Friday, December 22, 2017

A Quick Fun Gift & Rememory

A while back during one of my numerous experiences of unemployment, I signed up for various opportunities to review items. I'm still on lots of those lists and many of you have benefited from my numerous reviews of books, sex toys, random accessories, and food!

Well, I received my Influenster Vox Box this month and it was from Godiva chocolate. Now, almost everything I've received in food form to review has been delicious and at a price point I can't always afford or with so much sugar it's not the best food decision or meal replacement. However, Godiva sent their Masterpieces, a new collection of their decadent chocolates in an accessible price point ($4) and at stores such as Target and Walmart.

I know a lot about this "two-tier" marketing approach, where a brand has high point and luxury products and then has another brand that is more affordable. Think of how Old Navy, Gap, and Banana Republic all the same organization/brand but with different price points to reach different customers. It's the same thing happening here and I don't mind it! I know there are going to be folks who have more status and wealth and social capital who will think making brands and luxurious things accessible to others means it's no longer special.

I was once those desegregators. I still am in many places. I am often one of the first people like me: fat LatiNegra queer disabled etc. etc. etc. I know what those looks and sneak peaks of me feel like. I know what mystery the luxury options present and value the gentle way staff provide support without isolation. Now I'm a pro!

When I opened the box I found a paper bag and inside 18-20 individually wrapped chocolates. A dark chocolate, hazelnut chocolate, and caramel chocolate. They were all delicious. I remember growing up with my mom loving the sweetness and luxury of the gold Godiva box that had two tiers of chocolates, a legend with descriptions, and the fun of finding which chocolate matched the image and description to try. My mom would savor these chocolates on special occasions like holidays or her birthday. These are easy to carry, easy to share, and give the perfect taste of deliciousness that will soothe a craving. I'm definitely buying more in the future and you need to pick one up as well!

Monday, December 18, 2017

WOCSHN Inaugural Curriculum: Communications Mixtape: Speak On It! Vol 1

When I think about what kind of archive I want to leave for others to find out about my work, what I value, and what I was able to do while on this planet, curricula and lesson plans and trainings and workshops are what come to mind. As someone who has been writing lesson plans for decades but never being supported, mentored, or given the opportunity to be published; I know firsthand how opportunity and access changes some people's lives.

I know what publishing a curriculum can do for communities. When I published my first curriculum What's the REAL DEAL about Love and Solidarity? with Scenarios USA, it was a curriculum I always wanted for younger Bi, for educator Bi, for mentor Bi. And it was something I have done for years, yet folks in my field didn't notice me until that curriculum was published.

And then things changed. It's like then folks realized I have something of quality and value to share. I always knew I did, yet those people who "discovered" my work were very much not trying to pass along job opportunities or say my name for employment. What ended up happening often was people saying WOCSHN to mean me or another member. However, WOCSHN is an organization I co-founded, not who I am. It's what I've built.

Then I started to think bigger: what do we really need? How can we create opportunities that will get us paid and help us build our own archive of brilliance? I decided to create a Curriculum Lab, something I've wanted to do for years! I tried to do it at my last full-time job but the non-educators couldn't see the value and it didn't happen. Today, I crafted and built a workshop that trains individuals in writing measurable learning outcomes and objectives, that discusses copyright laws, build creativity, and peer support. One part of this that I learned at the original Lab was we need more than 3 hours to write together. We also need some time to discuss unlearning the white supremacist ways we have been trained to educate our communities. We must focus on our intuition and what we know to be true and just for our communities and ourselves.

This curriculum offers that and more! We pushed each other to use gender neutral language, resist ways that ableism shows up in our work through language and expectations for body movement, learning, and pleasure. We wrote and centered bodies of color and communities of color first and foremost. We are unapologetic about this focus. We reimagined and recreated definitions for terminology that has targeted us yet not been relevant to us. We do not assume participants are HIV negative or heterosexual and encourage facilitators to do the same. There are no images because black and white copies of people of color are usually horrible.

As the editor of this curriculum I am wide open to learning how we can make this more accessible in
the future. I'm so proud of what we have created. Below is a line up of what lesson plans are featured. Here we are closing 2017 with a publication that has Black and Latinx writers. 

Exploring Sources of Sexuality Messaging by Rev. Lacette Cross
Examining faith and spiritual belief systems messaging

All the Feels! by Elicia Gonzales, MSW
How all bodies may experience pleasure?

Love Haiku: Write One For You by Mariotta Gary-Smith, MPH, CSE
Exploring Japanese poetry genre Haiku and creating one about love of self

Types of Propaganda by Bianca Laureano, MA, CSE
Understanding the different types of propaganda and how they target us

Bodies Impossible: How We See Black Bodies In the Media by Ashleigh Shackelford
Examining media messages and representations of Black bodies

Bodies & Pleasure: Beyond One Size Fits All by Sara C. Flowers, DrPH & Bianca Laureano, MA, CSE
More bodies and more ways to experience pleasure and understand the range of pleasure

What's Self-Care? by Bianca Laureano, MA, CSE
Exploring the reality and actions of self-care strategies

Asking For Help Is A Gift by Bianca Laureano, MA, CSE & Abeni Jones
Understanding resistance to and strategies to asking for help

How To Take Care of Each Other by Abeni Jones
Examining the ways we can support each other and community members

Read our press release here.

Head on over to my website to purchase the curriculum directly. Be sure to include an email address for me to send the PDF of curriculum! If you have questions send me an email!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

re: the nicki minaj paper cover & foto shoot

all fotos: Ellen Von Unwerth for Paper Magazine

Tardy to the party with writing about this Paper Magazine cover. What I am more interested in is how the conversations are evolving (and not being facilitated) and what others have to say about what another Black woman does with her body. The judgment, the shaming, the name-calling, the ways that we continue to police body autonomy. The same folks would argue that they are on the side of reproductive justice, however they have a very under-developed understanding of body autonomy.

In short, I really love this cover image. Not because it's a Black performer doing Black performer things. I love it not because it's a Black woman controlling the "gaze" and deciding how she wants to be viewed and consumed in a particular way because that's power. I love it not because it demonstrates a power that we all know exists for femmes, for femininity, and wish to erase or ignore or blame for things. I love it not because it demonstrates how Dancehall Queen aesthetics are alive and well among Caribbean rappers living in the US (Caribbean influence on hip hop in the US is so strong and very well archived and documented go read up on that legacy).

I love it because I too have a fetish for myself. I too fantasize about how dope it must be for others to see me loving myself, pleasing myself, feeling myself, and noticing them seeing me and being able to consume their desire for wanting more of me while I'm taking all of me for myself! Choosing yourself is never the wrong decision! Ever in this life on this planet.

Body autonomy is about every person having the human right to make decisions about their body. Their decisions may not be for you, and that doesn't mean you have to be sharing your opinion about someone else's decision-especially to that person, especially unsolicited. You definitely don't need to talk about how you wouldn't do the same thing especially if nobody cares and didn't ask you. Yes, have your opinion, know when it's time to share and when it's time to keep it moving.

And for the (white) feminists (because the white is always silent with ya'll) who want to argue objectification, exotification, etc. Recognize she is in control of the gaze. She is in control of her image. She is in a powerful position where she is in service to herself, honoring herself, topping herself, caring and tending to herself. That's got nothing to do about you unless it's a reminder you not doing a good job doing either of those things for yourself. We live in a capitalist society where Black women's labor, even as performers and entertainers, is not well paid. Are you mad that Nicki is getting paid or are you mad that she's figured out a way to get paid and care for herself and show her power at the same time and you haven't yet? Join the club! You not the only one, you also don't have to be so salty about it all the time, that's a choice. Ya'll for choice right?

Oh but I get it, ya'll are mad because you got to now talk to youth and children and girls about bodies, objectification, power, and you don't feel prepared. Again, you are not alone and there are plenty of Black women who can help you, who are trained and have dedicated their career to such forms of education and support. You're reading the work of one of them right now! So, if you are anxious about that and not able to be ready to talk to the young women in your life, and the young men you are excluding, well, maybe you got to realize they will def not come to talk to you if you cant talk to them. Reciprocity impacts youth too. So does body autonomy. Youth have body autonomy as well. I know some of ya'll may not enjoy hearing that because you have latched onto an idea of power and control over the bodies of brown and Black girls. You're wrong. How about refocusing that power onto what you are doing with your body. How does it feel when you try to control another young woman's body? How does your body feel? Is it tense? Is it rigid? Is it wide open? Check in with yourself because we all got to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves.

Don't you too want to know what you may look like at some of your most powerful moments? That's what orgasm may be for many of us: our most powerful selves. So join that tired legacy of policing Black women's bodies, choices, lives, movement. You're in company with white supremacy, misogynists, abusers, rapists. Unlearn those lies you tell yourself really quickly. Because there's a whole archive of slave narratives and of sexual assaults, and testimonios that remind us everyday what happens when we go down the route of blaming, erasing, destroying, judging, Black women and what they do with their bodies. Which side of justice and liberation are you going to be on?

Friday, November 24, 2017

Coco the film

no punctuation or editing, just a riff of ideas bc i should document whats going on in a way that leaves an archive even wider. lots of folks dont want to talk about death or dying with me. or with anyone, let alone themselves.

these are just some thoughts on the film coco. more later as i think more on the film.

i saw coco the film the other day w a homegirl. we are both part of the tribe of motherless fly fat queer broads. we walked to the theater on a cold night in new orleans. both of us not up for too much action during the day and had stayed home among close friends. both of us had the holiday feelings coming up about our mommas.

now, i had seen a trailer a while ago and just remember it has a mexicanx child smiling. a month later when someone mentions the film to me i remember only this brown child, that it's a mexicanx film, the name coco i think is it the childs name or is it about food is it like the animated child version of magical realism a la like water for chocolate? i say yes lets go see the film!

i was so wrong. as they make you sit through a too long mini film about belle and her sister and cultural appropriate during the holidays and how the ancestors will burn that shit if you go knocking on doors asking folks their traditions then taking whatever you want for your own house so find your own traditions white people, they exist go dig them out of that box...

the film begins and its really beautiful. and its about dia de los muertos, death, dying, and homage.

it fucked us up!

i wasnt ready and it wasnt what i expected or thought and yo it was dos mucho. there is a theme of suicide as a possible understood outcome and that was a lot. yet how can you tell the collective story of a community and its belief and connects to death and the dead without including a representation of suicide? i dont think you can. also, you cant tell that story without including the children and babies that are dead too? they did! there was at least one child with a woman in the film who was dead.

i can see how those early anthropology writings of the 1970s that focused on the 'cultural values' of Latinx people (but really they were only talking about 'Mexicans' and not yet those living in what had become the US. That literature came later in other fields that flooded the 80s. Anyways, fatalism was def present. of course so was familialism.

rememory as toni morrison talks about it in beloved was also def present. i will have more to say on this.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Curriculum Lab in Chicago with ABSC

The Women of Color Sexual Health Network (WOCSHN) has partnered with the Association of Black Sexologists & Clinicians (ABSC) for their 2018 annual conference in Chicago, IL January 31 - February 2, 2018 to offer our Curriculum Lab for educators and facilitators. Join us as we build lesson plans and a collaboration curriculum!

Register here.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 30

I've written so much about the process of losing myself in the shapeshifting grief, the experiences, the coping, the loss of so much. This post is a reminder that when you come back to yourself you are not like you were before this all happened.

I've lost more of myself and have been shook in a way I didn't expect. I've been so confused and having limited clarity and wild experiences and long times in the bed just thinking about death, dying, cannibalism, fear, mourning, survival.

I came back to yourself eventually. I may not be the same,  I may not know who I was and need to ask myself "who do I want to be today?," something I wish more of ya'll would ask yourselves, it really gives you a period of time to just take a breath.

I came back and I'm not the same, and I'm still here.

I'm still here.

I'm still here. Today. I'm still here. For now. I'm still here.

Read post 29 here.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 29

Making choices is a challenge in the middle of all the grief. When you come out of it and get clarity from time to time you spend lots of time processing and figuring out whats the best choice. Maybe that was all the virgo in me, but I still can't make decisions at times.

Most of my concerns were about how other people would receive or experience the decisions I made. Decisions were things like what to get at the grocery store for guests, where to go for dinner, what to order to eat; really basic and regular decisions.

Then there are the other decisions to move, make/end friendships, quit jobs, reexamine fertility, and the like. I worried so much what other people would think that I packed up my apartment and moved to another coast in less than 2 weeks and didn't tell many folks about the move. I worried about what people would think of my work if I quit my job to take care of myself and my grief.

Then it got to a point where I HAD to make the final decisions about something and each time I did I chose myself. I asked for the exact help I needed and the advice that was required and I made decisions that benefited me and only me. Many of those folks who I was worried about for a moment don't even contact me unless they want something from me. Most of those folks have no idea how to be friends for a variety of reasons. That's their problem and not mine.

I learned that choosing myself was easier than I thought. Choosing myself meant instant gratification.

Read post 28 here.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 28

This post is about cannibalism. It's a longer read.

There came a time when I craved the act of sinking my teeth into someone's flesh, feeling their blood and fluid (spit? sweat?) drip down my chin and neck and me wiping it off with the back of my hand to have a smear over my face. I wanted to sink my teeth into: masculinity, freedom, and into myself.

I'm still in that time and place.


I don't know when exactly that time came. It was after the skin hunger consumed me. After the numerous failed attempts to find lovers. After the consistent and frequent "No" I heard from friends who couldn't imagine a "homieloverfriendship." All the "no's" that nobody teaches you to value or appreciate when they talk about "consent." All the "you're so beautiful and amazing and it's intimidating to date/fuck/play with you." The "we can play/fuck/date in 8 months!" All the ways people are scared of touch even by people who they claim to love and want to experience love from. All of those broke me all over again. And again. And again.

And I pieced myself together through a curiosity and fascination with cannibalism. I watched my favorite TV show Hannibal, about the life and times of Hannibal Lecter; a show so decadent! I had homegirls who welcomed this curiousness and welcomed viewing of other cannibalistic films like Raw and who shared blogs and images with me. Homegirls recommended books to me too, like Delectable Negro: Human Consumption and Homoertocism in US Slave Culture by Vincent Woodard.

When I finally went to the doctor during my grieving and they checked my blood sugar that had elevated so much because I had been constantly grieving, consuming soda pop to feel the "burn," and just not having anyone show up to help feed me something other than a bodega sammich and gummie bears and reeses peanut butter cups, I had to start testing my own blood sugar levels on my own. This requires needles and a stab to your finger to get the blood drops on the thing to measure levels. It all made my palms sweat and still does. And the first thing I do after I get that bit of blood on the thing is suck the hell out of my bleeding finger. I suck hard too. I like tasting the blood a bit. Just a taste on the tip of my tongue. It reminded me I AM ALIVE. It's not the same as the blood that flows from my core once a month, that blood has a different consuming desire.

Things always get rough when I'm bleeding from my core. I crave touch so much more. I've spent the last few cycles isolating myself because there is no one to touch. There are no outlets for this type of grief. This type of touch and experience for me isn't present in too many places. And I'm fucking exhausted hearing "no" and having to ask and advocate for myself and all the things. I'm tired of being my own top and topping others if I do get some tail (which isn't often because lots of people don't find grief and mourning erotic). T.I.R.E.D.

I'm supposed to check my blood sugar at least 3x a day. I only do it in the morning. Sucking my finger three times a day would be SO MUCH.

I'm already consuming parts of myself. While I remain without lovers or any touch beyond a hug, those who have never experienced this life in this way (grieving your mother, grieving alone, grieving with limited community, grieving and isolation, grieving and no touch, grieving and no sex, grieving constantly) have a lot to judge me on. Folks happily have judged me during this grief. Those folks still have their mothers alive. IDGAF. I laid in bed plucking my rubber bands, listening to my erotic death and dying playlist, daydreaming about being touched. I started to bite and suck on my own arms. I gave myself bruises with my mouth that nobody ever noticed and if they did they never said anything. I watched how long my teeth imprints would stay and how long they took to fade. I took inventory on the bruising of my body and the blood raising to the top of the layers of skin. I debated taking fotos of what I had done and share it under the #FemmeInMourning hashtag. I didn't do any of those.

I did this routine often. I still do this when it gets real rough. Rough is my usual these days.

Folks who know me well know that I talk about how big my mouth is all.the.time. My mouth is huge and a blessing (and no gag reflex!). Yet, it's a challenge to find folks who have as big a mouth as me. Folks with smaller mouths who are into your girl mean that I get a lot of their nose or chin in my mouth. I'd have to shrink some of my best features to accommodate them. I've been shrinking myself for years for others and this grief didn't allow for any of that! Ive felt like Ive been eating people's faces the entire time I was making out in this life! When I find someone with a mouth to scale that's closer to mine it's MAGIC! It's MYSTICAL. It's exactly what I need to experience. My last lover with a big mouth like mine was in 2006. I last saw this lover January 2016 and I spent the majority of our time together just feeling the glory and vibration we created as our mouths and tongues and bodies remembered each other. Kissing and making out for me is a full body contact experience. This I'm reminded of when I have someone with a comparable mouth to mine. I don't remember or feel that way with someone with smaller mouths. They don't get full body contact.

Rememory in kissing. In consumption.

Today I'm not chewing on anybody other than myself which is more like a sucking of a finger. But I'm hyper aware when a part of my body brushes against someone else by accident or forced shared space. It's often my forearm or hip brushing someone else's body part that probably doesn't get touched too often in public. A side of the hip, front of the belly, side of the breast,

What I'm realizing now is this desire, craving, it's about consumption without a doubt, and it's about consumption to be fueled and energized. Consumption to stay alive. Consumption to remember I'm alive and fighting to stay here.

Read post 27 here.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 27

This post is one I'm writing not only for this practice or to share, but especially as a reminder to myself! This is the lesson I have taken so long to learn. Each time I need to learn this lesson I've pushed it away. The more I did it growing up the less and less the lesson showed up for me. Now, as an adult I need to really learn this lesson.

The lesson is patience.

I'm not super impatient, but I am very much realizing how my resistance is rooted in having limited patience. I think a lot about how fast I move to make things happen. People know that when I'm on their team and side, shit happens and gets done! I'm a mover and a maker and a creator. I rarely ever agree to something I cannot follow through with. I take pride in knowing my word and reputation is rooted in my verbals and non-verbals matching.

Yet the patience I'm talking about is the patience with yourself. With this grieving and mourning process. Today is my first day out of my home since Sunday night at 8pm. It's Thursday. I got to be patient with myself even when it means isolating myself and hibernating for an undisclosed amount of time.

All I wrote for this entry in my journal was "be patient, clarity will come."

For me the clarity of the world is what I was completely disconnected from. When I do start to reconnect and pull my head up there's more death, more violence, more fires, more landslides, more flooding, so much more. And that's the life threatening ish, not to mention the petty ish people expect you to respond to for them. The people who expected me to show up and verbally box them were quickly knocked out because I have limited capacity.

This is probably why I've isolated myself at times during this process; I know I can do deep hurt with the truth of my verbal communication. I know how to be so clear and accessible and honest that folks are not ready or that. I'm also not ready to coddle people and it's too much care taking when I got to care for myself!

Sometime the clarity that comes are reminders: you were right to try to keep that memory or reality blurry; you were right to protect yourself in those ways; yet the only way to heal is to go through them not around those painful truths and realities. There's pain here, and hurt, and deep deep loneliness and there is also clarity. It feels like your whole body takes a breath and a sigh and is still here. 

Read post 26 here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 26

I cope often by writing love letters. I was better at this in the height of my grief. I wrote people love letters to stay connected and to crawl out of the deep lonely abyss of grief. Everything about writing love letters I adore! Picking the right stationary, crafting the best message, using the fine point pen, sealing it with a wax stamp, finding the best stamp, and the sound of the mailbox as it closes. 

That sound I miss as there are not as many mailboxes in New Orleans as there are in other places. 

I'm behind on letters. It's overwhelming. Often those who write me I write back. If you haven't written me there may not be a letter for you for a while. If you have hold on! I'm working on it! I try to add something special to my love letters so it's not only a note but something else, a sticker, image that reminded me of the recipient, a recipe for them to try. Something fun and enjoyable.

What better way to remind someone you care for them than using the ways we can connect to send letters that may shift our entire day? That's what happens when I get your letters. Let's do that for each other. Ask me for my address.

Read post 25 here

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 25

I got, and get through the roughest times of my grief and mourning because of technology. Texting saved my life numerous times. I just started texting, ya'll. Seriously, I started about 6 years ago in 2011. My first smartphone was in 2013.

When I started to get texts from folks during my mourning I didn't respond to them all. I probably still haven't. Things are a blur still. To say they were is not true, they are less blurry now, but there's still a constant intense blur. I didn't have the capacity to talk to people on the telephone let alone on facetime or skype or a google hangout.

One thing about my isolation is that my vanity is still very present. I don't want folks seeing me post-hysterical meltdown chaotic presentation. It was a huge move to document my crying tail in the Instagram #FemmeInMourning posts I made. Nonetheless, some folks did see me in those times. Anyway, texts became a way for me to still remain social and not have to bathe or put a mask on to act like everything doesn't feel plastic.

We put those masks on for ya'll who are not mourning or grieving in the same way. It got exhausting quickly. It's still exhausting and required because we don't have spaces for non spiritual ritual ish to grieve and mourn. All those spaces are used for ritual in a different way and it rarely was what I needed. Mourning in non-traditional and non-linear ways can be scary. When I wasn't my full present self, like I still am at this time, it was texts that allowed me to respond and share or seek grounding.

Folks have no idea that when I reached out to them what it was that I was really needing or doing. I kept it to myself. I didn't share that I needed specific help. I just sent those "checking in on you" texts to numerous people and who responded responded. Sometimes I got responses quickly. Other times I got responses slowly through the day that I'm glad I was around to respond to.

I still don't respond to texts quickly on hard days. Those days are becoming more limited but also becoming longer in duration. I'm still here so keep texting me.

Read post 24 here.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 24

Tell people that you love them.

I can't remember who it was that hugged me each time she saw me and would whisper in my ear that she loved me. The feeling of a warm body against you holding your back and putting their mouth to your ear to whisper how they love you is deep and warm and affirming. I wanted to do the same for others. We all need to be feeling that way as often as possible.

I started to hug people and tell them that I love them. I would do this often, and now each time. Even when I don't hear it back I let people know. It's important to me that they know I care for them so much that it is a form of love. Sometimes I can't show up for us the way I would like, yet I hope people know and remember that I try to find ways to show love to so many people.

Each time I chose to send a "you good?" text or a "checking in on you" text that's me showing love. I hope people feel that love when they receive those texts. Sometimes I use these texts as a way to lift myself up when I'm overwhelmed or just stuck in the despair of what is next.

I'm unapologetic with my love because why wouldn't I be? If love is this thing we all are craving and moving towards and grounded in why should I be embarrassed or cover up what I'm experiencing it fully? It's the same with my experiences with grief: I'm not hiding them or embarrassed when they arrive. I chose to love and grieve publicly. That's how this life is going to be and I'm ok with that for now.

Read post 23 here.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 23

When the IDGAF stage meets you at your grief a lot of things can become clear. For me I realized the things that I was good at and then I realized the things I needed to do because that's what I was best for. They were not the same things. I was ok with that and I had a clearer focus on what I needed to do.

I'm good, even great, at a lot of things that people need help and guidance with. However, where my life's work and goals are focused upon are not the same as what I'm good or great at all the time because these forms of labor and gifts are essential to my survival. I must do them because they will bring me life and revive me again.

I quit a toxic job led by a white woman who was a second wave feminist and who only listened to other second wave white women. Her white supremacist ways were rooted in her founders syndrome (has anyone written on the toxic levels of founders syndrome for employees and how it is a form of violence?)  I advocated for myself and what I know my worth to be so that I could grieve the ways I needed to without worrying about having to show up for white people to watch me.

Earning the largest consulting contract I ever have happened during this time too. Because I only found myself "working" on what I  knew would keep me alive. I helped to continue to build up WOCSHN and dream bigger when I had the capacity to do so. I poured so much of what I had left of myself into projects that gave me life and allowed others to have a life too.

One of those bigger dreaming moments while I was grieving is coming to life. WOCSHN hosted our first Curriculum Lab on Thursday October 5, 2017 in New Orleans, LA. Ten people participated in the first collaborative POC written curriculum. I created and implemented the Lab and know what is needed for when we do this again in Chicago in January! We will have a curriculum of at least 10 lesson plans ready to distribute in PDF format by mid-November (crossing fingers editing takes time!).

These are the things I need to be focusing on and the ways I can support those in our communities to "put their shit on paper' and get published and paid! Join us in Chicago, see the flyer below!

Read post 22 here.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 22

My parents raised us agnostic. They had a very traditional and rigid Catholic upbringing. When they arrived in the continental US they were both shocked when they met people of various faiths outside of Catholicism and Christianity. They felt lied to about there being "only one path."

When death comes religion provides a comforting ritual that your numb and in shock body and mind can easily just follow into the ritual. You know the steps, you've probably done them before or seen them in media. Nonetheless, what I learned sitting shiva with a homegirl several years ago after her mom died was that ritual, no matter what it may include, is comforting at times.

I chose to make my own rituals.

This isn't anything new. So many belief systems have rituals and many of us who fled organized religion still practice ritual. My rituals were about me choosing to stay alive because thinking and talking and dancing to death and dying and the erotic of the state of the body shifting to another space does something. Sort of like knowing you are being called for or by something and you must go and do and answer the call!

I made ritual for all the things that got me out of bed. While showering my ritual became touching parts of my body and really looking and feeling them. I would touch my hands and remember the freckles on my hands are from my mom just as the freckles on my face and shoulders are from her. The body parts that don't resemble my biological families I chose to think of who in our family, which ancestor was enslaved that I resemble the most? I don't know their names and I try to connect with them. I never found comfort or connection or myself in the faces or bodies of family members I grew up with.

When I had the energy to eat I chose to focus on reminding my taste buds what they were missing as ritual. What have my family and ancestors been forbidden to do that I can honor doing now to nourish my body? I did the same with choosing clothing, changing bed sheets, applying makeup, and reading books. I did sex magic again and made fucking others and myself a ritual.

I had to be reminded that ritual allows for release and also for comfort. I did what I could as I could and it was enough.

Read post 21 here.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 21

Grief is a shapeshifter. Keep repeating it to yourself.

Once you get that reality of grief, then giving yourself permission to be living fully in that grief can you get to a space of melting down in public. This may happen more than one may desire, yet it happens. It may be that the big ass Target you hauled your tail to is out of your favorite toilet paper and because you are a bear bottom and not an angel it pisses you off next level style.

I did.

And I lived to tell the story. I learned a new way to give myself permission to show up fully and that was to tell myself again and again grief is a shapeshifter and i am a human being. To meltdown is to be human. To cry as you survive this planet and all the shit that comes with it is some small form of freedom at times. It was for me. To just not hid or put on a show for others comfort was something I allowed myself to experience.

It wasn't always a welcomed response. And I lost some 'friends' over such actions some times yet for the most part the people who deserve and are invested in this full human experience remain. That's, to me, the sweetness of grief and humanity and permission and acceptance.

For the rest of my life I know it will be ok if I meltdown in front of a McDonalds because they don't have a working ice cream machine, or the server thought there's no difference between chocolate syrup and hot fudge, or when you lose your favorite earring at the airport; I'll survive it all!

Read post 20 here.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 20

When I landed in Puerto Rico I went directly to the ocean. I sat at the water and spoke to my mother. I walked through the seaweedy water until it was up to my chest and I lifted my feet and let myself float.

I was weightless.

I chose the ocean as my lover. Who else could make me feel weightless during the shock and trauma of the cellular disconnection on the planet? I felt held and protected. Home.

I've always felt this way but this time felt more urgent and grounding in the reality and knowing that this open ocean water is always home and always loving me. Going to the ocean is a coping mechanism for me. It has always been. Something about going to place where each bead of sand and the vastness of the ocean is a reminder you are something smaller in a massive planet yet your shine is bright.

Read post 19 here.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 19

There's a theme that comes about when there's grief and shock: loneliness. It's overwhelming. No matter how many folks you are around the deep consuming feeling that nobody understands what this type of loss does is intense. It's a feeling not a fact. Those feeling's matter and so does understanding the loneliness.

It doesn't always stay. Yet sometimes it shows up and sticks around longer than I'd like. My loneliness showed up in specific ways because I did a lot of self isolation. When you have a particular status or role in your communities this gets difficult. I am a founder of two ongoing and powerful projects and organizations. I'm well known in my field, I'm a leader in the sexology field and one of the few women of color who have a comfortable space to hold in our field because IDGAF in the ways other or more green folks may in the field. I've paid my dues and I know the majority of white people in our field are not down to retain or support us so we have to show up for each other.

Then your momma dies and you can't show up for yourself. Even as I type this there is a major conference happening this week. I will have house guests with me for the first time since I moved! I have no food in my home because haven't gone grocery shopping. I haven't cleaned anything other than a few dishes, the tub, and toilet. And I'm already bugging out because I know folks will expect a particular experience with me, yet I'm not up to performing leadership. The fact that I have to walk around with clothes on is foreign to me!

That's why I quarantined myself for so long. It's rare when folks really understand what is going on or even try to. Everybody has their own ish to manage and when they look to you to support them it's a role reversal when you need their support and it's not in a professional way. Those relationships are important and when I think about how I isolated just enough to get by I am proud of myself!

During my first year of grieving I did the following:
1. Traveled more than I had at any other time in my life
2. Secured my highest paying consulting contract with the NYC DOHMH
3. Created and implemented consent trainings for educators in NYC
4. Wrote and completed a discussion guide for the NYC DOHMH Reproductive Justice video (published in 2018)
5. I presented at national conferences my curriculum and work I've created
6. Saved all my money
7. Quit my day job that had a toxic white woman running it who had founder's syndrom
8. Completed a coast to coast move
9. Co-created and implemented my first SAR (Sexual Attitudes Reassessment)
10. Survived.

I definitely chose some lonely work and it was worth it most of the time. These bursts from conferences are nice, yet overwhelming at times too. Being a member of the Dead Mother's Club and welcoming new members in is rough. And it's also a reminder we are not as alone as we thing we may be.

Read post 18 here.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 18

I made a lot of agreements with myself to stay here. To survive this grief that amplified all my feelings. I would do a lot of internal self-talk to figure out what I could show up for that day.

It started with makeup. I used to never leave my house without mascara, liner, and something on my lips (usually chapstick or gloss). When I was grieving and had to show up to work five days later I told myself I would beat my face because then I couldn't cry at work or in front of others. I would hate to have my mascara smear in public like that! Nobody really deserves to see me in a mascara smeared face unless they are really taking care of me!

There were lots of selfies. I started taking selfies the day my mother died and posted them on IG with the #FemmeInMourning hashtag. On March 9, 2016 I posted my first selfie of a full face, red lip, deep black liner, mascara, and it being my first time since mami died I put on makeup. Makeup became the way that I mourned and took care of myself and paid homage to my mami, the first femme who taught me red lipstick is appropriate at all times and a Puerto Rican cultural artifact.

I still believe makeup is a form of media making. I was developing the message of I'm still here. It wasn't an act of covering up my grief. Instead it was a ritual I had developed under my mother's guidance that was familiar and firmly grounded me in having pride in my appearance. Pride even when I was completely destroyed. Pride that I was still here. Sometimes showing up with your grief triggers folks who are ignoring or can't hold their grief. Sometimes people get scared and stare in awe or are curious. Either way I let them have it most times.

Agreements: If you beat your face you don't cry until you are either alone or home!

Read post 17 here.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 17

One of the things about not having the skill of driving because it's always had a cost attached to it that you cannot afford is that traveling takes a while. Traveling as in running daily errands. Traveling as in going to social gatherings. Traveling as in figuring out a plan to/from an airport. This was one of the main reasons I chose NYC to live in at 20 years old. Sure NYU had one of the only programs in Human Sexuality in the country at the time, and who doesn't want to "go study sexuality in NYC?" especially since I had been awarded the Token POC Scholarship titled Dean's Opportunity Scholarship.

Here's the thing: when grief comes and all of your homies live in Brooklyn and 98% of them don't visit you who lives in the Bronx unless of course they have to be in the Bronx for work or a paid gig already to consider seeing you, until they realize how large the Bronx is and what they thought was the Bronx is not where you live. The Bronx is massive and I lived off the 1 train in the west Bronx, Kingsbridge, take the 4 train and get on a bus to get to me. At least an hour and a half ride to Brooklyn if I transferred to the A express or the 2/3 express. NYC and a lot of places where you don't have reliable transportation (and busses are not reliable according to all those job openings I've seen...) means travel is intense and sometimes a social event even when you don't want it to be.

I had to remind folks to invite me to things even if I wasn't going to attend. As my grief kept shifting so did my mood and capacity to show up for and with other people. It comes and goes. Right now I can manage to get out of my home a few times a week on my own. Yet I'm not really going anywhere that I cannot be productive because I'm not being productive at home. Plus all this writing I'm behind on doing means I can be social and out/about but also quiet with other people!

The other part is that when I did go out to more social events I had to do it with homies. I needed a handler. Someone who was my point person, who would make sure I had a cup of something to drink and was comfortably situated in a social enough environment watching people and thinking nothing.

Sometimes I had a more present experience, but mostly I still feel like I'm a shell, some kind of person haunting others like a ghost reminding them how fragile we are because if this is how I look and I'm a strong ass broad in all the ways, their tender tails are gonna really get it hard! And sometimes I show up and leave the house to remind folks they too will survive it even if they dread it and we just may have less to offer others.

And other times I feel fuller and can be around more than two people and try to soak all of that experience up. It drains more quickly but it helps remind me what is possible.

Read post 16 here.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 16

With my skin hunger constantly growing and my desire for impact play with someone who cares for me and wants to see me survive not available, I had to find coping mechanisms as none of these needs were being fully met.

One of the things I did is a longtime act that many folks who have cravings for things like nicotine practice. I put several rubber bands on my arms and would pluck one as I needed sensation and touch. I would move some of the rubber bands up my forearm for more sensation or more sting.

The thinner rubber bands leave a sharper sensation, similar to a riding crop. The thicker rubber bands leave a deeper impact that is not as sharp, similar to a paddle. These rubber bands left some marks that were red and lasted at most an hour, depending on how often I plucked these rubber bands. Sometimes the red marks turned purple or deeper red and that made me happy.

When there were deeper reds I would push my finger into them to feel the ache. To feel something other than numb. I walked around with these rubber bands on both arms and no one asked or really noticed. The plucking of rubber bands was an easy and accessible way to cope. To feel. To remember I can now control the amount of pain I choose to experience and how much and often I wish to mange however I choose.

Read post 15 here.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 15

This post is a hard one. Mainly because I don't have the language to adequately explain exactly what this experience is/was/will be. The term that psychology and health providers are using for this phenomena of the need and desire for touch as "skin hunger."

Skin hunger shows up differently for a lot of people. When you are grieving sometimes people only offer one type of contact. However we all know what it feels like when our bodies go without touch for extended periods of time. Now amplify that by infinity and then shrink the access to almost zero. It's one of the most overwhelming experiences. It's incredibly lonely.

This is another experience folks who have lost a mother have experienced almost exclusively. This is the cellular part of the grieving. The part where you realize how the first relationship on the planet you had is gone. This is hard to explain because skin hunger is really about the nurture part of our lives and also stops when it becomes too sexual. Folks don't use the term "skin hunger" in the psychology field because it's too close to all the ish that is going down with discussions of "sex addictions." I mean what do folks call it when your largest sensory organ goes without and why sex got to be its own category?!

Our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are SYSTEMS in our bodies! They communicate in our bodies with our respiratory system, reproductive system, digestive system, etc. These all play a role in human sexual response. If the autonomic nervous system, which manages our unconscious actions (breathing, sweating, etc.), is ignored, so is the sexual pleasure.

The skin hunger conversations also focus on "how great a good hug feels!" Which is great until you realize you are a 6ft tall fat femme who doesnt have many tall peers to hug. See hugs from shorter people are so uncomfortable at times; for both of us. I'm sure folks don't want to smell my armpits and I'm sure they don't want my their nose slammed against my chest (unless they into that). See grieving and knowing there's at least a foot difference between you and the person hugging you means I didn't take the time to bend or contort my body too often to comfort others. I needed comfort that could hold my frame. It rarely came.

I have no solutions on what may result from all of this. I've only experienced the drop of not being touched as often as I needed. I would pay for massages with a body worker a homegirl suggested in NYC once a week for the first six weeks of my mom's death. To this day when I visit Emily in NYC she finds the parts of my body still holding the grief: that joint where my ring finger on my right hand is holding grief, the part of my hip, the section of my neck and head. I did the same as often as I could in New Orleans with my homegirl Aesha. I remember showing up to her studio a few days after mami's death day first anniversary and crying hysterically that I just needed her to touch my face during our massage. And complaining we don't live in the world where I can get the healing touch I need.

Then there's the "meaningful touch" part that complicates so much. For me I didn't want just anyone touching me. I wanted people who cared for me and who understood this ache and imperative need to survive to touch me. When your folks are tapped out this gets really hard. I had two lovers who were complete strangers with me for my first six months after mami's death. They helped and required too much care for my tender heart. I sought lovers, partners, and cried over the fact that I live in a world where people are so fearful of touch and can't imagine fuller relationships of homieloverfriends.

One homegirl who has this homieloverfriendships told me it took her years of asking people an hearing rejection and now she's living the life she wants. She lost her mom over a decade ago and it took her almost as long to get to where I want to be right this second.

There's lots of healing work in the grieving process. Finding people to help assuage your skin hunger are rare. When you find them hold onto them!

Read post 14 here.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 14

Part of the side effect of the IDGAF space grief brings you to is the difficulty in making decisions. There's some saying that you make the large life decisions quickly and take more time making minor decision. Perhaps this is based on going with your instinct when you are given an opportunity.

I've learned that it is a challenge for me to make decisions about everything at times. I struggle with deciding what's for dinner, which route to take, what chore to do first, which person to text next, all so much! It was hard making decisions. To the point that when something felt good I just went and did it.

Like moving to New Orleans for four months to see if I wanted that life for me or if I wanted it only with my ex. It was sometimes easy for me to see how I didn't have a particular experience that would help me make a decision so I had to first get that experience to make a decision. That's how I ended up making the decision for a four month stay, then packing up my place and making a cross country / cross coast move.

And yet, I still can't decide what to wear, when a good time to say something may be, or how to best recycle something. What I've been able to do is focus on top 3 options and hope someone else makes a decision. There's so many decisions we have to make as we mourn, it's easier to let other's make a decision, especially if it means they understand how decision-making is a form of care.

Read post 13 here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 13

I learned how to ask for what I wanted. This was beyond what some may be thinking. Grief allowed me to hone in on the ways I was communicating what I needed.

People always say they want to help you or let them know if you need anything! And my response is "I always need something." Basic living and daily acts were a challenge and they still are because when you're lounging in your bed butt naked all day thinking about death and dying you don't eat much you don't always shower and you don't do laundry or much else besides scroll social media bc it makes you feel a safe distance from being social. This shit is rough!

So I made lists of what people could help me with and allowed others to pick and choose what they could offer. I was too exhausted to say yes or no I just needed the ish I needed to show up so I could access them.

Making lists was exactly what helped me and it's what I tell others to make when they are grieving. Here's a list I made early. And here's a handout I use and have on my refrigerator. Best to complete it when you're feeling supported.

These things made it easier for me to get what I needed and to be clear about it all. This is what helped me stay alive.

My List (I removed people's names)
Consistency and a schedule and dates bc wtf is time?
Money in cash (t $500 for PR until new bank card comes)
Airline miles (flight to/from PR:NYC 2x)
Airport rides (to/from JFK ~65$ each way)
BK to BX rides (until it’s safe to go home and leave T’s)
Weed (Reina has tincture, high CBD to calm me the fuck down)
Beach trips (Rockaway, LI, etc; others to plan and just take me (Sara)
Better Health Insurance (therapist, bereavement help)
Alzheimer’s gene testing
Cocoa Butter
Good travel water bottle (keeps cold for hours)
Laundry (done/folded/put away)
Dark sheets (mascara stains)
Food (delivered via Seamless: Riverdale Diner; Bunni Deli; that pizza joint)
Food (grocery shopping: ready to eat foods bc im not cooking, cereal, fruit, PB, granola, nuts)
Food Dates (spicy not sugary sweet)
Dante to do my hair
Ouidad hair conditioner
Service Top
A handler when I’m in public or at new places (I got lost that time in CI)
Figure out a line to tell people and practice it (my mom died march 1 and I’m struggling)
Water in fridge
Coke (to feel the burn)
Metrocard (monthly)
Taxes help (Nick, inheritance, mami’s house, etc.)
House cleaning (sweep, mop, dust, bathtub, life)
Energy work (Jini)
Stationary (love letters, thank you cards)
Stamps (Love, POC)
Travel cords: phone, computer
Tampons and pads
Someone to shave my legs (service top?)
Waterproof mascara
MAC mascara primer
Tissues (soft not w lotion)
Wipes (everybody’s hands dirty in NYC)
Consistent Frequent Lovers over 30yo (wtf am I still quarantined bc of t?!)
Help packing 
Help sorting
Help trash shit I don’t need 
Donate ish (how to get the dontions to sites? 
New pillows (mascara stains, firm/full)
Music (that missing DOOM album, Mariah Carey remixs, da brat greatest hits, vico-c
1.1.17 I NOW NEED:
Rides (stop being embarrassed to ask)
Grocery store rides (not always need to be social)
Dental help (pull this tooth, crown, implant $4k)
NO more tinctures w/o instructions
Update emotional emergency plan

To see the kids/babies (learn to tell them apart)
Touch/affection in all the forms (there’s no backup plan)
Service Top
Avoid Papi and Linda
Explore new neighborhood
Heal this knee (wtf happened? Pool time to stretch? arnica)
Fitted for new bras (grief changed my body)
Wtf am I going to do for mami’s birthday? 1/6
Get out of bed (make work/play dates w ppl)
2.22.17 I NOW NEED: 6 days to 1 year
Lovers how to find them when no energy to court or search or do the bs logistics to get some tail
Impact play/experiences/reminders (rubber bands)
The ocean
Eat better food
Drink much more water
Tell people when you want to hurt yourself every time
Remember people love me and want to help
Dead Mother’s Club Members to contact
Figure out Dead Mother’s Club homies in NO (so far I’m only motherless of crew)
To learn to drive!!!
Decide am I moving to NO
Better sunglasses to hide puffy eyes (not red like before puffy around)
Reminders to bathe, brush teeth each day
Death and dying playlist songs (Rosana may know that song “happy bday I hope you die”)
My face touched
Someone to talk to about my dreams/fantasies
Plan for my skin when it feels its on fire
Ride to/from airport 
NYC return plan 

Read post 12 here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 12

I became really good at saying and asking for what I needed when my mom died. I have been pretty solid in directly communicating. A lot of people don't like this communication style. I learned a lot of people also think they have capacity to give you what you need, but actually they don't.

This is a hard place to be. Because you can see how someone wants to help, that intention. Yet, when they cannot do what is needed or requested they end up requiring care, care that I just don't have the capacity to offer or provide. We are both in need.

Sometimes people like being needed. Other times we feel good when people ask us for help because it's our opportunity to give them a gift of allowing them to care for us. Both of these are legit in their own way and at their own time. Yet, when people say they can bring you food, do your laundry, clean your tub, drive you somewhere and then don't and cant find a proxy, it really fucks you up. It also really made me reexamine my ideas of consent. Because if you're asking people for things they get to say "no." And sometimes our homies don't feel solid saying "no" to us when we are in such a tender state. Consent is still there. And holding that boundary for others may still feel too much when they can't hold it for themselves. It's so much energy to care for others when you are so clear you need to be cared for and need and want it. Being cared for by others was the life saving care I required.

I'm here because people care for me and cared for me then. It's ok to say what you need and ask for it too. It's also ok to remind people of that and that your capacity is minimal for their bs trickster tactics. This may be so much easier when you are emerged in the numbness of grief and the state of IDGAF is ever present than how it may feel reading it now.

What I learned in seeing people who said they could but couldn't is thank them in an internal way, for me it was positive self talk about our relationship. Thing's like "They really love you and want to show up and it's hard for them now, it's not about you;" and "They got out of bed, showered, put on clothes, got on the train/car, and came here to have breakfast with you. If that's all they could offer that's enough because they are still here too!"

If I want others to recognize my human experience of shock trauma grief and mourning I got to recognize their human experience too. That, I feel, is as much compassion as I could muster. Reminding yourself people are human is a great coping mechanism.

Read post 11 here.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 11

We had to go to Puerto Rico to get my mom.  I was on a plane by the end of the day to meet my sister. I landed and went to the hotel that I had booked that was across the street from the beach. I had immediately went to the beach to sit and talk with my mom. I didn't realize my bank card had been deactivated because I rarely used it to purchase items as I had purchased most travel on a work credit card.

I had no money and no way to pay for items outside of a paypal transfer. I had also been living at my ex's house in Brooklyn as a man in my building who had sexually harassed me for 10 years started to touch me as part of his harassment and I needed a safer place to stay while I put together a safety plan for my return home.

My ex gave me $500 to travel that day, brought my 5 homegirls who had come by to eat with me and send me off. dinner, and paid for the cab ride to the airport. I reminded myself that there were lots of reasons why my ex and I did not last and there are lots of reasons why we are drawn to each other. My ex shows love via money because that's what is available to give and is easy. We loved each other the best way we could and it just didn't work out.

Traveling was the beginning of my mourning process and it's stayed as part of the entire process. I invited myself to other people's homes. I invited myself to stay with them and shadow them with their everyday lives and daily work. I just didn't want to be alone! I traveled to LA, San Diego, New Orleans, Portland, Chicago, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Northampton, Atlanta, Dallas, Orlando, Aruba, Houston, Miami, Oakland, Colorado Springs, and Washington, DC.

I wanted and needed folks to take care of me. My friends were generous and shared their homes, beds food, resources, and love with me. I have met children who love me and who I would not have met so young had I not chosen to travel. I've swam in oceans I didn't think I'd have access too and saw night sights I wouldn't have known about had people not welcomed me to heal with them. I wouldn't have had homegirls to comfort me as a cried about talking about my filing for divorce from my ex, or babies to step on my thighs as they learned to walk, or witnessed a homies child learn to swim, or taken a homegirl away from her sabatoged plantation job for ocean healing! In my grief I was able to see others grow from my presence as I grew too. We all connected even if we dont want to be all the time.

Traveling taught me about myself, about my community, and it brought us all back together in a new way. Even though I still cry when I look out and see clouds and me above them, there's a comfort in knowing anywhere in this world I have people who love me. My next stop is welcoming my homies to my home in New Orleans in two weeks! Then planning a trip to Brussels (and Paris and Amsterdam).

Read post 10 here.