Category Archives: Holiday
I was raised an American.
I physically developed, formulated a personality, practiced social graces, and made friends living abroad, almost entirely outside of the United States of America.
Beyond America, as an American, no one gave a shit if your father was this race, your mother was that ethnicity, and certainly, without a hometown to tout, nobody cared which city/town/state in America your people came from. The determinant of a shared drink at the bierstübe or an all-out beat down was simple: conciliatory manners, meaning, demonstrating respect towards the culture one is ensconced in, for the sake of peace. This is how I came to understand “relationship building.”
Thus, my confusion when I arrived on these shores to find the Americans acting rather…feral…towards each other. As soon as I smiled hello, the marginalization began: What are you? What are your parents? Where do they come from? What neighborhood do you live in? Marginalizing box after box after box instead of just a, ‘nice to meet you’ in response. I thought it was a phase, but, twenty-three years later, that fervent need to make a person fit in a narrow-minded box is still definitive Americana.
Artistically, my race/sex/ethnicity/nationality/sexuality/etc does not matter. I have voiced men, I have voiced South Asians, I have voiced transsexuals through my artistry. It’s because I allow myself to be infused by these cultures that these stories and poems manifest, and manifest with respect to the attributes of the culture.
As an independent author, I had to manage my own marketing, so I tried assimilating into the literary world fold without utilizing Americanism, because it belittles me. If I’m only an [adjective] author, then I’m saying my art is only valuable to [adjective] people, which would be me belittling my target audience, the global community!
The last two months During the summer of 2014, I did decent with general sales but abysmal in representing my work without getting forced into a social cubby-hole. I incurred derogatory statements regarding my sex, my race, my ethnicity, and those statements then erroneously defined the quality of my novel.
While I try to respect the perspective of those who protect their “-ness,” I won’t allow my principles to be subjugated to the -ness. Does that make sense? That’s not my crutch; that’s that person’s crutch, and I needn’t lean on it. Here’s a sample of that:
There was an opportunity for I Blew Up Juarez to be featured in one of Tampa Bay’s [adjective] bookstores. This [adjective] bookstore, according to its owner, is the signature bookstore for the area’s [adjective] community. As well, the owner was a contributing committee member for a major area festival celebrating the [adjective] community, and she was THE person to talk to in order to be a featured artist in that festival. Struck gold, right?
The bookstore owner felt her endorsement of my work would be integral to achieving success in the Greater Tampa Bay reading community. It was here in the conversation I started to experience trepidation, as I observed her mentally pushing four boards together around me in the middle of her shop.
A bystander to our conversation felt compelled to declare, “We need to support all [adjective] authors!” He nodded heavily, proud of this statement. He supplemented his declaration by talking about inspiring the future generation of [adjectives], and the struggles of being [adjective].
Very rah-rah-rah this guy! I saw an opportunity and replied, “Thank you for that! I have copies in my car, would you like to purchase one?”
He blinked at me.
He looked at the bookstore owner.
The bookstore owner burned eyes into him.
He looked back to me and declared, “I wasn’t going to buy a book today.”
I retrieved my review copy of I Blew Up Juarez from her weeks later, as it became more evident her intentions were to puppet my [adjective] self, not my artist self. Even if she was a fellow [adjective] person in the literary community, she behaved like a complete asshole.
Unfortunately, it is socially expected to accept marginalization and profitable to -ness it up.
It’s disparaging, but…I suppose I’m the only one who sees it that way.
*: original post 06.24.2014 – edited content and toned down cynicism
Here it is, folks, the most visibly and audibly LOUDEST outfit I’ve worn yet!
At my friend’s house party, I overheard the most beautiful delivery of sarcasm of the whole of 2014: if you’re going to be an atheist, at least be dogmatic about it.
Moment to acknowledge: this was my first Christmas party sans alcohol since I was a KID, and you know what? I had fun! I laughed a lot, I met people, and I ate more than necessary.
No more crutches.
First poem of 2015:
is my last day
I have no plans. I really have no goals to achieve in the immediate future. My calendar shows a series of blank fields. Unprecedented!
Here’s the thing: every year of my adult life I’ve needed a focal point. By 1 December, I would have had a prepared list of things to do in the coming year, by quarters, with approximate time tables for project completion. This year? All I did was wake up and show up.
I did pack my laptop and wireless keyboard and mouse under the pretense of getting my prose and poetry organized. The devices spent more time occupying the bend of a sitting room couch than in action!
I did a little exercise of writing technique. For the first few days of my visit, I used my morning pages to compose a fairy tale, about the Queen of Saturnalia leaving her coastal lands for the dark and cold North, ruled by The Dark Prince. Probably five entries in, did the story go from fantastical alternate world scape to sequential erotica! How is it? Well, reading it over analytically, I have a solid grasp of the activity, but the anticipatory factor, that build-up the Midwest moms really need, is very weak. To borrow a publisher’s comment, it ain’t bad, but it ain’t great!
I still haven’t done my book unveiling yet, it was my planned New Years Day event, but then decided I wanted it to be a private affair.
No more irrational pressure. If I can I will. If it’s not in me, it’s not gonna happen. Sourcing that pressure, I know it to come from a culture demanding accountability, when, in and of itself, the culture is conditioned to act irresponsibly. This year, any pressure I embody will be self-developed for my own personal gains. This, my crone emphasized, is enhancement. Those who adhere to cues from Society call it selfishness. Just bear in mind, School of Latter Thought, the trophies for self-sacrifice are almost always awarded posthumously. My intention is to be relevent now by first acknowledging the Now.
Switching gears, I want to talk about you in your face! I am absolutely flattered by the diversity of readers engaged in my madness. Based on skillful trolling, my recent new readers average their early 20s and are artistically driven. This puts me in a vantage of mentorship, but not in the typical, “I’m older than you therefore I am better than you” way; rather, I’d like to approach my proselytizing like who I am in real life: your cool aunt who passes the ganja around while she shares tales of shenanigans, with a pinch of morality thrown in! Experience, not age, is how one achieves Wisdom.
For 2015, I’m going to enhance my blogging experience by sharing more, which isn’t easy for me, but I know if I unlatch a bit of armor, you’d appreciate associating with me more. The challenge is to be more revealing about my existence.
So let’s start with this piece… CLANK! There goes the left gauntlet to the floor.
Hi. My name is Ivonne, with an I not a Y, it’s pronounced with a hard eee, not a yuh or an eye. For the sake of monosyllablism, let’s go with Von.
And you are…?
Lucky for me, I have two benevolent people in my life who embody the values of Love and Wisdom in a manner I deeply desire. I met Love, protective and gentle, and Wisdom, reflective and balancing, about the same time last year, and since meeting them, the delusions of archetypal conditioning have started to melt away. Entering into 2015, I no longer feel starved of these self-actualizing components. Rather, I’m experiencing real-life affects of their abundant energy.
As I pack up Queen of Saturnalia’s caravan for a later departure back to the bright coastal waters of her queendom, I feel spiritually, physically, and emotionally sated. I will enter my home, settle in Bobby, and look out to the lake and marine wildlife in my backyard. I’ll plug in my newer tablet to fully charge.
In the morning, after my morning pages and coffee, I will do my book unveiling ceremony.
That’s the plan.
[NOTE: Revisit of last year’s Christmas-themed post. Enjoy!]
On Monday, a bright, textbook sky blue morning, I picked up Marie and her son, Loki, and we headed up to Weedon Island Preserve. We were going to be the only people around, given the sparse parking lot. I love that. Don’t get me wrong, I love Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, but it’s too in the city and heavily trafficked. I’m trying to get my Henry David Thoreau on. I’m trying to loose the coil that is society for the next few hours.
I was led to reflect on Walden, one of the first books I read after deciding to cease living my old existence. My favorite chapter of the book, and I know you’ll think me strange, is The Bean-Field. His fastidiousness in accounting for developing his garden reminded me of how much I sought to control every value of my life as if it was a line item. It’s not that simple though; not every aspect of life can be quantified.
In the past few weeks I experienced a dynamic, negative shift in my professional aspirations as well as a negative shift in my personal relations, one in particular Marie witnessed herself this past Friday. We reached the lookout point and we got to the discussion of values, the who and whats in our life we’ve assigned priority to, and why. Revisiting the events of last Friday, it was evident that there was way too much expectation out of individuals on my end, as if I was going to find The Total Package upon every new relationship I build. The reality of it, as Marie succintly pointed out, is that will never exist in an individual or a thing, and the best way to keep Angst at bay is to carve out the part of the individual or thing you do value and hold on to that. Find contentment in what works, and acknowledge not everything is going to be fulfilling. It’s fatalistic, but easy to digest.
My focus returned to quality of living. I relaxed against the wooden bench, eased my spine, and felt the twists of Angst unfurl slowly. I tipped my white hat over my eyes and felt a long overdue relaxation. It was then that Marie mentioned she couldn’t find her camera. “Dammit, I just got comfortable.” I shifted slightly, ready to remove my pose. “We’ll double back. It’s got to be on the trail. You stay there.” Now that was nice of her. I heard the stroller and the whine of the boy dissipate towards the island, and I drifted away in a cat nap.
This, I realized, is the essence of being. My hands are not manipulating anything. The hard drive that is my brain has slowed its spinning to a dull loop. The breeze, perfect against my skin, the sun, warm enough to cause slight sweat. I felt cleansed. The act of Being is such a rare engagement. To detach, to be one with the sky and the water and the earth, reminds of the fickle nature of humanity. While cars zip around carrying frantic holiday celebrators to and from stores and to and from houses, fufilling social mandates of the season, I am here, Being. This is the best celebration I could possibly engage in, and a cherished gift.
I wrote myself a letter once I got home, and my plan is to read it on New Year’s Day. If I am lucky, I will Be on that day. I hope you will Be, too.
*This is a test! Trying to move from handwriting to completely Swyping my random thoughts. All activity here conducted on a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3…so far, very impressed!*
If ever there was a time i felt most determined by the stuff i have, it is now, with this tablet, my first accessory i don’t actually need! Do i feel guilty? Yes. Do i feel indulgent? Also yes. Do i feel deserving of this sophisticated device? Actually, yes.
I am willed towards device technology, and i am sorry. But people can change their perspectives, and really, why am i still trying to uphold an old man’s lamentations, when the most sophisticated communication device of his era was the transatlantic cable? Is this conformity? I feel not. It’s that buried catholic guilt that’s making me feel bad. Think of the poor, think of the have nots. If they had their hands on this, wouldn’t they revel in its awesomeness? Hell yeah, they would! So play along, be determined, just don’t compromise your creativity just to accommodate a tool. Remember, this is just a hammer. You could just as well break a rock by hand. It’d hurt like hell though.