April 21, 2009
This is my regular spot. My usual coffeeshop in Highland Park, where the windows are big, the light is plenty, the tables are square, the outlets are abundant and the internet is reliable. When I first started coming here, the clientele was mostly brown. Asian Americans and Chicanas/os came here to study, work and hang out. Now the clientele reflects the changes in the neighborhood. In a word? Hipsters.
Usually I grab a table along the wall, on the other side of the cafe, far away from the hipster/hippie corner by the cushy chairs where I can’t hear their conversations. Today the cafe is crowded and the only table left faces the hipster corner where they are sprawled across armrests, feet sticking up, junk almost visible because the skinny jeans are WAY too skinny. I still don’t get the skinny jeans trend. They talk on and on about racism.
Time to turn up the volume on my earphones and hope the population shifts back.
April 4, 2008
It’s rare for me to get much work done whenever I go home. There’s always so much family stuff going on, it’s hard to buckle down and focus. This time was different. I had two deadlines. So I dragged my computer and all my paperwork to the coffee shop, while my grandparents, Sobrino and Manito did other stuff.
There was a Costa Rican man about my father’s age who I saw at the coffee shop every time I went. The last day, he arrived later than I did and took the only available seat left—next to me. He asked if I was a student at UNM. I explained that I go to University in the Midwest and was in town visiting familia. He asked about my degree and what I study. And when I said I was working on a PhD, he went on about how important it is for young women of color to get an education, that knowledge is something that can never be taken away from you. It’s the sort of thing my dad used to say back in the day. And it was kind of refreshing to hear that from a stranger. Had I forgotten? Had I gotten so caught up in worrying about funding, finishing the next chapter, post-docs and the looming job market, that I forgot to enjoy the process of learning?
I have to admit, I am often weary about talking to men I don’t know. I’m conflicted about being friendly and polite, especially to elders, while being guarded in case they’ve got shady motives. He told me about his daughter who’s a college student now, and how he just finished med school after working in a different field for a really long time. Then he asked if I was married or had a boyfriend. “No,” I’d said. And then thought to myself that I’m tired of this question, tired of men who cut conversations short once they find out I’m working on a PhD, tired of being made to feel like I chose my education over having a family. My guard immediately went up again. It seemed like too personal a question from a stranger, but its one that the elders always ask.
Before I could say anything else besides “No,” he said, “Don’t worry about those idiots who can’t handle how smart you are. They’ll weed themselves out pretty quickly. When the guy who can handle it sees how passionate you are about your work, he will never let you go. So you must always remember to live your life with passion!” Wow. Did he read my mind? Sometimes strangers can be so surprising. I’m not sure how much I believe all that, but it would be nice if it were true.
That night at dinner the fortune in my cookie read, “Today is the day you let it go. Your chance will come.” I don’t usually believe fortune cookie fortunes, but maybe the universe is telling me that I should be more open to talking to strangers.
February 20, 2008
JustMe tagged me with this fabulous archive meme. And reading hers, I got to see a bunch of the posts I never read before because she wrote them before I learned of her great bloga! It kind of reminds me of how sit-coms used to do those “best-of” episodes. When I was a kid they used to drive me crazy because I thought they were so boring. The best thing about this meme, though, is that the process of putting it together takes you down memory lane. And at least for me, it reminds me of where I’ve been, where I am and where I want to go. So, a best-of of your own bloga? It’s like daaaang, that’s hot!
Archive Meme Instructions: Go back through your archives and post the links to your five favorite blog posts that you’ve written. … but there is a catch:
Link 1 must be about family.
Link 2 must be about friends.
Link 3 must be about yourself, who you are… what you’re all about.
Link 4 must be about something you love.
Link 5 can be anything you choose.
Post your five links and then tag five other people. At least TWO of the people you tag must be *newer acquaintances so that you get to know each other better….and don’t forget to read the archive posts and leave comments!
1. Familia: Mi sobrino teaches me something new every day I spend with him. And this one about my mama got tons of hits for some reason.
2. Amig@s: They help you keep it real.
3. Yo: Childhood dreams change and then we must define our lives in new, more complex and perhaps stronger, ways.
4. Things I love: Silly people and the little things.
5. My pick: My quirky profa and the shame meme.
Okay, so I haven’t been straight up taggin folks in a while, but since I like this meme and because the instructions are so specific, I tag:
The artist, kt.
Not Quite Grown Up.
January 20, 2008
The other day I was having a conversation with one of my oldest and dearest amigas about getting older. She was reminiscing about our college years and lamenting our passing youth—or rather, her passing youth. It got me thinking about how I haven’t been lamenting my passing youth as often as I used to, and how perhaps it is because I’m more anxious right now about my impending future. But I digress…
Although she knows she is not at all…old…amiga has been growing some canas, which she is inclined to pull out immediately upon discovery. I was shocked when she said this, thinking especially about a couple friends I have whose canas have grown in quite nicely—they look kinda chic actually. That said, if mine grow in all funky (funky-bad, not funky-good), I’m definitely going to get a good colorist. Oh yea, hell yea.
Anyway here is the conversation as far as I can recollect (perhaps embellished a bit by my faulty memory over the last couple days):
You can’t just pull them out! You should cut them.
What’s wrong with pulling them out?
It’ll make more grow. Or worse…you could become bald!
I am not in danger of going bald. (she does have a ton of hair—with the best curls ever! For reals.)
Oh, well, I’m in danger of going bald. My gramma is very thin. You should have your lovely partner cut all the canas close to your head instead. I saw a woman at the salon having that done.
You should post this question on your blog and see how many people believe that. I bet it’s half and half. In the meantime, I’ll pull them out.
So we turn the question over to you, dear readers. Do you believe that pulling out the canas will grow more canas? Or is it all urban legend?
December 11, 2007
Random reminiscences from the last few days.
- Was driving on the 210 the other evening when a giant menorah atop a minivan going 70 mph passed me. 2 of the very bright candles were lit!
- Had brunch with an LA historian whose book is important for my dissertation–his partner is a friend of a friend. He said that it’s probably not fungus that I’m allergic to in the archive, but dust, because if there was fungus, the whole archive would be quarantined. He knows of examples when this has happened. (I discussed my allergic reaction to los archivos in my last post.)
- Used the weekend to clear the archive “dust” from my nasal passages. (and seriously, do we really know what the archive dust is composed of? Isn’t it possible that the “dust” has dead fungus in it? I’m no scientist, but its just a thought…)
- Attended a local Latino holiday festival at the high school down the street. There were lots of children dancing. It made me think about how different my life might be had I gone to a high school of mostly Asian and Latino students (as opposed to the white one in WV).
- Attempted unsuccessfully to open a bottle of wine with a screw-on top. It was on sale. And it still sits in the fridge unopened and unenjoyed.
- Had dinner with a married friend and two of her couple-friends (that’s 5 people not including me: 2 married couples + 1 married friend whose husband is out of town). Both couples are expecting—one is about to pop at any moment. It was interesting conversation and kind of exciting—baby rooms, baby clothes, diaper bags, food cravings, sore legs and backs. If they weren’t such cool people, I might have vomited a little in the back of my mouth. I say this fully knowing that when my close friends or I become preggers, we’ll probably talk about it non-stop too. (And I would understand if the single-and-slightly-bitter person wanted to vomit a little in the back of her/his mouth then too.)
- A big white Santa, wearing yellow shades, came into the room with the old stuff at the Spiffy-ton today, just as they rang the lunch bell (which means we have to turn in all the old stuff until they come back from lunch break). I got up to return my old-ass book, but Santa ran after me with a bag of Hershey kisses. It was weird, but I love Hershey kisses!
October 29, 2007
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 23, 2007
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?
* * *
September 3, 2007
Today, el 2 de septiembre, marks the one-year anniversary of my dramatic move to el Pueblo de los Angeles. Time has gone by quickly. I’ve gotten lots and nothing done. I feel comfortable but lonely here. I hate the heat and love the sunshine. I love the diversity but hate the stark boundaries that come with it. I’m nervous and excited for the next year, for my research and my dissertation, which is why I’m here in the first place. Right now, I do not wish to live anywhere else.
I’ve lived many personally transformative moments here because of all of these seemingly contradictory feelings. But maybe they’re not contradictory, only simultaneous. Some moments are still on-going. Sometimes moments do not have an ending.
August 2, 2007
I saw this over on anastasia’s blog and then later on kisha’s too. This explains why I hate the library so much! I’m really not meant to work in isolation. I don’t actually think of myself as that extraverted, but then again, I am a Leo–I have a fierce roar but I don’t bite unless it’s called for. Eh hem.
Here’s what the description says:
ENFPs are introspective, values-oriented, inspiring, social and extremely expressive. They actively send their thoughts and ideas out into the world as a way to bring attention to what they feel to be important, which often has to do with ethics and current events. ENFPs are natural advocates, attracting people to themselves and their cause with excellent people skills, warmth, energy and positivity. ENFPs are described as creative, resourceful, assertive, spontaneous, life-loving, charismatic, passionate and experimental.
It makes me think that being a historian is not in my personality type. You’d think my students would listen to me more. After all, the fictional character known as the Fresh Prince of Bel Aire has the same reading. It reminds me of the first time I paid a visit to my (now) favorite hairstylist. She gave me this CRAZY cut–short and spiky all over. She also gave me red/pink highlights, which I loved more than I expected. When she asked what I thought, I remember telling her, “you know I’m a historian.” And she said, “so what, you trying to be funky?” That’s it–funky historiadora. Doesn’t seem like it bodes well for getting lots of disciplined work done. But maybe it’ll help me tell a good story!
July 25, 2007
I had a series of weird dreams two nights ago. You know the kind—where they happen in short clips and you wake up all disturbed and go back to sleep, only to have another weird dream? I always wonder what they mean, but this time I’m at a loss.
Sueño 1: I was sitting at a table across from my ex, who I haven’t spoken to in three years. He said nothing. I said nothing. He pinched my forearm really hard, with abnormally long fingernails (and he’s no guitar player, believe me). I had to forcefully push him away and take back my arm. He broke skin, but there was no blood. When I woke up, I could actually feel the sting on my arm for a couple minutes before I fell asleep again.
Sueño 2: I was a photographer doing a self-portrait shoot for a magazine, in which I had to lay on my back and have 4-5 grey gatos sit on my stomach and legs. Once they were all arranged, I reached for my camara, but the gatos bit my hands and wouldn’t let go. I wanted to move my arms to shake them off, but I couldn’t. When I woke up, I still could not move my arms for a little while. It was a little scary. And I’m really not a gato fan. (Although there are a couple of gatos in this world who I’m cool with.)
Sueño 3: I was sharing an apartment with mi prima. Each of our rooms were equipped with a desk, plenty of bookshelves and a bed. I had dissertation-related books spread all over the place. We decided to go out for drinks one night and when we got home, I realized someone had broken into our place by throwing a red wrench through the window of my room. But only mi prima’s computer was missing. She’d had it sitting on her desk. Mine was still there, although I had left it in my bag. I felt really bad that her computer was stolen and mine wasn’t. Then I woke up and it was morning.
It’s been a while since I had weird dreams like that. I’m a big believer that dreams mean stuff. I don’t know what, but I think they do. But then again, maybe I’m wrong and they mean nothing. Am I the only one that has dreams in series?