40 is Not the New 30

Hey kids.

So I’m a little bit skittish in Bloglandia today. For those of you that don’t know, I got two tough rejection emails from places that were really important to me. Both places got pieces that I wrote on immigration. They were very different, but both based on my personal story/views on immigration in the U.S. One turn-down came on Monday morning, the next on Tuesday morning. A sharp one-two punch.

Now on the one hand, if I’m getting rejections, I’m in the game. Which is a good thing. On the other hand, I’m getting rejections. Which  sucks.

It’s funny – when I get turned down for a performance of my show, The Deportee’s Wife, I usually don’t miss a beat. Sure, I would’ve loved the gig and all that, but the no doesn’t make me want to eat comfort food asap and sleep the day away. When I get turned down for other types of writing, the kind that I have no emotional connection with, I usually shake myself off and push on.

But while I was OK Monday and soldiering on, the second notice yesterday just did me in. And it was a post by my friend B that made me realize what’s underneath:

And G, I hope you don’t take this personally, but you and I are about the same age. When you hit this particular point in life (no I’m not saying “cuantos años”), you begin a process of introspection in which you become very hard on yourself– some might call it a “mid-life crisis.” Believe me, I understand how you feel, having dumped a successful career in ——– years ago to pursue what was dear to my heart, and now sometimes having the same inner questioning erupt in my mind.

He’s right on the proverbial money that I don’t have right now. I couldn’t even respond to him yesterday. I just cried on the roof while doing our laundry.

B is in a similar situation immigration-wise. My close friends know that since I turned 40 this past January, I’ve been in this extended remix of a mid-life crisis. It comes and goes. But the whole, “I’m 40” thing comes up a lot in my conversations with them. And not happily. I in no way whatsoever have embraced entering my 40s.

Yesterday I caught myself thinking, “What if I never moved to Mexico? What would my life be like right now at 40? My thoughts turned to some of my U.S.-born exes out there – what if I had married one of you?

I’m not proud of where my thoughts took me yesterday. But I think that if you make life decisions based on your spouse’s immigration situation, those questions come up in one way or another. I think that they come up when you’re in a committed relationship with a person, period. Yet those questions do cut in a specific way for those of who flail around in U.S. immigration’s quicksand.

And apart from my moldy mid-life crisis, (I mean, my birthday was nine months ago,) what shook me to the core yesterday was that if two very different writing opportunities turned down my immigration writing,  then why the hell am I writing about immigration? Who is really listening? After yesterday’s DREAM Act vote, that’s especially ringing true for me. In a crazy moment yesterday, I thought, “Hey – maybe the universe is telling me to go back to teaching English.”

I know that the two rejections aren’t the only places in the world to be published. I know that I have a grouchy yet necessary voice as an immigration activist. I generally have come to trust my voice as a writer. And the blog readers that I have here I deeply appreciate.

But part of my Dream for the Deportee’s Wife campaign involved talking to you Activators about how I need to be more visible in the public conversation. Those two places would have been key in the next steps.

So whatever.

Today, I’m most definitely a poster child for, “40 and not feeling fabulous.”

Let me rephrase that:

“Fucking 40 years old and not feeling fabulous in any fucking way whatsoever.”

The Gift From My Muslim Ex-Husband

Hey kids.

I’ve been watching/listening to/reading about the anti-Muslim news in the U.S. through half-closed eyes. Squinting in the hopes that eventually it would go away.

Listen, it happens. I’m not proud of that. But we all have our moments as activists where we put the pack down for someone else to pick up. Privilege plays a big role in that.

Well, my knapsack is firmly back on my shoulders.

Today’s post is written from my perspective as a New Yorker, as a cultural Jew and as a convert to Catholicism. I’m also writing it from the perspective as the former wife of a Moroccan Muslim man.

I know – news to some – but not to everyone who reads this blog.

R is my second husband. I was married to H for over three years.

There was a Quran in our house.  H usually prayed five times a day, as many Muslims do all across the U.S. He prayed in our Brooklyn apartments. In celebrations at Prospect Park. At the local mosque. At the homes of our friends and families. At the restaurant where we both worked. Later on, at his media job in the city.

Fasting during Ramadan while working as a cook in a restaurant must have been tough as nails. But H did it cheerfully. Faithfully. I would join him and fast on Fridays during Ramadan. I felt very connected to him spiritually during those moments.

I went twice to Morocco. In the working-class neighborhood where H’s family lived in Casablanca, the calls to prayer were announced over a loudspeaker, no matter the hour. I was welcomed by H’s family with open arms, this non-Muslim woman from the U.S. who spoke next-to-no Arabic.

So I don’t tell you this today to make me out to be an expert on Islam. But I am talking to you today as someone who once shared her life intimately with a Muslim man.

I’m furious about the ignorance, hatred and fear towards Muslims that I’m watching explode all over the U.S. The mosques that are being torched. The protests in New York City against the construction of the Cordoba House Community Center. And the white men who want to burn the Quran in the name of all that is holy.

I want to be rational about this, but I find that I can’t. I keep thinking that I’ll blog about this when I’m calmer. But I’m only getting angrier.

If R is able to enter the U.S. again, we always thought that it would be great to go back to New York. At this point, I want R to be able to enter the U.S. out of a deep desire for justice. While R thinks that he may never be able to enter the U.S. again, I’ve always cupped my hand around a small spark of hope, trying to keep it alive.

But you know what? On a day like today, I’m sitting here in front of my laptop with my head in my hands. The United States of today is not the U.S. that R was deported from on April 26, 2001.

H and I didn’t work out. It was my decision to go. We haven’t spoken in years. But today, I stand in solidarity with my former husband. I will always stand for his right to be a pious and practicing Muslim in the United States. I will add my voice to create safe space for him.

One of the biggest gifts that H gave me was that I learned a a great deal about Islam. I got over my ignorance and my fear. I have opinions about Islam based on knowledge and experience. From waking up on Sunday mornings to the sound of H praying towards Mecca in the next room.

H, if you are reading this today, shukran. براك الله فيك

“Anchor Babies”

Hey kids.

My Mexican mom had papers when she gave birth to me in the U.S. And my Dad was born and raised in New York.

Yet, in 1970, I was one U.S. Immigration stamp away from falling into today’s shameful and humiliating 14th amendment debate.

And if R and I had kids when we were in the States, then the kid or kids would be right in the thick of it right now. I know many people who are in this situation as we speak, i.e., one or two undocumented parents in the U.S.

And what if R and I have kids in the future? What if we adopt? What if R never enters the U.S. again? What does that mean in today’s political sphere?

You know, as I’ve mentioned earlier, I felt very much alone when R was deported in April of 2001.

But you know what? I think that at this point I’d take the loneliness any day over the what’s happening in the U.S. now.

Today in 2010 I have a community. Today in 2010 I connect with more and more people that understand what I’ve lived through/am living through/will continue to live through.

And yet today in 2010, I feel a fear and a rage that I never could have imagined in 2001.

There’s a question that I ask at the end of my show, The Deportee’s Wife about R possibly not being allowed to enter other countries in the future, due to their political relationship in the U.S. (As was the case with him and Canada in 2007.)

And I ask if one day I may not be allowed to enter the U.S., Canada or any other country because I’m R’s legal wife.

Will those words come true during my lifetime? Jesus.

Today in 2010, unspeakable and unimaginable issues are slaughtered and slapped onto the U.S. political table, the blood still warm.

It almost makes me long for April of 2001. Almost.

SB1070 and Mexico

Hey peeps.

Its been weird watching the SB1070 news here in Mexico. One Mexican politician after another has come forward all swagger and bravado about the parts that were killed in the bill.

So these men in ties rumble into the microphones. But on the whole, there’s no accountability for Mexico’s economy. An economy that’s as thin and fragile as the last potato chip in the bottom of the bag.

There’s no talk of the intersectionality of the issues. There’s no talk about the correlation between the numbers of undocumented Mexican immigrants and the Mexican off-key melody that forces them to dance across danger to the U.S.

And of course, there’s no talk about the racial profiling that exists here in Mexico. That someone with darker skin like my husband gets followed by security in a department store like Sanborn’s.

So weird is the word when I watch the dirge-like progression of the events around SB1070 from here in the Global South.

Because the Mexican government’s official reaction to SB1070 feels and looks like a cheap suit.

Señores, your seams are showing.

Radical Love from Where We Least Expect It

Hey Kids.

I’d like to post some words by Thich Nhat Hanh today. They come from his book, Peace is Every Step. Thank you to S for sharing it with me.

These words resonate for me in light of what I’m going through personally and what I’m witnessing right now from both sides of the immigration movement.

I feel that President Barack Obama is very clearly using the immigration movement as a political football. I walk around with a lot of anger and sadness about this issue, as well as other issues in my life.

But what if those of us in the immigration movement met him and the others in government with love? Radical love?

What if we all met each other with radical love?

What if we actively meditated on loving thoughts for Governor Jan Brewer?

What if we actively meditated on loving thoughts for Sheriff Joe Arpaio?

What if I send you loving thoughts and you sent them back, no matter how we feel about the immigration debate?

A Love Letter to Your Congressman

In the peace movement, there is a lot of anger, frustration, and misunderstanding. People in the peace movement can write very good protest letters, but they are not so skilled at writing love letters. We need to learn to write letters to the Congress and the President that they will want to read, and not just throw away. They way we speak, the kind of understanding, the kind of language we use should not turn people off. The President is a person like any of us.

Can the peace movement talk in loving speech, showing the way for peace? I think that will depend on whether the people in the pace movement can “be peace.” Because without being peace, we cannot do anything for peace. If we cannot smile, we cannot help other people smile. If we are not peaceful, then we cannot contribute to the peace movement.

I hope we can offer a new dimension to the peace movement. The peace movement often is filled with anger and hatred and does not fulfill the role we expect of it. A fresh way of being peace, of making peace is needed. That is why it is so important for us to practice mindfulness, to acquire the capacity to look, to see,and to understand. It would be wonderful if we could bring to the peace movement our non-dualistic way of looking at things. That alone would diminish hatred and aggression. Peace work means, first of all, being peace. We rely on each other. Our children are relying on us in order for them to have a future.

Kids, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.


The Deportee’s Wife

President Barack Obama and Javier Aguirre’s Echo Chamber

Hey kids.

So Javier Aguirre, the head coach of Mexico’s national soccer team is holding a press conference today. He’ll supposedly be addressing the team’s dismal performance at the World Cup and his next steps. He already previously stated that he won’t continue to coach the Mexican team, or even stay in Mexico.

Mexico’s soccer team hasn’t gone past the second round of World Cup games for the past four World Cups.

16 years.

That track record isn’t due to a lack of talent. It’s all about backroom politics.

When it comes to Mexico, the best players aren’t all called for the World Cup. It’s another classic Mexican game called Who You Know.

President Barack Obama is supposed to give a speech tomorrow about immigration.

Kids, let me remind all of you that at the very least, President Obama could stop the deportation of undocumented youth today with an executive order.

As explained in a Colorlines article by Daisy Hernandez,

“After Latino Democratic lawmakers confirmed that comprehensive immigration reform won’t happen this year, Obama convened a meeting yesterday with community leaders to strategize on how they might push for such legislation. Why push for something that can’t happen? To make Republicans look like the bad guys come November elections.”

And voila! Backroom politics, part 2.

Otherwise known as not making it past the second round in 16 years.

So here’s the thing peeps: I have the sneaking suspicion that what Aguirre has to say today and what President Obama has to say tomorrow will sadly echo each other.

And that in both situations, we’ll have to wait a minimum of another four years for some kind of justice.

When Dialogue is Pointless

What’s up peeps. Feliz Friday.

So you can’t make all of the people happy all of the time.

Lordy loo, ain’t that the truth!

Let’s just have some fun today, shall we? Here are some perceptions about who I am, based solely on what people see in my show or even before my show, based on things as small as a poster. These have either been said to my face or told to someone else that I know.

1. I’m a classic Brooklyn Jew and all I care about is money.

2. I’m an angry Latina with a big bone to pick.

3. I’m a white girl and I’ve got nothing to teach the Latin@ community about immigration.

4. My show is an academic exercise and is solely intellectual.

5. My show is too emotional and over-the-top.

6. I use the show to push my Marxist agenda.

Whatever. I know that by standing onstage I’m inviting a whole load of other people’s baggage.

That’s life. That’s art.

But R isn’t onstage. He has final say in the script/visuals/sound. However, he’s not up there.

So attack me personally all you want.

But don’t touch R on a personal level.

Not because he’s perfect or that he’s beyond reproach. Not at all.

Honestly, if I have to explain the why about that to you, then you’re not going to get it anyway.

Big. Damn. Sigh.