Monday, November 28, 2016

I spent the long Thanksgiving weekend with family in Vermont, mostly relaxing by the wood stove and going on morning walks with my brother's dog. I had brought along a Murakami book with me for the weekend but ended up never opening it; instead just reading through the New Yorker's feature on sixteen writers speaking to the Trump presidency. The response of each writer was varied, both in their subject matter and levels of concern, which comforted me since there still feels like a lot to dissect.

Other than a new lunchtime routine of making calls to state representatives, my day-to-day in Chicago has been mostly normal this past month; just working, reading (currently: Mia Alvar's "In the Country"), finishing an essay that doesn't seem to want to end, and hunkering down with graduate school applications. It feels a bit trivial to be spending so much time right now applying to grad schools but I remind myself to keep at it, knowing that despite everything suggested by our President Elect, the future is still female.

Friday, November 11, 2016

On Tuesday evening I boarded a plane as the polls closed and when I landed and turned on my phone, my body began to ache seeing the election results. It’s been days and sleepless nights since then but I’m still tired, worried, and aching.

For others frightened by this presidency, the response has been for a call to organize, a call for action instead despair, and well-intentioned messages to embrace hope because it will be the only thing to get us through but in reality, I am still in mourning. The plea for action is an honorable one but as much as I advocate for volunteering, donating, organizing, and taking steps to live sustainably, I have never thought individual action can be the solution. I can advocate for immigrants' rights and compost my banana peels but unfortunately, those in power have a much greater ability to be destructive than my individual attempts at conscientiousness. My vote is important to me and so on Tuesday, I lost.

In these next years, I will, of course, organize and hope for the best but I will also like many, live with a fear that never existed before. I will take to the streets and retreat into written words often. The most hopeful of sentiments I can muster at this point is that we move onward still.

Some articles of note, lately:

It’s okay to still be enraged, and yet, one must always understand context.

Monday, October 31, 2016

A few weeks ago, I made it to Red River Gorge in Kentucky, a hideaway for climbers that my boyfriend has been talking about since we got together a year ago. I missed his last two trips there but went down this autumn at the height of climbing season, at a time when fog would roll off the hills come morning. At peak season, the campground was full, housing around 200 climbers (see: Miguel's if interested) and often we had to wait in line to get on the rock faces during the day but being a very slow-going climber, I mostly went for the fresh air anyway.

In addition to this trip, I spent most of my time last month moving and when I wasn't moving I was helping my Dad with his move. Cleaning out his house, my Dad gave me a journal that he kept when my Mom and him traveled through Europe after getting married. The account was comical, an accurate account of what travelling usually entails. There were a lot of wrong turns made in their rental car, or exasperated notes of "and then we finally ate lunch." At one point, my Dad ordered a glass of wine in French but when the waiter came out, it was apparent he had ended up ordering a bottle instead. My Mom, at that time pregnant, couldn't drink any so he had to finish it himself to get his money's worth; she also later climbed back down the Arc de Triomphe when visiting, realizing that "stairs and pregnancy don't mix." And then there was the common theme for most all travelers, as my Mom wrote, "I think Paris would be more fun if you had lots of money."

My boyfriend and I didn't make any horribly wrong turns during our trip but we did drive through a rain storm on our way down. On the way back, we decided to "indulge," spend the night in a hotel, and take a shower after two days of camping in the cold. Booking the hotel online, we rolled up to the Day's Inn that night to find that it was, in fact, a motel situated next to a gentleman's club. Spotting mold in the bathroom, we laughed at our mistake, thought whoops, and then stared longingly at the La Quinta across the way. 

In other news, I haven't stopped thinking about this essay on ambition I read a few weeks ago. It's about a lot of things relevant to me, mainly writing and the banality of competition and what it means as a woman to feel that way and the verbalization of one my favorite feminist anthems: So what? So the fuck what? It voiced how I feel about most things, and my most common response to misogyny: anger, for sure, but mostly annoyance and then an unwillingness to let it drain my energy when there's so much work to be done. 

I particularly liked this part, where Elisa Albert writes, 

"I get that my foremothers and sisters fought long and hard so that my relationship to ambition could be so... careless. I get that some foremothers and sisters might read me as ungrateful because I don't want to fight their battles, because I don't want to claw my way anywhere. My apologies, foremothers: I don't want to fight. Oh, is there still sexism in the world? Sigh. Huh. Well. Knock me over with a feather. Now: how do I transplant the peonies to a sunnier spot so they yield more flowers next year or the year after? How do I conquer chapter three of this new novel?"

I hope you read it and hope you keep doing your work, as Albert advocates for, no endpoint in sight.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

I just finished The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, who deservedly received a MacArthur Genius grant a few weeks ago, and have been thinking of its pages ever since. I enjoyed her stylistic approach to “autotheory,” as she deems it, a mix of critical theory and personal meanderings. Maggie Nelson has long given herself permission to tackle her personal life in her writing, and I find her writing to be honest, brave and sure, navel-gazing but mostly, honest and brave.

In somewhat the same vein, in light of the recent Kim K robbery, I figured I would finally admit to enjoying the Kardashians (I contain multitudes!) and coming to her defense. I'm not a material person per se – and definitely not glamorous - but if you know me, you know that I like her and her family because in choosing to do reality television, I find it gutsy that they actually keep the cameras rolling when one of them gets a call from a using husband, or when one of them confronts their partner who has come home drunk in front of the kids, or when one calls their brother to plead with him to get help (though whether or not the show perpetuates these addictions is largely up for debate). Most reality shows wouldn’t be so open about reality, I feel.

All of this is to say that I was feeling melodramatic and lazy a few weeks ago and watched some of the more intense episodes back to back and despite the Kardashian’s flashiness, I found it all a bit dark. Like Nelson though, it was refreshing to see people go beyond sharing the shinier moments of life and open up to include the hiccups, the things that come that make everything fuzzier.

I am not quite as brave to lay everything out here. Sometimes I want to. I see both the value of delving into the personal for the sake of art and also know that confessional Facebook posts pain me so I walk the line.

But anyway, in other news, a few weeks ago when everything still felt summery, I took my camera to work with me to capture a few shots of Humboldt Park, where I normally go for lunch, and I thought that I would share the snapshots here. Most days this past summer, I would do a loop around the Humboldt Park lagoon after lunch and walk by the playground where children were playing in the sprinklers. They giggled and shrieked and I would always think to myself, I'm a fairly happy person but one day I’d like to be as happy as a kid running shirtless through a sprinkler. Perhaps one day  though I think they have me beat.

Later that night, I headed to Pilsen for a work event and took my camera out again while I walked around the south side neighborhood as the sun was setting. Indulging in Pilsen’s street life, which I find to be the most vibrant in the city, I snapped a few photos as seven-year-old girls waved to me from their third floor windows, and then I stopped for a minute to talk to a señora about her impressive garden, all maintained in plastic pots, and felt very full and happy. I am a big fan of fall but summer in Chicago is going to be hard to bid farewell to.

I know I haven't written here for a while, and most likely, I will not be checking in as much since I have begun applying to graduate schools. I contemplated closing up shop, since I find that the writing I like to do tends to be fiction or longer personal essays, which are not as well suited for a blog post (also, as noted by the fact that I took these photos weeks ago and am just getting to this now, I'm not really one who loves to document my life in photos) but the practice of it all is not something I want to do away with just yet. So we'll see, my presence here is to be determined. The internet allows for a lot of freedom so I figure I might as well take advantage of it. Sometimes it's nice/necessary to give yourself permission to do whatever you please

Thursday, August 25, 2016


My lease is up in October, which means I will be leaving a house with a yard and a front stoop, both of which have become my places of solace in this city; places that offer me a quiet moment, where I can people-watch and drink a cold beer after work. I'm trying to stay optimistic while searching for a new apartment in my price range and truthfully, haven't been doing a great job of it but I think I'm finally over the process at this point. Just give me a place to live and I'll be happy!

All of these worries sound absurd in light of the video I'm posting. My friend from Honduras, Hunter, works as a videographer for the Perennial Plate and just shot a beautiful short film about a community of Mayans living in the Rocky Mountain state. Please do yourself a favor and watch it. Revel in how beautiful the internet can be as it brings you to the moment at the end of the video when the couple are dancing to the marimba in their living room and you don't know whether to feel happy or sad, grateful or nolstagic.

 returned to Honduras to photograph a fellow volunteer's wedding recently, and I haven't been able to get over the wedding album. The bride was married in the States but traveled to Honduras this summer for a second wedding ceremony with the groom's family. The whole collection of photos could be Reddit gold but since it's their day, I'm assuming they'd rather have the photos to themselves. I can't help but post one though because there's nothing, nothing in the world like a pueblo wedding.

Happy August, everyone!