who said that beauty was defined by our internal strengths all had attended the conference year after year.
This is amazing - I thought.
Later that day I went down to help out with the end of day logistics, and as I mentioned before, its wonderful to see everyone working so hard to make the day happen.
What I really wish I would have gotten a photo of were the 8 or so women (staff and volunteers with the organization), gathered to sip on margaritas with pride for the work they had accomplished that day. Myself being in one of this group, looked around at the rest of the women sitting there; their hair disheveled, t-shirts dusty and faces dirty and flushed from the sun, and thought I had never seen more beautiful women in the world.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Sunday, June 12, 2011
This is my parent's back yard. A quiet and tranquil place, when it needs to be. A boisterous center of activity, when it wants to be.
Today's entry will be a quick one, as I hear the sizzling of meat being grilled outside and the music has started playing.
I chose to post this photo today because no matter where I am, what I'm feeling or who has shaken the foundation of my being, I always know there's home. This warm and beautiful place filled with beautiful people.
The furniture may be mis-matched and dishes may be chipped. There's always trash to take out and floors to sweep, but this is home. Here everything can disappear between the slats of the grill or fizzle away with the swaying of the lemon tree.
Here is where I can walk in and put my head on my mother's lap and let her stroke my hair, despite my 32 years and millions of tantrums and lost tempers.
I just heard the popping sound of an opened beer bottle, that's a beautiful sound. I'll end this entry here...
Friday, June 10, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
A few weeks ago, a very special friend of mine shared a link to this 365 Grateful project which has now turned into an extremely intimate documentary on one person's gratefulness. The video on the site moved me and had me thinking of all of the things I was grateful for. I felt inspired to take on a similar project and share with the world what I, myself, am grateful for.
As I began to think about these things, I realized that I have much to be grateful for, and I have, in fact, made it a habit to share this with the world. In between the time I viewed the 365 Grateful video and today, I found myself in - and out - of some very dark and frightening tunnels of my own mind and heart. Frightened and confused, I searched within to find just what drew me into these ugly tunnels.
I realized it was just that... ugliness.
Those of you who know me personally, know I have a very difficult time accepting myself as a wholly beautiful person. Some reasons for which I know and are too personal to share, and others which I do not fully understand. As a result I've often doubted myself, my abilities, my desires and life, in general. Emerging from these dark tunnels I told myself that I would attempt to see myself for what I truly am... beautiful. In doing so, I would be able to fully embrace the world for what it truly is... beautiful.
This realization was not an epiphany, I should add. This was more of a prolonged construction of multiple ideas, emotions and views I have of the world. It was the creation of a metaphorical pick-ax that I have equipped myself to use in order to break down my own previous construction of what I thought should be beautiful...
Hips, thighs, hair, nails, eyes...
And into a reconstruction of what really is beautiful.
I am going to say this now; I have not yet defined what is beautiful to me, nor have I fully embraced myself as beautiful. As I said, this is not an epiphany, but a construction.
This blog then, is going to be converted into my own 365 Beautiful project. Every day, beginning today (my 32nd birthday), I will post a photo of something I see as beautiful. More-so than beautiful, something that I feel is a part of me, my days and in essence, my existence. In doing so, my hope is that by the end of this 365 project, I will be able to fully connect to the word "beautiful" and more than anything, create a new definition for myself of what beauty truly is.
Now, I am by no means a photographer, nor do I pretend to be an "amature" one at that, but I am a writer and as a writer, I often find that my thoughts conjure up colorful images and memories and so my words will be my art, my photos an illustration.
The photo that begins this project is what I found strewn about my desk in my office and what the children I work with gave me as gifts after I arrived from a less than ideal morning. The misspelled and misshapen words scrawled on the folded up pieces of paper turned my entire day right-side up. This, I thought, is a great way to begin my journey...
"Dear Lucia, Thank you for all the good things you have done..."
"Dear Lucia, Thank you for all your hard work..."
"Dear Lucia, Today is a great day for you..."
Friday, May 20, 2011
The sun is shining and the tin soldier marches on. Its body filled with reminant emotions.
In its belly sits fear, with her swollen belly and sunken eyes. Waiting for her inevitable and poetic demise.
But alongside fear sits empathy, unmoved. Dressed in his neutral uniform, blending in well with his walls.
Somewhere in the back hope is waiting, singing, bouncing and alive. The others turn to look and feel its too early for hope to begin beaming. The day has just started, this tin soldier has just started moving, the sun is shining just enough hope down for them. It's pretencious for hope to begin dancing.
Always best to stay quiet before the attack.
In the front sits wisdom; stoic, cracking under the bright sunlight. She's seen many battles and has no use for hope or fear. Her battles are fought with a silent knowledge of the future, a mutual agreement with death.
And in the heel sits heartbreak. Planting her feet firmly to the ground, she understands she is weak, but knows te outcome of these wordless companions. She knows that once the clash has begun, they'll all seek her and ask the infinite question, "why?"
So she must remain unseen, hidden and protected until she is needed to fill this tin soldier's cavity.
Because, she'll say, when the soldier went to battle, you kept to your stations.
Hope let fear's belly burst open and was drown out by the cries.
Wisdom did not lend a hand to empathy and he faded so far into his wall, he engulfed the soldier.
And here you all are now.
But the sun is still shining, and maybe tomorrow the tin soldier shall prevail.
I was sitting there thinking,
Who was it,
Who said it? Camus? Wilde?
"blessed are the hearts that bend, for they do not break."
And there I was
Sitting there, melting
Like one of Dahli's clocks
Falling over the sides of that seat
Repressing memories into a box too full
Yanking them out of a heart too fool
Shuddering, melting, wanting to bend so far I could slither away
So one day they'd tell the story of a girl
Who could bend so much,
Whose heart could burn so much
That she melted down into puddles of rain
Where the ducks and dragonflies swam
And she never had to feel pain
She had such a blessed heart
Such a cursed heart
Because it never broke
Sitting there, clutching my dammed heart
Melting over the sides
Turning my body into rain
I cursed, I cursed and cursed some more
Because I thought it would never break
I filled it with your words, and your stories of time and space
and the idea that
there was such a thing as desitny...
And that time and space existed infinitely in such a small, dense organ
And that destiny
My head was finally on the floor
And my eyes were staring at the sky
I laughed, because I thought about one of your stories
Nebulas and infinite planets, all waiting
So I let go of my foolish heart
And let it burst
I know you'll whisper your stories of nebulas and stars to ears
who will stare at you in awe
Because how could it be that you
Could fill her heart.
I'l whisper my story to the passing ducks and dragonflies:
Blessed are the hearts that burn
Ignite the memories seared into our souls.
Foolish stories of foolish hearts of foolish girls.
Friday, March 11, 2011
And it's when the earth rumbles and the seas part that people begin to think ... Oh my God why?
But we don't think when the flowers blossom or when babes cry, oh my God why?
Or when the people chant and sisters embrace, oh my God why?
The dragonflies in wonderment keep the children of the ghetto lakes,
Oh my God why?
Hearts filled with love and lust, embracing in warm ecstasy...
Oh my god why?
Combusting into spontaneous song and dance
Oh my god why?
For my brothers and sisters,
Oh my God why
For the beauty and the beast,
Oh my God why.