Static show - Downtown LA

I'm contributing an original media art work to a Downtown LA gallery show called Static! The show investigates the electric buzz of communication and its effect on the tellers and the receivers.

The opening will kick off with a panel discussion I curated called, "Fake News, Real News, and Trust in Journalism." We have a truly incredible line-up: Robert Hernandez, a USC Annenberg professor whose focus is exploring and developing the intersection of technology and journalism,Sara Catania, who recently launched JTrust, a newsletter that collects and curates the latest efforts to restore the public trust in journalism, and Dani Dodge, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist turned visual artist. 

The opening will take place at 4pm on Saturday, December 2, 2017. The exhibit then runs at Durden and Ray through December 30, 2017. 

Harvest Season 2017

Today is the official first day of fall - the harvest season! My favorite season. I’m going to be:  

IMG_0262.JPG

Advising – I am advising INN, a consortium of 145 public service newsrooms nationwide and am also serving as a Writing Consultant at Azuza Pacific University!

Creating - I’m creating a piece and a panel for a show on the intersection of art + media, called Static at a gallery in Downtown LA in December.

Teaching - I’m leading an Honors 101 Leadership section for the Honors College at APU, and also co-teaching the 4th & 5th grade Sunday school classes All Saints Church.

Lots sprouting!  

It's decorative gourd season. Let the good times (and pumpkin lattes) roll –

Gourdwebready_large.jpg
FullSizeRender (2).jpg

The Light of Other Suns

Our culture knows that mothers think a lot about time. We think about when it’s time for breakfast, and lunch, and snacks, and play dates. But does our culture know that mothers also think about things like the End of Time?

To give birth is to time-travel through alternate dimensions - giving life while (hopefully) escaping death - until you arrive back into yourself in the hospital, an altogether different person in an altogether different life zone. Indeed, the haze of motherhood is such that we sometimes don’t really know what “time” it is. Peanut butter and jelly time and cartoons time and dishwashing time and laundry time and clean up time and poo poo time and bathtime all sort of start to feel the same. Initially, when breastfeeding, it really is the same. Every two hours, on and off, for months. Round the clock. As in, around the clock. Beside it. Outside of it.

In spite of it.

Right now with my toddler, it’s always Cheerios Time. Or Graham Cracker time. There really is no inappropriate time for those foods.

But beyond this limbo, mothers are actually acutely aware of what time it is. We see our children change daily, before our eyes. We also change, as women. We grow older, and want different clothes. We want different things, different hobbies. Tastes change, thoughts change. In childrearing, time is finite. We have our children “as children” until they’re eighteen. And that’s really a very limited amount of time.

So in transcending both the emotional and the logistical, what truly marks our Time?

The sun.

3-Women-Watching-Total-Solar-Eclipse-photo-Columbia-SC-iStock-LeoPatrizi.jpg

Everyday we see the sun rise and set. A new day dawns because the sun rises. So, that is how we actually mark time.

The Atlantic has a brilliant video up about this. In it, the scientist explains, the universe is existing on a finite amount of gas that will at some point, run out. Just like our own bodies. Energy as we know it will expire, and there will truly be a final End of Time.  

In the video, the scientist wonders if in the future people will sit around and talk about the fact that people like me and you got free energy from the sun back in 2017. Let’s apply that to the personal – I wonder what types of things from my present people will look back on and say, “Huh”. This mother,

She used to physically go to a grocery store?
She used to buy diapers in a store?
She drove herself and her son to daycare?
She cooked her own food?
She manually transferred money between bank accounts?
She only flew as a means of transportation, and not for fun?
She called people just to see how they’re doing?
She walked on undeveloped mountains?
She drank tap water?
She went to public school, and then a public university?
She prayed?


I am a mid-30s mother who works in the humanities and has a slight disdain for automation. Not just of the havoc it will wreak on our economy, but on our identities. The futuristic has always carried a very heavy, male, robotic feel to it. Sci-fi is a boys’ world.

So what of my own future? My gifts are truly human, nothing more and nothing less. I think creative, emotional thoughts. I created human life, unconsciously, from inside my belly. A vast DNA scripting that comes from the stars.  What was that “spark” that created my life, that created yours? That created my son?

I call it God.

We live in the waning days of a light-filled universe. In which we knit things ourselves, and make things ourselves. As far as I know, God does not inhabit machines.

The galaxies available to us as homo sapiens are vast and are frightening. Generations are afraid of what the next generation will do because we desperately need to feel like what we’re doing is the right thing. Otherwise, what were these routines for? What do we caffeinate ourselves for? What do we wear ourselves out for?

We need to feel like our way is the right way, just like our sun is the only sun. That there is only one us, in just this one time. 7 new planets were recently discovered, but we cannot feel the light of other suns. 

We can only feel our own. Our very own sun. Our very own bodies. Our very own children. Kinesthetic, and warm, and human. 

We watched the solar eclipse wane, and return. Change, and re-form. Arrive in and despite of time. This life is ours, and this planet is ours: Let’s let the sunshine in.

Waiting in the Wings: Reflecting on #Charlottesville

This week’s events have rattled me in ways I didn’t know were possible. I used to live in Charlottesville, Virginia. In fact, I lived there recently. I lived there from fall 2013 to spring 2015. My husband got his MBA from the Darden School of Business, and our son was born there, on a snowy day at Martha Jefferson Hospital. I also worked there - I consulted for the UVa's Center for Global Inquiry + Innovation. We won a prestigious John Simon Award for internationalization. 

I have beautiful memories there, but neither of us felt completely comfortable in Charlottesville. Something got under our skin. No matter how many bbq sandwiches we were offered, or green pastures we saw rolling onto the horizon, the antebellum chemistry of the area never quite sat with us. There was a racism in the air, that felt just under the surface.

Like it was waiting in the wings.

We lived our life as a multi-racial family around it, in spite of it.  But it was an awkward dance. We were always far too ready to catch a flight home to LA for Christmas, or São Paulo for a wedding, or New York for a summer internship. The slam of the car door shut, driving north, was a happy sigh of relief.

When I found out the march had happened through the campus, I wasn’t surprised. Those were the same guys I always saw with popped collars, but with tiki torches.

It was the violence that gutted me. As a mixed-race American, watching whites and people of color fight is like watching two sides of my family fight. I feel like tearing my hair out. I just erupt in sobs.

I am someone just like Heather, who died there. In fact, I am almost exactly her same age. The press corps has – rightly so – descended upon these events with unbridled mania. They are taking the vital signs of American civics, and finding a very sick patient.

The most unnerving question is, can health and sickness co-exist? We did have a life there. Some memories are beautiful. Caetano strolled up and down that Downtown mall, happily chatting away to one of his many admirers on a cell phone. 



And yet, apparently, gads of Southern whites are appalled that families like mine did that. It undermines what General Robert E. Lee was fighting for. And they want none of it in Abermarle County. On Culpepper County. In the state. Or the nation.

I always knew these men were waiting in the wings. What I didn’t know they were so violent. That they were so small-minded.

Life is not a zero-sum game.

Brene Brown has a great video up reflecting on the events in Charlottesville. She asks, in her southern drawl, for whites to consider the 360 degree implications of what they’re asking.  

She says, “Just because you haven’t experienced something, doesn’t mean you can’t tell another person that what they’ve experienced is invalid.” She calls out shame triggers around the words white trash, and even white supremacy, and unveils how white racism itself is an exercise in shame: it lashes out, then clouds itself, then masks as something else (“the status quo”), then gawks in broad daylight.

It’s a crazy process, borne of a crazy feeling: insecurity.

This is unnecessary. As in the body, two things can exist at the same time socially. Cosmopolitan places (like Charlottesville) can be country.  Southern culture can be appreciated independently of the politics of the Confederacy. Multiple communities can thrive.

This is possible.

It is possible.

Human beings are programming Artificial Intelligence. So why can’t we get a better grasp of our own?

 

 

On Labyrinths

Two of the chief pursuits of my life - religiosity & progressive ideas - are future-oriented. These subcultures are all about "the journey". Every Sunday, we say, “We await Christ’s coming in glory.”  And progressives  - no matter how bad the news - will always refrain that the arc of the moral universe is long, but bends towards justice.

And in the myriad cottage industries designed for women, "later" is also the name of the game. Women are always sold things for some other phase of life, or other season. Tweens are upsold on the idea of becoming teenagers. Teens then want to be adults. Adults then wish they had the body of teens, all while counting down towards retirement with sleep in their eyes and visions of margaritas at the finish line.

In the summer, we are told to get our homes and our clothes ready for fall. Then ready for winter! And then spring! Over morning coffee, we anticipate our children’s afternoon schedules, and do weekend planning during the week.

There is really no phase in a women’s lives when we're not in constant waiting mode. We’re constantly anticipating and then catering to the needs and perceptions of others, from adolescence to old age.

This Sunday was Palm Sunday, the last Sunday of the waiting period of Lent. Something about the sermon rubbed me wrong – too much talk of sacrifice – so I went to go walk the labyrinth. I’ve always loved labyrinths; in my twenties, I would use them to mull over my various comings and goings, thoughts, feelings, and hopes. It was a very centering practice for me. But to be honest, it was always rooted in the feeling that I had more to walk. A long way to go. In labyrinths, the road is long, and curvy.

When I arrived at the labyrinth, to my surprise, I didn’t want to take my shoes off. In fact, I didn’t really want to walk it at all. I realized, my Easter mediation this year is that I am tired of feeling like I'm "becoming."  I am over the goddam journey. For the first time in my life, I give myself feminist permission to declare, I already am the destination.

Inspired by that very church - All Saints Church, Pasadena - I've raised 10 million dollars for social justice work. And blooming into my mid-30's, I finally realize, I actually don't have to be "more" anything: more spiritual, more forgiving, more giving! I am a working mother who helps non-profits stay in business. I am "given" out. And I'm not going to tithe. I am not a subsidized male with social capital to spend.

In biblical narratives, women primarily appear as harbingers of the present. It is through "the Marys" that we sensorially understand that Jesus was in fact a person: Mary Magdelene points out that Jesus is not in the tomb, and his mother Mary physically grieves him. (Visualized in pietà sculptures.) And in everyday life, women experience the shitshow of our current politics – our tax dollars for healthcare and childcare somehow end up as a "war tax" - while male politicians kick the can down the road. Their privileged speechwriters talk about the bravery and will of the American people, saying that we will rise up and "make America great again"...yet semantically, that sentence already implies that it isn't, currently. That Americans like me, who make businesses and families and growth curves run, aren't really great.

I no longer have the luxury of living in the future. I am a working mother in America, and I need things in the here and now. I can't wait and see if I get the gold star in the afterlife for turning yet another cheek.

This year, to celebrate the Resurrection, I'm not going to go on a green juice diet. And I'm not going to deliberate on a just future that is not yet here.  As the poetic, introverted artista that I am, all I have to do is what lesbian poet Mary Oliver recommended, "let the soft animal of your body love what it loves." I am a mystic. I hear the Virgencita speaking. And what I think she's saying is, "You're enough.

And, you're already here."

To Be Happy in New York

Joan Didion was famous for saying, Goodbye to All That.

Until she moved back there.

Happiness in New York is like the latest latte. The Cascara latte, just under the shell. Just under the surface, just around the corner. Happiness in New York is waiting for you at the dime store. At Coney Island, in Central Park. It’s waiting on the subway, and waiting at the ice cream truck. Happiness is a slice of pizza, it’s a bagel on a Saturday morning. It’s knowing you can pay your rent on the 1st, and can walk the streets one more day.

Unless you’re an Angeleno.

In which case you think, Well, aren’t there bagels in LA? And, aren’t the tacos much better? And isn’t everything cheaper – like by about, half?

The happiest people I met on the East Coast were from suburban Midwest, the rustbelt, or from the South. For them, New York is the chosen land! Opportunities, diversity. Beauty. Opulence!

But for an Angeleno, you always have that nagging feeling like true happiness is waiting not just around the corner, but on another coast. In another global city that is…your own. And doesn’t have blizzards. Or summer thunderstorms. You can enjoy beauty and opulence on your own time, in the sunshine.

Happiness, like time, is a relative thing. And to each his or her own. But for me, I’ll choose to have my cascara latte with a full-frontal view of the San Gabriel Mountains.

 

Mama Says Fuck It: Truthtelling in the Digital Age

The prolactin of childbirth, or the effects of a year and a half without sleep (I can’t quite tell) have forced me to embrace a new sense of honesty. I now find myself “sin pelos en la lengua” as the Spanish saying goes. The cat no longer has my tongue: nobody has it, and I’m going to tell it like it is.

Let me drop some truth bombs, just for fun:

1) Childrearing falls almost 100% on women. And it always has.

2) Fascism is coming to America covered in orange spray-paint. And some people are cheering.

3) We have zero structure in place for child safety or well-being: no paid maternity leave, no affordable child care, rising costs of living, rising number of hours spent working, and denser cities.

We have failing schools but most people choose to worry instead about the small things, like…which bathroom a transgender person uses. I hate waiting in line for the women’s room. Ain’t nobody got time for that! But I digress: what we really don’t have time for, as a society, is wondering about the size of the person’shair, shoulders, muscles, browbone, and/or eyelashes in the stall next to you. That is really not the problem here, folks – we have American citizens committing domestic terrorism, declining quality of life and zero political leadership pipeline to end this Machiavellian nightmare. But the BATHROOMS seem to be the problem.

4) Most men still expect women to do their laundry. Even if they’re a nice hipster with cool summer shorts.

5) All people cried as babies. In airplanes, in church, and in the supermarket. That includes “them”.

And that includes you.

And if one more person throws shade on one of my cherubic son’s little whimpers, I will cut them. With a biodegradable, corn-based plastic butter knife. 90-pound hipsters, I would stay away; I don’t play.

6) "It's five o'clock somewhere" doesn't apply to people who go to bed at 9pm. Read = mothers of young children.

7) Nobody knows what you’re capable of but you. And few people will help you get there. But treasure those that do. They’ll mean a lot, especially during the impending cargo-clad zombie apocalypse.


Love,
Emilia