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Adult StoryTime during Safer at Home Orders

Dear Humans,

I’m sorry that the world is scary and uncertain and overwhelming right now. It’s also connected and caring.  I’m in awe of the number of folks I know personally who have, with everything else going on, offered to make art and read stories to our children.  It’s incredible. Isn’t that what we all need right now?  For someone else to pick their favorite books, snuggle us up, and read to us?  That’s what we’re going to do here.  From some cozy place in my house, wearing pajamas, doing my best to not shrink at my dyslexia and my own inability to sit still for too long right now, and with occasional background meows, I’m going to read to you.  I’m so grateful to these artists for their words.  I’m so grateful that you’re here.

Love,

Nik

Listen and Read Here

Poems de amor/Love Poems

Today is the day my partner and I recognize the magical beginning of our connection.  Yesterday we celebrated by marveling and sweating in a botanical garden and stuffing ourselves full of delicious Mediterranean food.  On the drive there she fed me my favorite cheesecake for breakfast.  And then we returned home to read each other poems  (Andrea Gibson) in a shared bubble bath, next to this portable fireplace we bought to make life just a little sweeter and a littler warmer.  Yes, these are our lives.  And not just on special occasions.  Or at least a fraction of our lives.   

All this follows having facilitated a Valentine’s Day Date Poetry Workshop on Friday, in which she wrote me her first love poem and then read it in front of the group, which is maybe the most beautiful gift ever.  

Curled in bed last night we decided to stop forgetting to do things we love.  And then, as life often needs, revised it to: Let’s stop getting too exhausted to do the things we love.  

Being by her side and sharing life with her is worth celebrating, annually and daily.  Especially because we all know no one’s life is all cheesecakes and love poems.  And so, I offer you all this love poem and drawing that I gifted her for Christmas.  Because if now isn’t the time for us all to be sharing love poems with each other, there will never be a time.  

Note: Neither of us look like this, I’m a writer of pictures, not a drawer of them.  But both of us snore like this.  

Para mi sueño: Te quiero.  MUCHO.  Todos los muchos.  Saludos a nosotr@s! May we grow more caring next to each other this year.  xo

 

The poem in the picture, first in Spanish and then in English: 

Mientras roncas

Algunas noches empiezo a 

escribirte poemas de amor mientras duermes

Intento hacer rimas 

que coincidan con el ritmo de tus ronquidos

Pero lo único que he encontrado que coincide 

con tu ritmo es el latido de mi corazón.

Entonces dejé mi lápiz

Olvida mis palabras

Y escucha la magia–

envuelto en ti

enredado en mí.



While you snore 

Some nights I start to 

write you love poems while you sleep

I try to make rhymes 

that match the rhythm of your snores 

But the only thing I’ve found that matches 

the rhythm of you is my heartbeat— 

So I set down my pencil

Forget my words 

And listen to the magic–

wrapped up in you

tangled up in me. 

 

 

What is race? – Part 1

What is race? – Part 1

What is race? – Part 1
— Read on youngpeopleinsight.com/2019/10/25/what-is-race-part-1/

My Latina Girlfriend’s White Ass: Building Shared Understanding and Definitions

Before we move further into our discussion, it’s important that we’re on the same page about some definitions.  Especially because the way demographic information is collected in the U.S. further confuses our understandings of race, ethnicity, and other complex human identities.  So does migration.

atlas close up dark dirty

Photo by Aaditya Arora on Pexels.com

Hispanic: This means of or relating to Spain.  Which is also to say, this means Spain or colonized by Spain.  When referring to a person, it means that they speak Spanish as their primary (but maybe not Native) language.  It’s most commonly used to describe anyone in the U.S. who learned to speak Spanish before, or at the same time as, English. Folks tend to use Hispanic and Latino interchangeably, but they mean quite different things.  You’ll find Hispanic listed as an ethnicity on most the U.S. forms of your life.

Latino: Latino, as patrilineal and patriarchal cultures do, is used to mean everyone, regardless of gender, from Latin America, but it technically means men from Latin America.  The label Latino identifies folks beyond national identity as someone who’s ancestors a) were colonized by Spaniards between the 15th and 18th centuries, b) are descendants of Spanish colonial-settlers, and most commonly c) a combination of a & b.

Latina: The feminine version of Latino.  Never used as a universal term to include everyone from Latin America.  But I’m down to start using it that way, if you want to.

Latinx: A gender neutral alternative to the Latino/Latina dichotomy.  The @ symbol can also be used for gender neutral language: Latin@.  It’s a bit binary, but it will do.  Some Spanish speaking folx, even queer ones, resist these contemporary evolutions as colonial.    Which is interesting, given that Spanish is a colonial language and that most often these folks are primarily of Spanish colonial-settler descent.  But these systems are built to be confusing as fuck.  When Latinx is resisted, it tends to be resisted most commonly by Hispanic and Latinx immigrants to the U.S. with strong colonial ancestry.

A fun comic that helps to explain the difference between Hispanic and Latinx. 

Latin America: This refers to the the collective regions of North, Central, and South America colonized by Spain.  It includes the areas of land we now refer to as: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana (sorta), Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

American: What folks from the U.S. say to refer to things made and born in the U.S. What folks from the UK say to mean not as good as the UK.  What the rest of the world uses to refer to things and beings from two whole continents named America.

Fun Fact: It’s only in North America that we learn that these are two separate continents.  In South America, South and North America are considered one single continent.  I know, I know.  But we have each other.  

 

And it’s a good thing we do:

Race: Well, this one is a doozy.  It’s generally used when we’re referring to the shade of a person’s skin color.  It’s meant, much like Latinx, to group individuals.  This time based on specific shared biological components.  (Though the range of biological differences within a race is actually much more vast than between races, making it more accurate as an additional social and cultural identifier).  It’s a tool to control humans that is sometimes reclaimed as a tool to empower humans.  We’ll find other blogs, written by folks with different experiences than mine, to learn more about race together.  For now, we’re going to follow our societal instincts and simplify a very complex set of concepts.  We’ll consider race as the 5 categories required by the U.S. Census: White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.  (Isn’t it weird that we alphabetize nearly everything in the world except this list? Hmmm…) There is the alternative option of “other” which tends to be symbolic for the beginning of an awakening in the humans in charge of PAPERWORK.  And occasionally there is “multiple races”, which is not an occasional occurrence.

So, someone, from any region in the world, from any country in the world, can belong to the following races: Asian, Black, Indigenous, White, and Kānaka maoli.  And after you realize that the U.S. Census is super-general until it gets real specific about the Indigenous groups it’s settler-colonized most recently, we are left with:

Asian     Black     Indigenous    White

And folks of these races can and do live across the entire globe.

This means there are even white supremacist, border-loving, anti-Black, anti-migrant and refugee, folks regularly born in countries like Venezuela.

Generations upon generations of them.

 

And then sometimes, these very same folks, migrate to the U.S.

And become interested in (Im)migrant Rights.

 

 

Now you’re wondering if my girlfriend is one of them.

Maybe.

Maybe not.

But she’s going to tell her own story.

 

 

 

Note: If something is highlighted and a different color than the rest of the text, you can click on it and it will give you more information.  Like “Ethnic”; “Ethnicity”; and “Dichotomy” below.

Language Note: “I’m down” is a phrase used in U.S. English to mean either that you have knowledge of something or that you are in agreement with it.  In the section “Latina”, it means that I am in agreement with it.

More Definitions:

EthnicEthnicity; Dichotomy

Kānaka maoli: The name folks indigenous to Hawaii call themselves.  It means people.

Gender Binary: This is the idea that there are only two genders and that they are somehow in opposition to each other.  Woman and man.

Paperwork: Forms that you have to fill out, whether online or on physical paper, generally about yourself.

Doozy: This doesn’t quite mean what it used to.  Today, it is used to describe something unique and carries a connotation of frustration or difficulty.  Originally, it meant stylish or splendid and generally referred to early American (U.S.) automobiles.

My Latina Girlfriend’s White Ass

My least favorite tokenism is the kind where you’re invited to a party to check off a box when you don’t actually fit that box, and they don’t even know you don’t fit that box.  But you’re the closest or most comfortably exotic thing for everyone and they get to high-five themselves instead of growing or getting up from their table from time to time.

Example: Like when everyone kisses my girlfriend’s white ass and checks off the POC seat at their table. I mean, I like that ass more than you do, but it was white in Venezuela and it’s white here. And every Latinx POC knows that. 

Anti-Racist Newsflash: They got white people south of the US/Mexican border.  And something else we don’t talk about much, there are Black folks in Latin America too.  

What does this require us to reconsider?

 

Everything.

 

But let’s pause here for now: 12 Latina Authors You Should Be Reading Right Now. 

 

Note:  Being an immigrant is always complicated.  It’s especially complicated for Latinx folks in the U.S.  This conversation is not meant to minimize that experience.  Our hope is to make our conversation as complicated as folks’ lived realities.  And being a white immigrant, even if you’re an undocumented queer woman, is not the same experience as being a brown or Black immigrant.  Being a Latinx immigrant in the U.S. is difficult, but as with most experiences, it is made less difficult by whiteness.  And language privileges.  But we’ll get to that later in this series as other voices join the conversation.

Language Note: “Our table” or “their table” is a common U.S. English phrase that usually refers to where a group of people meet or share conversations.

Definitions: Tokenism, Latinx

 

Hey friend, it’s been awhile…

As I begin to write in new directions and dust off my blog, I had considered starting fresh.  And while that’s sometimes necessary and healing, I’ve decided this time to get uncomfortable and invite you to witness my processes of growth.  Brining all of the messy parts a long with us.  It’s so counter to my values to only present a polished version, nothing about me is, nor wants to be, polished.  I’m working on it.

I’m really excited for the projects ahead and I’m so happy you’re here with me.

 

xo,

Nik

A Strand (a love poem)

When I found her hair in the shower the first time,

my knees bent as if she left me a love poem.

I wrapped my hand around it,

like I would never let her go.

I watched another make its way down the drain

and realized I was holding it like

I understood she would probably go.

Knuckles white-red from grasping so tight,

her hair-poem made fists for loving.

I loved her before

I kissed her. Which is the hardest way to fall.

All heart. The way a balloon keeps filling until

it bursts. The way a robin’s egg falls out of the nest

just before it births flight. I swallow down the yellow

yoke of her, lick her words like frosting from my face.

One little hair and I am folded naked in the tub,

knees to my chest, water drowning my grin–

wondering if she understands how brilliantly she feels

or how beautifully she knows. I curl around her questions as if

the desperation behind questions have been answers the whole time.

Invitation to Be/live

I have been invited to church, to lodge, to pray in the woods.

To make art, to build alters for the dead, to study the Bible.

She, and then she, reads my cards and counts my stars,

she prays on her knees,

while I look up at the moon.

I have been invited

and often I go,

or come,

somehow I arrive

in these spaces

nothing feels more real or beautiful

Have you ever cried during someone else’s song of praise?

Have you ever trembled during the baptism of a stranger?

Outside of these spaces I think: missionaries, sheep, rape and war.

Capitalist communion.  Cultural appropriation.  Deflection and pacification.

 Have you ever wondered what you’re taking in exchange for offering your God?

Have you ever wondered what you’re offering in exchange for worshiping their gods?

Offering; spirituality for profit.

Even yoga makes me uncomfortable.

But to watch someone interact with their faith,

Not attend church, but to show up

This is what I have always been searching for

Waiting as a girl on church steps for

.                     my friends and their families to come out

.                     to believe in something so completely that I forget that everything fails

And then, she curled up in this communal space, front row, her legs folded beneath her,

And she took notes.

I don’t know what she wrote

But I read colors spiraling inside like the northern lights,

the kind of intensely gentle touch that heals.

Intentional

She offers it to herself.

I sway to the notes that are not for me

as the congregation sings, moves

we’re moved.

Eyes closed, lungs filled with praise.

Breath.

.                       Breathe.

.                                                Breathing fresh

air is something I cannot see.

But faith, she holds up

She reads it to me like the embrace of

a bedtime story

.                                           with a surprise ending.

Or a bright light

shining through a man-made tree,

reimagined.  Multiplied by three.

Draft 11/2/2015

Comfort Food

I just made myself one of my grandmother’s favorite foods, but I prepared it the way my mother would have eaten it.  I cannot decide who I am seeking comfort from, or for.

And I wonder if nourishing my body in the autumn will always feel like this now.  Like I watched my mother starve for three days until she died.

This is real life.

image

From Indian Trail to Noah’s Ark.

The offensive image is for direction,

in case you lose your way.