Wednesday, June 27, 2018

What if I just left


Every once in a while, I find myself thinking about leaving everything behind for a life in which I am not involved in social justice work of any kind. I first think back to the days of when all I would do was just work a dead end job to make a living and enjoy things without thinking twice about ethics or what impact it would have in the world. I also remember how empty that life was and come back to reality. I was visiting family out of state recently and I got a sense for that life again, but this time physically removed from a metropolitan area and out in the boonies. In a state, city, and town that is removed from the outside world in so many ways that it is jarring. I was there for a few days and while I was visiting for fun, I couldn't help but think what if this was my norm now?

I would work a meaningless nine to five job, deal with actual weather, be surrounded by hella white people from that boonies kind of life, and be around my toxic family as an adult vs a youth. I compared that kind of life to what I have here in Los Angeles and it didn't seem that bad anymore. Mind you this was my vacation from work and aside from my family, I didn't have access to any friends, art institutions, cultural events, and other amenities I take for advantage in the city. I didn't bother with checking social media, emails or with whatever was going on in the world that moment the way I normally do here at home and it felt like I was catching my breath. This kind of life wears you out fast, especially everything going on right now, so it's a privilege to be able to reflect for a second and catch yourself. 

I've been reflecting internally a lot these last few months because I just feel frustrated with what I got going on and what I don't have any control over. I've been playing it safe for these last few dacamented years and I feel like something is about to give, one way or another. At the same time, I want to keep growing in what I do, what I love, and what I can share with others to build them up. That becomes more frustrating given the politics of politics and who are deemed worthy of being lifted up and acknowledged in spaces. That's why I contemplate just leaving it all behind and literally distancing myself from everyone and everything, but the trade is just too heavy. For all my frustrations, I'm still able to thrive and survive because of everything I have built up for myself and the different communities I'm a part of. 

Maybe in a few more years I'll actually leave everything behind and go Grizzly Adams it, but for now, I'll just stick around all frustrated and shit.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Enfadado


I felt like this toward the end of 2017 and I attributed it to everything I had going at that time. I was overwhelmed with all jobs I took on and I just wanted everything to wrap up so I could spend the last two weeks of the year chillin'. This time around, the feelings aren't being drummed up by being overwhelmed, ironically it's because I'm not doing enough? Sometimes I don't even know myself and I just trip for no reason. I've been intentional about not busting my ass like I did last year, mostly because it was all just stress and headaches caused by work I didn't wanna turn sour on. So all this free time means I've been catching up on things I enjoy doing, but also allowing long-standing insecurities to creep up on me. That and the fact that all I do anymore is sit. I sit driving to work, being at work, driving home, watching tv at home, reading at home, eating at home, working from home. Shit, at this point the only times I'm not sitting is pretty much when I'm sleeping or taking a shower. It's a dramatic change from having a 2-hour commute via public transportation or a 90-minute commute by bike and train. My rotation is all kinds of fucked up.

No one notices when I go through these episodes unless I say something and even then, most folks don't wanna hold space to talk to me about it because I'm an expert in keeping my junk to myself. Only person who would take notice is the bae and it isn't fair to dump my stuff on her either, so I write it out here. It's frustrating because I go through this in cycles, triggered by something or nothing. Doubt, hesitation, existentialism, insecurities on anything and everything that is moving in my life. From the standard questions of my work, it's future, and my purpose to just letting everything go and going back to some no thinking oppressive job. It's everything and nothing at the same time.

I'll be fine in a few more days or weeks, so we'll see. Riding it out is always the hard part before it kicks up again down the line and I go through all over again.



 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Still Here

Nothing much to really post about on here these days. That's not to say I'm problem free and everything in my life is copacetic, I just haven't needed to write here. That in itself is a major milestone for me because that's what this space has always been about, me figuring things out. I'm turning 34 this year and maturity is settling in. That and I've just been keeping busy working, doing whatever I feel like on weekends, and recording a podcast once a month. Simplicity and complacency at its finest, something I've been working toward my entire life. To reach a point in which I didn't have to work as hard to get by and enjoy my time as I see fit. In that sense, mission kinda accomplished. Now I have to continue working to keep that lifestyle going. Anyway, I'll commit myself to share on here once a month. Maybe I'll talk about my favorite anime or movies at the moment, we shall see.

Erick 

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Scared Into Complacency


In all my years of being out and loud about being undocumented, I never got much pushback from xenophobes or haters online til as of late. As you can see from the screen grabs up top, they all somehow started coming across my twitter account. Regardless of the how or why they're all emboldened to try and step up to me by tagging the ICE twitter account. I myself ponder on that because I know other folks who are magnets for hater social media accounts, granted they have higher public profiles than I do. I mean, I don't doubt I would get the same kind of attention if I was a guest commentator on CNN or something along the lines of that. But even then, if I did, I'm so beyond it that it would be more of an annoyance than anything else. It would dampen my use of social media because I would have to filter through all the trash to get to what I want to see in my feed and mentions.

Funny thing about all this is that this has been my bio on the location app Swarm/FourSquare since I got it in 2012. The irony of being extra public about my location through social media didn't escape me, so I ran with it and turned it into a joke. I go in waves of when using the app because it's annoying to pull out my phone and tell everyone what I'm doing and where I'm doing it multiple times a day. Especially since not a lot of folks are active on it, so it turns into a bubble. But I brought it back since all these randos started coming to me just to fuck with them.

Still, in chewing on the fat of the situation and knowing that they were trying to scare and intimidate me because of my status, I was reminded that this is the norm on social media now. Last year, people got all freaked out because haters on 4chan were looking for folks through the hashtag undocumented and unafraid and report them to ICE one way or another. It was hot for a minute but then it all died down and it seems like most folks forgot it even happened. To me, that was a wasted opportunity for education and engagement on being secure about your digital habits. It's no different than being on the bus and not busting out your laptop or leaving things in plain sight in your car. Digital security is an afterthought for the majority of folks because every once in a while, I'll get a spam email from an old account that got hacked. It's not till something dramatic happens that folks become aware of the issue of security.

I myself have stepped up my habits and measures over the years. Nothing dramatic, but just like you wouldn't use expensive tech on the bus carelessly, I apply that same logic to my digital life. It's not going to stop someone if their sole intention is to dox me, but at least I know there are some extra steps they'll have to go through before getting full access. Steps that would hopefully tip me off in time to fight back. But the thing about me is that I'm in this field of work, most folks aren't and depending on where you live, there might not be any support networks available to you. That plays into the digital and real life intimidation that has increased since shit hole got into office.

If you live in a major city, you obviously have more resources and can get some help, but if you're out in the boonies of the mid-west or a rural community, the threats become that much more real for everyone. Even access to basic services is an issue for most folks in those situations so I can understand how online security can be on the bottom of their list, but it's not like they're out there on an island, closed off. Being able to look for resources and guides online from trusted sources can put them in the right direction. Being informed and understanding your rights can make a world of difference. It won't stop direct abuse from authorities looking to fuck with you, but you won't make it easy on them either, thereby creating a window of time in which something can hopefully be done to alleviate the situation.     

Having said all this, the best thing I can do is list a bunch of resources for folks to go through and hopefully take away some practices they can incorporate into their digital life, but meh. I'll let folks learn in their own time at their own expense.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Burnt Out

If I'm honest with myself, I've been feeling like this way longer than I realize. The ebb and flow of everyday life, along with in-between surprises, keep me from dwelling too long on that feeling. Thus, I carry on. THere are days in which I feel utterly defeated and others in which I question my motivation to continue doing what I do. Now more than ever, I have never felt stuck in an endless routine that did nothing to nurture my growth as an individual. My actions having no meaning other than just helping pass the time till the next day came. This has also lead to me being in the worst shape and health of my adult life. Realizing how far I have let myself go was hard to swallow, but it also pointed to my lifeless routine the last couple of months. Drive to work. Sit at the computer. Drive home. Sit at the computer at home. Go to sleep. Repeat. It's so easy to fall into this rut that I feel helpless at times to do anything about it because I know I will eventually fall back into it. It's easy, it's comforting, and sometimes it's the only way I'll get any sleep.

The shit going on that I have no control over also has a role in all this. Everything from what will be the final decision on DACA and how that'll impact the future one way or another and what I'll have to do in response to that. Police violence, gentrification, the skewing of laws and policies that will criminalize the poor and lock them out of basic services like affordable internet service to long-term impacts all this will have after the current muther fucker in the white house is gone. It also doesn't help when those who are fighting back against these changes use a star wars reference as the name of their movement either, but whatever. I've been around social justice movements long enough now to know who to trust and who to work with in making thing happen.

At the end of the day though, I don't know where I'm going anymore. Changing things up in terms of employment and where I want to go has been on my mind for more than a year now and while there have been opportunities, things just didn't fall into place. So I stay where I'm at and continue to put in work because even though I've grown as much as I've can where I'm at, I still believe in the work and those I do it with. Which then leads me to ponder on the future of my work and how I do it, through media and social networks. Thus far, I've been able to adapt as needed and grow alongside how stories are told in our society today. I may not be the best at it or doing it for the biggest organization, but I do it with more integrity than others. While the way in which information is exchanged keeps changing, the foundation I have built for myself still holds up to this day. This usually means learning new tricks here and there, honing them in with practice and the support of friends. Still, at the end of the day, all you are doing is telling a story, something I will never tire of doing.

Another side to all this is age and time. Most folks I know are stuck in a bubble of accomplishing social norms and personal goals that I have distanced myself from them for one reason or another. Other than ensuring that I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food in my stomach I have no real pressures from said social norms or any kind of personal goals to speak of. That is to say that I wouldn't want to have permanent stability in life that would give me the freedom to set some and go after them, but I fail to see the point. Sure, I have aspirations of traveling to different countries and cities, buying a house and stuff like that, but longing for such things has mostly lead to me being resentful, frustrated, and angry about things in which I have no control over but somehow they have control over me. At this point in my life, there is very little that I want or long for. For better or for worse, learning to detach myself from those kinds of ambitions, has led me to find comfort and peace in simplicity.

What's most frustrating of all is knowing that I don't have the leeway to shift things around myself. This may be self-imposed or something else that goes unnamed, but priority one has and will be ensuring I can take care of myself. I've slept on too many floors and crashed too many couches to lose everything I have built up to this point. That fear is what pretty much keeps me going 80 percent of the time now. It usually leaves me feeling empty inside until I can somewhat recharge my batteries by doing something I wholeheartedly enjoy. Then the cycle repeats itself. I won't last much longer if I keep going like this, but at the same time I have no definitive answer or alternative to work toward that will help me change things. It's easy to be complacent until I'm forced to change things one way or another. Last time that happened, I got hella lucky and managed to bounce back after spending two weeks in complete fear of losing everything I worked for.

I dunno what I'm going to do with my life, but I'll do enough so as to not get fired.

  



  

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Your Version of the Movement vs My Version


My last blog post, in which I shared my thoughts on the hysteria of saving DACA, got more attention than I could have ever predicted. Keep in mind that when I share something in this space, I'm mostly doing it for myself. To think out loud. I've been doing it for so long that at this point it is just a natural instinct to write about what's on my mind. As you can see by this screen grab, that daca post became the most read blog post ever. And that's saying a lot considering that I posted it in September. 


After posting what I wrote on social media, I saw it get some traction here and there, nothing out of the ordinary. Just folks sharing their thoughts and me sharing mine. In-between all that though, I noticed that other people started commenting in other individuals post, mostly wondering why I'm such a salty hater and why I didn't provide more context in the post itself. First of all, I ain't writing no thesis, if you've read my stuff before or know me personally, nothing I write really needs explaining. Unless I'm being unusually cryptic and hungry for attention via social media. Second, it reminded me of how big the gaps are in how little others know about that undocumented youth movement, past, and present. And to an extent, the immigrant rights movement. Everyone is used to having everything handed to them or asked to react to something without real context or history. If it isn't a click-bait headline that further pushes a narrative of fear, good immigrants, and capitalism, then no one wants to hear it. Then I started reading comments in social media post after folks protested Nancy Pelosi at her press conference.







In-between all that noise, I remembered the opening of the PBS documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution and the analogy shared at the start.The analogy of four blind men all describing an elephant from their point of view is one that is old and has taken on different forms as it's been retold, but the meaning hasn't changed at all. I looked up the clip on youtube and I said to myself, holy schnikes! There it is. All the years of arguing with who did what where and why things happened the way they did, it all makes sense now because I never considered others experiences, nor do I care to really. I checked out of that movement long ago and now I only pop my head in every once in a while to talk shit cause I'm petty like that.

None the less, that analogy about the blind men and the elephant helped me center myself and stand back for a moment. With all the hysteria going around, the fear created by uncertainty, and what the next few months will bring got everyone rattled in some shape or form. This kind of desperation is what is reflected in all those comments on social media. The fear that what little folks have been given will be taken away, yet the majority of those same folks don't know what it took to get there or the years of movement building behind it. Then those same voices are augmented by trash reporters looking to write stories that perpetuate the same fear narratives and do nothing to move things forward. It's a cycle and one I am extremely familiar with because I worked in the past. At this point, I'm done with it. It isn't my responsibility to hold peoples feet to the fire when it comes to history lessons or who gets to speak on television. All I have is my experience in the movement and my recollections of whose an ass hole and who isn't.

For now, things have calmed down for the better part. The October 5th deadline has passed and now everyone is holding their breath that something positive will happen come March. Then the cycle will start all over again and that's fine. Folks have every right to be scared and taken advantage of by non-profit organizations who also proliferate problematic narratives that center them over those directly impacted in the name of funding. The world will continue moving forward and the worst day of your life is going to be just another Tuesday for me.