Showin’ some love: Rio, artist and photographer

Members of the Okayplayer messageboards used to regularly make appreciation posts. The initial poster would start a thread and rattle off a list of things that made the subject of the post worth of appreciation. Others would chime in and add other great things about their online friend. I always liked appreciation posts since it was a welcomed break from all the hate on the boards.

In the vein of the Okayplayer appreciation post, I’m starting periodic appreciation posts of fellow bloggers, friends, family and anyone else I want to publicly acknowledge.

First up?

rio Rio Yañez

Last week, Rio emailed me telling me about an idea he had for a new digital drawing. He asked for a photo to use as a proxy for a model. Once I sent him a few that met his criteria, he got to work. A few days later, I found a cool portrait similar to the Jesus/Mary is my homeboy/homegirl drawings in my email inbox, except I’m the homegirl (finished “cindylu is my homegirl drawing”). Rio was also nice enough to make a lotería stlye card from a self-portrait I took at the beach (link). It was the first time he’d made a portrait of someone he’d never met. A couple months after that, we met up for ice cream and shopping at H&M in San Francisco.

I appreciate Rio not only ’cause he’s a badass artist. He also has a great sense of humor (check out his blog); knows how to tell a hell of a story (check out the ghetto Frida series); makes the best Valentine’s Day cards; makes time to get the best ice cream ever at Mitchell’s; and offers his protection from shady guys on the street.

I hope he does get some of his work printed on t-shirts. I’d be the first to buy one with the simple yet poignant illegal is beautiful piece.

Oh yeah, have you seen his work (and here)? I’m sure you’ll appreciate him too.

I like my genes (most of the time)

There are lots of things my parent’s have passed down simply by contributing to my DNA. I have my mom’s nose and smile. I got my dad’s lips and gray hair.

I love that I’m not completely my own person. I’ve been created and reared by two amazing people. But my parents aren’t perfect, and I have some of those imperfections too.


My dad has a bad back. He’s had several problems over the years. In his 20s and 30s the injuries were the result of foolishness and poor judgment (or being drunk). He tried to move a couch, and threw out his back. He got thrown off a raft while exploring the Kern River and the was thrown against a boulder. That wasn’t good either. My dad is now well into middle age. He’s 53 years old, and his body knows it. A few months ago, I found him lying in bed on a nice Sunday afternoon. Earlier in the morning he had hurt his back as he reached to one side of his closet to pick out a tie. I’m a horrible daughter. I laughed at how ridiculous it was that my dad hurt himself while picking out a tie.

My back issues today are probably punishment for laughing that day. I have no clue how I hurt my lower back today. I was fine when I woke up, showered and got ready, but as I left for class I felt a sore pain in my lower left back. I decided to tough it out and go to class. In class, I shifted seat as we did check-ins and the pain got more intense. I made a face and my classmate asked what was wrong. I left campus later thinking of how much I’d love to be able to see Grandpa, who was a well known sobador in Boyle Heights, and have him fix whatever is wrong. He’d probably give me lots of advice and then say, “eres igual a tú papá.”

I can’t go to Grandpa and have him give me a quick sobada. I called my mom and asked her advice. She said I might have aire in my back and told me about the time Grandpa treated her for that (it’s hard to describe, but he used a glass, rubbing alcohol and a match).

I do have my dad. He’s on his way to my apartment as I write this. The pain is too much. I’m glad he doesn’t remember that I laughed at him.

Question of the week: el cucuy, la llorona, brujas y diablos

Last week while staying up late doing school work, I had an IM conversation with another contributor to, David. He complimented my post on legends and rumors of supposed occult activity in Turnbull Canyon and the actual very scary murders that have occurred there. I admitted that just researching the piece creeped me out. I’m a miedona and have always hated ghost stories. David said he envied me and wished he could get creeped out, but had become desensitized to stories of the occult.

I haven’t. I’ve been a miedona since I could understand what the stories were about. It’s even in my genetic code. My mom had nightmares for weeks after watching The Exorcist, avoids horror films, and telling scary stories.

My parents may have spared us stories about el cucuy, but they couldn’t keep kids from being kids. We’d go camping with their compadres’ families. And you know what happens around the campfire?

Yes… we told Mexican stories about Llorona sightings, lechusas y brujas, and el diablo showing up at some baile disguised as a handsome and mysterious músico. Those stories were always true and the storyteller swore it had happened to him or that he knew the person who experienced said sighting/encounter.

La pregunta: what’s your favorite Mexican “ghost story”?

The angry woman of color

Sometimes I struggle to keep my angry woman of color attitude in check. It was at its strongest when I was younger, probably when I was about 20 or 21. That was at the height of my involvement in MEChA and in student government. I saw an injustice and evidence of racism everywhere I looked. I changed sometime after I started graduate school and was in a very welcoming and supportive educational program.

Three years in to my graduate program, I still see injustices. There are many things that make me angry, but I think about them differently. My first instinct is still to react the way I did when I was 21. But now, I try to wrap my head around my opponent’s point of view. For instance, I hate the fact that our fees (tuition) keep increasing, but I understand the point of view of administrators and the regents who favor the decisions.

But every once in a while, like today, that 21 year old comes out. To be honest, I don’t even struggle too much to keep the attitude in check. I like it. I can’t just be silent when I hear something that is completely wrong and misguided in regard to something I care deeply about (e.g., fighting for increased ethnic diversity at the University of California).

And you know what? I think it’s kinda fun to bring out that 21 year old, with her big mouth, big attitude and big ideas.

Ninth week notes

I’ve gone two weeks without tortillas, tortilla chips and tostadas. The most difficult days were the first few when I was at receptions where they had quesadillas, tortilla chips, and tortillas to make tacos with fajitas and carnitas. Both of those receptions were on days where you’re required to abstain from meat too, so it was even more difficult because I couldn’t just have chicken fajitas or carnitas with arroz y frijoles. I think I miss tortilla chips more than tortillas.

I’ve conducted four interviews for my study on Latino science students. I need several more students, but just thinking about having to transcribe their interviews makes me lazy about doing some more recruitment.

I went to Houston a month ago. I miss it. Rather, I miss my cousins and taking shots of tequila with my tía Nellie and tío Jesus. There’s just something really nice about being with people who you feel completely at home with yet rarely see.

My mom is already back at work and has already bought our tickets to Cancun for our family trip. Woo hoo.

I spent a lot of time late last night reading up on Turnbull Canyon for my contribution to’s list of Top 25 LA Legends (here’s the post). Can I just say it’s not a good idea to read creepy stuff right before going to bed?

I had a dream a few weeks ago. In the dream I was shamelessly flirting with Marcos, one of my parents’ ahijados (godson) and long time friend. At one point Marcos made a move and I freaked ’cause I couldn’t kiss him since that would be cheating. The dream was weird on a few levels and I told my friend about it. She told me not to worry since being a flirt was simply a part of my personality. I heard the same comments later. I think that bugs me.

I’ll be going to Chicago and DC in April. Who wants to hang out? If the Chicago bloggers made time for HP, I hope they make time for me.

I think it sucks that the LA Times cut La Cucaracha from the comics page. It’s definitely one of my favorite comics. They also cut another one of my favorites, Candorville. Lalo Alcaraz, the author/artists behind La Cucaracha, was rightfully pissed and his plea for help was on LA blogs on Monday. By Tuesday afternoon, the LA Times had responded by bringing La Cucaracha back to the funnies. Woo hoo. (more)

I have two presentations next week, two papers due the week after, at least three interviews to finish transcribing and lots more to do. I don’t want to do any of it. I’m tired of school.

Question of the week: Great gift-giving

I bet he got cool gifts El novio celebrated his 31st birthday on Sunday. He was out of town for his brother’s bachelor party/fishing trip, but I still spent most of the weekend focused on his birthday. I made one part of his present (with LOTS of help from my wonderful sister). Even though making his present took several hours, I preferred it over the pain of trying to find the “perfect” gift at the mall. But I don’t think I can go the creative route again, especially not so close to finals. So I need ideas to store away for the future.

What was the most creative gift you received or gave? If you can’t answer that, any tips on finding a great gift?

P.S. Brenda also celebrated a birthday on Sunday.

Revisited: I don’t write fiction, just think it

Note: More from the old blog. And no, it’s not that I’m getting lazy.

i don’t write fiction, just think it
07.15.05 // 3:14 p.m.

David (Phenom Feat) asked four questions. I answered the first last night.

His second question:

Have you ever written any fiction?

I don’t write much fiction. I really don’t know why, but I think it’s mainly because I find starting difficult unless I have a good prompt. I think a lot of fiction. I make up stories in my head all the time, but I never write them down. Part of the reason most of what I write is non-fiction and autobiographical is because the only writing instruction I’ve ever had has been in academic writing (essay format) and in autobiographical writing.

I dug up the last piece of fiction I wrote in November. A friend gave me the prompt: eagle on a sundried cactus.


National symbols most people didn’t assume that blanca was mexican. she didn’t have the nopal en la frente and dark hair that shone like the feathers of an eagle. no, whites and mexicans always confused her pale skin, freckles and reddish-blonde hair as a sign that she was in or out of their group.

blanca didn’t let it bug her too much. she took pride in the fact that at mexican restaurants, after she’d had a few cervezas and a couple of shots, she could sing with the mariachis. they were always surprised that she knew the words. when she took trips to her grandparent’s house en la capital, she spoke perfect chilanga spanish. the cab drivers and shopkeepers who tried to overcharge were always amazed that she sounded just like them. the language and songs were just one thing, but blanca loved the fact that she had dual citizenship. that piece of paper proved what her skin, hair and freckles sought to disprove.

on one of her trips, blanca bought a small flag for 5 pesos. the street vendors were capitalizing on the upcoming fiestas patrias, and cheap flags were easy to find. she stuffed the small red-white-green flag in her backpack and forgot about it.

a few days later, she arrived in los angeles, her home. as she unpacked things in her room, she found the small flag in her backpack. rather than put it right next to her figurine of la virgen de guadalupe and makeshift altar of all things mexican, she took it out to her car.

blanca removed the small stick and added a string to hang the flag from the rearview mirror. she wasn’t concerned about confirming any stereotypes… in fact, it would be different since she was always breaking them.

two days later, blanca sat in the driver seat with the keys in the ignition. she eyed the red, white and green flag. her gaze settled firmly on the eagle perched atop a nopal with a snake hanging from its mouth. rather than smile or reflect on her most recent trip, blanca began a tradition she’d continue before her morning commute for several years.

she looked at the flag, and let out a grito that sounded like it came from a man twice her size. ¡ajúaaaa!