Category Archives: Randomness

The new-ish job

“So, what’s new?”

I used to hate hearing that from friends. Well, it was one friend — more like ex-boyfriend — who would started conversations with that question.

What’s new with what? Can’t you be more specific?

Then there came a time when I hated the question simply because I didn’t have anything new to talk about. I was in the same city, same apartment, same graduate program, same part-time job, same relationship status, etc.

That’s changed recently. I left my graduate program*. I got a new job. My living situation will change. I’m getting married. There’s plenty of new in my life.

About the new job, it’s more new-ish than actually new. Since 2006 I’ve worked in a department that runs various undergraduate research programs for science students. In my half-time position, referred to previously as Job1, I was a coordinator for an academic support program for freshmen and sophomores. I loved working with [Program], but knew I couldn’t stay on if/when I left graduate school as the position is intended for a graduate student.

Leaving grad school became a lot easier when I was offered a full-time position in the same department/office. It was an easy to say yes to the job. Rather than go to a new company, university or even department I’m still in the same office just at a different desk. I’ll tangentially work with [Program], but the bulk of my job is managing research programs for upperclassmen. Even though I’ve been in this office for a while, I feel like the new kid as I attend various trainings and rely on co-workers to figure things out. At least it helps that I worked closely with the previous two people who held this position.

I’m grateful the timing worked out and that my boss thought I’d be a good fit for the position. I know the job market sucks right now; I’m lucky to have easily found something in my field and in a great work environment.

*Many thanks for the thoughtful and supportive comments on the graduate school post. It was a tough decision, but the support of friends, family and my Job1 supervisor made it much easier.

All (non) apologies: I’m sorry if this post offends you

Don't know why he was crying

When I was a kid, I used to occasionally get in fights with my brothers and sister. I said mean things and threw a punch, kick or pulled hair. After pulling us apart from each other and making us quiet down, my mom would make us apologize.

I didn’t want to apologize. I was still mad, but would sheepishly grumble, “I’m sorry if I hurt you when I hit you.”

This did not fly with my mom. She knew I wasn’t being sincere and only apologizing because I got caught and it would mean a lighter punishment.

“That’s not an apology.”

“I’m sorry for hurting and hitting you.”

“That’s better.”

That “if” made a big difference even if it was only a minute later.

I see that “if” in non-apologies all the time on blogs.

Example: blogger writes a post, uses a term that is offensive but often used in everyday talk by people who don’t know any better, or maybe just don’t care. A commenter or two point out that term is offensive. Blogger who is actually only sorry she got called out by a reader responds, “I’m sorry if I offended you. I didn’t mean to offend you or anyone else.”

An even better example, Geraldo Rivera’s non-apology regarding his statement that Trayvon Martin was partially responsible for his death because he was wearing a hoodie. Of course, Geraldo added a lot more than the typical blogger making it even harder to believe that he actually is sorry.

If you need to apologize, keep it simple and sincere. Leave the “if” out and just write, “I’m sorry I offended you.” Five simple words.

Tidbits on work, life, and play

Life

The projector

When my parents got home from Arizona earlier this week, I helped my dad unpack the car. As I carried out a box from the car, he told me I’d love what was in it and that he’d show me later. Shortly before Sean and I returned to LA, my dad set up a projector and reels of short 30+ year old home movies. I watched my first birthday party. Short observations: (a) my mom was a fox in 1981 and still is; (b) I’m glad my dad no longer wears short shorts; (c) I was a decent walker at 1, but had no idea what to do with a rooster-shaped piñata; and (d) it was funny to see Danny punk another boy who tried to ride off on my new wheels. We need to transfer these Super 8 movies to DVD.

Lent is one of my favorite times of the year. This is the first year in several where Ash Wednesday Mass isn’t the first I attend since Christmas. I’m more invested in my faith these days and giving up something like meat, tortillas, shopping, or alcohol doesn’t fit with how I want to observe the season. Instead, I’m adding some things in to my life that I hope will help me grow in my faith and as a person.

Work
At Job2, I’ve been coding transcripts from interviews with black, Latino and American Indian pioneers in the sciences. Most of them have dedicated a large part of their career to increasing diversity in these fields. It’s pretty cool to read about their successes, but it’s saddening to hear about the struggles they’ve faced in the academy because of their race or gender.

In the news
Speaking of diversity and higher education, I was surprised to hear on Tuesday that the Supreme Court will hear a new case on affirmative action in college admissions (NYT story). As a post affirmative action kid (thanks, proposition 209!) and higher education nerd, this news piqued my interest and worried me a little. I’ve studied the University of California’s race blind admissions policy as well as the benefits of diversity in the classroom. I’m no legal buff, but did read a lot about Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) and Gratz v. Bollinger (2003) as part of my coursework. This was right after the decisions came down and some of my professors had contributed to the social science research cited by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in the Grutter majority opinion. The higher ed nerd in me wonders what, if any, role social science research will play this time around.

Entertainment
A couple weeks ago, I read a review for The Baker’s Daughter: A Novel, by Sarah McCoy on Feminist Texican’s book review blog. A couple minutes later, I purchased and downloaded the book to my iPad’s Kindle app. The Baker’s Daughter attracted me because the two main plot lines occur over 60 years apart and in two different countries. Of course, the story of Elsie in Germany is linked to her German bakery in present day El Paso, Texas. Second, as Melissa (Feminist Texican) points out, it might be one of the few works novels to consider both the Holocaust and the politics of immigration at the US-Mexico border. I loved The Baker’s Daughter and would definitely recommend you read it while enjoying some coffee or tea at a local bakery — preferably one that makes traditional German breads and pastries. You’ll get hungry reading about freshly baked brötchen, lebkuchen (gingerbread), cakes and kreppels.

Papá Chepe was the supervisor, he's quite bossy

I finally got around to watching A Better Life. Demián Bichir’s best actor nomination was well deserved for his portrayal of Carlos Galindo. Bichir gave a great performance as a father trying his best to provide for an ungrateful and difficult teenage son while dealing with the challenges and consequences of living in the shadows as an undocumented immigrant. It made me think of Papá Chepe and tío Pancho, both immigrants and jardineros in LA.

Muppetvision 3D

I watched the Oscars mainly out of habit and curiosity. I hoped Bret McKenzie would win for Man Or Muppet (he did!) and wanted to see how things turned out for Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. I’m still annoyed that there was no performance of Man Or Muppet, but did see Cirque du Soleil perform. The latter seemed like free advertising for their show at the Kodak Theater. I was pleasantly surprised when Natalie Portman described Carlos Galindo, portrayed by best actor nominee Demián Bichir, as an “undocumented immigrant.” I was glad the show writers didn’t use “illegal immigrant.” Drop the I-word!

Running
I’m supposed to figure out a race pace this month. I haven’t figured it out yet and doubt I’ll have it by Wednesday. Also, I’ve largely ignored other fitness goals that don’t have anything to do with training for the LA Marathon. I’m okay with that.

Finishing strong

Some long runs are decent and not that difficult; others really suck and make me hate distance running. During this training cycle, I’ve had very difficult 16-milers. The 18- and 22-milers have been less difficult. Sunday’s long run was tough. I had to take short walks a few times. Long runs are supposed to be slower, right? The only good thing was that I didn’t give up on it at 13 miles when I made a quick stop for water at home.

Wedding planning

Sean registering for a grill?

I thought I was going to like registering for gifts. It’s a bit more involved than I expected, just like the rest of the wedding planning process. Also, I know it’s just one more way stores are trying to get me to be a loyal customer for years to come. Hey, wedding industrial complex! I see you lurking behind those unnecessary one-purpose appliances.

Although it involves a lot of driving, I have enjoyed the caterer search. We’ve met with a couple for tastings and like what they have to offer.

Ten tidbits for the week

I love lime.

I got a mysterious cut on my thumb. It’s more annoying than painful, especially when squeezing lime or giving my apartment a much-needed scrubbing.

Which one?

I went wedding dress shopping with my mom and sister yesterday. I’m pretty sure I found the dress.

Mozzarella en carroza @ Rocco's

I read on NPR’s The Salt blog that Americans eat an average of 31 pounds of cheese annually. That caught my eye for obvious reasons. I didn’t know if it was a #31fail or a #31ftw. Then I did the math. 31 pounds is only 1.35 ounces a day. That’s around 1 1/3 servings daily. No big deal. If it was the amount of cheese I consumed yesterday — one slice on an egg sandwich, half a slice on a cheeseburger, half of that mozzarella en carroza up there, and whatever was on two slices of sausage & spinach pizza — then I’d be concerned.

UCLA is mine!

I really hate this statement: “getting a BA is the new high school diploma, it’s meaningless.” All that tells me is that the speaker comes from quite the privileged background. I know that for someone who shares my background — immigrant parents, first generation college student, Chicana, lower middle class — earning a BA was beating the odds. Hell, graduating high school is a big deal for a lot of people like me. It’s true that college-going and graduation rates have increased for all segments of the population, but some groups still fall far behind.

Shopping PSA featuring Sean

I made my first trip to Target in a few weeks. To keep to my not be a sucker for Target resolution I made a list beforehand, and stuck to it for the most part. I bought one item off the list, a set of 10 pound dumbbells. Sean gave me his disapproving side-eye if he caught me looking at something that was not on the list, but he suggested the new dumbbells since the 8 pound ones are too easy.

Fitness stuff for the home

I’ve been strength training twice a week for seven weeks now. I’m seeing some results. I’ve been able to increase the weights 25%. Okay, it’s only going from 8 pounds to 10, but that’s still improvement. My jeans and blouses fit less snug too.

Garmin run for 1/30

I thought I was getting faster after incorporating regular strength and cross training. After doing the math, I’m not so sure. I averaged a 9:15 pace for easy runs from October through December; this excludes long runs and races. In January my easy runs averaged a 9:04 pace. Not as big a difference as I thought considering my average easy run is shorter these days. Well, at least I’ve shown some recent improvement in the half marathon distance. I ran about 2:03 in my first half marathon in October 2010. My personal best in December was 10 minutes faster.

Cindy and her mom

This week I realized I was “brave” because I venture out in to the world without makeup and any special hair style 95% of the time. I don’t wear makeup because I want to buck social norms. I’m just too apathetic to bother, too cheap to spend money on the good stuff, and don’t like spending much time getting ready. I really like the way I look with makeup, but I’m not so used to myself with mascara and eyeliner that I feel I look ghostly or insecure without it.

Happy hour hefeweizens

I had my first beer in a month yesterday. I temporarily gave up alcohol in January. It’s easy for me. I don’t drink much to begin with. Now, giving up Diet Coke for a month was difficult.

Old Skool

My Blogotitlán friends want to run the Chicago Marathon in the fall. I’m bummed I’ll have to sit out this reunion as I’ve already decided not to run a fall marathon and I’ll probably be tapped out of any extra funds due to the wedding and honeymoon. [Photo by Oso.]

February goals & January goals check-in

FEBRUARY GOALS

Light weight

I’ll leave off all the ones relating to all the other things I need to be doing as they just feel like checklists.

Health & fitness

1. Stick to my LA Marathon training plan and get through the highest mileage weeks and long runs of marathon training without injury. Plan includes strength and cross training.

2. Figure out a race pace and get comfortable with it.

3. Run the Hansen Dam Friendship Run 18-miler.

4. Change up my strength and core routine. Try another Nike Training App workout. I did — er, attempted — a core workout and it kicked my ass.

5. Track (with points) for at least a week and one weigh-in. I got through about 4 days of tracking my points and then abandoned it after the BBQ for my grandparents’ anniversary.

6. Continue planning out dinners for weekday nights at the beginning of the week. We just started doing this and it really helped save time and streamline shopping.

JANUARY GOALS CHECK-IN

Fruit salad
Health & fitness

1. Continue attending yoga classes: Nope. Yoga went by the wayside as I got in more running.

2. Rehab IT band: Sorta. It feels much better, but I still feel some discomfort during long runs. It’s not as bad as it was in December. I need to be better about icing and rolling it with the Stick, even if I don’t feel like I need it. I’ve been increasing my mileage recently and have felt good.

3. Get my 5 servings of fruits and veggies daily: Check. Eating a big salad for lunch almost daily helps with this.

4. Attend one Weight Watcher’s meeting: Check. I started tracking and counting points for food last week. Based on my sex, age, height, weight, and activity level, I was allotted 26 measly points. I haven’t stayed within that limit at all in the last 7 days. If I did, I’d feel quite hungry. In the past, I still lost weight even using the weekly flexibility points (49/week) and activity points I earned.

5. Stick to Marc’s training plan: Check, sorta. Sometimes, I don’t do the scheduled cross training and run instead. However, I’ve stuck to the straining and look forward to it. I’ve been able to up the weights for the dumbbells I’m using.

6. Negative split at Carlsbad half marathon: Check, just barely.

Wedding

1. Update guest list: Check. It’s a little worrisome that our guest list is larger than our venue cap.

2. Gather addresses: Check. The mailing list is 85% complete. We still need addresses for Sean’s family and his parents’ friends.

3. Make planning timeline, consult planning checklists: Half check. I got the latter done and downloaded a few wedding planning apps.

4. Schedule Catholic couples retreat: Not yet.

5. Begin wedding gown search: Online, yes. I got suggestions from LA/Southern California area bridal boutiques from friends and family. I’ll be visiting a few shops later this week with my mom and sister.

6. Complete save-the-dates: Check. We got them on Monday.

7. Make wedding website: Check. It’s still in progress.

8. Book honeymoon: Nope. We still have a lot of work to do researching the various options.

Bonus:
I originally delegated the mariachi search to my dad. I know he’s picky with mariachis and he has good taste. He had a group he liked, but they were booked. After some online searching, my dad went to a party and heard a mariachi he really enjoyed. They also had two women in the group, which I liked because I love to hear women sing rancheras and boleros. The group is available and affordable. We just need to make it official.

We also signed up for a couple of gift registries. We haven’t done much with them yet.

Blog

1. Bring back This Day in Chicano History posts: Check. I have a list I made a couple years ago with several dates. I need more women-related dates on it.

January goals & December check-in

I have mixed feelings on doing these monthly goal posts. It’s trendy, but it’s helped me to mix things up with my normal routine and I am getting things done. Thus, I’m still on the monthly goal bandwagon.

JANUARY GOALS

Sage advice

Health & fitness

1. Continue attending yoga classes
2. Rehab IT band
3. Get my 5 servings of fruits and veggies daily. No burgers or fries!
4. Attend one Weight Watcher’s meeting
5. Stick to Marc’s training plan (includes cross training and strength)
6. Negative split at Carlsbad half marathon

Wedding

1. Update guest list (already begun)
2. Gather addresses (already begun)
3. Make planning timeline, consult planning checklists
4. Schedule Catholic couples retreat
5. Begin wedding gown search
6. Complete save-the-dates
7. Make wedding website (in progress)
8. Book honeymoon

Blog

1. Bring back This Day in Chicano History posts

DECEMBER GOALS

Health & fitness
1. Use my Groupon for yoga classes at a local studio: Check. I took one beginner’s class and am looking forward to going back. I liked the teacher.

2. Run around the UCLA perimeter twice: Nay. I avoided a hard hill workout before the Holiday Half (12/11). Afterward I was recovering and dealing with some mild IT issues. From what I read, hills make it worse.

3. Run the Holiday Half Marathon and PR: Check!!!

4. Strength training twice a week: Half check. I started this in the last two weeks of the month.

5. Do a couple of runs with a friend or group: Nay.

6. Stick to my training plan: Nay. I fell off after the half, but I did start incorporating the cross training and strength he’s included.

7. Decide on the LA Marathon: Check. I’m in unofficially.

Wedding

Cindy & Sean Sunset Silhouette

1. Engagement photo session: Check. Loved the results and the process of getting all dolled up was fun too. [Photo above by Michael Fletcher.]

2. Estimates/hiring 2 other big ticket vendors: Nay.

The blog
1. Post 3 times week: Check.

Other
Get the most of our Disneyland passes: Check. We went after the half marathon. It was quite crowded, but we saw/did some more new stuff and finally checked out the fireworks show.

A targeted goal

target sucker

I came up with my first resolution ever.

Don’t be an overspending sucker at Target!

I know a lot of people plan to save more, pay down debt and get their finances in order. Those are great goals. I haven’t set one of those in a few years, because it’s not an area I feel I really need to work on. I’ve been putting away money for retirement since my early 20s through work and on my own. I didn’t get a credit card until I was 24, much to my father’s chagrin. He would’ve preferred I never got one. If I carry a balance on a credit card, it’s almost always been low enough to pay off with money I actually have. I’m not debt free though thanks to my car and school.

Target is different. Almost every time I visit, I go in with a list and come out with items on the list along with several other things I didn’t “need” until I saw them on the shelf. I’m a sucker for Target’s shelf psychology, or how stores arrange items to maximize consumer spending. (If any retail psychologists or marketing researchers need a 30-something college-educated Latina to fit a quota for a survey or focus group, sign me up! I’ve participated in consumer research for cars, and it was a neat experience that paid well for the time involved.)

I went shopping at Target today. I didn’t go with a list, but stuck to the goal I made up after my trip. Sean and I spent $105. We bought groceries, necessary toiletries, and dumbbells. Sean picked up a space heater for his bedroom.

Strategies to stick to my sucker free goal:

  1. Always make a list. (I didn’t do that today.)
  2. Stick to the list.
  3. You can go off the list if the item is needed. Example: I realize I need dish soap while at the store, but forgot to include it on the list.
  4. If possible, shop with cash and leave credit and debit cards at home/in the car.

Eleven for ’11

Overall, 2011 was a pretty good year. Below, eleven memorable moments in chronological order.

First photo of 2011

Kissing Sean at midnight on New Years Eve. That almost didn’t happen thanks to a fierce winter snowstorm that delayed his move from NY to LA a few days. [post]

Happy running in the home stretch

Feeling Grandpa and Grandmas’ spirits giving me strength in the final miles of the LA Marathon. Something made me surge at mile 25. I say it was my grandparents. Crossing the finish line was cool too. [post]

The attention getting Tweet

Getting a text message telling me to turn around and then seeing Sean down on his knee, holding a ring in a box. I said yes. There were tears and mocos (boogers). [post]

St. John Vianney in Hacienda Heights

Learning from Adrian via a midnight text message that St John Vianney was on fire and likely unsalvageable. It didn’t hit me until the next morning when I saw the news and photos of the gutted church. [post]

All the Bixi bikes were rented

Running and biking along Lake Ontario during my trip to Toronto. Other memorable runs during my travels: a long run through Santa Barbara; a short post-LB Marathon run along the Hudson in New York; running along the nature preserve in Napa. [post]

Nevada Falls and Liberty Cap

Reaching the point on our hike when Nevada Falls finally came in to view. Yosemite was great overall. Even though our trip was cut short thanks to the crazy storm it was still pretty amazing. [post]

Brea Community Center - Community Hall

Setting a date, signing contracts and paying deposits to reserve the church and reception hall. After that point, getting married started to feel official. [post]

Friends since freshman year at UCLA

Celebrating my 31st birthday with lots of friends and family. Not only did they show up, a lot of people also put in lots of time and effort to make it special for me. [post]

Empire State of Minding it

Seeing Sean and his friends sing Jay Z’s “Empire State of Mind” at the top of their lungs at a bar during our only trip back to New York this year. I know he misses NY. I do too. [post]

Disneyland with familia

Spending a day at Disneyland with my parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins. It was neat to fill up an It’s A Small World boat with my family and see Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni enjoy Disneyland for the first time in 35+ years. [post]

Cindy showing off her newest medal

Kicking ass during the Holiday Half Marathon and earning a 5 minute PR. I ran a few PRs this year and for the most part met my running goals. However, this one instilled some confidence and felt like a come back from my awful LB Marathon experience. [post]

Look-alike assurance

That’s my cousin Valerie up on the left. On the right is Jessica Frech, a singer featured in the Hyundai Holiday commercial. When we saw the commercial on Christmas Eve, a few of my cousins noted the resemblance between our cousin and the singer.

Valerie wasn’t so convinced. Isn’t it usually that way? I told her I’d post the question here. What do you think?

Past look-alikes:

My dad and César Chávez

Emmanuel “Meme” del Real from Café Tacuba and Dave Grohl

Johnny Depp and Edward James Olmos as el Pachuco