Tag Archives: DTLA

Leaving LA

9 Jul

The process of moving and telling others that I am leaving LA has been a mixed bag of highs and lows.

I am a native Angeleno and I love my city with all its misunderstood and under appreciated idiosyncrasies. I grew up in Boyle Heights near El Tepeyac and Evergreen cemetary. I moved around but always in LA: downtown, Chinatown and a brief stint in the valley.

I’ve experienced so much within one county which includes the large swath of land that is home to 15 million.

I’ve lived the LA of East LA where you naturally fall into the lyrical song of Spanish, the early conversion to cool of Downtown LA, the ridiculous parties and outings that only LA can outlandishly provide, and the quieter and sweeter moments of growing a parent community as a mother.

Every memory of this city remains etched in my mind; from my early years of living on Union by McArthur Park: drive by’s, elderly neighbors who always had hot apple pie, my grandfather handing us a quarter for a bag of pepinos and even the kind LAPD beat officers who handed out baseball cards to us.

Now it’s a golden sunset setting on my rear view mirror.

I drive past the grapevine, by the acrid smell of cows, the rolling hills covered in blankets of wheat and the fruit stands of Gilroy – to land here. Silicon Valley.

I’ve been here less than a week and already I feel the dull ache of a lost one long loved. I sense the need to see the awesome landscape below the hills of City Terrace. I miss the daily reminder of my connection to a city, a place, my memories… I fell the pull.

Los Angeles.

The bad, dark and shallow times we shared remain on my mind. The empty promises linger on the avenue of broken dreams. Not Hollywood. The place where broken dreams go to bury the pain is always darker than the pretense of the avenue of the stars. In the streets of daily living lie the real stories of LA. On Cesar Chavez Boulevard, Whittier Boulevard, Hoover, 41st, 18th, in every single corner that the downtrodden go to blend into the indistinguishable mess of sadness.

Los Angeles. Like a good-looking love that I can’t get rid of, no matter how bad you know they are for you. You cling to me. Days of fear and anger intermingle with days of triumph and evenings spent toasting on rooftops thinking we’ve done it all. I love you.

But for now, we need to take a break. I need space, I need time, I need a place to lay my head and make a mark before I come back to you. To you I toast, dear city of mine.

Ciudad mia, adoracion de mi corazon, dame tiempo y paciencia y con los aires de la suerte llegare a tu lado de nuevo.

Until then dear LA, find someone else to claw your heartless charms into. I need a break.

Series of Non-Moments

27 Nov

The glow of the downtown skyline below me, so close I can almost step over the edge of the hill and walk over to it, but such a distant world from me. 

I look down at my evergreen ribbed sweater top and pull the sleeves over my tight knuckles and crouch down near the dead grass.  The cool air feels good against my cheeks.  The frost is coming, I can feel the weather turn as it nips at my cheeks and the edges of my ears.  But the burning of my eyes from all of the crying is all I can feel at this moment; the ugliness of the most recent fight still weighs me down and forms a pit in my stomach.

The cramping in my legs forces me to get up and as I inhale sharply I realize I haven’t been breathing.  I keep doing this; suspending reality and letting time slip by as I fall into my non-dream world.  I can’t even tell you what I think or don’t think about during these moments, but it scares me that I kept doing it more and more.  A series of unaccountable non-moments is preferable to the waking moments that I keep walking back to.

We lived in a tiny two room illegal unit carved into the side of a cliff and had to walk twenty steps up and down each time I would ascend or descend into our out of our self-created hell.  I opened the door and found him sitting by the dining table, mirror red-rimmed vacant eyes looking right back at me.  I don’t bother to acknowledge his presence and walk past him into the bedroom.  How depressing these walls are, seemingly pushing in all around me, inching closer and closer with each passing day.

We thought we had been happy once but when I try to think of what we spoke of, of what we shared in thoughts and likes, or even if we relayed dislikes, I can’t come up with a single conversation we had. 

Wherever we’d go, they would ask if we were siblings.  Tall, with dark thick hair, lightly bronzed skin, and striking features – there’s worse to be compared to.  I don’t think we saw anything beyond each other, at least nothing real, other than skin deep.  I thought I saw a shared pained past, an inner struggle to contain demons, a desire to move forward and work towards a new life with each other.  The last one is what bit me in the ass, that was just a projected shared trait, a one-sided fantasy that never took any real root in our relationship.

I didn’t drink then.  That wasn’t until I wanted to drown out the pain of failure. 

He didn’t drink much either, I figured (hoped) he didn’t like it and only did it socially but it quickly became apparent that it wasn’t the case once we were married.  Once we were married… How could it change so drastically? 

Back in the bedroom I changed into a t-shirt and crept into bed.  As I heard the sound of the light switch flick off I closed my eyes and pretended to sleep.  I heard his shuffling as he stepped out of his clothes and slipped in beside me and I concentrated on willing myself to sleep.  As the bed shook from his silent sobbing I squeezed my eyes tightly and gripped the blanket so my eyes wouldn’t accidentally give me away.  But as I felt him slither towards me I quickly fell into my non-dream moments and slipped away..

Stop Feeling Guilty

19 Nov

I tend to do it myself.  I feel guilty, constantly. 

I had a great conversation with an unexpected source recently; I will admit (shamefully) that up until a year ago I did not realize that this woman had any depth to her.  I wrote her off as a beautiful woman with no substance nor intelligence.  After listening to her countless cries of attention through dieting tips, conquest stories, and her endless grooming I found myself speaking about an author series that I was attending.  And the unexpected happened.  She knew exactly who I was speaking of and she asked if she could be my +1.  This was over a year ago and I still feel stupid, rude, and naive for judging her exactly as I have been unfairly judged. 

Recently we had a follow up conversation about growing up in Boyle Heights, in East LA, in Westlake…  Growing up as an attractive female with 0 self-esteem and what that brought down on us but in a more insightful slant –  the root of what our reactions were stemmed to.  As she described what she went through: feelings of rejection, judgement, constant criticism from adults as a child (bullies); I began to understand more of what I felt, of what I did, of who I was, as I heard her tell her stories.

She is an incredibly striking woman with piercing green eyes and a hell of a personality and yet she had soft heart, a vulnerability that her surroundings did not respect, much less notice.  She is extremely intelligent, observant, and insightful – yet she receives no credit or acknowledgement for her innate gifts, qualities that she has retained despite her challenges.  She lives life thinking she is wrong, misunderstood, defective…

As I heard of what she witnessed as a child, of what she went through growing up, of what was unsaid but I could so palpably feel it that I could practically hold it with my fingertips…I understood her pain.  A pain that is so deeply rooted that it takes a hell of a strong person to face it in order to start healing; facing it means accepting that you were unloved, overcoming it means knowing that you are not un-loveable.  I saw this in her.  I heard it in the crack of her voice as she tried to remain composed and to the naked eye she was –  fine. She was perfectly fine.  But I was there; I knew better.

As she unfolded her worries before me I found the common theme of Guilt.  Guilt pervades all those who have succeeded in improving their lot in life while still being surrounded by negative influences. 

But it made me Angry.  Angry that life could be so cruel to her (and countless of you lovely women and men) and still invade her being with a sense that she did not deserve to find inner peace whilst her family was still in such a state of disarray.

It really upset me because I constantly feel that way.  Guilty.  Guilty when a guy wants to pay for dinner.  Guilty when my career is taking off.  Guilty when my children are doing well in school.  Guilty when I am spending money on myself.  Guilty when I am spending money on extracurricular activities for my kids instead of funneling it elsewhere.  Guilty when I want to for once, get taken care of.  When for once I would like to relax and feel vulnerable, and feel like a woman who wants to be shielded from worldly problems.  I want to know what it feels like to be sheltered.  I want to feel like what it feels to be taken care of without having to feel like I have to be the strong independent woman I have always been. 

I love who I am.  But just because I am strong does not mean that I am not soft as well.  I am strong and independent because there is no other way nor any other choice for me.  If not me then whom?  Who would step up to be the head of the household in my life?  No one.

So I remind myself not to feel guilty.  I deserve happiness.  I realize I will never have a childhood again where I can hope to feel cared for in that manner but I do some day want to feel the sense of comfort of knowing that I can rely on someone – completely.  And I will not feel guilty because I would care for that person right back.

So stop feeling guilty. 

Stop over thinking your future.  Life is life and it will continue to happen whether you allow it to or not, whether you plan for it or not.  Be the strong person that you are but give yourself merits for what you have overcome and what you have worked out for yourself.  You are incredible, special, and beautiful.  Anyone would be lucky to have you.  Why?  Because you have chosen to embrace life regardless of what it dealt you early on and you DESERVE to expect happiness.  It’s a good reminder for us all.

Stop feeling guilty.

When You’re Smiling…

19 Oct

As Louis Armstrong croaky crooning convinces me, when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you…

For all of those of you who are unfortunate enough to be my Facebook friends, you will notice that I constantly urge others to strain happiness and hope from everything good in life, both big and small, and firmly believe that by conserving and accumulating small feats of joy and victories you will eventually find an overall sense of contentedness if not happiness in your daily life.

Lately it seems that with each breath I take, I exhale out a sigh that is pungent with a drunken happiness.  My lips cannot stop curling up and I keep angling to lean back on any surface and lay there like a happily fed cat, licking away any remnants of the taste of luxury that life provides me with.

I walked down to the weekly Farmer’s Market all smiles to load up on avocados, broccoli, carrots, onions, spinach, and other vibrant greens and my favorite vendor gave me a hefty discount for cheering him up with my bubbly demeanor.  Bubbly, me?  Who knew?!

Filled with the glow of the compliment (and savings!) I floated over to the flowers where I was greeted with my usual, “Hola Senorita Susan, como le puedo complacer hoy?”  I can’t help but beam up at him every time and he rewarded me today with a half off discount.

Seemingly trivial things in life sometimes really do make you feel special and chip away at the stresses and worries and turn those frowns upside down. 🙂  In my case, they turn in to a wide grin slapped on my face that probably make people question my sanity. 🙂

But I can’t help it and I can’t stop believing it.  My stroke of luck, my change of personal circumstance, the gains I have made professionally.  Life is beautiful and I can’t stop smiling now because everyone seems to be smiling along with me…

 

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