Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Lord, Is It Wednesday Already?

That whizzing-by thing is happening with the days again which bugs me, and there's a lot on my mind. The biggest of which I can't talk about yet because I've been slapped with a gag order by my husband. It's not a permanent order, just until we have more clarity on the situation. But I feel a little hemmed up not being able to blahblahblah about it . . .

But other stuff? I dunno. I've been in a bit of a funk. The funk is one part Gag-Ordered Thing and two parts food-related. My system is very sensitive to what I eat. Dudes, you should've seen me back in the day on a refined-sugar tear. Ooo, fugly especially the part where I crash and hate life with lip-curling anguish. When I finally recognized my Sugar Hate is when I started purifying my diet a year and a half ago. For the last six months I've been consistent with the Raw Til Dinner thing where I eat only raw foods until, well, dinner. Every so often I'll have a cooked breakfast or a cooked lunch, but not regularly. But last weekend, I was totally lazy and I thought I'd give myself a break from the raw thing. Not because I don't love eating that way because I really do, but it takes a lot of prep work and vigilant grocery runs. But over the weekend I decided to be a rebellious snot and I blew off the raw. Bite me, Raw! I didn't eat terribly; whole food veganism with some vegan peanut butter chocolate chip cookies thrown in there. . . but lord, by Monday night I felt worn out and down in the dumps, man. I put myself to bed around 8:30 and told Husband to deal with putting the girls in bed and whatever else was going on which I could've cared less about in that moment. Nightnight, grrr. I awoke the next morning after a million hours of sleep still grumpy. I kept thinking to myself, What is my fucking problem? (Not PMS'ing, thank you very much.) Then I realized I didn't eat raw at all during the weekend. Now, it's nice to know an actual source of the funk, but it was actually a bummer to realize that my body is that sensitive. I mean, good for me for having a physical incentive for staying so healthy but goddamn, I'm high maintenance. I will say, however, that on Monday I GLADLY chopped truckloads of vegetables and juiced my juice and ate my raw crap. And I do feel better now.

Taekwondo Update: Maya is training her butt off. She had a third-level black belt test last week which means she's one step away from earning a second-degree. The test was fairly rigorous. She had to do her forms and spar and her
bo staff and self defense stuff, but the highlight of the night was the board breaking. The black belts were required to do a three-part break starting with a ridge hand strike. This is where you tuck your thumb in, swing your arm back with a locked elbow and then swing it forward across your body and break a 1.5 inch thick wood board with the inside of your stiff hand. Yeaawwoouch. Then after the ridge break, they were supposed to run, jump in the air and break a board behind them with their foot and one in front of them with their fist at the same time. Jackie Chan shit I'm telling you! So, the adults and kids went up one by one and most of them bonked their poor hands against the board during the ridge break. BONK, BONK, BONK - ug, it was excruciating to watch. Maya's closest girl peer is a tough thirteen year old black belt and she kept clocking her hand repeatedly against the wood. Until she cried. The Director was like, "Ok Chris, take a minute and then break it with your other hand." She did, finally, with tears streaming. Then she ran and took a few times to break the other two boards just like most of the testers did. There's nothing like watching someone run, jump, miss the board and then back kick the instructor holding the board in the fingers, in the leg, in the privates . . .I stopped counting the times that the crowd groaned, "OOoooooo!" After Chris crushed her hand into wet noodle, the instructors offered the testers thinner boards to break, but the two remaining testers, one being Maya, refused. The Director saved Maya for last and I winced before she even stepped up to the board. I looked through my fingers covering my face. She swung her arm quickly across her chest and broke the board with the first strike. Then she ran and broke both boards simultaneously on the first try. She was the only kid to do that, and only one adult black belt did all three breaks on the first try also. The test as a whole had not been her best, but when she ended the show with the dramatic board breaks and the crowd went nuts, it erased everything else. Maya ran up to me, and I said, "Oh my god, Maya, that was amazing. How was that?" She said, "That ridge break hurt so bad, but I was NOT going to go through what Chris did." She laughed as she kept pushing the throbbing, red bump on her hand.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Happy Birthday, Maya

Today, my girl is eleven. And I can't imagine having a more fantastic kid. She exudes fun and love; she is the light in the center of a crowd. She can make me guffaw sincerely, and she bowls me over with her ability to focus exactly when needed. Anyone that knows me well, knows that Maya was my first true love.

I can see her trying to figure out the outside world now with thoughtful caution just as her confidence is falling into place like perfectly laid bricks. Lately she has sprouted up into a tall athletic body and I catch glimpses of what she'll be like as a woman. This doesn't sadden me or make me long for baby-days. I only think: What a stunning and amazing and world-changing one she will be.

Maya was born at a naval hospital in San Diego. When I was pregnant and when I told people where she would be born, many cringed which makes a first-time mother feel really, really good. There were so many horror stories about the naval hospital, but you know what? I felt untouchable. I felt encapsulated, and nothing was going to happen to me or Maya.

I've described often the coming and going of the ocean's tide with my labor contractions, but in the labor room it seemed as if everyone else was in a panic; everything was fast-paced outside of my encapsulation. I felt still within a swirl of motion. My labor was not without its issues. I threw up in pans and I experimented with labor positions often enough to cause my little, back-closing gown to came off. I said, "Let's just take this stupid thing off" and I then labored naked probably to the horror of others. At one point, Maya's in-womb heart rate dropped enough to cause nurses to panic, and they ran around more and injected my thigh with something. They stuck something up me to "wake the baby up" -- I think they were making shit up on the spot -- and yet I felt so calm even when they seemed to purposefully try to worry me. Maya and I were untouchable, didn't they know?

Maya's dad, BD, was in the room as was his wonderful mother, Grandma Carmen, but I barely remember their presence. I remember Grandma Carmen rubbing my lower back with a tennis ball because a nerve felt crushed by all the goings on. The nerve thing was suffocating, but the tennis ball technique helped. She would whisper weepily to me, "Mi'ja, I've had five children, but I've never seen a birth. Thank you for letting me be here." This swelled my heart, but I even felt encapsulated from her; more like, I'm so happy Maya and I can bring you this joy, but it didn't connect me mother-to-mother to Grandma Carmen in that moment. Other things have, but not that.

I could feel a bond with Maya on the rise as she was about to enter the world. When she was in the womb, I felt more like a Grand Nurturer, a budding Goddess, but I did not feel a complete connection with the baby. But in the delivery room I could feel a force of her pending presence, and I looked around feeling like I knew a secret. I felt completely empowered. This caused a bit of disconnected from BD too. I wasn't allowing him in my encapsulation. After five hours of labor with little dilation thanks to whatever they injected into my thigh, I called for an epidural. I sat on the edge of the bed and followed instructions to stay very still and I looked down through my rigid arms at the legs of the scrub-clad anesthesiologist and of the legs of BD. As the doctor inserted the needle, I saw BD's legs buckle and a nurse yelled, "Sit down! Sit down!" I kind of chuckled to myself which is sorta fucked, but I felt that whatever he was experiencing or whatever his worry was for me or his own feelings in the delivery room were completely outside of mine.

The pushing gave me issue. After I shit the bed, I started to feel very anxious. It had been fourteen hours, including over an hour of pushing, and I wanted to see Maya so badly then. As I tried pushing again and as the nurses counted to ten, I heard yelling in the next delivery room. They were shouting, "Apgar 2! Apgar 2!" which is an evaluation score of a newborn's condition; 10 is the best. Healthy babies usually score 8-10. I watched two nurses rush by my room door bundling the Apgar Two baby. Then I bore down and pushed Maya out.

BD put his head down sweetly on a table and cried and Grandma Carmen wept in her own corner, and I all but grabbed Maya out of the hands of the doctor. She was swaddled in a white navy-issue blanket bordered in a pink stripe and a light blue stripe. Her face was swollen and red, her eyes especially, from too much time in the birth canal and her black hair was thick and matted. I wished the room away. I put my face so close to hers and we stared and stared at each other. I could feel her tiny puffs of breath against my lips. I was astounded. As I stared -- my own breath held -- everything else in the room did quickly fall away and out of focus. I saw nothing but Maya for years after that moment.

Happy Birthday, my big girl baby. I love you so much.
You are amazing and a world-changer already.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bite-A-List Wednesday

Acumamakiki did this list for her SPC yesterday. And then I saw Maven's this morning. . .

I AM: what I y'am.
I WANT: a bicycle super badly. That doesn't weigh five thousand pounds, but is sturdy, and has a big brown wicker basket attached to the handlebars. I want to commute as much as possible on it.
I WISH: I could function perfectly and happily on five hours of sleep.
I HATE: the word hate. I really do. I don't let the girls say it. I think it's way too strong to ever be used in the every-daya vernacular.
I MISS: my grandmother. I miss being able to conjure our memories clearly. I don't know how to spark a clearer image of her in my mind. I don't even have a good photo of her. But I still feel her and what we meant to each other.
I HEAR: poorly. I just told Yoli this, but I don't hear well. In fact, when I was around three years old I hardly could hear at all which caused preschool teachers to conclude that I was slow and caused my mother to conclude I was willfully ignoring her. They didn't realize I just couldn't hear them. But finally someone caught on and I had tubes placed in my ears. It's almost exactly what Mina had; what I handed down to her. ANYWAY, I still don't hear perfectly and many times I hear an erotic version of what was actually said. Like, if someone says, Particularly nice weather, I hear Tickle your ass with a feather. Or if the news announces, "A thirty year old man was arrested today . . ." I say, "YO, are they allowed to say that on prime time TV?" And Husband says, "What in the hell are you talking about?" Then he adds, "When you're old, I'll have to translate entire TV shows for you, won't I?"
I WONDER: what I'll eat next.
I REGRET: nothing. Every bad decision and wrong turn and blunder and fumble and self embarrassment and lot in life I can spin into something positive. I mean, why wouldn't we do that even if The Spin is really, really hard to do, or we're just fooling ourselves with all the spinning?
I AM NOT: a good catcher of typos. Like, before you read this post, I probably published and edited and published this five thousand times. I'm probably typying a typo right now.
I DANCE: as often as possible. And I just realized something recently; that I only dance seriously -- though still joyously -- in the realms of choreography, like in a class. Or while partnered up salsa'ing. But if I'm left to my own devises, with girlfriends at an American club or with my girls at home, I usually only dance for laughs. Like, doing the robot (to ANY genre of music, by the way). Or doing a parody of Beyonce or other video vixens. Or trying to remember every step to the Thriller music video at a nightclub. Or playing Tag Yo Man, Tag Yo Man. Or a version of the Soul Train line.
I SING: hardly ever. I only sing to the girls before bed. And usually just the one song.
I CRY: almost never. Is that weird? I only tear up when speaking of the beauty of things.
I AM NOT ALWAYS: paying attention while driving. The immediate road and cars around me, yea, I see them; I'm being careful. But where I'm going? I dunno. Often I'll suddenly say, Wait, did I pass our turn yet? And Mina will say, No Mami, next one. This causes a lot of tension when I'm driving and Husband is a passenger. He knows my sense of direction and my addiction to daydreaming can lead to more time on the road than necessary. But when he's in the car, I try to be extra alert so I don't have to hear his shit, and of course he thinks he's the best driver in the history of driving. He also knows --and I admit that it's totally true --every short cut to anywhere -- in the world. His sense of direction is really unbelievable. So, we'll come up to the light next to our apartment and he'll say, Turn here. And I don't want to be snappy, but fuck -- yes, I know we live right there, honey. Though I can't say that I've never passed the house by accident before . . .
I MAKE WITH MY HANDS: Bangles/bracelets that I love creating but they take a million years per bangle to make. Paintings now and again which I do make with my hands, more than a brush. I make KILLER vegan cupcakes now. And The Dressing, of course. I'm trying to be a great Soup Maker and I invented this kickass Spinach Sesame soup that the girls and I go bananas over. And this year my goal is to take sewing lessons. Enough wishing clothes and purses were a certain way. Or thinking that a stapler is a hand-held sewing machine.
I WRITE: because I can't not write.
I CONFUSE: the line between panic/fear and intuition. I often squash thoughts of death because I'm worried I'm being intuitive when I'm only really fearful of loss and undeservedness.
I NEED: lots of affection from the girls and Husband. Which is funny because I'm not necessarily a touchy-feely person with anyone else. It took me a long time to get relatively comfortable with hugging people hello and good bye and shit. I don't like the obligation of that as a greeting. I wonder if my boobs are smashing them too much or if I smell ok. How long should we hug? Does this hug have ANY MEANING WHATSOEVER, because it seems like it should. When I really like someone, I do like to hug them. I dunno. It's hit and miss with me. BUT, with the girls and Husband, I want to touch them constantly. I want to stand close enough to them at all times so our arms touch. I want to kiss their faces all day long.
I SHOULD: write more of le fiction. YEA YEA YEA.
I START: every morning with my kale-celery-apple-ginger-lemon juice and a big cup o' over-soy-creamered coffee.
I FINISH: what I can.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

self portrait tuesday

So, after the Baby Madness Does Europe Post, I dug around and found my first grade picture. If that post wasn't an introduction -- May's theme over at SPC -- I'm not sure what is.

I was trying to drum up more memories of English schooling and I realized I already mentioned what I remembered the most: the custard, raising an index finger to be called on. When I came back to the states I was teased relentlessly in 3rd grade for the index finger thing -- and the accent that I contracted in Europe. How bored are eight year olds?

The only other memory from first grade was a school play. I wanted the role of God so badly, but they miscast me in some menial role instead. I guess that just said a lot about me too.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

That Was Spain

Tina asked me about my time in Spain, why I was there and how. Here's what I remember.

When I was seven, I lived in a coastal town called Calpe. We stayed in a famous architectural landmark resort called La Manzanera which was built in the 60's and designed by Ricardo Bofill. Now, I only know all of this because I put clues together and because the internet is my best friend. My mother used to say we lived in a town called La Manthanera, adding the castilian lisp annoyingly. For years, in high school and such, no one had heard of the place, Spaniards included. Then I remembered that my mother had this great canvas totebag at the time with a big apple on it. I realized that she was saying La Manzanera. The internet told me the rest. And I knew I guessed it all right because when I saw the picture of the gorgeous red angular resort, my heart skipped at beat.

But before we fled, actually, to Spain, we lived in England.

At age four or just five --mid kindergarten-- my mother, who was only twenty-two or twenty-three, packed us up and moved us to England. She had met an Englishman and he wanted her to come back with him, me in tow. To this day, my mother’s downfall is her hope in men’s promises. The Englishman looked like a more handsome Marty Feldman and what I remember most was his blonde, chin-length comb-over. It was the 70's and I think this was working for him then. He had a nice, very British tall slight build and he was obsessively into my mother. We first lived in Newcastle where eventually I attended first grade. At school, I wore a grey jumper and a navy tie and we raised our hands in class with a pointed index finger, not a loose, open hand like we do in the states. My favorite food at school was the custard and by the end of each day there would always be blobs of dried custard spots on my little navy tie. The climate turned my hair from a honey-wheat color to a dark red and I developed an English accent in which my mother took great pride. During this time, she had me call her "mummy", and this suggestion still turns my stomach. I remember stuttering over the word consciously even at age five as she beamed at Blonde Combover. Eventually we moved to a small town south of London called Byfleet. I’m not sure why. Byfleet was known for a huge Tudor-style pub called The Blue Anchor and we spent much time there eating fish and chips wrapped in vinegar-soiled newspaper, my mother downing gin and tonics with Blonde Combover.

One night, my mother and Combover went to The Blue Anchor, just across from where we lived, and left me to myself. "Go to sleep. We're just across the way." And they left. I think that was common to leave little kids to themselves then because I remember being left alone before, but that night a car backfired in the street so violently that I panicked, believing it had been a gun shot. I convinced myself that my mother had been shot. And I paced the flat, and worried and paced and panicked and finally deciding to go find her. I think of this as an adult, of this image: A five year old girl in a night gown walking down a dark street looking for her shot mother, and it hurts my heart. I don't see this girl as me. I usually think of my girlhood in terms of That Girl. So, That Girl crosses the street and she doesn't walk into the pub, but climbs the bushes to look in the window of The Blue Anchor hoping she'll see her mother. And I don't. And I panic more and I pace outside the pub until a neighbor retrieves me and stays with me until my mother comes home from wherever she was. Combover shuffles me to bed and when I look at my mother on the couch in the little flat, she says nothing. She is drunk, her hand to her head.

The defining moment of our time in Byfleet, was when my mother met another man full of other, better promises. He was intensely handsome in a reckless way. He looked like a young Oliver Reed.And I imagine that he could make a woman feel the same as it would to stare down the real Oliver Reed; kind of dangeous and stomach-churning. My mother left Blonde Combover for the Mr. Reed Look-A-Like which sparked a literal hunt-down by Combover. We fled Byfleet and maybe that's when we went to Newcastle -- damnit, it's not exactly clear -- but what was clear was that we were on the run. My mother cut my long hair severely short and dressed me as a boy. She home-schooled me through second grade and when the pressure became too great from Combover -- apparently detectives were involved then -- we left for Spain.

Mr. Reed knew people at La Manzanera and it was a dreamy, loungey six months spent by the sea. Mr. Reed and my mother vacationed without a care and I wandered off often and taught myself how to swim in salt pools that lay parallel to the ocean. Gorgeous women wore no bikini tops, and I turned a shade of almond brown, my hair blonde again. I lived off of steamed mussels and spanish orange soda. We took a trip to Pamplona in July and caught the Festival de San Fermin and we watched the running of the bulls on top of an apartment building. It was sickingly exciting, and I remember most the sound of hooves on cobblestone. It was earth-shaking and terrifying. From where we sat I saw no one skewered by a bull, but the stress of that possibility was almost too much to take. We ended that trip by watching a bull fight and I thought I would be dazzled by the dance of the matador and the fantastic outfitting, but I only remember the bull minutes before death as at least five spear-type weapons shot out of him like pins in a cushion. His tongue hung so low and long out of his mouth and he gasped. He was monstrous and magnificent and he went down to the crowd's roar, including Mr. Reed's and my mother's. And I was despondent.

Historically, this was about the time that the brutal Franco Era was coming to an end. I think it was just a couple years before Franco acually died. I remember seeing military holding machine guns on all major street corners. I remember the buzz about this time and not understanding it.

Eventually, the Spanish climate made my mother homesick for California and we returned. I had not spoken to my grandmother, who I loved more than anyone in life, for over two years. My aunt told me years later that the time away from me crushed her in many ways. Mr. Reed came back to California with us and my mother became Mrs. Reed until he took to beating her; a couple physical fights I tried to break up myself. Not easy for a seven year old against Oliver Reed.

And that was Spain.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Colbert Report

My mother summed up the Ashes & Snow tightly: "He's like the Yanni of photographs."

Before we went to the show, my mother was more open than I to liking it which kind of perplexed me because if she knows anything, it's art. So, I tried to stay open, thinking that maybe I missed something because of the marketing. We arrived Friday -- two days before the close of the show -- to a wrap-around entrance line, and let me tell you it's one thing to see The Nomadic Museum as you zoom past on the Pacific Coast Highway trying to get glimpses without crashing, but it's quite another to hug up against it and inch along it for twenty-five minutes. It was incredible. It stood 56-feet high and was constructed out of 152 steel cargo containers stacked in a checkerboard pattern, designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. I really couldn't take my eyes of it. When we got inside, I found myself looking at the display in relation to the architecture more than the photos. Ok, the photos were nice, but . . . fluffy. There was nothing, for me, beneath what was printed on huge, gorgeous paper. Believe me, I tried hard to feel something for this show, but when I found myself straining, I realized it wasn't going to happen. And most surprisingly, there was no evidence of a connection between humans and animals in the photos. This was a shock. How do you take a billion photos over 14 years of children, mainly, and animals and not extract any connection? It's because the entire thing felt completely contrived.

But this . . .this was fantastic . . .

At the far end of each row of photos, films played to massage music. Each film showed Colbert's set up of the "unscripted" photos where beautiful young people played Sleep as a cheetah, for example, floated by in slow motion in a canoe. I thought, This must've taken HOURS and HOURS and how many times was "Cut" yelled or how many times did he have to say, "Put the goddamn caracal back in the tree and let's see what it will do naturally this time." Then I saw a meerkat shivering in the canoe looking desperate to escape as the beautiful child next to it was dried, and combed and directed to look angelic. That's when the light went out for me on Ashes and Snow. I looked at my mother and she was done scratching her head about the show too. We started making inappropriate comments. She said, "Are the children dead?" And I said, "No, but they are actually locals that Colbert is bribing for food. 'If we don't get this shot, no food for your village!'" "Wouldn't you love to see the bloopers? 'Cause you know there are TONS and some possibly tragic." "Clearly, that animal is tranquilized." I said, "Yup, they actually got that shot as it was falling to the ground. See how peaceful it is?"

There is a disturbing part of one of the films where a dancer is placed in the semi circle of a pack of African wild dogs. The dogs start to butt-up and snarl. They are feeling froggy and agitated, but they are not looking at the dancer. They are looking to the right of the camera man, threatening to pounce but it's obvious that they are being held at bay. At one point, before yet another splice of the film --there were many -- the dogs are thrown something to eat which they pile on feverishly. It happens so fast most don't see it. But this is what I mean; the seams of fabrication are raw and sometimes obvious. I couldn't get into what he was trying so hard to create. The lack of an emotional connection allowed my mind to wander and instead mentally tear down the facade.

But this . . .I spent the rest of the time staring at the design of the museum. It was a like a primitive cathedral. Wood planks split the display of photos that were hung beautifully on wires above smooth and oblong black stones. The lighting was perfect. The ceiling's height was awesome. I was in love with space and the space itself did wonders for the show. The museum made the show worth seeing.

Friday, May 12, 2006

photbooth friday - kinda

My mother says this was taken when we lived in Spain. I was about six, and she thinks it was for a passport or something official. But I had a passport already. I mean, I got to Spain, no?

I love the sheet in the background. I love the weird color of the photo. I love the tennis dress. You can be very sure that I loved the dress like no other back then. And of course I have the classic and nearly infamous Baby Madness tragic stare.

My mother comes to town today. I'm not as apprehensive as usual, and I'm wondering if that's maturity or the kiss of death. Will the visit I feel most comfortable end up being confrontational? Ah, it'll be fine.

This time around there is no tattoo convention to distract us, but after I pick her up from the airport we're driving to Santa Monica to check out this exhibit. To be honest, the exhibit looks a wwweeeeee bit gaseous to me, but I think the aesthetic of the photos themselves will be beautiful. The "novel" that this guy (Gregory Colbert) wrote in a series of three hundred sixty-five letters home to his wife make me shift uncomfortably in my seat. "Letter 84: The elephant with his trunk raised is a ladder to the stars. A breaching whale is a ladder to the bottom of the sea. My photographs are a ladder to my dreams. These letters are a ladder to you." Yikes. Also, he claims the animals in the photos have not been coerced into what they are doing. And uh, bullshit. I just straight out don't believe this. I think he's boldly lying to our face. Anyway, I wish he'd stop using words, written and spoken, so I can just look at the pretty pictures. P.S. this is all prejudgment. I'll probably get me a Gregory Colbert coffee mug and 8x10 signed glossy by show's end. I'll give you a full Colbert Report after the show. (I couldn't WAIT to say that.)

So, back to my mother's visit . . .I feel a little odd that she's coming Mother's Day weekend. We haven't even talked about that. This visit lands between her and the girls' birthdays and we've talked up the celebration of that. I feel on Sunday morning I'll be all shifty eyed, digging my hands in my pocket. "Uh, happy uh mother's day?" Then I'll chuck her on the arm and laugh nervously and this will spark the confrontation I didn't see coming - DAMNIT. Selfishly, I just want to be alone with Husband and the girls and let them rally around me; let me enjoy my motherhood. Instead I get to spend the morning pretending everything was all right.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A is for All Right

I got the Alphabet meme fever from Melinda and Maven. You can be tagged if you like.

Accent: We don't have accents in California. Do we? Except for an exaggerated Valley Girl which is, like, kind of addicting. When I'm nervous or mad I do get this little nyrican swivel to my voice which is kinda funny.

Booze: I don't drink on the reg, but when I go out I like dark rum and diet coke; my very favorite is Bacardi Añejo though most places do not carry that. I like a good mojito too. And Betsy and I once had these cucumber gimlets that were bananas. Three gulps and life was irresistible. When I first started going to salsa clubs, I used to have this drink served in an hour glass mug called a Havana Rocket which was made with -- I'm guessing -- lighter fluid and a Hawaiian Punch-OJ mix. I was doing splits on the dance floor half way through the first one.

Chore I Hate: Matching socks. What in the hell with socks, man. With a family of four, I have an entire basket of lone socks. The socks wait, like they are in a holding cell, to be reunited with their family. With each wash I wonder who will reappear. A couple always do. The pile of socks in the basket goes up, goes down. And Maya and I in particular have only about 3 pairs of socks in our rotation. Often when the girls leave for school, I can see them wearing different colored socks. Damn you, socks.

Dogs/Cats: Lupe & Carmen, the Sisters Pug! Though I would like a boy kitty. Don't tell Husband. I would name him TeaCake.

Essential electronics: Ok, what falls under this category? My juicer? My vibrator? My laptop for sure . . .and I'll take the juicer. The vibrator don't love me like it used to.

Favorite perfume/cologne: I don't like perfume. It smells chemically and metallic to me. However, I LOVE the smell of my Jason's vanilla body lotion on me. I also love the smell of an amber & sandalwood oil I used to wear until Husband told me he wasn't feeling it.

Gold/Silver: I am the only one of my friends that loves only gold. I love especially vintage gold and interesting rose gold. So gorgeous to me.

Hometown: Los Angeles.

Insomnia: Nope.

Job Title: Semiconductor Broker, yawn.

Kids: Two baby goddesses, Maya almost 11, Mina, 7.

Living Arrangements: 950sq foot 2bedroom apt with two adults, two baby goddesses, the Sisters Pug, and still we all tend to huddle together in the same room, often trying to occupy the same exact space. The other day, when I got home from work, I realized we were all talking as if in an actual huddle in the hall. The dogs were sitting on our feet. At night we all hang out on our queen-size bed, all six of us, reading, watching TV, talking, typing blogs. I love that about us. Husband says why don't we downsize to a studio and save some money.

Most Admired Trait: Go-With-The-Flowedness and Compassion.

Number of Sexual Partners: Enough.

Overnight Hospital Stays: Having babies and some mysterious operation I had as a kid. Apparently I yelled Mommy for half the night caged up in some metal crib. How sad is that?

Phobias: I get a random fear of flying now and again. It comes and goes. But when it comes, I spend half the time wondering if it's intuition or just the manic phobia. Mandy and I were just talking about this: I have a fear of just jumping off a high place. I don't think this is uncommon. If I'm near the edge of a cliff or looking over the edge of a tall building, I'm worried I'll either just purposely tilt off or I'll back up to get a running start and really fucking go for it. Sometimes I have to sit down in such situations.

Quote: "I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars . . ." Señor Whitman. And I got this from Michelle a while back: "I know how it will be when I die, my beauty will be so extraordinary that God will worship me. He will not worship me from a distance, for our minds will have wed, our souls will have flowed into each other. How to say this: God and I will forever cherish myself." - Rabia.

Religion: Naw. I've tried many on for size, sincerely: Explored. Asked questions. Studied. Joined. Left. Realized the absolute universalness of it all.

Siblings: None.

Time I usually wake up: 6:20am

Unusual talent: I can type on a keyboard that's missing the "U" key, like I'm doing now. I am buoyantly hopeful, endlessly and blindingly. Maven said this too, but I can make a meal out of anything in the cupboard. We called it making Loque, as in lo que hay en la cocina, whatever there is. I am a scraps gourmet.

Vegetable I refuse to eat: Brussel sprouts. As I kid I thought they tasted like poison because, y'know, I knew what poison tasted like. I haven't tried them since which I hear is a shame.

Worst habit: Daydreaming

X-rays: A few on my ankles thanks to endless hours of basketball.

Yummy foods I make: Rice & beans, tostones & avocados, big-ass beautiful salad with the drinkable dressing, vegan chocolate cupcakes.

Zodiac Sign: Virgo. I married a virgo. I know many virgos. I like virgos.

Monday, May 08, 2006

self portrait tuesday - I Am Not Miami

Hey, how you doing? We're introducing ourselves over at the New & Improved Self Portrait Challenge.

Apparently, SelfPortChal isn't the only place I need to reintroduce myself. I've been taking dance from the same woman, Wiggy Terri, for about a year now. She knows me from where I stand every week, twice a week. She knows me from how I dance. About five months ago she just started calling me Miami out of the blue. I think she thinks I'm Cuban, which is fine. Close enough. It has never interested me to correct her because she's the type of person that doesn't really listen to what you're saying. You say two words to her and her eyes start wandering the room, her CD case, herself in the mirror. I think, Oh, you're not interested . . . that's cool. I don't trip about that. I just want to take a good dance class.

Wiggy Terri holds these legendary parties that apparently get wild. They are embarrassingly called "Divas Night Out". Is this word still around, Diva? It didn't die with the nineties? I thought this word wouldn't resurrect itself until my daughters were using it for what they'd think was the first time. So, these parties get wild as in titties flashing and a bunch of girl grinding which in the Girls-Gone-Wild sense typically bores and/or bugs me. But I got invited to a Wiggy's Mobile Divas Night Out this last Saturday where thirty women would take two limos to bar/club hop up the coast. I was hesitant. Just the thought of traveling in a pack of thirty Whoopin Wanna Get Wild Divas exhausted me. I feared the tackiness of it. But I was too intrigued not to go. I wanted the Divas to entertain and shock me. Plus I wanted a girl’s night out. Plus my girls Quaniesha & Islip were going so I felt kinda safe. We made back up plans, escape routes if we really needed to jet on this group.

However, the Divas were harmless. It was all anticlimactic, but fairly fun. Ok, there was a little BA action and titty flashing between the limos on the freeway, but that was pretty hilarious especially from some grown-ass women. There was tons of drinking as sport and laughing and dancing. (P.S. It's kinda hard to dance in a limo.) Islip, who is very large chested took off her bra because her top + her bra = boobies blinding her. And I thought it would be a good idea to see how many girls' heads we could fit in the bra. We had three girls in there at one point I'm pretty sure. The funniest part of the night was that I was only known as Miami. I was Miami, the Good Dancer/Clown from Cuba. Not that some of this isn't true, it's just all I was known as. After too many drinks, women told me about how they talked about me with their friends, betting I was great in bed (Embarrassing! And there's really only one response to that which is, "Yup, that's true."). They were shocked I was a mother; they were trying to unravel some big mystery that apparently surrounds me. I thought, really? I'm just trying to take a dance class. Then I thought, There is so much mystery because the Divas just told me what they thought I was and didn't really get to know anything too real. They even renamed me. It was all weird enough to not even try to change their perception.

We all know I'm Madness (surprisingly not my real name either), but when I go to dance class and around the Divas, I'm Miami. I feel more anonymous as Miami.

Above is a picture of me as Miami.

Friday, May 05, 2006


Sometimes the pace of my schedule laps me. It's not necessarily an oppressive schedule; the actual things-to-do are pretty joyful with the regular obligatories (work, chores, blahblah), but it is a lot. And when extra things are thrown atop the pile, I spin sometimes. Aside from trying to fundraise, basketball season has started for the girls and work has been really busy; lists and lists of parts to find and meetings to increase biz, etc. etc. I get a handle -- research, call, meet, advise, negotiate, quote -- and a score of new emails with lists of parts to find come again, stating they are my new priority. I have no time to write, or even think much outside of keeping up, and I'm spinning, yo. I do not like when I blink and it's Friday. I have lost complete track of Monday until now. I know a ton of shit happened, but it's fuzzy. I haven't been sleeping much either and when I lie there digging for the root of the awakedness, I instead go through the itinerary of the next day, week, month. Something's bound to slip through the cracks, I think. That agitates me.

But there are stand-still moments of solace, a block of five minutes that I remember so clearly over the blur of five days put together. One of these blocks happened yesterday when I drove with only Mina to Maya's basketball game. It was a bit before dusk, about an hour before the Purkinje shift. I have loved those words, Purkinje Shift, since 10th grade physiology. To this day, I say it in my mind almost every day at dusk; Purkinje shift, which is when your eyes adjust from light to dark. It's hardest to see during the Purkinje shift; colors wash out and the lines of reality blur as cones and rods do-si-do. Mina and I were driving through the Laguna Canyon, a perfect swerve of road lined in velvety green ferns and palms. The spring mustard plants were over four feet and they bunched along the road in brilliant full-bloom patches. The hills of Laguna encased the road intimately. On the stereo I was blasting a song by Croatian singer Darko Rundek. The music was bass-y, simple, sexy. I had it on loudly and much of my tension released as I drove and listened. I looked back at Mina and she was leafing through a hard-bound Dr. Seuss collection the size of a pizza box. She had the same expression on her face as I: Calmed, content, soothed by the music and the luscious canyon. Time then stopped, or slowed significantly and I tried to str-str-stretch it. Maya and I can kibitz and gossip until words are withered and tired, but with Mina, we can be together and alone at the same time, pefectly happy. We can share and appreciate the movement of surroundings and the moment without words. Maya and I are tethered by constant interaction. Mina and I are often connected by no verbal interaction at all. She looked up at me from her book and smiled. I said, "Baby, do you like the music?" She said, "Ma-mi . . ." Which is her universal answer for I Love It So Much Words Reduce How I Feel. I wished the canyon road was the length of forever.

The Darko Rundek track is on a world music CD I received as a contribution gift from my beloved lefty radio station. I'm finding that the entire CD instantly relaxes me. This morning I blasted Oliver Mtukudzi from Zimbabwe and there is something about popular African music that excites me. The plucking and the sing-song melodies and the pep-in-the-step beats; the nasally, touching vocals. I dunno. I'm happy listening to it. When I went with Crossroads Africa -- that mini peace corps project thing I did in the Caribbean when I was 16 -- before we flew off to our tiny Leeward island, we stayed in the international dorms at Columbia University. It was 1984 and I had just seen Beat Street. I wanted to go to a DJ house party just like in the movies. I wanted to hit the Roxy. No one was up for the adventure, and instead we walked around Columbia along the Hudson River where we ran into fishermen who had caught eels off the river's edge. We went back to the dorm lounge and met a student from Senegal. He was all elbows and jaw line, short-bald cut and round sharp eyes. He said a Senegalese party was jumping off in one of the meeting rooms if we wanted to check it out. I said, Sure! But the others went back to our shared rooms instead. At the party, lines of people were dancing to the happy plucking music and the sing-song melodies. Some people were singing. Women in tight silk dresses, floor length and brilliant, swung their hips to the ground. Their matching origami head scarves did not even move. And I jumped in line and stepped like they stepped. I eavesdropped on conversations that were spoken in a gorgeous staccato French and I swayed along, standing out. I didn't care. The music filled something even if I didn't belong. I left the party earlier than I had wanted because the Sharp Jawed Boy was getting frisky, trying to hold my hand and getting too close to my face.

So, it's Friday now . . .right? I just got handed two huge lists of parts to find and I'm staring at them blankly. My heart is sinking as I stare. I can't wait to be in my car listening to my new CD again.

Thanks so much to those of you that have pushed the Help Send Maya to the Junior Olympics button (ahem, down on the left margin). Maya lights up every time I tell her someone has pushed the button. She's thrilled with the reality of all of this. The bracelets are a bit hit, and boy, you should see Maya hustling them at school and the AfterSchoolProgram. Even Mina pushed one to her teacher.

I should've brought my CD into work. Maybe I'll go get it now.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

self portrait tuesday

Self Portrait Challenge has a new face. For May we are reintroducing ourselves.

I'm Madness. This is my imaginary tea party.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Button! The Button!

The generous and lovely HollyRhea designed and sent me this donation button for our Road to Atlanta fundraiser. She sent it completely out of the blue as I was scratching my head gazing mindlessly at the PayPal site wondering what I had gotten myself into.

The actual active, click-y button is in the margins to the left; under my flikr because I couldn't get it to show up anywhere else. I can't even seem to get the real button in this post either - I'M LAME! To be honest, I'm pattin' myself on the back for even getting the button in the margins. It's all but scotch taped there. P.S., I like to say and type the word button(s). Uh, so satisfying. BUTTONS.

But how gorgeous is the button?

AND CHECK IT, the bracelets showed up today, a week early! Be aware that my hand and wrist are really small. These are rubber so they do stretch to get over some big-ass hands, if that's what you or a significant other has. These will fit kids well though they will be big on the little ones, seven and under. The bracelets are $3/each or four for $10. The purple and the yellow ones say "whatever it takes follow your dreams" and the pink and teal ones say, "go confidently in the direction of your dreams." If you'd like to buy a bracelet or 4, or more, to help out with our Junior Olympic Quest, please donate from the button in the margins and then send me an email at to indicate how many and what colors. Thank you so, so much.

AAh man, the Road to Atlanta is looking clear . . .

Now, for a lil' Vegas update even though what happens there, needs to stay there. Whoever came up with that slogan is a goddamn genius. Because I murder that phrase. I say an edited version of this, oh, weekly. Like, what happens in my cubicle, stays in my cubicle. As you know, I bring baggies of soy creamer to my local coffee spot. This practice often elicits comments from other latte patrons, but one morning a guy looked over at me and my baggie and said, "Baileys?" Which I thought was really funny. I said, "Hey, what happens in my cup, stays in my cup" which isn't as funny as Bailey?, and what I'm trying to say is that I can't help myself.

Here are some of my happenings that should've stayed there . . . I'm not saying I'm embarrassed by these things, I'm just saying there are things I do in Vegas that I might not do elsewhere:

1. First of all, I went shopping which I'm not supposed to do. I'm on my Big Non Consumer Experiment -- for the most part -- and we really don't have extra money to blow right now. Initially I was going to just walk the miles and miles of fantastic underground malls that smell like monster airconditioning and fabricated fountains with a touch of coconut oil; these are all smells that I like and make me a little giddy. These places are capped with muraled blue-skied ceilings and paved with cobblestone and planted street lamps. Sounds nice, I know, but it's actually eerie and so obviously all made-up, but there is something about it that I love. Like I'm living in a cartoon. The malls -- that are popping up at every casino now -- are like a crowded secret. Shopping is the newest decadence of Vegas. If you suckers are gambling less, come shop. And we do. We all mull around excitedly thinking, Aren't there better things to do in Vegas? Heehee, no! Indoor Vegas air filters the scene differently, distorting things into technocolor. People let their guard down there from a little bit to a whole lot so the crowds are beyond entertaining. I'm all warm and fuzzy just thinking about the international and broad-spectrum people watching. Soul satisfying, I tell you. Anyway, in Vegas, you consider buying shit you would buy no where else especially in your right mind. I picked up a micro mini top bedazzled beyond recognition and thought, "That's cute." In hindsight, NO IT WASN'T. It was hideous, and embarrassingly I looked at it for a long time. For the most part, I was able to fend off all the alluring, sparkly goods, but when there was a new Urban Outfitters at Mandalay Bay and when this Urban Outfitters displayed these Jellies, I COULD HOLD BACK NO LONGER. $16 for my favorite type of shoe ever made! I had rocked the Jellies the first time around in fourth grade; a transparent red pair that went perfectly with the piping of my catholic school uniform. So, at Urban O's, I greedily grabbed three different colors and a rad tshirt and ran to the register. I just couldn't take it. The Vegas air broke me down.

2. Since I had a room to myself, and because The Robe got hot at times, I walked and lounged around the room naked a lot. I'm not usually gung ho about doing stuff naked. I like the confinement of clothes to be perfectly honest. Am I uptight, do I need to feel the security, who knows. But the weekend room nudity? New and different and staying right there in Vegas.

3. Being a vegan on The Strip is near impossible. I didn't eat a lot this weekend. Saturday afternoon, I went down to the buffet because you'd think a buffet is bound to have a good salad bar. I went alone after walking a marathon in malls. And P.S., I thought buffets were like $4.99? Anyway, I was charged $19 and after a quick prerusal, I found no salad bar. None. I saw aisles and aisles of greasy meat dishes and green beans with bacon, etc. I saw three silver bowls with premade salads like, chinese chicken salad and some other wilted nonsense. So, I went up to the front, with my sunglass on, and told them deadpanly, "I want my money back." "You don't like the buffet, Miss?" "There's no salad bar. I just want to eat a salad" "Yes, there's a salad bar right there," and she points to the three silver bowls. I said, "Those are premade and they don't look very good." We went to the manager at the register who was a tall, bitter lady and I got to have this exact conversation with her in front of two long lines of tired, touristy patrons trying to get their roast-beef on. I got my refund. Mind you, the characteristic to Speak Up I do not lack. But usually I am very diplomatic and charming about what I need to say. I was kinda cold and over it with the non-vegetable having buffet crew. Vegas rocks!

4. Brokers love to drink, and when loud boisterous brokers drink they like to high-five each other. I am not typically a drinker and I AM NOT A HIGH FIVER. This form of communication or validation or punctuation or bonding does not appeal to me at all for some reason. A few years ago when I had a personal trainer for a couple months, he tried to high five me on the first day and I left him hanging. He got the hint. I'd prefer a shove in the arm than a high-five. I'd prefer a little dance. But alas, over the weekend because I had a couple rum and diet cokes at the broker parties, I might've high fived on seven different occasions. I think about that and cringe. If there is video of this and I find that the brokers-gone-wild sounds of "WWWHHOOOOOOO" were also coming out of my mouth, I'll fucking shit myself. High-fiving really needs to stay in Vegas.