Saturday, January 29, 2011

Quote of the Week


I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter.

--Winston Churchill

Monday, January 24, 2011

Unsent Chronicles: Letter to My Best Friend

"See, I had to spread my wings
had to leave
to find out what I'm made of
add to the tapestry
of my life"

Copyright 2010

Dearest J,

In my life's mosaic, you are definitely one of the pieces that stand out. We've all said it time and time again, but we can never really say it enough: we are each very lucky to be a part of each other's lives.

It's amazing. Looking back on the marathon conversations and (literally) thousands of e-mails in the five years we've known each other, it's so amazing how much we've all changed and grown. In some ways, when we first met, we were tentatively peeking out of our cocoons. We took steps forward hesitantly, and at times we were apologetic for believing that we were worthy enough to venture out into this world being ourselves and the selves we have yet to discover. We've made decisions that felt like we were taking 2 steps backwards for every step forward. But like in the dance of life--splendid paso doble--these steps became necessary to tell the story of the music, of our adventures, of our journeys, of who we are. 

So J, thank you for your unbelievably supportive and unconditional friendship, whose rhythm created such a brilliant part of my life's soundtrack.

No matter the distance or lapse in time, our friendship is for keeps. Nothing is forever, but you are for a lifetime and ten thousand more times beyond that.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Post Secret Sunday: Cliches that hurt


Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing. Sometimes it is best to not fight against the loss for words. Better to allow yourself to be enveloped in silence.

When my dad died people would say, "he's in a better place" or "at least he's no longer suffering." Others would say, "it's in God's plans." They meant well, of course, but these are not necessarily the best words to say to someone who is grieving. 

Death and loss are natural--a part in this circle we call life--but they are also ugly and visceral. They leave scars that become more hardened and angry the deeper you delve.

Sometimes there's no reason and no better place. Sometimes there's just an emptiness. Sometimes giving reason to something that just is diminishes it. 

To women who've gone through a miscarriage and to the women who will go through a miscarriage, I say: rage, cry, scream. Let it out. Trying to suppress all these primal emotions is like saying that the loss you experienced doesn't matter...that the person you lost doesn't matter. Sometimes you have to unleash a river of ugliness and anger to give voice to the beauty you once had.

The Murdered Women of Juarez

The Murdered Women of Juarez

by Laura Carlsen
Marisela Escobedo’s life changed forever in August 2008 when her 16-year-old daughter Rubi failed to come home. What was left of Rubi’s body was found months later in a dump -- 39 pieces of charred bone.

Rubi became one more macabre statistic in Ciudad Juarez’s nearly two-decade history of femicide. The murder of young women, often raped and tortured, brought international infamy to the city long before it became the epicenter of the Calderon drug war and took on the added title of murder capital of the world.

But Rubi never became a statistic for her mother. Marisela knew that a former boyfriend, Sergio Barraza, had murdered her daughter. As authorities showed no interest in investigating the case, she began a one-woman crusade across two states to bring the murderer to justice. The Mexican magazine Proceso recently obtained the file on her case. Marisela’s odyssey tracks a murderer, but it also tracks a system of sexism, corruption, and impunity.

It’s an odyssey that ends with Marisela--the mother--getting her brains blown out on December 16, 2010 as she continued to protest the lack of justice in her daughter’s murder two years earlier.

Trail of Impunity

Marisela Escobedo eventually tracked down Barraza. She had him arrested and brought to trial, and finally saw a chance for the hard-sought justice that could at least allow her to move on with her life.

But in Ciudad Juarez, the term “justice” is a bad joke, especially if you’re a woman. Despite the fact that Barraza confessed at the trial and led authorities to the body, three Chihuahua state judges released him. Marisela watched as the confessed assassin of her daughter left the courtroom absolved of all charges due to “lack of evidence.”

As pressure from women’s and human rights organizations mounted, a new trial was called and Barraza was condemned to 50 years in prison. But by that time, he was long gone and still has not been apprehended, despite Marisela’s success in discovering his whereabouts and providing key information to police and prosecutors.

The story doesn’t end there. Every day, Marisela fought for justice for her daughter and sought out the killer. She received multiple death threats. She responded saying, “If they’re going to kill me, they should do it right in front of the government building so they feel ashamed.”

And they did. Marisela took her demands for justice from the border to the state capital where a hit man approached her in broad daylight, chased her down, then shot her in the head.

A family’s story had come full circle. By all accounts, Rubi’s death came at the hands of an abusive boyfriend. Marisela’s death, however, was caused by an abusive system that sought to protect itself from her determination to expose its injustice. The gunman's identity is unknown, but responsibility clearly lies with members of a state at best incapable of defending women and at worst culpable of complicity in killing them.

Gender Violence and Drug Violence

Ciudad Juarez in recent years has been described as a no-man’s Land, where legal institutions have lost control to the armed force of drug cartels. The femicides show us, though, that the causal chain is really the reverse.
Seventeen years ago, Ciudad Juarez began to register an alarming number of cases of women tortured, murdered, or disappeared. Over the decades, national and international feminist organizations pressed the government for justice. The government in turn formed commissions that changed directors and initials with each new governor. They all shared one distinct feature: never getting anywhere on solving the crimes of gender violence, much less preventing them. Recommendations to the Mexican government piled up alongside the bodies: missions from the United Nations and the Organization of American States provided over 200 recommendations on protecting women’s rights, with fifty for Ciudad Juarez alone.

Marisela’s murder marked a year since the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a ruling calling the Mexican government negligent in the murders of young women. The ruling on the “Cotton Field” case--named after the lot where the bodies of three women were found on Nov. 21, 2001-- includes a list of measures and reparations, most of which have been rejected or ignored.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Post Secret Sunday: Beauty


I have A/AA breasts, my nose is a cross between Lilo's and Rudolph's, my feet and hands are small, I'm barely 5'2", my butt has freckles, and there are some battle scars underneath my tattoos.

And you know what?


My body's not ideal, but it's mine nonetheless.

My small breasts? They're just right for the right hands, and someday they'll swell with nourishment for my child. 

My not-cute-as-a-button nose? They're an inheritance from my dad, and in my over 20 years of existence, have guided me to such wonderful scents as safety and unconditional love (my mom, spelling like Ivory soap and Chanel No. 5), first love (Acqua di Gio), and true love (sun-ripened mangoes). 

My dainty feet have taken me from O'ahu to Harvard, and soon to Istanbul. My small hands lovingly cook food from scratch, and have held my dad as he lay dying.

My butt has landed on ice too many times as my friends and I (attempt to) skate across Frog Pond, laughing and enjoying each other's company.

My scars are proof that I am stronger than cancer and Hurricane Isabel.

In these flaws and inadequacies, I see beauty and feel strength.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Quote of the Week


Love isn’t an act; it’s a whole life. It’s staying with her now because she needs you; it’s knowing you and she  will still care about each other when sex and daydreams, fights and futures—when all that’s on the shelf and done with. Love-why, I’ll tell you what love is: it’s you at seventy-five and her at seventy-one, each of you listening for the other’s step in the next room, each afraid that a sudden silence, a sudden cry, could mean a lifetime’s talk is over

--Brian Moore 

We must never permit the voice of humanity
within us to be silenced. It is Man's sympathy with all creatures that first makes him a Man.

--Albert Schweitzer

Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

--Viktor E. Frankl