Decided to grade in-class essays on The Autobiography of Malcolm X while having a Sex and the City marathon. What?! A profesora needs balance for fuck’s sake.
The musings, journal, tidbits, observations, snarks, and scribblings of a chica leaving her comfort zone
Dime de donde eres and I’ll tell you what you’ll be. No one has ever spoken that bilingualcontortioned saying directly to my face, but telling someone from the Inland Empire that you’re from Westside San Bernardino they’ll paint a hyperbolic mental picture that’s actually not far from barrio truths. My Westside neighborhood, my San Bernardino barrio is the place where I hail from, the place you don’t walk alone at night, you won’t find a bank, a long serving supermarket, a gas station (the Arco on Fifth and Mt Vernon hasn’t decided if it’s a go or stay operation) much less a farmers’ market, a yoga or Pilates studio. It’s the place I learned what blight means, that disenfranchisement tasted like government cheese quesadillas and hand-me-down rye bread. It’s where the splintering sound of helicopter propellers and stray gun shots were as common place as feeling Los Tigres del Norte or War pulsating from someone’s boombox perched on someone else’s Ford truck across the street, or neighborhood abuelitas en la platica tomando cafesitos as their grandchildren played hide and seek – “only where I can see you mija, don’t leave the yard.” As a child, I did not feel smothered or trapped but very tightly reigned in the protective embrace of my family: parents, abuelos, tios and tias, ninos and ninas. My barrio is a place of isolation and community. My barrio is place of locked gates and the open hearts of nuns, imported all the way from Ireland, making sure you didn’t stray from the foursquared pavement. To me, barrio means home.
The denototative tip on dysmorphia is it’s a pathological preoccupation with an imagined or slight physical defect of one's body to the point of causing significant stress or behavioral impairment - an anatomical malformation. It’s a perceived abnormality most often applied to a woman’s body. The place I inhabit, my body has always been a place of constant battle and unrest. Clinicians believe dysmorphia could be a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors from their past or present. Abuse and neglect can also be contributing factors.
III. Barrio Dysmorphia: aka cognitive behavioral therapy via the written and visual word…
My barrio, my hood, the place where I come from is an entirely foreign realm in comparison with my present surroundings.
Not readily or easily applicable to place, dysmorphia is a distorted view of oneself, barrio dysmorphia is my attempt at exorcising my societal spatial anxieties – whether actual or perceived. It’s a way of reconciling where I am with where I’ve been – a way of not losing who or what I really am because Westside San Bernardino is in my blood. In essence, this blog is my I spy with my interloper’s eye my new neighborhood while not completely letting go of my old barrio. This bloga is my self-indulgent form of self psychotherapy. It’s the musings, journal, tidbits, observations, snarks, and scribblings of a chica leaving her comfort zone.
Italian NOTE: While this blog was originally intended as a journal of my life/barrio dysmorphia in Los Angeles, I have since been gifted the opportunity of living abroad for 3 months. I’ll be teaching my IE students in Florence, Italy. Now, I will be chronicling my life and times, adventures and misadventures, days and nights. Enjoy!
Note after Italy:
Back in Los Angeles now. I've been back for almost a year and am still trying to process the beauty of my European experience and the great fortune I had to be able to live and teach there. I'm still living my dream job in my ideal/complicated city but I'm busier and more preoccupied than ever. I'm living in the Eagle Rock area of Los Angeles - providing me a less "dysmorphic" reality from my old Silverlake neighborhood (there, the feelings of spatial disparity was palpable). I fit here.
You'll note that my blog is mostly devoted to my love of Hollywood and film (and a couple of other fandoms). As a sheltered child books and films provided me a world I could only catch on the periphery. It's odd being raised so close to the dream capital of the world but being a million miles away. Hollywood provided me so much. I'm providing you a taste of what I love. I'm hoping to write more...