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.