Monthly Archives: January 2008

Obama the Rockstar

Senator Barack Obama

“I feel like we’re at a rock concert,” Oiyan observed. Lisa and I nodded and looked ahead at the snaking line leading to a small lawn at Los Angeles Trade Tech College.

“Actually,” I noted, “it feels like we’re at an amusement park.”

I mean, who really goes to rock concerts at 8:30 in the morning?

But Oiyan was right, the town hall with Senator Obama was rather rock concert-ish.

For more photos and more on the town hall, click below.

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Question of the week: Swoon

I currently do not have a crush.

Anyone who has known me for more than a minute knows this is weird. Chispa noted after I posted my 100 facts that in the nearly 10 years we’ve known each other, she’s never known me not to have a crush. Well, that was because most of the time we’ve known in each other, I was actually meeting lots of eligible young men. These days, most of the guys I interact with are ethically off-limits (married fellow grad students, undergrads in the program I work with). I just don’t get out that much.

I love crushes. Well, not the aspects that suck. You know, getting nervous around him and trying to analyze all his mixed signals (which you later learned weren’t mixed, but you just made things more complicated).

I love the beginning of the crush. I miss realizing that I like him and maybe he likes me too. That feeling makes me giddy. I’ve even been known to swoon, just ask anyone who was around late last summer when I met my last crush. It’s a nice feeling and I miss it. I think I might even be addicted to that feeling (which makes a lot of sense if you listen to Radiolab’s This is Your Brain On Love episode from last August).

I think I got addicted to it after my first crush. I was in first grade. My crush, Juan, was in second grade. Yes, he was Mexican and short. No, he did not have a goatee. I don’t know any seven year old who can grown facial hair. I liked Juan enough to get self-conscious about my appearance. The bad aspects of crushes start early on! I worried that he wouldn’t like me because my mom made me wear my hair in two trenzas (braids). I thought the trenzas made me look like a baby — nevermind that at 6 years old I was still a baby.

I don’t remember why I stopped liking Juan, but 20 years later, I’m going to blame the demise of my crush on my older brother. Danny and Juan became really good friends. (In fact, they’re still good friends after 20+ years.) At six, I understood that siblings’ friends were off-limits, or at the very least weird. Naturally, I stopped liking Juan. Instead, I became friends with Juan and when I was 14 I asked him to be one of the chambelanes in my quinceañera. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Juan, but he’s since had a child and gotten married.

La Pregunta: Do you remember your first crush? Tell me about him/her.

Cars and candidates

“Están registrados para votar?” I asked my grandparents over dinner on Sunday. They shook their heads, despite having become naturalized citizens about five years ago (I helped them study for the test!).

“You should register them,” my mom suggested.

“I can’t, at least not for the primary election,” I informed my mom. “But they can register for the next elections in June and November.”

Then my mom turned to me and asked me what she’s been asking me since I was 12, “who should I vote for?”

“Well, I’m going to pick my candidate like I chose my car,” I responded in between bites of chicken.

“On color?” she asked.

“Yup,” I said and smiled. The main reason I chose to buy a Dodge Stratus rather than a Neon was because of the color. (To make me seem less shallow, I chose the Stratus after a weekend of driving my brother’s Stratus.)

“Obama?”

“Yup…”

Okay, so it’s not that simple. I’m not choosing Obama simply because I want to vote for the black candidate. I’ve voted for black candidates before (hello, Assemblywoman Karen Bass and Rep. Diane Watson). What black/brown divide?

“Actually,” I confessed to my mom, “I’m still undecided. But I know who I’m not voting for.”

I didn’t make my decision until this afternoon when I read the news about John Edwards backing out of the race. Hopefully I’ll be able to articulate my choice after the townhall with Senator Obama tomorrow.

Sixtyfive

Favorite

“I probably won’t get to celebrate too many of these types of Masses,” noted Padre Roberto at the beginning of the Mass. Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni had just walked down half of the aisle in the small Huntington Park church. The church was filled with their family, a mix of generations. Even the priest was family. Padre Roberto is their nephew and ahijado (godson).

He’s right. How many couples get to celebrate 65 years of marriage?

My grandparents (and all their family by extension) are blessed. And we know it.

The ceremony was lovely. Padre Roberto spoke about the metaphorical wine in one’s marriage and the need to keep it replenished. Then Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni renewed their vows with the blessings of their children.

Following the Mass, we headed to La Verne for the reception for tacos and dancing and lots of pictures.

Star Sapphire Anniversary

On January 30, 1943, José Ureño and Antonia Saldivar got married.

In case you haven’t done the math, that was 65 years ago (minus a few days)!

My family is getting together today to celebrate the Star Sapphire or 65th anniversary (source). I hope it’s as memorable as the celebrations for the 50th (golden) and 60th (diamond) anniversaries.

50th Wedding Anniversary

For Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni’s 50th anniversary in 1993, the whole family got all dressed up as if we were part of wedding party. I don’t remember too much about the ceremony or the party except that Ernie (my cousin) and I read the first and second readings in Mass and there was a big party with a tamborazo and birria afterward.

The celebration for the 60th anniversary in 2003 was much smaller. We had a small Mass to celebrate the milestone at my family’s home and had the party there too. The family was much bigger by this point (about 80 people counting all the inlaws and great-grandkids).

Soft hands

i was once told that my hands were incredibly soft. the guy who told me this – a platonic friend – told the person next to him. The other guy touched my hands and supported the first guy’s exclamations.

“You’ve never done any hard work in your life have you?”

If you mean cleaning toilets, picking fruit, using a short handled hoe, operating heavy machinery, and sewing hundred of garments in a few hours, then no, I haven’t done any “hard work.”

The people who came before me — Grandpa, Grandma, Papá Chepe, Mamá Toni, mom and dad — already did it for me.

My work won’t make my hands rough.

Question of the week: On labels (no, not that kind)

If he looks weird, it's 'cause he had just pooped I felt annoyed when she said it.

Boston — a young white woman I had just met — tried to tell me how I was related to my relatives.

“No,” she said. “She’s not your niece. She’s your second cousin.”

Boston was talking about Desiree.

Desiree is my cousin Patty’s daughter.

So here’s the connection:

Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni have 8 kids. The first is my Madrina Chilo. The sixth is my mom, Luz.

Eventually, Madrina Chilo and my mom got married and began their own families. Madrina Chilo has four children, Bibi, Patty, Tony and Gonzalo. About 10 years later, my mom and dad started their own family. They copied my Madrina Chilo and Padrino José and have two boys and two girls. I’m one of those kids.

So, that makes me first cousins with Bibi, Patty, Tony and Gonzalo, right? Simple enough.

Now, when my Madrina Chilo’s kids started getting married and having families of their own, I was told by my aunts and Mamá Toni (grandmother) that Patty and Gonzalo’s kids were my nieces and nephews.

Okay. I believed them. I had no reason to doubt them. I was only 6 years old or so when Gonzalo’s first daughter was born. Since then, many other cousins have started families. Their kids have never called me tía Cindy even if they’re informed that I’m their aunt and not their cousin.

Now, back to Boston.

Back when I tried to explain the connection between Desiree and I, Boston insisted that Desiree and I were second cousins. Huh?

My second cousins were the children of my mom and dad’s first cousins. Sure, Boston had annoyed me, but I just brushed it off until I recounted the exchange with X. He had a similar experience.

Las Preguntas: The whole thing got me wondering if Mexicans (or raza in general) see family relationships and labels differently than white people. Who is a second cousin? Who can be called a niece or a nephew?

Photo: Anthony’s (cousin Tony’s son) first birthday party, April 2005.

Yo, lurkers! (’08 version)

These were made by the Zacatecas peoples
They think you should comment (artifacts at the Natural History Museum)

I missed National Delurking week, which is supposedly the second week of January. I have an excuse. My computer was broken.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a lurker is “a person who reads discussions on a message board, newsgroup, chatroom, file sharing or other interactive system, but rarely participates” (source: wikipedia).

If you’re a lurker*, leave a comment. You can write whatever you want, but if you need a prompt, here’s some ideas: recommend something (a book, film, song/album, website, blog, whatever); tell me about yourself (where are you from? what do you do?); tell me why you love/like/hate Lotería Chicana.

I promise I won’t bite or call you annoying (that was so last week).

*Of course, if you regularly comment you can chime in too.

Retrospective

Abridged timeline:

  • September 2003-February 2004: Apply to 5 graduate schools.
  • March 2004: Receive news that I was admitted to all 5 graduate schools.
  • April 2004: Decide to attend UCLA for graduate school.
  • September 2004: Begin first year of graduate school.
  • May 2005: Take doctoral screening exam, and pass.
  • June 2005: Earn MA in Education and decide to participate in graduation ceremony. Only my brothers attend, everyone else couldn’t make it.
  • September 2005: Begin second year of grad school (or year of engagement). I end up being more disengaged than actually engaged in my coursework and work.
  • Summer 2006: Grapple with the question, should I stay or should I go?
  • October 2006: Begin third year of graduate school and decide to stay.
  • June 2007: Complete coursework.
  • September 2007: Begin fourth year and start meeting with study group for qualifying exam.
  • November 2007: Take qualifying exam. Earn a passing grade on 2 of the 3 papers, so I have to retake the exam.
  • December 2007: Retake general question for the qualifying exam.
  • January 2008:

    Dear Cynthia,

    I am pleased to inform you that the faculty of the Department of Education has reported that you have passed your written qualifying examination leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree.

Yay. My parents asked me yesterday what this means. Well, it means I’m eligible to start working on my dissertation proposal. The proposal will be the plan for my study on Latino science students in college.

For the unabridged version, complete with excerpts from blog posts from the last 4 years or so, click the link below.

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Question of the week: Saving money

Denise and El Chavo got me thinking recently about all the things our families did/do to save a buck.

Denise discussed outfitting her five seven kids in hand-me-downs. El Chavo bravely reviewed the unappetizing huevos rancheros breakfast burrito and discussed Chicanos’ longtime reliance on the breakfast burrito. The breakfast (or lunch) burrito is a cheap alternative to fast food.

My mom used both of these methods. She’d find name brand baby clothes at yard sales in the “heights” of Hacienda Heights. Lori got my old dresses (even if she didn’t look as cute as I did). My mom would make dresses for me and Lori and any store bought clothes came from the sale rack. As for burritos, we’d eat them on road trips. Trips to Disneyland meant packing sandwiches in a cooler and stepping out to the car for lunch. We never ate lunch in the park (but I think we might have been treated to a churro, but we had to share). I’m sure our tortas were much better than overpriced burgers.

La Pregunta: What did your parents do to save a buck or two? Have you continued any of these practices?