“Gentrification is When” by Cathy Arellano

my land has more value

when you own it

you’re invited to the neighborhood association

i’ve never seen the welcome mat

you move to my neighborhood for diversity

don’t do a damn thing to diversify your hometown

you stroll carefree through my neighborhood

i’m arrested while driving through yours

you buy your house

evict me from my dream home

you move in and Bi-Rite stops stocking

my Nana’s #1 ingredient: affordable

bike lanes go up where there always were bikes

just brown riders

hundreds of you are never a mob

two of us is always a gang

the city installs new lights at Dolores Park for you

builds a new jail at 17th and Valencia for me

you think this poem is a joke

i don’t care what you think

but i have to


You speak of your home, but it is merely a house.

Home is a safe space.
For some it is a physical location.
Others a person.
Mostly, it is a sense of belonging.

I belong in this world and so can never be homeless.

Home is within me. It goes wherever I do.

Gifts and karma

Karma is not a bitch. She can be subtle and kind of cute. Recently, I gifted someone something I knew they wanted. Unceremoniously, roughly a week later the gift was returned to me. It was done with the intent to hurt. The intention was lost but it struck me as exquisitely rude. When I had received gifts that weren’t to my liking I passed it on. But like I said, karma is subtle.

It made me think about my relationship to gifts, gifting and receiving. I have long had an aversion to receiving gifts because my history associated with an expectation. And this expectation was often not something I wished to honour. In short, this made me particularly ungracious when receiving gifts, both physically and verbally.

Last year, someone told me just to accept the gift that was on offer. Not to promise something in return. (An unspoken attempt at not wanting to owe anyone anything.) Since then I’ve started accepting gifts quietly, without protest. I’ve even started asking for help when I needed it. (Granted the latter has not worked out especially well but that is beside the point.) I am open to receiving as much as I give. (This is a work in progress, but there is progress.)

Gifting and karma. A few years ago I asked my mother to stop buying me gifts. She gets it painfully wrong every time. It is an uncomfortable reminder that she doesn’t know me. When I, in turn, always get her gifts she wants. Perhaps we listen/hear different. But my request has meant that nothing between us is constant anymore. It also means that I can ask for what I want and don’t want in a relationship. It is an important marker for me regarding of what it looks like from the outside.

I wanted to gift a family for their kindness, their generosity. A turn of events made this impossible. But the gift had to be given. The one gift become smaller gifts.  I could not keep the gift because I had already intended it for someone else. I was honestly scared that the gift would become toxic if I held onto it.

It is almost like the gift of someone’s presence. When they belong somewhere else, with someone else, their presence becomes toxic.

These days I accept gifts with more ease. I also give with more thought. I allow the cycle to complete and restart. I recognise the gifts of karma.

Women, love and passion

En route to my longest trip away from home I watched “Frida”. She emboldened me. She lived a life that challenged every social norm and was suited to her spirit. There is a beautiful freedom in defining one’s life. She was physically crippled. Love tormented her emotionally. But she was always mentally and psychology clear on her first love: art.

Last night I watched “Coco Chanel”. I know. I am behind. But I guess it was the right time for me to watch it. I loved the way she was depicted: fierce and passionate. A woman who loved her work and a man. A woman who said “I love you” without flinching. She truly built an empire. She left where love was not being served. She admitted to love, when it was hardest to say the words.

Pleasure. Is this the goal? Taking pleasure in work and love?


Something old

One of my friends let the country this week. Her visa expired and it was a rushed situation. We all barely had time to say hello because she had come back just a week prior. Life happens so fast and without us really being aware of the significance of the moment.

This photograph was taken a few Valentine’s ago. We decided that we would have a girls’ getaway. It was so much fun. The house we stayed in was amazing. The trip was relaxing and reviving. It was great having dance parties with my friends. This particular Jeep stood in the driveway of someone we knew in the area. I have always wanted a Jeep and to see this one in its state was disappointing and a little bit sad.

Anyway, I look at this image now and it is clear that time passes… It always passes.




Mountains. Water bodies. Sky. Every shade and variation of blue is my favourite. But it is the royal blues and purply-blues and blackish-blues that enthral me. These are the blues that lift my skin tone and highlight my eyes. It is possibly one of my favourite colours. And this is a photograph that brings me great pride.