Nativity scenes

It’s not Christmas in a Mexican household without a nacimiento (nativity scene). Even in my un-festive apartment, we have a tiny nacimiento. The wood-carved nacimiento above is the only indicator — save for a few Christmas cards lying around — that it’s Christmas season.

I find it somewhat ironic that my place is so un-festive considering I’m the daughter of people who go all out for Christmas. The tree and lights go up right after Thanksgiving and our nacimiento (combined with a Santa’s Village, how’s that for acculturation?) have always been a source of pride for my family. We even have decorations in the bathrooms!

Still, I think my favorite Christmas decoration is the nacimiento. I love how every family does it a little differently. Check out some more nacimientos from Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Hacienda Heights and Chicago.

Continue reading “Nativity scenes”

State of affairs

You know what’s ironic?

A few weeks ago, I was trying to compose a text message to a friend about feeling rejected. When I wrote rejected using the T9 predictive text, the first word to come up was selected.

2007 has definitely not been my year for being selected. Instead, I keep getting rejected. I’ve taken lots of L’s (losses) this year. Take a look:

  1. January: submitted conference proposal, it was rejected (repeat two more times in August and November!).
  2. April: boyfriend breaks up with me. I try to plead my case a few weeks later in May. He still says it’s best if we’re not together.
  3. May: apply for the legislative liaison position with the Graduate Students Association. Get passed up for someone with more experience. Ah, politics.
  4. November: X, the guy I’d been dating for a couple months, gets bored/disinterested/whatever with me and we stop dating.
  5. November: take qualifying exam. Doesn’t go so well. Have to retake one of three questions.

I’m hopeful 2008 will be better and that I’ll find “someone who cares about the world as much as I do” or just get some serious work done toward graduating.

A little gift: State of Affairs by Los Abandoned [right click, save as]… sigh. They broke up too.

Mil palabras: Towel Bride?

Day two in Cozumel.

We didn’t do much this day. The group split up in two as the guys rested from partying late into the night. My parents, Lori and I went into town for brunch. The parents went off to rent a scooter and Lori and I wandered around the malecón and checked out some of the shops. Later, I met up with the guys to watch the Mexico vs. US soccer match. It was sad. It’s one thing to see Mexico lose on TV in your LA apartment, but it’s worse when you’re in a bar with a bunch of other Mexicans and the only white folks in the bar don’t even care about soccer. Mexico lost. Ugh.

We returned to our room to find this odd little towel creature. I think it’s a bride based on the veil-like shape above the head and flowers. The guys were upset that they didn’t have any towel creatures in their room.

Later that evening, we went swimming and snorkeling. We also had a family meeting to set the agenda for the rest of the week.

Question of the week: Paying for College

I’ve got financial aid on the mind. I think this is a side effect of writing a paper on financial aid policy shifts in the last 25 years. Or it might be because I recently checked my BAR account and saw that I owed almost $3,000 for winter quarter fees. Yikes. It’s a good thing I have a research assistant position which pays my fees.

For grad school, I’ve paid my fees, rent and other education expenses through a combination of fellowships, research assistantships (covers my fees/tuition), work (up to 30 hours a week), student leadership stipend (e.g., vice president of external affairs stipend) and loans to help make ends meet. I don’t mind working because my work helps me polish my research skills and the cool students I work with help keep me sane. I’m not a starving graduate student, but I’m not rich either.

Undergrad was a different story. I’ll get to that later.

La Pregunta: But what about you? How did you pay your way through college? If you’re still in college, who is bankrolling your education?

Mil palabras: La Guadalupana

One of my good friends at school inspired this haiku last year:

Hardly religious
Wears Guadalupe pendant
Hangs near corazón

My friend was born on the 12th of December, the day Mexicanos and Guadalupanos of all nationalities celebrate La Virgen de Guadalupe and commemorate her apparition to Juan Diego. A non-religious Chicano wearing a Guadalupe pendant shouldn’t surprise any fellow devotee. I think we all see the Virgen Morena in slightly different ways.

I struggle to explain what she means to me, especially when other writers have done it so much better (see Goddess of the Americas).

Above all, La Virgen de Guadalupe makes me feel at home and closer to my family. She’s all over my parent’s home. She has her makeshift cerro de Tepeyac in the front yard and greets visitors to the house as they enter the front door. She reminds me of my faith and calms me down in those tough times.

Previously: La Virgen Morena (links to blogging.la posts I wrote on La Virgen de Guadalupe’s ubiquitousness, history and manifestation in modern-day art).

Question of the week: Favorite books

As a kid, I almost always had a book with me. I’d bug my mom to take me to the library where I’d check out half a dozen books and read them as soon as we got in the car. Instead of being scolded for watching too much TV or playing too many video games, I’d get reprimanded for avoiding my chores because I was lost in some book.

I read pretty much anything I could get my hands on from my dad’s Reader’s Digest magazines to the Babysitter’s Club series.

My favorite books were Judy Blume’s hilarious Fudge series which followed around Peter Hatcher and his mischievous brother, Fudge. For a birthday, I got a boxed set of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Superfudge, Fudge-a-Mania and Double Fudge. When I got older, I gave the books away to one of my cousins so she could enjoy Peter and Fudge’s misadventures.

La pregunta: What was your favorite book(s) as a kid*?

*Define kid anyway you want.

Happy birthday, Danny

My parents had kids in pairs. Danny was born in December 1978 and then by August 1980, I showed up. Lori and Adrian didn’t show up until January 1984 and September 1985, respectively.

Thanks to this pair system, Danny and I spent a lot of time together as kids. We played on the same summer league baseball teams, danced together in folkórico groups, marched in the same band, played the same instrument, and sang in the same children’s choir at church. We were even put in the same class a few times in elementary school when classes would be combined with two different grades. I was often known as “Danny’s sister,” and I didn’t mind. It was nice to have an outgoing brother to compliment my shyness.

I no longer follow Danny around like I did when we were kids, but we’re still close and I still admire his talents to charm perfect strangers by singing or cracking a joke.

Happy birthday, Danny!

Mil palabras: Tripping out


Cozumel (or Playa del Carmen), Quintana Roo

I never got around to writing about my family’s June trip to Cozumel, Mexico. Part of the reason I didn’t write about the trip was because as soon as I returned to LA, my friend José died in a car accident and the next few weeks were spent in a bit of a daze.

The photo above represents the long trip my family took from LA to Cozumel. Check out our itinerary:

6:15 pm – depart from Palms to Hacienda Heights
7:15 pm – arrive in Hacienda Heights [only for me]
8 pm – depart from Hacienda Heights to LAX
8:40 pm – arrive at LAX, check in and go through security (all rather quickly)
9 pm – chill for a few hours at the terminal
11:45 pm – board our Mexicana airplane
12:10 pm – depart for Mexico City. Had a sandwich and stayed up to watch I Think I Love My Life. It wasn’t worth losing sleep over.
3:30 am – arrive in Mexico City at Juárez International, go through immigration and spend a good 20 minutes trying to figure out where our gate was for the next flight.
5:55 am – depart from Mexico City to Cancún, eat some yogurt, sleep a little, but not enough
8:40 am – arrive in Cancún
9 am – depart Cancún for Playa del Carmen on a bus. No sleep.
9:45 am – arrive in Playa del Carmen, buy tickets for ferry, board ferry.
10 am – take ferry from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel. Sleep for half an hour.
10:35 am – arrive in Playa del Carmen, get a taxi to take us to our hotel
11 am – arrive at El Cid de la Ceiba in Cozumel and check in.

Overnight travel and layovers are tough on their own, but they’re more difficult when traveling with 7 other people. By the time we arrived in Mexico City, we were snapping at each other. When we got to Cancún, we had to deal with the heat and humidity as well as thirst and hunger. I don’t think we could even enjoy the nice view of the beach in Playa del Carmen since we were dragging out luggage along.

The best part of settling in at the hotel was getting some cool drinks, taking a cool shower, getting dinner and taking a much needed nap. We needed our energy for the rest of the trip!

Getting lucky in lot 4

Crossing lot 9

I got lucky today.

No, not in that way. No sean malpensados.

I was running late earlier so I opted to drive to campus rather than take the Big Blue Bus. I tried to buy an $8 parking permit at the parking structure closest to my office, but it was full and the attendant sent me to structure 4 on the other side of campus.

I circled around structure 4 and couldn’t find a spot on the either of the two levels. I went back up to the first level to see if anything had opened up. I was beginning to feel frustrated and annoyed when I saw a woman getting in to her car. I waited for her to pull out of the spot. As she drove past me, she lowered her window and held out her day parking permit.

In a friendly tone she asked, “You want this?”

“Really?” I asked incredulously.

“Yeah,” she responded. I took the permit and put it on my dash as she drove away.

I parked in the spot she’d just vacated, grabbed my things and headed over to my office thinking of my luck. I’d just saved $8.

I love random acts of kindness.