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Family Values

Image by Evil Erin

In the wake of the SCOTUS’s landmark ruling on gay marriage, I’m sharing an old piece. It’s funny because despite my protestations here, I actually DID get married in January, but I think the rest of it is a reminder that there are many ways to make a family.

Someday, when I write a memoir, it’s going to be called: Fucked Up Family.

I don’t mean this in the conventional sense. No one in my family is an alcoholic or an abuser, unless you count my mother’s repeated assertions that she was going to string us up by our toenails if we didn’t shut up and eat our dinner.

It’s just that my family is… unusual.

The chapter on my fathers alone … that’s fathers plural, but not in a gay way, although when I came out to one he told me that he’s had sex with over 500 women and that one had turned out not to be a woman in the way he was expecting… (more…)

Mom Life VS. The Show Must Go On

Yesterday, I started rehearsals for The Real Life Adventures of Jimmy de las Rosas, written by my friend and longtime collaborator Ricardo Gamboa. This is the mutant chihuahua play I’ve been wanting to direct/produce for years – and always had the project kicked back or totally ignored. Maybe it is the telekinetic fight scenes. Maybe it is the radical, pro-community pro-youth politic. Maybe it is the challenge of a bilingual script. WHO KNOWS!?! It doesn’t matter – being an Artistic Director is a lot of thankless work sometimes, but the advantage is that I can be an agent for producing the work I believe in. But that’s not what I want to write about.

I want to write about the impossible quandary that is parenting, economics, and the arts.



The Young Fugitives.

Amores y Amigos, Cupcakes and Chulins, I have been so swamped I don’t even have time to tell people what I’m up to except sometimes I remember to post it on Facebook. Like, why even have a personal website if I’m not going to use it to do things like, I don’t know, TALK ABOUT MYSELF!!!!!!!!!  Anyway, earlier this week I got it together to finally send out an email about upcoming events and I thought, I guess I could just plagiarize myself and post it on my website as well, which is 75% what I’m doing except I added in some things for “interest.” And in case you are reading this and already got that email and feel like content should be unique to platform. ANYWAY, here’s what’s up:

1.) Not a Vegan Anymore
2.) Track 13
3.) Radical Love
4.) Youth Opportunities in Little Village
5.) Upcoming Reading of My New Solo
6.) A Little Farther in the Distance

A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep

In honor of New Year’s Day, I’m posting the text of the New Year’s resolutions piece I performed for Paper Machete last January…

Becoming a vegan was not actually my idea. It was my friend Daniella’s.* I hate to blame her but she is the kind of vegan who is very persuasive. You know, long meaningful stares at your omlet during brunch and then “helpful” links to “The Truth About Eggs”** posted on your Facebook timeline while she claims to be texting her mom? Plus, she’s super hot, stylish and skinny but not too skinny and she has a kind of glow about her that she claims comes from eating kale and no animals but which I now suspect to be some kind of expensive BB cream. I don’t mean to doubt her but when I followed in her footsteps, finally persuaded by a passionate monologue about the ratio of puss to cream in yogurt, I gained twenty pounds, my hair developed the texture of a brillo pad, and I lost all the feeling in my right hand and foot.   (more…)


Recently, I had the great honour of being featured as part of the Chicago Artists’ Resource SinglePage series. I talk about how hard it was to return to poetry after my daughter was born. An excerpt:


When my daughter was born, I remembered words I had forgotten: sunquwawauripachallay. They poured out of me, bits of Quechua mixed with English and Spanish to form a strange litany of endearments I repeated again and again as I carefully traced the contours of her face, claiming for her every name,  every devotional, I could think of: mi amormi chula,mi nenami wawami bebamy basketmy beanmy bundlemy lovemy heartmi sunqumicorazónuripachallaypalomitalittle dove. When I ran out of words, I’d simply tell her I loved her, chanting: te quiero mucho mucho mucho, tanto tanto tanto, siempresiempre siempre. In the absence of any new thing to say about how much I loved my daughter, I became a kind of trilingual thesaurus…

Catch the rest of this essay, plus a video of me reading my poem, on Chicago Artist Resource.

What Theater Can Do

A few months ago, the Freedom Dreams conference invited me to be a speaker on a plenary panel called The Power of Art, which asked artist/activists to speak about the role of art in social justice organizing.

A few nights ago, Free Street presented TRACK 13,  the latest piece from the Young Fugitives. TRACK 13, created by young artists and activists, eloquently spoke to the pain and the helplessness that many people feel in the face of brutality and oppression perpetrated by the very people who are “supposed” to protect them: the police. The play posed the question: what can making a play really do? And many in the audience shared this (entirely valid) question: what can making theater, or art, or talking about a problem REALLY and ACTUALLY DO to make change? This was the very question I’d wrestled with at the Freedom Dreams conference, facing an audience of activists who were not entirely convinced that art had a valid role in organizing and social change.

I’m no Pollyanna. I’m skeptical about most things, and don’t believe in self-congratulation. But I do believe in theater, and I do believe that there are things the theater can do. So I thought I’d post my comments from the conference here:  (more…)