Monthly Archives: August 2011

31, San Diego & five links

Just a coincidence

Remember when I went to a taping of The Price is Right… and didn’t win anything? Well, it aired on Friday. It’s online. My friend Lucy who smells like corn (10 points for you if you get the reference) pointed out the spots where you can see our group of 4 fabulous Chicana education PhD candidates — well 3 of 4, I’m the slowpoke of the group. If you care, they’re at: 0:47, 6:35, 7:43, 9:55, 22:35 and 37:35.

After 9 month or so hiatus, we finally have a new issue of Puro Pedo Magazine. Get your Chicano satire here.

A friend linked me to the latest NPR Krulwich on Science story about favorite numbers. I wonder why it made her think of me.

Last week’s PostBourgie podcast featured a few notable guests as well as the usual contributors reviewing the documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest.

Chicano Twitter Bird

Sean created a Chicano version of the brown Twitter bird. I think we can call it the lighter shade of brown Twitter bird.

31, Yosemite

We were in sites 30 & 31

It seems that since I’ve returned from our camping trip in Yosemite earlier this summer, I’ve read an almost weekly story about deaths in the park. Five of this year’s deaths were associated with the Mist Trail (slipping, getting swept over the falls). Two people slipped and fell while hiking Half Dome. The scenery on the Mist Trail and throughout the park is breathtaking, but getting to those lookout points can be quite perilous, especially in bad weather conditions and when ignoring safety precautions

31, Palms & the neighbors’ kids

My building's 31

I’m cheating a little with this one. The 31 above is on the building I live in. It’s followed by two other numbers. I cut them out. Of course, I would live on the 3100 block of my street.

I’ve been living in the same apartment for nearly 11 years. I moved in two days after I turned 20 with 3 other women. Over the years, they all moved out and I got new roommates. Work, graduate school and the promise of rent control kept me here.

Only a few of my original neighbors remain. In recent years, families with small children have moved in (or had a child). Currently, there are about 8 kids living in the two adjoining buildings. They’re all under 10 years old. The youngest are toddlers, the oldest probably 7 or 8.

The kids have developed a friendship/sometimes rivalry. They play in the driveway right outside my window and drive me nuts with all the noise. They run up and down, ride their bikes and scooters, slam the doors of the laundry rooms, play on the stoop right outside my door, and scream as they play tag. I hear their arguments, whining, crying, occasional scolding from a supervising parent or older sibling. When I have to drive my car out or in, I’m extra cautious, always worrying one will dart out from the stairwell or laundry room. In the summer, their play time goes until after dark.

When I’m most annoyed, I’ve considered leaving a note on the corresponding apartments: THIS ISN’T A PLAYGROUND! Below it, I’d include a map to more appropriate play places such as the playground half a mile away or the high school track/football field around the block. I fantasize about hiding the toys they leave littered on the driveway or even running them over. Oops. I’m passive aggressive, but not that passive aggressive.

To be fair, the kids are usually polite when I interact with them. If I ask them to watch out for cars, they oblige. Only once or twice have they done something I’d consider truly egregious. One kid — ironically my favorite — sprayed me point blank with a water hose. His mom apologized to me and he was punished.

Lately, I’ve been listening to the kids play. It provides some entertainment. One of the younger kids just got a bike with training wheels and it’s interesting to see how the older boys treat him. They talk about movies and cartoons the way I used to with my friends and cousins. Another boy, always breaks in to tears by the end of play session. He often tells on the other kids. Sean calls him a snitch.

My favorite, a chubby four-year old and new bike owner, chatted me up through the window a couple of weeks ago as I made dinner. “We all need to do exercise,” he said. I agreed with him. What’s better exercise than running around and playing with your friends?

31, El Cargadero, Zacatecas & tamborazo

Treinta y uno

During the fiestas de San Rafael, the patron saint of El Cargadero, the ghost town comes to life with migrants who have returned for the festivities. I’ve never been there for the feasts in October, but 4 years ago my parents went with Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni. During the day, they went through the bureaucracy of signing over the grandparents’ house to my mom. In the evening they joined the festivities in the Plaza del Migrante or watched the borlote (commotion) from the balcony. My grandparents’ – well, now mom’s – house overlooks the main plaza. This was great for people watching, but not great for making international calls.

My dad called me one evening during the trip. Even though he was inside the house with the windows closed, I could still barely hear him. It wasn’t the connection; the background noise of drums and horns from down below was drowning him out.

The sound was familiar. I’d heard it several times before at anniversary parties, weddings, birthday parties and any other special occasion. Pretty much every big party on the Zacatecano/maternal side of the family featured a tamborazo zacatecano.

I must confess, I’ve always been ambivalent to tamborazo, which sounds a bit like a marching band[1] sometimes. It might just be the Guanjuato/paternal musical influence, but I never warmed to the music. For backyard parties, the tamborazo was always too loud. Sometimes, the horns and woodwinds sounded out of tune and the musicians weren’t that good. There was no singing; and after a while songs started to sound the same. Like the rest of my cousins, I was usually glad when the band took a break and the DJ played pocho-friendly music. Despite my ambivalence, I danced, especially if my 91-year old tamborazo-loving grandpa pulls me out to the dance floor. I love dancing with Papá Chepe and will take every opportunity I get while he can still dance.

I feel a little bad for feeling this way. I’m supposed to be proud of my culture and champion it, right? Even if it hurts my ears?
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#aztlanreads

I need more space on my bookshelves

Yesterday afternoon, I noticed some of my Twitter contacts naming fiction and non-fiction works by Chicana/o writers and scholars. As is the custom on twitter, they added a searchable hashtag: #aztlanreads.

First it was just 3 or 4 people chiming in, but it’s grown. It’s obvious, there are hundreds of texts out there by Chicana/o writers. Xicano007 said #aztlanreads will be the perfect way to show others that we do indeed read and write. Annemarie Pérez, a recently minted PhD in English, replied that it could also be useful to anyone at a loss for finding Chicana/o texts. She added that it’s neat to see how the same texts have influenced several people as they’re mentioned again and again.

I added a few contributions including my blog’s namesake Spilling the Beans: Lotería Chicana by José Antonio Burciaga. Then I pulled out his collection of poetry Undocumented Love/Amor Indocumentado which includes one of my favorite poems, “Bilingual Love.” I’m not sure I’ll be adding books to my reading list any time soon or going back to re-read old favorites.

The #aztlanreads list is growing. You don’t have to be on Twitter to view it, but you do need a Twitter account to join the conversation on Twitter. (Your account can be private, but your tweets won’t show up in the #aztlanreads database, only to your approved followers.)

Check it out and add your favorite texts. There are no rules. You can add edited volumes, prose, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, texts you read in your Chicana/o Studies classes, lo que sea.

There’s chatter of starting other lists such as #aztlanfilms and #aztlanmusic to highlight the work of other Chicana/o creatives. Maybe if we get crazy, we can add an #aztlanblogs.

Hah.

31, Venice (CA) & dogs at restaurants

I'll be the first to admit I have strange obsessions

Mondays are always rest days for me. At least that’s how they’re set up on the schedule. If I skip a run or have to rearrange my week, I might have to run on Monday. Not today. I took advantage of my rest day and margarita Monday deals.

Sean and I had dinner at Kay n’ Dave’s in downtown Culver City. They have $3 house margaritas on Mondays. We sat outdoors along the sidewalk since the inside was a little noisy. All was cool until a pair of twenty-something women clad in yoga gear sat at the table beside us. One of the women had a small dog with her on a leash. I was a little annoyed and tweeted my distaste: There should be a no dogs section on restaurant patios. Just because we’re outdoors doesn’t mean I want to eat my dinner next to your dog.

Here’s the thing: I don’t dislike dogs. I really like my family’s dog, VR, but I’m not about to bring him to a restaurant. That’s just… rude.

I’ve never been at a restaurant where someone brings their dog near the tables, so I don’t know what’s the normal protocol. I also didn’t know that Kay n’ Dave’s was dog friendly. The waitress fawned over the dog while the women snapped photos on their iPhones. Later, another waiter brought him a bowl of water. The women ignored the dog’s whines of hunger when their food arrived and gossiped about never giving up a dog for a man (surprise, surprise!). Otherwise, the dog was well-behaved and bothered us less than the womens’ “likes” every third word.

Is bringing a dog to a casual restaurant with outdoor seating normal… for the Westside? Should we have said we were uncomfortable and that one of us is allergic to dogs?

31, Rancho Park & maintaining

this is why alfred is one of my best friends

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been tracking everything I eat. I did this, along with tallying up the points value of those foods, while I was trying to lose weight with Weight Watchers. As I got the hang of eating the right foods, I stopped actively tracking as I continued to lose weight and eventually reached my goal weight and WW Lifetime status

I’ve been in maintenance mode for a year and a half. I’ve been semi-successful. I gained 10 pounds back. The first 5 came back pretty easily. I alluded to that in February. The next 5 came back in the late spring/summer.

I’d be dishonest if I said the weight gain didn’t bother me. I explained this to Stacia in the comments of her post on pre/post pregnancy self-image.

I don’t have a pre- and post-pregnancy view of my body image. I think I have a three (maybe four) broad views. There’s the me I knew for so long as always overweight, which I still thought was beautiful. There’s me as I lost weight over the course of a year. There’s me at my low weight. And me now about 10 lbs above that. If there’s a time when I’m most stressed about my looks, it’s probably lately…

[Stacia replied and asked if it the stress was wedding related.]

Nah, it’s not about wedding stress so much, at least not yet. I think it’s more about some pants not fitting and feeling like this extra weight is keeping me from improving and being a stronger runner. I also think this anxiety about any weight gain probably is going to be with me for a while. I’ve never lost a significant amount of weight and everything you hear is “it’s gonna come back… plus some!” I don’t want to undo the work. And frankly, I did feel more confident and better about my body 10 lbs lighter… but I’m a stronger runner now. Strange.

I’m not actively trying to lose weight while training for the Long Beach Marathon, but I don’t want to gain more. Enter tracking sans points and limiting eating out to weekends. I didn’t realize I was snacking so much, especially when bored at work and late at night after dinner. I don’t think snacking is bad, but I need to eat more nutritious snacks and reign in my sweet tooth. After all, I do want to get back to goal weight, the wedding pressure is no joke.

31, Silao, Guanajuato (BJX) & Mariachi Pop

It's only fitting...

I remember taking this photo. It was shortly after my cousins, Juan and Eddie, had dropped me off at the airport after a short visit with them on their ranch outside of Salamanca. My parents stayed in Guanajuato a few more days enjoying a short vacation planned around my cousin Adriana’s quinceañera. I took thee photo August 12, 2007. What a coincidence. I didn’t even plan that when I chose it; I picked it because it’s the only 31 photo I have in Guanajuato, one of my favorite places in the world.

***

Sean and I went to a free show tonight at downtown’s California Plaza. It was the second Friday in a row when I’ve gone to a Grand Performances show. I’ve been checking out GP shows for several years and enjoy the cool and relaxed atmosphere. Plus, it’s nice that the shows are free.

Tonight’s show featuring Mariachi Rock-O (with Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlán) and Mariachi Mystery Tour was great. The former played rock, pop and soul classics with a mariachi twist. The latter, as you may have guessed, played Beatles favorites.

I really enjoyed both bands. Sean and I joked that we’d love to have Mariachi Rock-O play at our wedding, but I think that’s unlikely given that they’re based in Guadalajara. Still, I’m sure our guests would love to hear mariachi-fied versions of Morrissey’s “Everyday is Like Sunday,” Radiohead’s “No Surprises,” Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eye’s Off of You”, Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida”, Nacha Pop’s “Lucha de Gigantes,” Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” (okay, a bit melancholy for a wedding), and Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry” (it is a Jamexican wedding).

Mariachi Mystery Tour, from Albuquerque, put on a great show too. As I listened to them, I was a little bummed my dad wasn’t there. I know he would’ve loved them. I bought their CD knowing he’d enjoy their versions of “Yesterday” and “In My Life.” He introduced me to Beatles songs when I was still a kid. I remember singing along as he played “Do You Want To Know A Secret” on his guitar at parties or around the campfire. The Beatles are the first English language music I remember being conscious of.

I grew up listening and dancing to a lot of traditional Mexican music. I love the sounds of the violin, guitarrón, vihuela, guitars and trumpets in concert. I’ve always enjoyed the classic mariachi favorites and can sing them at the top of my lungs like a bunch of other poch@s trying to prove their Mexicanness. I knew of mariachi, rancheras and Mexican “regional music” well before I developed a taste for American and English pop music. It’s neat to see mariachis dressed up in their trajes de charro and sombreros combining new and old traditions.