how i plan to resist during my self care downtime

I am an introvert with social anxiety, and as I ranted about on Twitter the other day, even receiving phone calls makes me shake. But frankly, it’s a time when even those of us with mental illness have to buck up and feel like crap in service of the greater good. So I have to start calling. I need to go to the next rally or march or community meeting. I hate those things, but nobody in the United States deserves to feel comfortable right now.

But we do absolutely need self care, and in most cases, we also have to make rent, eat, and do homework. I have three jobs, volunteer work, freelance work, and school, not to mention I like seeing my family and friends at least occasionally. But I’m going to try and shift at least some of my self care practices so that they involve intellectual tools that will serve me when I perform more active resistance at other times.

Language
I minored in Spanish in college and am theoretically “fluent,” but I never use it and, given the aforementioned social anxiety, I feel really uncomfortable speaking it most of the time, and I’ve let a lot of it atrophy. A few months ago I started using Duolingo to get more Portuguese in my head (have heard it my whole life and took one semester in college, Portuguese for Spanish Speakers) for planned work later on in my PhD and for personal enjoyment. At the moment I’m only doing about five minutes a day, and that works for my schedule and the fact that it’s not a brand new language for me, though I may also start listening to Pimsleur while exercising. And now I’m adding Spanish to the mix and working on that again as well. I also subscribed to the podcast Slow News in Spanish (it’s also available in other languages), which means that once a week while I walk the mile from where I park to campus (walking=physical self care!), I’ll be keeping abreast of current events while practicing my language skills.

Knowing a second language (or three or four) not only staves off Alzheimer’s and stuff, but it also helps combat the fake news epidemic when you can read/listen from more sources, and knowing Spanish, Arabic, or Mandarin particularly in these times can make you a better citizen, whether it’s simply helping a refugee feel more welcome or assisting in providing materials in other languages or whatever else. Bonus self care moment: listening to music in other languages may not make you competent in having a fluent conversation, but it’s a great way to get sounds of other languages in your head, as well as learn a few idioms and colloquialisms. Ditto television and movies. Continue reading

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tiny activist

I like including the word “activist” in my Twitter/Disqus/general Internet tagline/profile/thing, but then I started thinking it wasn’t quite fair. Am I really an activist if I often don’t have the time or energy to make it to events? Am I really an activist just because I sign petitions on Change.org, tweet and retweet important social justice and political messages, and try to stay abreast of news as much as I can? Am I an activist if I personally support causes but don’t do much about them outside of my apartment? I don’t know.

I come from a family with a tradition of standing up, of going to protests and rallies, and writing letters to the editor that actually get published. My uncle wrote a book on political scapegoating. My grandfather grew up in the first cooperative housing in the Bronx. My grandmother has an amazing political button collection for the Spanish Civil War, the labor movement, and more. My parents did not buy grapes when that meant you weren’t supporting underpaid laborers, and we don’t buy Welch’s juice because he was an anti-Semite. We do our things, little and small, to do right by the workers of the world, the underserved and underheard, and society as a whole. Continue reading

thanks a fucking heap, america

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought young people are the future of this country, or something like that. I’m 22. I vote. I go to school. I have three part-time jobs. I volunteer. I have plans for my future. I’m graduating from college a semester early from a school that boasts that 50% of its students graduate in six years. I believe that makes me one of those young people who is being handed the country, so that in the next few years I can shape it and influence it. That means that right now, current political leaders are supposed to be opening doors for me, preparing the country for me by passing laws and policies to make it a better place. And then my generation will take over.

Well, thanks a fucking heap, America. A special thanks goes to my home state, Arizona, because I know how much its politicians hate me. I know it’s pretty unforgivable that I have brown skin, a Mexican last name, and the ability to speak Spanish more or less fluently. Thanks for passing laws that make it next to impossible for other brown-skinned students like me to succeed even if their finances or educational background doesn’t make it easy; that leave my parents and sister in danger of not having jobs anymore (or at least being required to teach a prescribed, edited curriculum with rewritten history); that ensure that we will have to start the civil rights movement over again if we want to get anywhere as a country; that bar the most progressive reform the country has had in years and once again makes it impossible for me to have affordable healthcare; that pretty much ensure that rational and reasonable protests, rallies, and lawsuits will happen to no avail because politicians don’t need to abide by human rights or the law anymore.

This is everyone’s fault, and what’s sad is, I don’t really believe in my generation’s ability or willingness to demand change. We’ve grown up with this attitude that we don’t have to work hard for things, and we definitely lack my parents’ generation’s knack for war protests and channeling Gandhi. Also, the recession’s forcing us back into our parents’ house, jobless and directionless while we change majors a million times has made us less apt to feel like this country is someday going to be ours. And it’s not going to be. Not when the new politicians are ensuring that the legal system keeps us from succeeding even when they’re all in nursing homes. These new laws, like SB1070 and whatever things Tom Horne, Jan Brewer, and John Huppenthal have up their sleeves, will be legally hard to change. And even when they’re arguable, they will be argued in courts judged by the same agenda’ed politicians. The entire system will be flawed for years to come. One thing I will say about these assholes is that they’re good at getting their way.

So where the fuck was my generation yesterday? Why did I see next to nobody wearing “I voted” stickers? Why were my friends asking me where the polls were, because they couldn’t even be bothered to go online or check their mail for their polling information? Why were people my age, who have been eligible to vote for the past five Novembers, voting for the first time yesterday? Why is everyone attending school out of state pretending that it’s in some way difficult to request an absentee ballot? Why did all of the Latino voters listen to that asinine ad saying that the only way to show the government how you feel is to abstain from voting?

I never had any interest in politics growing up, and then I realized that I couldn’t be a person who cared about social justice without caring about politics. I couldn’t be a functional member of my very politically-minded family without caring about politics. I couldn’t achieve my own personal goals without caring about the politics and social constructs that govern whether I can have access to the resources I need and want. It’s not like it’s particularly fun to care about politics. But we have to do it. It means having a little less fun and maybe spending a little less time worrying about our social lives and television shows, but isn’t it ultimately worth it? Apparently not.

I have very little faith in the United Sates’ ability to overcome this and be a place of functional heterogeneity in the future. I have very little faith in my generation’s willingness to give up our dreams and fight this. Hell, I don’t want to. I’m still young enough to be working on myself right now. I should be planning grad school, falling in love, and working with mentors, not protesting and rallying for basic rights I should already have. It’s mentorship time for my generation, not leadership time. Not failure time. But now we have a choice to make, and it’s to be selfish and let a lot of our peers fail and fall, or to maybe abandon some of our personal goals for collective ones. I’m not sure if any of us, even me, is prepared to make the right decision there.

Today is November 3, 2010. I am 22 years old and almost a college graduate. I am a world traveler who is always happy to come home again to a hometown that boasts cultural, socioeconomic, religious, ethnic, and racial diversity and a country with tons of interesting things to do and hope for and reach for. And today, I am completely ashamed to be a United States citizen.