Nov 9, 2016

Why is this happening?

I woke up this morning with a feeling of uncertainty and fear so bottomless, so stark, it’s kind of giving me vertigo. I haven’t felt this level of sheer despair and impotence since I was forced into a plane, with no saying of my own, to come to the United States.

I feel I am having PTSD flashback of that moment, when I refused to cry and the tears and terror were choking my throat and making it hard to breathe. I stared at the back of the seat in front of me with unrelenting focus, knowing that if I blinked, or thought, or spoke, I would break.
 In the fourteen years, I’ve lived in this great country I have been called a spic to my face once. I have gotten mean comments on my blog calling me a beaner, but to me internet trolls don’t count. Maybe because of that I never truly believed that Trump would be elected. His vitriolic words, his rampant sexism, his ugly view of all Muslims, his mockery of the disabled was so over the top that I thought, naively, that those feelings were not reflected in the heart of others.

It makes me wonder what feelings people had been hiding when they look at me. Do they wish to say “go back to your country” and knew it was not PC and therefore bit their tongue? Do they feel now that they can do it, since the President Elect of this country so freely does?

I am scared. I am scared because all these years I have felt safe in the knowledge that this country was a shelter for all, I am scared for my mother, whose immigration process has yet to be completed. I am scared for my cousins who are also in the process of legalization. I am afraid for my rights as a woman and what laws that protect me will be the first to be repealed. I am afraid that there are so many, many people who saw all this hate pandering and saw it as inspiring.

Was it silly of me to think we all want to be united, together, as one, no color or race? Have I been listening to too much Imagine by Lennon? Was I burying my head under the sand, ignorant of the rotting core of this country?  It’s not the party I am against. I lived through one Bush administration with no problem. It’s the name calling and the wall-building, and the fear mongering and the seeds of racism and bigotry that are sprouting in the hearts of others.

I am afraid for the state of the relationship with my husband who fails to understand in all his straight white man privilege that HE has nothing to fear, but I DO. The same way he belittles that fear we all woman have of walking in dark alleys because we are conditioned since infancy to fear a predatory attack from a random man. A fear my husband feels is exaggerated and does not understand because empathy is a concept he never grasped. The same way so many other people in this country apparently don’t either.

There is a weight in my soul, not because Hillary didn’t win and we didn’t get our first woman president (which would’ve been awesome), not because Trump won…but because he won the way he did, spouting divisiveness and hatred and racism and bigotry.

Now they say we must rally behind him, but is he going to rally behind us? The people he mocked and threatened? The millions he put down and called rapists, the ones he sees as property to maul and inappropriately touch?

The truth is, he doesn’t scare me, he doesn’t worry me, he isn’t the one breaking my heart. The people who I share this country with, my neighbors, the ones around me who voted for him, those are the ones who scare me, who worry me, who made me feel like I can’t trust because I don’t know what is festering in their heart.

I will try to focus on the 2% difference. The small 2% that cost the election. That is a big number of people, who fight for good and inclusiveness and what is right.

I wonder how long it will take for this feeling to dissipate. I remember what shook me off my stupor when I first got into this country, it was a very small moment, listening to music from back home in a Sears store.  Maybe something equally insignificant will shake off this feeling of dread.

I will go home and hug my cat and my dog who have no idea what is going on and wait for hope to rekindle in my heart…for now, it’s pretty fucking bleak there.

Jun 14, 2016

Dream come true


I just had my dream vacation. DH and I went to Victoria, BC where we spent hours on a boat witnessing the majestic, breathtaking beauty of Orcas in the wild. I had dreamed of that moment for years and it was with tears in my eyes that I saw them swim towards us, so free and happy, jumping out and talking to each other, free to roam the hundreds of miles a day they cover when they are free.

The day before I could see the whale watching tour arriving every few hours and everyone getting off the boat had a smile in their face, I asked several groups if they saw Orcas and they said “we saw a lot of humpback whales and seals” and they seemed so happy. I wanted to see humpbacks too, but the decision to go to Victoria was based on the fact that they have a resident pod, the J pod. The J pod is part of a bigger clan of the Southern resident killer whales in the area and includes the K and L pods.

The evening before our tour I sat there, looking at the sun setting (at 9:30 pm) and begged the Gods of Whales, Neptune, San Francis of Assisi (patron Saint of animals), and all the powers that be to let me see some Orcas. I had flown almost 3,500 miles (even with my flying phobia) to be able to see them.

We had been warned that the rough weather the last couple of days had the Orcas doing Orca things in hiding and they had not seen one yet. I closed my eyes and just begged the universe for this. We were on the boat for 45 minutes, looking for them when the captain suddenly shuts the engine and says “They are coming towards us, up ahead”.

Sure enough, there they were. I could feel all the hair in my body standing on end (the cold might have something to do with that as well), there is no way to describe the joy in my heart when I saw that tall, shiny black fin cut through the water towards us. Unimpeded by walls, or tanks, just open and cold waters. When one jumped in the air and landed on its side I felt swamped with love and respect for them, so amazingly smart, so beautiful and close to each other. 

I have felt a fascination for Orcas since I saw the movie “Orca, the killer whale” when I was little. The male Orca in the movie wants revenge for the murder of his baby whale who got cut out of his mother by the boat propeller or some such nonsense.  The male Orca lost his baby and his mate who died from the injuries. He pushes his dead mate to the beach and I remember so clearly the sense of grief from the animal in the movie.

Ever since then, even though the whale is supposed to be the bad guy in the horror movie, I have been in love with them. While Seaworld and other parks were available to me, the idea of seeing them in a pool was utterly repellant.  So my dream of watching them in the wild was born.

I could feel my husband looking at the goofy awed looked in my face and waiting for me to burst into tears. It was a close call folks, I was one fin away from ugly crying and let me tell you, there is nothing like wanting to cry from seeing something beautiful, crying from seeing a dream realized, crying because you are surrounded by nature’s almighty power.

At the end of the trip, a group of whale approached us and one flipped belly up, the startling white of its belly shinning so brightly through the water and belly up, as if asking for a petting swam beneath our boat and away.

Among the J pod that we saw is J-2 or “Granny” purported to have been born in 1911, Granny is the oldest Orca in the entire planet. I saw the oldest mother fucking Orca in the world. She is 105 years old and the bad boss of her matriarchal community. We also saw J-22 (Oreo), J-27 (Blackberry), J-34 (Double stuff), J-38 (Cookie). Obviously the scientist have a thing with pastries.

I went back home to Florida, full of happy thoughts about the world. Happy that everyone we had encountered in our trip had such love for nature and our planet and were taking so many steps to protect it and the beautiful animals that live in it.

I saw the headline on Sunday about the club in Orlando and I refused to open it. I just wanted to bask a little longer on the happiness that my dream realized had brought. I just wanted to think about whales and their society and how they live together in harmony as a family, helping one another, communicating, talking, touching and loving. I wanted to think of Granny, living in the Victoria waters with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, eating 400 lbs. of Chinook salmon a day, eating some seals and jumping out of the water to get rid of the annoying kelp that tangles on their tails. I wanted to think of that and nothing else.

If you want to know more:

Mar 18, 2016

Déjà Vu

Dear Reader, 

I don’t want to turn this blog into a political one, I am sure what I am doing with it now that my struggles as an immigrant are over. At least, the legal struggles are over.

I can’t sit by anymore, though and not comment on the clusterfuck this campaign has been. I voted for the first time in my life on Tuesday. For the FIRST TIME EVER. When I lived in Venezuela I was Colombian and a Permanent Resident but not allowed to vote, I left Colombia when I was 3 years old so not quite old enough to vote. During the Colombian elections of 2002, I was old enough to vote but it was a month after I moved to the US and I was not in a mental frame of mind to give a fuck. In later years, it seemed too odd to cast a vote that in theory would affect how lives are lived in a country I had never lived in. 

Needless to say, this is the first time in my life where my vote would count in a country I live in and where that vote would affect change in my day to day basis. I know how the electoral college works, I know the delegate thing pretty much takes actual democracy out of the voter’s hand, I know all dad, Adam Ruins Everything already ruined that for me a few months ago     
Be that as it may, I cannot help but hold a shred of hope that we, the people can affect change, positive change in the way things are done, in how legislations are written, in how the law can work for us.

Look at Seaworld! Less than three years after the movie Blackfish, which documents the plight of captives whales, (specially Tilikum, the whale who caused the dead of trainer Dawn Brancheau) came out and brutally opened the eyes of everyone to the pain and suffering of Orca whales in captivity, the park has decided to cave to pressure and end their breeding and captivity program. There won’t be any more ‘circus like’ shows, there won’t be any more kidnapping or trading of whales between parks, no more breeding animals that should roam free to the unnatural habitat of a tank and performing like clowns. These 28 (the actual number varies between 24 and 58) whales will be the last whales used by Seaworld. They will educate the future generations on marine mammals without the circus act, without torturing those majestic creatures.

How did it happen? Because of the people, because of you and me and everyone else who complained and hashtagged the shit out of #emptythetanks and #blackfish and #seaworldsucks. People who boycotted, and protested outside the parks, complained, wrote emails and letters, called their representatives and senators, shared links on Facebook and Instragram and Twiter, talked to their friends and coworkers, educated strangers. Because of those small steps, little by little it changed the law. By law the trainers couldn’t get in the water or even close to the whales, which makes it harder for the show to go on, interaction, I believe it’s the key to training them.

Then came the California Coastal Commission who agreed to let Seaworld expand their park in San Diego only if they ended the breeding program. And so the breeding program is done, over with. Why? Because they had to, because the people won. The whales won too, the ones not to be born into captivity anymore, the ones who could’ve been snatched from their pods in the future.  This is THE biggest victory in animal advocacy in decades.

When I see stuff like that happens it quiets down the cynic in my that wants to rears its ugly head every time I watch a Republican debate, or hear someone say Muslims will have to be tracked (I don’t even understand how logistically speaking that would be possible)  every time I see a Trump rally full of spewing hate.  I refuse to give myself up to the dark side and become a cynic. I refuse to say I don’t care and stop being informed, I refuse to be charmed by ‘refreshing’ clowns that spout bigotry and racism and hatred and want to disguise it under the mask of patriotism. It hurts to care, but I refuse to become desensitized and swallow that pill that everyone has seems to have swallow and take pride on remaining ignorant because “all politicians are the same” or “my vote won’t count” or “they are all bought by wall street anyway” I won’t be suck down by this wave of anti-intellectualism where is cooler and somehow better to be ignorant, misinformed and uncaring.

I already saw this happening. I saw this exact same development in Venezuela. When Chavez ran for President, speaking about certain groups of people as if they were not Venezuelans, running a divisive campaign, with his polo t-shirts and his booming voice and his uber colloquialism, his ‘refreshing’ tell-it-like-it-is, isn’t it shocking but oh so funny persona.  He won them over, the ones who were looking for entertainment when they should’ve been looking for leadership. He won over the ones who heard negative things about Colombians, and realized they have been thinking those dark thoughts themselves but maybe they didn’t feel comfortable saying them out loud, but now the President was saying it too, so maybe it’s okay.  He won over the ones full of resentment, valid of imagined and he stoked that fire. Now the ember is still smoldering and there is nothing left of the country Venezuela used to be, with the values it used to have, and the freedoms it used to enjoy. Like Nero, now the whole fucking thing is burning down. 

History always repeats itself, I want to believe that we can stop it from repeating. Rise above the noise, don’t be a part of the common denominator, read, research, google, and ask questions, debate, be uncool and give a damn! Don’t settle for food and entertainment, free grain and circuses.  We can do better than that. We did for Tillikum, now let’s fucking do it for ourselves.