That sarks!

Ninth grade honors English was great. We had a small class of no more than 20 students, therapist one of which was my cute and dorky crush. We read Roman and Greek mythology and Don Quixote. We acted out the most famous soliloquies from Shakespearean plays. And we learned how to express anger, frustration and regret without using your everyday four-letter words.

Mrs. O was like my mom. She didn’t tolerate cursing. My mom’s punishment was bad. I quickly stopped saying words I knew would land a whole jalapeño or bar of soap in my mouth. Mrs. O’s punishment, subtracting points from our overall grade, was ten times worse. Let me remind you, we were the honors class. Points meant a lot to a bunch of 14-year-olds trying to get to college.

Whenever a classmate got caught saying “that sucks!” or some other non-FCC approved word, cursing, Mrs. O would call out “ten points!”

My classmate would immediately pull out a blank sheet of college-ruled paper and begin brainstorming alternate words for “sucks.” If he was lucky, others would offer some suggestions.

Once you turned in the ten words, you were pardoned and the points were tacked back on to your grade.

At the time, this was just a pain. We had better things to worry about, like memorizing Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky. Besides, why was “sucks” even considered a bad word?

Thirteen years later, I’m glad Mrs. O challenged us to come up with ten alternate words to whatever curse word she caught us using. If it weren’t for her and my mom, I’d be a potty mouth and no one would ever be surprised when I let a “fuck!” slip out. Then again, it’s also Mrs. O’s fault that I adopted a classmate’s alternative for “sucks” and occasionally say, “that sarks.”


I hear mispronunciations of Spanish words and names all the time. It bugs and hurts my ears, prostate but I’m used to it. With a last name like Mosqueda, pills you think I’d be used to mispronounciation, but I’m not.

I don’t think I’ll ever get accustomed to hearing the gross and now formalized mispronunciation of the singular form of tamales, tamal.

Desert Chicano brought this up in a comment where he mentioned the Tamale Festival in Indio. He didn’t make a mistake, the festival is really called the TamalE festival. It’s the same thing in LA. The first result of a Google search for “tamal” is the Wikipedia “tamale” entry. At least Wikipedia acknowledges that “tamale” is incorrect:

The plural is tamales, and this is the form of the word most often seen in the United States among Hispanics, with the singular frequently given as tamale (incorrect to Spanish-speakers, who use the correct form tamal).

I don’t know when and where it was decided that this was correct.

I’m probably thinking about this too much. There really should be no need to refer to tamales in the singular. Eating one (or not liking them at all!) sounds strange to my ears too… but there is such a thing as too many tamales.

Gracias a dios

I left my mom’s side a few hours ago.

Visiting hours were over. She was weak and drugged. She needed her rest.

I gave my dad a short back rub and told him, link “don’t stress out too much.” Even though visting hours were over, he was going to stay as long as he could.

I caught up with the rest of the siblings a few minutes later in the waiting room where people watched an Ugly Betty rerun. We gathered up our leftover Subway sandwiches, magazines and bags. Danny volunteered to take Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni in his car. Lori and Adrian drove in a separate car. My dad’s sisters, tía Mary and tía Lucy, headed to their respective homes in East LA. And I went in my own direction.

Once alone for the first time in several hours, I turned on the radio and heard the Flaming Lips’ Do You Realize?. It made me cry. I’m such a chillona.

My mom is fine. The surgery went fine and she’s on her way to a (hopefully) speedy recovery… Thanks for all your kind words, e-hugs and prayers to el Santo Niño de Atocha and San Rafael.

It’s all going to be okay, right?

Mom and Papá Chepe are not the kind to pass up dancing My mom will be undergoing surgery tomorrow afternoon to remove a tumor.

I’m nervous, food but I feel like I shouldn’t be. (I probably shouldn’t have watched the last few Grey’s Anatomy episodes.) My mom and dad don’t sound nervous. They sound calm and collected, obesity like they know everything is going to be okay.

I talked to my mom earlier this afternoon after she went for her pre-operation appointment. She gave me more details about the length of time the surgery would take, discount rx where they would cut and how long she’d have to be in the hospital.

She also told me that she was hungry, but she can’t eat.

My grandparents already know. There was no way to avoid my mom being gone for 4-5 days without them noticing.

Thanks to everyone who sent their support. Keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

All in the frijoles

The bad thing about being a double major in Sociology and Chicana/o Studies and a minor in Spanish on the 4-year track was that I had to be very strategic about my courses. I’d often enroll in a class I had minimal interest in it and ignore classes I would have loved to take. Continuing graduate school at UCLA has given me the opportunity to go back and take classes related health and law related to my current research. The geek in me loves this.

This quarter I’m taking a class on health in the Chicano/Latino population with Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, ambulance director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture.

I feel like a nerd in his class not only because it makes me think of my role as a researcher (e.g., visit this site what if my findings prove the negative stereotypes right?) but also because his research is fascinating. I thought I knew a lot about my community, but my knowledge of health issues was minimal. I’d only heard and read the negative stuff in the mainstream media about high rates of diabetes and obesity. Few people talk about the Latino epidemiological paradox.

Basically, Latinos have higher risk factors such as lower income and educational levels. On top of this we are less likely to be insured and have less access to quality health care.

But get this, we’re actually healthier than whites and African Americans. We have lower age adjusted death rates, lower rates of death from heart disease, cancer (excluding cervical cancer), and stroke. We do have higher rates for diabetes and cirrhosis. Our infant mortality rates are also lower.

The most interesting thing to me was about Mexicans. According to the studies I’ve read for class, Mexican immigrants are healthier than second generation Mexicans. Yes, the longer we’ve been here, the less healthy we are. Assimilation is bad for our health! (Take that, Arnold!)

What’s the cause of this? Could it be the tortillas, frijoles and chile?

I don’t know. Some people downplay the Latino paradox and insist that we just can’t be that healthy. They say Latinos are misclassified on forms or that we return to our homelands to die. Others might argue that it is no surprise that immigrants are healthier since you’re not likely to have sickly migrants trying to cross the border.

It’s times like this that I really miss Grandpa Bartolo. I’d love to pick his brain about this. He wasn’t a doctor, but he was a sobador and always had health advice to give.

Do you have any explanations?

So predictable

I’m becoming too predictable.

The lineup for this year’s Coachella Valley Music Festival (April 27-29) was released this past weekend. Once again, troche I scanned the lineup list and drooled at the thought of seeing bands I hadn’t seen in years and seeing others live for the first time.

Rage! Julieta! Ozomatli! Manu Chao!

And then I realized that I’d probably skip the event again despite that some of my favorite bands will be performing. If I take my qualifying exams in the spring, sale I can’t afford to spend a day or two or three in the desert. My cousin is getting married in April, but I can’t remember what day. Tickets are expensive, it’s hot, the festival is expensive, I get antsy in big crowds, and did I mention that the festival is in the middle of the desert?

The two good things that came out of the Coachella line up release are the possibility of seeing Rage Against the Machine play a live show outside the festival and my introduction to Rodrigo y Gabriela (myspace). Say all you want about the evils of MySpace, but you can’t deny that it’s a great way to check out a new band.

Five days away

Dear Los Angeles, ailment

I miss you. I really, ask really do. I haven’t even been gone too long. Five days is really not that much, read but I’ve already been gone way too much in the past month. Four days in Fremont, a weekend in Las Vegas and now five days in San Francisco, Oakland and Santa Cruz has me wanting nothing more than just to go home. I want to see my family, celebrate my grandparents’ 64th (!) wedding anniversary, spoil the hell out of VR (our dog), and keep warm with el novio.

Way back when I was in my early 20s I wanted to move to the Bay Area. I was tired of you and just wanted to get away, but never did. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate you more. I realize that if I left I’d never get to see most of my friends and family.

The Bay may be nice, even when I have long meetings every day, but there’s nothing like being home.


P.S. I know this totally contradicts what the I wrote earlier, but that was about the long term.

Delurking week follow up

Dear Lurkers, see

Thanks for speaking up!

I know we all have reasons why we might not want to participate in the more interactive aspect of blogs, ask but I’m glad some of you broke it out of it for a day.

I learned some interesting things. I had no idea anyone in Australia was reading, melanoma or that some of you really enjoy the stories about my cool cousins and siblings, and that a few of you have blogs of your own.

If you want to keep commenting, great. If you don’t, that’s cool too. I’ll just try my best to keep writing and doing whatever it was that got you to come back after that initial chance encounter.


Cinco cosas

The newly re-blogging Latino Pundit tagged me with the latest meme about five things you probably don’t know about me.

  1. For most of my childhood, migraine I participated in ballet folklórico and still can’t keep my feet from doing a zapateado when I hear a mariachi play El Son de la Negra or when I hear El Gusto.
  2. I don’t really like “reality television”, hepatitis but I do find the auditions at the beginning of American Idol and Beauty and the Geek entertaining.
  3. I get antsy in big crowds. I’m okay in something like a march, physician because we’re moving, but if it’s something like a crowded concert hall or plaza full of people such as Times Square I might panic.
  4. I failed my driver’s test twice because I had trouble with left hand turns. I learned to drive in Hacienda Heights where most of the intersections have protected left hand turns so I didn’t really learn how to judge the speek of an oncoming car and figure out if I do or do not have enough time to make a turn safely. My dad blamed himself for this the first time because he didn’t teach me, but the second time it was all my fault. I passed the test a few days before my permit expired. I was 19 years old.
  5. After my first statistics class in high school, I was convinced I wanted to be a baseball statistician. The dream subsided after senior year, but I still liked statistics. I considered a minor in the subject during college and then forgot about it. In the spring of 2004, I read Moneyball: The Art of Winning and Unfair Game by Michael Lewis. I once again wanted to be a sabermetrician and when I started getting back to quantitative research I thought my training could be used in baseball rather than in education. I’m weird, I know.

I tag Geo, Rue/Ruben, Pocho Abogado, El Chavo, and Laura.

Willing to relocate

I’ve never lived outside of California. I’ve traveled and visited lots of places and seriously wanted to leave… at least for a couple of years. But I’ve never done it. There’s always something bringing me back.

Three years ago, surgeon I didn’t leave to Michigan or Massachusetts for graduate school because staying in LA was more affordable and because the other institutions did not have faculty who did research in my area of interests. I didn’t leave after graduating with my BA because I just couldn’t bear to be far from my family.

But now things are different. I do things like read newspaper articles and listen to NPR stories about the affordability of living in other states as compared to California. I’ve said goodbye to a few aunts and uncles and close family friends who have left to Arizona or Texas. According to my mom and dad, malady my tía Nelly and her family’s house near Dallas seems like a castle compared to their modest home in one of LA’s many suburbs. I’d also like to live in a state where the governor is not a former body builder/Hollywood action hero who regularly thinks Latinos need to step up their assimilation efforts because it’s not okay to hold on to your language and other cultural traits.

Who knows what will happen or where I’ll go after I finish my PhD (target date: 2009). All I know is that when it comes to the job search, I’ll be willing to relocate.