Roadblocks in Self-Improvement

Have you ever had those days when it seems you can’t do anything, right?
If you can recall from my previous post, I challenged myself to read an hour a day. I was doing well, but something happened that shook me to my core. It’s going to seem insignificant, but this brought upon a short bout of depression and pain. Okay, okay, I’ll get on with it. So I run a mobile service with my husband. I am mainly in charge of the customer service, administrative, and media side of our business. Now and then, I have encounters with what seems like complicated math. If there is anything that stresses me out is performing correct calculations on the spot.
For the most part, I would say that I’m an intelligent person. However, this subject has been a struggle my entire life. I can even recall the exact moment in primary school when I decided to give up and concentrate on other things. We were covering how to count currency. I had a nickel and dime in front of me. My teacher noticed that I was staring at the coins and not writing down the sum. She asked me if there was a problem. I asked, “why does the dime have a greater value if it’s smaller, and the coins are made of the same material?” I don’t remember if she addressed this, so I moved on. My relationship with math converted from struggle to complete disinterest. I continued to excel in reading and writing. I was very protective of my work when my classmates would try to cheat off my tests. However, my moral code went out the window when there was a scheduled arithmetic exam. I didn’t even care if I cheated off a good math student. This was my mode of operation until I entered university, where the stakes were higher. I could no longer be passive. I spent many hours in the learning center undergoing one on one sessions with student tutors. Have you ever traveled to a foreign country where you didn’t know the language? Imagine someone giving you intricate information on the spot, and it sounds jumbled and indistinct. I would ask my tutors to repeat things several times because it made absolutely no sense in my brain. Once I graduated, I shoved out all my newfound math knowledge because I truly believed I would never use it again. Well, you never know when you will need it again.
I was so anxious when I had to step away from the client to have my husband help me. My mind began to race with self-deprecating thoughts. I’m so stupid. How can I run a business? That customer must think the same. My husband must be so tired of me. I’m so useless.
I began to sob when we drove away. It’s funny how a small moment can reveal your deepest insecurities. I wallowed in that feeling for a few days. My husband then shared a hard truth with me. He said that I don’t use skills until it’s absolutely necessary. Leave it to that man to show me, tough love.
Here’s the thing about committing to self-improvement. You have to be completely honest with yourself. It helps to have someone call out your bullshit. Truthfully, it results in sometimes feeling like a complete loser. It can be overwhelming when you take inventory of all the things that need to change.
I eventually told myself that I don’t have to remain this way. I can do something about it. That brings me to my next challenge. I will be practicing math on the daily for this coming month. I usually do weekly challenges, but this one has to go deeper. I think waking up early, meditating, and the like are important. They can build discipline, but there wasn’t a direct consequence if I skipped a day. Please share resources for teaching basic math to adults. I am not particularly great at percentages or fractions and beyond. As Michael Scott would say, “Catch ya on the flippity flip.”

Meditation is a b*tch

Hello everyone,
Thank you for taking the time to read this little blog of mine. Last week I stated that my challenge would be to meditate every day. Some of my reasons for wanting to include meditation in my daily routine were to help with my anxiety. However, I have also been told by my therapist that I most likely have ADD. It’s difficult for me to finish a task before moving on to another. My mind tends to wander during conversations which have led to hurt feelings from friends and family. Reading is an arduous task. I have to go over the same page at least 3 times to understand or remember the text.
Since I am new to meditating, I had to do a bit of research. I looked up “how to meditate” on the old Youtube and found a video by Lavendaire. She gave easily accessible pointers. It also doesn’t hurt that it was just a little over 4 minutes.


I felt confident, but that didn’t last long. I chose to sit cross-legged with my back straight. Right off the bat, I could feel every itch or discomfort in my body. After scratching for what feels like ages, I was back to it. I breathed in and out through my nose, and then the yawning kicked in. It wasn’t that I felt bored. I was just really relaxed. Now to think of it, I don’t know if I was indeed bored. I decided to set a timer for 5 minutes. The first round went swimmingly. I did it again but found myself anticipating the ding.
The next few days were just a repeat of the first. On Thursday night, I tried something a little different. I wanted to experiment with meditating right before bed. My husband was already fast asleep, so I got situated on the couch. I turned off all the lights because I thought that might be more soothing. It wasn’t at all. It was quite creepy if anything. I began to envision malevolent shadows rising next to the armrests. A goblin or two scurrying around the kitchen island. Nope! Nope! Nope! Meditating is not going to happen tonight.
I watched another video from Matt D’Avella, where he also challenges himself to meditate. He was way more ambitious going into it. He did hour-long sessions. More importantly, I got the idea from his video to find a guided meditation app. I settled on “Stop, Breathe and Think.” There are many free popular apps out there, but soon you realize that you have to go premium to use many of the features. That sounds incredibly cheap, but I would like to get a feel of it before I upgrade. This app has many free features such as an “emotional check-in” to tracking “mindful minutes.” I initially enjoyed the guided meditations but soon found the voiceovers distracting. I focused on the mindful minutes instead because it has a timer. 
There are certain things I still find very challenging. One is noise in my environment. I tried to find a quiet place to help me focus. The balcony was my first choice. My neighbor has a toddler that was letting out some blood-curdling screams. The test is being able to meditate in any environment. I failed it. I went to my bedroom, but my pets get anxious if I close the door. The cat has managed to figure out how to open it anyway. The last place I retreated to was my closet which is located on the far side of the restroom. Anyone else has that going on? I enjoy hanging out there from time to time. You just have to get over the occasional bathroom sounds.
Overall, I’m glad I finally tried this out. So, what’s my next challenge? I briefly mentioned it earlier. I am going to read for an hour daily. I was thinking 30 minutes, but I want to go for it this time. Let me know if you have any suggestions. Catch ya on the flippity flip

Look to the future for opportunities

So what’s the skinny? What’s the tea? This is what happened when I set out to get up early for a week.
My objective in attempting these challenges is converting a goal into a true habit to become the best version of myself that I can be. So, let’s recap what happened.
In a nutshell, I managed to wake up early Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday. I want to focus on these days to explore what I did right and more importantly what I did wrong.
Right off the bat, I tried to add too many self-improvement goals at once. I was up by 7:00 am on Sunday and decided I was going to take a solitary stroll through the park near my home. My dog desperately wanted to come along. It wasn’t as peaceful as I anticipated because he was being more aggressive than usual. Mind you, he is a 25 lb mixed terrier. Not the most intimidating. Afterward, since I had all this newfound time I figured I may as well start meditating. Well, I found a few videos for a beginner’s guide on meditation. Some recommended sitting cross-legged, others advised laying down. I went for the laying down position. This proved to be the wrong choice because I ended up falling asleep for 40 minutes.
On Tuesday I got up at 7:15. My alarm went off and I laid in bed not thinking about anything. I may have dozed off a few minutes but I finally crawled out of the comfort of my new memory foam mattress. My dog loves it when I take him out, but I was hoping to finally have some alone time. I decided to take him with me, so I could get that chore out of the way. Walking my dog is sometimes frustrating because he likes to stop almost at every square foot and sniff around. I started being resentful because it wasn’t the peaceful walk I anticipated. After having some time to reflect I realized that my annoyance was foolish because my dog was so joyful. Also, I wasn’t on a schedule. One of the reasons I’m embarking on this challenge is to be more present and emotionally stable. So many times we make things bigger than they are. We buy into the idea that we have to always get to a destination and that everything is dependent on our timeline. This may be morbid but I think of the death of my loved ones. I don’t want to think later that I should’ve let Gustavo sniff that tree.
On Thursday my alarm went off at 7:00 but I hit that snooze button right away. I got out of bed and got ready for our walk. I remembered telling myself that I needed to stop getting annoyed with Gustavo. Once we got to the park there was a couple there who had their two dogs off their leash. I could’ve switched to another route but I decided to be petty and waited so they would feel inclined to leash their dogs. Which they didn’t. On the way back to my apartment I decided to stop at the coffee bar at my complex. There were three people ahead of me. The espresso machine dispenses 8 oz drinks at a time and the first person would go through the cycle 3 times to fill up her thermos. I started having judgmental thoughts about how this person was so inconsiderate. Again, I had to ask myself why did this matter so much to me? I was still going to get a free coffee. I still didn’t have to be somewhere immediately.
It’s interesting. I had an idealistic view about how this would go. I thought I would have beautiful mornings where I meditate. Got my workouts in. Did more things for my business. But laziness can be a very attractive thing. It’s so easy to justify why I don’t have to do this or that and then resent yourself for it later. During the days I did manage to get up early I found myself being petty and judgemental. I sometimes see myself as a pretty cool, calm and collected person. I realize I need more work on not caring what other people are doing. So, would I say this whole challenge was a failure? Not necessarily but it was not a success either. I tried to think about what made one day different from the others. Then I remembered I would visualize the night before how my morning would be and that usually gave me more motivation to get my ass out of bed. I’m going to keep at it and come back in a few weeks with an update.
Now, what’s next? Remember I mentioned meditation? Yup, that’s my next challenge. Meditate daily for 1 week. In previous blogs, I mentioned that I was diagnosed with PTSD. Thankfully my symptoms are not as strong as they once were due to many sessions of EMDR therapy. However, I still find myself ruminating about things that happened. Sometimes my anxiety can be so high that I begin stuttering. I’m hoping that implementing meditation to my daily routine will give me the ability to step back from a situation and think about my choices more clearly.

Edith 2.0?

Hello again,

So yet again I have taken a break from this blog. But to be honest I had lost motivation. Another truth was that I didn’t exactly know in what direction I wanted this to go in. Perhaps that is why so many people don’t continue a project because you have to think about what the purpose is behind it. I initially wanted it to be an archive of my most painful experiences in order for others to learn but I don’t feel that will serve me or others too well. I’m also in the midst of self-improvement and that has given me time to reflect on past traumatic events.

With that being said, I want to invite you on my journey as I challenge myself in different areas of my life. Whether they be building habits for fitness, nutrition, mindfulness, productivity. The list goes on.

I have mentioned before that I am a huge YouTube fan. I spent hours a day watching the latest gossip about Tana Mongeau or that whole dramageddon involving James Charles and Tati this summer. Whilst I found this wildly entertaining, I also wasted loads of time. Why did I care so much about issues that were not very important to me? But, I did learn something about all this nonsense. That I don’t want to be like these people. This might sound judgmental and self-righteous but it’s true! I don’t want my life dependent on my perception of someone else’s thoughts or actions. Why bother expecting favors to be returned or acknowledgment for your good deeds? Why go through all the effort to produce an exposé on someone you claimed you cared for? Then you are stuck in a cycle of argument and rebuttal.

Just as youtube has endless hours of content like the aforementioned. I found myself gravitating to channels like Matt D’Avella and WheezyWaiter. These channels share tips on being more productive, organized, or sustainable etc. That led me to other creators who shared videos on philosophy and other self-improvement practices.

So, with that being said, I want to embark on my first challenge. I am going to wake up early for 7 days straight. My goal is that this will eventually become a habit. The reason I want to do this first is because I have had sleep issues as long as I can remember. When I was a teenager I was plagued by nightmares. I would go through cycles of either going to bed at 4:00 in the morning or not at all. During weekends I would sleep through the day because I believed there would be lower incidence of these terrible dreams. This habit followed me through adulthood but it’s not sustainable one bit when you run a business.

I also, don’t want to fall into the idea that “there just aren’t enough hours in the day.” Hopefully, this challenge will give me time to pursue my interests. For, example this blog. I no longer want to limit my potential without giving it the ole heave ho. So see you next week babes. I promise.

When you quit anti-depressants cold turkey

Hello friends,

I wanted to add family but I’m not sure if I have let any of them know that I began a blog.

I took a break because I did a couple of terribly foolish thing over the holidays. One of them is quitting anti-depressants cold turkey. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought this would be a good idea. I’m also sure that I’m not the only one who thought they would be invincible to withdrawal effects from SSRI’s(selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). My specific anti-depressant was Lexapro.

I have had some form of depression for as long as I could remember. It began when I was molested as a young child which led to a rapid weight gain. It worsened after suffering from spiritual abuse from an evangelical church I attended for 13 years (more on this later).

Anti-depressants weren’t my first route. I tried changing my diet, meditation, exercise and taking supplements along with therapy. These things were great when I was in a clearer state of mind but these tools went out the window when I would hit a depressive episode. Guilt would settle in when I could not keep my mental health in check.

I have been given a prescription for Prozac in the past from my GP. I kept that little slip of paper in my purse until it became nothing more than a crumpled illegible note. This led me to look into integrative healthcare which was pretty interesting. Extensive bloodwork was done that showed I was lacking in many essential vitamins and high cortisol levels. Unfortunately, this facility didn’t work for me because I never had a consistent doctor. Well, to be honest, I was paired with nurse practitioners. I’m not saying they weren’t capable but I felt I had to start from ground zero during every visit.

In 2016 I moved from Texas to Colorado. It was my first time living in another state and it wasn’t easy. If you suffer from mental illness and have to make a big move, please build a support network as soon as you can. Moving to a place where you don’t have family and friends is difficult.

Initially, I loved the idea of being in a place where I didn’t know anyone. But that feeling soon passed and I fell into a deep depressive episode. Most people would never know I dealt with depression because I have learned how to hide most internal struggles. However, I would burst into tears the moment I got into my car after a long workday. I eventually found a new doctor who was also an osteopath and she was amazing. Additionally, there was also a social worker on staff that would become my therapist. A few months later my doctor finally got to see the full scope of me at one of my lowest points and then that is when she really suggested I consider medication. I am usually wary of doctors prescribing anti-depression medication but I was open to it because she was in contact with my therapist.

This is when the Lexapro began. I still felt like my old shitty self for a few weeks. Then one day I realized I was not having the usual dark terrible thoughts. I had to sit back and recall the last time I had a crying session in the closet or shower. I thought to myself, “Is  this how normal people feel?” Yes, I know that “normal” is relative but when you have deep bouts of hopelessness you do tend to wonder how it must be like to have your emotions somewhat under control.

So, if I was doing well why did I decide to quit Lexapro? Well back in March of 2018, I decided to quit my job. Which meant that I no longer had insurance. My doctor set me up with 3 more months of medication until I found another healthcare provider. I looked into other facilities meant for individuals who were also uninsured and would work on a sliding scale. That was when I met another issue. My income was too high to qualify.

That is when I decided to just stop taking my medication. What’s the worst that could happen? Well, I’ll tell you. I had ongoing dizziness unlike I had ever felt before. I explained to my husband that it was like my head and chest were pulsating and leaving before my body had time to follow. I also had difficulty communicating along with slurring which made most daily activities burdensome. Another symptom was constant fatigue. One of my favorite activities is cleaning (yes cleaning) and it took me 3 hours to finish my kitchen.  The most troublesome symptom for myself is the combination of strong emotions.

So, one night my cat had vomited in my bedroom and my husband walked in on me having an intense conversation with my pet. I was so upset for some reason and I began to laugh and cry simultaneously while I assured my spouse that I was okay. I vomited shortly after due to dizziness. I tried to self-medicate by smoking cannabis(thank you Colorado) high in sativa to achieve a head high that would lift my spirits. Thanks to Netflix’s “Explained” who knows what is actually in my pot.

Shortly afterward one of our clients called asking for an address to send a payment. I began to recite it but was promptly interrupted by my husband because I was giving the wrong address. I tried to correct myself but could not stop the giggles and then began to choke on my spit. I chucked the phone and took off to the restroom. I could hear him apologize to the client.

After all this nonsense I finally connected with a psychotherapist that works for a non-profit that is connected to my church. I was about to insert a disclaimer because I’m not a traditional believer. Anyhow I called and explained what was happening to me. She said, “so you must be suffering?” I chuckled because no further explanation was needed. She then gave me instructions on incorporating 5-hydroxytryptophan, tyrosine along with fish oil and a multivitamin. I still felt dizzy but I improved a great deal.

Now it’s February and sometimes I miss Lexapro. I wonder sometimes if that was the real me. The person who is slow to act and quick to think. Calm and collected. Perhaps even zen-like. But I don’t know what the long term effects would’ve been. I was just ready for another way.

Having the sex talk at 34

I made an impromptu trip to my parent’s home last week. It was under pressing circumstances but as trite as it might sound it was a blessing in disguise. Especially with the ever-evolving dynamics between my parents and I.

It was the interaction that I saw Hollywood dramas in which a protagonist was thrown into a harsh reality but received words of wisdom from their parents that forever changes their view of them. I finally saw my parents as just regular people who spend their lives just trying to do the best they can.

It’s interesting because growing up I never imagined there would be a moment I would be sitting with my father in his shed while he spoke to his faraway friend on his CB radio. All this while smoking cigarettes and sharing tequila. Or that I would be having earnest conversations with my mother about the difficulties of womanhood, marriage, and my broken faith.

The conversations didn’t end there. I felt safe enough to share with them about my sexuality, my experience with sexual assault and how I smoke pot on the daily. I was sure they would have to be in the grave in order for me to live openly as a bi woman with socialist leanings who has elected to have a childless marriage. I do recognize how fortunate I am to have this type of understanding with my immigrant parents because so many other first-generation American LGBTQ individuals do not possess the same fate. But to be honest, I waited many years to be this forthcoming because it doesn’t mean this would’ve gone the same way in my teenage years.

My mother approached me as I was packing up for my return drive home. She said she wanted to ask me something. I said, “sure, what is it?” She asked me if when I first had sex with my husband if I had bled. I told her my husband was not the first sexual partner I had. My mother said that she figured he wasn’t the first because she used to find my belts and bras in the back seat of her car when I would visit from college. I laughed because it has been nearly 15 years since this occurrence and she still believed I had sex with my college boyfriend in her plymouth breeze. So romantic. It was one of those perfect storm situations.

I had come home for the winter holidays and I went to a Christmas party with my old high school classmates and I had picked up my boyfriend. South Texas is typically still warm and muggy most months which causes a lot of condensation mixed with dirt on windshields. I asked if he could bring out something to wipe it down with and it ended up being an undershirt. I decided that my belt clashed with my outfit once we arrived at the party so I chucked that into the backseat.

The next morning my mother burst into the guest room( yes I no longer had my childhood room) asking how could I have been having sex in her car. She also asked why I had a syringe in the bathroom for. I laid there in astonishment. Not only did she assume I was having sex but accused me of doing intravenous drugs. I laughed because she still had her own understanding of the events years later. I simply explained how I hated wearing bras so I would pull them off on the drive home and all the other items were simply a fluke. Also, I’ve done many things in my life but I had yet to shoot up.

Back to the bleeding. I was a few months shy of 30 when I met my husband so virginity was an unrealistic expectation to anyone at that point. She asked me why I wore a white wedding dress. I told her that was the only color available when I ordered it from Amazon. And that I felt some of those traditions were highly dangerous towards women. That simply the color of a wedding dress made it clear to everyone what was my sexual status. That I would be designated a “santa o’ puta.” I refused to fall in line.

I did tell her that I was highly uninformed when I did begin to have sex and my source of information was the internet and whatever pamphlet came my way on campus. I asked her why didn’t she have a formal sex talk with me. That my brothers were provided with condoms but my sister and I were told to remain abstinent. She said that was just what she was taught growing up. I said but you forget that your sons were having sex with someone else’s daughter or sister.

My mother told me how she wished she could’ve talked to me this way when I was younger but she didn’t know how. That even her own mother didn’t discuss with her what would happen during puberty and sex was even more of a taboo topic. I never really was resentful about this because my teenage self would’ve died of sheer humiliation back then. We both weren’t ready.

I am sure there are many other 30 something-year-old women having these talks for the first time. Please don’t be resentful. Yes, it might be late but it’s never too little to be brave. Ni putas, ni santas mis hermanas. 11410382_527281777434301_524235542_n

I’m not sure what is wrong…

I was born and raised in a small border town in south Texas. I am a child of immigrant parents from Mexico that taught that hard work is the answer to most if not all hardships.

I never quite understood why I was such a melancholic child. I often resented my parents for having to greet family members with a hug and kiss. It never felt natural. I was called “mal educada” a “grosera” when I refused.

Envy was a constant emotion I grappled with when I saw my classmates happily enjoying their childhood and existing with ease. That was never a feeling I experienced for much of my life. In high school, I shared with a classmate that I always wondered how other people seemed to be so carefree. I asked if he ever experienced deep sadness on a constant basis and he said not really. Funny how I used to think that contentment was a strange thing.

Depression was never a topic of conversation growing up. I was very withdrawn and rarely spoke to my family. I even recall a moment when my father lashed out in frustration about how quiet I was and how I didn’t care to ever share with him. It was a very odd situation because I never believed my father cared to interact with me. I concluded that depression was an American problem.

Once, I accepted the possibility that I might be suffering from depression I decided it might be a good idea to share with others what I had been feeling. Some of the responses I received made me regret sharing in the first place. I had an acquaintance that was diagnosed with clinical depression. I explained some of my symptoms and I was told that everyone gets sad but depression is a whole other level. I disengaged immediately because it seemed like I had something to prove. By this point I had been told to just stop being sad, get over it, you’re making too big of a deal about what you’re feeling. I was involved in an evangelical Christian church for many years and I was convinced that I had a spirit in me that must be cast out and broken off of me. Soon after I experienced another depressive episode and I was told I had opened the door once again to said spirit. (More on this at another time).

A few people commented to me that I couldn’t be terribly depressed because I have managed to graduate from university and have always been able to hold down a job. What most people didn’t know is that failing school or being fired was not an option. I would be letting down my parents and not upholding the principle of a strong work ethic. It seemed that in the end, I was at fault for not being in control of my emotions and that I simply needed to decide to be better. I told myself that I was fine and I could change my life.

One night I was awake at 4am sobbing to Susan Boyle’s rendition of “I dreamed a dream” from Les Miserable. Even though I find this event a bit comical it was a defining moment for me that something was wrong. By this time I had met with my third therapist who worked closely with my doctor and it was suggested that I should give Lexapro a try.  I told my parents what my doctor had said and they were not quite supportive in the beginning. My partner didn’t really seem supportive either. It was then I decided that I needed to stop listening to the people who didn’t actually understand my emotional state of mind.

After 3 or so weeks of being on my new medication, I had a realization. I had not been retreating to my car or my shower for my daily crying sessions. I was not arguing with my husband as often as I had. I sat there in astonishment wondering if this was what it was like to feel normal. I know most people say that there is no such thing as “normal” but when you’ve lived in deep despair since you were a small child you have to wonder how other people function.  I’m not saying that I experienced elation. I just felt less overwhelmed and reactive.

So to all the other Latinx out there. I understand what it’s like to be part of a culture that invalidates mental illness but I want to let you know that I see you. Trust yourself.

 

Edith

I Love Youtube

I love youtube.

I just do. I have learned how to baste an egg, do a back stitch and how to clean my home with non-toxic chemicals. I have also learned the extensive history of the Xoloitzcuintli(Mexican hairless dog), tutorials on how to navigate the deep web and tons of paranormal storytimes.

My best friend and I talk about our favorite YouTubers and whether or not we are going to make it to vidcon next year. I am simply obsessed due to the abundance and variety of content on there. When people ask me what my hobbies are I let them know that watching youtube is up there. They usually ask what sorts of videos I watch and I’m not sure if I should be honest. It’s a jumble of Shane Dawson, occult videos, exotic pet care, and vegan recipes.

It’s not uncommon that I venture down the rabbit hole of the weird side of youtube. Before I know it, it’s 5am and I wonder why it’s already light outside. There is a new tab on youtube that actually logs your activity in order to manage how much time you spend on there. I looked into it once and I clocked in at 33 hours the previous week.

I admit that a large amount of this time is spent watching cat videos but at the same time, I have found amazing creators that have shared invaluable stories. One of the things I had struggled with was sexual orientation and thanks to YouTube I found many users that shared my experiences.

One of my favorite creators is God is Grey due to her compassion of people who live on the fringes who still long to be in communion with an Abrahamic God. For the longest time, I believed I couldn’t be a Christian because of my sexual preferences.

So what did I watch today? Stand out is Taylor Swift “Delicate”.

Del Otro Lado/ From The Other Side

When I was growing up I recall being asked a peculiar question from classmates and other kids.

“Why do you talk white?”

I could never come up with a response because I didn’t understand what “talking white” meant. I would be praised by my teachers for my ability to read clearly. I would spend weekends with my cousins in the neighboring Mexican city of Matamoros. They would be so impressed that I knew English. At times they would babble randomness and ask me what did they say in English. I would have to burst their bubble and let them know that they did not speak any discernible word. At some point, I would meet their neighborhood friends. After their initial criticism about my chubby body, they would ask my cousins what my deal was. They would explain that “ella es del otro lado.” I was from the other side. A US citizen.

This began an obsession with being the best damn American I could be. No, not a “make America great again” type. I wanted to be the kind of American that understood the essence of this country. How does a first generation child of Mexican parents do this?

My goal was to take inventory of all things that encompassed American culture. I did this by watching a million hours of MTV. You best believe that 7 years old me was watching The Real World and Sex in the 90s as well as a slew of music videos. You might’ve asked yourself, “where were her parents?” Well my mother worked full time and my father was a welder and usually worked out of state. I was mostly at home with my older brother so I had hours devoted to research. My older sister was in college during this time and I wrote her a letter. I asked her what masturbation was. She explained it in person during one of her home visits and still stands as one of my most awkward memories.

My second route to becoming an American was to eat what they did. My home was filled with delicious aromatic smells of authentic Mexican food. Entomatadas, tamales, calabacitas and Sunday barbacoa. I recall asking my mother if she could make spaghetti and meatballs. Her version of my dream meal included boiled vermicelli noodles, canned plain tomato sauce seasoned with salt and pepper and plain balls of ground beef. My brother happily ate her dish but I was disappointed. My mother is a sensitive soul and most likely felt discouraged by her attempt. Not long after I joined her on a trip to the grocery store and showed her a jar of Ragu and a bag of angel hair pasta. I was so fucking happy that night.

Sometimes I wonder how my parents felt when I would make these requests. Eventually, my siblings and I solely communicated to each other in English. It was also a way to talk shit without them being the wiser. This didn’t work when my sister called my brother a fucking idiot and my father knew exactly that was. They were Mexican, not stupid.

Fast forward to my high school years. I was riding the school bus when I was confronted by another rider asking why I didn’t make effort to be friendly to him and his friends. He asked me “why do you talk white?” I thought it was funny that someone was seeking my friendship but didn’t miss out on the chance to insult me. I needed to know once and for all what this white talk nonsense meant. A classmate said that it essentially means I sound smart. But why did it feel bad?

I’m pretty sure I’m a shitty American when you use MTV as a foundation but I’m sure I’m not the only one.

 

Neither here nor there

I don’t want to be one of those people who dwell on feeling misunderstood or not having a tribe to belong to. However, that is exactly what I’m going to do. I sit here in between bites of bananas foster ice cream that is completely delectable trying to grasp what my first post should be about. Let’s agree this is a journey of shared memories and experiences of never quite knowing where one should be or where to go.