Thursday, May 29, 2014

An untold story

Maya Angelou said, "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." A year ago I knew my mother didn't have long to live, but she didn't want anyone to know, so I had to blog about death without letting on why I was focused on that. That was very hard. My blog readers were patient with me until I was able to explain (at length) what was going on, although that didn't happen until after she had died.

It is agonizing to carry a story you can't tell. I think Angelou got that right. Sometimes such a story goes untold because the carrier can't articulate it or doesn't even realize she has a story to tell. Sometimes the carrier has been sworn to secrecy or knows that to tell will hurt others. Sometimes the carrier has buried the story so deep she doesn't realize how much it's affecting her, limiting her vision and shaping her fears. An untold story can become calcified in guilt and denial and never get out at all.

When I was growing up, I never told anyone what was going on with me. I was afraid to be known and afraid of betraying my family. Maybe I overcompensate now, spilling it all for the whole online world to read. Oh, well. We're each twisted in our own way from our childhoods.

Monday, May 26, 2014

La Bloga

One of the blogueras at La Bloga posted Chicana/Latina Hair: A Discussion about Identity and Your Pelo Journey and she linked my recent post on having short hair. Amelia Montes wrote a much more thorough and thoughtful post than mine, so take a look. Thanks, Amelia!

Las Vegas. Yeah.

I'd never been to Las Vegas before I attended the 2014 Arbonne Global Training Conference earlier this month. Here I am enjoying the view from the penthouse suite I shared with three women (to cut down on costs):

But I didn't have an easy time sleeping in a room with three other people, especially in such a foreign environment, so this is how I felt most of the time:

I found Las Vegas overwhelming and unrestful. In order to sit through hours of conference activities, I restricted fluids. I spent most of the three days feeling sleep deprived and dehydrated. The one thing that cheered me up was someone's solution to having 12,500 attendees, 90% of whom needed women's bathrooms:

I can't say that I didn't like Las Vegas. The time constraints of the conference meant I never got out of the MGM Grand Hotel, so I can really only say that I disliked (hated) the MGM Grand Hotel.

At the end of three nights there, I packed up and made my way through the lobby to catch my 8:00 AM shuttle to the airport.

I only started to relax when I was outside, waiting to start my journey back to Chicago, where I have my own apartment, keep the volume low and am in bed by 10:00 p.m.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Quote freely, but give me credit

If I'm known for nothing else, I'd like to be known for this original statement:

You can't cure families; you can only prevent them.

Thank you.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Chicana with very short hair

novia de Frankenstein
If I wash my hair and go to bed with it wet, I kind of have Bride of Frankenstein hair in the morning. Not only does it stand up in an inverted cone shape, but I've even got the streaks of gray. A friend asked why I'd want a photo of myself like this on the Internet. My answer is that I hope it gives someone a chuckle. And why not post this photo? My acquaintances know I don't usually look like this (and if they say otherwise, they're lying).

This is what I look like more regularly, say while listening to music and riding the elevated train around Chicago:
probably listening to 70's soul r&b

This is what I love about my new haircut (by Edda Cosconi who currently cuts at Salon Lamia in Evanston, Illinois but I'd follow her anywhere): it's very easy to take care of, I like the way it looks and it sends a message. This is the message:

I don't care about looking attractive to men.

You might think, "What are you talking about? You look great." But I think it's particularly significant for a Latina to chop off all her hair like this. Of course, the way women wear their hair tends to be important everywhere and has been since time immemorial (the Bible gives prescriptive advice on hair), but I've noticed that married Latinas often have to take their husband's opinions into account when they want to cut their hair. I understand wanting to be attractive to one's husband so I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but it just shows how important long hair is to a lot of Latinos. Middle-aged Mexican American women tend to wear our hair to at least our chins and often to our shoulders, even into our 50's and 60's. I'm newly single and long-time Mexican, so to crop my mop like this can be interpreted as a deliberate statement.

Please, world, interpret my oddly short hair as a deliberate statement. Having just finalized my divorce three months ago, attracting a new romance - or whatever - is neither on my list of priorities nor on my list of when-I-have-time's. Does this haircut make me look like a feminist? A dyke? A gringa? A boy? So be it. That's fine with me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Americans discriminate against other fat Americans

Every once in a while I see an opinion piece in which someone asserts that there's no discrimination against fat people in the U.S. As evidence they often use the large numbers of fat people we have in the U.S. This is just ill-informed. Such writers clearly don't know that the greater the numbers of a target group, the more threatening they become to the general population and the more discrimination grows.

But in case such people are unable to understand that idea, I submit this article as the latest evidence that there is indeed a strong bias in the U.S. against fat people: Thinner U.S. political candidates get more votes. The majority of Americans have a bias against fat people, even though the majority of Americans are fat. I don't know why it is. Do we think that fat people are too dumb to stay slim (as if it were a matter of intelligence), so they must be dumb in general? Do we associate hardness with the masculine and softness with the feminine so that fat discrimination is another form of misogyny (I lean towards this explanation)? Or maybe the idea is that a bigger, mushier body is harder to protect against physical attack and we're repulsed by that vulnerability. I wonder what is so horrible about carrying around pounds and pounds of saved energy? Is it just an atavistic aversion?

I don't know. I just know that the following seems true: in the land of the chubby, the majority still prefers to vote for non-chubby people.

[Added 5/21: Fat discrimination doesn't just happen in the U.S, but I write about what I know. But this morning I see how they do it in the world of classical music.]

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself update

Today I fit into my size 14 blouse again, with no dieting! Using Dr. Joe Dispenza's meditation technique, I'm just not as hungry. Being able to do a full yoga plow pose is now closer. It's stunning to me that I haven't restricted food or increased exercise, but I've gone down two sizes in the past six months. The mind really does have control over the body. I've been eating my usual desserts, potato chips and full fat meats along with my fresh vegetables and water -- and I haven't given up any food categories -- yet my body has still released some of the middle-gut pudge that keeps me from my favorite yoga poses.

And "all" I have to do is devote 30-60 minutes every day (from now until forever) to immersing myself in meditation and visualizing the life/body I want (a process described in Dispenza's book Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself). Yeah, that's a huge commitment, but I'll take it because I feel good!

Monday, May 05, 2014

In the grip

This is it right here: the hard part of change. It feels hard enough to get up every morning to follow Joe Dispenza's guided meditation and do the work of digging in to my unwanted emotions, but this is the real ordeal. After months of struggling to get some momentum going (so that some days I feel very optimistic and other days I feel less optimistic), I'm facing challenges that are making me want to crawl back into my old patterns.

Right this minute I'm blogging in order to avoid facing what's waiting for me: things like budgeting and working on strengthening my income streams and feeling like a fat, ugly failure. My home is my safest place and it feels weird when there are things there I don't want to deal with. Today I want to avoid bank balances and mirrors and dirty floors. Thinking about them hurts.

But my new work with Dr. Joe Dispenza's books (Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself and You Are the Placebo) has set a new pattern in place. The new pattern includes loving myself, knowing that I'm powerful and being gentle with myself no matter what happens. This new way of thinking is pulling at my consciousness even while the old way is holding on tight. It's like standing beneath a bright, windy sky scudded by patches of moving cloud cover. When the clouds come, the world goes gray and I can't imagine it being sunny again. A minute or two later, bright light pierces everything and the cloudiness feels like a fading dream. Then gray, then sunny, then gray.

Similarly I seem to be standing on the edge of Old Regina's Brain and New Regina's Brain. At various moments throughout the day I feel discouraged and gloomy, but if I just remember the images I implanted in my mind when I meditated this morning, my spirits lift. I have finally gotten enough of a grip on my mind and heart that I really can choose how I think, which affects how I feel, which affects what I experience.

At this moment I'm in the clutches of both the old way and the new way. I have called the following statement bullshit so many times, but it's finally true for me: whether or not I tumble into depression is my choice to make. For most of my 47 years I've struggled with terrible feelings of self-hatred and fear because I didn't have any control over my mind. The main role models in my life had only taught me to be afraid, but Dr. Dispenza has taught me another way. Now my powerful part and my fearful part are facing off; I can feel them. The fearful part is still very strong and resisting it is hard -- goddamn hard -- but I think I can do it. I think I can do it and, according to Dr. Dispenza, that's all it takes.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Sometimes art makes money

Seven years ago I recorded a bunch of original songs from when I was a singer/songwriter. In 2013 I finally had them mastered, copyrighted them as an album and started selling them digitally on CD Baby (my album is called Going of Age and is only available as a download). Not being a musician anymore, I did zero promotion for it, besides emailing friends and family and linking the album on my blog (see the bottom of this page if you're using the desktop version of your browser). I actually put it on CD Baby to raise some money for my book publishing project. I called it using the corpse of one dream to fuel another.

And, hey -- it's bringing in some money! It's just few-and-far-between amounts of $50, but I get an email telling me when CD Baby is sending me money. It's an excellent way to start the day. Even more exciting, according to the email I most recently received, I'm on Spotify! And whatever "Muve" is. If only I were still as cool as I used to be...

So there: sometimes churning out emotional songs in your lonely one-bedroom apartment so you can manage your depression DOES end up making you some money. Huh!

Saturday, May 03, 2014

The query has flown!

I just sent my first query letter to my first potential agent with my first manuscript. Since it can take up to two months for an agent to get back to you, it will probably be a slow process of trying a couple of different agents before I get on with self-publishing. I still dream of publishing this manuscript in 2014, but the next time I write a manuscript, I'll take my time querying many agents. I want to be one of those writers who can wallpaper with all her rejection letters. That's how you know you're an active writer! Inactive writers don't even get rejection letters. Their manuscripts just sit in a drawer and I've already done that. If my work is getting rejected, at least that shows I'm interacting with the world.