angelino / visual artist / woman
Six hours before my flight back to JFK, I stood in a room similar to LAX. It was expansive, well-lit, but I felt uncomfortable. Karen was sitting across from me. She had a cat, and I could feel my eyes puffing while she began explaining what brought her back to Los Angeles and her affinity for the rainbow. 
"I just feel like education should be free. The largest combined accumulated debt in the U.S. is student loan debt, I thought it was credit card debt, no." 
On growing up
"The Bay Area was the opposite of growing up in the valley. It was super colorful, really vibrant & very diverse. It was weird and strange. People were all shapes and sizes and creeds. I loved it. It kind of just busted my whole world wide open. 

You know, I truly grew up there. I was 18 years old and I found you know my chosen family and friends. I found things that I was passionate about. I found my creativity. And I found my loves. I mean it really just gave me my whole adult identity."

On the American Dream 
"In my parent's generation, the idea of the American Dream was much more of a possible reality. When they were growing up, education was much less expensive than it is now. You could go to school and much more reliably get a good job. I mean it was A plus B equals C. That was the path they took, and that was the path I was supposed to take.

The world has changed drastically since our parent's generation. We're constantly paying more for less. And constantly being made to compete with each other more."
On college
"I was someone who was raised with like everything that I ever needed I didn't want for anything. I had a roof, I had enough to eat. I went to good schools. Just the idea that I wouldn't finish college was kind of an affront I guess, to all of these privileges that I was raised with. Like how dare I not take up and move forward in the path of privilege that I was led on? 

And I think that there was a lot of fear that me dropping out of school meant that I was willing to accept a life for myself in which I wasn't really actualizing my potential for doing all that I could. 

But I really wasn't prepared to be successful. I was really stunted at that time and didn't have that type of discipline or resilience to just do what I had to do. I was, easily bored and anxious and distracted. I just wasn't prepared to be successful. I disappointed a lot of people in my family when I decided not to finish college but I just wasn't ready then."
On hoarding and home 
"Home is my things. I am a "stuff" person. I've actually really tried to change my relationship with stuff because I used to be a very messy person. You can see the tchotchkes and knick-knacks I have, really that's home.

I used to just collect stuff from a place of anxiety. I remember, I would shop at Goodwill shop or Salvation Army. I would browse in a zombie-like trance. Much like maybe an alcoholic would go drink. 

I would just bring home all this just crap. Like who needs like three needle points?! I just kept collecting it and I started to become really suffocated by my things. It was really messy really just disorganized. And that was something that was a very serious point of anxiety in my life because I was drowning in stuff. 

About a year ago, I read this book the 'Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up' by Marie Kondo. I mean, I didn't hold every single item in my apartment and thank it for its service and ask myself if it brought me joy. But, I got rid of so much stuff and it really set me free. Now I come home to a place that I feel proud of. I know where my things are. I have mental peace.
On being human
We're were raised in such an alienated individualistic way. And we're not really socialized to work cooperatively or to identify with one another's struggles or to see each other as allies. 

And that was something that I got to develop when I was a lot younger. I guess when I was 18,  I immersed myself in a community that embraced that we are all part of a connected history. The reason that we are here in this place is based and built on many people's struggles before us. And that the way forward is through cooperative work in a basic way. And that was great. That was amazing. 

I felt like that there was a meaning and a purpose that I didn't feel like I had before. And that it was important to show solidarity for other people and to push myself to stand up for what was important. 

I remember like getting arrested for the first time at a protest and feeling that was really worthwhile. And it was really liberating to feel like I was doing something that was larger than my own life. 

On LA transit
"I remember when the Metro opened when I was a kid. My grandparents and I went and it seemed like it went in a circle to nowhere. It was more like a ride than it was actually a useful means of public transit. I remember coming back here last June, after 10 years and it just blew my mind just to see how it developed. I mean it goes everywhere now. It has a ways to go but the city has been forced to adapt and really try to change from a place that is very public transit unfriendly to a public transit friendly place. I mean it’s just great because I live right around the corner from the purple line and luckily I get to take the train every day to work. "
From San Fernando Valley, CA
Lives in Los Angeles, CA

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