Monthly Archives: February 2008

Queso

The fist call was like the first email: short and sweet.

I answered the phone as I was on my way out of the parent’s house. I usually don’t go on Wednesday evenings, because I’d be sitting in traffic longer than I’d actually be at home. However, Adrian and Lori were holding their last BBQ Wednesday night dinner and I couldn’t miss out.

We didn’t talk too much. I’d hung up before even getting to the 10/60 interchange (about 15 minutes away). He had to prepare things for work the next day. “I’ll call you before I return to LA on Friday,” he said as we said our goodbyes.

***

On Thursday evening, I went to a cheese party hosted by some friends from my program. Everyone took some fancy, stinky cheese. I picked up some queso fresco at La Superior while I was at home the night before. I also packed along some aguacate and tortillas because queso fresco doesn’t go well with crackers.

Sometime during the party, I heard my phone ring. It was him. Eek!

I slipped out to the small garden/courtyard at my friend’s apartment complex so I could have some privacy and quiet.

This time, the call wasn’t short. If he didn’t have to go to work the next day and my cell phone battery was not dying, I could have talked to him for hours. We made plans to go to a comedy show with the mutual contact, the Saturday night party hostess and several of her friends on Sunday night.

By the time I hung up with him, the party had died down and the last guests were leaving. I grabbed what was left of my cheese and tortillas, said goodbye to the hostess, and walked with N to his truck.

As we walked to the truck, I heard a beep in my bag. I had a text message.

Talking to u was the perfect end to my day

I swooned. Seriously. If Yeah-Yeah was around, he’d be calling me out like he called out Squints, “Yeah, yeah! You was swooning!”

I showed N the message. Although he’s prone to crass jokes and “that’s what she said” comments, even he couldn’t suppress an “aww.”

“What should I say? Something funny?” I asked.

“No, keep it sweet,” he suggested.

“Okay,” I said as I switched the predictive text from English to Spanish and typed out my one word response.

Igualmente.

Monday night emails

My sister’s advice was great, but it was tough to follow. If you asked a few of my close friends who spoke to me on Sunday or Monday, they’d tell you that I wouldn’t shut up about my Saturday night encounter. I wanted to know what it meant, what I should do and why he just didn’t ask for my number. To shut me up, one of my friends invited me watch Superbad.

When I got home, I did what I usually do before going to bed. I turned on my laptop and checked my email. It all looked like spam. I was about to delete a message from a sender with a funny looking name, when I realized that the oddly placed X was really an ñ and the subject line looked familiar.

From: ojitos
To: cindylu
Subject: [cute subject line, inside joke from Saturday night]

Hi Cindy,

[Short and sweet email in which he explained how he got my email (the mutual contact), that he had a great time on Saturday because I was there, cracked up reading the magazines, and that he'd like to call me sometime.]

Take care,
[ojitos
phone number]

Eek!

I fired off my own email a few minutes later to Chispa. The subject line read, “you don’t know how happy I am right now.”

Smarties and suckers

As soon as I left the party, I tried to figure out what had just happened. I was so distracted, I got lost on my way back to the freeway.

I kept replaying the night. First the pick-up line which wasn’t really a pick-up line. Then dancing and random compliments. Then more dancing. Then singing along to Los Prisioneros’ “Tren Al Sur” and really meaning “no ves que estoy contento, no ves que estoy feliz?” And finally the anti-climactic goodbye at my car. A hug and a nice to meet you. But no phone numbers.

On the twenty minute drive from Pico Rivera back to Palms I wondered if I had misread the cues. If everything felt so right, then why didn’t he ask for my number? And why was I such a weenie that I didn’t just give it to him?

As I re-counted the chisme to my sister the next morning over menudo (sans tripe, ugh), I explained that all hope was not lost.

“I think I’m going to see him next week at a Los Lobos concert,” I told her. “He also has a copy of Puro Pedo. My name is in that. If he even knows how to use Google he can find me… but that might be weird. There’s always the hostess and M, the mutual contact. He can ask them for my contact info… but would that be stalkerish?”

“Don’t sweat it,” she said. “Whatever happens, happens.”

I took her advice.

Hay unos ojos

I never figured out if his eyes were green or hazel. In the dim light of a bar, they were hazel. On a balmy Sunday afternoon, they were green. I asked him once, and even he didn’t have a definitive answer.

As lovely as they were, his eyes hardly stand out in my memory. When I envision him, I think of his smile, brown skin, curly hair, and how cute we looked together (his words, not mine).

I met him at a friend’s party. I showed up alone expecting other friends to later arrive, but they never showed. A few hours in to the party, he arrived with a mini-entourage. He interrupted as I talked to a mutual friend.

“You look familiar, do I know you?” he asked.

I didn’t know him. I’d never seen him around campus — which we later figured out was why he found me familiar.

There was talking and dancing and more talking and more dancing. He was good at both, but it was hot and we had to take a break for drinks. We went in to the house and relaxed on the couch. In the middle of a discussion on turtles, I noticed his eyes for the first time. I paused for a second and lost my train of thought. I wanted to stay something, but held back for fear that I’d sound like the white woman in those old Máquina de Lenguaje commercials.

Soon there were few people left at the party except for me, the hostess, my new friend and his entourage. It was time to go. He walked me to my car. We hugged and said goodbye.

And that was it.

Wanted: Concert Buddy

The only thing I currently miss about being in a relationship is the automatic date for concerts. I have a tough time finding a guy with similar music taste. When I’m dating someone, this isn’t a problem because he’s down for anything from Rilo Kiley to Girl In A Coma.

I haven’t been to a concert since November because (a) my friends don’t usually like a lot of the bands I like or they can’t go out on weeknights or (b) I just don’t feel like going alone. I’ve already missed a few shows I’ve wanted to attend for this reason. I don’t want to miss out on more great shows, especially as the summer months approach. Thus, I’m starting a search for a concert buddy.

Job description


Job Title: Concert Buddy

Job Summary: Concert buddy for a 27-year old Chicana. Typical evening on the job would include carpooling to the concert venue. Small talk while waiting for band(s) to perform. Dancing and enjoying music. Dinner before event is not required, but tacos or other late night snacks are standard form.

Qualifications: Somewhat similar music taste (please refer to last.fm list of most listened to artists), speaks and understands Spanish (pochos welcomed), dances well, excellent parallel parker, willing to be the designated driver if necessary, and familiarity with Los Angeles and surrounding areas. Must own reliable automobile.

Experience: At least 5 years concert-going experience at small venues (e.g., the Temple Bar), large venues (e.g., Hollywood Bowl), and festivals (e.g., Coachella).

Location: Los Angeles and surrounding cities

Hours: 3-5 hours per week, weeknights and weekends.

Compensation: This is a volunteer position

Please send mixtape (acceptable in CD or MP3 format), list of concerts recently attended, and references to Cindylu .

A Closer Look: UCLA’s Underground Students

Remember those undocumented college students I’ve mentioned time and time again? Well, there’s more stories, four to be exact, and two touching photos essays.

The Daily Bruin’s series on AB 540 students profiles four students, all in slightly different situations. Three of the students are current undergrads. Ernesto sent out an email and texts to his friends just to be able to pay for the $2,600 or so it costs to attend UCLA for winter quarter. Victor’s father was picked up by ICE officials at his home and later deported to Peru after 17 years in the states. He considered leaving UCLA to spend more time running the family gardening business. Stephanie has been in school six years, she attends when she has the money to pay and skips a quarter when she can’t afford the cost. Mariana received her green card less than a year ago and is now a graduate student at Harvard. She’s part of an effort to get legislation passed in Massachusetts similar to California’s AB 540, which allows undocumented students who have graduated from a California high school to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.

Oh yeah, and if you’re more of a visual person, you should also check out the photo essays: part one, part two.

Bad Luck Chunk

Monday, February 18
Hacienda Heights

I was cleaning in the kitchen when I noticed the time.

7:15 pm.

Adrian should be getting home any time soon now, I thought to myself.

30 seconds later, he walked through the front door. VR, our dog, ran to greet him.

He looked dejected, sad and not as relaxed as I’d expect him to look after visiting his physical therapist.

“You want to see the truck?” he asked me and my mom.

“What happened to Donkey?” I asked. (Yes, Adrian named his Ford Ranger Donkey.)

“He got hit,” he said in that tone that he only uses at rare times, like the time he woke me up and told me Grandpa Bartolo had passed away.

“What?” I asked incredulously. My mom didn’t say anything. She must have already heard the news.

Adrian led us out the driveway where we inspected the damage on Donkey. The driver’s was banged up pretty bad between the door and the back tires.

“The door won’t open,” he told me.

I started asking questions. How? Where? Huh? You can’t have such bad luck, can you?

Adrian explained, but I’m still confused about what happened. An employee at the physical therapy office was getting stuff out of her car, when it began to roll down a hill — I think the parking brake was off — and hit Adrian’s parked truck. Adrian was in the middle of a physical therapy session when he heard a large boom. He says that the woman’s car would have hit the office if the truck hadn’t obstructed it’s path.

Oh, and why is Adrian in physical therapy? Well, that’s because about three weeks ago, he and his girlfriend were in a car accident. They were hit from behind after merging on to the freeway. Her car was pretty banged up, they weren’t seriously hurt. However, both suffer back pain. Adrian’s on disability leave from work where he has to do a lot of heavy lifting. He’s also had to stop lifting weights. He tells me he watches a lot of TV and plays a lot of video games. Being a bum doesn’t suit the kid, but he has no choice.

Poor kid.

I think Adrian’s current bad luck streak might be worse than the time I survived being bug bombed by my roommate and almost slipping on a burrito (true story). At least he hasn’t had any dental or ear incidents this time around.

Well, I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

[A note on the title: Everyone in my house is known by about 4 or 5 different nicknames. I usually call my younger brother Chunk.]

Tienes que aprender a decirlos mal para que te entienden

From age 1 (or whenever I started speaking) to age 18 or so, I pronounced my hometown, Hacienda Heights, with a hard H. I like alliteration, and HH fit. When I got to college, I met people who put the accent on Pérez and wouldn’t stand for mispronunciation of their names. I also met friends who had no clue where I lived even though they grew up just 15 miles west.

“Wait, you mean Hacienda Heights?” they’d ask pronouncing hacienda in Spanish.

“Yeah,” I’d say, annoyed that I was being corrected.

“Where is it?” they’d ask, still confused.

“Northeast of Whittier, a bit east of El Monte [Al Montee] south of La Puente [I know the article for puente should be el, but the city planners felt like doing things their own way], 15 minutes west of Pomona,” I’d answer, trying to situate my little unincorporated section of Los Angeles County.

My new friends would look at my blankly, still confused. It didn’t matter if I pronounced the H or not, no one knew where it was at.

Since then, I’ve ditched the alliterative pronunciation except for when I’m around white people or others I doubt understand Spanish. It’s just easier that way.

I guess.

Hat tip: Oso

Puro Pedo Magazine February ’08 Issue

On the Puro Pedo Magazine masthead, i’m listed as a writer. That’s a lie. For most of the nine issues of the magazines, I’ve left the writing to funnier people on the staff. I usually just help run our mailing list and blog. (Oh yeah, if you want to subscribe, you can send an email to subscribe@NOSPAMpuropedomagazine.com.)

This issue is different. I actually wrote something. To download the pdf of the February issue, click the cover image above or click here.

In this issue:

  • Aztlan’s Next Top Chola
  • Why Pochos Love the Raiders
  • Activist Caught at Wal*Mart While Drinking Coke
  • Search for Carmen San Diego Ends in Guantanamo
  • Special Valentine’s Day Cards by Rio Yañez
  • Puro Pedro: 20 questions with Efren Ramirez
  • Great Moments in Chican@ History: The MEChA Meeting that Started on Time
  • 10 Tips to Help Barack Obama get the Elusive Latino Vote
  • Indigenous Group Sues Disney for Copyright Infringement
  • Writers Strike Ends, Comedian Relieved
  • Lonely Hearts advertisement
  • Mariachi Road Crew by Jerry Gonzalez

If you like it, let me know. If you don’t, let me know too. I don’t mind criticism.