Archive for October, 2007

October 29, 2007

rascuache halloween.

by la rebelde

Halloween was a controversial event in our house. When your mother is a Chinese American dietitian, things like candy, store-bought costumes and silly games that you have to pay for at the school Halloween festival contradict everything you’re supposed to stand for.

I used to think that the only thing she liked about this holiday, was pumpkin carving—because pumpkin is good for you and you can eat the seeds. Of course, we were rarely allowed to actually carve the pumpkin because then it rots faster and you probably won’t be able to eat it later. No. We had to paint them instead which is so much less cool. When it was time to eat it, my mom would cut off the painted parts and cook the rest. This is a woman who gives out stickers, apples, or teeny boxes of raisins to the trick-or-treaters. People always talked a lot of smack about that at school. “Was that yeeeeer mom?”

The only time I remember going trick-or-treating was when I was about 4 years old. We went only to the houses of neighbors we knew well. And even then, we were only allowed to have one piece of candy per week, and only right before brushing. Candy is bad for you and rots your teeth. It was a really long time before we got through our candy. And after you wait that long, some of the candy gets all dry and chewy and doesn’t taste so good anymore.

Our costumes were always super rascuache. I mean, not even cool-rascuache. Chinese American rascuache is a totally different beast. One year I was a “geisha” (I know, I know…groan!). And my mom and I made a wig with a bun on top out of strips of black construction paper and fast-food chopsticks–an idea found in a library book. The kimono was a mismatched hodge-podge of mi papá’s old bowling shirts, which my mom had safety-pinned together so as not to ruin the shirts in case mi papá succeeded in his weight-watcher program and wanted to wear them again. Even at 7 years old, I was really embarrassed about my cheapy costume. We were the only Asian Am family in a mostly Mexican@ school at that point, not that anyone cared about the difference between Japanese and Chinese peoples… And if I was feeling any discomfort at walking around the school Halloween festival in rascuache “geisha” getup, it was made a little worse when one of the two white girls in my class showed up in a store-bought geisha outfit. Say what?

Now I’m thankful for my mom’s strict rules about spending money and eating candy. The money saved in these ways was used later for things like gymnastics classes and violin lessons—things that were meant to keep me out of trouble. The truth is, I’d probably be the same way if I had kids. I am, afterall, my mother’s daughter. Cindylu has a great series on her bloga with very cool ideas for costumes on a budget, which you should all check out. If only my mom and I had read about these ideas 25 years ago! The candy…well, that’s another story.

Flickr image by kiwanja. For attribution info click here.

October 25, 2007

mind + body.

by la rebelde

The sunlight was shining a strange orange color. I didn’t even notice the ashes floating, or that I kept instinctively waving them away, as if they were mosquitos. It wasn’t until an hour had passed, sitting at our usual picnic table and talking with my Spanish tutor, that our conversation turned to the smoke and the fires. Even then, it didn’t occur to me that I should not be outside.

An hour later, after walking around Little Tokyo, I sat down for lunch with a colleague. We decided not to sit outside on the patio like we’d planned in our email exchanges because of the smoke and the 95 degree heat. But I still didn’t really think that it might be a bad idea to be outside—only to eat outside.

So we walked to the public library downtown, where I didn’t some research. Then I walked the 1.5 miles back to my car, past a crew filming a movie and random brown men hooting at my ass, lugging Gadget (my computer) all the way. It’s a different situation, but I was reminded of a conversation with one of my NYC friends on September 12th and her description of what it was like to walk around the city then.

By the time I got home, I was more exhausted than I’ve been in a really long time. That was yesterday. This morning, my mom, who never calls me (I usually call her), woke me up. She’d been watching the news about the wildfires and wanted to make sure I was okay. And she was horrified that I had spent so much time outside. She’s right, though. I definitely felt it today—a headache and a bit of a sore throat and little cough. I don’t feel sick, just kind of icky.

It’s been a stressful couple of weeks. I’ve been a little scatter-brained. Guess I should pay better attention to my body!

Let’s keep praying for those who experience disaster both natural and man-made.


October 23, 2007

new color scheme.

by la rebelde

As you can see, I changed the color scheme of mi bloga. Red is one of my favorite colors–as is the aguacate green of the old scheme.

What do you think?

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October 23, 2007

monday stream of consciousness.

by la rebelde
  • The fires in SoCal and México are crazy out of control. I feel for the people whose lives are deeply affected. I’m annoyed at the news coverage for focusing so much on the “expensive homes” (i.e. freakin’ gigantic-ass mansions) that are burning down, as if the impact on wealth (not people) is what makes the fires so devastating.
  • Profa asked for an updated prospectus and research plan. She’s totally kicking me in the nalgas with her Dansko clog. I need a kick in the nalgas. How did she know that? Is it because I haven’t emailed her in months?
  • Had trouble falling asleep last night. Woke early this morning to the sound of chain saws outside my bedroom window. They’re cutting the branches off the trees across the street. Soon they will do the ones in my complex. It’s fall in LA. That means palm tree carcasses everywhere.
  • October is almost over. How did that happen? And why the heck is it going to be in the 90s for the next few days?!
  • When my radio alarm went off, I thought, “gee wiz, NPR is suddenly way more radical today!” Turns out I accidentally tuned to Pacifica Radio last night after listening to Super Estrella 107.1. A nice surprise. I should do that more often.
  • Skipped going to the gym today…again. I keep using the temporary cancellation of spinning classes in my gym and the sheer number of güeros in the Pasadena location as excuses not to go. Thursday I will have no excuses. And as my good amiga says, we shouldn’t let our dissertations/unhappiness (or güeros for that matter) take their tolls on our bodies—not if we can help it.
  • p.m.s. sucks. so does the period. still glad it’s here though.
  • I decided that paying for the internet at coffeshops is buuuunk!! And I’d rather drive several miles further, than pay for it. Even though the crowd is mostly brown and it’s only 4 blocks from my apartment. That’s how bunk it is.

That’s all for now folks. Back to work…at a coffeeshop much further away.

October 19, 2007

pinche dissertation blues.

by la rebelde

“You’re dissertating. You deserve a laser printer. It will change your life.” This is what my new l.a. friend and fellow brown woman grad student said emphatically over tea the other day. The truth is, I could really use a laser printer to print out some of those super old primary docs that I have on my computer in jpg form. Plus, new l.a. friend is convinced that it will save me money in the end—less ink, better 2-sided printing, etc. Maybe she knows, having recently made the switch from ink jet to laser printing. The more important question is, will it motivate me to write my dissertation faster?

See, my usual working pattern involves massive procrastination and then really intense spurts of productivity, usually culminating around some kind of deadline. Otherwise, my work putters along at a snail’s pace. Since I have not been attached to a campus in the last year and a half—without classes to teach, colleagues to chat with, and academic markers of time like “fall break”—I have become extremely creative with my procrastination rituals.

Right now? I have absolutely no desire to work on this dissertation. I’m really not feeling it. This I’ve actually said out loud. Twice. I’m tired of being a student—for many reasons that I won’t go into now. And I’m worried about how I will eat next year when my fellowship runs out. So I’m applying for funding like crazy, hoping I’ll get one.

Frankly, I’m not good at working in isolation. I need to be around people. People whom I like and respect. After all, people are the reason I decided to do this in the first place. I knew writing and researching could be lonely, but I didn’t know it could be lonely. I hope that it won’t always be this way. This is the shit they don’t tell you before you start grad school. Not that I would have listened…

October 16, 2007


by la rebelde

Gadget was my first car. She was a 1989 Mercury Tracer Hatchback. Beige. I got her in college and she lasted me through my grad program in Tejas. Mi amiga used to call it “the huevo” and my gramma picked up on “the huevo” too. But Gadget was named after the girl chipmunk on the Rescue Rangers cartoon show, who could fix everything because she was bad-ass. Gadget also got her name from the Inspector Gadget show. My papá made me give Gadget to manito because he didn’t think she would make it in the upper midwest. She now lives in manito’s driveway, and has pink tires from the time he drove through some paint. Now her name is “the woop-dee.” I miss her.

* * *

So it’s been a while since I posted on the bloga. Amigas started calling me and asking what was going on with me, why I hadn’t posted and why I was never on IM anymore.

I thought it was because I was traveling. Being away threw me off for a bit because my computer time was spent on dissertation research, not on other internet-based procrastination, which is a good thing. I went to Colorado to visit my good friend from college and, lucky for me, I was able to have dinner with Lo too! (This is a photo I took in Denver.) The trip made me realize that I miss the Rocky mountains, the desert air, and the green chile–even if it’s not the same in Colorado as in Nuevo México (seriously, not the same, but close enough to last me until my next trip home). I also just miss having good friends around. Over a year into my residence in LA, and I’m still looking for community. Dang.

Anyway, I decided today that my absence from mi bloga is actually my computer’s fault. My beloved mac has my whole academic life on it. I mean, I sorta backup my stuff, but, you know, I forget sometimes…okay, a lot of times. And as I do more work toward my dissertation, I get resentful at my computer and how much I depend on it. I spend hours and hours each day looking at its screen. And quite frankly, I got tired of looking at it.

To make matters worse, while I was in Colorado, my system crashed and then the battery stopped charging. I know it’s a convenient excuse not to want to use the computer, but it pissed me off. Today I took it in, to have a “genius” give it a look over at the “genius bar”. He said it was just because the battery was totally dead. I guess I haven’t been following the rules of good battery care.

So now my computer has a fresh battery, and it’s like when we first met. I decided to give my computer the name that belonged to my first car—Gadget. Maybe I’ll be more inclined to look at Gadget, at least for my dissertation if not for my blog.

We’ll see how it goes.

***Gadget image is from here.