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 make 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 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 the 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.

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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 the kindness of an old neighbor even though I feel like I’ve hardly known anyone 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.

 

 

 

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 alongside 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 lineup 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.

 

 

Support Refugee Reading in Portland

Support Refugee Reading in Portland

Hey everyone in the Pacific Northwest: in light of so many recent discussions on refugees I have been invited to read on a panel of refugee writers through Tell It Slant and Light Night Library – where I was a featured co-host earlier this year (click here and listen to my voice and hear my discussing Maggie Messit’s book, The Rainy Season along with Elizabeth Enslin).

Here’s the facebook event page and I hope you will share this all writers of color event in one of the whitest major cities on the west coast during this critical time for refugees. 12243500_10153781847829885_2965073151121373299_n

As I continue to provide these free readings and educational opportunities for the community, consider contributing to my patreon account so that I can continue to survive in Portland as a Salvadoran refugee writer, reporter, and activist.

I am booked up this fall and winter with wonderful readings and workshops, and will have dozens of great news stories coming up for general readers. I also have a peace I am working on peace for a Salvadoran anthology that will be translated into Spanish, so please keep supporting me and I will keep supporting our communities and creating free and low-barrier art, literature and essays for people of all mean.

Has June been one of the busiest months on the planet or what?

Has June been one of the busiest months on the planet or what?

First of all I’m reading TONIGHT at Lit Hop PDX – I’ll be cohosting a reading mash-up for The Rumpus and Future Tense Books with Kevin Sampsell. Also, the rest of this week’s line up of readings throughout Portland are up my weekly Notable Portland column at the Rumpus.

Bylines you may have missed in June so far include:

I’ve been SO slammed. I have to make a very difficult decision tonight: leave my own reading early and push forward on an extremely-behind fellowship application due tomorrow, or stay at my reading, celebrate this massive event with my local literary community and finish this week’s paper with a little more focus. I am leaning towards the latter, which is sad because I have pushed for a long time for this particular writers of color fellowship to exist for a very long time. I’m ecstatic it exists. I suppose I can always try to do BOTH. I can let tonight go. And if I can manage, I can call tomorrow a new day and always race to turn something in. But again, I don’t just want to turn in something. I want to manage to turn in a reasonably competent application, one with a significantly different manuscript than the one I turned in for a similar fellowship from the same organization last year. We will see. I still have to do finishing touches on whatever I’m going to read tonight.

Speaking of which I am excited for a gorgeous updo with braids, a shit-ton of eyeliner, and a gorgeous flowing dress tonight. I hope I look fabulous and love myself and make people laugh and don’t feel anxious later. I hope I drink a bit but not too much so I don’t feel sick or paranoid. I hope I take compliments with love and remind people how much I love them. I hope that I am not in a position of conflict at any point of the night between my humanity and my network – I will always choose myself. I love myself too much to let someone tell me about their love for the confederate flag, their concerns for Rachel Dolezal, their sincerely irrelevant opinions on “the long gun man” who destroyed a black community in the house of god. I pray that I will deal with any such affronts to my person and my humanity with a swift wave of my hand. I pray that I am a true libra – full of grace and a demand for justice. Diplomats are paid. I am not. I am a human being, a young woman and refugee who travelled continents and eons to arrive here and I will not be dismissed. I will channel the Statue of Liberty and Nicki Minaj and welcome my communities warmly to my first night out in a very long time – a lovely summer evening that I’ve been meaning to have for a long time.

And god, with over 60 readers and 450+ confirmed guests on facebook I suppose it’s the chance to see everyone you’ve missed for seemingly centuries, all the good things and wonderful work they’ve done is finally bubbling up and any opportunity to celebrate them should be a victory dance for everyone in Portland to be honest.

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See you in blue, I’ll be the one in the aqua.