Archive for April, 2007

April 30, 2007

dancing treadmill woman.

by la rebelde

Yesterday, huffing and puffing on a treadmill facing the windows near my gym’s entrance, I watched a woman skip her way down the sidewalk—literally skip, not jog, not run, but skip. Shortly after, she charged through the isles between workout machinery and sweaty gym-goers to a treadmill closest to the windows, and in my direct line of vision. She put on her ear-buds and set the treadmill to a very low setting and, to my surprise, she started dancing!

First it was slow and deliberate dancing—like stretching almost. Then it was salsa and slow merengues, followed by the twist and what looked like a version of the “roger rabbit.” She was really getting into it—turning left and right, her arms fully extended as she moved to the rhythm of music that only she could hear. I silently hoped that no one at the machines next to her would get knocked out. She seemed to care less that everyone appeared to be watching her. She smiled as she danced on the moving floor beneath her feet. And I couldn’t help but smile to watch her—and so did everyone in my row of treadmills. All of us, smiling and jogging simultaneously.

She must know what she’s doing, I thought, because she is seriously toned. If treadmill dancing is all she does, then she’s figured out the workout secret, for reals! I was disappointed when she finally left the cardio area. I glanced at the man running next to me (I think I’d seen him at my spinning class before), who was grinning from ear to ear. We both giggled a bit before he said, “Whatever she’s smoking, I want some of that!” I’m not sure you’d have to smoke anything to have that kind of vibe—confident, graceful, quirky, fun. But I do know that all the smiling while running made me go a little bit faster and it made the time go by in a flash. I hope to witness the dancing treadmill woman again soon.

What a gift to be able to channel good energies to people around you, while just doing your own thing!

April 26, 2007

zapatos en la primavera.

by la rebelde

I lovelovelove springtime. In fact, it’s the only thing I really miss about small-midwestern-college-town. When you dwell in places where it is dark and damp for months and months…and months, you come to appreciate the significance of weather changes, especially when it changes for the better!

La primavera in Los Angeles is not as shabby as I would have thought, having lived in tejas, where there is no springtime to speak of really. There are lots of very fragrant flores, which is, after all, the most important part. But really, I just want to do some shoe shopping. Okay, so that’s not really weather-related, because I’m a shoe-addict in any weather. But the springtime has me thinking about cute and comfy warm-weather zapatos.

I’ve been on the lookout for canvas sneaker/ballet slippers for a few weeks now. Unfortunately, the ones I really like—the ones that would just “make” my wardrobe—are not made in my size! First rejected at Aldo, I set out to look for others. I found these beauties at Lacoste—they’re even cuter than the ones at Aldo. I like them in orange. Orange makes me happy. BUT the smallest size they come in, is a 6. (I wear a 5 or 5 ½, in case you were wondering. And for some reason, the shoe salesmen—usually men—always ask if I want to try on the size 6 “just in case.” Size 6 is too big. Duh.) It’s small feet discrimination, I tell you! I guess these zapatos are just not my future.

I probably wouldn’t have bought them anyhow. $79 is way too much to pay for glorified keds. And…you know…I’m not an academic baller. Not yet. The springtime shoe search continues! And maybe I should get back to work on the pinche dissertation instead of online shopping. Dang!

April 24, 2007

comunidad de shrek embryos.

by la rebelde

Upon returning to my apartment last week after a series of conferences, I discovered these little creatures growing in not one, but TWO, of my plant pots. I couldn’t get a very clear photo, but they are teeny florescent green, possibly spongy, things that kinda look like the beginnings of una comunidad de shrek embryos. That is, if shreks need soil to grow.

I’ve never seen anything like it. Maybe it’s some weird l.a.-related occurrence that I just don’t know about yet, seeing as how I’m not from l.a. And I’m hoping that they are completely unrelated to the sink-overflow apartment disaster, to which I also discovered upon my return from conferencing. We’re talking food bits, soapy water, flooding in cabinets, drawers, and floor–all due to pipes clogged by the folks who live upstairs, who like to put their rice and noodles and bean sprouts down the drain. I know this because that is exactly what was floating in the nasty water. Pretty gross. This may be reason to relocate to another apartment–one with better plumbing and newer cabinetry. I don’t think the shreks are dangerous to my health, but one can never be too sure. That’s why I haven’t touched them.

So here’s the question, should I scoop out la comunidad de shrek embryos and replace the soil? Or should I just let them grow–as a natural addition to my (and my plants’) living environment?

April 22, 2007

l.a.-snooty-bug y el burque.

by la rebelde

A new friend of mine, who I’m just getting to know, but who I already think is very cool, planned a springtime party for tonight at her condo around the corner from my apartment. This was the first party I’ve attended in l.a. I was looking forward to meeting some new folks—seeing as how I’m still trying to build community and all. And this party was sure to have a good mix of ethnic studies grad students from an l.a. university (which shall remain nameless) and folks who do other things.

Up until now, I have had the impression that l.a. women are…well…bitchy. I’m trying not to essentialize here, ya know. But on the real? The snoot factor is mad outta control. Of course I’ve met some really great folks—men and women—since I’ve been out here. (Most are not actually from l.a., which only feeds my essentialist theory, but let’s just say that they count as l.a. folks for the sake of non-essentialist argument.) And some of my very closest friends are l.a.-born-and-raised, so clearly this is not a totalizing supposition. But I do have to say that generally men haven’t been quite as snooty. I know this is a fucked-up gender dynamic in which I am clearly being sexualized in some abstract and probably unintentional way. But if men are being more friendly, then hey, I’d rather talk to them. Mujeres, on the other hand, have a really awful way of brushing off other women who are not in their cliqua—especially the straight ones. And that is just messed up on so many levels.

So I was at this party and I tried to talk with some folks. I think I’m a friendly, fun and interesting girl. I try to be warm and thoughtful. I do ethnic studies. I’m an academic, yet I have social skills. But aside from two women, a couple with roots in nuevo mexico, I got the straight up brush off. Repeatedly. And only from brown women (by brown I mean not white). And I know I’m not making this up because I brought a college friend with me (thank the lawd!) and he felt the same way. Some of these folks I had met before and they were very nice…before. I even briefly shared living space with one woman during recent weeks! But nice tonight they were not. And not all were from l.a., but I’m thinking they may have caught the l.a.-snooty-bug.

And as I said, this is not the first time I’ve gotten the straight up brush off by l.a. women. I’ve just never been brushed off this much in concentrated time and space. So therein lies my bitter confusion. WTF is up with that?

Which leads to my next point about nuevo mexico—my beloved home. The first two women, who I really enjoyed talking with and who were familiar with n.m., either grew up there/had family there, or had lived there for a significant amount of time. They were great. Our conversation about burque made me feel a little bit more at home. We talked about our favorite restaurants, big skies, commuting from the west side or rio rancho to downtown, and, of course, the major differences between l.a. and burque. Unfortunately, they had to leave early.

So college-friend and I stuck around. And I managed to get into a conversation with some Harvard-undergrad-educated white girl with a fancy l.a. power job about how “beautiful” burque is. “It really is enchanting!” she said as she moved her arms snakelike up and down to demonstrate “enchantment.” (This in reference to the state slogan “the land of enchantment” that I hate if only because white people use it to exoticize us—native and nuevomexican@ people–by ignoring our presence so they can talk about landscapes as if we don’t exist. Freakin colonization dude!) She told us how she went on the tram, toured old town, and was then “totally hooked on the a-b-q.” And how her friend has a “fabulous” house there with a “wonderful view of the city” and she is thinking of moving there soon.

“Don’t you just loooove it there?” she asked, with that silly dreamy breathy tone that they all use.

“Um. It’s my home.” I said. My familia has lived there for centuries and therefore I am tied to the land. Of course I love it and of course I think it’s beautiful—but not because it’s freakin’ “enchanting”!!! And seriously, am I supposed to respond in a way that is self-exoticizing?

Then she said, “Do you not like it there? Because some people don’t like to live where they grew up. They just don’t appreciate their home towns like people who are not from there do.” The arrogance is really quite astounding!

But then all I could muster through my killing rage was, “Yes, I do like it there. Yes, it is beautiful.” Geez, you’d think I would have learned by now how to confront this perpetual issue. Because what I really wanted to say was, “Leave the damn ‘fabulous house’ and go to where I grew up in cinco puntos or Los Padillas or another barrio or to one of the reservations. And then tell me if you still think it’s beautiful, bitch!” I mean, how do you subvert the colonial gaze without being totally angry and, on the other hand, without doing the mimicry thing (a la homi b.)?

College-friend came to the rescue and changed the subject. We left soon after—not because of the wack white girl, but because we kept getting the brush off, no matter how many different folks we tried to chat with. Now, back in my cozy apartment, I guess the night wasn’t a total bust because I met those cool nuevo mexico chicas and it was good to see the very cool party-hostess. But the contrast, between folks who get it and folks who clearly have no intention of getting it, still has my blood boiling. And the snooty l.a. factor? Well that just makes it worse. Again, I ask, WTF?

The whole experience made me appreciate even more my amigas and the community I just visited in tejas last weekend. That’s real. They are real. I’m going to try not to let this stop me from putting myself out there and meeting people. But I gotta say, it has been taking a lot of freakin emotional work—much more than any new place I’ve moved to (besides Appalachia when I was a tender adolescent). And I really do like l.a. I’m positive that there’s community in this sprawling city for me. I guess I’m just going to have to build slowly and be more patient.

April 15, 2007

iced or hot? with boba or not?

by la rebelde

The other day I took a walk in the warm southern California sunshine to run errands and grab lunch at the tea shop a few blocks from my apartment. Cha is my favorite tea shop in my neighborhood—they have yummy teas, tasty snacks like calamari balls dipped in chile powder (so good!), and they don’t think it’s weird when I go there. Since I don’t “look Chinese” (whatever that means) I’m often made to feel that I’m crossing a racial boundary where folks seem confused about my presence in Chinese tea shops—Chinese waitresses/patrons and Mexican kitchen workers alike. More on that in another post.

I was sitting at a window seat doing dissertation-related reading while I ate lunch, when an older Mexican man came up to read the menu posted outside. Viejito tried to open the door, but before I could motion to him to go around to the entrance at the back, he threw his hands up in frustration and stomped away. That sucks, I thought. He kind of looked like a younger version of my grandpa. But a few minutes later, he came in and sat a few tables away from me. He already knew what he wanted—the grilled chicken with rice, corn and salad. The waitress, a young Asian American woman, took his order and asked if he wanted something to drink.

Viejito: I want coffee.
Waitress: What kind of coffee would you like?
Viejito: Do you have coffee?
Waitress: Yes.
Viejito: Then I’d like coffee.
Waitress: Iced or hot? With boba or not?
This made me chuckle out loud a little. It’s just funny!
Viejito: I thought you said you have coffee.
Waitress: We do have coffee. Hot or cold?
Viejito: Just bring me some coffee.
Waitress: Okay, I’ll bring you hot coffee.

I breathed a sigh of relief when she didn’t push the boba issue and went back to my book and my almond green milk tea. But then Viejito called the waitress back.

Viejito: Change my coffee to a soda, would you?
Waitress: We don’t have soda here, only tea.
Oh no. Here we go again!
Viejito: No soda?! Okay, just bring me the coffee with milk and sugar.
Waitress: Sure, I’ll bring milk and sugar on the side.

Viejito asked for chile with his meal just like I did. Guess I’m not the only one who crosses the boundaries.

April 11, 2007

flashes of time.

by la rebelde

So I’ve been traveling over the last couple of weeks. First, to the puritanical/working-class Irish Boston to visit my homegirls, who were my roommates during my first year of college when we moved into the Latina first-year quad at our bad-ass anti-racist, anti-colonialist dorm. And then to Nueva York to attend an academic conference, where I presented a paper. It’s been a hectic time, but really great. Here are some of the highlights.

Went for a run with mi tocaya, who was doing a “short run” that day in accordance with her marathon-training schedule. She is mad hardcore, y’all. And she pushed me to run much further (and uphill) than I ever have on solid ground. The air was brisk. I had allergies. My nose was running. But running alongside the quaint New England homes, with actual stone wall fencing dating back at least 2 centuries, kept me going. (Maybe it was my anger at the role fences played in settler-colonialism in New England, when the British stole the land from native people. It reminded me of Cronon’s Changes in the Land. I know, I’m a big academic nerd.) Nah… actually, mi tocaya kept running, so if I slowed down too much or stopped, I’d probably get lost, so I kept on. At the end of our route, I apparently jogged up the hill to her house with a smile on my face. As I said, it was her, not me—she was a great cheer-leader for this amateur!

Shot some pool, drank good beer, and ate sweet potato fries (one of the finer things in life) with chipotle sauce at Jillian’s. Miss Boricua Mechanic shot me under the table. And she talked shitz the whole time. She’s good, but I let her win. ;)

I’ve known homegirls’ beagles, Jazz and Toby, since they were puppies. And I didn’t used to like them. Now I do. Maybe it’s because they’re adult dogs now—or maybe it’s because I’m an adult human now. But I like to make commentary for the dogs as they play. I think we can be friends—so long as they aren’t shedding too much.

Our panel was scheduled for 8:30am on the first day of the conference. We’d gone out for yummy drinks and Korean food the night before. I forgot to buy water on the way back to the upper-east-side apartment I was renting (not a hotel room). And I was too lazy to go to the Korean mercadito around the corner to get some. So when I woke up, I was parched. At the conference, I could not drink enough water. And I didn’t want to drink too much before our panel because I was afraid I’d have to pee. And since I went last, my mouth felt like paper as I was reading. It was like my tongue was swollen and I couldn’t say “tortillería” without stuttering. Ugh. Our commentator was awesome though. She made us sound super smart. And the professor’s baby who was sitting in the front row stopped crying by the time it was my turn. All in all, I can’t complain.

Met with the guy who wrote the dissertation on a similar topic as mine. He was really nice and incredibly helpful. I’m so glad we got to talk in person. My anxiety about the idea of original work is tempered some now (but only a little bit).

Ran into a woman who was an administrator at my undergrad school. Last time I saw her, at ASA, she introduced me to a friend as “one of the agitators.” I’m not sure she meant it as a compliment, but I’m going to take it as one. Guess my reputation from my college years will follow me forever. It was still weird when she spotted me in the elevator though. Enclosed space. Administrator-turned-professor asking about my whereabouts in front of other random academics in my field. Ick.

Boricua Mechanic’s madre made tasty pasteles for dinner when I stayed with her in Spanish Harlem. I admit to being weary of pasteles, since the last time I had them I was in college and a puertorriqueña administrator made them. They were bad. And they kept saying they were like tamales. I had been so disappointed. But Boricua Mech’s mom is a great cook. I will no longer be afraid of the pasteles. But I did have to ask, if these are pasteles, what do you call cake? Apparently it’s bizcocho. Hey, I’m learning here.

Missed my flight to LA because we missed the exit and had to take a detour through construction-ridden downtown Boston. But I got a better flight and got to Los Angeles much earlier than I would have had we not accidently strayed from our path. I must be having a lucky streak!

As the plane descended over the nocturnal lights of LA, I realized that I had no idea how sprawling the city really is. As far as the eye could see, just lights. In one spot, it looked like balls of fire were floating up and exploding close to the buildings. It was shocking. Staring hard to see what was going on, I realized they were fireworks. They seemed so close to the ground from my vantage point on the plane. I watched them until the smoke from the explosions clouded my view.

Home at last.

April 11, 2007

super hero.

by la rebelde

So this one is real cute and I got it from my good friend, the marathon runner. It says I’m “Superman” but it seems that on a different day I could be one of 5 or 6 other super heros. I really want to be Elastigirl though. She’s the coolest. Why isn’t she on the list?

Your results:
You are Superman

Green Lantern
Wonder Woman
Iron Man
The Flash
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test