When you live in a tiny teeny apartment you'll do anything you can to make space to welcome his mother home for a visit. I'll warm the comal too, she's never had my homemade tortillas! But, it's not like she hasn't been here before. I could be sad that I'll never physically meet her, or that my love misses her the same way he did when he was 10, or that my family will never meet her, or that our future plans together, as a growing family, will never include her in the photos. It could be so sad that each cut I make into a shape for the altar's papel picado would turn into a small cup of tears. It could've been so sad, if that wasn't when the sadness became something else, magic. At that precise moment is when Mictecacihuatl takes the steering wheel and watches over the body [the body as tierra, earth, or ash] so that the spirit is safe to join us for even a brief moment. That cold chill. That dancing monarch trying to kiss the top of your nose. Some of us consider the tears to always be sad ones. Yet one of the beauties of being gifted a Mexican heart is that we understand that long past the childhood confusion, through the memories, and to heal from the withoutness as an adult we can invite our loved ones back to where we call home. To say hello, catch up, and to celebrate the past and the present, in truth - and a little chisme. We're all lucky that way. And there's enough Mexican heart to go around. And when we've found the love of our life, one of the very first things we do is meet their parents. Good or bad, one way or another. And we share their stories, and we learn while trying to forget, or remember, and build new families, and the circle continues, the way it's continued for thousands of years.
I'm excited to welcome Irene home when she visits us here in the San Fernando Valley, but shhhh - I'll tell her it's the heart of Los Ángeles, home of the Mexican heart...for just a few nights! ;)
Wrenching. Not only too young, I still don't understand why people as beautiful as this, the rare few like Michele Serros, don't live forever. Because the next young aspiring writer inspired by activism, ocean waves and not growing up on the East Side, will need someone to identify with. Always. Not all Chicanas identify with the three B's, but many of us identify with being that "medium brown girl," the one who even in our 30's is still asked, "But your mom's white, right?" Over and over and over again. Serros new that eventually you just have to write about it, and always write something that will help you laugh it off. But not before tears, and right now isn't funny.
Long after gentrification has run its course, and the lines between these diverse Chicana/o & Latina/o So Cal communities are painstakingly blurred, Chicana Falsa and Other Stories of Death Identity and Oxnard, How to be a Chicana Role Model, Honey Blonde Chica, and ¡Scandalosa! will all be considered history books. Poignant, funny, honest, painful, brilliant history books. Or rather, herstory books. But for now, those of us multi-generationed California writers, who happen to be Chicana and still taking Spanish-language courses the hard way, have work to do. Michele Serros paved the way for us, speaking our language, dancing in our kind of chanclas, and making us laugh from a view atop 12-foot waves. I don't know if her work is taught in high schools, I hope it is. I'm inspired to return to school, to get back out there to teach, to teach her work, to help inspire so many of LA's medium brown girls that need some Michele Serros in their lives. Thank you Michele.
Writer Michele Serros dies at 48
by David L Ulin, LA Times
I work at an art gallery, with doors wide open and always looking forward to the next person who walks in. Today an odd but giddy artist fella stopped by to check out the art, among other things. I was happy to entertain him while he waited for the director to finish her meeting, but found more joy in him entertaining me. In between discussions on Zaum poetry and teaching me standing yoga poses he would yell at me because I questioned his opinion that writing makes people happy. His opinion, in a nutshell and generally speaking, was that any and all writing, like painting, fulfills a deep need for us to get in touch with our emotions and that this leads to true happiness. Hmmm. No. It is what it is.
Hours after he left, my mind ruminated on happiness. And on writing - my mind ruminated on writing…ugh. After work I decided that I'd rather not write and instead I'd finally get around to reading the April/May 2013 issue of Razorcake, the bi-monthly zine put out by Todd Taylor of Razorcake/Gorsky Press. I've been staring at my copy since I picked it up at AWP in Seattle back in February, and the freakin' thing is put together in Highland Park - where I live and work. Weird!
So this is a punk zine right? And so to find myself in tears while eating dinner at a nearby very-public restaurant was a little unexpected on an easy Tuesday night. Forget for a minute that on this night there had just been a shooting a few blocks away and the body discovered not too far. After distracting myself with the first few pages of the zine I skipped to page 8 and read the title "Notes on Grief," and a reactionary inhale overcame me until I glanced at the sketch of a bird and a Sandy Hook graphic on the opposite page. I don't remember exhaling. By the time this zine was published it had been four months since that day happened, the day we would all like to think never happened. But it did happen, and four months is the same as a day.
I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue, in a couple days I'll be in a cyclical mourning period myself, marking the second year of life without a friend whose friendship I could really use right now. A friend whom I would have called last week to hear her laughter reign over those sounds a broken heart makes, because only the closest people know what mends you - and twenty years of friendship mends everything. But I continued reading, because I'm on a mission. And damn that Jim Ruland for being such a good writer. In spite of bringing me to tears over just how mind-body-heart-gut wrenching the world can be, he wrote about emotion, spirit and strength , and quite beautifully honored his friend's daughter, Avielle, by writing her name to memory.
Although life, its reflection and its death, was happening all around me tonight, Ruland's essay was a suggestion to me that a memory can act as a little bird that kinda passes by to say hello and quickly leaves to create a nest to find shelter in. Don't get me wrong, his essay was more of a recollection of a very dark time, but in it I found glimpses of strength. I would like to try to keep nests for glimpses and recollections of memory and strength. To create memories is an act of eternal giving, that never stops gifting - to at the very least some one. As mothers day approaches I can't help but think of my mother whom I haven't spoken with in a little while for complicated reasons, and that I love her and miss her and for now, until we do speak again, I have those memories - kept in a nest...
A momentary life of trees, branches of strength, blossoming with nests to keep memories nearby, isn't too bad... and something to be thankful for. But to the dude who is looking for happiness; writing this...isn't making anybody happier, anytime soon. And it's okay.
When the rivers rise
to meet where my words once fell and failed me,
so that the words can find balance in swimming.
When I can remain still and comfortably desperate at my desk to write,
in order to forgive myself of my wrongs.
When the day comes that I can finally move on,
from everything that I thought I was,
in a universe I constructed with balsa wood foundations
and houses made of sand castles of his ashes.
When the rivers finally rise to make mud of those ashes,
so that the sun can set the ashes to clay,
as a reminder that everything was real.
And when I can wake up to put a smile on, before deciding what to wear,
and he's still there.
When all of this...is, not dreamt
is when I can say I found the Ark that Noah built,
the one that saves us from ourselves.
The 'animals' were just an illusion.
The longing for a memory
of a voice, the sound of your name echoing in enunciated emotions
when all is lost,
will never be answered with a text messaged hello or I love you.
Voice speaks louder
than what we hear.
It takes hard work to know how to be sad. It's like learning to drive a car...that drives your life to it's next destination. And with so many stops along the way, strength and courage can roll down the window...let some air in. But it takes our entire being to get out of the car, and take in the view. And it only matters when we're ready. And we're only ready when we let our love consume us.
Writing, at its best, is an observation with the occasional participation...in living. The wonderful writer Joseph Mattson catches those observations in the height of their realty and releases them...to us, gift wrapped in piercing colors that we can feel. Read this and unwrap the imagery and what your left with is, quite simply, an amazing and perfectly arranged assortment of sentences. Writing at its best.
"My Mother's Unsolved Murder" by Joseph Mattson, published by The Fix