El Gran Experimento: una democracia fragmentada

El historiador y pensador de política, Alexis Tocqueville, escribió sobre el nacimiento de una nueva clase de democracia que el pueblo Americano intentaría fomentar. Creada bajo únicas condiciones y un contexto moderno, America estaría aventurando en lo que el llamó el Gran Experimento. Con estas palabras describió un tipo de esperanza la cual debía ser embarcada con cierta cautela advirtiendo sobre las potenciales amenazas totalitarias que pudieran surgir en su desarrollo.

Este 14 de febrero en el día del amor y la amistad, estudiantes que matriculan en el sistema educativo estadounidense volvieron a sufrir la violencia de un tiroteo dentro de las aulas de su escuela. En la escuela Stoneman Douglas en Parkland, Florida sucedió el tiroteo masivo numero 34 del año 2018. Un caso más en una lista larga de eventos de violencia en las escuelas públicas de Estados Unidos.

Anoche, en una reunión de la ciudad que incluía a los estudiantes de la escuela, maestros, legisladores y miembros del cuerpo policial en Parkland, organizada por CNN y moderada por Jake Tapper, una de las víctimas le pregunto a Ted Deutch, representante del partido Demócrata, que si la democracia estadounidense se encontraba fragmentada en su estado actual. El respondió, “Sí, algo.”

El evento de Columbine en 1999 desató un debate nacional sobre la cultura juvenil, los programas de salud mental, el acceso legal a armas, y los intereses de la industria de este dentro de las campañas de los politicos locales y de ellos en Washington. Desde entonces, Estados Unidos permanece como el país desarrollado que más a sufrido tiroteos y muertes con uso de armas legales. Columbine se fue de ser un sitio a un evento que se vería repetido, encadenando una tendencia de más sitios convertidos en eventos.

Cameron Kasky, otro sobreviviente del tiroteo en Parkland, le pregunto al representante nativo de Florida Marco Rubio, contendiente en la última carrera al puesto de presidente, durante la reunion de ayer, “¿Podrá usted en este momento asegurar no aceptar más donaciones por parte de la NRA?”

La NRA (National Rifle Association) es la organización más poderosa en cuanto a la venta, administración, y politización de armas en Estados Unidos. Rubio, habiendo aceptado donaciones de ellos en el pasado y sosteniendo una calificación de A+ cual representa para la organización el registro de votaciones a favor de sus intereses por cada legislador, contestó la pregunta defensivamente al igual que ofensivamente, “Yo no soy quien invierte en ellos, ellos invierten en mí y mi visión.”

El tema de los tiroteos masivos en Estados Unidos ha impulsado a los estudiantes a movilizarse y buscar cambiar las leyes que los legisladores tanto utilizan como arma contra el cambio. No cabe duda que los intereses de los políticos se ven entrelazados con aquellos de la NRA y la necesidad de defender la posición que la constitución no es un documento viviente capaz de interpretación y modificación, pero uno que debe de leerse literalmente. Es decir, la segunda Enmienda, como el resto, fue la verdad legal y moral como se escribió y debe permanecer tal cual sin importar los cambios sociales, culturales, y tecnológicos que han surgido desde su concepción.

Fuera del debate del derecho a poseer o tener acceso a armas capases de disparar 30 balas sin necesidad de recargar y la falta de programas de apoyo a la salud mental, queda en el fondo el tema de cultura ¿Que sucede en Estados Unidos que su gente llega a obtener estas armas y buscan causar daño catastrófico?

En el 2002, el cineasta Michael Moore salió con un documental cual utiliza el evento de Columbine para hacer las preguntas que hasta la fecha no tienen respuesta. En discusión con el padre de una de las víctimas, Moore compara Estados Unidos con los otros países desarrollados que tienen pasados más violentos, sub-culturas más destacadas, más cultura de casería, y otros factores cuales los medios han dado como razón por los sucesos. Sin poder encontrar una correlación entre esas razón y el número de muertes registradas por armas, termina la conversación con una sencilla pregunta, “Si no son esas cosas, qué es?¿Qué es?” El padre le responde, “No sé.”

Estados Unidos sí fue un gran experimento. Max Weber escribió sobre el surgimiento y éxito del capitalismo occidental. Una combinación de la ética protestante y el espíritu capitalista. Tomando en cuenta los muchos factores que delinea y aceptando sus límites, queda la pregunta de: a cual precio tuvo Estados Unidos el éxito del cual surgió el “sueño Americano”. ¿Quién pago qué por este sueño?

En México ofrecemos mucho nuestra opinión sobre las posibles razones del cual tan seguido observamos a nuestro vecino sufriendo algo cual no entendemos. Algunas de ellas son falta de familia; la soledad, la falta de sentido humor, falta de comunidad, el materialismo y n-miles de razones por las cuales los observamos comprar armas y disparar hacia inocentes sin motivación alguna que vaya más haya de sus propios demonios.

Una maestra de la escuela fue entrevistada hoy dado a que utilizó la experiencia de una amiga maestra quien fue víctima del tiroteo de Sandyhook, Connecticut, para saber que hacer para proteger a los estudiantes en el momento que supo lo que sucedía dentro de la escuela. Dentro de la misma entrevista, la maestra de Sandyhook mencionó la necesidad de ver a este problema de manera más holística. Es decir, mientras podrás poner restricciones en el acceso a armas y tomar las precauciones necesarias para prevenir el mayor daño, existe un problema que va más haya de lo tangible.

Es esta manera de pensar que Estados Unidos debe tomar para poder mejor entender la división que se observa. Hay una falla en el gran experimento que en sus errores, como en cualquier experimento, debe poder lograr dejar el pasado ser pasado para avanzar a través de sus logros. No es decir que el pasado se debe ignorar, sino tomarlo como lección para el futuro.

Es un país que hasta la fecha no ha podido reconciliar con que fue y se es creado por sus inmigrantes, voluntarios o forzados. Es un país que no logra reconciliar con que dentro de sus logros capitalistas, no es inmune a la corrupción de sus propios líderes. Es un país que no logra reconciliar que sus logros no siempre se cumplieron con los métodos más limpios. Es un país que no logra reconciliar que el logró de otro no significa el fracaso de uno. Puede que el gran experimento, mientras ha sido fascinante observar y aprender de el, esta fracasando.

¿Qué es lo que el pueblo Americano esta sacrificando por ser parte de este gran experimento?

Wonder: a movie critique

I knew I would eventually watch it but something told me from the start that I wouldn’t like it. Details like the name of the film, the trailers, and general tone of it, let me know that this was a movie I would struggle to watch and I would not be comfortable with how the material would be presented. And bingo, I was correct.

Originally a fictional novel (I haven’t read) by someone who doesn’t have direct experience with the topic, Wonder is a film about a boy born with Treacher Collin’s syndrome. It is a craniofacial deformity that affects the middle part of the facial bones, noticeably the eyes and cheek bones and/or more.  The author of the book met a boy with the syndrome and decided to write an inspirational teen novel.

Similarly, I was born with a deformity that is often compared to Treacher’s except it affects one side of the face causing a baby to be born with a lack skeletal structure on one side rather than the middle of the face, affecting the ear, cheek, and jaw of the side.

So, you can imagine that my watching this movie came with some personal baggage to deal with.

There’s no specific critique I have about it as a film. I actually found it quite boring and stale. It follows typical tropes of teen movies and has no surprising twists. It is your typical feel good inspirational movie. And that is the problem.

Activist Stella Young, who passed away in 2012, coined the term “Inspirational Porn”. After I watched the movie, I googled it and learned the term  immediately identifying what I felt having seen the movie.

The movie quickly describes what young Auggie, the main character, had to go through medically at that point of his life. He is going to school for the first time and will experience what confronting other kids feels like. It then goes into some back stories of some of the other characters. The sister’s role and her point of view made sense to me. It was the only honest part I found as she finds herself struggling to find her own place in the world while her brother has been generally the center of it. But the general gist of the movie is a small moment in the main character’s life in dealing with others as they perceive him.

For those of us that grew up with a deformity, or disability, the way we move about the world takes two forms. One, how you perceive yourself and second, how others treat you as they perceive you. But how we deal with how others perceive us is the important part. It is complex and difficult. One aspect of that is an uncomfortable reality that only the affected, and maybe some around them, understand.

When some of us talk about our struggles with having these deformities, our main goal is not to create sympathy around us, but rather to show that struggle and pain is real and faking otherwise is dishonest.

We did not choose to have these things happen to us. We did not choose to have to deal with surgery, bullying, name calling or the inevitable stares. We are not exceptional because biology has flaws. We, like everybody else, just want to be exceptional by who we are, not what we are.

At the end of the movie, Auggie receives an award for having affected other kids behaviour. Not necessarily for saying something or doing anything but simply for having a face that makes others question their own behaviour. It ends up being a reflection about how people without deformities should treat those with them.

This, to me and others, comes off as society’s own pat on the back for being able to be “good” people for treating those different from them with respect. It’s actually quite insulting. As Young put it, “I am not your inspiration, thank you very much.”

While I could easily say,  “It’s just a nice little story”, these depictions of what I’ve been through are not common in film. When the opportunity to tell a story that I actually can relate to is cut up and portrayed like a nice inspirational story for others, it’s difficult to not be offended when the reality of the situation is much more painful and complicated. It’s difficult to give society a pat on the back for it’s good behaviour when it is us that are left to deal with the struggle and built up baggage that comes with having our faces and bodies.

Young’s “Inspirational Porn” makes a point to say that putting these emotional responses upon those that are different from the norm sets a sort of standard to live up to. Standards I myself struggled with. It’s a nice story when your 9 and all you want is to be accepted. You’re given labels like “strong” and “special”. We’re given character traits which we didn’t work for but were bestowed upon us simply for having to deal with something others hadn’t to. But the things is, life doesn’t end at the end credits. It continues.

What happens after the movie is over? When you start dating, go to job interviews; have to deal with the normal stuff everyone else deals with on top of this other thing that doesn’t go away. I myself only began to seriously struggle with dealing with what I’d been through when I was starting college. And none of it is fit for a feel-good teen movie. That is the reality.

Living with a deformity is not just one stage of life that you overcome and move on from. It is like living with a pebble in your shoe. You get used to it but it’s still poking at you. Sometimes great things happen and you forget it’s there and sometimes it’s all you think about. The pain, the struggle, and the knowing that the pebble is not coming out. We are not society’s token inspirational friend. We are not like this so society can decide to be good. We are not like this so society can take our stories, patch them up, and sell them as feel-good anecdotes for a rainy day. We simply are like this and all we ask for is that society not use us as a way of making itself feel better for accepting us. It comes off as, “I’m so lucky I’m not them but I’m so good for accepting them.” Again, “I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much.”

Hablando de Apariencias

 

Este video lo grabe antes de mi último post. Quería explorar lo que sería hacer un vlog, pero al momento de prender la cámara me tuve que detener a mí misma. Cada vez que he tratado de hacer un proyecto donde me grabo a mí misma, no lo hago, termino en lágrimas. Se me olvida que no me veo como yo pienso que me veo y ese engaño puede ser doloroso. Es por eso que hice este video como manera de enfrentar ese miedo.

(Cabe decir hay muchísimos bloggeros famosos que te van a decir como deberías de sentirte o que hacer para vivir tu vida a como los demás esperan que lo hagas, no hagan caso. La vida es complicada, nadie saben que onda, y todos tratamos de hacer lo mejor que podemos)

Admitamos Nuestras Fallas

Estoy segura que ya casi todos han participado en la conversación de una manera u otra. Sale hasta por las orejas. Ha sido el tema más discutido (que no sea Donald Trump)  desde que surgió lo de Harvey Weinstein en Octubre del 2017 cuando Ronan Farrow, hijo de Woody Allen y Mia Farrow, reportó sobre él a través de The New York Times con varios exposées detallando los múltiples incidentes donde actrices se vieron lidiando con una situación cual no debería de ser permitida en cualquier ámbito profesional, público, y/o privado. Pero la conversación no es sencilla; no es blanca y negra.

Desde que surgió el tema sobre el acoso y abuso sexual en Hollywood, han habido todo tipo de respuestas en las redes sociales, en las cenas familiares, en las fiestas entre amigos, y hasta en el trabajo. Es un tema que muchos traemos en la lengua y es uno que no tendrá resolución tan pronto como debería.

Por un lado está el movimiento #MeToo, similar al de #MiPrimerAcoso en México, que a través de las redes sociales se busca atraer atención a lo predominante y común que es el acoso sexual hacia la mujer. Trata sobre solidaridad y sobre hacer dar cuenta que a casi todas las mujeres, definitivamente a muchos hombres también, pero especialmente a las mujeres les ha sucedido algo en algún punto de sus vidas que se pueda sencillamente clasificar como “acoso” si es que no es “abuso”. Aquellas que dirán, “A mi no.” Si, es posible que a ti no. Pero no lo más probable y regresaré a este punto.

Esta aquellos que no entienden o rechazan la idea de que esas actrices que denunciaron a Weinstein puedan llamarlo acoso cuando ellas mismas entraron a la habitación de hotel de Weinstein sabiendo muy bien sobre su reputación ¿Por qué alguien aceptaría una junta en un hotel con la persona más poderosa de la industria en la cual buscan trabajar y quién probablemente decidirá si serán exitosas o no?

Esta el Weinstein effect que ha causado que más voces salgan de las oscuras y denuncien a ellos en poder que han abusado de su posición social, económica, y política con fin de aprovecharse de alguien por una sola noche.

Esta la voz de la actriz francesa Catherine Deneuve quien rechaza al movimiento como un puritanismo en el tema de sexo y una amenaza al romance cotidiano que observamos en las películas de cine, en nuestros sueños cuando esperamos que nuestra pareja nos sorprenda, o hasta en nuestros secretos cuando fantaseamos sobre el vecino, el compañero de trabajo o el chico sentado del otro lado de la barra. Hay que dejar algo claro, el acoso no es romance y el romance no es acoso. Es importante saber esa distinción. 

Están aquellos que dicen que el tema merece un cierto balance; como si decir que el tema de acoso y abuso sexual necesita un lado que defiende …. ¿al acosador?

Luego hay historias como la que acaba de surgir donde una joven fotógrafa reclamó ser víctima del comediante Aziz Ansari. Alguien famoso, recientemente ganador de un premio Golden Globe y al cual se le reconoce por sus opiniones progresistas y liberales. Ella describe lo que parece haber sido una situación donde el actor se aprovechó de ella y él respondió con lo que se ve ser una respuesta genuina y honesta. Conclusivamente parece más como un cita que sencillamente no fue buena. Un encuentro entre dos, donde la comunicación falló y la poca actividad sexual que ocurrió fue incómoda e innecesaria.

Aquí es donde surgen las miles de preguntas que se han hecho desde de Octubre para los que siguen las noticias y desde mucho más antes para quienes conocen el tema: ¿Que debe de suceder para que uno pueda clasificar algo como acoso? ¿Quién decide que es acoso y que no? ¿Como se debe de lidiar con las emociones y sentimientos con aquello que sucede físicamente y verbalmente? ¿Cuales son las rayas negras y cuales las grises? ¿Hay rayas grises? ¿Como lidiamos con las diferencias culturales, sociales, y emocionales que surgen cuando tratamos el tema de sexo? ¿Quien exagera y quien no? ¿Porque a ella/el se le cree y ella/el no? ¿Como se debe de discutir el tema en público? ¿Como de debe discutir en privado? ¿Cuales son y donde caen las responsabilidades de algo que sucede en la sociedad general?

La ley se impone con el fin de proteger a aquellos que se encuentran más vulnerables ante una amenaza. Mientras en teoría la ley debe de apoyar en solucionar esta clase amenaza social, la realidad es que apenas y funciona a su mínimo potencial. Por un lado, la mayoría de las mujeres no denuncian contra sus acosadores porque ellas mismas no creen que lo que les sucede es valido como acoso o abuso. Esto es por muchas razones que incluyen amenazas por el acosador, la mujer pensando que ese trato no vale como acoso, no vale ella lo suficiente para denunciar, que fue su culpa, o se ha normalizado tanto ese abuso que no hace diferencia denunciar o no.

Es importante reconocer que mucho de esta mentalidad se le enseña a la mujer sistemáticamente. De la misma manera en que cuando sí se logra hacer una denuncia, automáticamente suelen cuestionarle lo que traía puesto, con quién estaba, que tomó, y otras ene Miles de cosas que se tratan de verificar por su lado antes de imaginar que exista un acosador.

Y por otro lado, el sistema burocrático no es de gran apoyo a víctimas y también de manera sistemática, le falla a quienes más lo necesitan cuando no los protegen de quienes les causa daño. Esto se ve reflejado cuando en muchos de los casos, las mismas autoridades también buscan culpar a la víctima por aquello que le sucedió.

Entonces, si ya sabemos que la misma institución que debe de protegernos de estos incidentes falla tan catastróficamente, mi pregunta es ¿porque a la sociedad en general se le hace tan complicado o difícil de pensar que existe la posibilidad de que estas cosas suceden con tanta frecuencia y con tan poca atención? ¿Por qué se nos hace tan difícil pensar en la posibilidad de que exista esta falla dentro de nuestra vida cotidiana con todas las otras fallas que suceden al mismo tiempo y que reconocemos con facilidad? ¿Por qué esta falla social no tiene credibilidad y todas las otras sí? ¿Por qué la corrupción sí? ¿Por qué el robo, sí? ¿Por qué el homicidio, sí? ¿Por qué la necesidad de mentir, de juzgar, de hacer trampa, sí tienen lugar y valor sentimental, legal, y ético dentro de nuestra sociedad pero la falla en que tratamos a los sexos de manera distinta y de manera anticuada, abusiva, injusta, y efectivamente dañina, no? Con todas las tonteras que hacemos como humanos diariamente, ¿porque a esta falla no se le da credibilidad? 

No pretendo saber cuales son las respuestas para cada caso que se presenta en los medios ni el entendimiento a las muchas complejidades de lo que es ser un humano hoy en día. Lo que propongo es que tengamos como sociedad la humildad de no asumir saber exactamente cuales son las experiencias de otros porque nosotros creemos que nuestras propias experiencias son lo suficiente para determinar las de los demás. 

Si en cualquier momento has sentido que nadie te entiende, que estas solo en tu experiencia, que si fueras a murmurar tus pensamientos al mundo, ese se caería encima de ti; tu tarea es tratar de tener la mínima compasión y dar a los demás el mismo beneficio de duda que tu quieres que los demás tengan contigo.

No somos una sociedad ciega ni inútil.  Entendemos que el hombre y la mujer tienen pasados muy distintos en la historia que compartimos y entendemos que en el pasado los hombres y las mujeres han tenido distintos papeles dentro de la sociedad. Entendemos que ha la mujer se le otorgó el derecho a votar en México en solo 1953. Es decir, antes de ese año la mujer no tenía el derecho ni de expresar su opinión y decidir por sí misma que clase de vida privada y pública quería llevar acabo. Es decir, mi propia abuela todavía no tenía el derecho de votar el año que mi padre nació. Eso es un hecho.

Pero ese hecho no garantiza el trato equitativo dentro de la sociedad. No garantiza que el jefe vea a su compañera como su igual. No garantiza que un marido permita a su mujer o hija atender a la escuela. No garantiza que a tu secretaria no le vaya a pegar su esposo por llegar tarde del trabajo. No garantiza que a la jefa no la tomen en serio para asistir a juntas donde los hombres salen a comer y a beber juntos para hablar de cosas que “no son para mujeres”. No garantiza que le crean a tu amiga cuando platique que alguien se la violo mientras caminaba a su casa. No garantiza que tomen todo esto en serio porque hay ciertas cosas que definitivamente no han cambiado.

Existe una falla en nuestra sociedad cuando ahora que sale este tema al aire, uno que es serio y que refleja una crisis existencial sobre que clase de sociedad y humanos queremos ser, tan fácilmente se le cuestiona su credibilidad. Tan incomodo el tema y tan cómodos están ahora, que el pavor a la posibilidad de que las cosas cambien hace que prefieran hacerse los ciegos y los negados que enfrentar uno de los retos más importantes en nuestra historia: admitir la falla y permitir que la otra mitad de la población, es decir, la mujer, pueda tener la voz independiente que tanto se le dice haber otorgado hace ya tiempo. Pero basta del habla y permítanse escuchar.

Y a mis amigas que dirán, “a mi no.” Les diré, que bueno por ustedes. Y sí, les creo, esa es la diferencia.

The unveiling of a lie.

Americans had to ask themselves once more: Why? 

Immediately after the tragedy of Las Vegas, the debate over gun regulation was sparked once more. Survivors of Sandy Hook and other tragedies were yet again reminded of how their government continues to fail them and their lost children on a regular basis. Day in and day out they must stand and observe as others lose their lives for the same reasons their loved ones did too many years ago and too recently. No change.

My Mexican friends and I are quick to judge these senseless shootings. While we agree that weapons regulation must be strictly set in place, another topic of conversation occurs…. “There’s definitely something wrong with Americans.”

My mother has said and will always say, “They are just such a loner based society. No family values. Too lonely.”

Others will remark, “These gringos are crazy.”

While I do believe in stricter and comprehensive arms regulations and a better mental health care system for my American friends, I believe there is something much bigger and heavier going on.

I recently got back from living in the United States where I was for 8 years. During my time there I noticed something peculiar about what being an American means. It’s not necessarily a type of character but rather an inhaling in of an endowed role.

Being an American is often in tune with being reminded that you are American. You live your Americaness on a daily basis. You are told to think of yourself as part of an exceptional idea. A part of a country built on the exceptional.

You sing the national anthem at sporting events, you recite the pledge allegiance at school, you hang your flags on the lawn. You praise your country and president alongside your spiritual and religious leaders. Your are, in every sense of the word, intrinsically American.

The problem is, no country is exceptional. I believe Americans are heart-breakingly realizing that.

In the recent events following the tragic loss of life during the September 19 earthquake, here in my country, Mexicans saw themselves, almost to their pleased surprise, pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and support each other in a way that is not often seen in our country.

We are a people who cannot depend on anyone or anything for much, let alone survival. We are aware of what we lack and we understand the system in which we live in. Yes, we often protest and fight but it often leads nowhere and we collectively accept that. We are able to live relatively harmoniously because we have developed both the experience and good humour to do so.

It is that very same lack of faith in our governmental systems that gave us the strength to depend on, and lean on, no one but ourselves and each other. Expectations were not laid on an external system but on each and every one of us individually.

Our pride as Mexicans did not come out because we believe in Mexico. It came out because we believe in ourselves as a people. In observing our own acts, we became aware of our identity not as a nation but as a human collective.

Not only has this event caused an uptick in pride, Donald Trump’s attacks on our country since his candidacy unintentionally raised our self awareness and patriotism.

While the United States has undoubtedly been one great experiment with unparalleled achievements on the global stage, the increasingly self proclaimed exceptionalism became dangerous when the powers that be took it from the people and made it theirs. Politics and government became too intertwined with Capitalism and self interest. 

Being an American stopped being a concept of and for the people but a facade for the rich and powerful to hide behind. A veil through which to take advantage and rip away from those who have simply been told that they have been given the gift of being American.

That facade, that veil, is being removed.

Now, it would be facetious of me to not clarify something. This is about a very specific kind of American. It is the white, male, American. It is a white and male veil and it is a white and male exceptionalism which has held the facade in place. It is not to say that this exceptionalism hasn’t been fed to all. It has and is. It is the only non discriminatory thing about this country. But it is that same very veil that has Mr. Trump, the president, tweeting about football players rather than doing, literally, anything else.

I don’t know for a fact that this is directly correlated with the non stop shootings. But I do know that there is a sense of disappointment. This disappointment is no small thing. It is the breaking of an image and idea of who and what it means to be an American. Even in the worst of times, Americans have always believed in that exceptionalism. But that high expectation is a heavy boulder to carry.

I am sorry for my American friends. You are a great country and you are a great people. I was honored to have lived in your country and in, what I consider to be, one of the world’s most brilliant cities. I believe you have been cheated. Cheated from the opportunity of figuring out who you were before someone else decided for you.

Now, take your rage and burn that veil.

What was and what is.

I’ve gone awol for the past several months. I’ve updated the look of this blog. Give it a bit more personality. Try this again.

There’s something about change that makes me uneasy. It makes me stop myself from thinking about what is going on around me. It’s a self-defense mechanism, you see. If I stop to think about it, I may jump to conclusions about how I may or may not feel, allowing myself to indulge in passing emotions. I rather not.

I rather keep moving until the sequences of my day to day predetermine how I will be feeling. It helps me keep it together while I figure out what exactly I am doing. I also know that’s bullshit. I don’t know what it says about me but I also don’t really care, to be quite frank.

As long as the wheels keep turning and you continue to find the necessary amount of grease to keep them going. Blah, blah, blah.

I’ve changed homes, my living situation, the environment and the context I found myself in. It’s been okay so far. Some things I’m very excited about. Others, I just want to slap my forehead with my open palm and just close my eyes. It’s like I’ve come home and yet I don’t understand anything about this strange land I’ve arrived to.

I’m from this place I’ve returned to, yet I feel like a visitor. A foreigner that knows too much about the place they are visiting but not enough that they can pass for a local.

It’s not that I’m closed off to their ways, it’s that I just don’t understand them. You become so use to doing things a certain way, years of having adapted to one thing in one place, that realizing you have to rearrange all of that is no easy task. Not only that, you actually really liked the way things were.

Oh well. I’ll just have to remember to always make room for what was.

New York, thank you.

About 5 years ago I was at a dive bar with a friend who has having some personal struggles. She was going through something that not only did I relate to; I’d been through the same more than once.  She vented with me about a city that offers every opportunity to make every life experience much harder than it needs to be. We fantasized about what it would have been like to have never left home. To stay where it was familiar. Where there was unconditional support and the future felt somewhat drafted. We were complaining about living in New York City.

“New York is a place that eats you up and spits you out, over and over and over again.” My friend said.

“Yes”, I agreed.

I took a moment from our conversation and stared at the bar.

“Think of it this way,” I said. “Some have the choice between a bottle of whiskey and a bottle of vodka. We have an entire bar. It’s better because there are more options. But it’s also worse because there’s more risk. You may get stuck with a bad cocktail”

As sophisticated and classy as my analogy was, it stuck with me. From then on, I would need to remember those words now and again. People always complain about how difficult it is to live in New York; but this was something else.

It will be 8 years this July since I first moved to NYC. July will also be the month I move back home.

When you’ve moved to NYC from elsewhere, people always want to put an expiration date on your stay. They want to decide if you were made to live in NY forever or if you’re a passing tourist who got distracted by something shiny for a year or two. I decided a long time ago I wasn’t going to establish a timeline. How could I?

I was 19 years old when I first arrived. I was shy, innocent, wide-eyed and delusional about what my experience in New York would be. I’m 27 years old now and my time in New York is not explained by school, a job, a person, an age, or a phase. But rather defined by an interlace of bits and pieces I now put together to form one non-linear experience.

People always ask me, “Are you excited to go home?”, “Are you sad to leave New York?” I never have a “yes” or “no” answer. It would be deceitful to pretend that I know what this new road entails. I would be lying to say that I don’t have doubts about leaving New York and fears about going home. Doubts about staying in New York versus trying something new.

That is what this is. I’m going home; but what home? I was 19 and I’m now 27. I’m not who I was nor is everyone else, who they were. This to me, is a new experience.

New York is not where I attended college; grad school, took my first job, went through relationships, made friends, met mentors, lost my direction, learned to pay bills, learned to not want to pay bills, learned to play the guitar, encountered the drunk and the homeless, the funny and the hilarious. Put up with the disgusting smell of the subway, the heart-stopping cold when you need a cigarette, the dingy smell of the best bar you’ll ever go to. Saw the most beautiful humans to walk this earth, the ugliest, the nicest and the meanest. Got yelled at by strangers, was comforted by them when I couldn’t hide my tears. Where I learned to speak up and out and see what I’m capable of. Where I sat at restaurants, cafes, and bars alone; sat at restaurants, cafes and bars with friends. Learned the meaning of loneliness, learned the meaning of family.  Where I mastered the art of properly using my MTA pass without it saying “swipe again”. Found my love for art, found my love for social issues, found my love for truth, and found my love for knowledge. Quit smoking. Yelled at cab drivers and was yelled at by them. Where I dated up and dated down; smoked pot for the first and the last time. Where I found Seamless and quinoa, and my addiction to coffee. Where I realized I’ll always be the first to arrive for a restaurant reservation but will find someone to chat with, all while being relentlessly impatient with a beer in hand.

New York is the city I grew up in.

Those girls in the dive bar complaining about New York City, chose to live in New York City. That’s how it goes. While many choose to live here, New York feels more like its happening to you. You don’t do New York, it does you. It takes everything about you and augments every character flaw, strength and quirk you have. Everything about you is pushed to an extreme; tested to see what you are made of. New York can see every pretense and every lie. Every crack in every sentence. It’s the best place to play any role you want and the worst place to try to. It’s not about making it in New York. It’s about realizing what you are made of.

When I think about going home there’s a sort of numbness I feel. I’m not sad or panicked (at least not yet); I’m curious and interested. I want to see what me does somewhere else. I want to test what makes me me in a (relatively) new environment. I want to enjoy and have fun during my last couple of months and breath in the gross dirty smell of Manhattan, while I can. I’m excited to see old friends and indebted to my newer friends. I look forward to mountains but will miss walking anywhere I need to go. I’ll miss encountering every type of human and the diversity of this melting-pot. I’ll miss having my nerves shot because the train won’t move. I’ll miss meeting strangers everyday, because why not. I’ll miss wondering if my neighbors like me or hate me. I’ll miss speaking English and being Mexican among hundreds of nationalities. I’ll miss my routine and my space. I’ll miss my apartment and my bed. I’ll miss getting excited about fall, winter and summer. I’ll miss hating winter. I’ll miss how socially acceptable it is to have a drink past 12PM and I’ll miss having ten restaurants at a 2 min walking distance. I’ll miss having the deli open at 5AM in case I need to take a walk and a coffee shop literally downstairs from my home. Most of all, I’ll miss knowing that I am not the only one who feels this way. If anything, I’ll miss the collective that is New York City. A city that happens to us.

Thank you New York City, everyone and everything in it, for making me be me.

What The Hell Are We Fighting For?: Mexico and “the Family Unit”

I’m incredibly privileged and sometimes I forget.

I’m not sure whom I’m directing myself towards. To write this as an attempt to have it speak to the people of Mexico seems futile. To write this in English…well maybe it can be more widely read. After all, we are a country that sends its best.

I’ve been living in New York City for seven years. I went to a very liberal university for both undergraduate and graduate school. I have surrounded myself with inspiring hard working friends. I have insurmountable support from my family in Mexico and I want for nothing except what I, only, could get myself in the way of. But sometimes I forget.

Sometimes I forget the environment I stepped out of. One in where the social structures in place prevent others, different from me, from forgetting where they find themselves.

Yesterday, one of several marchas, or protests, nationwide, took place in Mexico calling for the “protection” of “the family unit”.  This was a large protest. A protest for the family unit based on one father, one mother, and however many children they may want to produce.

When I speak of forgetting, I’m referring to my position as a Mexican living in a highly democratic society in which most of the time, not always but most the time, the basic fundamentals of democracy do win.

The president of Mexico, the same guy that just offensively invited Donald Trump to our country, just signed an initiative to make same-sex marriage legal nationwide. Go figure he’d get something right. Unfortunately, this has caused an uproar.

What I forget is that Mexico is still a very confused country. As a developing nation that suffers from a corrupt government, corrupt policing, a corrupt economy, a corrupt public education system, and bases its aspirations mostly on ideology rather than fact; manipulation seems to be the only way to mobilize its people.

We are a people that either extort or are victims of extortion. We allow the powers that be to stand on our shoulders as long as we can go through the day without being bothered. We have, to a large degree, become an apathetic people who, instead of fighting for what we deserve, rather accept and wish for the best.

And then yesterday happened.

I sometimes forget that my country does have a fire in it. A powerful passion that is rarely used. One that is incomparable to that of the country I find myself in. We are a country of happiness. A country that has offered the world Nobel Prize winners. A country that has offered medical, scientific, and manufacturing advancements that compete at a global level. Not to mention, a country that has given you the best food, beer, and tequila you’ll ever have.

We are a people that want to sit down with you, have a beer, and have a good laugh. But we are also a people that sends its best because our own country fails us often.

But what the hell are we fighting for now?

As a progressive feminist Mexican in NY, I am comfortable where I am. If I speak, I speak to the choir. I may have a debate, but its a healthy one. No one leaves offended and its all fair game. This is not the case in Mexico. That is what I forget and that is a privilege.

When I speak of an equalitarian society in Mexico, I’m often welcomed with a rolling of the eyes, a pat on the back, and a dismissive “oh well” attitude. If it doesn’t affect them, its not an issue. This is an example of the general attitude I receive when visiting the country I call home.

But if I scroll on Facebook to posts about women or the LGBT community in Mexico, the comment section is dominated by replies that refer to christian traditional values. I go through them and in a seconds time become flustered with confusion, anger, and a feeling of powerlessness. The only thought that goes through my mind is: How?

How are we the country that looks to feel accepted out of it and yet can’t even accept our own within it?

With all of our problems, yesterday, the people of Mexico stood up for an imaginary problem. Imaginary because the wood and smoke used to ignite that fire was based on nothing more than old age tradition. A tradition which is looked to be imposed over actual democracy.

Yesterday, we were not our best. We were our petty, scared, and self-manipulated selves. The ones that fear to be told our truths rather than face our own reality. The ones that stick our heads in the ground rather than stick it above the water and fight for ourselves. The ones that shiver at the thought of change. Change that may allow us to be that which we aspire. Change that may allow us to move into the future and let go of the past. Very unfortunate aspects of who we are. Aspects that we take for granted at times but get in the way of our own success as a country.

I love my country; but I often feel ashamed of it.

We laugh at our neighboring country, the one I currently live in. But it is a country where mistakes are observed and fixed, not regurgitated and repeated.

After the Orlando shooting happened, an incident where many of the queer community died, I posed the question: What kind of country does America want to be? Now, I ask my home, my country, my people: What kind of country does Mexico want to be?

My Face: When I look in the mirror

I’ve only written once about my personal experiences in terms of self-perception and body image. I dedicated it to my parents as an ode to them for what they’ve done for me. But this time around I thought I’d share a bit about what it actually feels to be me.

My experiences may seem in one way unique but I believe they transcend specificity and may have an affect on anyone that has, at any point, looked at themselves in the mirror and asked: is that really what I look like?

Everyday, I wake up, drink two cups of coffee while I watch the news, put on my gym clothes, and enjoy an hour of working out. Working out no only makes me happy, but confident. It’s something I’ve been working on for a while. As a self-admitted low self esteem girl, working out has done wonders for me.

I like my body. I eat well and feel good (despite my smoking) .

But while I am able to mold one thing, there’s another I cannot.

As a way to practice my guitar skills (or lack there of) I like to film myself and play it back. It allows me to see what I am doing wrong both on the guitar and vocally.

As I was just doing it now, I realized why I had not done it in a while.

Forget the guitar, forget the bad singing; I don’t like what I see. Who is that person? I don’t recognize her.

Out of my experiences from having had so much surgery and physical change, there is one thing that has had, and may always have, a strange and unfamiliar effect on me.

My face.

My face is not equilateral. This is due to my hemifacial microsomia.   This means that one side looks one way,  and the other looks another way. Anyone that knows me, knows this. I’m used to it. It’s part of me. It’s broken me. Made me. Completed me.

But what no one knows is that, because of it, reflections actually switch on me.

And that FUCKING sucks.

You know that thing where if your shirt says something, it switches when reflected on a mirror?

That, to me, is my face.

Imagine being used to your face looking one way; as reflected on a mirror. You’ve practiced talking, moving, even singing, in front of it. But then, you see yourself on a camera, or a photo, and the reflection has switched on you.

You don’t move like yourself. Your smile is crooked.  Your eyes are lopsided. One side of your face is stiff. And you can’t match the voice to the person presented. Everything seems out of place.

Well, that’s what happens to me.

When I look in the mirror; I see one thing. But when filmed or photographed, I see another.

What I’ve practiced and looked at for my 26 years of life becomes a deception when I am able to see through another’s eyes.

It’s not that I don’t like being filmed or photographed. It’s that the person that will live in that documentation is not recognizable to me. It’s about changing the whole composition of my face and how I perceive it. It’s about more than a trick of the camera. It’s a trick on myself.

I’ll admit something.

I work hard on my self  presentation. I do what I can to make my body look good. I use my style savvy to look confident and exceptional. I use my brain as a way to distract others from my insecurities. I love clothes as a form of self expression and use them to make myself look as good as I am able to feel.

But these are also masks. Masks to push back the fear of that reflection. The reflection I am so scared of confronting now and again. One I don’t recognize. One that reminds me that what I see, may not necessarily be what others see. It’s not a simple “love yourself” issue. It’s a trick of the brain that haunts me now and again whenever I see my self reflection.

But, hopefully, one I’ll eventually accept.