Disney In 48 Hours

Disney In 48 Hours

I had a great time in Disney Land this weekend, thanks to a group trip that I took to learn more about the ins and outs of branding, customer service, and emotionally connecting to your clients.15055644_1605813203060529_6291833328063458022_n.jpg

I hadn’t been to Disney Land since I was a kid, so the entire experience was very different than how I remembered it – and probably different than the way anyone else might too. One thing I learned visiting the parks (I got to visit California Adventure as well) was that every person approaches the park differently. Some people in the group went very early in the morning and got everything out of the way taking a midday nap, while others (like me) started the day a little later and stayed late into the evening, when things really closed down around 1 a.m.  The first day, when we hit up California Adventure, I took some time out of my day to hit up the hotel spa and get a very special Disney massage. The treatment was exemplary and showed off one of the things that makes this complicated place such a treasured experience – the service was amazing. The woman who booked me knew I was on a time crunch because I wanted to attend a musical at 7:30, so got me a half-hour session which wasn’t normally on the menu. My masseuse was so gentle and friendly and made sure I had water and knew right away my legs were hurting. She made sure I’d be able to walk through the many extra hours I had ahead of me.

And when I was done, I had enough time to score myself a cocktail at the a replica theater of the original place where Snow White first debuted. This one was called the Poisoned Apple and came with a souvenir “poison apple” – a waterproof cube that can be turned on and off and dropped into a drink at any time. A thoughtful, fun way to take the magic home. I brought them home and showed them off to my partner who immediately fell in love with it. I also got us something else that I really wanted us to share:

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engagement rings!
I think I sized my partner correctly, but just to make sure, I asked the sales woman at the store (somewhere in Fantasy Land) if there was something I could do if the ring was the wrong size. She wrote down a phone number and said if I had any problems someone would be available to help us size them retroactively and get a replacement. They seem to fit but Phoenix says it’s a bit tight – so we might need that number.

I got to take a number of photos that are perfect for parents and friends that want a holiday memory of me taking a trip through the Happiest Place on Earth too.

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Along with several shots of me with the one thing I promised myself I would not buy – that’s right, a pair of mouse ears.

15129961_1606242043017645_1960408763_n.jpgI arrived Disney skeptical – keep in mind I come from a leftist family that doesn’t like big shows of money or power. I myself assumed Disney would be a more opulent capitalist experience, but to my surprise it was just the break I needed from a world in which things have been really violent to immigrants and refugees like my family lately. The place is kind and gentle with heavy souls, even my own. I am a journalist and writer at heart, so it seems I might always be carrying a bit of the world with me. Disney must have had more magic than I expected.

I sent dozens of photos to my friends back home who know I have been scared and confused these past few months as white nationalism has been on the rise in the United States. The people that love me were so happy to hear I had taken a moment to care for myself and enjoy the gorgeous California weather for a much-needed break.

I can’t wait to bring back some of the joy I got to the communities I live in. You don’t need a $200 ticket to a land of adventure to show kindness to the people around you – although it certainly doesn’t hurt! I challenge those around me to do something genuinely kind for an immigrant or refugee in their life right now. I challenge myself to be the person I am fresh out of a joyful vacation even when things get tough. I challenge myself to find a deeper part of myself with a vision of what I want to create. I hope you will join me.

Need a little inspiration? You can always check out the cheesy holiday vacation video I made for my mom and dad.

See You at the Death Rattle Writers Festival, and in the new Unchaste Anthology

See You at the Death Rattle Writers Festival, and in the new Unchaste Anthology

I’m excited to announce I’ll be a headliner next week at the Death Rattle Writers Festival in Nampa, Idaho. I’m excited to read with fellow northwest writers, including Jamondria Harris and Mike Young.

I have never been to Idaho, but I am eager to scratch my travel itch. There has never been anything more exhilarating for me than boarding an airplane, knowing that in a matter of hours I’ll be somewhere entirely different. I love the excitement of packing, of scrambling to get to the airport on time, of the cute snacks they hand out, of watching the world turn into tiny dots underneath you. Even more excited is traveling to a place where you are wanted – where people called on you to be.

Like many people I have often struggled with a sensation of not knowing where I belong. I think the sense is heightened for immigrants and refugees, and growing up a Salvadoran girl I never quite felt safe calling a place home. Traveling has always alleviated a lot of that for me. When I travel, I’m not obligated to be “from” that place. I’m allowed to just be a traveler, someone passing through, and maybe that’s the truth: my hometown is simply the sensation of being new. I am from a mixed feeling of exile, desire, loneliness, and excitement. That’s what it is like to be a refugee. It is like always being on a plane.

I know the writers running the Death Rattle Writers Festival because I met them when they invited me to read with them here in Portland. Thanks to Mike Young, someone who has always shown me kindness of old neighbor even though I feel like I’ve hardly known any one for longer than two years in my life, I was able to read with Dig Reeder, Griffin Rae Birdsong, and Diana Forgione as they toured through the area.

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Unchaste Anthology, Volume I

I will be reading on Sunday, October 9th, at Lloyd Square in downtown Nampa from 5:30 to 7 PM with other Pacific Northwest writers.

I also have a few more exciting October and early November appearances ahead .

I’m excited to say I will spend my birthday this year reading with fellow Unchaste Readers for the new Unchaste Anthology launch – which will feature my writing along with dozens of other women. You can support the Unchaste Readers Series, along with its future anthologies, by backing its kickstarter here. We’ll be reading October 22nd, with exact time and location to be announced.

Then, at Wordstock 2016 the Oregon Writers of Color is hosting a reading for Lit Crawl on Reparations. Stay tuned for more details as we get closer to the date!

I’m excited to be a part of a variety of readings that uplift voices that so often are not heard. When I read, I try my best to commit to reading new material whenever I can, because I know readers come out of the woodwork for a unique opportunity to make a connection with a writer and storyteller.

As I work on my next reading and prepare my travel bag for my time in Nampa, I continue translating for El Hispanic News and boosting Sankofa Collective Northwest through their relaunch. I also continue my weekly column at the Rumpus, Notable Portland.

 

 

 

Bring your Vision to Wordstock

Bring your Vision to Wordstock

Portland friends:

As some of you know I’m on the Wordstock advisory council here for Literary Arts, a writing-focused nonprofit based in Oregon. In November, Literary Arts brings local, national, and international writers and readers alike to the Portland Art Museum for a uniquely Portland literary experience. The festival saw over 8,000 visitors last year, and this year we expect to see even more.

While there is an opportunity to visit for literary fans from all over the state and the world, we also have an opportunity to do more. We are empowered to represent the breadth of the literary spectrum by curating different reading shows for this year’s Wordstock Lit Crawl.

If you have an organization that can and should be represented at Wordstock’s Lit Crawl, I urge you to submit as soon as possible. We would love to make this year’s festival and readings the most diverse to date – and like any nonprofit, we can only do that from the ground up.

I just submitted an idea on behalf of the Oregon Writers of Color on the theme of “Reparations” and what life could and would be like for nonwhite creators if they had the same opportunities others do. What ideas do you have?

Bring your ideas, themes, and readers to our application form now. 

Fundraising for PFLAG Portland Black Chapter

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It’s not news to any of you – much less those who have been close to QTPOC in any capacity, that the past month has been full of violence and triggering events. The bloodshed, the loss of so many Black lives, has put a special drain on organizations catering to Black folks, especially Black LGBTQ folks, since Orlando.

As an Afro Latina, I live at the intersection of many of these identities. My partner is trans, I am queer, and my life matters too.

One of the organizations that has helped me and people like me the most in Portland has been PFLAG Portland Black Chapter, the first chapter in the country to cater specifically to African American and Afrodiasporic LGBTQ communities.

I work as their Communications Specialist, and organize regularly with them to ensure our united communities feel at home, and are cherished while we are alive here and now – instead of later, once we’re a hashtag, a viral video, a ribbon, a picture at a vigil.

So tonight at my dear friend Sara June Woods’ book launch party for Careful Mountain, a group of us collectively decided we would donate copies of our work and other books to a raffle. The proceeds of the raffle will go to PFLAG Portland Black Chapter and to providing advocacy, legal support, youth programming, and more to local QTPOC.

 

I will be reading, alongside Sara, Manuel Arturo Abreu, Irene Milsom, Ines Falcö, Prairie M. Faul, and Stephanie Stiffler. You will have a chance to win a copy of my debut chapbook, No One Remembered Your Name But I Wrote It Down.

Please join us at 7 PM at the People’s Food Co-op in Southeast Portland.

I am grateful to my community, and yes, I have been writing endlessly and creating in our names. I don’t want to wake up a hashtag.

I will close with a video that has spoken to me during this time, Sleep, by the Roots.

Meet the Author

Meet the Author

Join Cooper Lee Bombardier, Geeta Lewis, Kate Caroll Deguetes and me at the Portland Q Center on Tuesday, June 14 from 5 to 7 p.m. for a special Pride Northwest Official LGBTQ Meet the Author event!

I’ll have copies of my book there and more information about collaborating together. Each author will have the chance to contextualize their work with their lived experiences. I can’t wait to see you there!

I am likely reading at the Jade Lounge afterwards with my partner Phoenix Singer afterwards and I’ll definitely be involved in a lot of Pride Northwest events here in Portland, so stop by and say hello!

It’s been so long!

It’s been so long!

I’ve been working so hard and designing so much!

Check out this beautiful program I designed for PFLAG Portland Black Chapter’s 7th Anniversary and Fundraiser, From Root to Fruit:

I’ve been meaning to start a portfolio with my design work to show folks what I can do – and I finally did it. Check out my new Design and Promotions page to learn more and see my portfolio!

If you or someone you know needs to design a program or event flyer or other print or online materials for your next event or fundraiser, please let me know. I offer sliding scale prices for writers, artists, and nonprofits. Email me for a quote, or check out my Booking Page.

In other news, I am now contributing over at PQ Monthly and El Hispanic News, along with other work at The Establishment.

Let me know if you want to pitch me a story, especially since Pride is coming up and events are stacking up. So excited to have you all still following me and a reminder I am on Facebook and Twitter.

See you all at Pride!

I know spring is coming and I’m ready

I know spring is coming and I’m ready

yellow-typewriter-arrob.440.305.sIt’s been quite the past month here in Portland and now that it’s almost spring I’m overdue to share some of my latest work. As some of you know, I was the Arobb@ digital blogger in residence at Duke University’s Program for Latino Studios in the Global South for the month of February. The program allowed me to focus my energy on a short set of pieces concerning the nature of femininity, oppression, and race in migrant America. If you haven’t had a chance to read them yet, they shouldn’t take you more than 8 minutes to go through.

March also meant some big changes in my career. I left the Portland Observer and experienced a milestone that many writers will not share – I had my byline lifted by an editor. When I learned that this wasn’t unique to me  – that dozens of writers I spoke to spoke of both having their wages withheld and the writing misattributed intentionally, I decided to speak up. I shared a Love Letter To Future Writers at Medium on my experiences and am working still to recover both my wages and create community accountability.

Fortunately, when I left the paper, I found other platforms ready to work with my writing. I am now moving forward on a new beat on decriminalization of marijuana over at Potcast PDX, which is set to be a half hour variety show about cannabis and its unique effects on intersectional communities launching sometime in the next 40 days. I’m setting off to start on one of my first interviews for them today, focusing on what is happening to convicts living with records for a crime that may no longer exist.

I’ve  also been following the election and considering the open fascist tendencies of our government across the board – not just by Trump or Hilary, but by the nation. My concerns about white supremacy not being new but being expanded in different ways this election are over at The Establishment, where it was part of a five-part series on the election.

Another big jump for me has been joining the Portland QTPOC Talk Collective, where I am going to be a regular voice. The talk show runs on KBOO the third Tuesday of every month, with the next show airing Tuesday, March 15th from 6 to 7 p.m. Listen to our first episode if you didn’t catch it live.

Aside from my published pieces in the past month, I have a few readings coming up.12801386_815299662552_5884806195737183253_n.jpgCatch me tonight at Death Rattle Hum – Portland Edition, where I’ll be reading  along side local poets Jamondria Harris and Michelle Peñaloza, and wandering poets from Idaho Griffin Birdsong, Diana Forgione, Marshall Harris, Dig Reeder, and Alex Yann. The entire event was put together by local poet and professor Mike Young, who I have really enjoyed working with in the past several months. The reading starts tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Post 134, 2104 NE Alberta in Portland.

If you can’t make it tonight you’ll have another chance to hear me read this Monday at Powell’s for Smallpressapalooza 2016. The line up is impressive: Screenshot 3:10:16, 11:51 AM.jpeg

I’m right there in the middle at 8 p.m. and you’ll be able to score copies of No One Remembered Your Name But I Wrote It Down along with everyone else’s chapbooks and small press releases right there after the reading.

I’ll have new pieces coming out shortly – so stayed tuned and let me know if there’s somewhere I should be reading next. And as a bonus for reading to the end, here’s this week’s Notable Portland column, full of literary events to check out this week.