Dear Dolores:

You give zero fucks. And I love it.

Before the DOLORES screening, I prepared what I would say during the Q&A:

My name is Marsha Rivera. I grew up in Porterville, CA. I am a first generation Guatemalan American. My dad worked in the fields when he was in between mechanic jobs. My question for you is more of a request. A request of you to speak to the pressure we feel to not waste our parents’ sacrifices. And to the internal conflict we feel of being thankful for having jobs in a corporate environment versus speaking out about the systemic injustices we face daily.

But I couldn’t do it. I didn’t do it.

The guy to the left of me asked the first question. About current conditions for field workers. To me, he sounded like a city-guy asking about the country life. It was a great question for current workers. However, she’s been out of the biz for a while. Nonetheless, she answered flawlessly.

The guy to the right of me wanted to raise his hand too. I felt it. I hesitated.

A woman behind me spoke next. She thanked Dolores for her involvement in the 1968 Immigration Reform and Control Act. Which changed her family’s life for the better. Obviously. ME TOO- I wanted to yell. I didn’t do it.

The same woman asked Dolores’s son about his role in the organization. He answered. Dolores answered. And before we knew it, it was over. Q&A ended.

Why didn’t I raise my hand?

Seeing images of Police brutality from Delano officers during the strikes reminded me that little has changed within Law Enforcement. And better yet, I can’t be certain that my own brother is policing with compassion. Compassion isn’t taught in the Academy.

Feelings of shame and sadness flooded over me. I was too ashamed to raise my hand and ask for empathy and encouragement. Not when I’ve done nothing to speak to my brother about his role in changing relations between the community and the police.

But Dolores answered me anyway. She addressed the elephant in the room.

If you are feeling depressed about the current political climate, think of this:

You can cut all the flowers. But you cannot keep Spring from coming.
Pablo Neruda

And she didn’t let us leave until she lead us in a chant. Zero fucks about her press schedule. And we chanted:

Who’s got the power?
WE GOT THE POWER

What kind of power?
PEOPLE POWER

SI SE PUEDE. CLAP CLAP CLAP.

Thank you for years of service. Thank you for today. And thank you for continuing the fight.

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Nothing has changed.

Marriage doesn’t fix metal health. Marriage didn’t give me super-abilities. Marriage isn’t winning the lottery. Marriage doesn’t fix the relationship. Or any other relationship with your mother, brother, barber, mailperson.

How’s marriage? Same ‘ol. Same ‘ol.

But, what I should start saying now is: marriage is life after making a public commitment. And ours matches up with life before making a public statement.

Nah. That’s too long.

Same ‘ol. Same ‘ol.

So, are you having kids?

I got the A.

Overall, my time was better. Improvement. Relief. Speaking of relief. My dream the morning of was on point.

Dream:
We woke up at 6:06am. There was no way we were getting to Zuma by 6:30 to add my bike and crap to the transition area. And I felt a wave of relief rush over me. I didn’t have to do it. I didn’t have to do it.

YES. So, what do we do now? We somehow found an farmers market with pancakes. We get in line and we see a few of my friends from home. Guess what? I was suppose to do a triathlon today? LOL. Not happening obviously. We made it through the pancake line and ate, before I woke up. It was just a dream. It was more than a dream. It was a fantasy come true. The best kind of peace and relief. My subconscious was telling me, yeah dude– you really don’t want to do this. You’re not questioning yourself. So, go get this bitch over with.

I was so incredibly nervous. And anxious about doing something, I had no desire for. It felt wrong. But I had done this race before. I shouldn’t have been nervous. My conflicting feelings battled it out until my heat started. And of course, the waves built up for my heat too. Like it does every year? But, I liked it. I like it when Mother Nature makes it a challenge. It’s her house, her rules. I’m just visiting.

Swim: better time from last year
Bike: better time from last year– yeah Cannondale
Run: worse. But I knew it would be. Forgive me, Santiago.

Overall: better. You did it. Pat on back. And moving on.

Treatment #3

Oops. Forgot to reflect. Forgot to post.

I was early. 12:24pm for my 12:45pm appointment. 12:40, We will see you next. Cool. You all better see me in a timely manner. 12:46pm I’m in the room. I strip quickly. I’m ready!

Progress? Does there feel like any at this point? Not really. She cranked it up. I smell the burning now. Burning hair doesn’t smell pleasant. It smells like satisfaction.

This technician is the kindest person. Always making sure I feel comfortable. Keeping conversation. Or not keeping conversation. She does a great job of reading body language. Reading my pain. Trying to hid my pain. She sees it. She is encouraging. In my personal progress. I’m sure, if I told her about my goals and aspirations she would cheer me on there too. She’s the ideal person at your side. At all times.

Which is probably why it’s taken me so long to post. She’s a caring person. She’s a person. Not an experience.

It feels like a new relationship that I want to keep private. It’s new and fragile. She’s the constant in my hair-loss journey. I can easy exploit myself and the system. But she isn’t the system.

I wanted to be able to speak critically about the facts and my experience. Now it’s evolved enough for me to see– that once again, people run companies. Companies are made up of people. And sometimes, the people you interact with are awesome.

Here we go, again.

I know I didn’t study, but I still want that A.

I didn’t give a fuck all summer, but getting anything less than an A would be devastating to me. I’m already disappointed in my performance tomorrow.

I’m mentally prepared for the day. I’m mentally prepared for anything really. Thank you 2017 aidsride/lifecyle. I have endurance. I have perseverance. But I know my behavior from the recent months: resentful.

2017. The summer of brunt. Being burnt out. Resentfully exercising. Resentfully waking up for morning swims. Showing up late to workouts on purpose. Not going HARD.

But I will tomorrow. I’ll go hard. I’ll give it everything I have. I want to. And I want to enjoy the experience. Will they come hand in hand? Maybe.

“What are you looking forward to making after the race?” asked someone I respect. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I didn’t deserve anything. I didn’t train enough. I didn’t eat well. I didn’t train hard. Not like last year.

I can now answer faithfully: having my friends over. Making Micheladas for them. Because they’re great. They’ve supported me. And I’ll try to repay them in a tasty alcoholic beverage– beverages. If that isn’t agape. I don’t know what is–

Saving myself.

Where are you from? Do you have brothers and sisters?
You’re the youngest? I guessed right. What do you like to do?

It felt like a first date. I felt uncomfortable. Who’s fault? No one.
Didn’t he see my ring? In this situation, I wanted the ring to save me. A clear indication that those questions weren’t necessary.

In the past, I didn’t wear any indication that I was in a committed relationship– as a person who was proposed to or as a person who agreed to say ‘I do’ in a private ceremony.

A about a year ago, I was in a grocery store. I always seem to find chemistry at the register. Male/Female/Whatever. The how-are-yous exchange is genuine. The how-was-your-day fill me with warmth. Those connections are what I live for. On that fateful day, felt guilty for it. Did I lead him on? Do men go through this? Because, they don’t traditionally wear proof of proposing. So, no. Probably not. It was a moment of connection. No ONE fault. But for both of us to enjoy and move on.

Do you surf? No, my husband does.

And there it is.
The shift in conversation I was desperately craving.
My opportunity to set the tone.

Not into you.

This ring can’t save me from shit. It can’t save me from awkward situations. It can’t save me from sexual assault. It can’t save me from systemic injustice.

I can only save myself. I’m my own hero.

Why do you hate white people?

That was the response from someone after I excitedly spoke about immigrant mining towns in Montana. It had been the second time I spoke positively about immigrants, that evening.

I was recalling something I had seen on Vice/youtube/whatever. It was about the history of the communities of Eastern European immigrants who worked in the mines of Montana. The community formed a strong Union. I got the sense that the Union mentality was ‘one for all, all for one’. The pride in the community was strong. Celebrating their roots was still strong. It was impressive and humbling to see old traditions combined with American patriotism. It reminded me of my family’s story:

Leaving poverty and violence. Leaving everything they knew for the unknown, for an opportunity. Arriving with nothing. Nothing but the pursuit of happiness.

We are fully Guatemalan and we hold great pride in being citizens of the United States.

I was speaking with a friend who was moving back to Montana. The other fella took my excitement as hatred. In the moment, I smiled. I touched the back of his neck gently. I felt pity. And I saw fear in the form of feeling threatened. Pro-immigration doesn’t not mean hatred for white people. I know that. But I’m sure he does.

I see immigration as leaving behind destruction and death. I see immigration as a second chance in life. I see hard work and sacrifices for the family unit. I see discrimination for people that are different/other. I see hypocrisy: a country founded on religious freedom that turns around to deny religious freedoms.

Threat of his existence. Threat of himself. His family? My excitement was threatening to him. Masculinity so fragile? No. Those who were never oppressed, are the quickest to scream when they feel threatened. His words cut. What a clear accusation. What a privilege.

In that moment, I wasn’t able to articulate anything more than kindness and pity. And now, I’m still processing my response. Did I take it too easy on him? My younger/immature self would have raged and cussed in both languages I’m able to curse in. Was I mature for showing kindness? Was my response too empathetic? Was I tolerant? Should I ever regret kindness?

We are irrational when we are insecure. We strive for understanding. We strive to be understood.

I think I understand that moment now. I hope I’ll be ready for the next. And yes, I hope there is a next time.