Sunday, December 06, 2015

Pop Culture Through Identity

During my teen years, my family moved around a lot. I ended up going to four different high schools in four years. When asked about this by others, easiest thing for me to do is to say that my family moved around because we were following work. Most folks usually stop asking questions after that because it's a lot more complicated than just following work. As such, I was perpetually the new kid. Every time I got comfortable where I was and the friends I made, we moved. All that moving caused a kaleidoscope of issues growing up because things were always in flux, but the one constant that I had in those days was geek-culture. Whether it was watching syndicated episodes of the Simpsons, sitcoms, comic books, video games or movies, no matter where I moved to, they were always there in different shapes and forms. As such, I anchored my identity to said geek-culture for a lot of different reasons that go into escapism, entertainment, and fitting in at school.

Much like everyone else in their adolescent years, I would put out my flags by scribbling on my note books, putting band patches on my back pack, and carrying trading cards in my school binders. Yes, you read that right, trading cards. From Marvel to Pokemon, I kept them inside my binder so that when I was in class, those around me would casually notice them and strike up a conversation to the affect of, "ohh you collect cars too? Let's hang out." It never failed. This is what helped me break the ice every time I changed schools and had to make friends all over again. I relied on this crutch for years, even after graduating from high school, since geek-culture wasn't what it is today with movies and tv shows all over the place. Being a nerd, geek, dork whatever you wanna call it, it's normalized now.

My individual identity has grown and changed over the years, but the foundation has remained the same. As such, I've stopped using pop culture and interest like that as crutches for my identity. It's not that I don't like all those things anymore, rather I'm over using other peoples works to express my individualism. Maybe it's age, but the older the I get the more I catch myself obsessing over trivial things that are nothing more than entertainment. I've gone through a few different phases of this over the years, but now more than ever, I'm avoiding it altogether. I don't need to obsess over a tv show, movie franchise or anything else of the sort. I find it pathetic that folks look at me and think, 'ohh yeah. Erick is a huge Star Wars fan, Simpson fan, Comic Book fan etc. Most folks wouldn't even know who shot first, Han or Greedo.

It's all one giant played out inside joke in the end to get us to spend money on Darth Vader shower heads and Hello Kitty Vans. Still, I'll keep watching, reading, and buying because they're entertaining and that's where they'll stay for me. Sure, there's a whole bunch of other layers that touch on how entertainment like this influences society as a whole and how it plays out in our everyday lives, but that's neither here nor there. And don't even get me started on the issue of connecting the web of influences that go into movies, shows, and comics that I follow till I get to the root of it. Come on, Star Wars is nothing more than a mishmash of Buddhism set in outer space with Samurais, Cowboys, politics, war, romance, and white saviors. You're better off watching the Akira Kurosawa movies that "inspired" George Lucas, sans outer space and light sabers.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Adequate Skills to Pay the Monthly Bills

Went on a job interview recently and it left me lingering on a few different things that I haven't really given much thought to. Without giving away the money shot, I work at a non-profit as a communications manager. Fancy titles aside, I'm basically the person in the office that handles the posting, sharing, creation etc. of everything that can fall under communications. From writing/sending email newsletters, posting on social media, managing press, and light manual labor from time to time. This allows me to live comfortably enough that I spend around $50 a month buying comic books without having to think twice about it. As someone who has been working some kind of job ever since I could remember, this is my current pinnacle given that I live my life two years at a time because of my DACA work permit and quitting community college after seven years of back and forth.

This job I interviewed for was a full time gig doing basically the same thing I'm doing now, but full time and in a much larger capacity. That gig would have given me the kind of pay beyond anything I have ever had within my life time. For a cool minute, I let myself think about the kind of life I would have if I had a legit full time gig like that. I looked forward to the idea of not having to have two part time jobs and side hustle anymore. To go into the office, do my thang Monday through Friday, and occasionally on weekends, and not have to worry about money. However, I didn't let it get past the bus ride home after that interview because that ain't for me.

For all the skills to pay the bills that I have, I doubt I'll get called back for a second interview. As such, I got to thinking about it. I have never truly felt comfortable owning the skills that I have for two reasons, one being that I procured said skills to pay the bills through a combination of "each one teach one" back when I was part of the "Dreamer" movement, and a few years of being a writer for my college newspaper. Secondly, I just never take myself too seriously when it comes to the work that I do for a lot of complicated reasons.

The years I spent in community college and at the school newspaper got me where I am today because I just took what I learned and applied it else where. I got a rush from writing stories and seeing them in print, knowing that someone would read it. I didn't get the same rush when I began blogging here, but I did get it when I started blogging about the neighborhood I live in, Boyle Heights. I look back at those old post from time to time and I cringe at how bad my grammar was because I didn't have someone to copy edit me like I did at the school paper. None the less, despite my horrid grammar, I was sharing things no one else was and by default, I became the go to person. My neighborhood was my beat and in the hay day of this blogging/reporting, I was having the best time of my life despite being broke as a joke, working part time at a fast food restaurant, going to school part time, sleeping on the floor of a friends house, using a first generation iphone as my digital tool box to take pictures and write stories that I would later flush out on a borrowed computer. I had everything going against me, but I kept at it over the years and I got lucky here and there by scoring some paying gigs from time to time. Boy I tell you what, there wasn't a better feeling than getting paid to write.

Through said writing I was able to connect to folks that were holding down the Dream Act movement back in the day. Eventually I got to the point where I had met in some shape or form, some of the folks that helped build the foundation of this movement here in California. Eventually I gave up on journalism because I didn't want to be a reporter anymore. Being objective wasn't something I could be back then, so rather than writing about the movement, I joined up and put my skills to use there. Like a lot of folks back in those early days, we just did work and made it happen one way or another. Over the years, I added even more skill-sets that complimented the foundation I already had. I worked media with a homie I've had the pleasure of knowing for years now. Naturally, as my skills and maturity grew, I took my skills to the next level by doing internships at labor unions and learning, complimenting everything I picked up when I was in the "dreamer' movement. Before I knew it, I had a reputation for being a 'communications' guy. Fact of the matter was that I just knew how to do the most basic of things when it came to doing digital organizing. I didn't see the need for me to go into a university and get a degree in something I already knew how to do better than most folks that got paid to do that work at established organizations. They would come to me for help when trying to do things, but the name of the non-profit game calls for those fancy degrees and eventually I just faded out on everything and got to a place where I could finally live on my own. Within the circles I was in, I was able to get multiple part time jobs that allowed me to put my digital organizing skills to use and make a living, which to me was the pinnacle of my career since that was never my plan. I haven't taken full ownership of my said skills because it doesn't feel right to be making bank off something that was shared with me with the intention to help me grow, rather than make money.

Which leads me to why I have never taken my skill-set seriously. I acknowledge that I am where I am because I am good at what I do, but I am not perfect. My current job situation is one where I have never been happier to be part of an amazing space and get support in the work that I do, but my limits are starting to show. Only so much time can pass before what amazed folks in the beginning is now just another common every day occurrence. Even I get tired of doing what I do every day, at the end of the day a job is a job. There are plenty of new skills I can add to my tool box not just because I like keeping up with trends, but because that's how fast digital organizing moves. So many things to keep up with everyday that I get overwhelmed sometimes and that's part of why I don't take my skills seriously. I read so much crap on a daily basis from being on social media that by the time I get to work I already have a headache and I'm annoyed by the trends going around. Being able to read through all this crap is a double edge sword cause while I shift through everything to find the good stuff to read or share, I have to eat double that in what I see other people posting online. These trends change daily and while they can be predicted around specific times, instances, moments etc., they change twice as fast. I'm over here trying to make sense of snapchat while everyone else lives on it. Next thing I know I'm yelling at kids to get off my lawn while shaking my fist in the air. So much drama tied to our digital lives now that I can't take it seriously without being heavily drugged on something. Then before I know it, I started another twitter fight that leads to hella indirect black mailing with something else that had nothing to do with it. Bruh, chill. And yet, there in lies my problem, I forget that not everyone else doesn't not take it seriously. They take it seriously. And so conversations are had, butts get hurt, and things move along.

I know that I will have to eat through a hell of a lot more job rejections before I am seriously considered for the kind of gig people would take it and stay till they retire. Sure, I can be just like everyone else and fake it till I make it. Own everything and blemish here and there to get the gig, but a moment will come where you bluff is called out and you'll have to make the magic happen and pull it off some how. I don't like those situations. I've used up all my life lines already were another situation like that come about, I would go down with that ship. I'll just take the rejection and avoid that altogether. In the mean time, I'll just continue as planned and keep growing where I am at like I had it planned for the next two years, per DACA. Not like I would have used that dental and health insurance anyway. *Cough *Cough *Cough


Sunday, October 25, 2015


I am not comfortable around norms. Depending on the situation, it can vary from slight annoyance at having to be somewhere or participate in something to being physically ill. Totally not being dramatic, I get sick in certain situations, probably as a self defense mechanism, but it happens. Whether they're social or cultural, norms of any kind pain me. It's been that way ever since I can remember. A lot of it has to do with the way I grew up, my family, and of course my experiences here in the US. Everyone at school would be sharing a similar story about their families did on holidays and I would never say anything cause my experiences didn't reflect theirs. That continued on until a reach a point of agency and the ability to chose to participate in norms.

Once that happened, I avoided them at every turn. Like wearing your Sunday best. It didn't hit me until later on how uncomfortable I felt and actively avoiding routines like that. I also spent a couple of years house surfing from place to another. As such, I had to participate in familial events cause I was a guest. Birthdays, holidays etc. You have no idea how many times I just wish I could leave and go be somewhere else alone. I'm grateful that now I have choice in how I spend those kind of days and how I can take advantage of them in different ways.

Now adays, being on social media exasperates those feelings of nausea with new norms and old norms over whelming me. That's why I avoid social media on national holidays or around specific celebrations. There's just no point in me looking at social media feeds cause everyone is out there taking selfies, pictures of their foods, babies etc. I chewed on that one year and asked myself if I felt grossed out by norms because they were reflections of thins I wish I long for in my life. That shook some old foundations, but I realized that I was wrong. If I wanted what everyone else had and to participate in norms, I've had plenty of opportunities to have them in my life.

Except, I don't want that. The culmination of my demeanor is too intricate for me to try to put down in a blog post. I just know what I like and what I want, simple as that. While I avoid norms like the plague, I've gotten to a place where I can be in those spaces without being a dick and spoiling things for others. Sure, I'll talk my trash and make my comments on social media, but you won't see me turning down free food, drinks, and cool peeps. And like everything else in my life, having a different perspective on things as I get older have lead to rejecting all new kinds of norms now. Except now when I complain, it is usually followed by an 'old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn' joke. So, get off my lawn.    

Monday, September 14, 2015

#UndocuMoney #MigrantsOverMoney


In the last beef among folks in the immigrant/undocumented youth movement, specifically those (myself included) who have been part of the DREAM Act/DACA movement at one point and/or still are part of said movement/fight and the newer crop of folks coming in, why putting a monetary value on the lives of individuals is problematic. Didn't know this was an on-going beef? Well then there are two answers as to why that is. One, you aren't or have never really been part of the "movement." Two, you just don't care and go on about your life. If you are number two, then good for you. If you are number one, then I can't help you there. For everyone else, this is nothing new.

Mind you that it's only been in the last few years that individuals, myself included, have been scandalously vocal when it comes to talking trash on campaigns, actions, and individuals that are problematic. It's so easy to drink haterade, you don't even know. So then, #undocumoney versus #migrantsovermoney. Got it? No? Puez click the hyper links and read it for yourself cause ain't no body got time for that.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Mexican Superman

Clip from the new Superman v Batman movie.
My affinity for comic books is something everyone knows about me. Specifically cause I've used the "Superman is an immigrant" analogy, along with a few others when talking about my experiences growing up undocumented. It's also one that has been beaten to death in the last couple of years by those who don't understand the history of the character, how it has changed over the decades, and why someone who is undocumented would gravitate toward that kind of mythology. I've written about this a few times here, here, and here. I've also been featured writing about that analogy here. This post isn't about a campaign, petition, or cause. It is purely comics based with a bit of social commentary and my thoughts on the new DC animated movie Justice League: Gods and Monsters. So unless you speak geek, feel free to check out cause I'm doing something I rarely get to do, which is to totally nerd out. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Born Day Reflections at 31

Not much to reflect on really. Least nothing new since what I've already written on in terms of my experience getting older and maturing. Growing up, my parents never made a big deal out of my birthday. Every other other year they would do something for me, but it was just too awkward and forced. I'd rather just spend the day on my my own than having to sit through forced conversation. No, much to reflect on really. Things in my life are in a place in which I can't complain. I have a routine, I get funky once in a while, and I ride my bike when I can. I'm thinking that my 30s are going to be some of the best years I'll have because I'm, more or less, in control of where I am going and I have the freedom of choice to do whatever the hell I want. That wasn't always the case. I'm expecting some awkward moments from others who don't get my passiveness for born days, but that's about it. I had a party with my new house mate and I had lots of fun drinking, dancing, and hanging out with friends. I didn't even mind cleaning up the mess the next day either. This dog gif pretty much sums up how I feel about my born day.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Grumpy Young Man

My born day is this month, I'll be 31. I like getting older and that it seems to me that's pretty much all I've been writing about and according to the public court of opinion that is social media, I've also turned into a grumpy old man. If I am indeed of the grumpy disposition, it wasn't over night, I can assure you of that. But it was hilarious to see the reactions I got after posting an instagram video of my neighbors having a tamborazo. The general consensus was that I am a grumpy old prude for hating on my neighbors having a tamborazo. Had I been invited, then of course that video would have had a much more pleasant caption to go with it, but I wasn't and all I wanted to do that Friday night was chill out home after a long week at la chamba. However, if there's one thing I've learned about livin' in the hood, it's that compromise is the name of the game. Hell, not even that. Sometimes you just end up living next door to a bunch of ass holes who don't know how to socialize and think they fucking own the block.

I was born in a barrio in Mexico City and I grew up in them here in the US, this is nothing new to me. I've learned to live with stuff like neighbors blasting music hella early or hella late. Neighbors who have pets and don't care for them, so they become a public when they get lose. Neighbors who'd call the cops on you because they're fucking haters like that. I grew up with it and I understand that's part of the deal, but I'm at the point now where I'm like, no. Ya, ya, yaaaa 'stuvo guey. Ya parale que no? Again, if I was invited over or I was the one having the loud as party, different story. I'd be drinking and dancing it up, but I wasn't.

That incident with the video got me thinking that for the last year or so, I've just been drinking haterade as if it was on special at Food 4 less. Hanging out with a friend from outta town and her friend who I met for the first time that night, I got to talking about why I'm a grouch when it comes to going out. Mind you that a few years ago, I was way more proactive about going and having fun with folks. I use to go to art show openings, shows, concerts etc. It was fun and I was sharing it with friends. Now adays I think about going anywhere and I just list all the reasons why I should not go out and stay my lazy ass home and cuddle up with some Netflix.

I hate crowds. I hate being in public spaces. I pretty much hate people in general. People mind you, not individuals, cause then other wise I wouldn't have any friends at all. Me pesan los huevos to make an effort like that and it's not because I'm grumpy, but I am over it. Events and outings can be predicted with a certain level of certainty, at least enough for me to be like nah. I'm gonna stay home and watch Bloodsport for the 1,000th time. Being in that mind set just became normalcy and I got stuck, rather I still am, stuck in a rut. I know going out will be fun and relaxing, but it just turns into routine. There's nothing new about it that makes me want to put in that extra effort.

Part of that is also cause I've been single. The few dates I've been on have never gone past that initial meet up for beer or coffee. If I were to be with someone, then doing all those old boring things would be fun and new because I get to experience them through someone who hasn't. It's like when a friend from outta town visits for the first time, you take them to all the spots you never go to even though you live in the same city. That's the kind of rut I'm in. Except for a few things here and there and going to the movies, I've been sedimentary as I get older.

Add to that, the realization, much like Homer did that one episode where he realizes to stopped a rockin' and get left behind by the times, that I am getting older in my taste in music, movies, anime, books and general entertainment choices. I went to the Anime Expo and I couldn't recognize the majority of characters people dressed as or what the current popular shows were. I didn't care about anything going on there except buying some art from this one artist who was in town and taking a pic or two with some cosplayers that I recognize. Honestly, it's just a trip to be able to see this happening to me like a thread from a sweater unraveling.

But just as that thread unravels, it can be rolled up and used again to make another sweater. One that won't unravel so easily. As someone who replied to my twitter rant about this very existential moment put, it is a universal experience that everyone goes through, but the best thing about it, is that we can still make it our own. Boom. With that simple reply to my non-sense, my self identity forming part of my brain kicked back in and reassured me that we've always been like this. For too long all of my interest were branded as the other, ignored, ridiculed is now all of a sudden a common one. Yeah things are changing, but if there's one thing I learned from being a dork all my life, it is that it isn't about what other works other people created you use to self identify with, but about having that inner strength to never be the norm and just do you.

Fuck everyone else and where they at. Ain't no time to be wasting on those that are just gonna nay say you and harsh on your buzz. Just do you. Even if that happens to be a 30 year old, pokemon watching, video game playing, comic book reading something that hates loud parties, stays in all the time to watch movies or read. He'll out grown it in a few years again.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Guest on the Nerd Out

It should come to no surprise to anyone who knows me that I love being a nerd, geek, dork, otaku etc. I dressed up as Princess Leia for pete's sake. In my circle of friends, I rarely get the chance to nerd out because I'm just too cool and no one else can keep up with me. You have to understand that I'm not some casual fan or really into whatever. No, it goes way deeper than that for me. Right down to my core really. I learned pop culture and the English language from watching the Simpsons and 90s sitcoms. I formulated my identity through comic book characters before I knew what to call myself. The nerd life taught me life lessons that I still use today, no joke.
That's why I was excited to be on the Nerd Out with the homie Ritzy Periwinkle and her homie La Lisa. We got to talking about all sorts of stuff, specially after a few glasses of Jameson. Listen to the show here and be sure to follow the Nerd Out #nerdsuphosdown.      

Friday, June 19, 2015


I don't have the best relationship with my family and that's ok. Growing up I always wondered why my family wasn't like the ones I saw on tv. It took a minute for me to catch on and realize why my family was nothing like the ones I saw on tv, despite finding things here and there in common. However, my family was nothing like my friends families either. While we were all Latinos/as, I would hear stories of relatives doing this and that. Of parties, traditions, and rights of passage that seem like everyone except me went through. It took me longer to figure out all of that than it did to learn to play along and just agree with everyone else so as to avoid being singled out or awkward. Lotta good that did me.

Then there's the whole being undocumented thing as well. For years I thought that was the singularity that separated my familial experiences from everyone else's. No, turns out that wasn't it either. I realized that once I got involved in DREAM Act/immigrant rights organizing spaces. While everyone else shared stories of perseverance and aspiration, I just kept making comic book references. Every other person would mention what their families sacrifice for us to be here and have a better life. That we persevered and fought for our families and all this and all that. I never identified with any of that, but I did agree to it for the sake of being part of the group and again, not being one to be singled out and make things awkward.

It's so much easier to just agree with folks and be done with it than trying to stick out and counter them. That's pretty much how I still go about things when someone inquires as to my family. It's easier for me to tell them what they wanna hear so they'll leave me alone and not ask about it again till I bring it up or there's some sort of parental holiday around the corner. While I share some of the dysfunction that's in my family, it is never more than what others share when talking about there's. It's in that dysfunction that common ties are found and we can all look at each other and say, 'you're family is just like my family. Let us laugh out loud and go on about our day."

It has taken me years of processing mentally and emotionally to be where I am with my family right now. For so long it was easy to just blame everything on them because I had no control over anything. I didn't get to choose what school I went to, where we lived, how I spent my free time or any of that adolescent growing up stuff. I was a kid, of course I didn't have control over anything, let alone any kind of understanding. In those times, I felt robbed and cheated outta things. I always questioned why I couldn't hang out with friends and why I had to help with the family business. Why did I have to work while everyone else was having fun, stuff like that.

I get all of that now and I realize how important those experiences are in my development as an individual, but that still doesn't excuse them. I still carry some of that anger and frustration with me, but not out of resentment. No, it's more along the lines with tragedy really. My biggest turn around point came when I realized how my parents raise me and my sisters. The rotten tree didn't start with either of them, but with their own families. I heard how they grew up and what they went through and it clicked you know. I saw why things played out a certain way, usually a violent way. Why there was never any understanding, talking or even the sharing of any kind of affection. That shit was just implied and done out of some guilt trip so as to not feel left out and awkward.

I realized that I will never get that kind of relationship I wanted with my parents because they never had those kinds of relationships themselves. What's that you say? I can be the bigger person? I could drop the decades of drama and trauma and create the relationship I want? Nah, it don't work like that B. It's already draining enough to change what I learned from them, let alone trying to save them. Nah son, things don't work that way. Not everyone can have a healthy relationship with their parents and that's ok. I know my family and I know where the lines are. I choose to live away from them for too many reasons to get into, but one of them is for my own well being.

Distancing myself rather building is the easy way out when it comes to my family, but it's also the healthiest. I learned all I could from them and I have made those lessons my own to either continue building on them or stopping them completely. In many ways I'm fortunate enough to have both my parents still be alive and some what healthy. I have a lot of friends who grew up in single parent homes or who have lost them to the next world. I grew up with both of them, for better or for worse. I stopped romanticizing my relationship with them and my experiences growing up.

I stopped blaming them long ago as well, but that doesn't change what happened. I'm not expecting an answer or retribution for what happened. I have moved beyond that and made up my mind on where I'm going from there. It's a decision strictly for my own self preservation. It's not my responsibility to save anyone, not even my family. Doesn't mean that I don't care for them any less, after all, they're my family. I am who I am in part because of them.      



Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Moving is such a pain, but then again, having the privilege of stable housing can be easily taken for granted. A big part of my life has always revolved around my housing situation. Growing in Mexico, I lived comfortably in an apartment building with my family and then a ranch out in rural Mexico. It wasn't until I came to the US that having stable housing was something that was always out of arms reach. First placed I stayed at when I first got here was an uncles apartment. From there it was another then another, bouncing around from relative to relative. At one point, my family and I ended up in a studio apartment with 10 people living there all at once. There were intervals in which things got better and there was stability, but it never lasted.

My father would draw out the process anyway he could to buy extra time from whatever place we were getting kicked out of. I myself in the better part of the last couple of years relied on others for housing support. From crashing on a couch to sleeping on the floor of a crowded room at a friends house. The generosity and sympathy others have had with me is the only reason I'm still around today. I was never the greatest of house guest, but I did what I could to help out and to get out of the way, but it was never easy. I was just another burden.

Its only been in the last two years or so that I've had the financial stability to live on my own. To have a place that I can call my own, walk around without pants, and do whatever the hell I want without having to be considerate because I am a guest in someone else's home. For a good couple of years, I just went from one friends house to another. Always in transition, never setting my roots down because I knew the situation was only temporary and I would be moving before I knew it. I think back on those years and I choke up a bit at the generosity and compassion shared with me.

Now I find myself moving once again, but this time by choice. Living alone isn't feasible in the long run, specially in a city like Los Angeles, so I'm moving in with a friend to cut down on cost where I can. I'm grateful that I'm able to move in a friend who I trust to be part of this new chapter in our friendship. At this point, it's safe to say that they are going to get the best of me. All my years of being a guest and having to share spaces have helped me be mindful of the space I occupy, how things get decorated, cleaned, and how to make a place feel like a home.    

I'm genuinely excited for this next phase of my life, specially since this is the first time I'm going to be sharing space with someone on an even plane. There will be growing pains and we will have to get use to each other and our habits, but that goes for any kind of relationship. This new place isn't where I'm going to set my roots down, but at least I can let them stretch out a bit and enjoy the comfort of a different pot and fresh soil.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Willing Subjugation

Deathlok Annual #1 (1992)
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is voluntary. If you qualify and can afford it. If you want to ease the different responsibilities we all carry as individuals to our family, friends, loved ones, and to society. DACA makes all of that and more easier to carry, but it also piles on more stuff for an individual to carry once that status is achieved. Couple of days ago I started getting serious about what I would need to do if my DACA renewal didn't arrive before it expired. Fact is that in the last two years that I've had this quasi-legal status, I've gotten too soft. I no longer have to hustle as hard as I use to before having it. I'm pretty comfortable where I am. Having stability is something I have little familiarity with. I've been use to going from one point to another all my life that at times, I find myself wondering how I ended up where I currently am. My life consist of going to work and coming home. I still see friends and go out once in a while, but for the better part, that's about it. Part of it is because I live on my own. Back when I would be crashing at someones house, I would go out and stay out for as long as I could because I didn't want to be where I was staying at. I wanted to be out of the way as much as possible. Now a days I just find myself bored with stuff that's going on around me, partly because I've been around it for so long. I know others wish they lived in an active community like the one I live in, but it's all the same stuff over and over again. Same faces, same art, same music, same pedo.

When I finally got my DACA in the mail, there was a sigh of both relief and of frustration. The thing is no more than a privilege card. A physical manifestation of years of work people all over the country put in to make it happen. A physical manifestation of the political games played in this country with the lives of immigrants. A physical manifestation of the willing subjugation I and a about a half a million other immigrants sign up for because we can and because we want the easier path. Every day I'm inundated with stories, pictures, videos, art etc. on the different kind of suffering and torture immigrants are going through in this country. Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand.

I make no qualms about my decisions and my politics. I don't hold up my nose and say 'no' from whatever moral high horse people need to get on. I talk a bunch of trash, but I take ownership of that as well. For me, it's important to know what I'm really looking at every time I look at my work permit and the access it gives me that others don't have. DACA is a lot like those mail order DVD clubs. You get a few for a penny, but then you have to buy 3 more at regular price. It's important for me to always remember that because I don't want to the kind of individual that sees that work permit as the answer and frankly, salvation to all of my problems as an individual.

Blindly accepting DACA as salvation in your life means you don't want to see the world for how it really is. You're too selfish to care about others and while actions you take may say other wise, deep down you're just scared of having it taken away from you. Of having to go back the kind of quality of life you had before DACA and how much that sucked. You aren't about that life and if you were, you're trying to leave it as far behind as possible. I know because that's the kind of stuff I thought about when I entertained the idea of not having a work permit anymore. That's my reality. I like romanticizing what my life has been as a kind of badge for others to see. I earned my stripes and as such, I lose no sleep as to what others think. My work permit is a physical manifestation of that.  



Sunday, March 22, 2015

One Bad Day

It should go without saying that living the kind of live I have, metal and emotional trauma are a given. From living in poor, working class communities that are subjected to both gang and police violence to environmental racism. Then you have the over crowded school system, systemic oppression, lack of access to resources and unhealthy family dynamics to spice things up a bit. Then on top of all that and then some, you add being undocumented to the mix. The deck gets stacked pretty fast and it can be over whelming at times.      

For the better part of my life, I've been able to work on my issues. To get to a place in which I'm no longer held down by them or even worse, lead down a road that isn't healthy. I've hit those bottoms and I've been lucky enough to be able to pick myself up from there. Never under the same circumstances. As I've gotten older and my understanding of things has expanded, I'm able to work my way through things in my own way. What works for me work work for everyone else, which is why I've never felt the need to seek professional help or getting diagnosed by a quack. 

For the better part, writing has always been my default in trying to figure things out. Among my friends, I've always been the one listening, rarely do I talk out my issues. I'm too set in my ways. At this point in my life, I acknowledge depression and my unorthodox mental health as being parts of me. It's not a condition nor a disease that can be treated away. I own it, it doesn't own me. That's what works for me. Most days are good, but every once in a while I have a bad day. 

Triggered simply enough by something I may come across or in this latest instance, just a culmination of frustrations related to work and my everyday routine. Holding down three different jobs is taking its toll on me. I had to renew my DACA so that's been on the back of my mind as well. I'm also waiting to do my taxes to see how much I'm going to owe because I know I am going to owe. With everything kinda caving in on me and exhausted from my trips, I find myself down on the dumps. 

Then I start to think about of where I've been and how good I have things now. Seems no matter how good I'm doing, there will always be room left for wanting more and to try and fill that feeling of emptiness I have. But it'll all pass in time. I usually just go through the motions and ride it out. It's part of who I am. Unless I post something on social media, most folks won't even know the difference. But then again, that's not something I'm not trying to blast out either. It's not like I'm publishing all this online for everyone to read. No, it's mostly just for me so I can work my way through things.    

Friday, March 20, 2015

Serendipitous Travels

Traveling for me truly is a treat. I hardly get to do it, so I take advantage of it when I can. Its not so much that I don't travel because of my immigration status, although having a work permit & state issued ID makes it easier, but that shit is expensive. My trips to Austin and Washington DC were on someone else's dime. I was attending two separate conferences, which is why I was able to get support in getting out there. Twas my first time in Austin, but second time in Texas and DC. I went in representing those who got me my trips, which meant I had to network and participate more than I would like. While it doesn't seem like it, I'm hella anti-social sometimes. Plus, I've been to a bunch of comic book conventions, so anything that doesn't have people dressed up in costumes is let down.

For the better part, I had a great time in Austin because I was there with my compa. We shared a room and he introduced me to folks at the conference since it was my first time. We did a lot of drinking and horsing around at night, while keeping it professional in the day. We stayed in downtown Austin and didn't get to explore anything else, so my time there sucked. The water tasted weird, I got sick from drinking Austin beer, and everything was hella gentrified. Yeah, they had a bike share program and separated bike lanes, but it was clear that they were there for tourist. Breakfast tacos are over rated. Not to mention that the few people of color I saw where those working at restaurants or as servers at the convention.

DC on the other had was a lot more fun. Again, we stayed in Downtown at a hotel that was walking distance from that conference, but what made the difference was connecting with community folks there. When I got to DC, I ended up going straight to a bar to meet up with a friend I was going to stay with. That turned into a three day bender that continued on throughout the trip. My first time to DC consisted of just hanging out in Downtown and trying to find a place that played cumbias. I went in to this trip trying to do the same and I was successful. Call it Serendipity.

It was through that friend that I was staying with that I was able to connect to old and new friends that showed me and the homies a great time. On top of that, I was also able to hang out with a friend I met online in real life for the first time. So yeah, I had a blast in DC because of the people that were there. As such, I was able to see and learn more about the communities holding it down out there. It's easy to forget how connected our fights are, despite geographical differences, but being in those spaces really nailed it home.

While I was physically tired from my previous conference the week before and going on a bender for three days, the homies and I rocked the presentation we were giving. I relied on them to get me outta the couch and to go exploring despite the cold and the joint pains I had, but I needed that trip. I can't remember that last time I had that much fun dancing, drinking, and doing karaoke to Selena. Cause I'll do anything for Salinas. Nights like that are far and few these days because I'm too comfortable in my city. It's only when someone is visiting from outta town or that I'm traveling that I wanna jarcorear. Maybe I'm just getting old.

That being said, I'm grateful for the opportunities I got to represent spaces I work in and for at difference conferences. For too long, I've been use to just representing myself and no one else that I didn't give two fucks as to how others saw me or what they thought of me. I was there to handle my scandal in the day and get crunk at night. Not so much this time around, which I blame on my encroaching maturity, but I'm finding the right balance that allows me to be true to myself.

That being said, this'll probably be the last time I travel for the year. Going out of state is expensive and I have my sights set in visiting New York as I make my pilgrimage to Shaolin for the first time. Not to mention that I know a few folks out there who have couches and floors I can crash. I just have to get my ducks in order to make it happen. For now, it's just something to look forward to.    



Sunday, March 15, 2015


For the longest time, I've been use to just representing myself and no one else. The repercussions of things I say or do would fall entirely on me and only me. Ohh how the times are a changing. I spent the last two weeks at two separate conferences. One of them was for work and the other one was for an organization that I volunteer for. Seems that ever since I got DACA, my musings on this blog are focused on work and my professional life, which makes sense. For the longest, I worked only as an independent contractor, free lancer or only brought on for short periods of time for projects. Now I'm finally at a place of work in which I'm getting support to develop professionally and I don't feel like a charity case.

I love my job and the work that I do there. That's why I stepped it up at the conference I attended. I balanced my outfits to be professional but also casual enough so I could navigate different spaces and use specific points of clothing as conversation starters. I mean, who wouldn't want to talk to the guy wearing hello kitty vans, ama I right? I did the same at the other conference because it made packing outfits easier and I needed layers cause I was in some cold ass places. It was my first attending both of the conferences and oddly enough, I presented at both. The first was more on that tip of my communications work and the second was on the organizing I do for fun with bikes. 

Having attended comic book conventions for years, attending conferences is a sinch for me. Although, I like the conferences that feature cosplay. However, at both conferences I was one of the few folks of color navigating those spaces. Those kind of situations always lend themselves to awkwardness, but it really can't be helped sometimes. There's this weird dynamic at conferences. We're all there for the same reasons, more or less, yet we ignore each for the better part. Outside of allotted spaces for folks to sit and make idle small talk, you gotta go outta your way to meet folks. 

All awkwardness aside, I took came away from these conferences with issues I need to reflect on and discuss with others. Aside from the unbalanced representation of women and people of color and how those dynamics can play out, my biggest take away is that I'm ahead of the curve. For all the different panels and sessions I attended, I picked up a few new tricks here and there, but nothing impactful. When it comes to the skills I have accumulated, I've always been on that DIY/popular education tip. As a result, I never placed any other values to my skills because they were communal and the lack of formality. I'm use to others touting their degrees, internships, and previous jobs when talking about their skill sets. Mean while, I'm all over here watching tutorials on youtube, but fuck it. I'm on the same level as them, aren't I? Damn skippy.          

I also had to be intentional with why I was there and who I was representing. It's easy enough for me to turn things on and mingle with folks around me. Make small talk here and there long enough to move on to another conversation with another random person. It's draining because you have to put yourself out there, but I will say it's worth it. Get to meet nice folks from different parts and you get into some interesting stories. Booze helps with that. That being said, I enjoyed my conference experiences mostly because of the individuals I was with. They made it that much more fun after hours, but also in connecting with others as well. While I didn't take much away in new skill sets, I'm looking at hosting my own next time around.  

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Co$t of Being Undocumented

As I get ready to do my taxes for 2014 and after having just sent in my renewal for Deferred Action, being a semi-legal resident is expensive. I say this not because I just realized it or because I'm getting hella taxed by the government, but because for as long as I can remember, money has been an issue advocates have used under reasons why immigrants should have a legal status in the US. Earlier this week, I found myself at a press conference for something that is happening here in Los Angeles. While the federal government deals with the situation in Texas that is stopping the roll out of DAPA and the DACA extension, the city is allocating money to help folks here in LA in signing up for DACA and DAPA. As seen from the tweet FWD.US posted, the city stands to collect a projected one billion dollars from individuals that qualify and get approved for DACA and DAPA.

Ohh sure, there are humanitarian reasons for providing services to immigrants, but it is all about the money. At said press conference, I asked myself if I was being a grumpy cat or a realist? A few years ago, I would have been all about this kinda stuff, but with a blind eye. For a lot of years, I stood behind and advocated for policies and programs that are hella fucked up when you stop to think about them critically. Thankfully, I know different now.

However, don't get it twisted. As an individual who is flourishing from the little support DACA provides, I accept the deal without any qualms. I fully acknowledge the numerous privileges tied to DACA, my age, my gender identity, my skills that pay the bills etc. For others, DACA is the greatest thing to have ever happened to them. I am not one of those people. My struggles are my own and while I have trouble finding sympathy for others these days, I don't speak for them.

I realize and acknowledge that the government isn't doing us any favors by granting us temporary status'. The desperation and need for them are sorely needed, but it really is no different that showing a photograph of oxygen to a drowning man. Everyone has to make peace with that. I question those who don't because ignorance and denial are just as bad. Thanks to my non-profit job and side hustles, I can afford to be a temporary resident, others can't and I remember that everyday.

I think about that when I'm buying comic books, eating out, going to the movies, buying random crap online that I don't need, $90 sneakers, craft beer, video game systems, $500 smart phones, art, books, food etc. I think about all that and I don't bat an eye. Experiencing the depths of grief helped me appreciate the heights of joy and brother lemme tell you, things are fucking joyous around these here parts.            

So what's the point I'm trying to make? Own your shit. Don't be coming round here touting some humanitarian rhetoric on how you are going to help all THESE IMMIGRANTS with what you are doing. Just straight up say, yo! We need to get all these immigrants temporary work permits cause they is going to be paying a shit load of taxes and not seeing any of it back. Straight up, they're going to be throwing money into the economy, social security, and everything else in between. We all gonna be rolling deep son, naw mean?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


I don't know if was me getting older that flipped the maturity switch, but within the last year, things have been making sense. As much as things can make sense. I've noticed a gradual change and it wasn't until someone mentioned it to me that I really thought about it. I know I've made growth, but it helps to have someone else also acknowledge it as well. I like it. While I'm faced with new challenges and opportunities, knowledge of self helps reassure that I'm on the right path on still moving forward.

The part of that bugs me out sometimes is that I never saw myself here. I'm not one to look ahead beyond the week or month, let alone year(s), but I am one to constantly look back to what has been and continue to learn from it. Everything I've been through and everyone whose supported me comes to mind when I stop to think about how good things are now. I'm enjoying getting older and I'm looking forward to what has yet to come.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Bicycle Advocacy

For the last few years, since I started being more active on my bicycle as my main mode of transportation, slowly but surely my time and energy shifted from immigration to bicycle and pedestrian advocacy. For a good while though, both intersected and lead to the formation of an informal group of riders that mixed advocacy and cycling together. From organizing city to city rides to raise awareness on an issue like in-state tuition for undocumented students in higher education to learning more about neighborhood issues, we rode our bikes everywhere.

In the end, everything I learned while I was doing work on the Dream Act and other issues that still affect immigrants today served me well once I started doing the same kind of work, but with bicycles instead. the issues intersect on numerous levels, so it wasn't like I completely stopped doing that kind of work. the organization that I've committed myself to in doing this kind of work is Multi-Cultural Communities for Mobility.

I met two of the founding members at a house party. We hit it off that night and worked together in some of great events that connected issues on numerous levels, specially since they were working with day laborers at the time when I met them. Any way, time passed and we kept working together more and more. Our worlds kept getting smaller and smaller as our circles started over lapping and here we are today.

The video above is from work that was done last year in the neighborhood I live in, Boyle Heights. While it seems like I haven't been as active as I use to be when I was doing immigrant rights work, trust. I have. I just don't end up on tv or being on panel discussions as much as I use to be, which is no sweat off my back. I'm hella proud to be sharing said video because I had the pleasure of working with some dope ass folks. Part of why I stopped doing immigration work was cause of the internal politics and drama that was tied to it. There's no escaping that anywhere, but at least with bicycle advocacy, it's no where near as how it is in those immigration spaces.  

MCM is still a fairly young organization that has an amazing volunteers doing the work to raise the voices of communities of color when it comes to politics of pedestrian and bicycle advocacy. With this promotores project, there's been a hype building on the kind of work MCM is doing here in Los Angeles at the national level. MCM isn't the only ones doing this kind of work, but they are one of the more visible groups doing it. After all, part of the hustle is who you know and that's a fact in any space. 

I truly enjoy the work I do with MCM and I believe in everyone who is a part of it and putting in time to make it a great organization t be with. With the way things are moving, chances are I won't be going anywhere for a good long while. I'm currently employed at an amazing organization that not only believes in me, but is investing on my development. Can't tell you how great it feels to be in a position like that after being freelance for so long. Between that and the work I do at MCM, I'm doing my part for the different communities I live and share space with.  

Monday, January 12, 2015

Hair Loss

Funny thing about hair is that it grows back. All you need is some patience. Four years ago, I started growing out my hair, both on my head and on my face because of a kind of trauma I experienced, heart break. Four years ago might as well be a life time ago for me. It took time and a lot of venting on my part, but I got over it. Not only did I get over it, but I learned from it and bettered myself as an individual and as a romantic partner. There's still plenty more room for further growth, but that heart ache was something I needed. Much like when someone who doesn't know how to swim is tossed into a pool by a loved one. Amid all the flailing arms and gasping for air, you eventually calm down and start getting the hang of it. That or someone has to come in and save you. I learned to swim, despite not actually knowing how to swim in real life. I actually tried that jumping into the deep end thing once and almost died. Well not died, but it still sucked pretty bad.

Anyway, heart broken. I wrote about it back in 2010 if you wanna look for those post, but I'll save you the trouble. The break up wasn't a kind of 'it's not working out' or 'it's not you, it's me' kind of deal. It was all the insecurities I had back then about being undocumented thrown in my face by someone who was just as emotionally immature as I was. Dude, that shit hurt like a mother fucker. Not gonna lie. I spent a good month after that mopping around and that included not shaving. I went to work, school, etc but with a gloomy cloud over me. Eventually work put their foot down and told me to shave, so I did. While I was shaving, I made the decision to start growing a mustache. I was so down in the dumps, that I needed to make myself feel as unattractive as I could. That included growing a mustache, which doesn't really make sense, but a lot of stuff that didn't make sense four years ago now makes some sort of sense.

A few months into making myself ugly, it started to turn around. I have the kind of long hair that is only attainable through genetics. Turns out that's the kind of hair women like. I also found that I liked women who preferred facial hair over being clean cut. At that point, I pretty much just went along for the ride and took it for what it was. That mustache became attached to my identity, along with my hair. Not saying that I didn't enjoy the attention or the fun I had, but both my hair, facial and scalp, were inherently tied to that one moment of trauma. So long as I had them, I was never going to be truly over that experience. I made that connection today at work when I was sharing why I shaved the stache.

In late June of last year, a month away from my 30th born day, I decided to cut my hair. It being waste long, there was a lot of 'why did you do it.' Not soo much with the mustache. Sure folks have been surprised, but not as much as the hair. My stache was firmly attached my over all 'look', so cutting it was like cutting off a part of my identity. And mind you this wasn't something that I was thinking about doing for months on end, I literally decided to do it as I was watching TV. It's been fun seeing folks' reactions to my baby face. I'd be lying if the attention I'm getting wasn't something fulfilling some need for attention, but I did it for me.

I've grown immensely in four years and I'm proud of myself. I have the kind of stability that has taken me a long time to attain and I wanna enjoy it. While part of me longs to share that with someone else, that's not in the cards right now for reasons beyond my understanding. But it's cool yo. I'm comfortable being independent until the right person comes along. That being said, I'll leave you with a link to one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite anime sound tracks. Back in the myspace days, I use to do that all the time. Post a song and share my feelz. Ahh, nostalgia :) BTW you can see a pic of me clean shaven on my instagram.