I wanted to write a more personal blog about my current life in NYC, specially for my friends who follow me. This image by Tracy Emin titled “Sad Shower in New York” reflects how I’ve been experiencing the cold and harsh punches of life in the city.
In 2013, when I was finishing my teaching year at the Charter School in Queens, my mom got diagnosed with stage 4 Cancer. For those of you who wonder, there are no further stages after stage 4. The magnitude of this news caused me to lose my focus the last month at work, which made the principal decide they weren’t going to renew my contract because “I wasn’t focused” despite how I had informed both principals I would be scheduling some days off to go with my mom to appointments, and despite how anyone in their right mind would have understood the reasons why I “wasn’t focused.”
This summer was filled with confusion about what would happen, and how to accommodate to the situation. For those of you who never thought about this, because I never did, Cancer is really expensive for a family of teachers and immigrants such as my own. My mom for example, could not work, so she doesn’t get paid her usual salary anymore, leaving me and my dad compensating for rent and, most importantly, health insurance and chemotherapy bills ( not all of this gets covered by health insurance). My older sister has been helping out from Argentina, and because I don’t have my teacher salary either, I’ve been hustling a lot. I cannot speak for my mother, but seeing a strong woman having to fight this battle is a lesson in courage but also, a lesson about the limits of strength and will power dragged by the forces of magical thinking.
I met amazing people last year, such as the Spanish writers from Mano a Mano writing workshop, who motivated me to apply to the NYU Creative Writing in Spanish program for next year, and encouraged me to write more in Spanish, and pursue journalism. But I also had conflicts with friends whom I felt have “abandoned me” or chose the wrong moments to start issues or drama with me. I do not blame anyone, and I know we are all busy, but I think a part of me wishes my friends would have stayed in touch more, despite my isolation, which I am responsible for.
The good news is that chemotherapy is stabilizing my mom’s cancer, and hopefully things are under control. I am currently waiting tables at an Italian restaurant and doing a few long term subbing gigs at private schools to pay bills. My NYC friends have been extremely supportive, and thanks to this hardship, I was able to try out one of my fondest dreams, getting paid and published for writing.
Since June, I have been writing personal, journalistic, and critical essays which have been published in different blogs and public platforms and I’m getting some media recognition. Just to brag a little, because I worked for this, I am a weekly contributor to Schon, a fashion magazine in the U.K, where I recently wrote about Latin American soccer trends and the performance of masculinity, in Argentina and have a piece titled On trans-sexy and trans-feminine looks in the Fashion World to be published this month.
I also wrote about Latino immigration related issues for Black Girl Dangerous and Jezebel’s Groupthink blog. This month I wrote an opinion article for Latino Rebels about considering not just the demand, but also the supply side when talking about US weed legalization policies which got highlighted in feministing.com . I currently have a piece to be featured next month in Black Girl Dangerous on the culture of machismo in latin america, and its relationship to domestic violence. I also have a piece to be featured in Bustle this month, titled What’s it Like with The New Gender Identity Law In Argentina, Meet Effy Beth where I interview trans performance artist Effy Beth and talk about the conservative cultural sphere of my country which clashes with the legal advances.
Also, today, two really nice things happened to me: Samantha Escobar, editor of The Gloss replied to an e-mail I sent asking if they needed writers. In her words, she “really digged my writing” and invited me to pitch and submit articles to the magazine.
Finally, Bitch a feminist magazine I’ve been reading since my early twenties when I lived with my friends Elizabeth, Lydia, and Kate in North Carolina will feature an article I wrote titled Looking Out From Behind Bars, The Voices and Words Inside a Women’s Prison in Mexico where I interview Mary Ellen Sanger who wrote a book about her incarceration in Ixcotel State Prison. Again, I will be featured in a magazine I used to read when I was 23, 24, and 25…that’s like a million hairstyles ago, and a million boyfriends ago, and a million odd jobs ago (ok, actually not THAT long ago) except that I will be inside the magazine, instead of reading it. Life is Cray. I give myself credit because I basically taught myself how to make it as a free lance writer, the trial and error way, and would love to help anyone else who is trying to write. so, when it comes to my life in words, I am extremely happy and will take some seconds to rest on my laurels…
Alright, now that I’ve felt the laurel bed, I will add that things are still crazy emotionally and economically over here. NYC is sad in the winter and life does not feel normal but we are making the best of it, with lovely moments of understanding and redemption and mistakes mixed into the struggle. I dream of the day I can escape, just for a few days, to a beach by myself and just dig my feet under the sand and feel some sun, although the waves might have to wait in solitude because this might just be a long winter for me.