Archive for June, 2011

June 20, 2011

all of us.

by la rebelde

That’s me and Manito D in the photo.  Last weekend, my abuelita threw a giant graduation party for my prim@s, Manito D and I in Taos.  She invited 250 of our closest relatives and friends to celebrate at the Taoseño.  The Taoseño is an important building in our family because back in the day, it was a bowling alley, and my abuelit@s owned it for a short time during the 1950s.  Now it’s a favorite gathering place for family functions because the bar area (where the bowling lanes used to be) is big enough to host large parties.  They also have pretty tasty enchiladas.  Can’t go wrong there!

Anyway, I hadn’t had a chance to *really* celebrate finishing the pinche ph.d.  I’d gone out for drinks after my defense, and friends treated me to nice dinners here and there, which was great!  And I love them — I have great friends.  But I pretty much spent the next few months mulling over the mean things some profes said about me and my work.  Critique on your work is one thing, but critique on your integrity is another.  Yeah, still getting over that.

So the celebration was soul lifting because it was my family, my elders, who told me over and over how proud of me they are, how big an achievement it is for me, for us.  I definitely could not have done it without the hard work of those who came before me, or without the love and support of friends and family.  The degree isn’t about me, it’s about all of us.

Until a couple days ago, I hadn’t had a chance to read all of the beautiful cards I received that day.  Two, in particular, got me all teary-eyed.  One was from my older primo David, who is a healer.  At the party he came up to me, hugged me and told me that my grandpa is proud of me and watching down from heaven.  And he gave me a bendición.  I wish I had been able to talk to him more that day.  The other was from my good, good amiga, Nicole. She has an amazing gift for words that I can only hope to emulate:

“What I wish for you on this day of family celebration is that the difficulties lift for a moment so you can truly see/feel, as I do, just how much you have accomplished, how your life and work honors your family, your elders, your community.  Be proud of yourself, and everything you have done to get to this place.  You lift all of us with you.”

I will be forever thankful.

June 13, 2011

tortiller@s at sunrise.

by la rebelde

One morning during the weekend of my abuelito’s funeral, over 2 years ago, Manito D and I got up super early to go to my Tía Rafaelita’s house.  It was still dark outside when we pulled up in the driveway.  Tía Rafi, of course, was already up and looking beautiful as always.  I can only hope that I will look as wonderful as she does when I turn 92.

Tía had invited us to join her, her novio, Manjo, and my older prima, Eva, for breakfast.  As the oldest of thirteen, my tía had been responsible for much of the cooking at a young age.  She is still the best cook and baker of all of them.  And over the week prior, she visited my abuelita daily, always with a cake, or a pot of pozole, or chile and beans, in hand.

That day, she’d invited us over, so that she could teach us to make tortillas.  Now, we’ve made tortillas many times before.  In fact, Manito D has become quite the tortillero extraodinaire over the years.  Tortilla-making is a favorite activity that he and mi sobrino do together, whenever Sobrino visits, which unfortunately is not very often these days.

We stood in front of the oven watching the sun rise, a soft yellow glow over the sage-brush-covered llanos from the kitchen window.  Tía pulled tin canisters and bags from the pantry and began throwing handfuls of ingredients into a giant bowl.  Her voice still sings in the way that the voices of viejitos in northern New Mexico do.  Spanglish, always.  I could barely keep up, she was moving so quickly.  Before I knew it, she had 4 comales going at once and was expertly flipping tortillas, warm and fluffy and fragrant, with an energy I’d never witnessed in person, but only imagined.

After an amazing breakfast consisting of the usual — papitas, huevos, frijoles y chile, and of course, tortillas — we sat in the living room with our cafecitos.  Manjo had been talking non-stop.  Like my abuelo, he was a WWII vet.  He told me that he had recently been declared “legally blind,” but that many people didn’t believe him.  From his shirt pocket, he pulled out a tattered letter from his doctor and handed it to me.  Sure enough, the doc said he only had less than 8 percent vision.

Not before too long, Manjo got up from his chair and said it was time to go home.  His house was just up the street from my tía’s.  I motioned to Manito D to walk with him home.  But Manjo, insisted, “no, no, it’s not far and I go home by myself all the time.”  We hugged him goodbye and Manito D sat down, as Manjo walked out the front door with his white cane outstretched ahead of his steps.  Before we knew it, he folded up his cane, shoved it in his pocket, and hopped in his truck and was roaring out of the driveway!   We laughed until our sides hurt.

A few months later, my prima Eva passed after a long battle with cancer.  And just a few weeks ago, Manjo got very ill.  He had been in the ICU at the veterans hospital for weeks.  Manito D went to see him and they’d talked for a while.  To my surprise, Manjo always asked about me, even when he wasn’t completely lucid–your sister who lives out in LA.  For some reason the viejitos always ask Manito D about me, even if they don’t always know who Manito D is.  Strange.

Early morning phone call from Manito D today.  Manjo passed away last night.  Our elders have been leaving so often lately.  And I am just so grateful to have shared these small, but joyful, moments with them over the years.  From them I have learned so much.

A Manjo y Prima Eva, I send my love to the heavens and cherish the love and warmth you gave us in this life.

[Okay, you got me — this photo is of sunset, not sunrise.  I am just not enough of an early bird to get a good photo of sunrise…or to remember my camera when I do get up early.  I still think it’s an amazing sun photo, even if it *is* taken through a bug-splattered windshield.]

June 2, 2011

damsel in distress.

by la rebelde

HOOP SKIRTS AND TRAIN TRACKS Pictures, Images and Photos

It was a beautiful LA day.  I was sitting on the steps in front of my building, suitcase and computer bag in tow, waiting for my friend to pick me up to take me to the airport.  I’m looking kind of fly because, well, I felt kind of fly that morning.

A young Asian American woman, maybe in her early 20s, came out with the cutest little white puppy. I’ve been wanting to get a dog for a really long time, but haven’t because I travel too much.

She was taking him for a walk, but he was not on a leash.  As soon as they came out of the gate, the puppy ran, exploring everything in sight.  She ran after him.  Or more accurately, she hobbled.  She tried to run after him, but couldn’t because she was wearing some ridiculous flip-flops.  You know, the kind that certain women wear when they only want to be looked at, but not actually have to walk anywhere.  To her credit, she was still in her pajamas.  Despite her calls to it, the puppy, of course, kept running away, even out into the street.  She just kept crying, “Oh no! Oh no!” over and over again, literally pouting that the puppy did not just miraculously come back to her.

Now, I know I’m being a little judgmental, seeing as how I know nothing about this woman. She just acted so…helpless.  Maybe it was the shoes.  But hello, put the dog on a damn leash!

Suddenly five Latino men came out of nowhere.  And I do mean nowhere.  (I’d been sitting on those steps for at least 10 min and hadn’t seen anyone.)  One ran after the puppy.  A truck stopped in the street and two more got out to chase the puppy.  Another stopped the traffic.  And still another got out of his car to join the chase.

After a few minutes, the puppy came up to me and I petted it.  I begrudgingly gave it back to her.  The truck of men rolled by really slowly and gave us the up and down.

Really, guys?  Really?  I know it’s nice to help people who are in need of help.  But seriously, that damsel-in-distress thing is what gets your attention?  Disappointing.

[Image By Bluefox_09]