Monday, February 27, 2006

self portrait tuesday

I've been REALLY cookin' with this All O' Me SPT theme so, why stop now? Hell, I may just keep going through March and do a Time Marches Through My Ugly Bits spin off. Like, a thousand side by side polaroids of my daily, sweaty workout pants. That's hot! Ok, back to this week . . .
I am an on-line shopping EXPERT. If they had an Olympics for this, I'd medal. I somehow can buy perfect-fitting items from a blurry 2"x2" picture off the computer screen. I even dip into the most risky of on-line buys: Shoes and makeup. Just recently I successfully bought a red lipstick at from a cartoon simulation of the color, which are approximately 20% off of accurate and god knows which way. EXPERT, I'm saying. I have had about a 98% success rate and for the amount of shopping I've done on-line over the last five years, these odds are outstanding. One Christmas, I didn't step foot in a single store, but my UPS guy and I became best buds. What's up, Mike!

Last week, I bought some 1921 jeans on-line. I already have a dark pair of 1921 jeans and I love them. They are my favorites. So, I decided to buy a lighter pair and I confidently bought them in the my size, the size that the other pair are. When they arrived, I couldn't wait to try them on and much to my HORROR, I couldn't pull them up over my hips. I realized the light pair have zero stretch to them, apparently the key to jeans fitting me. And here's the ugly bit: I am so vain -- about my on-line savantness AND my refusal to buy a size up -- that I WILL NOT be sending these mothereffers back. Logically, I understand that jeans are cut by the dozen from probably enslaved workers with unsteady hands so quite possibly the size is off or cut differently, BUT I DON'T GIVE A SHIT. (Ug.) So, I'm thinking about wearing them out as is.


You gotta say that like a fog horn: Dow-ner. This is how I feel. I've contracted a little Monday blues.

Now, do a little skippity dance where the arms swing from side to side and your legs kick back. Sing, "I'm a downer, I'm a downer. I'm down!" Because this is what I do to make myself feel better. Try it. It helps.

I had a fantastic weekend with the girls. Which is why I'm down. Not really, of course, but I just crave it all the time, time with the family.

We went to Native Foods which is a famous vegan restaurant in the world of vegan restaurants. Astoundingly, even though it's in my own back yard, I had not gone before this weekend and now I'm KICKING myself for all the time lost eating at Native Foods. Just gonna have to make up for that. I especially love to see the girls get all excited about eating some vegan food. They were genuinely stoked. Every bite was a big celebration. "This is so good, I can't take it!" This is Mina's new favorite phrase. The I-can't-take-it part she now adds to everything. Which is so cute I can't take it. "I love you so much, I can't take it." And that'll just make your eyes roll to the back of your head. So, each bite was a "wow" and a "yum" and a "holy." Every bite.

Displayed at Native Foods were rows of pamphlets. Each began with the words: "The Truth About . . ." There were about twelve which told the gruesome truth about beef slaughter and poultry raising and fois gras making. The pamphlets presented stomach-churning pictures and nauseating descriptions. Maya in her infinite nosiness said cheerfully, "Oh, what are these?" I was going to stop her, but decided otherwise. She brought all twelve pamphlets to the table and the three of us examined them all. She made me explain the pictures and the words better because cruelty goes over so confusingly on children. Even Mina looked in horror. We all know she loves pork, but ironically -- or more like when indigenous cultures revere and holify their prey -- Mina's favorite animal, it turns out, is the pig. She looked at the pigs trapped in cages fit for a hamster and sincerely said, "I don't want to eat pigs." I said, "I can understand that. If you're ready, that's cool, Mina." She said she wanted to be vegan too, but I know the girl really loves the taste of meat and cheese, not all the time, but sometimes. I said, "Just do the best you can, little mama."

The pamphlets were bringing us down -- as truths often do -- so I rushed over and grabbed the Farm Sanctuary pamphlets. I said, "Look, there are places that save animals from slaughter and let them live nicely on a farm." We carefully considered the Adopt An Animal! page. We unanimously decided we'd like to adopt a pig. Maya said she'd contribute part of her allowance to help with the adoption fees because the pamphlets had brought her to tears, and after viewing them, her recent decision to become a vegetarian had just rooted itself more firmly into her being. I kissed Maya for the allowance offering and I kissed Mina because she said that the animals on the sanctuary were so cute she couldn't take it.

They've named our pig already though I'm not sure you're allowed to do that. But Violet if it's a girl. Hans if it's a boy. Violet they just came up with instantly. And Hans is the name of their favorite AfterSchoolCare counselor. He rocks, and I thought the names were perfect. We then got dessert and shared a slice of vegan cheesecake that was so eeffing delicious that Mina demanded that she have this as her birthday cake in a couple months. I was like, shit, no need to twist my arm. As the girls fought over the last bits of cake and as I thought of Husband and my dogs waiting for us to come home and chill together, I thought, Please don't let this day end. Please don't let this day end. Please . . .

And I’m down.

Friday, February 24, 2006

photo booth friday, Mina edition

Edwards 21 Theater, Feb. 2006

Here's some gratuitous gorgeousness; Mina wearing the thrift-store jacket I found two days ago while I was a pretend stay-at-home mom. And the coat came with matching pants. Oh yes, it did. I still have thrift-store skillz!

Check out more cool photo booth photos here.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Me and the Sand Pipers

So, yesterday I sat with the Ocean. We did some talking. It had been a while. I had taken Monday & Tuesday off from work because Husband was out of town and the girls were out of school because of an extended president's day holiday. I pretended I was a stay-at-home mom. I took Wednesday off too, just for me, and I pretended I was a stay-at-home writer mom. It broke my heart a little, the tease of this life. I tried to find renewal in the time alone, but I was reminded of what else can go on outside of an office. So, I visited the Ocean. And we talked. I rolled up my jeans and took off my shoes and I let Her pet my feet.

I said, "Remember when you helped me through labor?"
She said, "Yeah."
"With Maya especially," I laughed.

When I was about to give birth to Maya, I had realized between early contractions that no one is really prepared for labor. Wild-eyed and on the verge of hysteria, I knew I needed to make peace with the pain or something drastic might happen. I had been advised to visualize a rose opening up as I contracted. I pictured a rose blooming, and then I nearly kicked over an IV. What the fuck can I do with a rose? A rose was not helping me make nicey-nice with the goddamn pain. Quickly and kindly my mind offered me the tide of the ocean instead. As a contraction came on, I imagined the tide rolling in and in, and then fading back. At its worst, I didn't think the tide would stop rolling. I held my breath, but I did know it would pass. It would roll out again. When I had the rhythm of this down, I knew I could endure it all. I didn't look toward the reward of my baby. That would've only caused me the panic of wishing it was over immediately. Instead I rolled with the pain. It would pass. I could take it as long as I flowed with it.

The Ocean said, "You need to visit more."
I spotted a pack of baby sand pipers chasing the water in unison, as if on wheels. I said, "I know."
She said, "I have some advice."
I stopped walking and sat on a sand hill. I was all ears.
She said, "Remember when I helped you with labor?"

It rolls in. It rolls out. It's consistent, the rolling. She told me some personal stuff that was hard to hear, but basically she said the flowing is always the hard part. She said knowing when to break from flowing is harder still.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Ray Barretto died last Friday, and I feel punched in the heart because of it. I just happen to read an obscure news ticker today announcing the news which disappointed and saddened me considering his contributions to jazz and salsa. Considering his contributions to me.

I listened to this Indestructible album a million times, over and over again, during a time I felt especially lonely; an adult-lost lonely not the wise-child kind I had known well. I was about twenty-two and I was sinking. I was losing ground. I felt I had reached a breaking point to which I could keep my own self afloat without support or help or want or love. It was beginning to seem pointless to think so hard and feel so much. Purpose escaped me and my strength receded. When Barretto made this album, he had gone through a spiritual transformation. Most every song he recorded on this record was about radical bravery rooted in faith in oneself and in a sense of power bigger than oneself. A power to which we are connected and contributing. Because of it, we are indestructible. We are able to beat back the negative, beat down the odds, come out more than ok; come out empowered. A million times I listened to this and I cried and I fucking felt sorry for myself that I had to beat down some more odds, and I stopped sinking.

I was able to see Ray Barretto perform once. This was after his album had helped saved me, and a live performance was only icing. Seeing him live was more about me paying respects to him. He was headlining a megabill for a salsa festival at the Hollywood Palladium. The festival started early, around 7pm, and by 1am Barretto had not gone on yet. Only a small crowd of die-hard musicians, jazz buffs and dancers was left in the audience. And when he finally came on stage, we all huddled just under him and cheered. He was positioned in the middle of the stage, behind a semi circle of four congas, in the center of his impressive and devoted band. "!Vaya Las Manos Duras!" someone yelled, and Barretto lifted his huge hands to finesse the drums for us lucky few.

Thank you, Ray Barretto. I will play your album for my little girls tomorrow. I'll play it loudly and explain a lot of the words before the memory of the great latin pioneers completely fizzles out on a one-line news ticker.

Monday, February 20, 2006

self portrait tuesday

This is my third humiliating entry for the U-G-L-Y, I Ain't Got No Alibi, This Bit is Ugly! theme for February made possible by our friends at Self Portrait Tuesday.


I've posted this entry before long ago when only a couple of my friends read the blog. One of whom I work with and she couldn't look me in the eye for a week after reading the contents. You've been warned is all I'm saying.

For those of you that don't know, I sweat like a pig when I work out. People like to cheer me up and say, "That's Healthy!" But whatever, it's kinda gross. What am I gonna do? I just accept that I have active sweat glands. But grosser still is that I sweat especially in certain areas of my body; odd areas, I would say. Like my shins sweat a lot and you wouldn't think that shins would sweat much considering they are only bone and a thin layer of skin. Most embarrassingly, I sweat a lot around my -- let's whisper -- vagina area. I don't sweat OUT of the china - uh, I don't think -- but that area gets extra hot for some reason. (Insert innuendous jokes here.) Why this happens I have no clue. We'll just say, It's healthy?

When Mandy & I owned our company, I used to take dance classes at lunchtime. I would change at work because there was no shower at the dance studio. And since I'd come back to the office all sweaty, I decided to tell everyone about my Sweaty Pussy Syndrome (SPS). I did this before anyone could noticed themselves the dark discoloration of the dance pants; a big wet circle that said, Hey everybody, look at my vagina here. I also decided to tell them before they thought I had pissed myself. I even pointed it out to our salesguy Scott because Fuck It, let's disarm everyone of the humiliating ammunition against me by putting it all out there first. I really wasn't sure if this phenomenon was that odd. Maybe it was one of those things that I thought was odd only because I kept it to myself. Turns out, it's odd. I'd stand in front of Scott with my hands on my hips and say, "Scott, is it weird that I sweat a lot down there when I exercise?" And he'd stare thinking, I can't believe she's asking me to check out her sweaty pussy. Mandy would yell out, "Dude, it's weird." She'd say this every time I worked out. And every time I'd answer, "Right? Weird."

Once, I took a kickboxing class from a woman who was wearing the cutest coral-colored pants. I fiercely envied those pants. Mid-way through class I noticed a rust-colored line of wetness forming at the crease of her thighs, like a sweaty V. I was like, "Oh look, she’s got a small case of SPS. It's that cute." And I realized that if I had been wearing those fantastic coral-colored pants, it would've looked like someone had thrown a pitcher of water at my crotch by workout's end. Not pretty.

I have the most beautiful pair of royal blue dance pants that fit like a dream and make me look b-b-b-bootylicious. When I had a trainer about a year ago, and on a day I was feeling especially brave, I wore the Royal Blues to my training session. I knew I had SPS then, but I was told the Royal Blues were made of some scientific material that deflects moisture. I'm sure this is true for people that don't have an overheated pussy. Right before my trainer came to meet me, I panicked and decided that there was no way I could go through a whole workout with him all up in my space and me only thinking about a possible puddle in my pants. After my warm up, I tied my sweatshirt around my waist. We weren't ready for that jelly.

Obviously Husband is very aware of my syndrome. And every single time I work out hard, he'll check out below my waist and say, "Good workout?" And I'll just shake my head and say, "Right? Weird."

Oookaaaaayyyy. So, there you go. Is February over yet? Wait, there's one more Tuesday left for this theme? Ug, better dig up that colonoscopy post.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

10 Things More, Me Droogies

I am in serious awe of those who can accomplish the 100 Things List. It seems like running a marathon to me - daunting! When I think about it, my mind blanks and I wonder if I even have 100 things to say about myself. So, I'm biting this list off in pieces. Here was my first 10 Things list. And here now are ten more things that I suddenly remembered about myself:

1. When I was on the tiny island with Crossroads Africa in high school, I lost my virginity to the twenty-three year old island guide. After days of eye contact and subtle flirting and after two slow dances at a house party, we snuck out together after the other Crossroaders went to slept. My virginity dissolved away in the passenger seat of a car parked under a wide-branched tree in the center of the island's cemetery. Yes, a Caribbean graveyard with large, white angel statues and huge rectangular headstones that glowed in the dark. It was peaceful and not creepy. It was a good experience. And I felt in control of the situation, or at the very least equally in control.

2. When I was 14 or 15, I was invited to witness a homebirth. Though I've given birth to two goddesses myself, there is absolutely nothing like watching a birth. When the head crowned, it was pure magic and any logic of physiology lost ground and slipped away. I repeatedly thought, "That's a head. That's a human. That's a head. Out of a vagina. A life. A real person." Then the baby's head came completely out, just sticking out of my friend's vagina, and I thought, "HOLY SHIT, THIS is where people come from; living and breathing out of a woman." (I was trippin'.) "That is a head. A live person sticking out of someone else. Holy, holy shit." Then the rest of the body slipped out and was placed on her mommy. This obviously solidified my desire to be a midwife. I wanted to witness this gorgeous punch to logic regularly.

3. By the time I was eight years old, I had seen Clockwork Orange five times. And though I do love the film still, now, as a mother, this fact disturbs me.

4. My new favorite TV show is The Dog Whisperer.

5. I don't feel confident helping Maya with her 5th grade math.

6. The older I get, the more I am not interested in physical risks. Like, roller coasters. I have no desire to go on extreme roller coasters. For Husband's birthday two years ago I surprised him with a sky-dive jump. He was beyond stoked. It was one of the best days of his life. We have the video to prove it. And I felt no pressure to get up there myself. Even when all the cult jumpers tried to make me feel badly. I didn't give a shit what they said about a life-changing jump and being a chicken; it just doesn't float my boat. Over and over, the pro's were like, You're not jumping? You're not jumping? Finally, I just said, "I take many, many emotional risks in my life. That's plenty."

7. I went on only one date during high school, where a boy properly asked me to go somewhere, even if it was only lunch. I was asked by a shy and tall boy that had already developed a man's body. He was a mix of middle eastern and white, and he had been beautifully named after a Saudi Arabian city. We walked over to the Santa Monica Place food court. After I found a table with my chinese combo, he bought pizza. And then I watched the tray he was holding flip out of his hand and crash to the floor. He smacked his forehead out of embarrassment and I felt so badly that I couldn't look. We recovered from this moment awkwardly and then we talked about things I don't remember, but I remember that he was sensitive and perceptive and that he read interesting things. A couple days previous to this date, I had decided to give up refined sugar. I was just beginning to read how refined sugar led to mood swings and possibly depression, among other things. So, at the end of the lunch date, I mindlessly popped a piece of a fortune cookie into my mouth. Mid-chew I remembered this new self-ban on sugar and I opened my mouth and spit the chewed cookie onto my tray as the shy, nice boy looked at me. It's a wonder I wasn't asked out more often. (Btw, Three Sheets your email is broken.)

8. I was kicked out of my girl scout troop for being a talkative, distracted goof off and the major troop cut up. Maybe I was a bad influence though I was never conventional trouble, like I wasn't trying to get the girls to smoke weed from a bong I made out of a juice box. I wasn't organizing a shoplifting ring at ToysRUs. It's still kind of a mystery to me and sometimes I wonder if my mom fell behind in dues which, if that was the case, F the Girl Scouts for not catching my mother a break. A warning of kicking me out came right before we were to perform a version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I played the role of Mike TV. And after the play was performed, I was outski. My mother was pissed that they used me for the play and then let me go.

9. I am VERY uncomfortable -- uncomfortable is an understatement really -- when I hear the sounds of sex. Made by others. I can't hear myself. But groaning and hollering from a neighbor - even simple sexy panting sounds in a song give me a stomach ache and make me want to cover my ears. Growing up, I often heard my mother get her groove on with different men. Hearing this made me want to stab my inners ears repeatedly with knitting needles, scissors, pens --- whatever! -- just so I wouldn't hear it. It is a great surprise (and relief) that the only irrevocable damage from this is my aversion to the sound. The couple times that I've watched porn, I had to watch it on mute.

10. There are times when I think I reveal too much on the blog. It crosses my mind to hold back more, but when I start to write I just can't help it. Letting a lot hang out here makes me feel free.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Happy Anniversary, Papi

Husband and I were married eight years ago yesterday. And though I do feel it romantic and sweet to have been married on Valentine's Day, I also like the practicality of knocking out two holidays with one stone. Ha! AND I don't have to say that valentine's is a commercial farce. I can receive over-priced flowers and over-sized mushy cards guilt-free! Because it's my anniversary. For real, I'm always thinking.

We were married in Vegas. Another practical decision because instead of blowing money we didn't have on a traditional wedding, we decided to spend the money on flying our parents out, putting them up in hotels and taking them to a Cirque du Soliel show. YAH! We also knew that our east coast friends would fly out to play in Vegas -- oh and go to a wedding -- but maybe not simply fly to California for our love union. Me? Always thinking.

My wedding dress was a $30 tea-length salmon-colored halter that I bought from a place called Fashion Time! The material was highly flammable, I'm sure. I bought $250 light peach damask shoes to match because trying to find wedding shoes that go with the color salmon is a biatch. I called a Vegas florist in advance to whip me up a sunflower bouquet and to make mini sunflower boutonnieres for Husband and his father who served as best man. The day of the wedding, with Husband's parents and two-year Maya in tow, we took a cab and picked up the tuxes and flower arrangements. The wedding was at 5pm and our timing was smooth, man. Until my mother-in-law realized that she had left her pocketbook in the cab just as it drove away. Husband BOOKED after the cab, tux in hand, and really nearly caught up to it. He returned dejected and exhausted, rattling plans of to call the cab company, until he realized the pants of his tux were gone. Gone. A victim of the cab sprint. I remember looking at my watch in a very Virgo way and thinking, uh, I'm sure this is gonna be funny someday, but huh huh, FIND YOUR FUCKING PANTS. He traced every step and found no tux pants. So, back in the cab we went to the tux shop and they were more than understanding. Didn't even charge us.

My mother and a few of our friends were coming in on flights hours before the wedding. Until a rain storm hit. I was to get ready in our room and husband was getting ready in his parents'. I had taken my time because I knew my mother would be coming hours before to help me watch Maya. So, I fucked around. Well, not fucked around exactly but I was working on a new short story that I was completely engrossed by so as Maya napped and as I was supposed to be getting ready leisurely, I sat on the cool bathroom tiles wearing only a white bustier and stockings and edited my story. Until I realized my mother was late. Way late because of the rain storm. Then Maya awoke groggy and pissy and I realized I had only 20 minutes to get ready. FUCK. So I drank more coffee - dumb! and tried to get my make up right - UG - and tried to pull up my hair all elegant-like in the ever-classy banana clip. I put on my $30 polyester dress and my fabulous $250 shoes and then dressed Maya who was like STOP PUSHING ME WOMAN, and I wrestled on her adorable yellow dress and lacey socks and the cutest periwinkle sandals, and I combed knots out of her hair, and re-bananaclipped my stupid hair until I was ready to go down to the hotel chapel. And then my mother arrived.

I walked myself down the chapel aisle under the largest crystal chandelier I had ever seen. Husband and the preacher waited for me under a white lattice arc about, oh, 5 miles away. My mind was blanked by nerves and I just really wanted to jog up there and have the preacher speed yadi yadi through the service so we could just be married already. All of the sudden, I didn't want any of these “guests” there. I just wanted to be with my man. It was like these people were imposing on our moment. I arrived at the white arc, finally, and we held hands and I had decided to not listen to the preacher and whatever cookiecutter speech he had planned, and I would just look at Husband until the deal was sealed. But the damn preacher said some really beautiful things about love. Things that pierced me with its personalness; things so beautiful that I turned my head away from Husband to look at the preacher's face. And he meant what he was saying. The words swam between the three of us only, encapsulated us, and when I looked back at Husband, his chin was shaking. At this point I wasn't sure if I'd make it through the ceremony without collapsing under a chair to weep at my fortune.

After the ceremony and after dinner, we went to the Cirque du Soliel show. As the theater dimmed and as the the dream-like music sounded, I felt acutely aware that I was freshly married. I fiddled my thumb against the back of my shiny band and I took deep breaths of a new lucky life. I wanted to stretch that exact moment over holes of the past and seal them off forever. Husband and I caught each other's glassy-eyed glances in the dark and we squeezed hands tightly. When feathered dancers came on stage, we leaned in and connected lips that fit together like the last missing pieces of a complicated puzzle. High above us the acrobats soared to and fro in exhilarating swings that mirrored the exact leaps my heart took that Valentine's in Vegas.

Monday, February 13, 2006

self portrait tuesday

This is my second entry for the "All of Me; Even the Ugly Bits" theme for Self Portrait Tuesday.

I Am a Waste

In December my boss told me drunkenly at our holiday party, "You're a waste." A coworker said my face melted in horror. Later, the more-sober boss explained, "I just meant that you're too smart to do the position we hired you for." I'm aware of this -- I signed up for a workerbee position and not more -- but his comment tapped into something that I bury and gloss over. And I have not stopped thinking about the comment since. I am not a waste in the way he meant. His vision of my capabilities means nothing to me. But in regards to my own deep-down expectations, I am on my way to wasting it all.

There were two things I wanted to be when I was twelve years old. I've read that what you want to be at twelve is the truest to your heart's calling. I wanted to be a writer and I wanted to be a midwife. A midwife! By the time I hit junior high and all through high school, I had very clear intentions of going to Africa to . . . lend a hand. The amount of suffering and lack of resources affected me deeply. I researched how I could help, and during the summer between my junior and senior years, I was selected by Operation Crossroads Africa to spend a summer on a West Indian island lending a hand. I raised every cent for my airfare to NY where the Crossroads office was located and then I was sent to a tiny island on the northern tip of the Leeward Islands. With eleven other high school kids, one college-aged leader and one island guide, we set up a summer camp for kids and fixed up houses of elderly islanders. As I painted red-roofed houses in fantastic aqua hues, I listened to old women tell stories through the window. They never told political or worldly stories, but stories of lovers and children. I listened to kids as we did art projects at camp and they told me local gossip like whose gnip trees yielded the most fruit. I loved every minute of every assignment. We all bunked in one house that sometimes had running water and was haunted by water bugs the size of crawling watermelons. When the water was out, we would walk a half mile to a community spigot to fill our buckets for washing, body and clothes. To this day, it's a mystery to me how anyone can hand wash clothing without having them dry into stiff, uncomfortable rags. It was an amazing summer that solidified my conviction that lending a hand was what I was meant to do.

I did a lot of lending-hand stuff through the rest of my teens into my early twenties; obscure solo missions. Like, I would cook food and then try to give it to random homeless people on the street who did not necessarily want to be bothered or approached in that way. Quite a few had untreated mental issues and I was all, "Here's a plate of food," and 17th Street Alice would be running from me yelling, "Stop trying to poison me." I also out of the blue volunteered to teach dance at a home for pregnant teens in East LA. The girls ranged from 12 to 17 and they would come to my class either bursting at the womb or with an infant cradled in arm. They didn't listen to me for nothing. When I tried to warm them up, one 16 year old put her hand on her slender hip that projected a huge belly and announced, "I do not stretch. I am a lady." So, eventually I ceased all dancing and just sat and listened to them because they were dying to tell their stories.

In the last fifteen years, My Calling to Help has been shoved to the side by Pushy Practicality and straight out materialism. So has my writing. In my mind, I equate materialism to greed and practicality to fear. And if I don't feel brave enough to stick to my heart's calling then isn't that a waste? If I am constantly tormented by things that happen in the world far away and right in my community, but I don't do enough or more, isn't that a goddamn shame and a waste? This is not to point out how little we all do, how much we all might waste, this is about me letting my callings go by because I'm scared to be impractical, too nervous to let my rent slip past due. It's hard to do it all. My husband has pointed out that maybe our sole purpose is to raise two future superheros. I absolutely believe this is one of my purposes, -- the one purpose at which I may not be failing-- but is my life only about putting hopes of accomplishment onto them? Is my supieor parenting message: I've given up and I pray you don't?

Many people that I know well and do not know well would say I have not wasted my natural abilities. But as I sit at my desk and mindlessly dial broker after broker and appease whiny salespeople and buy electronic chips that feed the technology monster, as my boss's comment echoes through me, I can't help but feel empty and wasted, withering away without giving a more meaningful contribution. It just weighs me down.

What did you want to be when you were twelve years old?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

High Five Tag & Other Things

My new aussie friend Janine has tagged me for a new meme which, thank god because yesterday I had started to write a whole bummer post about forced child slavery in the chocolate industry by the leading brands. Sigh. The post sounded like a fifteen year old who had just sprouted her politically outraged wings, and though my writing was embarrassing, the sentiment hasn't gone away; which is: The secret and not so secret evils of the world make me want to bash some heads. Anyway, if you're kind of intrigued, this is an old article about the situation that has recently reared its Isn't-This-2006? head. HEAVY SIGH.

So thank god for a meme to save me from imploding because my inner activist frustratingly doesn't know how to emerge gracefully. Yet.

On with the meme, goddamnit!

What Were You Doing Ten Years Ago?
Maya was 9 months old and I had just split from her dad. She and I moved into a cool apartment with high ceilings, good light, a great view and a fair amount of police activity. I arranged my bookshelves and few pieces of art just how I wanted. And every day I would hold up my gorgeous baby girl and kiss the folds of her neck and say, "You and me 'til the wheels fall off, mami."

What Were You Doing One Year Ago?
I had just closed The Business, just given up on gorging myself to death and had just taken a job a Mother's Market. I was a freshly inducted vegan and felt like a baby learning to walk again. Everything had crumbled and fallen away except for Maya, Mina and Husband. And every day I looked at them and thought, "'’Til the wheels fall off, familia."

Five Snacks You Enjoy
* uh, chocolate chip vegan cookies?
* Larabar Pecan Pie bar
* almonds & raisins
* coffee
* And this; the greatest dark (non-slavery) chocolate known to humankind.

Five Songs To Which You Know The Lyrics
* Fly Me to the Moon - I have sung this song to the girls almost every single night since Maya was newly sprouted in the womb.
* Summertime - Janis Joplin version
* Me & Bobby McGee - Janis Joplin version
* Catch a Fire Album, Bob Marley
* My Heart Belongs to Daddy - Eartha Kitt version

Five Things You Would Do If You Were a Millionaire
* Move to Santa Monica
* Write everyday from 9am - 1pm
* Volunteer
* Fuel some activist causes
* Fuel some artistic causes

Five Bad Habits
* I day dream about being a millionaire a lot. I day dream about the five glorious things, among many, I would do if that were to happen.
* I don't write enough.
* I can kill any live plant that comes into my house. Ol Brown Thumb they call me. Even my plastic plants look a little sad.

*I think I can make anything. And I can't. "I can make that cute dress!" But I can't sew. "I can make that purse!" Uh, no I can't. This is embarrassing, but I made slip covers for my chair cushions because if anything I have great vision, but because I can't sew I stapled the fabric together. Husband was like, You are NOT stapling that together, are you? I said, "It's like a hand held sewing machine." You have to admit, they do look pretty rad. Well, the one chair does. The other chair is exposing my inability to sew.
* I play the lottery religiously.

Five Favorite Things in My Home (I made this part of the meme up. Sorry for editing your meme, Janine!)
* The self portrait at the beginning of this post. I love it in 4 pieces. I love that it's big, about 5'x5'.

*This italian utensil holder. Every time I look at it, my heart leaps and I want to cook voraciously.

*It's hard to see, but this is a translucent peacock vase. I could look at if for hours.

*I brought this vase of oranges back from Paris. I held in a bag filled with newspaper between my feet the entire flight.

*This is a vejigante carnival mask from Ponce, PR. I also flew this home wrapped in newspaper between my feet. It's important to me to put up things in the house that are uniquely Puerto Rican. Especially from regions that are significant to us; Ponce & Patillas. I really love most all cultural art, but when a piece has a connection, the appreciation of it goes beyond beauty and can be profound.

I don't usually tag, but shit, somebody gettin tagged up in here today especially some of my newer friends: Ms. Kathleen, Melinda, la vie and acumamakiki - what up? And slyly I could also tag my homies, you and you, ‘cause yous is list geniuses. Ah hell, any of you reading this consider yourself tagged. And feel free to make up parts of the meme, like I did.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Photo Booth Friday!

Edwards 21 Theaters, 2006

Lookie what I found! A cheap-ass photo booth right in my movie theater. They don't make 'em like they used to, but you could choose between color or black n' white on this one. I love the girls' expressions. They crack me up, man.

More PB love over on
hula seventy.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Bean Sprouts & Pernil

Secretly I want to convert my family to veganism or at least vegetarianism. Don't tell Husband. I especially want the children to be vegetarians. But secretly. I know not to push the girls for fear of a major backfire and rebellion in the form of frivolous pork eating, bacon binging, hunting. That's my nightmare at least, so I know to handle Maya and Mina's food selection with non-leather kid gloves.

I make their breakfast every morning and their lunches most every day. I make their dinners about 35% of the time while Husband tackles the other nights. Though I don't push the veggie life on them, I do usually prepare veggie meals. I am also pretty adamant about organic produce and whole grain stuff. They don't protest this at all. They also have not noticed that I only buy almond milk now which tastes no differently to them on cereal. HA - another point for my clandestine coup!

Maya announced to me yesterday that she wants to be a vegetarian. My heart nearly exploded. She fairly successfully gave up red meat about 6 months ago with slips now and again like when she didn't realize that pepperoni was red meat. Whoops. But I don't sweat her when that happens. I tell her, "Yo, look how much red meat you HAVEN'T eaten." With yesterday's announcement I asked, "Why, baby?" I want these decisions to be theirs solely. I want them to have a process to their choices. She said, "Well, it's healthier. And I don't know if I feel good about eating animals anymore." I said, without pumping one fist, "Those are great reasons."

It didn't hurt that I brought home a propagandous children's book a couple days ago called Benji Bean Sprout Doesn't Eat Meat. I feel only slightly guilty about placing this nonchalantly on the dining table. The book is about a kid who gets persecuted at school for being a vegan -- the other kids throw food at this kid, peas and carrots no less. It’s ugly. Benji's like, Dad, I can't take it. I wanna eat a hamburger. What kid wants to be the chump at school? Benji's dad is like, Whoa buddy before you eat the death patty (my words, but totally implied in the book), let me show you something. He takes Benji to an animal sanctuary and explains why the animals live there and not at a factory farm being tortured. He guilts Benji out of the burger via live, sad cow eyes. And the book worked like a charm on Maya too. MMwwwaaaa. The book also made her ask me, Do they really cage up a chicken all day long? Calves get ripped from their mothers? And so on. Her own compassion was ignited and grew the more she learned. She also asked me great questions like how old was I when I stopped eating meat (red meat at 13) and when did I become a vegetarian which really was only 2 years in high school. I told Maya that I didn't really learn about the idea of balance in a diet until fairly recently and back in high school I didn't know that an all french fry diet, though vegetarian, was maybe not the best idea. I told Maya that back then I dreamt about chicken until I couldn't take it any more.

"Do you want me to pack string cheese in your lunch still?" I said. She said, "Hmm, no thanks." "No more chicken noodle soup?" "I guess not," she said unremorsefully. "Eggs?" I said. "I don't think I like the taste of them to be honest." And my eyes were rolling to the back of my head as she was describing a VEGAN lifestyle, not just vegetarian.

Her journey officially began today. I warned her about haters. I warned her about our own urge to judge others and feel uppity. I told her to learn to squash that early and accept everyone's personal journey.

After Maya had made her announcement, I looked over at Mina. She was shaking her head like, Shoot, don't look at me. Mina is a complicated eater, among other things. I think she'd be compelled to eat a kitten with melted cheese on it. Her favorite food is beans, which y'know, thank God, but a close second is pork and candy. She'd wrestle Husband for a pork rib. I've seen it. But she'll show random signs of brilliant choices. She'll gobble steamed broccoli. She'll happily eat sprouted grain bread and vegan cookies and flax seed waffles. One day she'll love celery and the next complain that it sucks. She'll beg me for lentil soup two days in a row then won't touch it the week after. She'll say, "Mami, can I have pasta?" And after it's prepared, she'll say, "Hmm, never mind." KINDA INFURIATING.

I will slyly have to continue planting seeds with Mina, be the example and then I’ll probably watch her still choose pernil over a salad. Pernil is roast pork shoulder, Puerto Rican style. Mama Luz, Husband's mother, cooks that poor, darling pig all day until apparently its meat melts on the tongue. I've seen adults fist fight over the last bits. Feh, as long as she has a side of organic broccoli and brown rice, I guess . . . what am I gonna do?

When my mother became a vegan, when I was eight, my diet did not change in the least. I showed interest in her new venture or at least intrigue, but her veganism seemed to be a guarded secret. I believed that she became a vegan only to lose weight and as far as I know, that WAS the main reason because she permanently lost sixty-five pounds. I really didn’t even understand what a vegan was. I ate bologna for lunch or sloppy joes at school. For dinner I ate two hot dogs wrapped in slices of bread and a glass of milk almost every single night. The only thing that temporarily put a halt to this menu was because I developed nitrate poisoning. The poisoning came in the form of food-induced migraines. I would see spots, lose my peripheral vision and then puke my guts out. At school, when I felt light headed, I would hold my hand in front of my face and pray that I could see the hand whole. When the spots came, I would just leave school. A few times, as I waited for the city bus to take me home, I’d puked right on the sidewalk. After I was diagnosed, my mother bought me nitrate-free hot dogs from Trader Joe’s.

And now that I am a mother, it astounds me to think I would only want to save myself with my fresh diet. Why would I keep my revelations only to myself? What’s the point of a healthful, long life if the girls and Husband are not with me, healthy and aging well? So really, not so secretly do I hope they follow my lead. And until they make the decision themselves, I’ll leave a trail of sprouted bread crumbs and organic fruits and veggies on my path.

Monday, February 06, 2006

self portrait tuesday

Oh, this is gonna be great. This is my first entry for SPT's February theme, "All Of Me, Even the Ugly Bits", which is obviously meant to simply humiliate us and destroy any facade we've tried to create on our blogs. If our on-line journals can't be a sanctuary to offer and admire our Best Bits like a new, shiny penny, like a hologram of an angel, then what the hell is? Oh well, down the hatch. Thanks, Self Portrait Tuesday.

As promised, here are a tiny few of the pictures from my most excellent performance in the exercise video. Warning: This is not what I look like. Is it? Actually, this is probably exactly how I look when I'm not looking.

And apparently this is what I look like being interviewed. It seems that I'm in a constant state of surprise when I speak to people. This was a shocking and frankly frightening revelation. Why children don't cry as I bug-eye them is beyond me. Why is the cameraman so close to my face? I mean, has he been hypnotized by the inner lining of my cornea? Doesn't it look like I'm saying SSSssssss then EEerrrrrr in these eloquent shots?

Ok, here I am in action. Dudes, the mouth. The mouth! I cannot for the life of me close my mouth when I dance or exercise. WHAT THE FUCK. Maybe there is a muscle connected from my feet to my jaw. The clenched fists, the shoulders in my ears, the ever-present surprised expression -- I want to cry.

This picture is kinda hot; sweaty, rocking out, but why Mr. Cameraman are you all up in my boobs? Is this a family exercise video? You should see this in motion. (cue music) Boink kada boink boink ("Turbo Me Chicks 8, take four, action!) Jesus Madness, put those away before you poke an eye out.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Four Square

I've been seeing this meme go 'round so I thought I'd go 'round with it.

4 Jobs I've Had
* I walked a Yorkshire terrier three mornings a week for a woman who worked for a TV network. I'd walk a couple blocks to her apartment, then take her dog around the block, and return in time to catch the bus to school or to summer camp. I was 8 years old. For Christmas she got me a Givenchy tshirt which I thought was fucking fantastic. But more importantly, she got me a signed picture of Scott Baio. Now THAT'S a job perk.

* At 19, I was a canvasser for National Action Against Rape in the Bay Area, which I don't think is around anymore. I went from door to door to raise money for The Cause. Usually, as a canvasser, you're knocking as people are trying to eat dinner or read to children or do laundry or . . . But NAAR funded lobbyists to fill loopholes in laws pertaining to sexual assault cases. A lot of people listened. And a lot of women confided in me their rape stories. One woman told me how she had been raped in college while on holiday in Mexico. I realized from her husband's reaction that he had not known this before that night. She gave me a $50 check. And then they disappeared behind the front door to hash out secrets that a stranger had pulled out of her.

* I did salsa exhibitions for company Christmas parties given at fancy hotels and at the start of club dinners, fundraisers and the like. In 1990 I even had to do a Lambada number for a company that was dying to see the forbidden dance up close and live. Before this event, I had only learned the dance a couple months before at a salsa club that played that one song relentlessly. Da daann dandandanda da da --- anyway, as the song started I headed for the bar only to be stopped by a man in his 60's who called me out to the dance floor. I yelled over the accordion or whatever dominates the Lambada melody and said, "I don't know how to dance this yet." He popped out his knee, patted it with his hand and told me to hop on. Fuck it. I straddled his leg and within in moments we were whirling around Lamada-style, me, a puppet on his knee, eventually sweeping the dance floor with my hair in forbidden dips.

* I've slung semiconductors for the last 13 years.

4 Places I've Lived
* LA - born & raised
* England for 2 years - My mother followed a boyfriend there when I was 5.
* Spain for 6 months - My mother was on the lamb from the English boyfriend with another boyfriend. I spent second grade "home-schooled" and incognito. My mother cut my hair super short and dressed me as a boy. The Spanish climate made my mother homesick for California, and we returned.
* Bay Area -- I would live there again if Husband gave me the nod. But about San Francisco he says, and this is what I love about Husband, "I didn't move to California to feel that fucking cold."

4 Favorite TV Shows
* First 2 days of March Madness, the men's college basketball tournament, all 20 hours of actual game time, and all pre and post shows regarding all games played. And radio commentary also.
* Daily Show
* Scrubs

4 Places I've Been On Vacation
* Paris, Christmas 1996. I earned a 10-day trip from one of my best Parisian vendors. I had just met Husband two months before and we just weren't a We yet so I took my mother as a good will gesture, and she also had the inside track on the museums. The first three days & nights, we visited the Louvre and the D'orsay and we went to exquisite dinners with my vendor. Then my mother promptly caught a knock-you-on-your ass flu. She was bed ridden for the remaining 7 days. And I was secretly thrilled to brave Paris alone. I explored the Musee Picasso for hours, touching the rounded stone walls and ducking through arched doorways and putting my face so close to the art that security nearly intervened. I sat in cafes with an exploding heart consuming au laits and pear tarts and second-hand smoke. I schlepped through the Marais Quarter with stuffed and steaming falafels starting at wedding dresses through storefronts. I took tons of photos but only of graffiti because the Parsian taggers had a sense of color that was amazing. I went to a sweaty basement swing club were a Belgian band dressed in cuffed Levi's and tshirts and feathered fedoras, sporting tattoos and greased ducktails and perfect sideburns introduced their songs in the most busted English ever and then sang in clear Brian Setzer twang while banging pianos and blowing horns for days and plucking the shit out of a stand up. I danced a lot that night with the club's proprietor, Gentil, who was 6'3" and rocked a handlebar moustache. My French sucked as did his English so we spoke Spanish. At the night's end, he asked me to marry him. On Sunday, I decided to walk from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower. Part of this mission was to stop in every cathedral along the way, which was many. The most memorable was the tiny, stone St. Julian. Instead of pews there were ladder back wooden chairs with wicker seats. Service had been over for hours, but there was a couple lighting votive candles and a young man practicing the cello in front of the altar. I know very little about classical music, but I do know that a solo cello will rip the deepest tears from me. So, I sat in a wicker seat and cried for twenty minutes as he played. On Monday, I went to Queen night club on the Champs Elysees with my vendor's son. Monday was apparently "straight" night, but uh, not so much. I did get hit on by the most beautiful, tall, built, blonde German student. Usually I’m not attracted to the Arian aesthetic, but he was interesting and easy on the eyes so I stood and talked to him for a while until a man came up to us and in a very loud American drawl he yelled slowly, "YOU TWO ARE BEW-TI-FUL." Interrupted, we stared at the man. He slowed down his English believing neither of us understood. "REAL-LY GREAT LOOK-ING COUP-LE." We stared. I said, "Where are you from?" He looked relieved, "OH! VIRGINIA!" Then, more softly, he said, "Would you two be interested in a threesome?" I didn't consult the German. I leaned in and the Virginian did too, excited. I said, "No, thanks." I left Queen around 4am, emerging onto the street that was freshly fitted with a sheet of snow and aglow with hanging, remaining Christmas lights. A few yards away I saw three tall drag queens clumping up the block towards the entrance of the club.

*Big Sur
* Palm Springs
* Seattle

4 Favorite Foods
* uh, chocolate chip vegan cookies?
* PR rice & beans (extra olives)
* coffee w/ soy creamer & agave
* Grain bread slathered in Earth Balance. Grain bread can be substituted by . . . anything. As long as I can slather Earth Balance on it.
* oh, and vegetables and shit

4 Places I'd Rather Be
* The coffee shop on the corner of Broadway and PCH, with my laptop, staring at the Pacific Ocean.
* Riding a bike through Squaw Valley in the summertime
* Abuelita's porch in Patillas with a book and a piece of hot pan del agua just purchased from a passing van.
* Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco

4 Sites I Visit Daily
* About 8 work-related search engine sites
* Links to the left
* Links of the links to the left
* Merrian-Webster online

Mi hermana Marigoldie started a Bonus round to this meme and I gladly carry on this tradition in other ways
4 (of the staggering many) Things In My Purse Right Now
* Five mapquest print outs because my sense of direction is for SHIT.
* A recipe for "Easy Avocado Appetizer."
* A baggie of soy creamer & agave. You never know when the perfect cup o' coffee will miraculously land on your desk.
* A kid's book called Benji Bean Sprout Doesn't Eat Meat!