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Why Does an Angeleno Move to Silicon Valley?

23 Mar

I’m going on 5 years living in Silicon Valley. In this ridiculously overpriced, overhyped, overprotected, over-homogenous small town called Menlo Park. It feels like a five year old collar that has been shrinking, itching, suffocating the pure smog air that I miss from my dear LA.

Why do I miss LA you ask? Why miss a city that chews up so many dreams? How can I love a city that draws so many non-Native Angelenos and transforms them into pompous, vapid, ass-holy replicas of Entourage characters, or better yet – reveals who they were all along? Because I was born there, simple as that. And of all loyalties that I hold, my relationship to LA is a blood connection. And blood, blood is not easily erased.

LA is the relative I will never disown, the friend who keeps stumbling and falling in public but who I keep defending because hey, she has heart you know, she’s been through some stuff you know?

LA is my birthplace, the only place where I will ever truly feel like I’ve arrived home. My mother gave birth to me at LA County General Hospital and she won’t miss a beat to tell you that she was confined to some God-forsaken corner of some ill-gotten wing of the ancient, creaky hospital to give flight to her screams of pain. Minute by minute she will tell you how my birth, her second, took 18! No 20! No 24! No 36 hours of pain as I stubbornly refused to exit her short, warm body. But can you blame me? Did I know the world that awaited me?

And through some very windy, bumpy roads I find myself here. And not only here for here’s sake but here because shit is happening for me here you see. Attending Stanford and all, majoring in CS and all, and yet I feel so ready to ignite like 4th of July Fireworks until I descend back onto a city that sees my brown-ess not as just a nanny to my own daughter, not as just an interesting story, but as me. As my chingona self.

In LA I can howl. I can run, I can grab and lift and throw.

And here I feel so muted, lying in wait, tick tock, for shit to happen, to make shit happen, until I’m seen for what I’ve done and not who I am. To be a sum of my parts and not my whole self.

And then I remember sullenly that I left LA because it was drowning me in its glittery promise of a simple, sated life that did not include and exclamation point after my name. LA, my dear LA, would have left me in a ditch if I let it.

SO here I am in Silicon Valley until I make a name for what I carry inside, the desire for positive change. To leave the world a better place than I found it. And seeing it that way, that itchy, blindingly white collar is tolerable for a bit longer.

 

 

 

Sunny Mountain

7 Feb

We’re laughing,

quick hehehe’s and hahaha’s and silent cackles exploding inside

Our front brown stoop steps are crowded

Five Year olds shushing their baby sisters, rocking them in their arms.

Lla, Lla,

Sssshhh!

Shhhhhh!

Mami and Papis nowhere to be seen.

The older girls resting their elbows on their knees,

lounging,

looking cool.

Raising their head and eyebrow, mouth pulled to the side

every time a chump walked by

Under the microscope, flat on a slide,

dissecting with the precision of a surgeon’s knife until they kept walking.

Yeahhh, you best keep walking.

Walk away.

“There’s a fair across the street and over the hill.”

“That hill?” I don’t like going there unless I’m feeling brave.

“Yeah, just over and around the abandoned building.”

We’ve poked around there many times, Michael and I. We look for good sticks to use for our canes. Hobble and wobble along the broken concrete and shake it at each other. Sometimes we wake up the bums who sleep under cardboard boxes pushed against the crumbling earth. Not on purpose.

Sometimes we wake up the skinny women but they always go back to sleep when they see it’s just us.

“I’ll take you,” Chico offers.

I want to go to a fair. I can’t remember going, ever.

Except last year, around Christmas. The firemen took us to Knotts Berry Farm. We rode on a Ferris Wheel and petted animals and ate cotton candy that melted so fast in your mouth, I kept grabbing more. My warm, thirsty tongue could melt a giant, pink, fluffy ball in a second. The cops gave us baseball cards. We ran to their cars, crowding them, pushing against the metal, “More Dodger cards!” More Dodger cards!” we chanted and danced, our skinny arms pumping in the air, our street worn feet running in place. They high fived and laughed and they were so happy with us they came back with real, wrapped, Christmas presents. That, that, was a great Christmas.

“Let me go get Lili, she’s right inside, esperame.”

“NO. Hmmm. No, I only have enough money for two tickets,” Chico explains, holding up two chubby fingers.

“Why are you taking me then for?!” I want to yell. But I just stare at his stubby fingers. A fair, a fair, I want to go shoot at a clown and get a big fluffy Teddy Bear, so, so, big he can’t fit inside my door. I want to feel a pillow of pink inside my mouth turn into a tiny pebble. Not cotton balls, I tried those dipped in sugar but they just tasted dry and it took my mom for-eeeeever to get it out of my mouth.

I take Chico’s warm, sweaty hand and look up at him, making sure he’s not playing another mean joke.

We cross the street, he lets go my hand. I have to keep holding on to the long strands of dead grass every time my shoes slip. He’s ahead of me and I see him walk towards tall shadows. Not soft and clumsy like him. Tall lines with more lines poking out, no roundness.

I look up to the sky, so baby blue. There’s a bird, he’s telling me to forget. To sleep.

And I never remember the fair. I never remember what happens next. So don’t ask.

So soft

2 Feb

My Eyore among wolves. I wanted to kiss your cheekbones to see if their sharpness would cut me. How many time did I ask you to pull your ponytail off so I could admire your long silky hair?

Psst. Mariiii. Psst.

I heard you the first time but your soft voice was music to my ears. I liked your attention, Our friendship. I turned around and you were holding up a Winnie the Pooh drawing.

What do you think?

Did you trace that?!

Ouch. Really?

No, I mean, it’s really good. It looks just like him. That’s crazy, you just drew that?

Your cheeks are a high red now, and you pull at your stretched sleeves, trying to hide behind your hands.

Yeah..It’s for you. If you want it.

Thank you! That’s so beautiful, thank you.

I put the pencil drawing inside my folder, careful not to place it against another paper that has writing on it and around to look at Ms. Rosen again.

Hey, did you guys hear? Vicky comes over and puts her arm around my shoulder. I take her hand and push it off.

Hear what?

About Apenimon, he’s dead.

I feel light-headed, like someone yanked my brain, heart and stomach in three different directions. I want to throw up.

What are you talking about?! I ask impatiently, with attitude, placing my hands on my waist. No time for this nonsense.

Yeah, he was playing Russian roulette last night and shot himself. His moms found him in his room. Crazy… Hey did you guys do the math homework?

Yeah, but I don’t get number 7.

I keep walking, dragging my legs with me.

One, click. Two, click. How many times does it take to get to the middle of the –

Boom.

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