May 1, 2012

The Power of the 'Net (vote for me if you haven't yet, please! :-)

Note: if you just clicked to vote, the link's at the bottom of the post! :-)

It never ceases to amaze me how the Internet allows me to maintain one foot in the U.S. and one foot in Mexico. I know, this is going to sound like an Internet commercial. Whether it's video chatting with the fam over Skype, or keeping tabs on friends via Facebook, or just imagine—how did we survive without EMAIL? Well, I did survive for four years without Internet, actually. It's just that in those 4 long, dry years of having to use only cybercafes down the street, I developed such a craving for connection with the culture I'd left in the U.S. that when I finally got it back, it probably looked like a long dried-up alcoholic going back to the bottle.

When I told a friend a couple years back how happy I was to be getting Internet the week before my daughter was to be born, she chastized me a little, saying the first  month was for bonding with my baby. Well, I did bond quite intensely with my daughter, but felt guilty enough about my time spent sending pics to my circle in the U.S. that I mentioned it to my mom. She responded simply that the person who'd poo-poo'd my Internet zeal probably had never lived far away from her family or in a foreign country for any significant amount of time. About her, who knows. Some people might be happy to be distanced from people, have an excuse to not be in touch. But for me, all I know is that I am truly grateful for a way to stay in touch with the community that I love so well that otherwise I'd have no means of staying connected with.

I was reminded of this when driving to work the other day, when I almost hit a huge cardboard box with styrofoam peanuts spilling out all over the highway. My immediate thought was, oops, there goes someone's Mother's Day present. Countless times before, Margo and I tried to send a box from the U.S. to Mexico, or someone tried to send us a package or a letter from the States to here, with no luck. The Mexican Postal Service, which must rely on burros to some extent (the four-legged animals, not people, lest anyone think I'm insulting postal workers), is notorious for mysteriously losing mail, or delivering mail many months later. Needless to say it's easy to quickly get fed up with this option and my penpals quit palling me. Fedex and UPS are out of the question, charging more than 30 dollars for a mere envelope.

Makes you wonder how NAFTA is such a moneymaker, with all that international transport that's cruising up and down the continent, huh? Share a little of the cheap freight fees with the little people, guys!

Anyways, to make a long story short, all these years of staying connected online have led to me sharing a good deal of my life online, both the personal and the political. I now blog regularly on two blogs while maintaining my projects website. The other day, my coauthor of Amor and Exile, Nate Hoffman, nominated me for a Netroots Nation Scholarship as an Immigration Scholar. It's an opportunity to attend a national progressive conference in Providence, RI in June, and meet other grassroots/online activists. I wasn't 100% it was something I could be competitive at, but, at least in these first 24 hours, I've been pleasantly surprised.

Not only was I surprised at the application/profile statement I was able to put together, and that among the many hats I wear I actually am a bonafide blogger, but I am totally touched by the outpouring of support from my community who's voting for me. In an exile situation that is often disorienting culturally and professionally, even if I don't win the scholarship, it'll be heartening to know that at least some of my efforts to clarify who I am and what I stand for are reaching their target—my extended community.

p.s. if it's May 2 or prior, you can still vote for me at

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