Thursday, March 27, 2014

The House on East California Avenue

On March 5th, 2014 we celebrated my daughters 7th birthday at Rosemary’s Creamery.  I am remiss to think how many times I have ordered the ‘black and tan’ sundae, a mountain of hot fudge and caramel on toasted almond ice cream.  Every birthday I feel like I am six years old again dueling spoons with my twin sister and scrapping globs from poorly designed glass boats that make the entire process sticky and fun. 

On this day, as we waited for the orders to arrive my grandmother showed me a photo of an empty dirt lot.  I had no idea what I was looking at until she remarked that she was upset that they bulldozed the house.  Only later would she realize that I was completely unaware that the house was gone.  Until that moment it was still where it had always been.  On a busy street with commercial buildings, the yard eager for spring, the bougainvillea blooming early and obstructing the front doorway and the rose bushes softening the cold metal gate that surrounded the perimeter.

Growing Up Homeless

I lived so many places growing up I actually never felt like I had a “home.”  I learned recently that I lived in Texas during many formative years but not long enough to recall.  When we returned to Bakersfield and left my grandparents house, we moved around.  I could not tell you the address, or color or any details about those places.  They were just places: 

the house with the teal laundry room
the room on Niles Street
there house across from the elementary school
the duplex off of Ming
the other duplex off of Ming
the house on Columbus
the house by the 58 Freeway

There was one place that I have always considered my sanctuary, the little house on East California—known by my generation as “Honey’s House.”  Until recently, I thought it was only the beautiful women who lived within those walls that made it so special.  But Honey passed away over a decade ago and I still drive out of my way to visit this place just too see the structure and feel renewed. 

The Yellow Phone

If I could stop that bulldozer and save one artifact it would be the yellow rotary phone that lived on the kitchen wall.  I once asked my aunt why we did not have a cordless phone and she aimed fierce ojitos at me as she recalled the audacity of a telephone company worker who had once made the offer to replace her “old” banana colored phone.  She never said what happen to that idiot man and I came to realize her loyalty to our phone was founded.  As a teen I spent hours lying on the green linoleum floor that slanted towards the kitchens backdoor talking on that phone.  In the tiny makeshift kitchen that forgot it was once a porch.  Even now, I can see my great-great-great aunt honey perched on her kitchen stool and chatting away. 

Cruz History

I am the last and 5th generation that lived in that same little house with my great-great-great aunt Honey in 1998.  My cousin Lisa and several of her fury friends lived there in the early 90’s.  My grandmother Arlene and Great-Uncle Carl shared the home with their Grandparents and Aunt in the 50’s.  My grandparents, Ted and Arlene Jiron were married in that house by Judge Noriega in 1961.  The true history of the house on East California Avenue could span several novels.  Too young to know everything I am old enough to understand how the foundation of this tiny building supported our enormous family as it grew.   

The House on East California 

They say you can find anything on the internet, tonight I used google earth to see the house one more time.  

Any relatives attending the Easter picnic, I would love to see your photos and scan them for us all to share our memories of this special place. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Guilt, Motherhood, and Professional Success for Women

After almost a decade working in Higher Education, I realize that I feel guilty for my commitment to my career.  Today I attended the CSUB “19th Annual Latina Leadership Conference” and listened to successful women share their stories.  As each generation shared their journey it seems that professional women are our own worst enemies.  But it is not as simple as just get over it and be ambitious.   

Career versus Motherhood 

There are several factors to consider when thinking about our careers, and for many women the foremost issue is motherhood.

I am not a domestic goddess: I am not gifted in the area of sewing, crafting or cooking.  I love my children, but even if I won the lottery tomorrow I would not choose to be a full-time stay at home parent.  As my husband has now entered the workforce the conversations have shifted to how I am going to address the care of our children.  The decision to raise two children requires a commitment of an immeasurable amount of home labor.

Studies, like the link above, that ask mothers if they are “spending enough time with their children” are inherently flawed.  As women, we are lucky to get stuck with social pressures that remind us constantly that our sex requires us to nurture.

My partner is a feminist who was a willing stay-at home parent so I could start my academic career.  I am capable and enjoy being a leader but I feel guilt about my male partner’s sacrifice for my success.

I can’t believe I wrote this sentence:

I am capable and enjoy being a leader but I feel guilt about my male partner’s sacrifice for my success.

I know it is redundant to repeat a sentence, and it was hard to write it the first time. This confession demonstrates the internalization of both gender archetypes and that I am a barrier to my own personal success.  My professional success has provided for my entire family.  Regardless of my gender-- my education and experience makes me better qualified to be the breadwinner in our family.  Then why the heck do I still feel guilty?

My Self Inflicted Glass Ceiling

My partner supported me through graduate school, the start of my first full-time academic post and in the full-time care of our two children.  His action and words of encouragement validate me as I work on  my doctoral dissertation and yet doubt pervades my choices.

My doubt brings two interesting points of clarity:

How do other highly education mothers without incredibly supportive partners overcome social pressure and personal guilt to succeed professionally?  How can I earn a fair wage, promotion, and professional success when I hesitate to recognize my own value?

Life without Kids

The outcome to both of these questions is simple; patriarchy influences professional women.

I have several successful female friends without kids.  It is a common misconception that the choice to not have children voids social pressures.  In my experience people assume that women without children are either broken or not living life to the fullest.  

"Having it All Without Children"

As the above stories conclude, the assumption that women without kids are somehow unfulfilled is absolutely wrong.  With or without children, professional women are influenced by patriarchy.


This week my preliminary defense of my dissertation is scheduled.

Friday March 28, 2014 10am at CSUB Education Building 123 

In spite of self-doubt, I keep plugging away and I am getting the job done.  This weeks blog was cathartic to write and embarrassing to share.  But I shared it because I hope it validates other professional women who are struggling with their own careers to know they are not alone.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Veronica Mars and Investing in Awesomeness

Yup, I am not ashamed to admit that I am a marshmallow.

I was incredibly depressed for about 10 seconds that the new Veronica Mars movie was not showing in Bakersfield.  The kickstarter campaign released the movie for digital purchase and my depression was quickly alleviated.  After nine years of anticipation I got to watch the new Veronica Mars movie on my iPad (legally).

Technology & Purchasing Power

Technology has completely altered purchasing power.  There is everything from alibaba to ebay that allow sellers across oceans to find just what they want. 

Kickstarter is a great service for those of us with unique interests it allows us to help small businesses or  help artists make their way.   My family spends at least $500 a years supporting kick starter campaigns (probably more but I don’t want my husband to tell me the real number).  We give to video game charities such as ExtraLife.  We support small business that make niche supplies for tables top games such as Super Dungeon Explore:Forgotten King. 

It’s a Small World After All

I was incredibly eager to support the Veronica Mars movie kickstarter but they met their goal so fast I couldn’t even give them my money.  Some people have complained the move is “more of the same.”  I didn’t want a movie inspired by the series I wanted a movie that continued the narrative, which it did. Even though the movie had a limited release in theatres it still sold an admirable quarter of a million tickets over the weekend and made it into the top 10 (as number 10).   This proves I am not the only person excited about the movies release.

Last month my husband travelled to Las Vegas for a WarMachine Tournament.  By coincidence he met, face-to-face, several of the vloggers, national champions of Warmachine but also some small business folks he has supported on kickstarter.  Though technology is one way to help support other like-minded individuals it is still fun to meet people in the flesh.  If the movie was showing in Bakersfield I would have bought a ticket and still purchased a digital copy. 

Final Comments: Movie is Awesome and Don't be a Dirty Pirate 

The Veronica Mars movie is good.  I love the fact that it actually explains technology and pokes fun at itself and refers to the Big Lebowski just enough.  Several comments that endeared me but are not limited to the mention of a “desperate kickstarter campaign,” and a student that sadly is “most likely to blog.”  Aside from including an awesome female protagonists making bad romantic decisions the movie is worth watching because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. 

See this movie but make sure to pay for it! 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Confronting my own Unconscious Bias: Ageism and Strong Women

As a self-proclaimed feminist and advocate for social justice it is hard to admit that I still succumb to negative stereotypes.  A few months ago, as part of a CFA union event, I learned about the theory of Unconscious BiasUnconscious Bias is not explicit discrimination, but instead it is when an individual subscribes to social narratives without realizing the consequences of their behavior.  The negative impact is the continued subjugation of social groups that lack agency. 

The subsequent section of my blog post this week includes personal stories about women who have helped me confront my own bias.  Squeamish readers proceed with caution.

Reflecting on my own Unconscious Bias:

It was an unassuming day in a level 2 Iyengar yoga class.  I remember thinking how young I felt surrounded by so many senior age women at the modest Los Angeles Iyengar institute.  One woman in the mat next to me looked frail but so beautiful and for a moment, I doubted her ability to endure the next 90 minutes in a mat beside me.  Fast-forward to an hour later, the class was one of the most grueling I had every attended and then we moved into inversions.  The woman beside me, who was in her late 60’s gracefully entered head stand and stayed for longer than it took me to set up my mat for balancing.  Fast forward to five minutes later, well after I had given up my balancing for the day.  I remember after sitting in child’s pose lifting my head with most of the class and I was astonished at this woman; still completely upside down like it was the same as standing for her.  Aside from feeling like an ageist brat, I also realized that this woman was who I want to become when I grow up.

Photo of me in sirsana (headstand) the pose discussed in the story with my awesome 7-year old holding my feet on March 6th 2014. 

This summer I dragged my then 6-year old to a 5k series.  She does love jogging, but in all honesty, I was thinking she would be an excuse to walk.  She jogged the event and attacked the hills like a little ass kicker.  When she got tired I got the opportunity to remind her that she is “amazing, strong and powerful” and each time she continued to conquer the hills and miles.  I hope every mother gets an opportunity to remind her 6-year olds that they have power in their little bodies.  No one told me I was strong, and it took too long in life to learn this fact.

When I decided to give birth to my son naturally, I realized about mid-crowning it was going to hurt like hell.  As I shared expletives liberally, the birthing nurses and my doctor, who were all women, remained calm.  They basically told me suck it up.  My 70 year old doctor remarked, “this was your plan and it’s a good plan.”  The nurse could tell I was skeptical at my doctor’s remark and reminded me to “just breathe and that after only a few pushes you get to meet your new baby.”  I focused and kept her words about minimal pushes in my mind and after only 1 good push my son was crying in my arms.  Only moments before I thought all the women in my room were crazy and then, in that moment I realize there are few limitations to what my body can do if I stop letting my mind hold me back.  I realized at that moment I am strong, but somehow I still manage to subscribe to social ideas about the power of women.

Women are physically powerful, at every age, and each of us should remember that everyday.  

*This weeks post subject was not about technology. it includes links to online tools to help understand Unconscious Bias.  It was also written in route to the CSU Teaching Symposium using train wifi and my trusty laptop.