I beg you…to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer…
- Rainer Maria Rilke
This Saturday I have the honor of hosting the launch party of GABRIELA DC (formerly called ILAW). As a newly formed chapter organization of GABRIELA USA, GABRIELA DC has addressed issues affecting day-to-day lives of Filipina womyn such as immigration reform, violence against women, and advocating an end to modern-day slavery.
THE WHERE | Augustana Lutheran Church Social Hall (2100 New Hampshire Ave NW – U Street Metro station is closest metro stop)
THE WHEN | Saturday, October 26 from 6-9 PM
THE WHY | To continue the fight for justice, human rights, and true liberation for all
THE HOW | $10 suggested donation
THE WHO | Ikaw! (you)
I’m really looking forward to being part of this historic moment. Time to brush up on my Tagalog!
Let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry…have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere–be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.
- excerpt from the novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
In the Philippines, All Saints Day is “Undras”. Similar to traditions with roots in Spain (due to colonization), families spend the night at the graves of their family members, eating and talking until the sun rises.
Families gather at the graves of their matriarchs
Their faces framed by candlelight
Their whispers a string of stories uncoiled
Children run in circles
Chasing each other, crying out:
Tabi tabi po
With each step to pay respects
To the spirits present
We watch hot liquid wax pool until it cools
Enough to mold into a ball
That we melt and melt again
We sleep beside our ancestors
And wake up to our parents’ quiet urging
Dark circles under their eyes
I lay magnolia flowers fallen from a nearby tree
On Lolo’s tomb and introduce myself:
I am Jenny
The youngest daughter
Of your youngest son
It’s been a long time coming, but I’m performing again! (since May) It’s familiar territory (I am, after all, getting back into it slowly)–my alma mater, the University of MD. The place that has held such significance in my life in terms of personal and political growth. The place that looks and feels the same every time I come back and yet also entirely different. The place that reminds me of all that I’ve done, didn’t do, and have yet to do.
I may be battling a bit of a cold or allergies or whatever it is right now, but I’m ready for tomorrow’s performance at the FUEL Conference. Ready. Set. Go.
I wasn’t thinking, I was just repeating what people back home say when a girl is born. But this is the new world, and prettiness is not a promise of a daughter’s future, as sons are not a guaranteed blessing.
- an excerpt from Fae Myenne Ng’s novel, Steer Toward Rock
Since it’s the 4th of July, I thought I’d finally write that found poem I’ve been meaning to using the Declaration of Independence as a base. (a found poem is when you take a poem, pick and choose words/phrases that resonate with you and then use those words to write a new poem). So here it is, the poem I found in the Declaration of Independence:
armed with truths, we are the new guards of our future
friends and brethren, we govern with a purpose
in this candid world, we are formidable, independent populations
our towns, though distant, have no boundaries
we are free, present, and divine
connected by common trials, rights, and laws
a people invested in justice and consent
a people absolute in their pursuit of happiness
but the powers of the earth and oppression
cause dangers of unparalleled allegiance and invasion
reducing liberty to swarms of bodies without life
a long train of repeated injuries
we are instruments of opinion, of tyranny, of honor and obstruction
may we not be deaf to the voice of justice and protect and pledge
that we are a free people
sometimes on the way to a dream you get lost and find a better one
Distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything.
- Jonah Lehrer
When I told Camille, whom I met and became friends with through Sulu DC during her stint at the Smithsonian APA Center a few years ago, that I was going to resign from Sulu DC, she was at first surprised by the news, then later became excited about what this meant for me:
Though based in Hawaii, she witnessed Sulu DC in its first year, when the energy and possibilities was at its highest and continued to follow its growth (and my own) through the wonders of the interwebs. She knows all too well, like many of my close friends and mentors and to some extent the public, how intricately connected I was to the organization. Without saying it, and even before I said it out loud, she understood that making the decision to leave was also a conscious decision to renew myself, to (re)discover what I am meant to do, to find myself again and redefine my worth and identity.
One of the dangers, or let’s say ‘challenges’ to founding and running an organization is the conflation of the individual with the organization, both internally (by self) and externally (as in by others around you). I was successful in drawing the line between the individual and the organization in some ways, but also failed in many other ways. I’m confident that given time, ‘jenny c. lares’ and ‘Sulu DC’ will be perceived by others as separate, though related entities. But I’m not going to lie and say that reinvention is easy.
Some days I’m delighted at how little unread emails there are in my inbox (Finally! Right? ). Some days it makes me incredibly sad. Because it reminds me of my loss. Leaving Sulu DC is, essentially, like breaking up with your partner. Sure, it’s a mutual breakup in which both parties know it’s better to be apart than be together, but a breakup nonetheless. So here I am, grieving the loss of being in the midst of the work that I had loved and drove me crazy at times, of what I thought was going to be my career. And now I’m at a loss as to what to do and what to do next.
I could immerse myself in my new project. You know, that arts management/performance company I may have mentioned before. But I know that if I jump into it before this grieving process is well on its way I’ll end up repeating my unhealthy habits and behavior and burn out. Instead I’ve been hiding out in the house, denying my feelings and channeling tears, anger, anguish, and disappointment through a marathon of Korean dramas. That is, until today, when my subconscious led me to the bookstore to look for another copy of Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon for a friend.
We are now past the denial phase of grieving.
I left the bookstore without the book but walked out with three others, specifically, Neil Gaiman’s ‘Make Good Art’ Speech and Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. I’m hoping that somewhere in these books, at some point while I’m reading them and numerous others, I’ll figure it out.
Sometimes the way to do what you hope to do will be clear cut, and sometimes it will be almost impossible to decide whether or not you are doing the correct thing, because you’ll have to balance your goals and hopes with feeding yourself, paying debts, finding work, settling for what you can get.
- Neil Gaiman, ‘Make Good Art’ speech