Monthly Archives: May 2007

The oddness of optimism

I feel strange.

I’m in a good mood.

Just an hour ago, I was walking around Westwood to one of my favorite restaurants in the village, Mr. Noodle. I ordered chow mein and thai iced tea. While I waited for my food to be ready, I flipped through the latest issue of Wired and contemplated picking up some cookies at Diddy Riese next door. I nixed the idea when I realized that most of the people in my office are sick of sweets after having leftover deserts from a bunch of end of the year events.

I returned in my car to find my favorite song, “Las Flores” by Café Tacuba, playing. I forgot how much listening to Re (1994) made me happy. I began to get excited for their July 15th Hollywood Bowl concert and new album.

My day hasn’t been particularly special, I haven’t received any great news or accomplished anything spectacular. It’s actually pretty average, and yet I feel really good.

I feel happy.

I guess it feels weird, because I’ve been pretty unhappy lately. And those things are still lingering. My relationship is over; I didn’t get appointed to a position I wanted; I have tons of work to do in the next two weeks and little motivation to complete it. Despite that stuff, it’s not really bugging me. At least not today or right now.

I can just as easily think of all the things that have made me happy lately like celebrating my friend Greg’s 21st birthday (yeah, sometimes I hang out with the undergrads), my cousin Valerie and tía Josie’s co-birthday party in which we camped out in their backyard, my family’s upcoming trip to Cancún, briefly chatting with Chispa on Saturday at the Raza Youth Conference, The Office season 3, Jill Scott and Lupe Fiasco at UCLA’s JazzReggae Festival, Oiyan giving me props last night at my final Graduate Students Association Forum meeting as VP of External Affairs, and karaoke with some cool new friends.

Right now, I feel good. I feel optimistic.

Why is it so strange?

Question of the week: Short/medium/long

I hate my current hairstyle. Really, there’s no style there. It’s just long and the dye job my mom did a few months ago is wearing out so my darker roots (and canas!) are showing. I don’t do much with my hair most days except for wash it and recently almost threw away my hairbrush. I stopped myself when I realized I might need to look presentable soon, and that my sister would get mad at me.

La pregunta: Which hairstyle should I go for next? (Feel free to use the photo for reference of what I look like with different hair lengths.)

Yes, I know I should make this decision on my own since I’ll have to live with my new hairstyle, but I’m pretty indecisive these days.

cindy vs. dad

sunday uniform:
frilly lavender dress and
patent leather shoes

such a lovely look
ruined by a tear-stained face
and ear-splitting screams

young frazzled parents
struggled to calm lil’ cindy
they failed miserably

maybe it would stop
by the time they arrived home
her dad wondered, hoped

but cindy cried on
forgetting the denied cone
that sparked the tantrum

her mom suggested,
remember what mary said?
it can’t hurt to try

her dad just nodded,
kept his eyes on road ahead
tried to keep his cool

five minutes later
they pulled in to the driveway
with screaming daughter

her mom left the car
daddy stayed with his lil’ girl
she needed silence

back in the caprice,
the battle intensified
neither relenting

get out of the car,
he commanded his daughter
she kept on screaming

frustrated at last
he picked up his daughter and
marched in to the house

he passed his bedroom
where the leather belts were stored
they weren’t needed

his wife followed him
knowing his destination:
the hallway bathroom

cindy never stopped
not even when she found herself
clothed in the bathtub

dad turned the cold knob
cold drops rushed down and soaked her
but it didn’t work

as her dad sat stunned,
she howled, ¡mi vestidooooo!
and stomped in the tub

fearing his anger
he decided to just leave
he needed a drink

[Thanks to Kris for suggesting I write a story about my or someone else's childhood in haiku format.]

On loop

Torture is the wrong word for the situation, but it keeps coming to mind even though I doubt that the folks who wrote Article 17 of the Geneva Convention envisioned someone playing the same song on loop when they decided to outlaw torture against prisoners of war. Yes, I know. I’m not a prisoner of war, I’m just a lowly graduate student. However, if you had to hear Sean Paul’s “I’m Still in Love With You” at least three times every evening for the last two weeks, you’d be tempted to call it torture too.

My roommate, Adja, is not a bad person. In fact, Isa and I loved her when she first moved in. Not only did she pay rent on time, she also brought home pasta dinners from the Italian restaurant where she worked. However, we never asked her about her music taste when we interviewed her, if she played the music loud and if she ever got in a mood in which she played the same song over and over. Adja is still cool, she just doesn’t realize that the other inhabitants of apartment 3 don’t care much for Sean Paul.

***

On Friday evening, I put on my dancing shoes (slip-on black Rocket Dogs) and headed over to the Temple Bar for the Maneja Beto show. As soon as I entered the familiar Santa Monica lounge, I headed over to the bar and bought my usual bar/club drink, an amaretto sour. I then entered the room with the stage and took a seat at an empty table lining the west wall. I was alone, but it didn’t feel weird. I just sipped my drink and patiently waited for the band members to come out.

Everything felt fine until the resident DJ played a version of “I’m Still in Love With You” by someone else besides Sean Paul. It was less annoying, but I still felt like banging my head against the table, screaming and kicking someone. Yes, all at the same time.

The irony hit me.

Even when I tried to go out to enjoy music I like, I was still forced to listen to those lyrics. Maybe someone — my roommate, the DJ — wasn’t trying (albeit without knowing) to annoy me. Perhaps it was all just a grand effort by some higher power to make sure the words in the bouncy hook stay seared in my consciousness. Honestly, no one needs to try. Those words are stuck in my mind, and it has nothing to do with Sean Paul.

Reviewing the Mexican

If you believe what Gustavo Arellano writes in ¡Ask a Mexican!, Mexican immigrants’ hometown ties go a long way. For some recent immigrants, it means you get a job or place to crash while you get settled in the states. For Arellano, it meant that I bought his book. Yeah, I enjoy his column (when I get the chance to read it) but I also think it’s cool that our families are connected to the same pueblito in Zacatecas, El Cargadero.

¡Ask a Mexican! is a quick read, and follows the same format as his syndicated weekly column: an inquirer with a clever alias poses a question about Mexicans; Arellano answers with either (a) a satirical response full of humor and jabs at everyone, (b) a serious response, complete with citations of academic journals and books, or (c) a combination of both. The questions are divided by similar topics such as sexo, fashion, language, inmigración and music. Along with the short questions and answers, Arellano also includes some short essays expanding on topics that puzzle non-Mexicans and Mexicans alike. Even after reading the essay on Mexicans’ affinity for Morrissey, I’m still not sure I get it (and I like Morrissey/the Smiths!).

Although one can find many of the questions/answers in ¡Ask a Mexican! by simply going through the archives at the OC Weekly, you’d be missing out on the true strength of the book: the essays. I find this ironic considering that Arellano’s rise to popularity came from the Ask a Mexican column yet his true talent as a writer shines through in the essays. The essays show a side of Arellano you don’t get from the caricature answering the weekly questions. Through the essays, I learned about the unconventional method he, his cousin and friends used to stay out of trouble as teenagers, what it was like to be an embedded jornalero, and just how Mexican The Simpsons really are.

I like the questions/answers too, but I’ve read many of them and they’re less funny the second time. In addition, I can’t take too much of the raunchy humor Arellano employs to answer many of the questions sent to “the Mexican.” Yeah, I’m a bit prudish, and there were times when I reacted in a “he said/wrote/did what?!” manner. I’m sure I blushed a couple of times while reading. I can deal with a couple of the Mexicans’ questions/answers a week, but 200 odd pages is pushing my good girl limits.

If you’re looking for some light reading this summer, I’d recommend ¡Ask a Mexican!. Despite the colorful language and constant jabs at Guatemalans, you can learn something from the Mexican even if you’ve spent years around Mexicans and studied the topics he tackles in the book. I’m not just saying this because I want to support someone with roots in El Cargadero, but because I genuinely enjoy Arellano’s writing and think it’s important to laugh at ourselves and our community while simultaneously debunking racist myths with witty one-liners.

Vestida de color de rosa

Oso framed this belated Día del Niño meme (posting a photo of oneself as a child) as an interesting exercise in seeing just how much we have not changed since we were kids when it comes to personality and mannerisms. I probably haven’t changed much in those aspects and — some will say — my appearance.

So what was I like as a kid? I followed around my older brother, Danny, which was often a bad idea since he was a travieso. I got two younger siblings when I was 3.5 and 5 years old, and became totally fascinated by them. I was somewhat of a tomboy who loved baseball and playing with the boys, but I also loved frilly dresses. I got caught up in Fernandomania, cheered on the Dodgers as they beat the Oakland A’s in the 1988 World Series and even played on a couple of baseball teams filled with boys. I learned to dance by following the adults’ steps at weddings and other parties. I sang along with my dad, and when the music was in Spanish he’d translate and explain the lyrics. I loved school and often ended up being a teacher’s pet without really trying. I could often be found with a book in hand (Babysitters Club). One of my favorite songs was Ramon Ayala’s “Vestida de Color de Rosa.”

And my mannerisms? Well, you’ll have to ask my parents and older relatives to see if I’ve changed much since I was kid. However, given that my interests haven’t changed too much, I’m sure they’d say I’m the same Cindy I was when I still needed help to tie my shoe laces.

Goodbye to Gilmore Girls

Gilmore Girls, my favorite television show for the last six years, ended last night (TV Squad review of the series finale, Bon Voyage). I’m not ashamed to admit I shed a tear or two. Like other long time fans, I was not sad when I heard the news a couple of weeks ago that the series would be ending this season. The first half of the season was lmost painful to watch and not nearly as witty and entertaining as the first 5-6 years. I was more sad about what the show represented to me and my family.

I started watching the show during my last year of college in 2001-2002. Lori, my sister, was already a fan. She would record the show and on the weekends, I’d catch up on the episodes I missed because I was often in a meeting at 8 pm on Tuesday night. Over the years, both my mom and dad became Gilmore Girls fans too. My dad thought Lorelai was cute, and my mom identified with the mother/daughter relationships depicted on the show.

I loved the show because it depicted women who were smart and silly, strong and vulnerable, and simply fun. I know others disliked the show for the dizzying pace of the dialogue, but that was one of the things I love about the show. I also loved the pop culture, history and politics references. When the DVD’s were released, a guide to “Gilmore-isms” was included to help younger and less pop culture savvy fans follow along with the semi-obscure references.

I’ll miss the show, but at least I have the DVDs to keep me entertained.

Fun with LA photo archive

Aware and ready
November 2, 1969, Los Angeles

I know I’m one of many LA bloggers drooling over all of the photos in the easily searchable UCLA Library Digital Collection Changing Times: Los Angeles in Photographs, 1920-1990. The photos are easy to search through a keyword in captions and/or titles and subjects. They’re also CC licensed — perfect for bloggers! — so that you can share the photos in non-commerical use and remix to make a derivative work.

I immediately started searching for photos of the Chicano Movement, and found some pretty cool photos. My favorite was the one above, but I’ve included some other interesting ones in a set on Flickr.

Hat tip: LA Observed

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times photographic archive, UCLA Library. Copyright Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library (link).

Question of the week: Las Madres

Mom's always been at my side
Mom is my co-pilot

As many of you know, May 10th is Día de las Madres in Mexico. I’m celebrating later today with my mom and sister. I won’t say how since it’s a surprise for her and she may be reading this.

I’ve been trying to write something about how much I love and admire my mother, how wondeful she is and how much she simply rocks. The words aren’t quite coming to me, so I’ll just tell a story about her from my “little life.”

When I was in first grade, I talked a lot in class. My teacher, Mrs. Flamenbaum, complained about my chatterbox-ness to my mom during a parent-teacher conference. Rather than tell Mrs. Flamenbaum that she’d talk to me about talking in class, she defended me. She told Mrs. Flamenbaum in an indignant tone (well, that’s how I play it out in my head), “Cindy only talks a lot in class because she finishes her work early. It’s too easy for her. She talks because she’s bored.”

I really don’t know what happened after that. I didn’t hear about the conference until years later. I laughed when my mom told me she had defended me even though I was probably just being a brat. It’s nice to know my mom will always have my back.

La pregunta: Why does your mom rock? Amusing anecdotes appreciated.