Brooklyn

BrooklynMeasured by blocks, but counted by the multitude of cultures, Brooklyn is what the city left to be untainted by gentrification.

How do I describe Brooklyn? It’s a host of prewar buildings with smaller neighbors in the borough itself. Some residential, some corporate, all connected by the A, D, F, Q, or R trains. I don’t know whether to call the homes houses or brownstones or apartments? A basement is an apartment but also the the private podiatric practice of an NYU alum. The other floors are duplex’s to be done with whatever the landlord pleases. It’s unique in every part, and probably just how you imagined it to be from the movies. Sometimes, when I’m crossing the bridge to Manhattan by train, I really think Spiderman is going to pop out of nowhere and rescue us from a bomb the Green Goblin placed underneath its tracks. But I digress.

In the middle of the Bed-Stuy neighborhood are three young professionals sharing an apartment together; a barista, a sportswear apparel agent and a broadcast associate. Between the Jewish, Chinese, African/Caribbean, Russian, Italian, Muslim, Irish, and Greek communities, a Korean, a Taiwanese and a Mexican live in apartment 3F. I’m told I got lucky moving into a rent controlled building with its own washer and dryer; I guess that’s the deal I made for having the smallest room without a window.

Geographically I don’t understand New York. My roommate explained it to me as “a floating island of trash and the homeless man’s toilet,” but I’m still speculating her observation. She was also the one who told me that I wasn’t a New Yorker until I get robbed.

New York is changing me and I don’t know what it is yet. Everything is moving so fast for me here that I don’t know what to anticipate next. Today is the Fourth of July and it’s hard for me to want to go outside and try to do something. Moving to a city where you don’t know anyone, or having the things that were easily accessible to you before makes even the smallest of tasks daunting. Mentally, I’m back at home but physically I’m on the other side of the United States. It gets lonely to be honest, but I’m trying day by day.

Brooklyn is home now and I’m here to make the best of it. I was so lucky to come to New York when I did, to work for a company that in many ways is a ‘legacy’ in my family. To be promoted within two weeks of starting work and to achieve what I came here to do; it’s unreal. In many ways, I’ve only known journalism; from writing a career report about Editor-in-Chiefs in eighth grade, to writing for my school newspaper in high school and college, to interning at a broadcast station in Los Angeles, to working alongside a senior producer in the number one market for journalism- it has been a journey. A lifetime in the making.

I never wanted to do anything on a smaller scale, I always knew it was either Los Angeles or New York, no in between. And now, these dreams are manifesting to be true. Sometimes I feel like I sacrificed everything to be here, but some steps are meant to be taken just to prove your worth.

New York, what are you doing to me!

Week 1, New York

ManhattanNew York. I sit in a slightly packed train cart, next to someone I’ll probably never see again, wondering which borough of this incredibly huge city they’re from. I sit and I look. I stare at the different forms of life; a business person, a teenager with his skateboard, a pair of friends, myself- from the reflection of the window as each stop zooms by. I think: New York. I finally did it.

I’ve decided to document my experience moving across the country and hopefully give some life back to this little blog. In many ways, the New York state of mind has always been near to me. I fantasized about an education at NYU and a summer at Columbia studying the impact of journalism when I was a teenager. I imagined myself a Carrie Bradshaw in my early twenties and constructed my own relationship with the city before I even met it. I looked, but never touched the big apple albeit the temptation was juicy. At 26, I finally decided to take a bite of the city and put matters into my own hands.

Now one week in New York, I still don’t know what to think of it. It’s rainy and I hate it. But I love it because the clouds clear and the sun shines through the buildings of Manhattan and the sky for a moment reflects a beautiful magenta hue, again I am enamored. The city is overwhelming. Grandiose in its facades and at times overcrowded, but the people of New York know where to go and where to be. They walk faster than I can run and are more focused than I can ever be.

Something about New Yorkers intrigue me. The east coast accent is almost music to my ears, like the hard beat of a hi-hat mixed with the slang of a rap song. The thick accents of a tongue inherited from generations prior fascinates me as much as the Puerto Rican or Dominican Spanish I can barely understand. Words are elongated, syllables are dropped and comes out a tune that I can’t stop listening to.

Someone once told me “Their is nothing like New York,” and it stuck with me. Although I don’t quite have my bearings down (or a place to live yet), I’m not worried. I figure I’ll make the best of the city in my time here and eventually I can call one of these closet sized rooms home.

One week in New York and I’m afraid to start missing my friends and family. It is hard not to when your whole life is 2000 miles away but writing and the occasional FaceTime from my boyfriend always helps. Each hour feels long but the days are going by quick. Fortunately work helps the time pass and each day I’m looking for a second job. I try to remind myself that I’m here for the experience and here for the long term goal which is to receive the training I need to become a successful news producer. When the time is right, home is where I’ll go!

 

 

#MeToo

metoomadrid
Mujeres En Lucha, Madrid

People ask me “since when were you a feminist” and it’s hard for me to give a definite answer. To be honest, I always defied feminism and never really cared for it. It was an ideology for others, but not for me- someone who had her shit under control. It just wasn’t for me; until is was.

Looking back into what seemed as an exceptionally ordinarily 25 years of life, I have always forgot that I’ve been a victim of abuse- not physical, but verbal. For someone who had her shit under control, this was one of it; compartmentalizing abuse in order to put on a facade as the perfect sibling or best friend.

I would first like to state that I can no way in shape or form relate to what victims of sexual abuse feel; I can only carry their burdens upon mine in a sense of solidarity. Victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, hate discrimination are the real survivors and I can only try to understand a fraction of what they went through or are continuing to go through.

My story is masked in the fantasy of ‘the Latino boyfriend’.

In what I see now, I see that my type is ‘the prodigal son,’ ‘the baby of the family,’ the one who is protected at all costs; the youngest Mexican male in the household. He is the son to my maternal instincts, but the one who takes advantage of it all.

If you are Latinx, you might understand this complex. But that’s a different story to be told.

My abusers, have verbally told me I wasn’t good enough; That “I’ve been with prettier girls than you” or that “you and your friends are whores” and have been perpetually cheated on with the same girl or lied to me and dropped me off at home early because his parents said so when he really was seeing other people.

I would purposely leave facts out to defend my exes and never give my friends the full stories. Every time my mom would ask how we were doing I would always say “O.K.” but never mention how my ex drank himself into an oblivion and use me as his verbal punching bag. I never told my family or friends that my next ex would introduce me to drugs and have me enabling his addiction while giving him money for other expenses.

I have never experienced an adult, long-term relationship where I was not abused. In my twenty-fifth year of life I have had an awakening, and the truth of the matter is that my two previous relationships have fucked me up so bad that I don’t how to have a normal, healthy relationship. 

My ego, my confidence, has been beaten to the core that I myself am the most insecure when it comes to relationships. I don’t know what it feels to truly trust a man because I am convinced he has other intentions; I don’t know how to fully accept love because I’m afraid I’ll be swindled by instant gratification; I don’t know if I can be emotionally stable through the smallest of things to the largest of things.

I caught myself looking into signs of an abusive relationship when I was stuck in something I thought I couldn’t escape. I’ve ingested those signs but I’ve digested them in the worst way; I became the abuser. I adopted those habits of fragility. I latched onto their traits because it was the only thing that was ever close to me and the only thing closest to ever feeling love. I was young and absorbent, unbeknown to the world.

One day I discovered a small black magnet smaller than the size of a dollar bill. In it, in thin but bold pink writing were small bullet points that showed signs of an aggressive partner. I looked to it and said to myself, “I am in an abusive relationship.” And in that moment, I moved forward with my life. Those bullet points became literary, and somewhat, a set of ten commandments.

Someone needed to see that magnet- someone like me. I sit here and think: What were the chances of me seeing that magnet? Sitting at that specific person’s desk where it was placed? Interning at that place 40 miles from home? Applying to that internship I thought I would never get into?

It was the smallest of things that I put my whole life into.


I have since saved a picture of that magnet and below are the bullet points that helped guide me towards ending a very detrimental relationship. It didn’t happen fast and it definitely wasn’t easy, but these were the facts were worth fighting for.

10 Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship

  1. Checking your cell phone or email without permission
  2. Constantly putting you down
  3. Extreme jealousy or insecurity
  4. Explosive temper
  5. Isolating you from family or friends
  6. Making false accusations
  7. Mood swings
  8. Physically hurting you in any way
  9. Possessivness
  10. Telling you what to do

*These warning signs are provided by loveisrespect.org

Best of Times, Worst of Times

librascale
(Source: @charmaineolivia)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

It was a blessing in disguise, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It was a sign from God that it’s time for me to move on with my life!

The sign, you ask? I’ve been fired from my part time serving job.

It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity!

As only William Shakespeare can best describe my melodramatic life, I continue to act in this play of treachery.

Okay, lets get real.

It’s been two and a half weeks since I wrote the above statement and revisiting the theme of ‘best of times, worst of times’ seems much more easier now.

In the time I was fired as being a waitress, I’ve been flourishing in other aspects of life. To best describe it, I would embodied it as the inanimate object of the balancing scales; not those of the Scales of Justice but more so as the astrological Libra Scale.

Where one side is heavy with grief and uncertainty, the other is loaded with prosperity and happiness. Under this righteous sign everything is balanced, where both negative and positive become equal parts.

It really was a blessing in disguise being fired. At the time of my employment I was harboring negative energy working as a server. I sacrificed sanity for money in a restaurant that only cares about making sales and customers that only care about happy hour. Weekends became a drag and it was affecting my day to day life. I was done with serving and it showed.

In the inception of this piece, reality hit hard and the symbolic door was slammed shut in my face. But to negate and underestimate life and its quirks is my own foolish fault; another door was begging to be opened.

At anytime I choose, I can be a waitress anywhere. But working for one of the nation’s top broadcasting networks has given me so much more, even though it is only part time and even though I’m used as a human traffic cone at times.

But life truly has a funny way of sending you messages and it’s incredible how it works. Just by removing the negative influencers in it you can see the positive impact on everything else.

For me it changed an outlook and it was the push I needed to commit to finding full time employment. Although my search for a career that provides benefits with a living wage is still in the unknown, I can sense it is nearing. But for the time being, I can focus on myself and my relationship and that’s all I really need to be happy.

So as it is I’m here to say that anyone in a position like me should cut out the bad and let the good flow in. Don’t force yourself to be compliant and do what you’ve been meaning to do before it’s too late. And if it’s one thing that everyone tells me, it is to be PATIENT. Oh, how I have much to learn on patience.

VERY LA: Inside the Melrose Trading Post

fairfax
Courtesy of @MTPfairfax

On the corner of Melrose and Fairfax an eclectic group of Los Angelinos set up shop in the parking lot of the local high school. To them, it’s just a regular Sunday of selling handmade graphics of Star Wars’ C-3PO meshed with Barack Obama and bartering for The Plays of Shakespeare, book-turned-clock.   

The pop up flea market that has inhabited the blacktop of Fairfax High School is the urban Melrose Trading Post. The post, which is a center for vintage fashion, handcrafted goods, and other unique items, has been making its name on the list of things to-do while in the city.  At the Melrose Trading post, a keen eye could find the missing piece to a collection of crystalline rocks or the decorative picture frame for a studio.

The Melrose Trading Post can be recognized for its lively yet mellow crowd. A colorful audience of different cultures reflects the unique, special valuables of the vendors. Around the corner a trio of women have a conversation in Japanese and within just a few steps a British pair contemplates buying leather shoes. The attendees were young enough to walk through the market on their own and old enough to reminisce on fashion styles of the 70’s.  The absence of police officers showed the tranquility of the post.

Established in 1997, the Melrose Trading Post has grown into a financial support system for Fairfax High School. The post has awarded the home of the Lions with funds for new sporting equipment and other projects benefiting the schools programs.

“We are a non-profit organization,” said Pierson Blaetz, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the Melrose Trading Post.

Blaetz is part of the Greenway Arts Alliance program that unites communities through art, education, and enterprise. This specific role aids the theater program at the high school and supports their future productions.

A $5 admission fee is the backbone to the financial aid the school receives but still offers free parking. Along with the grants, the market provides student employment opportunities.

Albert Zarzau, 16, is a part of the student staff and was working with graduates to direct the staff what tasks needed to be done that day. He said that student staffers are required to clean tables, assist in parking, and help move items from one place to another. Their red crew work shirts distinguished these students from guests.

“I like it here because it takes effort in this job to get things accomplished,” said Zarzau. “[Everything] looks great today.”

Alongside the staffers are vendors who contribute to the bohemian ambiance of the post. At the Los Angeles Tea Company booth, where organic tea and fresh herbs are blended, Erin Wieczorek, 22 and co-owner, sold $5 bottles of green tea.

“It’s awesome meeting new people here but the best thing about [the Melrose Trading Post] is to people watch,” said Wieczorek. “It’s interesting to see what people are wearing in L.A.”

In between a tent featuring baby blue table furniture and another tent with prints of Milhouse Van Houten was Matt Warren’s booth. Warren, 33, owner of The Exiled Elite, a custom design and illustration company, took his passion for art from the United Kingdom to California. His products include hand drawn alternative-movie posters that were sold as prints or t-shirts.

He said about the trading post, “when no one turns up on hot days like these or there is an event, that’s kind of frustrating. But even if you don’t get many sales, it’s still good for exposure.”

Warren uses the slow days to his advantage.

“I still get to see what kind of people buy my stuff and age group- which kind of designs are the most popular, so they are the ones I can get.”

So far his top sellers have been prints of the films Amelie, Point Break, and Pulp Fiction. Tees of these prints cost $25 while copies of the print $18.

“We do not have a lot of competition, ” said Blaetz. “[But] we are an outdoor market so weather does affect us.”

Hot or rainy days attract fewer customers but when it’s overcast, more customers visit the post, according to Blaetz. His only solution would be setting up a tent that stretches over the market but because of space and monetary restrictions the staff opted out.

Just up a set of stairs across from Warren’s booth and past a flock of food trucks was the main stage for musical performances. Laid out carpets and small lunch tables invited attendees to watch punk band, Girl Fry’s first performance at the post.   

Alex Si, 25-year-old bass player, and band mate Jessy Espino, 25-year-old vocalist of Girl Fry, shared similar opinions of their first experience at the trading post.

“I wish they hadn’t kept telling us to turn certain things up and put certain things down. It made it difficult to play consistently,” said Espino. “But I kinda like the outdoor thing.”

“Yeah, it was the first time we played outside,” said Si.  

The female fronted band simultaneously agreed on returning again to perform- except this time with a sound guy.

Milli Dawson, 29, born and raised in Los Angeles, has been attending the Melrose Trading Post for the past 10 years. His style manifests the modernity of the city and showcases his sense of individualism.

“It’s a place to inspire, a place to find things you won’t find normally,” said Dawson. “It’s part of L.A.”

**This article was written in the past for a previous assignment, some start up organizations or brands may no longer be up to date

Denver, CO

What can I say about Denver besides the fact I entered the city with a predisposed sentiment of hostility? The true American Midwest frightened me; the weather was on the cusp of its arid fall season, thanks to its pivotal location between the High Plaines and Rocky Mountains; the food was urbanized by everything having an egg thrown in it or some Mexican dish containing an unnecessary amount of black beans; the Downtown area was quiet, maybe just a little too quiet for my liking and the people were friendly, maybe just a little too friendly.

Denver, in all of its autumn colors of pine greens and maple leafs’ yellows, was at its best. The air was crisp and the sun shone from the mountain tops so brightly, teasing of its last few hours before the storm. Snow hugged buildings like fleece on a winter coat but  transformed into a blanket of ice the next day, covering every inch and crevice of the city.

I moved through LoDo like a token on a game board, stopping at each block and questioning the Coloradian lifestyle. Each step was another battle between myself and the snowflakes bombarding my face. I couldn’t move any longer, my four layers of clothing was defenseless and I was succumbing to defeat of my first snowfall. My company was frolicking in the middle of the streets while I was pressed against the sidewalk, desperately looking for coverage from the snow.

It was obvious that I was out of my element.

To further embarrass myself, I was the obnoxious L.A. fan in Bronco Country. It was me against the entire population of Denver. Those who were not hiking or skiing were at Mile High stadium, those who were not cheering for the Rams, were trying to be smart with me. Although I was instigating every time Todd Gurley rushed into end zone, to my defense I shouldn’t be taken anywhere in public because si ya saben como mi pongo pa que mi invitan.

Denver, Colorado; a place I would probably have never visited if it wasn’t the home to my boyfriend’s and his mom’s NFL team. It was cold and country but in its corners I found bits and pieces that suited my likings.

My few days in the Midwest was as to be expected; In Denver’s 20 degree weather I danced on the bar top of Coyote Ugly (and kicked a drink in a guy’s face), fell asleep to a Jazz band performing outside of the Denver Performing arts complex across from our hotel, met Eric Dickerson during the game’s tailgate, and patronized the mother-son duo for being fans of the losing team.

The city was a mile high, and so was I.

 

Left vs Right

newyorker
Source: @newyorkercartoons

In 2016 I voted in my first presidential election; albeit I had voter eligibility since Obama’s administration. I didn’t have an opinion, I was naive living in a bubble, and I intentionally chose not to vote in those years prior. Then in the election race heading into November of 2016, my bubble popped. My Mexican heritage, my life as a student journalist, and my female gender were infamously threatened by the now President of the United States.

I voted for a cause but lost to a country that cared more about an egocentric man. And the worst part of it is, is that I know people, my friends, who didn’t care about any of that. They didn’t vote left nor right, they did absolutely nothing; and its been eating at me ever since.

If my mother could leave her country and become a United States citizen at 25, and if my father could serve in the Vietnam War as a 18 year old Mexican immigrant, then what is stopping my peers who were born and raised American and who also had similar stories like myself, from voting?

With a heavy heart, I cannot give you an answer. In my inner circle there are some who are adamant about not voting and I just cannot comprehend it. They say “it doesn’t affect them” or “it doesn’t matter because whoever has the most money will win,” and every excuse is just another blow to my ego and maybe, even my heart. Sometimes I feel dumb for being passionate about changing their mind to vote because in the end I feel like I’m speaking to a brick wall. I’m lost in frustration and have an overwhelming feeling to forfeiting the fight.

In recent days this issue has been resting in the back of my mind like a trigger waiting to be pulled. It nests in a cushion of anxiety and I find myself distancing myself away from those trigger warnings. I feel scattered and at times just don’t know what to do.

How can I influence those around me to change there ideals and work towards something for the better good? The task has been difficult, especially when it comes to convincing my own friends and family. At times, cutting off ties with these people seems like the best idea but is it worth it ending friendships or relationships over the affairs of the state?

They say you aren’t supposed to mix friends with politics but the pushing and pulling won’t cease to end. So this is my call for help, how do I keep my sanity when those closest to me make me want to give up? How do I reach these people!