Tomorrow is Fidel Castro's 80th birthday. He was 20 when I was born. When I stood on the balcony at the Calle 15 apartment in El Vedado, reading the clouds for signs of my future, imagining that some day I would be a significant world leader, he was already on his way to becoming one.

I have discovered a permanent state of disappointment that goes like this: if I can't be immortal, in a constant state of orgasmic pleasure, be a liberator, an artist, live in a rational world where wealth is equally shared and everybody has a fulfilled life, than keep your blocks god, I'm not playing, I don't like your rules.

Always I have longed for liberation, and that is the thread that runs through my work life, paid work and life's work. Right now I want to make changes because my current work has veered too far on the side of oppression, I am required more and more to perpetrate oppressive acts and to watch others unawarely colluding with oppression to degrees I can't tolerate. I work in a rogue burocracy that's like a plantation lost in time where deranged slaves are running the show, like Marlon in Apocalypse now, they hurt workers and participants because they can, and can't even tell they are doing so and I am painted into a tighter and tighter corner.

How has it come to this? Well, I have a problem not being able to talk straight so I don't contribute sufficiently to interrupting internalized and explicit oppression. I mostly have functioned best in alternative institutions dedicated to revolutionary (or reformist goals); institutions that have lasted as long as the historic moment and the unrelenting process of internalization of oppression allowed. In the two major instances internalization proceeded apace with escalation of external oppression so that by the time the moment could no longer sustain the institution the internal forces exploded or imploded it.

So my two main adult jobs prior to my more rencent burocratic phase were: being a functionary of the Puerto Rican Socialist Party, and being a literacy worker.

Both of these paid work jobs were founded on my life's work: a writer, an artist. I have known since I was five and wrote poems as my father wrote sermons, that writing is my life's work, writing arises from my joyful discovery as a young person that the human mind offers liberation and that one way to be with the mind, explore, to write.

I worked as translator, reporter and later managing editor of CLARIDAD bilingue, the US edition of the Puerto Rican Socialist Party's newspaper Claridad. I loved using writing for direct revolutionary work.

Writing and action were directly connected, so I also did a lot of organizing. I was the founding leader of the Committee to End Sterilization Abuse CESA which organized against mass forced sterilization of Puerto Rican women on the island and in the US (At that time, in the 70s, 33% of Puerto Rican women had been sterilized). I worked on the rally in Solidarity with Puerto Rican Independence that brought 20,000 people to Madison Square Garden in October of 1974. I was part of the leadership of the Counter Bicentennial Rally in Philadelphia in 1976, For a Bicentennial Without Colonies.

In 1977 I became a mother; oppression was rising and the historic window made by the world revolutions of the 60s was being closed by imperialist escalation. Apace with that escalation the PSP had internalized oppression that undermined democracy. The party fell apart.

As a fulltime mother of an infant I reconnected with my fiction and poetry.

My first post motherhood job was as one of the organizers of the first community funding board of the North Star Fund; in 80 I went to Columbia Journalism School for a masters; worked from 81 through 83 as publications director of the National Lawyers Guild.

I was on unemployment, working on a novel, when I was offered my next significant writing based job: as teacher director of a model Freirean adult literacy program being piloted as part of the New York City Adult Literacy Initiative. I had read Freire as Secretary of Information and Propaganda of the US branch of the PSP, in the course of designing political education for militants. Now I reread it in a popular education context. I devised a method of combining the research and decoding phases of the Freirean process by using images from the picture collection to both identify generative themes and develop generative texts. I came to call this process Community Literature. I got to work with women creating texts, constructing the literature and the literacy hand in hand.

All this while I had been writing and now my own writing came more center stage. With the women from the program I began to reclaim what had been missing for me as a writer, a sense of community, connection; what I might have had if I had not lost my country. I was working part time and making a lot of art. I became part of a collective of Latina writers who started a short lived small press ATABEX and I published a novel,Exile; participated in a tripartite anthology of short pieces, Tripartita; curated and participated in many readings of my poems and fiction; wrote, directed and performed three video plays in which the video images, the acting and the text offered mutually reflecting and referencing discourses: Mating in the 80s scene iv, Mating in the 80s, Iris' POV.

My teaching and writing converged in collaborations to teach writing with a storyteller friend. I began to explore the connection of writing and movement, the embodiment of the mind. To deepen this inquiry I became a certified yoga teacher and have since then explored this mind body connection as a writer and yoga teacher, and through workshops on Embodied Writing I teach at the Integral Yoga Institute.

The economic moment when it was still possible to support two young boys by working part time ended, oppression and exploitation escalated; the small agency that sponsored the Mothers' Reading Program was an early casualty of the use of high accountability to repress meaning based, liberatory, fundamentally revolutionary destroy the popular education roots of adult education;

Now I was a burocrat.
For a giddy two years I enjoyed the transitional moment in which popular education was still in the fore and burocracy gave me space and some authority. I did large scale popular education and community literature based projects that included many of the NYCALI literacy programs: one project involved community literature, participatory theatre and storytelling, involved entire classes and their teachers and culminaged in a sharing festival in which stories and plays were presented at Union Settlement in El Barrio. In another project five programs, teachers and students, explored telenovelas, wrote our own, cast, acted and videotaped them in students' apartments, restaurants, even staging a full blown party for one scene.

That was the peak of that wave; the following November Giuliani won. When I got a NYFA Fellowship for fiction (my second. In 87 I had gotten one for Play and Screenwriting) I took it as a sign and took the buyout. I got to write for another 6 months or so. I was offered a consultant job as a staff developer for the BEGIN program, a welfare reform literacy program sponsored by HRA; that job became a full time job.

Through my first boss at the Mothers' Reading Program I became acquainted with re evalution counseling, a process for reclaiming human intelligence lost to the internalization of oppression. After going to several introductory classes and reading and using the literature for many years, I noticed that among my friends it was those who were consistent in their study and practice of reevaluation counseling who were succeeding in changing those aspects of life I believed one simply had to learn to accept and live with (work and love life choices chief among these).I decided to add to my liberarory practices the study and practice of this process for sharing listening time in order to release the bodily tensions that hold hurts in place that make our thinking rigid, with a clear perspective that individual liberation is the path to social liberation and that the rigidities can be ultimately traced to oppression and exploitation..

For many years it was possible to do liberatory education in the world of BEGIN. As the welfare reform law has proceeded and NY's implementation has opted for the harshness it has become harder and harder to do liberatory education (even as the need is commensurately greater and greater). The program is now 9 to 5, 5 days a week; students are in class 2 days, at worksites 3. Accountability is translated to mean punishment. Wheelbarrows of paperwork drain energy from teaching and learning. As the oppression and exploitation escalate the internalization leads to more and more unaware colluding...they require one wheelbarrow of paper, we come up with two more.

During this period I continued writing, publishing on line, doing occasinal readings; teaching yoga and embodied writing. I was elected to the board of the Brecht Forum and taught writing, yoga and a Hip Hop as Window to Liberation Freirean education course jointly with my son Karim. I collaborated with my son Lucas (and to some extent Karim) and Alfredo to do community based popular education work with Lucas and his Sunset Park friends: a popular education school led by Lucas that combined internships at the Institute for Mass Communications in which young people worked on critical, action, print and media literacies. They built a hiphop studio in the basement, produced music, cd's performances, publications. I did outreach with local literacy programs toward developing community arts work in Sunset Park, going as far as offering community literature and participatory (Boal based) theatre workshops.

I have been indirectly involved as financial supporter, and sometime collaborator with People-Link, IMC, and now May First-People Link.

My unsuccessful effort to integrate actively into the Brecht Forum board has been one of the clearest indicators that my struggle to contribute to my own and others' liberation is at a crisis point. My strategy of giving the monster of oppression and exploitation what it requires, and then living my liberatory life on the leftover time was possibly never a good one, could be gotten away with while oppression was less harsh and I could some of the time do liberatory work within systems that were more and more being steered toward full blown explicitly oppressive agendas. Now the demands of oppression and exploitation make it harder and harder to feed the monster what it needs and do what I need to do in my own time. To have an official work life and my alternative lives can no longer be managed with one 24 day and one human body.

I am at a turning point.

Either I learn to talk straight, carve out time within real time to do my life's work authentically within my job work, by reshaping the job I am in.[And that seems to be harder and harder to do as the institution of oppression escalates and the internalization of confusion advances along with it.]

Or I find a work job better aligned with my life's work.

The question is, am I now so constantly and massively restimulated in my early material of internalizedcolonization, harsh adultism, racism in this job so that I can't keep my attention out enough to think and have some creativity and joy in my life? Or do I have an opportunity to take on what holds me back in every aspect of my life, and my mission of contributing to human liberation?