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“tierra”

Press your palms on her. Feel. Experience. I meditated with this, I took my time. I followed my gut. I used a glass bowl- equal part dirt and mod podge. I didn’t wear gloves. I used my hand… to scoop the mixture and press it on the canvas. I let the paint drip. My room smelled like glue for a week. I slept in a hoodie. The windows open.

This painting is an ode to the pivotal parts of our identity and ancestry that are underground. The ways in which we as humans fail to uncover and realize the beauty and complexities of All that we are and all we are connected to. By exposing the roots, I resist our culture’s desire to see beauty on the surface and encourage us to dive into the darkened parts of ourselves burrowed and sometimes disregarded. By exposing the roots, we are reminded there is more to the world than what we see. Most of our forests are underground. Did you know? Take care of her and she will take care of you too.

Featured

“un jarrón de flores”





20×20″ acrylic on canvas,

worked and reworked.

the beauty of acrylic is nothing ever has to stay still– my paintings can evolve and grow alongside me. I finished the first version of this painting last year. I added some grapes in July. Surreal leaves in August. A little grey in September. Brown spheres in October. Streams of golds, greys, & metallic blues last night. this was a dream slowly realized. an initial distaste revealed then reimagined.

“cielo morado,” “untitled,” & “rebirth”

I’ve finally decided to share some of my visual art on here. IMG-4189 (1)

“cielo morado” 36×24, acrylic & gloss on canvas

I was so happy when I made her. The colors poured from my paintbrush without second thought. The golden core of this sun reflects the tiniest bit of light at night. It’s difficult to photograph but this painting wears many faces as the light around her shifts. My brother called dibs.

IMG-4188 (1)
“untitled” 24×30, acrylic on canvas

I worked to create something I wanted to look at over and over again. I didn’t mind if she looked at me back, so I started with the eye. And the irregular shapes began to form on their own. I have her above my bookshelf, the earth tones beautifully match the spines of my collection so I won’t be giving her away.

IMG-4185 (1)
“rebirth” 30×24, acrylic+soil+pebbles on canvas (2018)

I was dreaming of snakes during this time .. and one night with no blank canvas I chose a self portrait I made the year before. I painted her entirely in copper, bronze, red, & brown. I added a silver snake along the middle & lined the top and bottom of the canvas with soil I brought back from Peru last year, repurposed & glazed. She is reborn.

I will post 2 more paintings this week

Thank you!

little lessons

little lessons

I could go on for pages on the ways in which Life interrupted my plans to post, but I won’t. Simply, I’ll apologize and move on. I messed up. I’ll do better.

The professor looked in our direction, put their elbows on the table and told us if we could do something else, we should.

If we were able to enter a different field, shift academic trajectories, choose another program we should. If we decide to stay… if we believe this is what we were born to do…  “my condolences.”

I’m forced to be smarter here. I am in constant state of reeducation. I walk slower now, making sure I don’t “pull” when I should “push.” I adopt mannerisms, study ways my peers talk to the professor. I study outfits, diction… Durkheim.  As a graduate student in this prestigious program, I am aware both by nature and training of those around me. The air here is dense with complex text and discussion. Therefore, I breathe with intention. At a pace. I am learning. I can feel it.

I’m forced to be selfish here. I let a love be momentary once again. A fatal combination of free time and emotion led me there. And here. On my bed. Writing. I’m at peace. The goodbye was necessary, yet I remind myself it takes more than one to measure a relationship’s worth. Twenty two with two jobs and a thesis on the way… I need to be selfish in love. I am in a constant state of reeducation.

I’ll do better.

In the Door, a series (edit: short lived)

In the Door, a series (edit: short lived)

“Section 8 to Ivy League”

I saw her hands rise, just a touch. The tone in her voice becoming more urgent, less anxious. Sure of herself and her intentions, she spoke passionately against the field she taught in. Her words attacked the elitism and inaccessibility of education, her desire for inclusive research became her. I listened. I agreed. Yet, I couldn’t forget the initials by her name. The number of publications she’s authored. The number of times she’s been cited.

I couldn’t forget where we were. A bougie high end coffee shop in downtown Boston charging $4.75 for a pack of 3 gluten free cookies. Here, we critiqued the “elite.”

In a month I will begin my Masters degree at an Ivy League institution where you can feel the air of prestige even in the restrooms. This anger, this passion, this frustrated quiver in tone… it’s inside of me too. But I wonder, where do I stand in this fight for accessibility? How angry can I be at the “other side” while I plant my foot in the door? Is my desire to fight against the system contradictory to my walking into it?

In this blogging series, I am going to document my year at Columbia. My transition from one school to the next is more than a change of scenery. It’s letting go of a Section 8 voucher for more student loan debt. It’s a disguise of elitism, a false air of comfort… a childhood dream come true. Tackling with the complication of my position, I hope to make this experience tangible and in some strange way find strength in this vulnerability of sharing my journey with you.

I’ll be posting at least every other week.

(EDIT: I can’t even say I tried to keep up with this post’s promise. I apologize & moving on)

“fading”

“fading”

creative writing assignment

I didn’t like the shoes I wore that night. The rubber lining on the strap pinched the skin above my heels. But the heels matched the blouse, so I wore them anyway. My top was sheer enough to be suggestive, but comfortable enough for the train. I took one final look in the mirror to pull my skirt down, rake fly aways in, fix my lipstick. Routinely unsatisfied, I grabbed my keys and left.

We met up at a bar by Kendall station. I walked through seas of  twenty and thirty-somethings to find her. I felt uneasy that night, my skirt kept riding up and the wind felt foreign against my bare back. I kept shifting my weight from one foot to the other, rubbing against the coming blisters. Samantha complimented my shoes. We paid for our drinks and walked a few blocks down University Ave.

This part of the city had breaks in their sidewalks. We got to a door with the number 87 on it. The buzzer was broken. Sam touched her phone and a minute later we heard a voice above us. A man pushed his long hair to one side and leaned against the windowsill. Well look at that, he said to us with a smirk. The man threw down the keys to Samantha. Effortlessly, she caught them and sent him a kiss with her fingers.

The party was tired. Half the people were on their phones and the other half played beer pong. I saw a girl in a t-shirt and jeans, I was jealous. I pulled my skirt a little further down and looked at Samantha. I thought no one really had fun at parties, we were just faking it. Samantha faked it the best. Her body loosened to the beat of badly selected music. She made the party look almost slightly interesting. I left to find some quiet.

This is the youngest and prettiest you’ll ever be, Mami told me while I was growing up. I repeat this to myself in the mirror of the bathroom. The songs turned into soft echoes, silencing sounds of beer-pong grunts. I took off my shoes and bent underneath the sink. An empty toothpaste bottle with chunks of dried up blue paste stuck to the bottom of the shelf. There were prescription bottles and loose q-tips. Two-in-one shampoos and conditioners were stacked next to a box of condoms. I reached over to the band-aids and patched up my ankles. Anyone in there, a woman’s voice yelled behind the door. I left.

Midnight. A tall man in an Old Navy t-shirt and patchy beard put his hand on my bare back. My heart skipped a beat and I took a step away from him towards the wall. Sorry, I said although I wasn’t sure what I apologized for. What’s your name, he asked. He smiled. Who do you know here? I’ve never been good at flirting but I remind myself this is the youngest and prettiest I’ll ever be. I ask him to make me a drink.


His eyes were almost as dark as the circles underneath them. I propped myself on the kitchen counter as he poured equal parts vodka, orange juice, tonic. The chill distracted me from my discomfort. He gave me my drink and put his hand on my knee. I took a few sips and looked passed him. Samantha smiled, sitting on the lap of the man with long hair kissing her ear. I stopped thinking about my feet, I didn’t feel too exposed anymore. Calmness came over me. Tranquility paired nicely with the party.

The night grew darker. I grabbed onto the rail tightly trying to get down the narrow staircase. My ankles trembled in every step. I almost fell, but someone was holding me up by my waist. I said thank you and kept descending. I got to a door numbered 78, twisted the doorknob. A sea of cool air whipped passed us. I made it outside.

I thought about Samantha, where was she? The stars flickered quickly against the darkness of the sky. The stars were really street lamps. They were yellow, where was I? Cars rushed past us, rain pierced through my shoulders. Cold, shaking. My top was sheerer than I thought, my skirt stuck to my thighs. His palm rubbing my neck.

The concrete shimmered. Streets turned into mirrors. Street lamps doubled, the liquor store. Neon lights, bright blue beer poured through the window. Oranges, yellows vibrating together in the puddles on the corners. Gliding on the pavement, I became pigment. Music gone, only sirens. Bright. My breath. My heels crashed against the tides of cracked sidewalks. She looked into him, he looked at her.


I kept walking, for hours. She was tired against the lights of the city. I dreamt while I stumbled. Soft tapping of rain turned the scene into art. She tipped her head into the sky. I let the world do the melting, my colors fading. Water trickled into my eyelashes, she squinted and felt her breath swimming in slow motion. I started to cry. Does he know my name? Do you care.


I looked at the couple. On the other side. The street dividing us. Our mouths wide enough to swallow each other whole. She put his palms on his cheeks, his eyes were closed. She kissed his neck, he grabbed her waist. He said something in her ear. I looked at the street lamp, wondering. Is this one mine? He took out his keys and let us in.

Monday. Samantha asks if I made it home okay. I tell her yes. That night, I told my mother. I don’t feel too young anymore. 

a little follow up

a little follow up

Before “Academia, Love Me Back” my blog was an intimate space where words were mine and my passions could be semi-privately tucked away behind a screen. Now I am keenly aware of how many people are reading this. Although the intimacy is gone, a new network of solidarity has kindly replaced it. In 2016, my resolution was to start a blog. In 2017, my resolution is to continue it.

I decided to write this follow up post yesterday (finally, I know) as I marched alongside a hundred and fifty thousand people in the Boston Women’s March. I looked around me while we gathered in Boston Common and felt the need now more than ever to create content. I had the realization that in these next few years, activism will increase tenfold and more and more voices of the oppressed need to be heard. So, instead of being silenced by those in power we must utilize our online presence and stop waiting for other people to publish us. We can publish ourselves.

“Academia, Love Me Back” is an experience I will never forget. The love I received from powerful, beautiful, and kind individuals has given me the motivation to pursue my dreams. After the post, I no longer walk alone. I have the power and solidarity of millions behind me.

I have been told by many not to look at the comments of my post and of course I tried in the beginning to find bliss in ignorance but at one point I fell down the rabbit hole. As I scrolled through the comments I saw “slit your wrist,” “spik,” “you’re racist,” and other phrases not worth repeating. Although I acknowledge the vile nature of these comments, unintentionally these trolls supported my growth. Whether or not you understood my post and my experience, everyone who entered my blog amplified my voice.

To conclude this short post, I read as many of your messages as possible and recorded your letters so I want to end this with a sincere and heavy thank you. After a few months of fearing additional backlash, I am finally excited to start using this page again. Thank you once again for giving up a few minutes of your day to read my words. Because of you, I am heard.

The picture accompanied with this post was taken at Stockton University. I was kindly invited to share my story and empower RA’s to use their agency as student leaders to facilitate change. Special thank you to RD Joseph Argueta for advocating to have me on their campus.