Thursday, May 29, 2014

Transformation Soup: Identifying My Body’s Gender

This article was originally published in print in LILIPOH Magazine's Culture Pulse Pages in the Winter 2013 issue. This is my first published article.

BIG thanks to my friend and editor of this article, Leslie Loy for this wonderful opportunity to share my story in LILIPOH Magazine. Another BIG thank you to the editor of LILIPOH Magazine, Christy Korrow for including the article in the Winter 2013 issue. Thank you both for this opportunity!

In Light and wellness,

Ewan

Transformation Soup: Identifying My Body’s Gender
Ewan Duarte

My body—this porcelain skin, these green eyes that can see the beauty of the world as well as the challenges and harsh realities of life. My auburn, curly hair that used to be red. Red as my beard. My body is always changing, growing, regenerating, experiencing, and aging. From sunrise to sunset, with the circadian rhythms as the Earth traverses around the sun. The sun, the moon, the stars, and my time here on this Earthly plane in this temporal, physical form.

When I think of my body, I think of a gift—a divine gift that I chose. I chose to be born this way, in this skin. One of my greatest challenges and blessings was to slowly learn, unravel, and discover who I authentically am, and am meant to be, within this physical form. This is my temporal gift, one I am always with: my body, a beautiful dysphoric body. These muscles, these strong bones, the blood coursing through my veins remind me of my ancestral ties: Eastern European Jews, Mexicans, and German people—a real diversity soup. I am a culmination of my ancestors, their existence, sacrifices, and lives. My blood, my bones, my body connect me to them all. I am proud of them for simply being and existing.

When did I realize that I was uncomfortable in my body? That the word “girl,” that “woman” did not fit me? Was it when I was a child playing on the all-boys football team at my elementary school in Clovis, California? My Dad picked me up after one of the games or practices. He asked me in the car, “Rachel, do you know the difference between boys and girls?” I got instantly upset and reactive. I yelled, “Yes!” That was the end of the conversation. It was quiet in the car as my Dad drove us home. Writing and reflecting upon this now, I thought that my Dad was referring to anatomy. I had the body of a girl. Yet, I wanted to play on the boys’ football team. It would take me until nearly a decade later, while attending college at UC Santa Cruz, to begin to question my own gender identity, to be exposed to and become part of a queer/transgender community.

My body. My soul. My spirit. It was during one of my meditations in my Portland, Oregon apartment that I realized, was able to receive the clarity and guidance, that I was a boy. I felt so happy and elated to finally know. I wanted to tell the world “I’m a beautiful boy!” To express it out loud—to shout with joy! Boy! After years of inquiry, personal examination, taking queer/transgender studies classes, reading books, articles, viewing film/media, going to lectures, and having conversations about queer/trans themes and experiences, I now had the experience. All of my studies and inquiry were the foundation to prepare me for this unfolding clarity—that I am a transgender guy.

I was simply, me, Rachel at the time. A unique individual with a feminine voice and laughter. I had felt androgynous for years—in between the “gender binary” of boy and girl. I was neither. I was a gender-fluid being. With this new clarity, I was continuing on my personal path of truth and authenticity. I was beginning to externalize the way that I felt internally. I now had a name for the way that I had felt for so many years: transgender.

The spaces my soul has travelled, traversed, and experienced thus far on my path as a transgender man are colorful, infinite, and spiral-like. Wow! I have come so far from where I have been, having experienced both soul and physical shifts. I have physically transitioned to become a man socially and holistically while living in San Francisco during graduate school.

I am in the transformation soup. How many fires must I go through? How many initiations to become the man that I truly am? Expressing myself holistically—this is my truest, most authentic form that I inhabit. This body that transcends gender, rises above it. Yet, I claim the identities of transgender, FTM (female to male), transsexual, and man. I am a man. I was a beautiful boy and I have become a beautiful man. An integrated man who honors his divine femininity and masculinity. A man who has lived this journey and continues to live it every day.

To continue to walk one’s path with personal truth, conviction, clarity, and empowerment. I choose to continue to be and express myself in a way that is most resonant and authentic. Today I am an empowered man, comfortable in my skin. I am grateful to be here now. Grateful that I know that my essence is a timeless being of love and light. Temporally, in my human form, I am Ewan, a transgender man; and so much more.




Ewan Duarte is an artist, writer, and award-winning filmmaker. He was born and raised in Fresno, California and received BAs in American studies and film/Digital media from UC Santa Cruz. Ewan studied and practiced Waldorf education at the Micha-el Institute in Portland, Oregon and recently graduated from San Francisco State University with an MFA in cinema. Ewan’s most recent films, Spiral Transition (2010) and Change Over Time (2013) have screened nationally and worldwide at film festivals, conferences, and art events. To receive updates about film festival screenings, join his newsletter, or to inquire about exhibiting his work, email Ewan at ewanduarte@gmail.com.

VISION
Culture Pulse is a pursuit in understanding the attitudes, questions and manifestations of human creativity in co-cultivating a community that nourishes lives of meaning.

EDITOR’S THOUGHTS
In the last Culture Pulse section, we explored our relationship to spaces, particularly the spaces around us, and how they are mirrored in our experiences of them. What if we begin to recognize that we physically inhabit not only spaces such as rooms, gardens, and so forth, but that our bodies and even aspects of our soul experiences are also spaces? In this issue, we invite Ewan Duarte, a California filmmaker, to reflect on his relationship to his body as he transitioned from a female to male body, and documented the process of what it means to relate to the one space we can never separate ourselves from, and yet which we largely identify with as aspects of ourselves—our bodies.




Saturday, May 3, 2014

Culture shock in Clovis

I've been back in my hometown of Clovis/Fresno for less than a month. I've been unpacking, acclimating, and catching up on rest. I've been exhausted from moving out of my apartment in Albuquerque as well as the 1,000 mile drive that I did in 2 days! The landscape was spectacular as I drove from the Southwest back to California. I have a deeper appreciation for the beautiful fertile farmland in the Central Valley in California, where I grew up. It's incredible to drive through Eastern California through the Mojave Desert and then to gradually transition into driving into beautiful farmland in the Central Valley. Most of the produce that I bought in Albuquerque was shipped from California and 2x or 3x the price of organic produce in California. I'm grateful for beautiful and rich farmland. The San Joaquin Valley is known as the Breadbasket of the World. California is truly the Golden State in many ways. It's a shift for me to see such cultivated land rather than the wilds of the New Mexican landscape. Albuquerque was so quiet. It's the only city where I've lived that is completely surrounded by uncultivated land. I do appreciate and have a core need for peace and quiet. Yet, while living in ABQ, I realized that I need a balance of excitement as well as peace and quiet. Living in a City surrounded by wild, desert land made ABQ seem like it was in the middle of nowhere. Well, it's in the middle of the desert. Yet, as a young, creative person I need more of that balance that I mentioned.

For me, the desert is a place for me to go for a stint of time. To work on a creative art project or movie, a place to focus on healing, a place for visioning, cleansing, purging, and getting perspective on one's life. As well as being open to the clarity that comes from being in the desert, in the Southwest. There is no place like the Southwest that I've traveled to on this planet. I have an immense amount of deep respect, appreciation, and reverence for the desert, and the Spirits of the Land. I'm grateful for my perspective, lessons, and recent chapter there.

A bunch of my friends in the Bay Area said to me when I visited in March and then again in April for Passover that it felt like they had seen me yesterday. For me, it felt like so much time had passed. From the month that I spent in Portland during September 2013 to the 6 months I had lived in the desert. So much had happened in the chapter that I lived. To my friends who were still in the Bay Area, our conversations and connections picked up from where they had left off. It was as if I had time traveled for a stint of time and returned the next day. I have changed profoundly. While my friends see me as the same person that they had seen just a day before. Time is a construct. Time is.

Edward Abbey said something to the degree that it's so important that some land is left wild and untamed. It's so healthy for the human soul to gaze out on such vast landscapes and see wild land, wild nature. Just as it is. Without any human intervention, cultivation, infrastructure, urban planning, branding, etc.

In Clovis, I've been helping my parents with purging things in the garage. We had a yard sale. I've sold stuff on Craigslist, etc.
I'm glad to be back in California. Yet, I am in the process of discerning my next steps. I've been looking for resonant temp. work in the Clovis/Fresno area, rather than long-term work since I will be going on a wonderful professional film opportunity at the end of May. It's the Pride Of The Ocean Film Festival opportunity. I'll be going to NYC and then on a film festival cruise to Bermuda! My film, Change Over Time will screen. I am very much looking forward to the opportunity!

I've been experiencing culture shock in my own hometown of Clovis. Although, I haven't lived here for years, there is more to it than that. To quote, Jem Bluestein, "I'm an anomaly." This is in reference to me being from the Clovis/Fresno area. Yes, I was born and raised here physically, yet I resonate more with the culture, art, progressive politics, consciousness, and intellectualism of being from a more urban area. Such as the Bay Area. I get my cultural, culinary, literary, and art aesthetics and sensibilities from my Mom who was raised in Berkeley during her teen years in the 1960's and also lived with her family in France and Israel in her late teens and early twenties. My Mom's experiences living and traveling in Europe had an immense impact on her artistic, fashion, and culinary sensibilities, consciousness, and aesthetics. So, yes. I am an anomaly in the Central Valley. I never fit in here and I'm glad that I don't. I'm grounded in who I am and I'm grateful to be me. There are qualities and cultural aspects in Clovis that I forget, that aren't on the forefront of my everyday experiences anymore. Perhaps, they are buried. Until this most recent visit/stint of living here.

For example, seeing some hairstyles that I haven't seen in years since living here. There was a braid on the entire backside of a woman's head. I haven't seen that hairstyle since I was in high school. Hearing a man behind me with a cowboy hat tell a cashier at the grocery store that he's in town since his daughter is in the rodeo this weekend. A woman behind me at the grocery store asking me what the cucumber and tehini I'm buying is for? What will I make with it? I told her that I was going to make hummus. She then proceeded to ask me, "when did I learn how to eat healthy?" A conversation like that would probably not happen in line at the Berkeley bowl.

I volunteered last week to photograph pictures of Raw Fresno at the Old Town Clovis Farmer's Market. Unbeknownst to me it was during the 100th Anniversary of the Clovis Rodeo Parade. I watched as the Clovis High School Marching band paraded along the street. As well as the Clark marching band and others. Then a truck full of smiling, high school cheerleaders, cheering. Also, a lot of American flags, horses, and vestiges of the pioneer history and remnants, such as a sign that said, "California or bust" on a wagon or old-fashioned car. As well as horses with people decked out in Western wear and Mexican-Americans, sporting the Mexican flag to show, to me a reminder that California belonged to Mexico until 1848, The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. People alongside the streets wore Western wear and cowboy hats. The Clovis Rodeo was completely sold out and people wanted more tickets. Snippets of conversations here and there. I gazed at the parade with earplugs in since there were many blank gun shots from rifles that kept being shot into the air. Also, a strong military presence was in the parade. This reminded me of all of the Clovis High school rallies in the Gym, Football games, and overall Clovis culture that I never resonated with and always felt like an outsider from. An "Other" in my own hometown. I watched the drum line as they marched by and I thought of all of the fierce and sexist competition from the boys as well as the teachers that I put up with just to be on the drum line. I was in the marching band when I was in Middle school at Clark and for a year at Clovis High. The farmer's market across the street that sold organic produce where I was, wasn't in existence when I was in high school. Yes, things are changing, yet that dominant Clovis culture, that is "The Clovis Way Of Life" still does exist here. Thus, my feelings/experiences of culture shock.

Thanks for reading! More to come!

Feel free to comment or like if you are inspired, since my blog audience is a silent audience.

Light and wellness,

Ewan

Friday, April 18, 2014

A deep well of gratitude

I have returned to my home state. I've been intending to blog about my clarity and shift to move back to California since I had clarity. I wanted to write a blog post to the friends that I made in the Southwest and my new community there. Most of all, I want to express my appreciation and gratitude to all of the folks that I met for their warmth, kindness, openness, generosity, and conversations. Also, to all of the new friends that I met whose couches I stayed on the first couple of weeks I was in the Southwest. I've never done that before. Staying on couches of people who aren't friends, family members, or friends of friends. Yet, it felt right to stay with folks who I had contacted who are in the queer/trans community in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. I trust my core, my intuition. It was an adventure. I felt called to go forth to the Southwest. To experience what I was meant to experience there. Yet, it was all unknown until I lived it. Of course. The layers of unknowns upon unknowns.

I also felt that for me as a trans man, I was more comfortable and confident driving into a different part of the country being a visible man. I would've felt uncomfortable and would have probably experienced more discrimination if I was a visibly genderqueer, pre-T, and overall a visible queer. Even though I am a visible man, I don't feel comfortable driving solo through Texas though. As well as some Southern states. Perhaps, with a friend. Yet, I felt so many emotions when I first drove into the unknown, the desert, the Southwest! What would await me? Dust and a film shoot were what was known. My car was packed with my clothes, one comforter, a sleeping bag, and several boxes. The sky grew bigger and bigger and the landscape sparser as I headed deeper in the Southwest. I was in awe when I first arrived, of the sunrises and sunsets. The wildness of the landscape. The rocks! The big sky country. Yes, the sky is bigger in the Southwest. There is just the crust of Earth, the sky, and the heavens above. I feel it's the closest that one can be on the Earth yet also be close to the Heavens in a sense. A truly majestic place of wonder, beauty, and magical realism. I can envision opening a door and it leading just about anywhere!

It's interesting that as I am writing, I intended to write about my conclusion in the Southwest and I'm instead writing about the beginning of my adventures there. Full circle.

I returned to California during my birthday week in late March 2014 with so many more stories from my experiences in the Southwest. I kept looking out the window on the plane and was so full of gratitude for my first trip back to California since I had moved to the Southwest during October 2013. It had been almost 6 months and I hadn't returned to visit my parents or established friends in California. That's just how my life unfolded when I was living in Albuquerque. Even the plane arrived 30 minutes early to San Francisco due to favorable winds. I felt carried back to the Bay Area in a sense. The Bay Area to me feels like home. I felt so grateful and joyful to be back in the Bay for my birthday week. I could've kissed the Bay Area ground as I got off of the plane.

What I instantly noticed when I set foot in the SFO airport is the pace of life in the City. If the pace of life in Albuquerque is a treadmill that you are on, you are leisurely walking on the treadmill at a slow pace. Instantly, in the Bay Area, the pace had been upped 4-5 notches and it was a brisk speed walk. Arrive in NYC and the treadmill would be turned up another 4-5 notches to a running pace.

In the Bay Area I smelled the Jasmine in the air mixed with the smell of the Ocean. I could feel the water close by. I observed all of the different people on the Bart. Outside, I looked at the California poppies with love and gratitude. Such beautiful orange flowers. All of the white California license plates looked so dull to me in comparison to the vibrant turquoise blue or yellow New Mexican license plates. The pulse of the Bay Area was palpable. It is an area that is known to me. Yet, I explored on foot parts that were unknown to me near my friends' Aimee and Silvia's house off of Jones St. in Berkeley. I walked from the North Berkeley bart to their home several times. Exploring, being, and enjoying walking.

It was a blessing to visit the Bay. To see good friends. To visit my parents in Clovis/Fresno. For quite a while, I've been living with the questions of whether it was in my highest interest to continue to stick it out in Albuquerque and see if things would work out or move back to California.
Well, I finally got the clarity that I had been looking for, or more appropriately waiting for, for a while. My clarity crystallized in the Bay Area and during my visit to Clovis/Fresno in a sense. Serendipity, synchronicity, and powerful clarity.

2014 is the year for me to get Top Surgery and I'm going to get it through insurance through Covered California via Kaiser. I'm back in California, living in my hometown of Clovis/Fresno for a stint. Currently, I'm acclimating to being back in California and being in my hometown. I'm fine and super grateful to be in my hometown. I have a deeper appreciation and a well of gratitude that has been carved deep down into my soul. I was grateful before I left the Bay Area for my recent adventures, yet the Southwest carved me out, cleansed, purged, and released a lot. It's intangible, yet clear to me. Parts of me have been carved into canyons while living and being in the Southwest.
I will be in my hometown until I have the clarity and also the resources and opportunities to relocate to Los Angeles or to move back to the SF Bay Area for professional film/media opportunities.

As a professional filmmaker and photographer, there are more professional opportunities for me in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. I do not feel called to live in New York City. I'm from California and California is my home. That's some powerful clarity that could only have happened through recently living in a different culture and region of the U.S. I've travelled a lot. I've lived in Portland, Oregon for close to 3 years. I lived in Siena, Italy for 7 months when I was 20-21 and studied abroad in college. I lived in the Southwest for 6 months. In California, I've lived in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Berkeley, as well as my hometown of Clovis/Fresno. I'm grateful for all of my cross cultural experiences and for having the opportunity and experiences to live in different parts of this Country and world. It's definitely shaped me. I want to be in California and as a professional filmmaker, this is where I need to be right now.

Also, I've realized that life is hard everywhere! I thought that life would be easier in the Southwest in a sense since there isn't the urban stress of living in a big city. There is survival stress. The economic situation in the Southwest is incredibly challenging. A lot of people are out of work and it felt and was incredibly difficult to get any kind of job there. How things operate and flow is very different from how things work and flow in California, from my experience. The Southwest is a different world. It feels like a different country to me. I told my friend Rasa in Albuquerque, that it felt like a different world and she just laughed. Not at me. Just at hearing that perspective. Albuquerque is her hometown. She went to college in Colorado and Naturopathic school in Arizona. She has primarily lived in the Southwest the majority of her life.

I'm glad that I went and I'm glad to be back in California. I have no regrets. I have a lot more stories, experiences, and profound gratitude. My well of gratitude is deep. Deeper than it was when I left. Despite the incredible challenges, I'm glad that I went and I'm glad to be back. The journey continues.

Thanks for reading.

In light,

Ewan

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I have earned the Springtime

I feel the impending Springtime.
It is a gift that I feel that I have earned.
Wind, cold, snow, and being new in a different land, city, community, and chapter of time.
I have endured the Winter.
The Spring holds its gifts like a promise in every bud that is about to burst open.
So too, I will feel this re-birth.
What will I be birthed into?
What does this season have in store for me?
With so much uncertainty and unknown. Each step I continue to walk. With confidence? Trepidation? Continuing on my path, yet I don't even know what the next few steps in front of me will be. Since, I have major decisions to make. Yet, I am grateful for my meditative practice. My connection to my Self. My connection to Spirit. That will guide me like a shining light, like a bursting bud, into the Springtime and beyond.
When the few steps before me, I usually see with clarity. Even in this desert, the Southwest, I do not know.

The rocks know how to wait with patience.

The rocks are patient.

My soul is the river that washes over them.

I could sit with the rocks all day, near the riverbank and still not have the answers that I seek.
With patience and in time the answers will come. The clarity will burst forth like a blossom in the Springtime.

Not before, when it is still Winter.

I thought that this chapter would be easier. That I would have more time to be, in a sense. To live. To create. To enjoy life.
Yet, it is harder. Harder than graduate school. When I worked 80 hour weeks and put everything into my film.

Hunger.

The desert has stripped me of everything that I came here with.

My bank account.

My confidence.

My faith.

Thus, the spiraling descent.

I heeded the call. The call of my heart. My clarity. My personal guidance. I made the decision.

and.

I.

Am.

Glad.

That.

I.

Did.

Despite the pain and suffering.

Eating beans, peanut butter, and pasta.

Now.

I do have enough and I am enough.

I've always been enough and I always will be enough.

I am light. I am love. I chose to be here on Earth.

Faith is believing in myself and my path.

Faith is continuing to walk, one foot in front of the other, on my path.

Faith is to persevere.

Faith is to believe in myself even when only I and the Universe believe in myself.

Faith is not giving up.

Faith is to continue to apply for jobs.

Faith is to find a way to be like the rocks.

To be strong. To be. To listen to the water flowing. To be patient.

Faith is being a self-reliant man.

Faith is continuing to co-create my life, although there isn't any external validation or a clear road yet. Since I am the one making the road as I continue to live.

Faith is trusting in myself and the Universe.

Having faith in myself is having faith in humanity.

For one advancement helps everyone as we collectively evolve.

The buds of Spring whisper to me to trust. To be. To grow. To burst forth at the right moment.

And I will.

I am.

Here.

Now.

By the riverbank watching the rocks.

Watching patience.

--Ewan Duarte





Saturday, February 1, 2014

The High Desert

This afternoon while taking a walk in Albuquerque near the UNM campus as my clothes were at the laundromat in the midst of a wash cycle, I encountered a man, sipping his coffee outside at a patio cafe accompanied by a falcon. At first I thought that the falcon was a hawk. The man who cared for the falcon corrected me and said it was a falcon. It was a beautiful bird. The falcon was eating its lunch and had a bloody beak. The glove that the man wore that the falcon was standing upon was a bit bloody as well. We all need to eat and this bird is a carnivore. I told the man, (whose name I didn't ask for as I didn't introduce myself either), that I had never seen a person drinking coffee at a cafe with a falcon on his arm.
In California, in several different areas, I've seen parrots on people's shoulders or arms. Yet, never a bird of prey that a person cared for out in public.

Clouds blanketed the high desert sky today. It was a bit grey. Tomorrow is Imbolc; a Celtic holy-day and the first indication of Spring. It corresponds to the lactation of ewes. The only indication that I noticed today on my walk in the desert were some green sprouts that looked like they would become Marigolds, or another flower. I doubt crocuses grow in the high desert. Yet, I haven't lived here in the Spring.

The desert is beautiful and harsh.

Tough

Love.

The man said that the falcon almost died recently. He found his falcon on the ground, barely moving. Apparently, a coyote tried to eat the jack rabbit that the falcon preyed upon. The falcon fought the coyote with its talons and the coyote tore at the falcon's beak. The falcon's beak was healing and the man pointed out visible cracks on the falcon's beak. Life is harsh.

Life

is

precious.

My dear friends, Lanz, Christen, and Cole Harris (who is an adorable toddler) drove in their camper van, Stella Blue from Portland and landed in Albuquerque several evenings ago. They were here for less than a day. They are relocating from Portland to their hometown of Charlottesville in Virginia.
I asked Christen how the drive was into the desert. He said that it was harrowing. The winds were so strong, like nothing he had experienced. Christen had to concentrate and drive cautiously in the high power desert winds in a less than aerodynamic camper van. Just add wings to the van and it would possibly fly across the desert. The wind here is something else. The wind in the Bay Area can be strong at times yet it's not like the desert wind.

Here are some more Southwest observations. Or Albuquerque observations that I've experienced.

*All of the people who I've met who are from Albuquerque want to leave Albuquerque and the Southwest. In particular, those individuals who have only lived in Albuquerque and haven't experienced life in a different city or town.

*To get a job, any job in Albuquerque, it is all about who you know.

*Craigslist doesn't work in Albuquerque or anywhere in the Southwest. I haven't had any fruitful experiences with it. Most job offers on CL are scams.

*The colors of the lights on Albuquerque police cars are different hued colors than the ones in California or on most of the West Coast.

*Albuquerque is the quietest place where I have lived for a city. There is stillness. The sounds of silence.

*There are many dogs in people's front and back yards that are behind chain-linked fences. Most dogs in front yards bark when I pass by when taking a walk.

*If I email someone here I usually hear back in a week or more. People are in no hurry to respond to emails. Or to hurry in any area of their lives it seems like.

*The pace of life is slow.

*The theme of survival is real. The desert is a harsh environment to live.

*Albuquerque is a city with a small town feel. It's the most populated city in the state of New Mexico. There are over half a million people who live here. Yet, it's surprising to me that for a City of its size and population that it feels like a small town.

Here is a picture of the Falcon that I met today and the man who takes care of the Falcon.



Thanks for reading.

Ewan









Wednesday, January 15, 2014

From ice to extreme heat--this change is alchemical.

Wow! It's a new year, a new month, and a full moon in Cancer today! A lot is shifting and changing. Here is a quote that my friend/mentor, Allison Bradley shared with me, "All calculations based on our experience elsewhere fail in New Mexico."

--Lew Wallace
first territorial governor of New Mexico and author of Ben Hur

Currently, this quote is very resonant to me. I've been looking for another job for several weeks. Craigslist has not been fruitful. Most of the job posts that I do hear from are spam or illegitimate offers to receive packages from a fake company or individual until the employer arrives to Albuquerque from a different country.

It seems like places that I've gone to in person are hiring at the end of February or in the Springtime.

I did have an interview to be a pizza delivery driver. The guy who interviewed me thought that I was 18 years old and said that there were over 20 applicants to interview. He also said that I wouldn't hear from him for 2-3 weeks.

Yesterday, the hardware store that was hiring said to call back in two weeks to inquire again.

Another Craiglist job that I saw was for someone who could do temporary Data Entry for a busy medical office. I brought my resume and references to the address on Lomas blvd. and it turns out that the busy medical office is a cannabis dispensary. They said they would call me the next day. I followed up, yet the job had been filled.

All of the urban tools and skills that I have are not working in the Southwest. Or aren't useful tools/skills in a sense.

It's as if I'm being pushed into a direction to envision creative solutions. This is my new mantra, "May I be open to solutions that I haven't imagined yet."

Clear direct intentions, lighting candles, being proactive, asking friends and folks in my community for input on places to apply and suggestions as well as following up with jobs hasn't landed me a new job yet.

What is one to do? To be patient? To keep being proactive? To continue to have hope?

Or am I simply standing in the middle of the high desert stripped of everything that I came here with. Naked in the wind and to the forces of the elements and powerful Spirits of the land?

I originally began this blog so that I could write about having hope or sustaining hope during these transitional times on Earth. I often wrote about my garden in Berkeley as a source of rejuvenation, healing, wisdom, hope, and light.

How does one sustain hope in the desert? How does one truly believe that their intentions, proactivity, and doing one's best is going to assist them in surviving?

Yes, the high desert does not have the urban stress of the Bay Area such as the fierce competition, traffic, long commutes, density of population, noise pollution, high cost of living, pollution, and other urban stressors.

Yet, in the desert just like anywhere else there is the stress of, "how will one survive?"

Accelerated initiations happen in the desert if one is attuned and open to them on one's spiritual path/journey.

Clarity arises in the desert.

The desert is beautiful and harsh. From snow on cacti to the scorching rays of the summer sun. That is alchemy, that is transformation, and transmutation. From ice to extreme heat.

I recently had my three month anniversary in the High Desert on Monday, Jan. 13th. I arrived to Santa Fe, New Mexico on October 13th in the last afternoon. The next day, I began work on the film shoot, Lightning In The Hand.

Here is a list of my accomplishments thus far during the past three months of living in Albuquerque, in the High Desert.

*I've worked on three film shoots.

*I created my own website through WordPress.

*I launched my own professional freelance still Photography and Video Production business. www.ewanduarteproductions.com

*I've made new friends.

*I'm a part of a new community in Albuquerque.

*My film, Change Over Time continues to screen on the film festival circuit. Change Over Time is currently an official selection in 37 film festivals worldwide including 13 countries; The U.S. Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Israel, Thailand, Spain, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Slovenia, Hungary, and Brazil!

*I found an affordable and resonant home to live in solo.

*My business is officially licensed through the City of Albuquerque.

*I have my first clients this month for photo sessions.

*I hosted a lovely New Year's Eve collage gathering with 10 friends.

*I maintain two blogs. This one and a blog for Original Plumbing Magazine online.

*I created a newsletter via MailChip of my creative/artistic/educational accomplishments during 2013 and announced the launch of my business.

*I am taking care of myself and doing the best that I can.

Amidst extreme challenge and hardship, I still am hopeful. I will continue to do my best and to be aware of the lessons that I am meant to receive in the desert.

I also have an interview tomorrow afternoon at a temp agency.

Thanks for reading,

Ewan




Thursday, December 26, 2013

A love letter to the Bay Area

With every loss there is a gain. With every gain there is a loss. Perhaps it is simply the Holiday season, yet I've been really missing the Bay Area and my friends/community there. Thus, I wanted to write a love letter blog post to the Bay Area.

When I was a child my family and I would visit Berkeley a few times a year if not more. My Uncle Joel lived there as did good friends of the family that were like family. The Grossmans; Laura, Knut, Anya, and Jessica. We would visit with them in Berkeley. We sat outside of the French Hotel, Saul's, and other cafes on Shattuck Ave. I remember all of the cafe aromas and delicious pastries. My Mom, Uncle Joel, and Aunt Heidi grew up in Berkeley, CA. My maternal Grandparents moved their family from Miami, Florida to Berkeley, CA in the 60's when my Mom was 13. They lived in Berkeley for 6 or 7 years before they relocated to Paris, France. My Grandparents chose to move to the Bay Area for their political activism and for the overall progressive hub that was the Bay Area in the 1960's. Shirley and Bernie Hutner were civil rights activists, peace activists, and anti-nuke activists. Thalia Broudy, one of their close friends who was and still is an activist is in her 80's and currently lives in Berkeley, CA. She is the Mother of Laura Grossman and Karen Stern. Bay Area family friends that are like family.

Contemplating my family history, the 60's were an exciting time for my Grandparents, Mom, Aunt, and Uncle to be in the Bay Area! The past two years, when I often walked to downtown Berkeley from my home on McGee Ave. I sometimes thought of my Grandparents and Mother walking on these same sidewalks. Here we all were in the same area, yet at a different time. I thought about what it would be like to travel back in time to the 1960's. What would I tell my Mom if I saw her in Berkeley? Would I stop her to say something? Like, I'm your cousin you haven't met. That's why we have a strong resemblance. I wondered if there was anything that I could say or do that would impact my Mom's life in a more positive way. I don't think there is anything that I could've said or done that would be helpful for my Mom to hear or that could improve her life in anyway. Thus, if I could travel back in time I would simply look at her and smile. Her life and how she lived unfolded from her actions, decisions, and free will. A word from a time traveler cannot take or add lessons that one acquires and gleans from lived experience. The only way is through. To continue onward on one's life journey.

I always felt a strong affinity and connection to the Bay Area. I loved visiting when I was a child and teenager. I often wondered why we didn't live there. I loved the food, the culture, artistic opportunities, the gardens, and our family and friends there. Berkeley in particular felt like home to me.

The Bay Area was like a beacon of light to me. It was the city of my dreams. The place where I always wanted to live since I was a child. It was a dream come true when I had a purpose and it was my time to move there. It was 27 years until it was my time to live in the Bay Area. I was immensely excited for my chance to move to the Bay. My Mom said that it was a battle to get to the Bay Area and a battle to stay. I have found truth in that. For all of my excitement and enthusiasm, the reality of living in San Francisco was tough to say the least. It was the most urban and biggest City where I have ever lived. I went to college at UC Santa Cruz. I grew up in Clovis/Fresno. I lived in Portland, Oregon for almost 3 years before I moved to the Bay Area when I was 27 for graduate school at San Francisco State University.

Challenge after challenge after challenge came my way. I saw the worst in people in San Francisco. It was like witnessing the shadow side of humanity in a way that I had never seen before. The city was harsh and the people were harsher. Housing challenges, housemate imcompatibilities, and the hectic hustle bustle of every day life. Never really feeling settled and then having to look for new housing again and then again. Only to find a new place to live and have clarity a month later that my housemate was toxic and needing to move yet again.

I learned that housing isn't a right in San Francisco it is a privilege. I was almost in tears during the end of my first year of graduate school at SF State when I told the trans guys in a trans group that I went to that my housemate at the time was toxic and I needed to find a new place to live. I felt displaced and felt like I was on a continual search for resonant housing. One of the guys in my trans group mentioned that all of the Native Ohlone people have been displaced from this land. He expressed something to the effect that there was and is continual displacement from every group of people that have settled here since. As much as I loved the City; it's culture, art, beauty, radical politics, food, parks, urban planning, architecture, vibrant queer/trans community, it was an uphill battle getting through my first year living in San Francisco.

I'm not sure when during the past four years that I lived in the Bay Area that I finally developed a thick skin. I became hardened in a sense. I feel that I developed this as a queer/trans man and also being in the highly competitive field of film/media. I am tough and I can withstand living in the harsh environment of the city. Hardened so that I could withstand the critiques and feedback from professors and colleagues in my MFA Cinema graduate program. I have hardened so that I could survive and thrive in the dense and competitive environment that is the City. Also, my experiences of homophobia, transphobia, and queerphobia while living in the City have had an impact on me. Going through the ringer, again and again of feedback, critiques, and graduate school challenges as an artist was an initiation, indeed. To say the least.

I find that one must be tough and hardened in a sense to be a creative professional. Life is more challenging for me as a queer/trans man. I knew it was difficult at times, yet I've had long conversations with dear friends who are cisgender and straight in the last 6 months. Their lives are easier in a sense. Their lives are validated. For me as a trans man who is an artist, I aim to be kind yet I'm hardened. Hardened to be empowered and express that I do deserve to be here. Even if I'm the only one validating myself and my existence. I, as a beautiful queer/trans man who is an artist/filmmaker, can live my life and carve out a unique path that is my own to walk upon. Away from the mainstream. Just because I'm not on this mainstream path doesn't mean that I'm invaluable or do not deserve to be here. I exist and I'm making my time and energies here count. Even if I'm the only one validating myself. Thus, I have become hardened.

Once, before I found a parking spot, I saw a man carrying a bottle of wine in one hand and I watched as it slipped through his fingers and smashed in the middle of an intersection as he was walking halfway across the street. He just walked away, not bothering to pick up the pieces out of shame and embarrassment. While people nearby quickly picked up several large pieces of glass so that cars wouldn't run over them. I watched car accidents happen right before my eyes. I saw a man with blood and alcohol on himself passed out on the street in the Mission. I was yelled at by an upper class white woman in a grocery store parking lot for driving the wrong direction into the parking lot. I apologized, yet she rolled down her window and swore at me.
I came up with a phrase that I would often say when I worked at an upscale grocery store in Noe Valley. "People in the City." It's a good line that can be used for a lot of instances and experiences depending on one's tone.

I aimed to write about the light aspects and what I loved about the City, yet this blog has turned into more of an examination of my initiatory challenges and experiences in the City. In particularly during my first year living in San Francisco, expressing dark aspects, the shadow side of humanity. Through it all, I was meant to be there. I didn't know how for how long. Yet, I did my best to enjoy the moments of joy. Or simply all of the moments. I was as present as I could have been. For that I am proud. For all of my lessons, I am a richer man. For all of my experiences I can definitely say or exclaim, I have truly lived! Oh, the City. The Bay Area! My time there, all of my experiences, and the land itself. It's a part of me.

I do miss dancing amidst a sea of queer/trans folks at dance parties! I miss the energy, the excitement! Even if it is exhausting to live in since it's non-stop. The beautiful fog, the beautiful bay, the beautiful bridges! The chocolate crossiants from Tartine that I only indulged in on special occasions. Yummy pizza from the Cheese Board or Arizmendi. The feeling that anything is possible and that anything can happen in the City. The fashion, the art, the film, how many concerts or shows are always happening. There are queer/trans things to do everyday. The gayborhood. East Bay queers, faggy trans guys, feminine trans boys, radical politics, the Berkeley rose garden. The farmer's markets, bike rides, the OCEAN. The SEA. The BAY AREA. The Berkeley marina. Highway one. Tide pools. Living in a queer centric area. These are some qualities and experiences that I miss and that aren't in Albuquerque.

Dear, Bay Area. I will visit you at a resonant time! I'm not sure when. I blow you a kiss all the way from the High Desert of New Mexico! I am meant to be here now in Albuquerque. I look forward to embracing you when I visit next. You are in my heart and soul. We will meet in the present. I love you and I always will. You are the City of my dreams. A soul mate City in a sense. Although our relationship has come to an end, I think of you everyday. The relationship ends, yet my love for you still goes on. All of the things that I miss that I wrote above, I will experience when I visit you next. At some unknown time. Good night my love. Good night, Bay Area. I love you,

Ewan