The apple vs. avocados

Avocados aren’t even from California. They don’t even go here.

And yet, that’s the shit I miss the most from my sunshine state. (And my dog, obviously.)

I know living in America means having every literal fruit and vegetable available to purchase and for my consumption, but ordering tacos with guac ain’t the same here in New York City. It’s like I gave up avocados as part of some permanent Lent I unknowingly signed up for.

I will say, though, there are many other qualities of New York that I only dreamed about in San Francisco. Like: Dollar slice pizza, not getting kicked out of clubs at 2 am, and experiencing actual summer. (Yes, the first thing I did here was walk my sweaty self to BB&B and buy an AC — who says you can’t buy happiness?)

I like big cities. Correction: I love them. Having the chance to live in Buenos Aires after growing up in the Bay Area is what likely spurred me to consider moving to New York. I didn’t actually make a plan to do it until I realized and experienced a couple things, all of which included your cliche shitty life moments: having someone tell you they don’t want to see you anymore, hating your job, and consequently getting rear-ended while on your way home from therapy after discussing said rejection and job loathing. I was in a rut, car-less, and needed a change. So I bought a white board, and made a plan.

About a month before I flew out, my mom said to me in passing, “You know, your problems are going to follow you where ever you go.” If you’ve ever watched any “Austin Powers” movies, then you definitely remember those sexy robot babes who shoot bullets out of their tits, but whose heads explode on the account of being unable to handle Austin’s hip gyrations. That’s probably the most accurate account of how my brain felt when she said that. Why? Because I knew that. I wasn’t running away from my problems, or romanticizing New York. Contrary to my poor memory and space cadet tendencies, I knew exactly what I was doing in buying that one-way plane ticket.

I moved for a plethora of reasons, some of which I’m even figuring out along the way. But one of them was to tackle my issues head-on, something I just couldn’t do in my hometown. I knew damn well my problems would never “go away,” and dealing with them didn’t mean fixing or ridding myself of them. Apart from my unhealthy obsession with kombucha and running into Broad City bitches a second time, most of my “issues” are what make me, me. So it’s not a matter of banishing my flaws, but accepting them. It’s the least I could do for myself here. And yeah, maybe I don’t have local avocados to smother my salads or face in. And maybe I have accidentally ended up deep in Queens because I was too busy queuing my Spotify. And yes, maybe I got suckered into trying over priced hand scrub in a fancy gold foundation. But it’s part of my process, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Also, if you’re steal reading this shit, here’s my latest on VICE.

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Yoga pants and shit

So let’s talk about the latest airline scandal and girls.

In case you haven’t heard, United’s been getting some shit for prohibiting a couple of preteens from boarding a weekend flight re their leggings/yoga pants. Anytime I see the airline United, I typically cease reading — I have unfinished business with them (more on that another time). Anyway, I thought the “No shirt, no shoes, no service” policy was reserved for beach towns like Santa Cruz or my alma mater Isla Vista. Because, you know, those are fucking beach towns where that shit is actually applicable. Unless United now has portable beaches on their planes, I clearly missed the memo.

Anyways, back to the girls. Yeah, these two kiddos were initially barred from boarding their flight because they were wearing leggings. Some argue the plot thickened when it was revealed these gals were flying under “pass travelers,” which then gave United the right to inflict particular dress code.

Here’s what United tweeted:

“In our Contract of Carriage, Rule 21, we do have the right to refuse transport for passengers who are barefoot or not properly clothed. There is a dress code for pass travelers as they are representing UA when they fly.”

I know I simplified, but if you really want to bitch about that, go ahead and read some reputable coverage here.

The ordeal ended with the girls putting on additional clothing and eventually boarding the flight. But damn, that just got the party started, y’all. If you haven’t read Seth Rogen or Chrissy Teigen’s tweets on the matter, treat yoself and take a gander.

This is where I tell you that I think United fucked up and is completely in the wrong. So yes, United fucked up, and I’m going to tell you why.

The multi-faceted and layers of issues here are something that should not go undiscussed. To begin with, it seems rather sexist on a superficial level to block two 10-year-old girls from boarding a flight because they’re wearing leggings. Leggings. We’re not talking a Sasha Baron Cohen speedo or Ri Ri’s notoriously bad@$$ Swarovski dress — and as a side note, anyone should be allowed to wear whatever the fuck they want on a flight so long as it’s not a damn swastika or threatens or harms another individual. I’m pretty sure there’s some legal shit that bars airlines or companies or whatever from discriminating against customers. But I’m not a lawyer, so (don’t) sue me.

Back to the point. No airline, — or any company, period — should have the power to keep a customer from boarding re their attire. Secondly, a company shouldn’t even be discriminating or censoring people’s clothing. If you really love and respect your customers, you’re going to love and respect them as they are — and there shouldn’t be a dress code that determines that.

And honestly — if you’re going to use the bullshit excuse that travel pass flyers represent your company, then you need a reality check. Really? You really believe two little girls in leggings are going to be the poster children of your airline? I get that United wants to stand their ground. Good for you guys. And sure, maybe people flying under the traveler pass — which seems like a privilege — need to adhere to some common decency and ethical standards; everyone should. While I certainly think United’s travel pass policies are a grey area for issues like this, I seriously doubt two tweens in leggings qualifies as United’s definition of indecent or immoral.

This brings me to my next grievance. These weren’t any two 10-year-olds. These were two girls. Who got called out for their clothing as they stood next to their father, a grown-ass man, who was reportedly wearing shorts that were several inches above his knees.  So I’m wondering, what was it about this dude’s daughters’ fucking leggings that were worse than their father’s short-shorts? In what universe is this not sexist? If so, I’d love to travel there and become their queer Latina messiah.

Seriously, this United fiasco isn’t about simply barring customers from getting on a flight. It’s about a company that inflicted some real patriarchal, hegemonic heteronormative rationale (not sure if you can call that kind of shit even logical) in their ruling. It is never, ever okay to write off a preteen wearing skin tight bottoms as indecent, immoral, or suggestive (and if you think leggings actually do that, I implore to reconsider hypersexualizing the female youth and females in general). And I know United didn’t literally say anything about these two girls being provocative or pulling a Britney “Oops I Did It Again” moment. But they didn’t have to. That’s the thing: our assumptions of what females wear — young or old — is tied to their morality or what is socially conservative enough. That’s the problem. We set women up to be knocked down in situations like these, because we gauge their decency and moral standards based on the clothes they wear.

And for the record, I do wear yoga pants.

Girls, caught up

I have an addictive personality. So when I started watching “Girls,” I knew I was fucked.

Yes, I did watch the entire series in a week and a half, and yes, I did eat a shit ton of dulce de leche while doing it. For reasons unknown, I had been resistant to watching the show since it came out. Maybe I wasn’t in the right place in my life. Or maybe I just didn’t have HBO or the will power to binge watch the show through other means. Maybe I was just being a difficult little brat. I’ll never know.

Anyway, I figured I didn’t have anything to lose. I suppose it was rather peculiar watching the show from the beginning as it’s currently airing its final season.

I’m not sure I can sit here and say it’s a life-changing show and that I feel utterly inspired to have heart and pursue my writing career while making a bunch of messy, shitty, and stupid mistakes. There were plenty of moments where I could empathize with Hanna, as she sat alone in her apartment, or with Jessa, each time she fell back into whatever binge. There were also moments were I fucking hated every one of them for being incredibly cunty in their own way. (As much of an idiot Adam is, he just may be my favorite, for the record.) I guess that’s the point of a good show — you become invested.

Apart from being an incredibly impatient human, knowing the series will soon come to an end left me with some anxiety. You know — when you’re in a relationship and you know the end is coming, but it’s not quite there yet. But you just know. Or when you say goodbye to someone and promise you’ll keep in touch, but you know you won’t. I hate when things end. Ending things blows so fucking hard. It’s not even about the TV show ending. Because the show is meant for you to internalize your own shit, and consider your own life. Who you’re fucking, or who you’re not fucking. Which friend you’re talking to, or not talking to. Whatever it is, you become weirdly selfish and project your own shit into the show. Or fuck, maybe that’s just me.

The point is, TV shows — good ones — are supposed to make you feel that way. You become invested. Not in the show, but for your own selfish reasons. And perhaps that’s why the finality of some series can leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. Because the show is over. It’s not real. It never was. But you are, and you’re still stuck there on the couch wondering whether you made the right call in whatever scenario you’re thinking about. At the end of the show, the characters cease to exist — how freeing that must be.

So, I wonder what Lena Dunham has planned for the finale of the series. I’m betting she’s already figured it out and knows exactly what happens. So what should happen? And what do we want to see happen? Do we want Hanna and Adam to end up together? Do we want Marnie to really, really become selfless and help Desi? Do we even want Jessa and Adam to be together? Do we really want Hanna to have this baby?

The romantic in me obviously wants Hanna and Adam to be together and raise the kid. The subtle hints are certainly there. Adam’s deep commitment to looking after Sample, his pet name for Hanna, their soul-crushing talk in the hospital. I’m sorry, but there really isn’t anything more powerful than unrequited love, and if you disagree, go fuck yourself. Hanna and Adam’s relationship, and the potential for them to reconnect, forces you to apply that same sense of possibility into your own life. Sometimes, things don’t work out.

So you wonder, what if? And I can’t help but wonder if Hanna and Adam could actually work — and I know Dunham is fucking with my emotions. But I know the chances of that reality are rather slim. It’s too predictable, it’s too easy. It gives you a mental break and a sense of security, and I don’t think that’s what this show is about. I’m not sure I could call “Girls” a romance show. Sure, that’s disheartening. Because you want it to work. But maybe you won’t ever see that person again. Maybe you won’t get your work published. Maybe you won’t get over your obscene addiction to kombucha and Pringles. Maybe you won’t find the answers you’re looking for. Sometimes, audacity does not always favor the bold.

But what if it does?

Death of a soccer coach

I never knew what it was like losing someone from your past until it actually happened.

I recently learned that my soccer coach passed away from lung cancer. The last time I saw him was a year ago at the gym. It had probably been five years since we spoke. I knew he was battling cancer, and in a selfish form of denial, I didn’t reach out earlier. I wish I had.

His hair was thinning and his clothes were baggy, but my militant, kind-hearted coach was still there. Naturally, I gave him a bear hug and brought him up to speed on my life. Then we went back to our gym routines. That was the last time I saw him.

Harry Tom was never a man of many words, but the ones he did speak carried so much weight, you’d think the world would shake with each syllable he uttered. This was true from the moment I met him, when I tried out for his soccer team at age 13. I wish I had the chance to tell him how deeply his faith in me — when I made the team — would shape me for years to come.

Camila at age 13: A slightly overweight, painfully shy teen, who spent most of her time on NeoPets and posting her wolf doodles on Deviant Art. I was weird as fuck (and I still am). By the pestering of my mother, I decided to try out for a competitive soccer team. I had noncommittally played soccer and softball since the age of 5, and my mom dared suggest my potential could turn into something better than wolf drawings and painting my NeoPets (I’m so sorry I abandoned them, truly).

So I tried out. And fuck; it was the most nerve-wracking, scary, and embarrassing thing my pubescent self had done. I severely doubted I would make the team — everyone was so much more with it than I was. And there was Harry — who probably spoke all of ten words during the two-day try out. His silent, stony gaze was unnerving. I figured this would be one of the many failures of my life. But Harry had other plans for me.

I did indeed make the team, and over the next five years, I upped my skills, competitive nature, and most importantly, my confidence. I credit that to Harry. And I learned the hard way.

Getting used to Harry’s coaching style took a minute (an entire season). It’s difficult to not take it personally when you see your coach  repeatedly hit himself in the forehead with his clip board on the sideline of a game, or when he verbally assaults you with harsh — but valuable — words at practice. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t return home from practice or an unsuccessful tournament crying. But I digress, Harry’s intense, albeit short-tempered demeanor wasn’t a reflection of judgement, disdain, or doubt. I think many people jumped to that conclusion, and threw in the towel. His coaching style isn’t for everyone, and I know I wouldn’t be the first to admit that. For 13-year-old me, learning to accept constructive criticism — at a very high volume — wasn’t easy.

It’s not that his words and coaching — no matter how harsh — were invaluable. It’s because they came from of place of belief. Harry didn’t insult you because he doubted you — it’s because he believed in you. He cared. In hindsight, I’m overwhelmed by how much faith, support, and guidance Harry gave each of his players in his own way. He actually gave a shit. And he pushed us during every practice, game, and tournament. His unwavering emotional investment was always, always there. And apart from obviously wanting to win games, I genuinely believed he had an intuition for recognizing the potential in each and every one of us — and I do not think that is something you find in many coaches, let alone humans.

This past week I was added to a Facebook group message with all of the females who played on Harry’s team. So many of us are spread out across the world, and do not keep in touch. But with each response, everyone noted Harry touched our lives so deeply — and years later, long after many of us stopped playing soccer — that sentiment is still shared amongst all of us.

So it pains me that I never took the opportunity to thank him for the gift of confidence and audacity. The regret will fester in me for a while. But what I do know, is that even if I did thank him, he’d tell me I had it in me all along.

Being a white Latina

I am pale-skinned.

The color of my skin (apart from it literally being the skin I live in) has been a pillar of my identity. But it was not until recently that I grew a pair (of ovaries, obviously) that I dared write about it. Skin color, and in turn, race, are rather touchy subjects and the last thing I want to do is piss off the wrong audience. But I know that’ll happen regardless, so fuck it.

I’ve also avoided discussing this issue because I did not want to validate the ignorant statements made by people regarding my skin and culture. Let me be clear: this is about my identity as a pale-skinned Latina. This isn’t a pity party, and it sure as hell isn’t a blog post where I play the victim of racism, because that would be real fucked up.

What I do want to talk about, though, is an already marginalized group of people who encounter a peculiar set of assumptions that tie their skin color to their culture. Again, I am talking about pale-skinned Latinas.

Yes, I was that one “white girl” in my friend’s quinceañera and yes, I have Argentine citizenship. But neither of those things should serve as proof or validation that I am actually Latina.

To be fair, on a purely objective level, I am white. My skin is pale. Hence, I am a white woman. But culturally, I am not that “white girl” — which I should mention is a term in itself riddled with contradictions and poorly justified assumptions. However, for the purpose of this post, I’m running with it.

I’m not here to list my grievances of being mistaken for a white woman or a white person — who the fuck wants to listen to a pale-skinned person complain about their pale skin? I’m very aware of the privilege that comes with being white — that sentiment is not lost on me. But another thing: I’m perfectly content with the skin I live in.

What I’m not content with, is having to justify, disclose, and even convince people that I’m actually Latina. I get that society functions under a certain set of assumptions and shit. I can’t fight that. I can’t help it that my skin is pale. I’m (not) sorry I don’t have a fucking Argentine sun tattooed on my forehead as a constant PSA. But I am not going to pull a Kylie Jenner and force myself to fit what society deems Latina-enough. I won’t tan myself and I definitely won’t let you call me mami, either.

And I’m not the only pale-skinned Latina out there, in case you haven’t figured that one out. We’re here, we exist, and we’re queer (okay, maybe only some of us). But really, we exist in a grey area of cultural assumptions. We’re not totally “white,” and yet, we aren’t always accepted as  entirely “Latina” either. God forbid you find yourself in Mi Pueblo listening to the Mexican mother and daughter talking shit about your whiteass in hushed voices. And I hope you never have to sit through a terrible date with someone who loves “spicy Latinas.” Don’t even get me started on the general hypersexualization of Latinas (other other WOC). At face-value, these experiences are  slightly comical, and I am happy to exist as an anomaly. It thrills me to watch someone’s reaction while I speak on the phone to my grandma, or how well I can salsa dance (hips don’t lie, bitches). I love challenging people’s understandings of what the Latina identity is. Even if I am a prickly pear, soy rellena con una dulzura que ni pudieras imaginar si tratabas. I, and so many others, will never, ever fit into your boxes of categorizing Latinas (and women, tbh). And we don’t want to, either.

I’d be lying, though, if I said there weren’t moments of frustration, isolation, and depression regarding that grey area I exist in. It’s a shit feeling when other Latinos feel they need to talk to you in English instead of Spanish. It’s also shitty when Latinos tell you that you speak decent Spanish for a gringa. Sometimes I feel like a toy for my non-Latinx friends who ask me to translate or “say something sexy.” There are moments in the day where sometimes, I don’t know what the fuck I am. And I imagine there are countless other human beings who feel the exact sense of alienation I am talking about — Latinx or not.

I’m not here to whine about the way I turned out. I’m not here to bag on white people. But I am here to document and publicize a group of individuals who are often unseen and overlooked. My identity, like so many others, is worth being noted. It is worth being seen.

It’s a confusing upside-down that I’m still trying to navigate, but hell, it’s there.

Dinner with divorced immigrant parents: A meal time horror story

I’m not a great story teller.

Most of the time, I just let the memory of whatever ridiculous shit (which has been a lot lately) happened to me be regurgitated through funny photos, eye witness accounts or mortifying Bart rides.

So in the spirit of embarrassing myself on the Internet, here is my latest bit. If nothing else, I hope this validates any other first-generation or children of divorce’s experience.

My parents divorced around two years ago. Both of them are from Buenos Aires, and somehow managed to find each other in California. My dad was on a work visa as a computer engineer, and my mother was a nanny in Redondo Beach. My father turned out to be my mother’s room mate in the Bay Area, so when she came to visit him, the rest really was history.

They eloped after dating for five months in the Chapel of Love in Lake Tahoe. My mom wore a black wedding dress. It was an accident, she says.

Fast-forward 25 years later. I’m at a dinner table with my two brothers and parents at a Cambodian restaurant. After finally being convinced that I was a professional writer, my parents wanted to celebrate. It was an incredibly kind and humbling gesture, so naturally, I accepted.

Dinner was peculiar for a number of reasons. My parents had a pretty amicable divorce process, although I don’t really think any divorce is painless or fun. I was fortunate enough that the two of them, in their own weird way, are still friends. No one fought over my shitty paintings or the graduation photo of definitely drunk me. No one was an asshole. Like I said, it could have been worse. Which is why dinner was an oddity in our family gatherings, because no one ended up stabbing someone. Since my parents split, the only time the five of us are in the same room is for Thanksgiving and Christmas, which are in itself weird encounters, too.

So instead of my parents taking passive aggressive shots at each other over coconut rice or preaching about their new partners, my parents were acting normal. I still can’t tell if that “normal” was really a facade for the sake of putting on a good face for the kids, or if it was genuine. I’m not sure. They were trying, though.

What I do know is that there was a deep sense of love filled with a lot of pain. My parents clearly still have a lot of love for each other, which I think is beautiful. These two people left their entire lives behind in search of something better. Along the way, they met each other, and built a life together. They bought their first home together. Their first car. They even got their citizenships together (it took them eight years, for the record). And somehow, they managed to raise at least two functional kids (I am definitely not one of them).

What I’m trying to say is that these two humans built their lives together in a place where they had no one but each other. This is the immigrant story, the American dream of making something of yourself. And even though I think my dad secretly works for the KGB, I’m so proud and privileged to be the daughter of immigrant parents. But I am also aware that divorcing the only person you knew in a foreign county isn’t easy.

In a lot of ways, my parents’ connection runs so deep because we’re all we have out here — everyone else is on another continent and time zone. Breaking up with that person can be real fucking lonely. Who else do you have? Who else do you lean on? What do you do when your diaspora isn’t your diaspora anymore?

Like I said, I think divorce blows for everyone, regardless of who and how things go down. But it wasn’t until dinner with my family, that I realized how their divorce was one of many layers. It wasn’t until all five of us were sitting there, plates empty, and with nothing to say, did I realize how their split hurt them on a national, cultural and social level. What the hell are you supposed to do when the only other orange in a room of apples doesn’t want to be with you?

But like most Argentines, my parents use humor as a buffer between that pain and awkward sense of loss. It may not have been exactly horrifying, but it was weird, uncomfortable, and slightly disheartening. It was probably the first and last time I’ll ever not finish my curry.

So yeah, divorce sucks. And divorce between your immigrant parents sucks, too. You’re not really sure where to go from there, or how to go anywhere — at least at the dinner table. And maybe you don’t have to know. Maybe it’s another trail your parents will build along the way. And I suppose that’s the best you can do. I mean, your family is your family. You can’t really break up with them, and that’s something worth noting.

Dinner may be awkward as fuck, but only until your brother shows you the mussel he’s eating definitely looks like a vagina. As long as you chose to continue to sit at the dinner table, you and the people you love will be there too.

 

V-Day, D-Day, Me-Day

I am in a dream. I am on the streets of New York City, and I pass a homeless teen with a sign that read, “All I have right now is twenty bucks. I’m just trying to get by.” I walked passed him, but not before I turned around and offered to buy him lunch at In-n-Out (ha). My best friend from college was suddenly there, and the three of us wandered into a subway stop. We were dancing, the three of us, when everything started shaking. I fell to the ground. Everything started to vibrate and I couldn’t hear either of them yelling at me.

I wake up. It’s Saturday. 8 a.m. I crack my eyes open to see a slew of notifications on my phone, none of which I want to read. Especially the text from an “ex best friend” informing me she’s traveling to South America with my ex-boyfriend. I roll over and go back to sleep. Hey, it was either roll my eyes or roll over. I know you’d pick sleep, too.

A year ago, I may have reacted differently. I’m an explosive mother fucker and you will know if I am pissed at you (may the odds ever be in your favor). So I may have responded, and not vey nicely. I may have told her she’s a terrible human being and has literally the worst taste in men. But I chose not to.

Why? Two reasons. First, because I don’t care. Secondly, because I care. I could care less about the ex. But I care that I lost a friend. I care that I lost someone who I had lived with, traveled with, and cried with (over this particular ex, I might add). The hardest pill to swallow, in all of this, is that my friend was no longer someone I recognized. That may seem harsh — fine. And yet, realizing that maybe you and another person are no  longer meant to be friends, or are compatible, is tough. Losing friendships suck.

How do you carry that around? How to process losing a friend? Nobody tells you about the trauma that comes with losing friendships. It fucking sucks. “Every year, you have more to lose.”

So when I scream “fuck” at least once a day in my car, it’s not always a byproduct of my dating life (a whole other can of worms). Sometimes, it’s because I remember all the people that are no longer in my life. That can be a slippery slope toward nostalgia, I know. But I never go back.

My only other option is to continue yelling profanities inside my car at varying volumes, drinking cocktails at bougie bars and always pulling Irish goodbyes at parties. How else am I supposed to deal?

Everyone talks about their break-ups with partners. It is a known part of dating and falling in and out of love. We learn from a young age that this happens all the time, and it will happen to us. Heart-break is part of the process, they say. And that someday, you’ll be rewarded with finding “the one.” But I’d argue no one tells you that you’re going to lose friends, even when you don’t want to. And that will break your heart, too. That sometimes, it’s not because you live in different cities or countries, or that there’s some other external force responsible. Sometimes, you don’t like the person they’ve become. Or your interests shift. Or something changes between the two of you. Sometimes, it’s nobody’s fault. You change. They change. It happens. That doesn’t mean it hurts any less.

Carrying around all your hurt can be lonely. From being unable to pick a safe word with a partner to desperately  trying to forgive your friend for fucking up, it’s a cluster fuck. No shit I’d rather sip on mimosas in my backyard than go to that Tinder party (yes, this was a thing).

But I digress. If it’s going to fuck me over either way, I’d rather do it. I’d rather be let down over and over. I’d rather drink that whiskey-ginger, even if I can’t tell the difference between Jim Bean and Jameson. Because I’m doing it for me, not anyone else. Try breaking up with yourself — I dare you.

So get @ me.

 

 

An open letter to the white man that cut me off at Peet’s

I’ve been brewing over this all day. So you’re all in for a treat.

Before I begin, let me give you a bit of some verbal foreplay. We all need a bit of warming up (let’s be honest, we all deserve it, too).

I had just stepped off the ferry into San Francisco for my morning commute. I sped-walked my ass away from the masses and straight into the Ferry Building. It was a beautiful, violet-skied day. Now, I normally don’t indulge myself in daily coffees, because that shit adds up and your girl is on a budget. But today was Pay Day. Once I reminded myself of this holy fact, I mini-shimmied inside my pea coat and booked it for Peet’s. Yes, I could have gone for that Blue Bottle Coffee, but like I said, ballin’ on a budget. Because we all know paying six dollars for an almond milk latte teeters on the brink of absurdity. So Peet’s it is. I really do believe it’s the little things in life that make up life itself, so I was ready to be corny and cliche as fuck.

I stand in line. I am next. The person orders in front of me and then waits by the bar. I  like to believe I’m a patient person — or at least try to be — so I made sure not to invade anyone’s personal space. But nothing — not even that piece of shit cheeto sitting in the Oval — could get between caffeine and me. Or so I thought.

Some random-ass white man got in my way. He did it. He fucking did it. He sauntered in, eyes glued to his BlackBerry (who the fuck still owns those, anyways?), skipped the god damned line and continued with his order. The cashier even made eye contact with me, and she and I knew exactly what was happening. I didn’t grin at her because I wanted to be polite. I smiled because we both knew this asshole had no idea he just cut six other people, because he needed his coffee. Before you all think I lost my shit on this sea pig of a human, I’ll have you know I didn’t. Even if I’m a dangerously hot-tempered Argentine-American female. Because I am a Civilized Woman and I really would prefer not to be escorted to the San Francisco Police Department for having an “outburst” on a Tuesday morning.

I let it be. I decided not to say anything to the man. I didn’t feel defeated or shy or unsafe. Why? Because I knew the barista would say something directly to him. I like to believe there is a tacit understanding between women when something fucked up happens — no matter how minute or grandiose — you step up.

“Just so you know, there’s a line,” she said.

And this dude whipped his head back towards everyone and began to profusely apologize. I get it. It’s early. You’re probably responding to an email your shitty boss sent you at 4 a.m. Or you’re scrolling through Kendall Jenner’s Instagram. We’re all busy. We all have places to be. But that’s besides the point. And it’s also besides the point that you apologized, dude.

No one wants your apology. I certainly don’t. What I want is awareness. To the white male who cut me off at Peet’s, here’s why I’m posting on my fucking blog about you.

You can chalk up your lack of cognizance and spatial awareness to whatever else is happening in your Uber important life. I don’t care if you’re sorry. Sorry doesn’t cut it. What you should be apologizing for, is not knowing any better. Not knowing that your universe does not come before anyone else’s, nor is it the sole galaxy we all happen to live in. To make it simple for you: you’re more like a piece of a disbanded foreign satellite trash that’s just aimlessly running into shit in outer space.

It doesn’t even cross your mind that maybe you’re not the only one who is on a quest for coffee, let alone the only one who exists in this so-called civilized society. It’s not a matter of being apologetic, it’s a matter of being aware.

I’m not going to sit here and say that you directly attacked my rights and safety as a queer Latina by cutting me off at Peet’s. That you being a complete moron at 8 a.m. is a reflection of your political agenda to oppress and marginalize women like me. That would be taking it too far, and  I know that.

What I will say, though, is that it’s the little things. It’s the small acts of ignorance, the inability to realize your own privilege, that continue to threaten and chip away at safe spaces and the equity of others who may not be white or male. Yeah, I’m not going to give a shit about this in a month (let’s be real, I need a week). But I implore you to take a fucking minute from your shitty BlackBerry and think about where you are, what you’re doing, and if you’re not being an indirect dick to other people. White dude, I don’t have a problem with you. I have a problem with the hegemonic, heteronormative patriarchal society you and I live in. Be conscious. Be aware.

And for fuck’s sake, don’t cut people off at Peet’s.

 

Nah, say my name

“What is your name?”

What is my name. What is my name, they asked. Not, “how do you say your name?” As if it were some other creature only tied to me by the pencil and paper I write it on. As if it was  never mine in the first place. As if it were not me. As if it did not belong to me. As if I did not belong to myself.

My entire life has been a saga of deja vu, where I explain my name to friends, teachers, colleagues, and the baristas at Starbucks. Sometimes I’ll spell it out, or write it down — everyone learns a different way, and “it’s very important to foster a learning and positive environment,” said every Berkeley mother. It astonishes me how many times I have to repeat my name to the same person, and to each person I meet. While their reactions vary, I am left with the same feeling: isolation.

As with all things, I didn’t become ashamed, embarrassed, confused by my name until I reached the age of schooling, where I was ripped out of the safe web my mother had created for me, and into the sea of stubborn ears and tongues that did not listen. I dreaded the first days of school, because every damn year, I would have to go through the same public humiliation of a teacher butchering my name. I was not an exception — there were plenty other children of immigrant parents who suffered the same invisible terror. But this is my story. And no one else had my name, or was me: Camila.

“Cuh-mee-lah.”

“Kah-mill-uh” is what I got instead. Camille. Camillia. Camilla. Kamila. Cammy.

I was a painfully shy child, so when this happened every 365 days, I wanted it to be over as soon as possible. Never mind that they got it wrong, just get on to saying Hoshang’s or Ayeyi’s name. For the love of God, just butcher someone else’s name. And people wonder why I have anxiety. (Yes, it’s your fault Mrs. Downey. Mr. Aiken. Oh yes, I’m calling you out — funny how the tables have turned, eh?)

The worst part about all of this was not so much that everyone and their literal mother got my name wrong — it was that I didn’t have the courage to tell them that. I didn’t want others to experience my shame, my embarrassment. I just thought it would be easier to let it be, and that being called something other than my name was a fair price for anonymity and minimal humilation. I really did believe I’d come off as a stuck-up, snotty paled-skinned Latina brat who thought she was better than everybody (and for a time, I definitely did). So my voice remained quiet, and I let others name me. Me, my person, my literal identity, didn’t even belong to me. It belonged to those who were willing (or cared enough) to say it. But honestly, by the end of the year, or once soccer season ended, no one remembered my name anyways. No one remembered me. I was just that weird white girl with the weird name. And I stayed that way for the rest of my life.

The most puzzling part of this identity ordeal was that while people called me a literal flower, my name was perfectly normal in Argentina. Normal. There was nothing weird about my name, my skin, or the way I pronounced by double L’s. At six, I didn’t even know what normal was — and I still don’t know. The main difference, though, is that I don’t give a shit about normal anymore. But six-year-old, 12-year-old, and 16-year-old me did.

Each time I hopped on a plane to South America, I was able to shed the snakeskin of my phony identity off my body. I didn’t have to coil myself together like I did on the playground or during show-and-tell. People didn’t have to come up with nick-names or alter ego names just to interact with me (It’s Maya, if anyone is asking. My alter-ego name is Maya.) There were no misunderstandings in my name, and there were no fifth-graders to make fun of my stutter while giving the lunch lady my name. I was free. I was normal in Argentina. And more than anything, everyone in Buenos Aires said my name flawlessly. I fell in love with each person who uttered my name. It was a love affair with my own name, one that was forbidden and chastised in California. It put Romeo and Juliet, Rachel and Ross, and Kimye to shame.

“It’s not that hard of a name,” people would tell me years later, after I decided I would correct people until they said my name properly. I remember sitting at the table, passing hookah around with my college roommates while playing reggae in the background and sipping on beers. In unison, they all agreed that Camila Martinez-Granata was not a difficult name to say or spell. Truly, I know their intentions were well-meant. But on the inside, the smoke of the hookah plumed out of me, leaving the room thick with tension. It was, and continues to be, one of the most back-handed compliments I have ever received. Not the, “You’re pretty for a curvy girl,” or “You don’t look Hispanic.” Never mind that. There I was, sitting at a table, with mint-flavored tobacco in my lungs. The taste went bitter. I took another hit, held my breath, and with my exhale, pushed out every foul and insulting word I wanted to say. I couldn’t. I couldn’t tell them that they were being insensitive or that instead of making me feel validated, they made me feel dumb. Dumb for always correcting people, dumb for speaking out about my name. Dumb for being me. Instead of comforting me, I was pushed against a wall, alone and naked, shut out in the dark. My entire life, I had listened to people, just like my room mates, murder my name, carelessly. And suddenly, it was so conveniently pointed out that my that name isn’t that difficult to begin with. You’re right. It isn’t. My name is not what’s hard. It’s the people. It’s the ignorance that is hard. You do you not get to selectively choose when a name, or a fucking word, is hard to say. It suddenly becomes easy when they decide it is. It’s selfish as fuck.

I blow out the smoke. “Yeah, I guess you’re right,” I say.