Thursday, April 29, 2010

"You Better Learn to Have Nerves of Steel"

In January I blogged about an up and coming Latina teacher who was young, talented and ambitious. At the time she was sitting in my office, crying her little heart out because her principal and vice principal weren't helping her with her leadership potential or a leadership project that she had to complete for one of her classes.

I eventually had to intervene, and assisted with her to put in a couple of transfers to some other schools which would allow her to better develop her potential. I contacted two principals and told them that she was putting in a transfer to their sites and that I recommended her. I don't particularly care for one of the principals because she often tries to make herself seem like she is better or more knowledgeable than me. But it's not about my relationship with this lady, and I recommended this young teacher to transfer to her school because I have heard that she is pretty competent and I also think that she would be a good role model as a Latina manager.

About a week ago, I ran into the principal that I really don't care for and she said loudly in front of other managers, "I thought that you said Elisa (pseudonym) was the best of the best. Didn't you highly recommend her? Well, I just interviewed her". And she squinted her face.

"She has a lot of potential," I said.

"A lot of potential? I thought you said that you highly recommended her! I mean, she looked really well on paper, but her interview was another thing. Didn't you highly recommend her?" she asked.

I said, "What are you talking about? So she's shy-so what. She has a lot of potential and I thought that you would have appreciated that I recommended her to you". Our meeting suddenly began and so we stopped discussing the topic.

Today the young teacher made an appointment with me because she wanted feedback on a project that she is working on for her leadership class. At one point in the conversation, I asked, "So, what have been some unintended outcomes that you have learned as a result of the project? Have you learned anything specifically regarding your own personal development?"

And she started crying hysterically once again. She suddenly blurted out, "Everyone tries to make me feel stupid. Even the other day when I was at the interview with that principal, she was really intimidating and condescending to me. She talked down to me the entire time and I started thinking that what I was saying was stupid".

(Note to self: Don't ever, ever, ever, ever again put a fragile girl like this in a situation such as this. Why, why, oh why did you actually think that if this principal is insecure with you, that she wouldn't be insecure with another woman?)

The young teacher continued to try not to make herself cry, and she admitted that as a result of the environment that she has been in for two years at a certain school that she has now started to see a counselor. "That's good," I suggested. "We all need to talk to somebody".

But as our meeting went on, I began to understand that her difficulties are so much more than the simple explanation that her feelings are being hurt. In fact, she's being blocked and undermined everywhere she goes.

Her Latino family puts her down and makes her ambition into a joke at family functions. Many people in her extended family put her down for going to school, for getting multiple degrees and for wanting to be a leader. My advice to her? "Stop telling them things. Who gives a fuck what they think. Don't go around them much. Don't let them project their insecurities onto you".

Her next issue? She has been taught to respect authority as a Latina, and to feel Latina and Catholic guilt that I'm sure many Latina/os know exactly what I'm talking about. My advice: "I don't know what to tell you, girl. Stop being apologetic, and mimic what the white folk do and say, as well as how they act sometimes. They have no problem with being assertive.  Don't silence yourself. But you better recognize that what is labeled as assertive when a white person does it will be labeled as aggressive when coming from you. Just suck it up and don't let it bother you."

At the end of our meeting I told her, "You have a triple burden. You are an ambitious woman, so they will try to hold you back.  You are a Latina, so you will face racism. And you are also going to have to get shit from your very own family and Latino community, many of whom will try to put you down as well. You better learn to have nerves of steel".

So she went on her merry little way, quite happy and content. But all evening there has been a nagging feeling in my head that there are so many women out there who don't have support systems and mentors to help them achieve their full potential. If it's not that, it's the fact that they have men or family members in their lives who aren't pulling their weight and are holding them back from achieving their dreams.

Women of color have an even more uphill battle because they have to fight against all of the typical obstacles, as well as navigate in a system that is not responsive to diversity. We have to fight against the typical bullshit that all successful women have to face, but we're also have to fight against racism and bigotry. And we also sometimes have to fight against some of our own families and communities.

But we can all move forward if we continue to mentor one another and build one another up when the world is constantly trying to tear all of us down.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Who Needs the KKK When You Have Arizona?

Is this what the governor of Arizona wore when she went to sign the immigration act that institutionalizes legal racial profiling against the Latino population? Or does she just wear this in her secret meetings? (Please feel free to post this pic to any of your blogs or social networks!)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I'm Not Here to Entertain Your Sorry Ass

I'm not here to fucking entertain anyone. I am not on twitter to fucking entertain anyone. I blog and play on twitter because quite frankly I have no inner monologue and am always tempted to just say whatever is on my mind.

I've always hated when other people act like it's my fucking job to entertain them. It's long been one of my pet peeves when people get into the "smile..it can't be that bad" type of crap with me. Ever since I was a little kid my mother used to get really mad at me when I didn't smile much in pictures. I can remember back as early as seven years old when my grandmother used to sarcastically whine, "Smiiiillleee" when she was taking my pictures. When I would force myself to smile, my mother would get mad because she said that it looked forced and it made it look as if I was constipated and sitting on a toilet.

Later when I got older, I can recall being in bars and men would constantly tell me to smmmmiiiiilllleee. Other than my mother and grandmother, it's mainly been men who feel that they can walk up to me and say, "Smile; it can't be that bad". I used to tolerate it, but now I smartassedly say, "Why, am I here to fucking entertain you?" That usually shuts them up.

I don't really care to smile, thank you very fucking much. 

I love to engage and speak with people online, and every once in a while I get a man who actually acts as if I am on this planet to fucking entertain him. In one of my alternative lives that one of my multiple personalities has lived, I have played in the online fetish scene and every once in a while I would get men who would love to tell me that I was not mean enough, not this enough, not that enough. As if I am on Earth to stand on a stage and act in a play for them.

Today on twitter I got a tweet from a man that said: you have competition on BITCHIEST TWIT from @SnobsandBitches and @Pfro. Have fun cat fighting girls!

And for some reason this message just pissed me the hell off. I am not accustomed to jumping into a catfight with another woman to apparently entertain a man. I don't appreciate ANY MAN who tries to pit women against one another. AND I most especially do not like being called a girl. Asshole.

One of the women responded and she said: My humble opinion,anyone such as @WickedBitch who lists 1,744 followers & claims to represent the personification of Wickedness, has a credibility issue.  

Um, okay, whoever the hell you are with your 22 followers. Frankly I don't give a fuck how many followers I have. I don't even follow people usually until they engage with me, because most people tend to follow me and sometimes don't understand what they are getting into. And...I'm not exactly sure where this dumb ass read that I am claiming the personification of wickedness. My name on twitter is WickedBitch, because I like the damn book "Wicked" and as a feminist I claim and own the term "Bitch". So, uh, whatever.

I'm not on a stage to fake being a bitch for anyone. Sometimes I am a mean, sadistic bitch. But other times I am a kind hearted person. So don't expect to snap your fingers and have me play bitch for you, dickheads.  

My second opinion on all of this is: I can't fucking stand women who pit themselves against other women. I mean, I will occasionally go after some right wing bitch after she has said something stupid, but that really is rare. About a week ago a right wing conservative bitch wrote something about liberals supporting late term abortions because they know that most babies aborted are black babies. So I beat the shit out of her verbally for saying something stupid like that. 

I am a damn feminist, and I tend to only bitch slap another woman if she truly needs it and deserves it. I can't stand women who are jealous little asses and who try to throw hardballs at other women. A big sign of insecurity, in my opinion.  


So the next man who thinks that he is going to get me to roll around and have a catfight with a woman for his entertainment, as if I am a damn naked mud wrestler, should just kiss my fucking ass in advance.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Story of My Life

I think that in the past I might have mentioned that I am getting an award next week at work. If I didn't, well now you know. I've never been a person to really care about getting stuff like awards or recognition, because I have passion for what I do and I don't need anyone to recognize me for something that I am passionate about. It's just that I have had a really rough couple of months, and really a past horrible year practically, as all of this education crisis is just going to hell in a hand basket. So in a sense I feel that it is relieving to know that all the hell that I have been going through is at least recognized by someone.

I haven't really said anything to anyone about getting the award, because I am not the type of person to toot my own horn. The other day though my female colleague (who is equal and another manager in my department, and who actually used to be my mentor in my second or third year of teaching) found out that I was given the award from my boss. "I have never gotten an award", she whined to me. I mean, really, who says this kind of stuff to someone? I never have.

I mentioned to her that my boss has stated that she was given an award like five years ago. "That was a long time ago," she whined.

I just sat there and thought "Story of my life", because it just seems that far too many people in the workplace are too damn insecure and they always try to knock down successful women. 

She then went on to tell me that lately she has been considering moving up to another position, but wasn't sure if she would be able to move up without having done x, y, and z in her career. I said, "Why not? X (the boss) tells me all the time that they would pick us up in an instant if we applied to the job".

"He's never told me that," she said. Shit. I didn't even know what to say. I lied and said, "Well, he's told me that we both will get promoted if we apply".

Yesterday I presented with her to a couple of managers, and half way through the presentation it seemed like many of the other managers began to direct their questions and comments towards me. I began to wonder if I was too dominant, so I actually sat down at some points because I thought that it would put attention on her when she was presenting. However, some of the managers even turned around in their seats to talk with me and ask questions throughout the meeting.

I can't help it if I am confident with myself and my presentation skills, while she stands up there with notes in her hand and paces nervously back and forth. Am I supposed to feel guilty that I have internalized what we are presenting and that I don't require notes?

Today she came up to me and said that she didn't appreciate that the managers were talking to me, and not to her. Here we go again.

Then, this morning my boss called me in and told me that they would be putting me on an important committee and that I needed to stay late after our management meeting to discuss the details. During our meeting, she walked up to us and asked me, "What is this meeting? Why am I not invited?" Uh.

After the meeting, I went to my boss and asked why she wasn't involved. He shrugged and said that they didn't choose her to work on the project. I opened my mouth to tell him that I didn't think that it was fair and I was about to ask him if he could pull some strings to get her involved, but then I decided against it because honestly it is not my responsibility to have someone included in something, especially someone who is acting so insecure.

I talked to my boss about the past couple of weeks, and I told him about how I had mentioned to her that he always encourages us to apply for a promotion. "I don't tell her that," he said and just stared at me.

On my way driving home I felt bad for her and I almost called my boss to ask if he could get her included in the project, but I had to stop myself from doing so. Why the hell am I feeling guilty because I bust my ass and work had to be good at what I do??

Honestly, I don't know what my point is. I just feel frustrated because I hate when my colleagues begin to become insecure around me. This is what has been happening over the past couple of years--it seems that I begin to outgrow some of my colleagues and the majority of them respond in an insecure way. I literally used to stifle my talent because I hated the way that insecure people act, and I never want to be accused of being full of myself. It's a fine line between being humble and actually dulling your brilliance, though. I'm getting tired of stifling myself and holding myself back because other people can't handle it.

I'm not going to hold myself back anymore. I suppose that this is why they say that it is lonely at the top. Is this how it will always be, or am I in a toxic environment? Are people always insecure by the success of other people?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I Feel Like I am Split Into Competing Parts of My Whole

First and foremost, I have to apologize if anything that I say sounds jumbled and nonsensical, as I just so happen to be intoxicated at the moment. What better thought while inebriated than the uncontrollable urge to blog something, right? We'll see when I'm sober tomorrow.

I've been sitting here and thoughts are quickly swirling of the two separate work and private lives that I maintain. Swirling around and back and forth so much that my head is starting to feel dizzy and confused. And my soul feels deeply sad and depressed.

I feel like I am split into competing parts of my whole.

And one of the main questions that has been incessantly beating at the back of my brain this afternoon is... why is it that one part of who I am is disparaged and ridiculed in one situation while the same part of myself is admired and celebrated in another context?

For example, I am the type of woman who is verbally uninhibited and I tend to typically say whatever it is that I am truly thinking at the moment. This is sometimes admired in the workplace by some people, but generally speaking it has been more of a flaw or burden that I've had to endure. People try to suppress my outspokenness and I have had to face sometimes almost unbearable obstacles because I just can't learn to keep my damn mouth shut.

However, when I am in the online context or in personal life with close friends, my outspokenness and verbal inhibition are embraced. The same crazy thing that I said that offended people in one context cause other people to laugh in another context. And my private self is so much more important to me, and I sometimes yearn to live this sense of myself every single day and in every single context.

I've sometimes questioned as to whether I allow people to silence or censor me in the workplace. After careful thought though I've come to the conclusion that most people in my work context don't even deserve to see who I really am in my core. Maybe I really only want to go so far with them, and reserve who I really am for people like you who are in my private life.

So what the fuck is my point?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Office Politics, Part II

I've blogged in the past about this lady at work who is driving me absolutely crazy. For years she was used to running the show and people rarely questioned her at the time. Ever since I first met her, she tried to initially be nice to me (when I was not at her level) but I always sensed that she did not like me one bit.

I've already blogged about how a couple of months ago she left me out of important meetings, and when all hell broke loose with an issue I had to email her for clarification. You can read about it on my post "Confessions of an Office Politics Queen". She put me on email blast that all the other managers were doing their job, and I simply wasn't because I wasn't at a series of important meeting. So I blasted her back, telling everyone including her boss that I didn't appreciate that she was saying that I wasn't doing my job, and I would have loved to have participated in the project if she would have invited me to the damn thing.

After my confrontation with her, she's been kissing my ass. But I'm not stupid, and I know that she is just counting her days until she can undermine and discredit me in one way or the other. Ever since I had the smack down with her, we have both butted heads in a project that I am working on and she has actually won a few of the battles because I decided that I am going to try to be strategic and only fight certain battles. And hopefully she will start to think that I am weak and not as politically savvy as I am. I am much younger than her, and I know that sometimes she thinks that I am so much more naive than I really am.

Right after our fight, I started to notice that a few of her employees began to talk to me very disrespectfully. I immediately noticed it and initially was going to give them a smack down too, but I decided that they are little pissants and so why bother even wasting any energy on them. Some of my employees started to notice and began to get bothered. I'll admit that when it first started happening that I was as pissed as hell, but then I decided that it is just indicative of the fact that she is talking bad about me to her employees.

This situation has made it very difficult for me at work over the past couple of months. She is pretty savvy and is being very strategic in trying to discredit me. So sometimes I have been a little worried, but I just have to trust in my instincts that if I play stupid for enough time then she will slip up and seriously underestimate me.

The other day she included me in an important meeting for this coming Tuesday. Oh, yay, great-I thought that we were finally making progress since we all had to have someone meet with us as an mediator to talk about how everyone needs to coordinate all of the managers' schedules so that all stakeholders are present at certain meetings. So she booked me and other managers in my department for an important meeting.

But THEN suddenly yesterday she sent an email to everyone else that she was going to have a very important meeting on the same date and that it was imperative that key personnel were there. And it is a very important meeting, where important decisions will be made. And SHE is the person who scheduled all of the managers in my department for another meeting on the very same day. This bitch is savvy, and she knows exactly what she is doing-acting like we have a scheduling conflict so that she can push her agenda through while we are not there.

I sent her an email stating that since managers in my department are "key personnel" that we should also be included in the meeting and that her meeting should be rescheduled since there is a scheduling conflict. I received no response.

So I have had it hasta la madre (up to HERE!). This bitch is so smart, and so savvy, yet one flaw about her is that I think that she might be seriously underestimating ME. Sometimes I am so frustrated how she talks to me and acts as if I am stupid, but I've got to learn to redirect my frustration and encourage her to continue to underestimate me. Because she has yet to see that I am truly capable of pulling off an undercover smackdown of epic proportions.

What is so frustrating to me though is that she is so smart that I suspect that she dupes our superiors as to what a big asshole she is. I actually think that some people might suspect that she is very nice, kind, and inclusive. So I have to brainstorm a way that I can expose her to our superiors, without seeming like I am a whiny person or a malcontent. That is going to be a very difficult balancing act.

This weekend I will be plotting, planning and strategizing as to how I am going to pull this off. I am going to go about this the professional way, but I also have plotted a diabolically unethical plan that sooner or later I might have to utilize. I am going to use it as my last resort (and trust me, it is taking all my energy not to enact this plan because it is sooooo delicious).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

And The Fuck You Feminist Award Goes to ...Erica Jong

This morning before I left for work I quickly read the Erica Jong piece that was published in the Huffington Post about Oprah. I won't discuss the fact that the piece was very difficult to read and poorly written. I would have thought that a big bad author who probably gave Oprah all of her ideas (sarcasm, duh)  could have at least written a better post. Geez, it's not as if she's yours truly blogging on an amateur blog. Oops, I was not supposed to discuss that detail.

I don't know why I felt so disillusioned when I read the post. At first I couldn't quite put my finger on it. At first I thought that it was just another slap in the face to me from the privilege of SOME white feminists who are so damn full of themselves and their white privilege that they make me sick.  I mean, really, did she REALLY say that she never would have though that Oprah would be a "professional negro"?? Who the hell says that crap?

But then there was something even beyond the "professional negro" comment that really got under my skin. After thinking about it for a bit, I think what is bothersome to me is to watch a woman, and especially a feminist woman, attack another woman for.... what exactly? For not being her friend? For being a professional negro? (I still can't get over that). What the hell is she exactly trying to say about Oprah? She sounds like she is just throwing a temper tantrum because Oprah isn't sucking up to her for one reason or another.

Any woman in power knows (and maybe Erica Jong isn't as high and mighty as she likes to think that she is, or maybe she would know this) that being at the top of your game is as tough as hell and you need to protect yourself. Anyone and everyone will do anything to pull you down, put you down, and you should be wary of anyone and everyone who wants to get too close to you. It's not as if it's a secret that it's lonely at the top, for Goddess's sake.

Reading the entire article and all of the "why isn't Oprah in the dressing room with us", "Oprah is my friend", and "I probably gave Oprah the idea to have her own magazine" remind me all to well of why I am here blogging somewhat anonymously in the blogosphere-because there are too many of these kinds of assholes women in the workplace that do the same crap to those of us women who are ambitious and try to get ahead.

Listen bitches--we don't have to be your friends. We don't have to undress in the dressing room with you if we don't want to. We don't have to like you or even look at your sorry asses for that matter. And I'll throw in my own personal two cents: And we don't have to smile in public if we don't feel like it.

But the part that ticked me off to no degree were her statements that Oprah basically has the obligation to suck it up and get over that little thing that we call racism. Because, you know, Obama is president (snark, snark) and those of us who have transcended prejudice have an obligation to... hang out in dressing rooms with other women, I suppose.

Any woman who actually writes an article with the words "professional negro" in it wouldn't even begin to understand that those of us who survive prejudice and racism never are able just forget about it because it's always hitting us smack in the face even when we look at liberal blogs such the Huffington Post.

Where's the fucking outrage, ya'll??!

Monday, April 12, 2010

I'm Having Another Damn Identity Crisis

Tonight on twitter I was having an emotional outburst about filling out the census. I feel frustrated that I can't mark off "Latina" and that I have to mark White, American Indian, or other. What the hell?

I mentioned this on twitter and a few people mentioned that I should just mark White and American Indian, or just write in Other.  It's a tad bit offensive to me for me to mark other, because I am not an other. And I am not White, necessarily. Nor am I American Indian.

It's frustrating to me that Latina/os are the majority and are one day projected to be a majority in many states, yet I have to write Other to describe who I am?

It reminds me of when in California at one point they used to segregate Latina/os and labeled them as "Indian", because it was legal to segregate Indians. And then when they weren't allowed to segregate us anymore, they labeled us as White, so that they could put all of us over in a segregated school and not get busted for it because we are all technically white. You know?

This is the same old identity crisis that keeps rearing its ugly head. A while back, I blogged about it and discussed in Language, Culture and Feminism.  It's frustrating to feel that sometimes you don't belong and that you are invisible.

I've always felt this sense of invisibility and the frustration is beginning to grow unbearable for me. My whole life I have looked for representations of myself in popular culture, literature and other places and I often fail to see anything that represents my experience. In college, I gravitated towards feminist studies, and I would often see representations of white women (not that there is anything wrong with that--love them, too), and also sometimes black women. But we never studied latina feminists.

One of the few latina/chicana feminists that someone MIGHT slip into the college curriculum was Gloria Anzaldua, and I devoured her Borderlands book over and over and over again. She was such a unique blend of radical latina feminist and lesbian that she was one of a kind. But who has taken her place since she has passed away?

Maybe I have been out of college for a while now, so maybe some of you in college can step up to the plate and let me know if any bad ass latina feminists have entered the scene.

Because I'm dying here wanting so desperately to find a representation of myself in something. And the hypersexualized representation of Sophia Vergara on Modern Family sure isn't helping my mood.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

He Wasn't There

She always had a fierce, independent spirit that didn't require much from the men and friends in her life. Ever since she was a community organizer back in high school and college and having first read Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, she learned to accept that having friends and lovers in a similar field meant that they would often be so consumed by their causes that they would often be missing in action during important moments in each of their lives.

So she didn't mind a bit when he missed her 21st birthday. If you were to ask her today, she wouldn't even be able to recall what he was out of state doing on that weekend...but she would know that it was definitely for a good cause that they both believed in. At the time it didn't bother her a bit.

Over the years, similar patterns reared their ugly heads and he often wasn't there on many other important days.

He wasn't there when she first got her teaching job and wanted to go out and celebrate, because he was working with the ACLU at the time in North Carolina. He also wasn't there when she bought her first house and was excited about it, because he was still working in North Carolina with something that had to do with factory workers.

He also wasn't there when was she promoted to a coordinator. Or a school principal. Or a district manager.  Or when she received her first masters degree. Or when she got a merit scholarship to participate in the doctoral program. He was off doing important work with prisoner rights and advocacy, the repeal of the three strikes law or health and human rights violations in the prison industrial complex. It didn't bother her that he was largely missing in action, because she believed in the causes.

It only slightly bothered her when he missed her 30th birthday, but only because many of her family members gave her a hard time at her birthday celebration all night long about him not being there. So she got confused in her head and for the first time asked herself if this was the life that she wanted to live. And later she reminded herself that it was.

In a sense she was happy when he decided to settle down and take a "normal" job in the school district. But similar patterns continued, only a lesser degree.

It's not as if she's an angel in this story though. She knows that she was missing in action on many of his important days due to one work or advocacy-related reason or another. She knows that she was not around on his 40th birthday, because she was in Washington D.C. trying to advocate for changes to the No Child Left Behind Act.  She's slightly cognizant of the fact that she was also not around for other important days, yet they are his important days and she can't recollect them because he has never rubbed it in her face that she wasn't around.

She has never rubbed it in his face when he missed one of her important days either, because the cause was more important than any socially constructed day of importance.

Except when her boss hinted that she BETTER attend a certain awards dinner when she had told him that she couldn't make it, she saw the look on his face and slightly suspected that she might be getting an award. And when she drilled her secretary later, she was pretty sure of it.

She's never been the kind of person who gives a damn about an award.  Maybe she is getting older. Or perhaps she has been through hell and back over the past two years at work, much of the hell being a result of her never-ending stubbornness to fight for the rights of children and parents--a tumultuous fight that has managed to get her into a hell of a lot of trouble and conflict over the past two years and most especially the past couple of months.

For the first time in her life, she felt a deep sense of frustration when he told her, "I won't be here that weekend. I have to go to Washington D.C. with the lobbyists to lobby for grants".

When he told her, she knew that his absence would be for the legitimate cause of saving the jobs of many, many people. Yet she became confused by the strange pings of irritation over his possible absence, a feeling that she had never quite felt before. And she started to become worried that she might be beginning to grow soft, a threat that she has heard many people tell her over the years that would happen to her when she finally decides to "grow up".

But she's a tough chick and can handle it because she knows that they are two fiercely independent and autonomous individuals who both love one another and are also in another full-time relationship with social justice.

This time she will TRY to not rub it in his face.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Small Acts of Compassion

Tonight my heart is full of admiration and respect for one of my very good friends who also happens to be my roommate. This evening she asked me if I would go out to dinner with her and I joined her at the local diner at the corner.

At one point in the evening, she disappeared for a while and I couldn't exactly figure out why she was standing on the other side of the room talking with the manager. She looked like she was planning something and when she came back to the table, I decided to drill her about what was going on. At first she seemed hesitant to tell me, but then she said, "I was talking to the manager about buying a homeless lady dinner".

I sort of sat there in shock for a moment. We live in an area where lately I have been seeing tons of extra homeless people and it has been bothering me sometimes when I am driving home late at night and I see them laying on the benches to sleep. It's always bothered me when people come up to my at stores and ask for money, and I never give it to them because I just make a prejudgment that the person will use it for drugs or alcohol.

As I was sitting there thinking about it, the manager approached the table and said, "You don't have to buy her dinner if you don't want to. She comes in every single day. She must get some kind of disability or something because every month she comes in with a check. She just said that tomorrow she is going to the psychiatrist".

My friend said, "That's okay. I will buy her whatever she would like to eat".

At the moment I suddenly remembered that this type of thing had happened years ago. She had told a homeless man that he could have whatever he wanted and he bought lobster. At the time, I told her, "Geez, if I were homeless and someone was going to buy me a free meal I definitely wouldn't ask for something very expensive". She said, "I don't care; I just want to buy him dinner. It's not as if I am wanting for money".

So tonight as we were leaving and we walked outside past the homeless lady's basket, I just felt such a sense of guilt. The lady was sitting at the table, wiping her eyes from crying because according to her no one has ever bought her anything before. I felt so guilty because I am such a greedy bastard. I will give my time and energy, working my ass off to help people and bending over backwards to help. But I just haven't had the compassion to give away my money to people.

And then afterward I went to the store, and told a man "No" when he asked me if I had any change. So.  Nonetheless, I think it was a nice thing for my friend to do what she did tonight.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Verbal Transgressions: Pussy

I saw this poet at a slam poetry contest and I loved it. !Viva la mujer!


LEANNE SLAM

KaYa Bliss | MySpace Video

Personal Ramblings from a Past Life

I was nineteen years old when you came home from that year long naval trip, bursting through the door and telling me how so desperately some of those Australian girls wanted you all to bring them back home to the good ole USA. What you didn't notice was that I was on the phone with him, and quickly hung up as soon as I heard your voice in the living room.

At the time, I was still icy cold inside from the news that you had recently broken to me-all those hookers in Japan and the United Arab Emirates...the girls you met in Australia...and a few of those young blonds that you were stuck on the ship with.  You have no idea how much I didn't want to be at your welcome home party that evening, but I obligatorily attended with you.

The moment that I saw him that evening, I knew that somehow the shit was going to hit the fan. I just didn't know that it was also going to hit me smack in the face.

The only thing that I remember next is you standing in front of me asking, "So, who is better in bed? Me or him?"

All I can remember is not being able to respond in front of so many people, watching and waiting for my response. Laughing. Egging you on. I haven't been able to erase the image of your hand flying up to my face and hitting me with with an open palm. I remember feeling confused when no one did anything to stop your hand from flying up and hitting me again. No one, but him.

I was so bewildered by the two slaps that I had an instant flashback of the night of our graduation. Me and you, in front of your house with Enrique. For no reason, you suddenly slapped me and I remember turning around in rage and throwing you against the screen door. I kicked you, punched you and effectively kicked your fucking ass until Enrique pulled me off of you.

So it was so very bizarre that I suddenly snapped back into the present at the party and punched you in the nose. And then him, picking me up and carrying me out of there.

Sitting in the car, I just knew that nothing about me would ever be the same.  I had smelled your blood.

The memory of "I'm glad he's dead. Now I can have you and Enriques' attention" has rattled around in my head every time that I have thought about you over the years. I've hated you not so much for what you said, but for all of those years of everything that you did.

I've hated you. Until you called the other day. Calling me to settle a wrong, as you claimed.

I'll admit that I lied to you and I really read all of those letters that came stamped with a California prison stamp. I read every single letter that you have ever sent. And I've hated you.

But the moment that you sat in front of me and said, "In prison I contracted HIV. I want to tell you what an asshole I was to you, and I wish that I could do anything to show you that I am really sorry", all that I could feel was compassion for you. And a sense of loss.

It's a funny feeling not to hate you anymore. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Tryin' to Find Direction

I am having a crisis! Well, maybe I am just being a drama queen, of course.

I feel so uncomfortable with my blogging for some reason. I have been off this blog for a bit, because: 1) I've been having personal issues, and 2) I have been helping a friend get some of her blogs off the ground. Lately I have been feeling the need to gravitate back over here.

Maybe I am having a little crisis because for a while now I have been considering moving my blog over to another blog. I just can't make up my decision.

A couple of years ago, a friend and I were at dinner and I was trying to explore some names for a blog that I wanted to write. I had this compulsion to write about renegade women, and we were trying to come up with names. We love to use the word bad ass when talking about certain women, and so my friend suggested the name bad ass femmes because of our mutual obsession with kick ass women and femme fatales. Although the name doesn't really feel natural to me, I have still been using it. But for about a year, I keep thinking about different names, and I just can't come up with one that calls out to me.

I started this blog, because I admit that I am a major, major workaholic, and I need to have something that would basically force me into exploring some of my interests and reconnecting with literature and books that I want to read outside of the workplace. It's a way to force me into reconnecting with my creativity and some of the topics that make me happy.

I initially thought about writing about literature and biographies of women, but I also have the urge to tell the truth about who I really am. I live compartmentalized lives, where I have to act and wear masks in many different contexts. They always say "It's lonely at the top", and I've learned my lesson in the workplace that I don't tell people much about me. At work, I am close to people, but I don't show many people glimpses of the real me because many of them don't deserve to know the real me.

And then there are people at work who I would really love to get to know better, but I keep myself at a distance because you never know if I am going to be their boss one day. I've already had my share of this situation over the past two years-with one of my close friends and colleagues being placed as my subordinate. It's been working well for the past couple of years, until she started having depression issues and I actually had to write her up. It's all worked itself out, but I feel that we both had to force ourselves into ending a friendship.

I also had a lover for almost eleven years who I cared about very deeply, and about a year ago he was moved under my supervision. We had never really told anyone about our relationship, although people who worked with us years ago were aware of it, but I just couldn't find it in me to open the door about my personal sex life to my superiors. So we decided to end the relationship, and it has sometimes been hard at times to be the supervisor of someone that you had such a close relationship with. It's very difficult to maintain the boundaries between boss and worker when you've had mind-blowing sex with your worker.

And then there are other people who I would really love to get to know, but I am distant from because I don't want to get into the situation where I might have to supervise someone again that I have gotten to close to. It just brings extra baggage that I don't want to deal with in the future. Maybe. I think that the two people that I have had working for me are exceptional people who can handle an equal who suddenly becomes their superior, but I don't think the majority of the population would be able to handle it.

So even though I initially started this blog with the intention of writing about historical women or women in literature, it seems that lately I have had the uncontrollable urge to write about my own personal life because I need an outlet for personal connections with people. I come here to express who I really am, but I just can't figure out if I want to write about it here, or if I should create another blog. Ya know?

I want to be able to write about work issues, finance, politics, books, movies and really anything that I feel like writing about. Not just about women, although much of what I discuss is related to issues of women, so who knows where the hell I should write it.  Sometimes I feel confined here to just writing about women. But then I think that I've always been somewhat unconventional, so why the hell not just write about whatever topic I feel like writing about on my blog?!


I am just going to keep giving myself the time, and I will figure it out.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

"You Can't Do That"-The Fine Art of Discouragement

This morning I went to breakfast with my cousin and she told me something that I have been thinking about all day. She is already a manager for a certain company, but lately she has been exploring different ways that she can possibly have more flexibility over her work schedule. Lately she has been recruited for an insurance company, and she asked her mother if she thought that she should go to the interview.

"Do you think that I will like that job?" my cousin asked her mother.

My aunt told her, "Why don't you stay where you are? I wouldn't buy insurance from you. You don't even have experience. No one will buy any insurance from you".

My cousin asked her, "Why wouldn't you buy insurance from me? Why would you say that?". But my aunt hung up on her. (I don't really have the energy to explain the dynamics in this mother-daughter relationship, but rest assured that my aunt is an abusive person).


I asked my cousin, "Why the hell would you ask her if she thought that you would like the job? Don't you trust yourself enough to know what type of job you would like? Besides, don't listen to her. People have always told me that I can't do something or I won't be successful at something".

"Me too, come to think of it," she said as she squinted at me.

This conversation sparked memories of my childhood, high school and early adult years when people would routinely tell me something that I couldn't do, something that I wouldn't like, or something that was what they perceived to be completely unrealistic.

I've heard my share of "Oh, that's an unrealistic goal" to "That's a stupid idea" and anything in between from the mouth of my mother and former friends. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I just wouldn't tell anyone anything that I was planning to do, because I would either get a negative reaction or people would make fun of me if something didn't go as planned. I have just kept my ideas to myself, and since then I have earned the reputation of being sneaky with some of my family members.

I've never quite understood the phenomenon of when people at work frequently tell me that they were groomed for a certain position at work. My last boss and current boss frequently have discussed their mentors and constantly discuss the fact that they are always being encouraged to apply for a higher position. It's bizarre to me, because in my experience people have done little to encourage me to climb the ladder at work. In fact, I have had to claw my way to the top.

When I was a teacher, I always sat and watched some of the crappiest teachers get leadership positions and I constantly listened to my boss tell me about how capable that other people were. I only got the leadership positions when they were offered to everyone else and were not accepted for one reason or the other. It used to frustrate me that I would see people that I didn't respect getting important leadership assignments.

Later I  applied as a manager and I was discouraged from applying for each of the four management positions that I have held. Each time I have been told that I am too young, or that I am not politically skilled enough to do this or that, or that I won't enjoy working with this or that person. I've been told that I lack experience, or that I won't be able to handle the stress and the rigor of the job.

During my last promotion, I could not figure out why two of my most beloved mentors completely discouraged me from applying from the position. Later, I found out that one of my mentors applied for the same position. When I asked someone (who is now my boss) for a letter of recommendation and was denied the letter, I found out that my other mentor had spread blatant lies about me to this particular person about my work performance. (The person who denied the letter is my current boss now and has apologized that he once believed the lies).

When I was denied the letter of recommendation, even close friends with good intentions told me that the "writing was on the wall" and discouraged me from applying for the position. They claimed that someone else had been hand picked and groomed for the position.  They were absolutely sure of it, and offered me tons of supposed proof that Mr. So-and-So would get it.

But I persisted, and got the job. And according to my boss, I knocked their socks off in the interview and blew all the other interviewees out of the water.

So I've learned my lesson all of these years, and I have learned that I don't listen to a damn word of what anyone else tells me that I can't or shouldn't do. I hardly even tell anyone any of my plans anymore. Yet I've never been able to understand this phenomenon that there are so many people out there who claim that they were nurtured and mentored into their positions by mentors since the day that they set foot into the office.

And I see it happening all the time. I don't personally think that my boss is extremely competent, but I always hear people telling him that he should apply as a superintendent or that he should do this or that. It is always amazing to me, because I never would think that he would be able to pull off some of the things that people encourage him to do.

I expressed this to my boss the last time that he was talking about how he was pushed out of the classroom to be a manager after only teaching for three years. "I have never been encouraged," I said. "In fact, people do nothing but discourage me. I have had to claw my way into this position".

"I'll admit-you haven't had it that easy. It's because you are scary competent and you intimidate people", he explained.

Boo. I'm tired of hearing that type of comment. But then he went on to say, "I think that some leaders overinflate certain people before they are ready, which can set people up for failure. Like me, for example. Ever since I was a second year teacher people were telling me that I should be a principal. They set me up to think that I was much more competent than I really was".

Bingo.

But why does this happen? Why is it that some people who are not very competent have people kissing their asses, while other competent people are constantly discouraged?

Am I the only person who has experienced something like this? Is this is a pattern? Or is it just me?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Remembering Neglected Dreams

I have a dream that I have had for a long time, and that I frequently put to the back of my mind. But it's always always been there, since I was in high school.

In the ninth grade, I fell in love with literature in one of my English classes. I can remember my eccentric teacher Mrs. Donahue, who squinted at me from her tall stool and asked me, "Have you ever been identified as GATE?" At the time, I had no idea what she was talking about, and up until then, many of my teachers had done nothing but tell me that I was not very capable. Or they were absolutely abusive to me-like the teacher who used to shoot rubber bands at my face and say that I was a menace.

Later I found out that GATE meant gifted and talented education. Mrs. Donahue recommended that I should be moved to an honor's English class. I wasn't sure that I would be able to handle the class because I had somewhere along the line been told that I wasn't very smart.

Looking back I think that if wouldn't have been for Mrs. Donahue moving me to that class, that I might have just been one of those Latina statistics who veers off the wrong path in life.

The first week in Mrs. Donahue's advanced English class, we read "The Scarlett Letter". I loved it and hated it at the same time because it was difficult to read, but also because it stirred anger in me about a woman's sexuality that I had not really felt before. The book sparked anger about how men and women are held to different standards regarding sexuality in this country.

One of the few things that I remember at all about high school were the English classes. I fell in love with literature (and some poetry). Yet I always felt frustrated because I felt that there was always something missing from the materials that we read. It wasn't until the twelfth grade when another one of my teachers introduced us to the genre of African American literature, and from then on my lifelong love affair with African American literature began.

In that class, we read Richard Wright's Native Son, poetry by Langston Hughes and Toni Morrison's Beloved-to name a few. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness struck a chord in me that has sparked my interest in the history, literature and culture of the Congo region.

I had similar experiences in college, where I was mainly exposed to the white canon, dominated primarily by white men. I always felt somewhat fulfilled anytime that I read something by a female writer, yet I can never recall being exposed to any writing by Latina authors. In college I began to gravitate toward African American and Persian women writers because deep in my soul they initiated feelings of a suppressed collective experience that we share together.

In high school, one of my teachers asked what I would like to do when I grew up and I told her, "I wish that I could get paid to sit around and read all day long". Yet at some point in college I learned that it was an unrealistic expectation that I could just sit around and read all day long.

So I became a high school teacher so that I could maybe talk about literature all day long. It was great, except the fact that I was only four years older than some of my students and was working at the same school that I had graduated from, and many of my students were brothers and sisters of my friends and neighbors.

So I moved down to elementary school. And I loved it. I loved teaching reading, writing, and social studies every day to children, although I always wished that I could have moved back up to the high school level or even the college level, so that I could talk about books all day long with adults.

I left the classroom, and became a coordinator and later a school principal until I was finally promoted to a higher position as a manager. I have loved every minute of every job that I have ever had. But it has always frustrated me that I have always felt that I am stifled in my creativity. Even as a teacher, you are given certain materials that you are told that you are to teach, and they ended up mostly being the same literature that had always lacked the diversity that had frustrated me throughout my personal educational experiences. Even though you are able to bring supplemental materials into the classroom, you are still limited regarding the time it takes to include supplemental materials. It's definitely not the same thing as being able to sit around and read whatever you choose to read all day long.

Over the past couple weeks, that familiar tug of "I wish that I could just sit around and read whatever I want to read, all day long" has begun to tug at the back of my mind once again. I have been fantasizing all day long about creating websites about anything, everything, and everyone that I want so that I can talk, write and blog about it all day long. It's beginning to manifest itself in an actual need for me, an urge that it beginning to feel like something that I can actually have the possibility of doing.

Last night I had a dream that I was in Mexico, in a large library. I was digging through books that were published years ago and had been forgotten about, locked in a back room that was only visited by scholars. I vividly had an image of a book by Nellie Campobello, an author who when I woke up that I most certainly didn't believe was a real author. Who would actually believe that there could be a Mexican author by the name of Nellie? I mean, really.

About an hour ago, I decided to google the name Nellie Campobello and lo and behold I discovered that she was an actual Mexican author. I must have seen her name somewhere along the line and stored in deep in my psyche that manifested itself in a dream to me.

This has disturbed me all day, and I have a  nagging and a tugging in my head that this is a sign. A sign from the inner parts of my brain and thoughts that aren't yet visible to my conscious thoughts. I feel that it might be a sign that I am not fulfilling my life in the way that I am supposed to.

I had initially started this blog so that I could blog about my constant obsession that I have had with a certain type of woman in history, literature, art and other representations. But I feel that the name of this blog, and the format of this blog are not completely fulfilling me. I have been brainstorming alternative names and formats, and I am at a standstill. A conceptual form is slowly beginning to emerge, and I am trying to give myself the time and the space to nurture this idea into a reality.

Maybe one day I will be able to manifest my dream into reality.

I Am Currently Reading:
Dreams-Langston Hughes
The Negro Speaks of Rivers-Langston Hughes