Hermanito

Adrian swore he wouldn't be mad if I posted this I called home a few days ago and asked my little brother, viagra 60mg Adrian, apoplexy what he wanted for his birthday.

“Food,” he answered without missing a beat. He wasn’t joking. Food has always been a big part of Adrian’s life. When you ask him, “are you hungry?” He answers back with another question, “what kind of question is that? You know I’m always hungry.”

Despite his attitude toward food, Adrian is extremely sensitive about weight issues. Well, weight issues when he was a baby. He gets pissed off whenever you bring up the fact that he was a really fat baby. He says things like, “why do you got bring up the past for?” or “well, look at me now!” I just giggle and laugh at the fact that he used to be called names alluding to his chunkness including Chonchís, Refrigerator (Fridge, named after William “The Refrigerator” Perry), and Cheeseburger.

Adrian likes chili dogs Twenty years after he was born, he’s no longer known for the chorizo-like rolls of fat on his arms and legs. Instead, people know Adrian as a young man who is a lot of fun to be around, but we still call him chunk.

Adrian asked me once, “do you think I’m an asshole?” He had a semi-concerned look on his face and I knew that he was not joking. “No,” I answered, “you’re nothing like Fat Matt, he’s a real asshole. Did someone tell you that?”

“Yeah, my friend’s girlfriend,” he answered a little sadly. I figured she probably didn’t like the fact that Adrian and his friends talk a lot of shit to each other, but that’s the way they get along. Even I was offended that someone would call my little brother an asshole.

Adrian used to eat olives off his fingers Adrian is one of the kindest people you will ever meet. He is the furthest thing from an asshole I can think of. Oh yeah, and he’s my brother and we all know that you can’t be a M_______ and an asshole. They are mutually exclusive. Sure, me and my siblings can all be pretty sarcastic, have meanstreaks and get into our little moods, we’re still good people.

Adrian is probably the easiest M_______ kid. to get along with (and you all thought I was great). He is funny, talented, kind, thoughtful, caring, hardworking, intelligent and incredibly loving.

I feel like Adrian has been 19 years old forever. Perhaps it’s because I’ve had to explain the makeup of my family to a lot of new people I’ve met in the last year. I’ve kept thinking, ‘Adrian is still only 19?’Well, not anymore. Today he’s 20.

¡Feliz cumpleaños, Adrian!

Happy Mexicans

familia “All these people are here for you?”

I gave my friend the look to let him know he was crossing the line. “Of course, page ” I responded. “They all showed up because they love me.”

My friends who showed up to my party on Saturday night seemed to think that I had a big turn out. “You have a lot of family here, pharmacist don’t you?” they’d ask while looking around. I was thinking the opposite. A lot of my extended family members had not come to the party. It was probably a good thing since we were running out of tables and chairs. When I told my friends this, they seemed a little shocked because there were still lots of people at the party.

The comments at the party reminded me of the comments I frequently get on my pictures or posts regarding my family. The gist of those comments is that my family appears to be very close.

In some ways I find that ironic because to me it seems like we’re less close than we used to be and all the pictures of smily Mexicans having a good time at parties obscures the fact that those smily Mexicans often are pissed off at each other and sometimes go weeks without any substantial communication. Yeah, we’re just like a lot of other families.

But then I start to think a little more. The friends were not the only ones making this observation. Others in Blogotitlán noted it too. The comments got me thinking and wondering why my family was rather close and gave off that impression.

The primary reason we’re close rests on proximity. Through most of my childhood all my parents’ siblings lived in Southern California. My mom’s sister Socorro lived in Ecuador with her family so I didn’t see her much until I was about 10. My tío Beto moved to San Diego shortly after he got married. And when I was still in elementary school my tío Manuel moved my tía Eva and their 6 children to Jeréz, Zacatecas. Some of their kids moved back when they were old enough. Despite this, 7 out of 8 siblings and their families living within 150 miles of each other was not bad. My grandparents also lived in the area, but Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni traveled frequently between LA and their homes in Tijuana and El Cargadero (near Jeréz). On my dad’s side, it was a lot more simple. Everyone lived in East LA, Montclair or the San Gabriel Valley. I’m a lot less close to my dad’s side of the family, so for now I’ll just talk about the U side of the family.

Another reason we seem to be so close, especially lately, is because of mis abuelitos. My octogenarian grandparents are not necessarily the glue that holds the family together. My mom and her siblings all get along very well, but having my grandparents around means that there are a lot of get-togethers in their honor. For instance, anniversaries and birthdays are always celebrated. In the back of our minds I think we worry this birthday or anniversary might be the last.

Third, there isn’t too much of a big difference in age amongst the cousins. Well, not for me at least. We grew up together doing the same activities and enjoying the same things. We all liked the Ninja Turtles, played baseball, and spent summers in Mexico. We even have similar music taste and are very supportive of eachother’s endeavors.

Last, we trust each other. This one is mainly for my siblings, but I think it also goes for the cousins. I feel completely comfortable talking to my almost-20 year old brother about guy issues or just complaining about work. My sister and I have a really tight bond as well and we can both confide in each other. The older brother and I are close too, but it’s odd since our interests are so different.

My family isn’t perfect. My siblings and I still fight. We get annoyed with our cousins. My mom and her siblings have little arguements too, but overall we’re forgiving people and things always seem to right themselves. If the conflicts won out, we’d miss out on some great things like camping and more parties.

Novel Fiction

tattooed soldier I’ve been reading the same short novel for a few months this summer. I’m not bored by it, visit this but for some reason I keep putting it down.

I packed Héctor Tobar’s The Tattooed Soldier in my backpack along with my bathing suit, shorts and tshirts for camping. I figured when the 20+ family members at the Headquarters campsite in Kernville got on my nerves, I’d retreat to some semi-quiet area of the campsite or river to read more about Antonio and Longoria, the two main characters in Tobar’s tale of revenge.

I didn’t read as much as I thought I would partly because the Kernville heat was too unbearable to do anything else than just swim in the river. Oso thinks the river is cold, but I don’t think it even compares with that of the Colorado River which is truly freezing. When I was a kid I’d spend all day in the river. I’d wake up in the morning and put my swimsuit on before breakfast and wouldn’t take it off ’til the sun was going down. Once in my cozy sleeping bag, I could still feel the current of the Kern pulling me downstream as I tried to forget the ghost stories the other kids would tell and ignore the mosquito bites.

Anyway, on Saturday afternoon after lunch I took some time to read. Oscar, my parent’s compadre, asked me, “What are you reading?”

I showed him the book and added a bit of information I thought might interest him. “It’s by a writer from Guatemala.”

“Oh really?” Oscar asked with growing interest. I gave the book to him and he flipped through it and settled on the same passage I was reading. “You know, I remember the guys coming through yelling ‘¡zapaaaaaaaatos!’ asking who needed their shoes fixed,” he mentioned in reference to the man who fixed shoes.

Oscar gave the book back to me and I kept on reading about Antonio and his wife Elena who had moved from the capital to a small town in the provinces, San Cristóbal for safety from the death squads who disappeared many “subversive” students and others who spoke out against the government.

maritza & oscar The next morning I put the book down as we cleaned up the campsite. Oscar asked me again about the book, “So, what’s it about?”

I began to explain to him. Well, the book is about a man, Antonio, from Guatemala who flees on the same day he finds his wife and 2-year old son dead in their home. Right before leaving a neighbor points out one of the assassins, a soldier in the elite Jaguar Battalion of the Guatemalan army distinguished by a tattoo of a jaguar on his forearm. Many years later, Antonio encounters the soldier in MacArthur park in Los Angeles and plans his revenge.

Oscar’s wife and my madrina, Maritza, was now listening. Oscar began to talk about how the death and destruction of the “judiciales” was very real. He told me, “that’s the reason Martiza is here.” Maritza nodded her head and told me that even though she wasn’t involved in anything just being a student at the Universidad de San Carlos was dangerous enough. They recounted some of the atrocities and stories they had heard from friends in Guatemala and other Guatemaltecos they met in LA.

I’ve known Oscar and Maritza for 15 years and have never once heard any of these stories. I never even thought to ask. I didn’t know that Maritza’s mom insisted that she leave immediately, only with the clothes on her back. She left Guatemala with her older brother who had gone to visit his family.

A book that is just a fictional novel with well-developed characters and suspenseful plots is just that, fiction. To Oscar and Maritza it was reality.

El Río Kern

Suck it in, <a href=cardiologist kid” /> I have a lot more to say about the time I spent camping, sick but for now I can say that I miss being around of one of the cutest kids ever, my nephew Anthony. I’ll see him next Saturday when my cousin Tony and his wife Ingrid show up to my birthday party and bring Anthony.

I’ll be back with more thoughts but for now I’ll just post something I wrote last night:

Camping isn’t like I remember it when I was a kid.

I’m not as daring and willing to raft down unknown parts of the river. I’m more cognizant of the fact that there are a lot of slippery rocks in the river and I’ll probably slip. The desert feels hotter. The nights feel colder. There seem to be less stars lighting up the sky. I have no desire to eat marshmallows or make s’mores.

People have their portable DVD players and I’m on my laptop.

I don’t have to share my tent with 5, 6, or 7 other people. It’s just me, but that’s partially because I was supposed to share it with the roommate and she decided not to come at the last minute because she got sick.

Nostalgia

Flying high Chismosas Cindylandia y fans Universidad de Guanajuato

“August / August of last year / Before the leaves disappeared / Told me you were not the one.” — Rilo Kiley, page August

A few weeks ago, mind the power went out in my office. I had to go to the computer lab in order to get some work. For some reason, I began to check the travel websites. I entered León, Guanajuato as my destination and Los Angeles as my starting point. I didn’t designate a date, but just put before October. The resulting prices from my search seemed pretty affordable and in a few minutes I was on the phone with my mom asking her if she wanted to go to Guanajuato some time in September.

She didn’t. Or rather, she couldn’t. Neither could my sister or brothers. They have school. Most of my best friends have work, or school. Going alone was an option, but I just let the desire pass and decided to save my pennies for December when I will go with the parents and the little brother to our neighbor’s quinceañera in Zacatecas and then spend Christmas in Guanajuato.

I really do miss Guanajuato. Right now, I miss the crazy thunderstorms. I really would like to go back to August of last year. I’d like to fly again in Mazatlán and just relax in the really warm waters. I’d like to eat chilaquiles that don’t cost $17 dollars. I’d like to explore more of DF. I want to play with the little cousins who called me Cindylandia.

In some ways, going back to Mexico for a few weeks would just be escapist. I’ve been going through some tough times lately. I’ve realized not everyone likes me and I’ve found myself struggling with some relationships. I’m about to start the intense year of engagement in my program and I’d just like a vacation. I need the time to clear my head, but also keep me grounded.

Those 23 days renewed me. Perhaps I just miss that feeling.

Miguel Hidalgo's birthplace Larger than life El tri on the hill Getting a good laugh on the way down

Never Left Behind

I went shopping for birthday cards today. August is a month of a lot of birthdays of people who are rather important to me. It’s not just because my birthday is this month (if you don’t know the day, troche you might not be too intelligent. Hint: look to Flickr).

I bought my Dad a card with the following message:

(and Dad said) “If I have to turn around one more time — we’re going to drop you all off at the next rest stop and go on without you.” (his bark was always bigger than his bite).

Happy birthday, more about Dad
(and thanks for never leaving me behind.)

Even though the kids on the card are a bunch of gueros, doctor I still bought it, because I could hear in my head my dad saying the exact same thing. However, most of the time we weren’t even far from home.

I don’t know how my Dad (and Mom) didn’t ever really lose his patience with us. With four kids all about 6 years in age difference, it was like a guarantee that we’d always be whining about something especially if we were crammed into a car.

There was one time when he got really pissed off at me. I was like 4 and I don’t remember it at all, but my Mom loves recounting the story.

We were on our way back from Mass one Sunday. Back then I got dressed up for Mass. I wore one of my many ruffly dresses, socks (or medias depending on if it was cold or not), ruffly chonis and shiny patent leather shoes. Neither I, my Mom, or my Dad have any idea about what why my Dad was mad at me or why I was mad at him. That’s irrelevent more than 20 years later. What does matter is that I was throwing a tantrum.

My parents didn’t hit me (I’m sure Gustavo would be glad to know), at least then. Instead, they took some advice from my Mom’s best friend and our neighbor, Mary Parra, a German-Filipina women married to a white man. Mary told them, when they throw tantrums, just stick them in the shower with cold water. Fully clothed, of course.

My Dad did just that.

And guess what? I screamed and yelled, “mi vestidoooo!” Dad got so pissed he just left the house for a few hours.

Father/daughter bonding When I learned of that, I was pretty proud of myself. I’m sure my Dad expected me to be a handful, but the truth is I’ve been the non-squeaky wheel of the family. I just didn’t start off that way.

Dad never left us behind even after he stopped the car, instead, he just got back to driving because we always had somewhere to go and he wasn’t going to let his 4 whiny brats stop him and my mom from being there.

My Dad will be 52 tomorrow. ¡Feliz Cumpleaños!

La Marcha de Zacatecas

Chepe looks good in blue On Saturday at Papá Chepe’s 85th birthday party, rubella I gave him eight kisses and then proceeded to dance la Marcha de Zacatecas with him as the tamborazo Zacatecano (required at my family’s big parties) played.

I wish you could hear what la Marcha sounds like (I found a clip, health click on “play song clip”). Someone told me once that it’s the second national anthem of Mexico, sort of like Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever is the official march of the US. I played both marches when I was in band during high school, but I’ve always preferred la Marcha de Zacatecas. If you’ve heard both, if part (or all) of your family is from Zacatecas, and you’re really close to a proud Zacatecano, you would understand why.

There’s something really nice to me about dancing with my grandfather. It makes me feel comfortable, at home, and closer to him.

Papá Chepe and Angelina When I was a kid, my mom would talk about her own maternal grandfather lovingly. Papayito passed away in her late teens and she missed him a lot. I learned the value of dancing with my grandfather from my mom who used to dance a lot with her Papayito. Growing up, I saw her dancing with Papá Chepe more often than she danced with my dad. I supposed it was because my dad was often playing in the band at the party, or maybe because he just wasn’t feeling the tamborazo music as much.

I wish I could dance la Marcha de Zacatecas at every big family party in the future with Papá Chepe, but I know that’s impossible. He’s a little slower in his step now, he dances a little bit less and sits out more songs. Still, I’m glad to even have the opportunity to dance with Papá Chepe because I’ve learned a lot more than just dancing from him.