It’s not a party, just a kickback. The hostess invited over 9 people she went to high school with. The group, now even in men and women with the addition of the roommate, is in the middle of a game of ’90s Trivial Pursuit. Team Chimi-Chimichanga wins over Team Chingaderas and Team Wolf. They got all the easy questions. For a while, one of the young women reads trivia questions from cards letting whoever knows the answer guess. They don’t keep score. Around the room, some of the guys refill their plastic blue cups with ice, orange juice and vodka.

As the kickback dies down, the hostess re-captures the attention of her high school buddies with karaoke. She sets up her machine next to a comfy chair and hooks it up to a projector on the coffee table. The lyrics to pop tunes suddenly appear in white and red with a bright blue background on the bare wall. Everyone takes their turn singing new and old pop tunes like “My way,” “Beat it,” “Hey ya!” and “Como la flor.”

They begin to get thirsty and a little hungry. The guys fill their cups with coke and rum, vodka and orange juice, and anything else alcoholic on the wooden kitchen table. In the kitchen, in the middle of her second screwdriver, the roommate takes a double shot of tequila with the guy who goes to that other school across town. They rejoin the gathering in the living room. She starts reminiscing with one of the guys who also went to her school. As she finishes her second screwdriver, she tells her fellow Bruin, “you know what to do!” He fills her cup again and she watches the Selena-inspired duo by two former Knights.

It’s not too long until she finds herself in the kitchen again. The chocolate swirl cheesecake from Marie Callender’s is gone. The table is still full of all sorts of liquor, mixers, and trays with tortilla chips. The ex-sailor USC student is at the table again. The roommate asks him to get her another shot of tequila. He pours some water into the double shot of whisky. “Are you watering that down,” she asks? “No,” he explains, “this is just how you drink whisky.” He offers her a taste and she sips a little bit of whisky. She scrunches her nose the way she does when she doesn’t really like something. She picks up her shot of tequila. They toast and drink.

She senses he wants another cigarette. “Want to go outside?” she asks. “Yeah,” he says. They walk out of the front door together.

What do you think happened?

No… none of that.

They talked about research that he does in his communication studies program. He watches kids programming, like the Twinks and Spongebob and codes cartoons for hypersexualized images. He smokes and they talk about San Fernando Valley politicians. A few minutes later, another guy comes out. Just like her fellow researcher, he’s also an ex-military man. The three sit outside in the driveway and listen to the other alums from the East LA magnet high school sing “Summer Nights” from Grease.

She keeps interrupting them, and then quickly apologizing for talking too much. “You know, I get along very well with guys with your names.”

“Really?” the ex-Air Force guy asks.

It’s true. One shares her brother’s name and the other has the name of a cousin, and a few very good friends. They’re bound to be cool with each other, even when sober.

Eventually, they go back in to her room where they check out her trombone. One guy checks out the shiny brass horn that hasn’t been removed from the beat up black case since winter 2000 while the other looks at piles of CD’s. “This is a great album,” he says. She looks over to see him holding Kind of Blue and nods her head. Before they leave with their designated driver, the guy who got annoyed when she made fun of Radiohead, they say “expect our friend request tomorrow.”

As sarcastic as always, she replies, “expect your rejection tomorrow.”


I miss high school. I miss the people I knew in high school and the relative simplicity of it all. I don’t want to go back, but I want to connect like my roommate does with her former classmates, even if she didn’t hang out with them back in the mid-90s. I want to laugh at pictures in old year books over too much alcohol and make up silly names for Trivial Pursuit teams. Oh well, I’ll live vicariously through Isa.

But it’s no use hiding this pretty head in the ground

I got a tiny cut on my left pinky. In shadows, I can’t even see the cut, but I still feel the stinging sensation. Are little cuts always this annoying? This other news might be less interesting.

  • My nails are a little too long for me to type comfortably and I can’t find my nail clippers. On the other hand, they’re perfect for a manicure, but I’m too hasty to wait enough time to let them dry. I always screw up a manicure.
  • El Venado and I had a big argument last week. I got mad first. Among other things, he was being flaky. Then he tried to be un-flaky, but that didn’t work, because according to him, I was mean and kept shutting him down. We’re cool now. We kissed and made up.
  • Earlier, I was thinking about what the world would be like if you could delete friends and acquaintances from your social network like you do on Friendster or MySpace.
  • I’m going to DC in early March. That weekend also coincides with el Venado’s birthday…
  • I’ve been contemplating whether or not I want to run for a student government position again. If I do run again, it will be for the same position, Vice President of External Affairs. The main questions I’ve been considering are: (1) have I accomplished what I set out to accomplish in this position?; (2) what do I still need to learn about public higher education, decision making and funding; (3) can I balance my student government participation with school and work?
  • I wore black pants, a black blouse, maroon coat and matching shoes with striped rainbow toe socks today. Tomorrow, I’ll wear a skirt. Yes, it’s almost laundry day.
  • For my qualitative research methods course, I have to spend 4 hours a week as a participant-observer at a site of my choice. Then, I got to spend twice the amount of time typing up my notes. All this time spent writing fieldnotes and being in the field really makes me miss quantitative research and stats.
  • Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni will be celebrating their 63rd wedding anniversary this weekend. The family celebrates it with a sizable get together every year. I guess there’s a fear that one late January, we’ll only be left with one grandparent or parents and we got to celebrate their lives right now.
  • The Chicana/o Studies professor from Hacienda Heights, Prof R, went to the rival high school. Boo. He’s less cool now.
  • I’ve been listening More Shine by Sí*Se almost non-stop since my friend sent me the album late last year. I like it even better than their first eponymous album. It makes me want to dance, hug A for introducing them to me 3+ years ago, and make amends with O all at the same time. How strange.


Mil palabras: de colores

De colores
Others’ most favorited photo from my flickr photo stream

I uploaded the first of 2,897 photos to Flickr on January 3, 2005. It’s a lot like blogging, but less wordy. I know many of the folks who read Lotería Chicana also have Flickr accounts. Words are great but images add another layer.

Aside from coming across many great images, I think what I enjoy most about Flickr is the interaction. Plus, there are all kinds of cool things you can do to/with your photos with FD’s Flickr Toys. I personally like making mosaics and checking the Scout tool to see how many of my photos are ranked in the Flickr Explore page. It’s like checking your blog stats, except the Explore page is more aesthetically pleasing.

I ♥ Flickr.


I used to let people know my goals all the time. It was almost impossible to keep them to myself. When I was an undergrad student, I met regularly with my peer counselor she/he often asked me what I wanted to get done that quarter or year. It was a good exercise that I continued when I started working as director of the same program.

When I was a counselor, I knew all my students’ goals… and I had a lot of students on my caseload. Every quarter, I’d go through the “goalies” worksheet and ask about their short- and long-term goals. I knew what grades they wanted and expected in their classes, that they wanted to secure a summer internship, whether or not they wanted to grad or professional school, or that they were really working on saving more money. The goals weren’t limited to academics, as you can see. The idea behind going through the
“goalies” worksheet in counseling sessions was that it gave me something to check in with the student on in the next few sessions that quarter/academic year.

I filled out the “goalies” sheet too and shared them with the four other directors. They were the people who were most supportive when it came to work (and often personal issues). They knew what staff development goals I was working on, or that I wanted to read more, apply to graduate school or fix some of my messed up relationships.

The whole process worked well for me, and I think it worked well when getting to know my students better. I kept doing these periodic goal-setting exercises. I’d write a plan of action after each goal. If my goal was something like “move toward financial independence and save more money,” I’d make a list that looked like the following.

  1. Increase monthtly contribution to Roth IRA by 25% for a total of $125.
  2. Pay off credit card(s), discontinue use.
  3. Check in quarterly with financial advisor (aka Dad) about the status of my savings.

It’s been a while since I set goals like these. I set 10 at the beginning of 2005 and by the end of the year, I could no longer remember them. I wrote them in a journal I no longer write in because I filled up all the pages. At first, I was good about checking in on the goals and assessing my progress. But for the latter half of the year, I completely changed. (Scoring key: 1 = good progress or completed; 2 = attempted, made some progress; 3 = no progress, not attempted).

  1. Write at least one haiku per day (2)
    Assessment: I did this up through May and some of June. After that point, writing haiku felt too forced. Also, I felt like I needed to post them to my blog and in spring and summer, I wrote many that I didn’t want to share online.
  2. Eat breakfast daily (3)
    Assessment: I ate breakfast maybe one or two times a week. I improved in the latter half of the year, but that was only because el Venado made me oatmeal, which I like
  3. Save money and decrease debt (2)
    Assessment: I restarted my Roth IRA contribution and plan to increase the amount I contribute. However, I had some money issues in the summer, increased my credit card debt. I paid off one credit card. However, I got another student loan that I don’t need but am using to pay off car and credit card (it’s subsidized).
  4. Be more fit (3)
    Assessment: Nope. I gained weight, which really sucks because some of my favorite jeans don’t fit me anymore. I did go to danza in the summer, but stopped once the school year started.
  5. Attend more Dodger games (than in 2004) (1)
    Assessment: I missed opening day, but still attended many games this season. I’d go to one every few weeks. Too bad the season sucked.
  6. Go to Zacatecas (1)
    Assessment: Check. Too bad I didn’t go to Zacatecas (the city). It was a good trip and I need to post more of what I wrote while I was there and in Guanajuato.
  7. Write more education and culture related blog posts (1)
    Assessment: My blog became less personal as the year progressed. I definitely wrote more of the types of posts I intended with this goal, but now I find that I’m trying to strike a balance with my blog. I feel my more intimate and honest voice is hidden and needs ro re-emerge.
  8. Organize my photos (2)
    Assessment: My photos on Flickr and computer are pretty well organized. However, anything that I have developed is all over the place. I need to put many in albums, and some in frames. The fact that I moved from one to another in October made this one tougher.
  9. Re-decorate my room (3)
    Assessment: This one stopped being a priority as I realized in the fall that I needed to move out of my old room. Now, I just need to really move in to my room and make it a more livable space.
  10. Pledge to KCRW, again (1)
    Assessment: Check.

The tally: 4 goals I unequivocally completed or made good progress on; 3 goals I started but did not complete; 3 goals I failed miserably at.

This all gets to what I want/need to do in 2006 (and beyond). I’ve set some goals already. Some are based on those above that I really sucked at, but others touch more on my relationships (good, bad and nonexistent), school/my program, my student government position, and writing. Even if it’s tough for me, I will share them. This attitude that I can do it all my own isn’t good for me, I need someone to help keep me on track.

Hey, pa’ fuiste pachuco!

Anyone else think Johnny Depp drew some inspiration from early ’80s Eddie Olmos in his role as el Pachuco in the film and theater versions of Luis Valdez’s Zoot Suit? Compare and contrast.

Johnny Depp Zoot Suit

Depp is missing the hat and from this full body photo you can see that the pants are not as high waisted and as baggy as a pachuco would wear them. I also couldn’t find any photos of Depp doing the lean back with left foot forward stance. Despite the differences, the resemblance is uncanny (at least from the waist up).

Academic witch-hunt

Prof. Danny Solórzano and I Wednesday’s most emailed story on the Times website is about a group, the Bruin Alumni Association, I wish wasn’t getting so much press. I know that’s exactly what the founder and current president of the organization, Andrew Jones, wants because it will probably get him more funding and inspire others.

(In case you’re confused, this organization is not affiliated with the university nor is it the official alumni association. The official alumni association will probably want to distance themselves as far as possible from Jones and the BAA.)

Honestly, I wasn’t surprised when I got the email from my classmate. Yeah, I had this weird highly disturbed and amused feeling, but I expected something like this from an organization headed by a fellow alumnus I couldn’t stand when I was a student (he was a student from 1999-2003). I’m sure he really didn’t like me either, even if we didn’t know each other personally. Jones gives Republicans a worse name than HP.

The email announcement linked to a list of profiled professors on the website in disciplines such as sociology, political science, law, English, Chicana/o Studies, African American Studies, education, and women’s studies. There’s also a list of the “dirty thirty” (with two spots missing) of professors the organization finds most problematic for reasons detailed in the profiles. Some of those reasons include being against the Iraq war or the Bush regime, use of race and ethnicity in their scholarship or pro affirmative action views. Oh the horror. I’ve been reading right-wing articles by Jones since I was sophomore so I wasn’t surprised by his rhetoric or the faculty he was targeting.

What got to me the most was the fact that the organization is targeting professors for additional information to advance their cause of exposing supposedly “abusive, one-sided or off-topic” professors. The list of 23 faculty members is no longer on the website (I have it in my email in case any one wants to see who they’re targeting). The organization offers to pay students for materials from past or ongoing classes with profiled or targeted professors. Below is the scale as copied and pasted in an email sent out 1/12/06 (I think it was removed but you can probably find it via the Google cache).

* Full, detailed lecture notes, all professor-distributed materials, and full tape recordings of every class session, for one class: $100

(Note: lecture notes must make particular note of audience reactions, comments, and other details that will properly contextualize the professor’s ideological comments. If the class in question is ongoing or upcoming, will provide (if needed) all necessary taping equipment and materials.)

* Full, detailed lecture notes and all professor-distributed materials, for one class: $50

(Advisory: without tape recordings, detailed note-taking is crucial. Particular care must be taken in transcribing the professor’s non-pertinent ideological comments as closely as possible to direct quotes.)

* Advisory and all professor-distributed materials: $10

Even if you didn’t take detailed notes or attend class regularly, you can still help by alerting us to a problem professor not already in our database or target list (below). This is a particularly attractive option for students wanting to report past classes in which their notes and attendance did not match’s high record-keeping standards. Simply provide us the name, your notes from the class (or substitute your current recollections), and any other materials you still retain, and we’ll pay you $10 for the tip.

NOTE: The foregoing advertised rates for future, ongoing or past classes are contingent upon Bruin Alumni Association approval of both the particular professor, and student materials. For ongoing classes, payment will be tendered only upon timely delivery of all needed material.

By my calculations, I could illegally and unethically make at least $200. From my time at UCLA since 1998, I have taken or am taking classes with 8 of the listed professors and I still have my notebooks, syllabi and assignments from those classes (I’m bad about throwing things away). I was a Chicana/o Studies and Sociology double major. I’m currently in education. By my assumptions, Jones would love to see most of the faculty in those three departments — or the department itself — disappear.

From communications I’ve received today, university counsel is advising targeted/profiled professors to tell their students that providing the requested materials without faculty permission is in violation of university policy (ownership of course materials, use of recordings of course presentations pdf). In most cases, “faculty retain the copyright to their course materials, and both their prepared course materials and any notes or other recordings of lectures can only be disseminated with the permission of the instructor and the Chancellor.”

I jokingly forwarded the email to friends who are currently taking classes with some of the targeted or “dirty thirty” professors and asked if they wanted to make $100. Many of them are taking classes with a higher ed professor on the list. I wonder if Jones can do anything about the reading list of 28 books for one class and 14 books for the other (in a ten week course!). Other higher education faculty I’ve spoken to joke that their egos are a little bruised that they’re not on the list and hope to be numbers 29 and 30 on the “dirty thirty” list. My advisor thinks she’s still under the radar since she’s been at UCLA less than two years. Some fellow students have remarked that while looking over the professor profiles they thought, “oh, why is that a problem exactly? It seems like a good thing that professor X does research on Y.” Lastly, I heard one classmate say, “hey, now I know more faculty members I can take classes with!”

I want this man's job I won’t be going through my old course notes and gathering materials from classes I took as early as last quarter and as long ago as fall of 1998. I’ll pass on the $200 I could have earned by selling out. Sure, I could have used the money to buy new shoes or pay for books assigned for courses with “radical professors,” but I’d rather not spy on some of my favorite and most-respected professors, advisors, and potential dissertation committee members.

Plus, I’m pretty sure it’s bad etiquette to spy on a professor (see left) who wrote me a fabulous letter of recommendation, was a pseudo faculty mentor, and has helped me get to where I am today by being supportive, fair, open and inspiring.

If you haven’t gotten enough of this…

I’d link to the actual UCLA Profs (dot com) site, but I don’t really feel like it. You can find a direct link through any of those other links.

Mil palabras: dollar/peso dance

Dollar/peso dance
My cousin, Tere, and Dad doing the dollar/peso dance in December (Salamanca, Guanajuato)

Tere’s wedding day on Monday, December 26, was way too long. The day started with a wakeup call at 5 am and ended around 1 am the next day. The day involved a 6-hour roadtrip from Jerez to Salamanca, Mass, reception and baile (dance). I wore beautiful gold heels I could barely walk in but ended up running around in when I did “la víbora de la mar,” drank a little too much alcohol, was bit by a couple of mosquitoes, and didn’t wear my sweater when I should have. The next day, my feet hurt like crazy and I couldn’t stop coughing.

It was all worth it if only to witness my first ever dollar/peso dance, celebrate Tere’s wedding, and to be around dozens of people who share my last name, father’s graying hair, Grandpa Bartolo’s features, and my big lips.

Still a counselor

Last week after class and lunch with friends, I headed to my office in Kerckhoff, but no one was there when I arrived and I forgot my office keys in my car. I left Kerckoff and walked back toward Lot 4. As I crossed Bruin Walk, the most guero appearing Mexican I’ve ever seen called out to me, “hey, Cindy!”

I looked across to see Luis, a third-year student I had counseled in 2003-2004 during his first year at UCLA. Although I hadn’t seen Luis in several months, or even a year, he greeted me as if he still saw me all the time in my old office in the Student Activities Centers when he would come in for peer counseling sessions.

He called me his counselor and I corrected him, “no, I was your counselor.”

Luis argued, “you’re still my counselor. I’ll always see you as my counselor.”

I smiled. Luis and I then began talking about my aunt and his parents, who are good friends. The rest of the discussion could have been excerpted from a peer counseling session, but he was asking questions too. How are your classes? What’s your graduate program like? Did you win your election? How is work?

I didn’t even need to review my notes to jog my memory about Luis, his major, family, or his old job. It all came back to me. Luis told me his GPA and admitted that it had decreased slightly since he was a first year. He also talked about the progress in his major and two minors. Halfway through his third year, he was already thinking about graduate school. We talked about what kind of program he would like to do and what he could do to better prepare besides his current coursework. I remembered that several good friends participated in an excellent summer program for students interested in public policy or urban planning master’s programs. Most of the people I know who went through the program were now in graduate school at places like University of Michigan and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. I remembered a former student two years my junior who had attended the program as well. Coincidentally, Luis also knew her and we headed over to her office nearby to speak to her about the program and application date.

I had several students I really connected with as a counselor. Many of them — especially the ones who entered as first years — are still on campus and I run into them a few times a week as I go about my daily routine. Sometimes they make me feel old, especially as I think about the fact that a lot of the ones I first counseled will be graduating this spring. Damn… that’s what they’re supposed to do, but why does it feel so weird?

I loved counseling and working with college students. When I left the position, I mainly looked back at the positive aspects. I still choose to remember those a lot more, because about 4 years after I started the position, I don’t remember the frustration, but I do remember how good it was to work with students who still continue to see me as their counselor and their friend.

Sister Pants

Birthday kiss I once said that sister should be a synonym for best friend. While that might sound like a cliché or something in a Hallmark card (hey, I might have read it there), I still think it is true. Since Lori’s 21st birthday party last year, I’ve lost or grown apart from friends I was very close to for several years. It may seem like I have less friends, but I still have my sister, and that’s better than 10 best friends. I know that Lori and I will grow closer as we get older and share more of our adult lives with each other.

¡Feliz cumpleaños, hermanita!


I was tagged by Geo and Mariposa Atomica.

Seven things I plan to do before I kick the can:
1. Earn my PhD
2. Have a job that doesn’t feel like a job
3. Learn to do my own hair and makeup
4. Be a mom
5. Marry rich… just kidding, true love is good enough for me
6. Live in Mexico
7. Learn to cook

Seven things I can do:
1. Be a pseudo-politician
2. Counsel college students
3. Pull an all-nighter and write 20 page papers in 24 hours
4. Get an A in statistics
5. Remember obscure facts
6. Admit that I was wrong and swallow my pride
7. Blog consistently about a variety of topics

Seven things I can’t do:
1. Lie
2. Wake up on time
3. Apply makeup
4. Not procrastinate
5. Read Gabriel García Márquez in Spanish without a dictionary
6. Eat breakfast on a daily basis
7. Look my age

Seven things that attract me to another person:
1. Intelligence
2. Way with the written and spoken word
3. Non-fascist politics
4. Humor
5. Distinctive hair
6. Smile (especially nice teeth)
7. Good treatment of others

Seven things I say most often:
1. Dude…
2. Caca!
3. Damn
4. Eek!
5. Shit!
6. He’s cute
7. I miss VR

Seven people to do this little blogger game:
1. MsABCmom
2. Nebur
3. Por Completo
4. DJ Rue
5. Will
6. Mariam
7. Brenda