Saturday, August 25, 2012


I've been "undecided" or "unsure" of who I was going to vote for in the upcoming election. I'm usually not someone who likes to get into a debate about politics or ideologies. Given the ideas expressed in my last post, I'm sure most of you might see why. I was "undecided" because I wanted to listen to both sides and do a little research. In every single election since I've gotten the right to vote, I have voted for candidates that represent a political party that won't receive my support in this election. At this point, I'm not sure that they'll ever receive my support again.

Growing up, I remember how our church perpetuated the idea that Planned Parenthood was "evil." I didn't understand why, I just knew to "stay away" from the one in the shopping center off of 35th Avenue. When my doctor offered to put me on birth control pills as a teen because my menstrual cycle had been irregular for years and my mother refused, I didn't understand "why." I was 13, I couldn't make those decisions on my own. What right did I have to question my parents' authority? It was drilled into me that being homosexual was a "choice," abortion was "murder" and "safe sex" was somehow unnecessary.

I suppose it is this same ideology that allowed me to wonder as a 13,14,15, almost 16-year old girl, if it would be safe to walk in my own house everyday. Would I be groped today? Would my ass be grabbed as I walked down the stairs or to the refrigerator? Would my female development be the topic of conversation? Would my nightgown be ripped near my arm or my chest? Would I have to hear lewd comments again? Would today be the day that I would be raped, as the comments continued to threaten? And if I was raped, would my pregnancy be blamed on my promiscuity? On the temptations that my developing body obviously wanted to participate in and invited? If my body hadn't been able to "shut it down," would any of this have been "legitimate"? Of course, I was 15 and a female. Nothing I said or felt was "legitimate" anyway. I must have been mistaken. I must have misunderstood. I must have "imagined" it all. I eventually said I did because somehow I still had compassion. For my father. My mother. My family. I would take the blame (again) because that was my role. And it was one that I had become so accustomed to playing that Oscar-level recognition would have been a no-brainer.

I suppose it is this same ideology that made some of my male peers think it was okay to hold me down on the grass in my own backyard and try to rip off my pants, to shove their hands onto my breasts and into my underwear when all I wanted to do was watch a movie with some friends. Of course I wanted to become a nun because I didn't want to have sex with someone I wasn't attracted to. Of course I must have liked it since I didn't feel I had the voice or the right to complain.

I'm sorry. But I cannot play this role anymore. Anyone (and I mean anyone, regardless of party affiliation, label, gender, religion, etc.) who perpetuates the idea that all members of humanity are not equal and do not deserve the same rights, does not have enough compassion to be in a position of leadership and power. Anyone who thinks that they "know" the mind and intent of a supreme being is arrogant. I do not think that a god who is supposed to be full of compassion for humanity would perpetuate a level of hate and ignorance that says it is "ok" for women to be raped, for women to be denied a choice, for women to be denied a voice, for Caucasions to rule over all other races, homosexuals to be denied basic rights and be fired from their jobs, immigrants to be denied the choice of freedom, and hard workers to be taken advantage of by the wealthy few.

I read a quote somewhere that says "the day we recognize our interdependency, and accept and embrace the oneness of humanity, is the day of resurrection for humanity." It saddens and enrages me that many of us do not get this. Many of us do not see. Many of us have thrown away the ideas and values of being a decent human being and having compassion in favor of maintaining the ideas and values of supremacy and social privileges for a choice few. What saddens and enrages me more is the fact that many do not even take the time to question and investigate what they are supporting. They blindly accept that due to a certain "label" this is the best person to represent their values. They blindly accept ideas that science refutes and use the idea of a supreme being to force it onto everyone else as "truth."

A lack of compassion is not "truth." A desire to dehumanize certain members of society is not "truth." It is about control. It is about power. And most of all, it is about fear. A fear that you may not have the answers, let alone the "right" ones. And a fear that you may have to share. You may have to become interdependent. You may have to become compassionately HUMAN.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Assumptions and Chance

Tonight I've been thinking about two things: assumptions and taking chances. Assumptions are ideas and notions that society seems to believe about certain things. Most assumptions (if not all) contain a degree of prejudice and the idea that 'one side' is 'right' and 'one side' is 'wrong.' Chances are decisions that involve risk and giving up 'something' for 'something else.' We all take chances in our lives, but the definition of what 'chance' is varies. Some of us are willing to risk different things than others. Like assumptions, our separate definitions of what taking a chance is can divide us between who is 'right' and who is 'wrong.' But to me, there is neither 'right' nor 'wrong' when it comes to taking chances and ideas. As someone who tends to understand both sides of the coin and sees why the similarities and differences can matter, I don't see the point in arguing or trying to convince someone that my way is the 'right' way.

In America, society holds the assumption that a private education is 'better' than a public one. But is that really true? I went to a public elementary school, a private middle and high school. I still had to take remedial math classes my first year of college because my high school was experimenting with self-directed learning. They handed me the math books and said 'here, learn it on your own and in groups.' That style may have worked fine for me with other subjects, but with math it was a disaster. Yet people complain about the lack of skills public school students have when they graduate. As an employee of a public school district, I see how hard everyone works every day to make sure that students are set up for success. I can honestly say that it is one of the best places I have ever worked.

I went to a state college for my undergraduate degree. I went to a private for-profit college for my MBA. I learned more in my MBA program because it was taught by professors who had more practical than theoretical experience. Yet there is the perception that online, for-profit colleges turn out crappy graduates and have sub-par programs. I can honestly say that my MBA was the toughest and most demanding degree program I have ever completed. I am satisfied with every penny I spent. In contrast, I have completed one year of an MFA program at a non-profit private university. This MFA program is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 low-residency MFA programs in the country. However, it is not at all demanding and consists of very little practical information about a professional writing career. It seems to be more of a platform for 'look at me and my work,' 'opinion pushing,' and activities that I could do on my own for free. It seems like a waste of time and a very expensive way to validate yourself as a writer, especially if you have no interest in teaching.

Of course, my views and my feelings on this aren't necessarily 'right' or 'wrong.' Someone else could have a completely opposite opinion, and that would be okay. Why? Because not all of us have the same goals, background (i.e. perception based on environment & circumstances), and values. Some of us desire power and our name up in lights on a marquee board. Some of us desire to help people and make a difference out of the spotlight. It doesn't matter. What matters is that we all find a way to work together and appreciate our different roles in society.

I think that's where taking chances comes in too. Some of us think that it's worth it to give up a steady paycheck and our houses for smaller apartments that cost more. We'd rather live somewhere else because we think we'll have more career opportunities there and we'll be happier. Some of us have run away from home before and found out that we needed to make sure the debt was paid first. We learned that we'd rather not isolate ourselves and that a certain dot on the map doesn't mean you'll be happy. Sensibility (or a lack thereof) isn't bad or good. It's both. Taking chances comes down to what you want more. Staying or going. Holding on or letting go. Action or inaction. Both involve risk. Both are taking a chance.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Character Lessons - Part One

To think that we only have a certain window of chance is to render ourselves powerless. There is always a chance. There is always hope. There is always a new beginning, if you're willing to believe and do the work. Anything is possible as long as you still exist.

I pull up my pants leg. My aunt is there, smiling. Hair flowing from her head, lush and thick. Eyes piercing. Eyes welcoming. Eyes soft. When I was little, she took me to the river. El río. She told me, siempre bailar con él corazón. Incluso en la lluvia. Even if it rains, dance with your heart.

You were so right, Tía. So right. La lluvia can’t melt me now. La lluvia can only bring me good. Pura buena. Pura buena. Pura. Buena.

You still hurt, Tía. You are red. Rojo. Inflamado. Como él fuego. Just like you were. Just like I remember. Where are your ashes, Tía? Where is your espíritu? Here, like always? Or thrown up against the sky, like el ave?

You say, Le felicidad es una ilusión mí niña. It is not a mountain that you scale once, but many times. As many times as your eyes desire a new one.

Le felicidad es una ilusíon mí niña. It is in you. In how you see. Mañana le dará. You see. Mañana estará libré.

I park my car across the street by the fairgrounds. I push my purse underneath the seat, lock the doors and start walking towards the grass. My hand is shaking as I dial the number. The sun shines through the leaves above me. They begin to shake gently, like they want to dance.

I hang up the phone and stare back at the sky. The clouds are wrapped on top of the mountains, still. Sitting. No longer grey. Just white.

Siempre bailar con él corazón. Incluso en la lluvia, mí niña.

Monday, August 6, 2012


An airplane ride over the Rocky Mountains almost always brings a little turbulence. Sometimes the force of the wind off the Front Range is enough to make the plane sway back and forth. If you're a novice at Denver International Airport descents, it almost feels like it's going to tip. Sometimes you notice the pilots are flying the plane at an angle--to keep it from doing just that.

Today was one of those days. But as the lady behind me freaked out and one of my iPod playlists blasted in my ears, I had this calm feeling everything was going to be okay. Not only because I've been on these bumpy rides before (and survived without a Bloody Mary), but because the turbulence made me smile.

Turbulence has that power, even though it seems counterintuitive. But, you're up there for the ride anyway--with no guarantees--only faith, and hope, and a view you can only imagine from the ground. You can enjoy those bumps or you can fear them. Either way, you can't stop them from coming. The wind knows what it needs to bring, but it never promises that it will be smooth and easy.

Smile. Laugh. Throw your hands up and pretend you're on a roller coaster ride, like the woman seated a few rows in front of me this morning.

Sometimes turbulence is the only way we stay awake. Sometimes turbulence is the only way we figure out how to survive.