Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hang Out Type: Disaster!!

Safety crouch for tornadoes

I am a big fan of disaster preparedness and it largely came from my own experiences going through a category 5 hurricane in Pensacola Florida, which is why my good friend, Matt Runkle interviewed me for his series The Business of Staying Alive on his blog.  To correspond with that chat I wanted to talk about hanging - disaster.

One of my favorite moments in disaster hanging was during school in the  seventh grade while waiting for tornado sirens to sound at which point we were all trained to run quickly to the hallways to get into our safe positions. In the interim some genius on the staff thought it was a good moment for us to all watch Romeo and Juliet (1968).  Nothing will make a bunch of twelve year olds hornier than watching a tale of teenage rebellion in love and lust while awaiting their impending death by high speed winds.  My 7th grade boy friend at the time, held my hand through out the whole movie and our palms made a sweaty ass mess with the anxiety we were feeling and because it was really muggy and hot. I think they would turn off the AC every time a tornado was on its way and let me tell you in a school full of pubescence turning off the AC is no joke!  I mostly remember just fantasizing about my future in banging it out like the protagonists in the movie but the boyfriend was clearly operating on a much deeper emotional level.  At the end of the movie he turned to me very somberly and staring dead into my face said, "Tina-I need you to know right now that I love you".   I think I smirked at his vulnerability, laughed a little and said "alrighty" which is not too far off from how I react when someone tells me they love me now, because I think they are drunk, lying or just confused.  The tornado came and while we had all enjoyed the day of no work - when the sirens finally sounded the halls were eerily quiet as we crouched against the walls, listening to each other's breathing and the truly train like sounds of the tornado.

Flash forward about twelve years to me waiting out Hurricane Ivan in Pensacola, with me and my roommates cuddled up into the hallway that ran the center of our house with a mattress blocking the entrance to guard us against any flying debris if it should come down to it.  My boyfriend at the time was not trying to convey to me how much he loved me in case of death but rather kept begging me to shut up with the jokes already so that he could sleep out the hurricane.  Fair enough.  But my roommate Paul and I were engrossed in the play by play hurricane being broad casted on the radio and for some reason thought the reports scary yet slightly hilarious and spent most the night giggling in a corner.   With our battery powered radio, some water and a few snacks we waited out the night.  Besides a torn awning our house survived the storm really well.  I can't say the same for my neighbors, one of which had completely lost their roof.  The news focuses on storms as if it is this isolated moment in time where everything exists after the storm the way it was before but that is never the case, things always change. The weeks after the storm was eye opening in how the world truly exists when you and your neighbors are meeting up every day at the back of an army truck to receive rations of food and water.   Much of the time everyone spent the few weeks after Hurricane Ivan with no water and electricity, centered around helping out neighbors and friends with any clean up they needed and the sharing of supplies so everyone was getting by comfortably enough.  The punk owned and run coffee shop I worked at at the time stayed open largely due to the dedication of my good friend Scotty.  There was enough amenities to pull off making coffee and he dutifully sat out in front of the coffee shop for days dispersing cups of joe for donation.  His effort in creating a sense of normalcy in a tumultuous moment I thought sacred and was much appreciated by neighbors and passers by, as a place to stop, share stories and offer support.

So the rules, the rules.  Like in all moments in life where you can anticipate stress try to remember
1) It's not that serious- you will make it through.  Humor is invaluable.  2) Don't get dramatic, let's keep it together no? There is going to be a lot of work to do after the storm.  3) But also take care of yourself and run through any emotions you're having, they are legit. 4) Like any other time period in your life, take time to relax and enjoy the company of your friends and yourself.

Here is the Center for Disease Control's web page on disaster preparedness , don't let it make you crazy, just let it make you aware.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Interview of yours truly by artist and writer Matt Runkle!

Matt likes to talk about survival, I like to talk about survival, read us talking about it together. It's love!

Matt Runkle: The Business of Staying Alive.4: Hanging Out with ...: Gloria Diaz is a girl who knows how to hang out. Over at her blog, Eat-It-All: The Art of Hanging Out , she tells you how to act. One of ...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Rules of Hanging Out #2: Fake It Til You Make It

"Are you looking forward to this weekend?"- the very tall, bespectacled boy asked me, while he continued to bag my groceries.  I was feeling content this evening, buying food for the weekend and the young happy go lucky employees of this Downtown Brooklyn health food store were making me smile.
"Honestly- not really I have to work. How bout yourself?" He paused with my response and looked at me then continued bagging and I wasn't sure if he was pleased or disappointed in my answer.  He says, "Yes.  Because it's supposed to rain."  "Ah kindred spirit", I thought and then we shared how we were kinda bummed that it did not snow more this winter because we enjoy using snow as an excuse for our reclusive natures.  

I get it.  I really do.  Sometimes you just don't want to be around people. You just can't attend one more family event where the conversation revolves around whose kid did what.  Or you can't hang out with your friends and try to respond to the question "What's up? How've you been?" yet again because what you have been up to is weird out of context or too hard to explain and it just falls like a dud into space.  These explanations of what everyone has been doing can begin to sound like boring laundry lists of activities that everyone is spinning in as we tick off the minutes to our certain death.  I fucking get it.  BUT remember those days you force yourself to hang out and you actually see something cool and you actually meet someone cool and you maybe even actually feel some spark in your chest that reminds you that you are indeed happy to be alive.   

Fake it till you make it.  Just sometimes you have to.  To maintain those bonds with people, friends , family, humanity, upholding your end of the bargain of existing on this earth as a human being.  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hang Out Type: Cultural-Art

Recently (yesterday) when I stopped to assess how I was spending my time once again, I realized that on a fairly regular basis my time consists of looking at art.  With art sometimes I am pleasantly surprised, sometimes deeply inspired and sometimes muttering under my breath "fer crissakes" because I am in the midst of some boring art in a room full of janky people.  Focusing on the positive, just wanted to share some of the visual art I have come across in the last few months that I have really liked.

Watts Towers constructed by Simon Rodia. Los Angeles, December 2011.

My LA Crew: Alee, Mikey, Some guy, Wadala

The Ungovernables (group show).  New Museum. New York City.  April 2012. Really enjoyed most of the exhibit but my favorite piece by far was the film "Jewel"  by Hassan Kahn. I could have watched it at least five more times and am regretting that I didn't. Might go back.  I finally found a decent recording of it on the interweb and wanted to share it.

4000 Disparos/4000 Shots. Jonathas de Andrade.

Dias en que todo es verdad (a small portion of the installation). Mariana Telleria.

Paintings by Lynette Yiadom Boakye. 2011

  Essential Hues (group show) at Wayfarers Gallery. Bed-Stuy, NYC.  April 2012.

Altar of painted shells by Anna Luisa

Art work by Caitlan Rose Sweet. Loved it!

Altar and art work by Caroline Paquita
Poster art by Mother Popcorn
Poster art by Caroline Paquita.
Art work by Adee Roberson

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Happy Men

Nearly every morning I am given the gift of interacting with Marcel (land lord's hubby) and with an older Muslim man who watches the car lot on my block.  They are such beautiful happy men and every day they smile at me and remind me to have a beautiful day.  We always have very simple exchanges but in their happiness and wisdom I am always positive they are here to provide me some sound advice.  Yesterday talking on the stoop with Marcel I saw the bus I usually catch quickly arriving and leaped off the steps, "That's my bus Marcel! I am gonna run and catch it!" I just felt like running because it's fun but Marcel yells out after me, "Don't rush Gloria! There is always a next one!". Another deep life lesson from Marcel, I am sure of it.

The older Muslim man was playing "Chan Chan" in the car lot today and it made me glad. Carib-Latino music always pierces me right in my throat, down to my stomach, making my mouth water and my belly queasy like I have a crush, falling in love.  It triggers my memories of my life at home when I was four, which is when I am sure I was my truest self.  

Friday, April 6, 2012

Pesach/Good Friday

You can hear a pin drop in my place of work today because it would appear that most folks have decided to take Passover(aka Pesach)/Good Friday off.  I was laughing with my friend Ayana the other day about how I continue to be surprised by how religiously observant the (heathen) City of New York is, people skipping work and kids missing school. The only religious holiday as a kid I even got close to missing was Three Kings Day (Dia de los Reyes) and that was a rarity.  Here in NYC kids being absent for Three Kings is no biggie and there is a parade and other festivities.  Every other Xtian Puerto Rican kid through out the continental US is playing hookie, including my 20 mini cousins in Buffalo, NY who spend the day being ploughed with candy and toys while they lazily lay around or play with one another. 

Delicious Matzoh Ball Soup prepared by the hostess.
About seven shots into a Manischewitz off.

I am going to a Passover Seder this evening with two trusted spirit questing friends whose time hanging out together as of late has been mostly spent exploring our more mystical, spiritual, cultural sides.  It is only my second Seder and my first in nearly ten years.  The first one I ever attended was in jail having been arrested for participating in the IMF/WTO A17 protests in DC.  Part instinctual , part crazy, part curious (despite having already been arrested for protesting) I had decided to cross the (police) line therefore spending the next five days in jail with about 300 hundred of my closest friends.  Our cohort occupied an entire wing of the jail and the chiller of the group spent most the time napping, playing games, and watching The Simpson's. When it was announced at our daily meeting that there was to be a Seder one evening to celebrate Passover I was in, since I am way into rituals and learning new things. I sat quietly on the floor of a jail house indoor basketball court watching the ritual involved in Seder go down, secretly impressed with the dedication of my fellow jail mates in making it happen. As of late I have been focusing on studying monotheistic religions, specifically at this point and time Judaism, and hit up the Passover knowledge hard in preparation for this week. I have never been the typical punk in regards to subscribing to atheism or wanting to murder Jesus/God.  While being able to recognize the oppressive and brutal forces religious order has brought on humanity, I am also able to appreciate the internal peace it can bring to one's life-not in a restrictive way but with occasional reminders to stop for a second and reflect on varying aspects of your life and to work on altering them for the better (when I say religion I mean any spiritual practice really that one adheres to, from Islam to moon cycles).

Just making sure Leah is not skimping.
This year, I am really into Passover for its theme of celebrating the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt (ending their enslavement) and extending that concept to your life in this moment and time.  Release yourself from whatever enslaves you be it physical, mental or spiritual. Happy Pesach or whatever you are up to tonight.

*Life Side Note: The dinner was great and what started off as a religiously thoughtful evening ended in me being a lil tipsy.  The hostess challenged me to drink basically an entire bottle of grape flavored Manishewitz with her via shots, which I pulled off without a hitch.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hang Out Song Break #3

More songs to hang out to.

(In the spirit of this upcoming week and for Deeps)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Florida Not Wedding Part 2 and Then Some

"Truckie" parked at the Steven's compound
Within a half hour of being off the plane I was in a reggae bar in downtown Lake Worth smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer, already addressing affairs of the heart and persistent battles with this planet doom also known as Earth, with my good buddy Sue. Shortly after in the tender mugginess of a South Florida night she had me sitting on a curb, slightly tipsy, eating a crazy hot dog concoction.  I was deeply satisfied and was sure I could just get back on the plane and the ticket was already worth the price.

The next afternoon I was headed out to Fish Eating Creek where the not wedding was going down, driving in a car packed with supplies and friends, through rural Floridian small towns and sugar cane fields.   Many activities occurred there that made me feel in awe of what my friend group is capable of pulling off.  A solar paneled dance party, dying a wedding dress green over an open flame, the most beautifully constructed and thoughtful shitters I have seen in awhile, childcare, sweetly composed songs and performances, elaborate meals and general camaraderie all in the middle of the woods.   I was most impressed by the folks who went and killed something, cleaned it, seasoned it, cooked it and then fed it to me. Outside of that we would just hang out, lay around in grass, trying to catch up and take in as much as we
could of each others' presence.  I had a lot of anticipation about this gathering, mostly positive of being in the woods momentarily disconnected from the world and being around folks that for better or worse I had grown up with.  Gathering with old friends always allows a  chance for evaluation, leading to either laughing out loud or rolling your eyes that every one of us in some way is struggling with the exact same problems we were struggling with when we were twenty.  Within me I could recognize the traits I have overcome more or less (sharp tongue when hurt, inability to express feelings) and the traits in me that still need work (need for validation, insecurity).  I had a small amount of social anxiety and tackled it by volunteering at getting tasks done, making new friends, keeping my mind, heart, and hands busy. With all the activity the weekend in the woods went by quickly but in my last hour or so at the camp site I made one last trek down to the creek.  Sat on its bank, taking in the sun with my legs in the shimmery afternoon water, eavesdropping on other folk's conversations, wishing that creek would take me in somehow so I could stay a part of this moment in time for a while longer.  Left the campsite early to make sure to get some time on an actual beach back in Lake Worth.  Back in town I drank coconut water from a coconut, rum and whiskey-ed, sun bathed, and took an out door shower.  Sue kindly ignored my fake ass resistance to smoking and doled cigarettes out without me having to ask through out the weekend.  Whatever that chemical in cigarettes is that battles depression, God fucking bless it.   I got back on the plane with two bruises and about twenty mosquito bites.  Contusions, check!

And then some...

I had hoped to wrangle up some pictures from my excursion to the Everglades but have failed,my apologies.  Suffice to say it was beautiful?  Beautiful in this way that it is almost not real.  I did not take photos myself because I have this aversion to the photograph.  As if a moment is originally born sincere and with each photo taken it's percentage of sincerity drops.  This is all probably due to my own inability to connect with a moment and having a terrible/ridiculous habit of being future sad* in moments that should be making me happy but I'm already thinking about the second the moment will be ending.  The om of hanging out, like the om of meditation is a practice not something you're inherently born with and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't but dammit you gotta try.  I spent this past week being a "Dude third"** easily, with two friends from out of town visiting.  These dudes are the types of friends/house guests who are essentially family and their presence actually makes your life momentarily easier because they do things for you like make sure you eat food, tell you if you look good, remind you not to take any one's shit cos you're awesome and tend to various other household tasks.  "Gloria we're planning on posting a Craig's List ad for you so you can have a compost house boy, know what I'm sayin? (wink, wink)" in reference to my freezer which over the winter now only contains an irrational amount of compost, a small bottle of whiskey, a larger bottle of vodka and maybe two chicken sausages. A few days later,  I successfully held back some tears watching my dudes carefully navigate down my narrow stairwell with their bags, out of my life once again and shut the door making a faint attempt at being future glad (ommmmmmm) for when I will see them again.

This upcoming week:  More people in my house and the possible blossoming of my future career as a professional brides maid.

*Future Sad-when you are sad about something that has not happened yet (James)
**Dude Third-A male duo and then a female that compliments the pair (Avi).
(These are expressions created by friends that unbeknownst to them I co-opt and add to the Gloria vernacular).

Thanks TF for grammar check.