Monthly Archives: August 2011

31 today

I wanted this piece

Earlier this year, my good friend Rio asked me to write a guest post on his blog for his 31st birthday. Rio’s used his talent and creativity to surprise me on past birthdays (see: birthday activity sheet #1). It was only fitting that I repay the favor.

I lifted what I wrote for his blog and made some changes.

***

Las Jaras

I’m jealous of Rio. Today, he gets to say he’s 31. I’m counting down the days until I can say that. Yeah, I know I’m not your average woman.

I’m obsessed with the number 31. I take photos of it when I see it randomly on a bus or sign. I make a point of noting it as a hashtag on my Twitter feed when something is #31ftw (for the win, e.g., my favorite baseball player Andre Ethier hitting 31 home runs in 2009) or #31fail (e.g., Justice Sonia Sotomayor getting 31 nay votes in her Senate confirmation). My friends and family don’t get it, but they still send me photos when they spot a 31.

The truth? I don’t really get it either. My affinity began late in high school. That was when friends started teasing me about my many crushes and I earned the nickname “31 Flavors.” I didn’t mind it, after all, I was born on the 31st of August. Soon, the nickname became part of my first email address. I grew out of a lot of my other high school/early 20s mini obsessions. Not 31.

As for the photo series, that didn’t begin until I bought a digital camera in 2004. The next spring I went out to lunch with my ex-roommate at a diner. We ordered our food and the cashier gave us a number for our table. It was 31. I had to take a picture.

Soon, I was spotting it around school, LA, in my travels and so on. I took more photos. My friends and family spotted the number occasionally and sent me photos too.

I kept it up for several years, but never sat to think about what 31 means and why it’s awesome. Some reasons why:

  • The best months — January, March, May, July, August, October and December — have 31 days.
  • Some of the best days of the year are on the 31st (César Chávez Day, Halloween, NYE, my birthday).
  • It’s a prime number, a self number and all kinds of other cool math stuff I don’t really understand.
  • California, my beloved home state, was the 31st state admitted to the Union on September 9, 1850.
  • The motherland, Mexico, is made up of 31 states.
  • In Lotería, the 31 card depicts las jaras, or the arrows. (I think this is pretty cool considering Cynthia is one of the names of Artemis, goddess of the hunt, forest, hills and moon. I’m also pretty keen on the moon.)
  • Baskin-Robbins has 31 flavors of ice cream. Yum.
  • In the periodic table of elements, Gallium has the atomic number 31. It’s primarily used in semiconductors.
  • Nick Hornby wrote a book called 31 Songs all about songs that have impacted his life and his music taste.
  • Thirty-one rhymes with “flirty one” and “dirty one” making for a particularly sexy year.
  • The Dodger record for a hitting streak is 31. Sadly, Andre Ethier didn’t tie that record.
  • If you subtract 31 from 100 you get 69. I won’t espouse on that one because I’m an adult.
  • The old 31 line of the MTA started in the neighborhood where I was born and continued west in to the heart of East LA.
  • I live on the 3100 block of my street.
  • Greg Maddux, one of the best pitchers in the 90s, wore #31. His jersey has been retired by both the Cubs and Braves. (Fun fact: he pitched for the Dodgers in 2006 and 2008.) Reggie Miller (Pacers), Mike Piazza (Dodgers) and Kurt Rambis (Lakers) also wore #31.
  • Aimee Mann has a song called “31 Today”. I can relate to it in some ways.
  • If you inverse 31, it makes 13, which might not be so popular in Northern California, but is more liked in LA and Southern California.
  • If you add the digits of 31, you get 4. There’s lot of cool things about 4, like the 4 elements, 4 directions, Cuatro Caminos from Café Tacuba y más.

Those are all just random reasons, but I’m pretty sure 31 will be an awesome year for Rio. I can’t see why not.

***

for those of you who thought you'd be forgotten...

Yes, I’m happy to say “I’m 31″ when someone asks my age.

As for the 31st birthday, it was low key. I spent the morning and afternoon at Disneyland and California Adventures with Sean. We rushed through several short lines and finally got to check out the new Star Tours. I loved the old version, but the upgrade is pretty neat. Throughout the day, I heard from several friends near and far (e.g., China). Their birthday greetings made me smile and feel loved. Afterward, we met up for dinner at my favorite restaurant with my mom, Adrian and his girlfriend. The rest of the familia was working. I’ll really celebrate with the extended familia and friends in a few weeks at my birthday party.

Sundresses, tequila and tejanas

My first birthday party was rather wild

Things I like about this photo from my first birthday party (one of my all time favorites):
1. My sundress (my mom has great taste)
2. My little baby arms and complexion
3. I’m wearing a Tejana (probably Papá Chepe’s or my padrino José’s)
4. Um, I’m hugging a bottle of tequila. I wouldn’t let go of the bottle even when I went down for my nap.
5. How more Mexican can a baby be?

I’m pretty sure my 31st birthday won’t involve sundresses and bottles of tequila. At least not today. But a sundress and a cowgirl hat? That could be done.

31, Chicago & Santana

Santana's Greatest Hits #31

For your listening pleasure (via tumblr):

Evil Ways
This was my introduction to Santana.

Samba Pa Ti
One of my favorite concert memories is hearing Carlos Santana play this song. It was new to me way back then (1999), but it felt like I’d known it my whole life. I know that’s cheesy, but it’s true. The song was also a chapter in Nick Hornby’s 31 Songs (in the US it has the much less cool title of Songbook).

Oye Como Va
I didn’t know this was a cover of a Tito Puente song until I took an ethnomusicology class on Latin American and Mexican music.

Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen
During my summer of Guitar Hero obsession, I got pretty decent at playing — if you can call it that — “Black Magic Woman.”

Everything’s Coming Our Way
I’ve always loved the optimism of this song.

31, UCLA & finding my religion

Fire hydrant 31

It’s hot out there, folks. Stay hydrated.

***

I got through the work day with some help from my Puro Pedo Magazine colleagues. We started making up titles for fake research papers on Latino movies. I offered up a few including “We have to be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans: Poch@ identity formation in Selena.

That’d be a neat dissertation topic, no? I’m already interested in racial/ethnic identity formation… it could happen. Or not.

I should probably just focus on Latino college students majoring in the sciences. I find those kids interesting. Just don’t ask me to remember their names.

Yesterday afternoon, one of the sophomores in the Program (aka Job1) spotted me at St. Augustine, a church in Culver City. I’ve passed by dozens of time while driving and running, but had never attended a service there. We got to St. Augustine with 15 minutes to spare before Mass and walked around the grounds. As we walked toward the school and parking lot, two young women passed by. The woman in a yellow sundress doubled back.

“Cindy!”

I was surprised she knew my name. She picked up on this.

“Hi! I’m in [program]! I’m a sophomore.”

“Oh, hi! Um… you’ll have to tell me your name, I forget students’ names all the time.”

I felt so embarrassed that I didn’t recognize her at all. The name thing happens more often. After their fall quarter freshman seminar, I only see the 80+ students a few times a quarter and interact with them mainly through email. I’d have to make flash cards to remember everyone’s names. I see current/former [Program] students all the time on campus, but have never seen one off campus unless it was a UCLA-related event.

She told me her name and I introduced her to Sean. I told her it was our fist time visiting St. Augustine, her home parish. She invited us to grab some food and cake at the anniversary celebration for the sisters associated with the parish, but we were full.

I’ve been pretty spotty on Mass attendance since going away to college. I’m working on getting back in the habit thanks to Fr. Ricky at St. John Vianney. When Sean and I met with him about having our wedding at SJV, he reminded me that I need to practice my faith as part of my preparation for the sacrament of marriage. Attending only on holidays, Lent and the occasional wedding wasn’t going to cut it.

Sean — who grew up Lutheran — has been accompanying me to Mass. When we’re in Hacienda Heights on a Sunday, we go to SJV. When we’re in LA (most Sundays), we’ve been going to St. Timothy in Rancho Park. Yesterday we skipped their noon service in favor of the 5 pm youth service at St. Augustine in Culver City. I generally like youth services, they’re much livelier. I like St. Timothy, but I haven’t been able to make it through a service without breaking in to giggle fits thanks to a man his 60s/70s always sits front and center. First, he has an interesting look. He has a big belly, a beard and long gray/white hair he twists so it sits atop his head (kinda like a Snork). His hair makes him easy to spot. Second, he draws out the final word of hymns long after everyone else has finished singing. It’s rather odd to hear his deep voice hang over with “eviiiiiiiil” or “peeeeeeace” in an otherwise silent church. The first time he did it, we were surprised. The next few times we tried unsuccessfully to suppress giggles.

I need to pick a new parish. SJV is great, but I won’t go to Mass weekly if I have to drive 30-45 minutes just to make it there. St. Augustine offers more Masses, including a Spanish service at noon and the youth service at fives. St. Timothy’s latest service is at noon and it’ll help me work on keeping a straight face.

Any tips on choosing a church or parish?

Will run 18 miles for bacon, birria and beer

The Long Beach Marathon is 6 weeks away. This means I’m two-thirds of the way through my second round of marathon training. So far, I’ve been doing okay. I haven’t stuck to my training plan 100%. Who does? I occasionally skip a recovery run or easy 30 minute workout in the middle of the week. For my first few track sessions, I ran similar mileage on the road instead of heading to the track. I’m running everything faster. Not sure if that’s just because I’m improving or because I didn’t donate blood in the middle of training. Probably a little of both, but more the latter.

I wavered on running a fall marathon because I knew I’d be doing most of my long runs alone. For the LA Marathon in March, I ran all 16+ mile long runs (and one 10 miler) with the Students Run LA team at the high school in my neighborhood. I did my longest run with another SRLA team in the Valley. I really enjoyed training with SRLA, it’s one of the reasons I want to run the LA Marathon again. For those long runs, I didn’t need to do much prep work aside from fill my water bottles and bring my gels/chomps. I could have left those behind as parent volunteers staffed aid stations along the course, but I wanted to get used to taking gels and didn’t want to use up the students’ food/drinks. The coaches planned out routes that were both challenging and similar enough to the marathon course (or on the course) to get us well prepared. They also had tips on how to strategically run the race.

I also didn’t know if it’d be a hot summer or would be mild like last summer. Luckily, it’s been the latter and I’ve been blessed with cloudy skies for most of my long runs. This weekend was probably the hottest of the summer. I woke up at 5 to avoid the heat, but couldn’t avoid the sunshine once the sun rose. By the time I finished three hours later, I was a sweaty, salty mess. If this heat continues through September, I’ll have more pre-sunrise wake-up calls.

Yesterday’s long run was my second 18 miler. I ran the first 5 miles with Sean before our routes diverged. He ran 11 miles, a personal distance record! I continued on through Westwood, Brentwood and Santa Monica before heading back toward Palms. I ran almost the same route as last week at a similar pace (9:41 vs 9:44), but with more water stops. Long Beach is much less hilly than my long run routes, so I’m hoping the extra hill training will help me out on race day. In the winter, I was very sore after my 18 mile long run even with an ice bath. This time around, I don’t need much else than a massage with The Stick. Later in the day I was sleepy (even with a nap), but I still was able to dance a bit at my uncle’s party.

One thing that hasn’t changed from training in winter to summer is that I’ve still got a monster appetite after running for a few hours and burning nearly 2,000 calories. Like Winnie the Pooh, my appetite improves with some exercise. I thought it would be fun to document what I ate on a long run day:
Continue reading

The curious case of Zoë Saldana

Zoë Saldaña

Yesterday during my regular pedicure at my local nail salon, I picked up a copy of the September issue of Latina Magazine. I used to subscribe years ago and then let my subscription lapse. Aside from the constant code-switching which always felt forced and inauthentic. I don’t dislike code-switching or Spanglish. I speak and write like that, but I also recognize that it’s tough to write and make it feel natural. I did appreciate that their models were often real women and they were not 5’10 and 115 pounds.

I haven’t paid much attention to them lately, at least not positive attention. A few weeks ago, I heard about their inane list on 10 Latinas who have played “the help” in movies or television shows. It was a tie-in to the movie of the same name. For obvious reasons, there was a bit of social media outcry. It wasn’t about the perceived status of maids, nannies or domésticas; their work is valued and important. Instead, the criticism arose from the tone deafness of the article. There was no criticism about the lack of meaningful roles for Latinas and Latinos. The blurb about Lupe Ontiveros mentioned her estimate that she has played a maid 150 times, but was in no way critical of the fact that she didn’t have many other opportunities.

Anyway, as I flipped through the magazine, I checked out the details of Zoë Saldana’s photo shoot. On the same page, they included thumbnails of her previous covers for the magazine in May 2006 (far left above) and June/July 2009 (middle). I was surprised to see the change in skin tone between her first cover and subsequent covers. I know all magazines do a lot of touching up, but it’s interesting to see how much they’ve lightened her up over the years. Way to celebrate Afro-Latinas, Latina Magazine.

31, East Village & NY near misses

31 at S'Mac (macaroni and cheese restaurant)

Things Sean missed after leaving New York and moving to LA:
– Several blizzards (except for the one that delayed his move 3 days)
– The second hottest day in New York City history
– An earthquake
– A hurricane

Things Sean misses about LA and wants to do when we return to NY in the fall:
+ Play football with ZogSports
+ Visit various restaurants
+ Walk/take the train everywhere
+ Wear his fall coats again (he gave them to his brother before he left)
+ Go to happy hour with friends
+ See family, of course
+ Hopefully see the Yankees in the playoffs

Desert blood

This morning on my way to work, I heard a KPCC story by Adolfo Guzmán about the English translation of “Los Muertos” a poem by María Rivera about the thousands of victims of drug violence in Mexico. The poem reads like a litany of cities, towns, victims and the violent acts committed against them. [Los Muertos/The Dead English translation]

In the afternoon, shortly before I left work, I saw Daniel Hernández’s tweets about several deaths after arsonists started a fire Monterrey casino.

“Four armed persons entered and began to say: ‘Everybody leave! Everybody leave!’ ” she said. The woman said she ran out a door to a parking lot, but many others fled to the second floor of the casino.

The witness said the attackers, wearing white masks, did not fire weapons or hurl grenades, as some early news reports had suggested. “They started to throw gasoline. There was no grenade attack,” she said.

A line from Rivera’s poem came back to me “… their bodies burnt.”

#yabasta

31, Westwood & most popular posts

My artwork

Last week I stopped by Rite-Aid to grab a drink before heading in to work. At first I was surprised to see that they were already had Halloween candy in stock. Then I wanted to grab a bag of fun size Snickers. I resisted. Plus, I barely had enough money to pay for my drink.

The thought of Halloween (and all that candy!) being a couple of months away excites me. I have fun picking my costume and putting it together as well as helping others come up with affordable, creative and sometimes culturally relevant costume ideas. I started the whole thing as an alternative to the super short, tight and sexy costumes.

I’ve also found that my low budget costume series has been quite popular and brings lots of visitors to my site. Check out my overall 10 most popular posts as defined by the Popularity Contest plugin (in descending order):

  1. Halloween on a budget: Old School Chola
  2. Halloween on a budget: La Chilindrina
  3. Halloween on a budget: Frida Kahlo
  4. Halloween on a budget: La Adelita (Funny thing, my cousin Nancy told me she wanted to dress up as an Adelita. I told her I did it once. She said, “I know, I searched on Google and you were the first to come up.”)
  5. Halloween on a budget: El Chapulín Colorado
  6. A Chicana outlook on Ruben Salazar
  7. The definitive guide to wearing your ethnicity (this could really use some updating)
  8. Nopalitos
  9. Halloween on a budget: La Catrina
  10. Concert buddy search revisited

All of these posts are more than a year old. Some as much as 6 years old. I wonder if this means I’ve already peaked as a blogger. Probably.

31, Los Angeles & GPOY pre-post

31 - LA sports fan version

Maybe sometime soon I’ll have a photo of me wearing/holding up the jersey of whoever gets #31 on the NFL team we might get in LA.

I also chose this photo because it’s a gratuitous before/after photo. The first photo is from January ’09 on my first trip to the Staples Center. After the Red Wings beat the Kings, my date and I wandered around the store; of course I had to take a photo of the Kurt Rambis’ jersey. I know the jersey covers up most of me. Oh well, you can see it in the face right? This photo was taken just a few days after I started WW. [This is usually the "before" picture I use.]

The Dodgers jersey was a gift from Sean. The first jersey he bought was lost somewhere in a postal office in NY. Someone out there has a Dodgers jersey and is confused; there are no Mosquedas on the Dodgers. I took the second photo in June ’10, after getting to my goal weight and achieving WW Lifetime status.

There are a lot of differences between January ’09 me and August ’11 me. Things that I didn’t foresee happening in January ’09:

  1. Successfully losing 31% of my starting weight (60 lbs).
  2. Running a mile without stopping. Hell, running much longer distances without stopping and really enjoying it.
  3. Cooking decent home-cooked meals.
  4. Still loving the Dodgers even as they go through one of the worst seasons ever, both on and off the field. Troubles include life-threatening violence in the parking lot, threats of MLB taking over, severe decrease in attendance, possible bankruptcy and not being able to make payroll on the first of the month.
  5. Going back to work as a research assistant for my advisor to study the educational pipeline of underrepresented minority research scientists.
  6. Getting an article I co-wrote with colleagues published in a top tier education journal. I was last author, but that’s okay.
  7. Losing two long time roommates and seeing my living situation turn upside down initially. In the end it all worked out and I have some pretty cool roommates.
  8. Beginning to date Sean, the guy who inspired the concert buddy search and a post on mini crushes. After 9 months of doing the LA/NY thing, he moved to LA. A few months later, he asked me to marry him. Now we’re planning a wedding. Fun times (sorta).
  9. Having my words featured in some pretty cool places. I wrote about college affordability on the NY Times debate blog and was featured along with my father on NPR’s Morning Edition and Latino USA talking about our father/grandfather. I’m such a nerd that a year later I’m still geeking out over that.
  10. Getting in to the reading running and healthy living blogs. (More the former as the latter typically bore me.) These would inspire some quality snark and contributions to a meme. Today I found out I won Angry Runner’s contest. Neat.

There are some things that haven’t changed since then. Some of the changes were tough. The change in roommates wasn’t easy. Neither was breaking up with Alan in November ’09. I only alluded to it here, but it felt a little too personal for the blog.