martes, noviembre 29, 2005

La Vida es Sueño, y los sueños, sueños son

I was a professor in my dream last night. I don't think that has ever happened before. I mean, I'm usually me, and sometimes I'm at the university, but still a lot of the time I realize in my dream that there's this Spanish class that I haven't attended all semester and I've just missed the final exam. Sometimes I dream there's a class that I'm supposed to be teaching that I haven't attended all semester. (In fact I have that one a lot).

So I wonder what it means that I'm (finally!) a professor in my dream?

I was walking along the campus (which had features from at least four different college campuses). A Latina student came up to me (she could have been a grad student) and asked me "Do you love this country?" My mind was whirring with how to answer that question when she went on, "Because I don't think I can love this country anymore." She was filled with despair, from Hurricane Katrina, to the pandemic, to the way in which "majority" America (as represented by the implied audience of CNN) constantly affirms that racism happens but that's just life.

--During el día del guajalote, I recounted to mi familia the story of my colleague being arrested for going to his own office at night--because he's black and therefore "looked suspicious." Toda la familia said how wrong it was, how he would have basis for a lawsuit, etc., but mi ma said well that happens. Yeah, when it's someone else's son it's happening to, it's easy to say that. But when it's your son or grandson, then you'll stand up and say ¡Ya Basta! (I'm all about Ella's Song right now)

Back to the dream:

I started talking to this student and telling her that we have to make community in the midst of this. Yes, we can start by stockpiling the canned goods and breath masks we need to survive this, but the next step after that is to say "How can I use this moment to make the world better?" How can I reach out to someone and say "How can I help?" How do we move beyond the four walls of our homes and our immediate families and start treating all of our vecinos as familia?

After that (still in the dream) I was walking toward the shuttle and another Latina student came up to me and was asking me about the campus shuttle and where it picked people up at and how much it cost and where she could get change. I ended up opening up my wallet but told her she had to wait until I'd made sure I had enough change for my own shuttle ride. It cost a dollar twenty-five, so I was counting out quarters. (In real life the shuttle is free, but last night I took the bus to Safeway because it was raining, and so I was counting out quarters.)

Then I sent her on her way, and went on to the Theatre building where I was 15 minutes late to class and the department chair saw me walking and told me my students were waiting for me in this hall where we're not allowed to teach (so to please take them somewhere else).

Raining in Oakland

That's the trouble with these people who move back to California. They give away their down coats and boots when they leave the midwest. They keep on acting like Califas means perpetual summertime. And then it's rainy november and they're still wearing summer shoes to work, and they have no winter coat.

Note to self: Today, take an umbrella.

Standing in the rain at the bus stop with no hat and no umbrella and no scarf and no gloves and only a cotton denim jacket left me performing "oh pobre mio" when in reality, WHAT WAS I THINKING?

lunes, noviembre 28, 2005


In one Thanksgiving Day conversation recounted earlier,

Don Fon and Nana Mini were talking about "the good food from the old days" like atole and something which sounds more like blue polenta. I'll have to check the name but it was noticeable how un-Spanish the name was. i.e. if not a true blue native word, it's a hispanicized native word. Nana Mini's mama or nana used to cook this and then prepare it with chile colorado. Don Fon definitely knew what this was, recognized the term and started using it, but it's not one I ever heard him use before.

The name of the dish is Chaquegüe. Found it discussed here. Google Text found it in four books, one of which, Mi Lengua: Spanish as a Heritage Language in the US identifies it among the "indigenísmos pueblo." Don Fon has Picurís ancestors and Nana Mini has Apache, but of course, we're all of us pretty mixed, despite those pervasive Fantasías Castellanos.

Viejitas que no hablan ingles

Two weeks ago I flew to LA, and last week I flew from New Mexico to California, and both times I've run into viejitas que no hablan ingles.

The first lady was prob'ly only in her fifties or sixties. She's Chinese and had

  • Lived in San Francisco for 3 years,
  • Arrived in San Francisco 3 days ago, or
  • Been to San Francisco 3 times

She was traveling with the limit of carry-on bags with two totes and a backpack, and the backpack was too heavy for her to lift up and put on her shoulders. At the Burbank airport, we disembarked right onto the tarmac. The lady was having trouble with her bags, which were too many and too heavy. So she held her tote bags in each and and tried to drag her backpack along the ground. What amazed me more than anything was that she was having obvious difficulty, but everyone just walked around her. (Is that what will happen after the apocalypse?). I was sure one of the strong young fellows on the flight would help her out, but when it became clear that no one would, I doubled back. After failing to communicate in English, I offered to help by putting her heavy backpack on top of my rolling suitcase. She was greatly relieved. I walked her over to the baggage claim and pulled her enormous rolling suitcase off the conveyer belt, and then attached her backpack to it with the belt. She explained that her husband would meet here there to pick her up, and so I finally went on my way. I continued to worry about her though. How would her husband find her?

This Saturday I returned from New Mexico by air from El Paso to Oakland via LAX. Some passengers were only going to LA, while others were going on to Oakland (like me) and/or Seattle.

The El Paso to LA flight was not that full--in fact, Thanksgiving Saturday is a good day to fly out of the El Paso airport. The lines at security were almost non existent, and the flights were not full.

So I got an aisle seat in the second row, with no one else sitting on my row.

or so i thought. Right before takeoff, the flight attendant helped an elderly lady on board and suggested the window seat in my row. I stood up to allow the lady in, and she spoke to me in Spanish and indicated that she would prefer the aisle seat. In my bad pocha Spanish, I clarified, you want this seat? She said yes, I said "Sí Señora" and scooted myself down to the window seat. She carried a purse, a totebag, and a crocheted black rebozo. I admired the rebozo, which looked new and was made of a very soft synthetic, probably in half-double crochet. I asked if she had made it but she replied que "me regalaron." She was at least seventy, and was from Durango and traveling to see her nieta, though I wasn't a hundred per cent sure whether her nieta lived in LA or in Tijuana. At times she seemed confused (about where the plane was going, about what documentation she would need to show and when), and again, I had a real strong sense that this was someone's abuelita travelling alone. My heart went out to her, and I was especially frustrated that my pocha Spanish was not fully up to the task of assisting her. She was anxious that she had lost a piece of paper that she had tucked into her passport, and which had the contact information for her relatives in LA. I helped her keep track of her passport and green card. When it was time for her to get off the plane in LA she was reluctant to leave without ever having found the paper she was looking for. None of the flight attendants were any better at Spanish than me (the Chicano who came onboard to help her to her wheelchair explained he could only speak German). I had to convince her to disembark and told the flight attendants to find someone to translate for her. I hope she made it safe and sound. According to her papers, she lived with family in Downey.

Queer familia

As I stood in line to board SW flight 1590 from El Paso to LAX to Oakland, I scoped out all the other folks there. I said to myself, how many other queer Latinos made this pilgrimage to visit familia and are now eagerly returning to their California lives?

Spotted at least one guapo who looked like Sal Mineo in Rebel Without a Cause.

Foto de Sal Mineo el Guapito

I was thinking of my first play, and how I should have had folks meeting at the Southwest Airlines gates.

In Rocky Gamez's "The Gloria Stories," when the butch Gloria is working at the meat-packing plant, she's described as looking like Sal Mineo. When she becomes a door-to-door broom salesman, she has to change her look, so that the the housewives don't run away from her, so she's wearing slacks and a cardigan and and her hair is more fluffy, and Rocky tells her "but you don't look like Sal Mineo anymore. Now you look like Toña la Negra."
Foto de Tona la Negra

domingo, noviembre 27, 2005

Tortillas and Traditions

I worked a lot on the familia website while I was in NM. My sister Xriz requested that I put everybody on the system that notifies us when people's birthdays and anniversaries are coming up. So since we had so many people there (and email access to everyone else) we updated the the birthday and anniversary information. My cousin Cni already posted fotos from thanksgiving, and Xrix posted Nana Mini's fabulous foolproof tortilla recipe. It really works, as long as you don't try to halve it. You can keep the exta dough in your fridge and make the tortillas as you need them.

Note that these are New Mexican flour tortillas, which are smaller and thicker than Sonoran tortillas. If anyone has a foolproof recipe for Sonoran-style tortillas, I would love to have it!

Recipe passed down from Nana Mary to Nana Minnie, to my sister Xriz. Keep the traditiona alive and make tortillas with your familia. Great with green chile stew made from New Mexico green.

Title: Miss Minnie's Fabulous Tortillas

These are fool-proof, and they'll be better each time you make them. (Kids love helping!)

4 C. flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
6 Tablespoons Crisco
approx. 1 1/2 c. very HOT water

Sift together all dry ingredients
With a pastry cutter, cut in shortening
Add hot water gradually as you mix dough
Dough should be slightly sticky
After well mixed (1 minute or so) place dough in a baggie & seal. Let stand at least 20 minutes before rolling.

Make 15-20 little pillows of dough. Flour each one as you begin to roll it into a large flat pancake about 8 inches in diameter

Cook over a hot teflon griddle

Eat right away with REAL butter

(You can leave dough out at room temperature for 1-2 days and roll out tortillas as you need them.)

Number Of Servings:15-20 tortillas

Preparation Time:Mixing dough-approx 15 min, rolling & cooking time depends on experience level of the cook!

Home again!


It's such a joy to be home again con mi amorcito L*

The quality of light is so different between New Mexico and the Bay Area! It's amazing how they are so both so beautiful and so different.

my gatas have forgiven me for going away. Nxi finds me utterly irresistible when I'm knitting and crocheting.

sábado, noviembre 26, 2005

JMB's SF dream

Very strange science fiction dream that featured JMB and at some point within the dream I realized that she had written various parts of the dream. That is, someone made reference to some fanfic she'd written, and then I realized that the fanfic had been turned into a blockbuster film, and that we were all characters within same.

At one point in the dream it was Ferdinand and Isabel day, which we don't celebrate here [but which L* and I learned when we visited España.] The bracketed part is the logic of the dream--or the language of the night--but anyway, not real. all this had something to do with the fact that "columbus day" in the US is "el dia de la raza" in mexico.

in real life, don Fon and nana mini were talking about "the good food from the old days" like atole and something which sounds more like blue polenta: cachetaq? I'll have to check the name but it was noticeable how un-Spanish the name was. i.e. if not a true blue native word, it's a hispanicized native word. Nana Mini's mama or nana used to cook this and then prepare it with chile colorado. Don Fon definitely knew what this was, recognized the term and started using it, but it's not one I ever heard him use before.

viernes, noviembre 25, 2005

Day 3 in Cruces

It's not even eight o'clock yet, and we've already had a healthy walk. Me and Nana Leora and Nana Luxi went for a walk before seven--I wonder if I'll be waking up so early when I'm their age? I could barely put my pants on I was so sleepy, and they had to wait on my having my first cup of coffee.

I could fall right back asleep now, but instead I'm going to go pour my second cup of coffee and work on Maria's doll blanket.

One secret to success at family events: don't get caught without your crochet kit!

jueves, noviembre 24, 2005

Crochet update

All these sobrinit@s are keeping me very busy. Today I finished Xip's beanie and Mia's shawl and also a poncho for Mia, which a) she wanted to wear before it was even finished (though I made her wait till I'd sewn in all the loose ends) and b) she fell asleep wearing it.

I hid the remote control for my nephew's robot car. The damn thing was driving me crazy yesterday--they were playing with it in the living room despite the fact that the house is on a one-acre lot, and today I decided I didn't need anymore of that.

I felt a little old when I was crawling off to my nap and realized that all the kids had gone swimming with the cousins who were staying at a hotel. Later they were all jumping on the trampoline. yes, after this morning's 5k, the one that has me wiped out.

My hip bones were sore: I think it has been a long time since I've done full out race-walking form. Not that my form was great but as I mentioned, I was working really hard to catch that 63 year-old woman (who, it turns out, my sister knows). Me and her almost caught these runners who kept taking long walking breaks. (In fact the reason I was finally able to catch her was because I started looking beyond her and wondering if I could catch those runners).

Okay, I sound like I'm bragging. Remember that this means ALL the runners finished before I did. As did the little ol' man, walking in a sweater vest. BTW, I noticed that the runners who who won ribbons in the 50-59, 60-69, and 70+ age categories all had VERY fast times.

I should go to sleep, because the nanas might get up early and go walking, and I don't want to get left behind. I was awakend far too early this morning by the pitter-patter of my cuñado's feet.

Nana Mini cut her hair. Ay, que chula!

I've also been reminded how horrible the medical care is in this state. one relative had foot surgery a few months back and has been having pain in her foot. She went back to the doctor, who said that yes, the bones had been set improperly.So she has to have another surgery from the same podiatrist. that's gotta inspire confidence.

Mind you , this is a woman in the 70+ age category, and the reason she went back to the doctor was because her foot hurts whenever she wears her high heels, and she just can't give them up.

I skipped the makeup today. I don't know why. Maybe I felt like I would be trying unsuccesfully to look like the other members of my family, and I wanted to stand out, somehow. As with yesterday's look: makeup and a Che Guevara t-shirt.

Turkey Trot

OK, there is nothing like a brisk 5k race for an attitude adjustment.

I am once again at peace with the familia.

You know those road races where there are families with three generations participating and all the kids taking ribbons? This year I was in that family

I finished the walk in 43:35, which made me first in my age category and third overall (though I swear I saw the woman who took first in the walk running part of the course, and me and the lady who I was chasing most of the race exchanged significant looks) The man who took 2nd was in either the 60-69 category or the 70+, and he whupped me by a full ten minutes!! The lady whose dust I was eating finished first in her age category--60-69! I just managed to catch and pass her in the final k of the race. She thanked me at the end for improving her time.

Xip finished in 23:54, to take second in his age category, immediately followed by Nix at 23: 5x. Nix dad had promised the boys cash bonuses if they finished under 24:00

Xriz and Cni both had great times right around 30:00, and Nix dad was in at 28:50. Nana Leora finished around 49:00 and Nana Luxi and Zria right around 54:00. Mia and i walked all three of them to the finish line.

Mi sobrina Mia was full of love for me after the race, holding my hands and hugging and kissing me. She's encimosa just like me.

Upon returning home I had a peanut butter bagel, and was first in the tub.

Now I'm sleepy, happy, and 'bout ready to catch up on the many crochet orders the kids have been placing with me. Xip's beanie and Mia's scarf. Finished Zria's scarf last night and she loves it. It goes perfect with her pink Uggs. I'll have to come up with something for Nix.

Just talked on the phone with Kiko, who is sounding manly as ever!

L* and her parents are prob'ly already on the road to Graton (Greighton?). L would've liked the race, I think. The organ mountains were beautiful, and it was sunny and bright.

Wish I could take home to her some of these beautiful cactus.

miércoles, noviembre 23, 2005

Cruces, baby!

Report #2 from Las Cruces, NM

Okay, I know that esa EP says turkey day is her favorite holiday, but it is soooooooooooooo not mine.

Thank goodness for the nieces and nephews who keep me focused on important things like crocheting. I was sitting down with a six year old and an eight year-old girl, and two 11-12 year-old boys, and there was total silence as they all concentrated on crochet. the oldest and youngest can produce a very regular chain using just their fingers (finger-crochet)--no hooks. the middle two do better with hooks.

now, i have gotten very little of my own crocheting done, but since that was only going to be a gift for one of the girls that's ok. (although it took me a minute to re-adjust my attitude).i've finished one little girl's scarf and am about halfway through a boy's beanie, which, alas will not be finished in time for tomorrow morning's race.

I so miss La L*. though glad to spare her.

I am surrounded by male in-laws who feel compelled to talk about sex with my female relatives. (go ahead, call me a prude. this is not my idea of adult conversation. Was it only a few days ago I was talking about novels and politics and queer theory?).

the three cruising comadres are here, otherwise known as the three nanas. Nana Leora drank too much wine. (I guess the "no tequila" rule is not foolproof) Nana Luxi helped with the kinder-crochet lessons and Nana Mini signed up for lessons her ownself. (she brought a merlot chenille yarn, a lesson book, and a set of hooks).

If I were with L*and her familia tomorrow I would be similarly engaged with the kids. However, I would be spared the adolescent humor from the grown men. (Ironically, me and the two boys retreated to another part of the house when the sex talk got to be too much. *their* humor was much more tolerable.)

you know what, though? I'm not at all stressed.

okay, to bed now. have a turkey trot in the a.m.

Nana Mini fed me some excellent chile colorado yesterday and fresh tortillas. so i can't complain about the food. tomorrow it will be all sides for vegetarian me.

The cruising comadres won't be visiting us in the Bay this year, as they are cruising to Europa. Don Fon, however, has expressed a desire to visit me and L* on our home turf.

Live Blogging from New Mexico

I'm feeling very much the lesbian sister today. Not only my brother-in-law, but also my cousin's husband. They're talking football and thongs. which is cool with gay men, but not with the mens-es-in-law. I'm having deja vu to the time I said to L*, "we're not man-hating lesbians," and she looked at me and said, "well, I'm not."

So far I have given my youngest nephew a short introduction to El Che.

I miss my L* and can't wait for my folks to arrive: DonFon and la Leora are due in sometime this afternoon.

On the crochet front, I've made some ground on Mia's poncho and hope I brought enough yarn for her second cousin Sria. Nana Mni brought her own yarn and hooks so I can teach her to crochet.

martes, noviembre 22, 2005


Now, LAX is a real airport--lots of dining options, shopping options--even in the Southwest Airlines terminal. I twice waited in line for the wrong flight--the flight ahead of mine was running very late so they were still boarding when we should have been boarding. So first I got in the A line till I heard them say "Albuquerque" then I left, went to the ladies, washed my hands, went to the food court, picked out a smoothie and a california veggie sandwich, went and got in the A line and was all the way ready to board, but my boarding pass wouldn't scan right and they actually had to tell me "you're on the next flight." The funny thing is that I wasn't even embarrassed. After that I went off and read leisurely. Saw someone in the foodcourt playing Snood! (some scary advanced level!)

Note to self: put Snood back on L*'s computer to fend off travel boredom.

my sourdough sandwich was yummy, but I still would've preferred a tofu burger from the Black Muslim bakery.

lunes, noviembre 21, 2005


Wow, who thought I'd turn 100 before I turned 40

So, this is post #100 for me. I won't write down a hundred things you don't know about me. At least not until I have 100 readers.

But I bet you don't know what I'd look like if I were an anime girl...
Here's how you look

If you were an Anime Girl what would you look like?
brought to you by Quizilla

The quiz itself was pretty lame, but of course we only do it for the pictures! only five questions! You can't possibly know enough about me to render me in the anime world without at least eight questions.

(Does anybody besides me go back and change a couple of answers to see if it would change the result?)

Well, there's no danger of me trading in my little lego avatar. Go make your own at The Mini Mizer . It's way too fun. The temptation to fotoshop it is still very great: I want a trenza instead of a ponytail.

Pura Lengua and QueerScapes

I got to meet the filmmakers Aurora Guerrero and Maritza Alvarez of Pura Lengua at the Queerscapes Conference. Thanks MaIM for the introduction! They rock.

I missed MaIM's presentation, because I'm a loser. (it was inthe morning and despite my best efforts, I'm not a morning person). However, I heard wonderful things about it from the other conference participants.

Jacqui Alexander gave a fabulous presentation. One of the things she talked about was Queer Tourism, and the need for the "native"to stay put and the tourist to travel. She also called out for queer folk to move beyond Consuming as the mode (consuming knowledge, consuming cultures). I especially liked the way she pointed out that violence under modernity is not necessarily better than violence under traditional societies (i.e. it's still violence to the people whose bodies are under attack) I took notes because I could see implications for my own work, and now I have to go back and read Jonathan Goldberg's "Sodomy in the New World: Anthropologies Old and New" from Fear of a Queer Planet.

David Eng was also great, in his discussion of Lawrence v. Texas (and the deeply problematic racial politics involved), critiquing the constant analogies drawn to Loving v. Virginia and Brown v. The Board of Education. In the final part of his presentation he moved into a discussion of Monique Truong's novel The Book of Salt (which is, on its own, utterly brilliant). Again, it seemed to hook back to the discussion in my Coloring Queer class, on Lionel Cantu's article "Queer Tourism." Also back to Alexander's comments about consuming and then, of course, my brain went riffing off to Reza Abdoh's The Law of Remains (which is a spooky direction to go off in).

The plenary on New Directions in Queer Latino/a Studies rocked! And I'm not just saying that 'cause of my friends and loved ones.


It's true. We are pussy-whipped. Our fourteen-year-old fluffy black kitty Nxi rules us with a velvet-covered iron paw.

She has rather rigid rules, and any time we transgress we are punished most severely.

Our transgressions have included

  • a robotic litter box (two different failures of two different models)
  • disposable litter boxes
  • litter made of orange peels
  • litter with high-tech crystals
  • plastic liners
  • hooded litter boxes

She gives us the execratory equivalent of a cuff to the ear, as if to say, You're not paying attention! Let's go back to square one

As you might guess from the list, we are rather slow to learn. Fortunately, Nxi has infinite patience and will do what it takes (wherever it needs to be done) to get us to focus on the centrality of the litter box to our relationship, indeed, to our lives and our home.

domingo, noviembre 20, 2005

Home Again

Is there any better feeling than a long soak in the tub and then putting on cozy pyjamas? No more travel clothes binding around my middle. A grapefruit and soda cocktail eases the bone deep dehydration produced by this trip. (Was it LA? the hotel's air system? the fact that my total liquid intake for the whole day was likely to be a beer or two?)

Fresh organic mushrooms await a gentle cleaning from my hands, and then L* will tease them into a rich risotto. That woman brings a whole new meaning to the term "comfort food."

The gatas are glad to have us back. They had a hard time of it (as did the linoleum and one shag rug) and we are committed to finding a good, bonded pet-sitter before our next trip.

Burbank Airport

What a sweet little airport this is!

We had a leisurely morning, brunching with RkyT at Chico’s this little hole in the wall in Highland Park.

Last night we went to club Ditch at Akbar. Too many of the kind of guys who brush you out of their way on the dancefloor. So of course I started boogeying throwing a lot of elbow.

The juventud from the conference were all there struttin’ their stuff. DbZ and StaC were there in high form. Once again Mz StaC puts the ultra in ultra-femme bringing style and grace.

L* ran into old friends from QN days. We also met the fabulous author of Amor Indio in Virgins, Guerrillas, y Locas. and several other of the nicer type of boy.

Today we just gloried in the sunshine of southern california, the casitas, the palm trees, the banana leaves.

Queerscapes: The Right Way to Do It

The next panel @ Queerscapes was by a group from my alma mater, the Research Cluster for the Study of Women of Color in Collaboration and Conflict. All three are Ph.D. students

They were very polished in their presentation and really engaged with the histories of Women of Color and Queer theory.

In fact, the space of the presentation--which had to be opened up to accommodate the many many audience members--felt amazing. The panel was moderated by filmmaker Osa Hidalgo de la Riva, and the audience included folks like Sylvia Morales, Aurora Guerrero , and Maritza Alvarez.

The three presenters continually gestured to the enormous contributions made by these women. You could tell that they had really engaged with the filmmakers about their work.

sábado, noviembre 19, 2005

What 80s Band are You?

You're very feminine, and you don't care who knows
it. You're not willing to let homophobes get
to you. You also like hats.

What band from the 80s are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I tried to be a different band. I really did. But the quizilla kept asking these very distracting questions about makeup and hats. It was hard to stay focused.

Addendum: TOO FUNNY!. L* also came out as Boy George! Neither of us can understand how the preference for beating up preppies contributed to this final rating.

RkyT came out as Soft Cell! I saw that one coming!

Cones and Elton

Lina and Julien were in "THE CONE" for Gamma through Friday. That's 8 cones in 15 months, for those of you who keep track.

what the national hurricane center calls, variously, the "cone of error" or the "cone of uncertainty" but the rest of us refer to as the "cone of death"

Of course, this brought on another Elton John spell, rewriting the lyrics to "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me":

don't want another fragment of my roof
to wander freeeeeee...

Fortunately for Miami, though not for Centroamerica, Tormenta Gamma went elsewhere.

I really think that Lina and Julien should let Sir Elton in on the significance of his lyrics to queer hurricane survivors. Any queen who re-wrote Candle in the Wind for Princess Di will surely appreciate this. He could even perform the new versions for a hurricane relief album.

viernes, noviembre 18, 2005

Post deleted for excessive bitchiness

A grad student's presentation made me so angry I wrote a rather long blog entry about it.

I've since had to confront that

  • 1) I was angry at myself for not speaking up in the space of the conference
  • 2) whether or not I face up to it, there's a real power imbalance in me shredding a grad student in a semi-public manner
  • 3) if I have so much to say, perhaps I should say it directly to the person who might benefit from the lesson, and
  • 4) I'm still angry at myself for not speaking up in the space of the conference.

A night at the Too Hip Hotel

The Standard hotel in Los Angeles is all that!

L* had told me to come directly up to the room, because I would be overwhelmed by the lobby.

I truly felt out of my element, as I wheeled my suitcase-held-together-with-safety-pins and my free-briefcase-from-the-college past the crowd of hipsters lined up to get into the hotel’s nightclub.

The room itself is so modern! Very minimalist--the bed is on a low platform, no drawers of any kind in the room, a long wide desk taking up the windowed wall, a striped pattern on the curtain that carried over onto the wall and then dipped and went on to the next wall. Most startling: the shower is right next to the bed, with a clear glass plate window/wall in between. So as you shower, you are on display to the room.
Now, if you’ve just depilated and fake-baked, this could be a whole fantasy kind of thing, but when you’re feeling grubby and tired and all the rest, it’s rather overwhelming.

I flew to Burbank from Oakland. At the Burbank airport I picked up the rental car and drove All By Myself to downtown LA. I’m very proud. I drove on the 5 and on the Pasadena Freeway.

It was almost fun. I mean it was exhilarating, and I thought “this could get to be fun.” If only. If only the tension in my neck didn’t feel like it was about to snap my shoulder blades. Mind you, this was at ten-thirty at night, so nothing like real traffic.

L* read me her paper. Brilliant, really. A dig-deep and translate truth kind of piece. I can’t believe this is my partner: that I can be with someone who pulls these incredible emotions and experiences out of her psyche and then theorizes social change. And that this is the same person who plays showgirlswith the kitties Nxi and Mxi. I’m very lucky.

Together a new character: Desperanza

It’s supposed to be 81 degrees in LA today. Glory, Hallelujah!

jueves, noviembre 17, 2005

Reading ≠ Writing

Let's see my wordcount has stayed steady this week (i.e. Zero) while my reading has spiked sharply.

So…Octavia Butler's Adulthood Rites. One of the brilliant things about Dawn--for me, anyway, is how bleak and bitter Lilith is and/or must become. Dawn was written first, of course, and my sense is that it was written without depending on the structure of a Trilogy. There are clear shifts between Dawn and Adulthood Rites and those are important shifts.

Maybe because I'm re-reading Butler's books in a funny sequence (Parable I, Parable II, Dawn, Adulthood Rites, Imago---what next? Fledgling?Kindred? I'm starting to see something in her worldview that I had not noticed before. The model of humanity that she's creating has some commonalities with Frederick Jackson Turner's theory of the Frontier as necessarily shaping the US. (and with Manifest Destiny) Also--is this ironic for science fiction?--the idea that essence of humanity is to be found in the small, base community, and that what comes afterward is corruption.

I'm going to have to think about this some more.

But will I write?

lunes, noviembre 14, 2005

a most successful yarn expedition..and the ponchos therefrom

Now I know there are chingos of knitters and crocheters in the bay area, and we run the gamut from the hooty-hoos buying the most expensive designer yarns, to the craft store warehouse (Michaels, JoAnns), to the folks who buy the poly yarns at the drugstore. I am all three of those. So in Oakland, or rather Emeryville, Michaels is the place for yarn. JoAnns has some great colors in 100 percent cotton that I really like, but no yellow. Michaels is the kind of place where L* can pick out yarns for tasteful handmade gifts. (As opposed to the "what not to knit" special--you know, where the knitting ladies are all wearing these shapeless or boxy sweaters that are most unflattering but doubtless fun to knit)

Right now, I'm crocheting these lovely little girl's ponchos in a sunny yellow cotton (by special request by my favorite trio). I've been resisting those really cute ponchos that are made out of two rectangles sewn together. Or the ones where you make six little squares and then piece them together in a O, leaving an empty space for the head. I know why: I'd much rather knit or crochet than sew the pieces together. The piecing together stresses me way out. I'd rather just keep working around and around. so the ponchos I make are akin to a big granny square with a head-sized hole in the middle. The ones I'm making are one solid color: no stripes.

my cat Nxi is torturing me by strolling back and forth across my freshly mopped floor. She hates the way it feels and keeps giving me dirty looks. But does she turn back when I tell her "Keep off! It's wet!" No, of course not. Not until she's halfway across does she decide to turn back.

Reading the Future, looking at the present, and thinking about wine...

Next semester I'll be teaching my class on Race, Gender, and Science Fiction. I'm starting to imagine advertising flyers. Something like: What does Science Fiction have to do with People of Color? Maybe add in a couple of images of the Superdome, Chavez Ravine, and people walking up the 5 in the post-apocalypse. I've been re-reading the Octavia Butler novels I'll be teaching, and trying to break them into small chunks. It's a lower-division class, so it's not one of those novel-a-week kinda deals. I also read some great stories from the first Dark Matter anthology, including an excerpt from George Schuyler's Black No More. The more scholarship I read, the more excited I get about this project.

Today Venezuela and Mexico recalled their ambassadors. Vicente Fox and his "fighting words" pose is like really scary science fiction. (If VF doesn't want to be called Bush's puppy, then he should quit rolling over). Hugo Chavez is inspiring, but given our nation's history of regime change, I worry for him and the Venezuelan people.

Two fine Chicano wines we learned about this weekend: Mar y Sol and Robledo Family Vineyards Maybe I should take some to the familia thanksgiving dinner in New Mexico. (Especially since we've decided that tequila is not conducive to familial harmony.)

Listen to the NPR story

domingo, noviembre 13, 2005

quite a day today!

L* and I spent the day on the south coast at a big family fiesta. the sun was shining, a guitarist was playing and there was jamaica punch for all!

jueves, noviembre 10, 2005

NaNoWriMo Pace

The official pace for NaNoWriMo is 1667 words per day, to make 50,000 words at the end of 30 days. Well, it's day 10 and I'm averaging more like 347 words per day.

If I plug that into one of the nifty Pacer widgets, it will tell me how many thousands of words I need to write per day to get back on pace.

I'm reminding myself that this is actually a marathon, and guess what, I'm not Tegla Loroupe, a record-shattering marathon runner, who finishes in 2:20:45. I'm just myself, a walker who took eight hours to finish a marathon. I'm not in it for speed, I'm in it for endurance.

Sure, just like that marathon in San Diego, I'm sweating around mile two and really wishing I had trained better and more regularly, and that I hadn't only just recovered from bronchitis. I know that I will still have hours to walk when my girlfriend is hitting the showers to recover from her own race. I know that me and the middle-aged ladies around me will be hustling our bustles to make it to the halfway checkpoint before the cut-off time. (If you're not there by 4:00:00, they turn you back and don't let you finish the race)

So, this is my race, and this is how I'm running (walking) it. And that's fine. I'll still have my novel by the end.

In the meantime, I'd better go iron my shirt for my day job.

lunes, noviembre 07, 2005

a long walk, an abortive yarn-buying expedition, apple crisp, and polling places

Today I decided to check out the local yarn store, The Knitting Basket in Montclair. Not having a car, I looked up which buses I would have to take. Pretty straightforward: take the 53, walk a twisty path over a bridge, and catch the 15, and you should be able to see the neighborhood. (I've been to the neighborhood before, where you can get a damn fine pizza with a fennel & cornmeal crust)

But after walking the twisty path and over the bridge, I was just getting started, and decided to walk the rest of the way, skipping bus #15 but following its route. about an hour later, I found myself at Lake Merritt. A cool neighborhood, but, um nowhere near montclair. i'm a stubborn little cuss, apparently, because i was convinced that if I kept walking just a *little* farther i would get there. Until I saw the lake. I may be stubborn, but I'm not unreasonable.

Since Lake Merritt has such lovely bus stops, I was able to consult a map and see that, yes, indeed, i had been walking in the wrong direction. (If I had a compass on my keychain, this never would have happened). So I promptly took the #15 in the opposite direction and arrived at my destination very quickly.

Note to the folks at walking directions would be so much more helpful if they included catchy phrases like "Turn Right."

Upon deboarding the bus, I found the yarn store in record time. I was then able to peer through its darkened window to all the fluffy skeins within. The little paper sign taped up to the door declared that they've suddenly switched to a Tuesday thru Saturday schedule, as opposed to the Monday through Saturday schedule posted online and painted so cheerily on their window.

By this time I was feeling positively reckless, and stopped to buy a Super Cactus Burrito to eat when I got home.

Since Monday is L*s l-o-n-g workday, I sometimes greet her upon her return with a wine and cheese party. Today I decided to take another crack at the Apple Crisp. (Last time, the crispy part wasn't all that). This time I used a recipe from the Moosewood Low-Fat cookbook, and added butter. (That's the only thing wrong with those recipes is that in general, they're better with butter). I think it's a definite improvement over the last batch, but I'm going to go write a note on the cookbook to add salt next time.

I have now looked up my polling place, since I'll need to leave the house extra early so i can go vote before I head across the bay. Unlikely to be as adventurous as today's walk, but still, I'll get to see folks from the neighborhood.

Somewhere along the route of my walk, I saw this big bright building in the distance. At first I thought it said Public Library, but as I drew closer, I realized that in fact it said: Perfect Liberty. (I can't remember now if it was a Blue or a Green building, but the letters were big and golden yellow and accompanied by a sun) Wouldn't this get you wondering? Yes, indeedy. Fortunately, a quick google shows me that I was right in my guess as to what it was.

domingo, noviembre 06, 2005

of litter scoopers and NaNoWriMo

so, at noon i was working on the novel.

then i decided to see what other NaNoWriMo folks are blogging, then I read JohnRyan's entry, then I decided that I, too must own the Craftsman RigidTool of kitty litter scoops, and went in search of it, without even having a brand name. I read up on the likely candidtes. I priced them at three different sellers, compared shipping rates (dramatic differences), updated my paypal profile, changed my addresses, verified my checking accounts, et cetera, et cetera

it's now 1:30 and i have not written a single word since noon.

Interesting note related to word counts: I can write 200-400 words in less than twenty minutes if I sit still.

Related note: I can't sit still.

sábado, noviembre 05, 2005

Report from Miami: After Wilma

Lina and Julien are alive and well in Miami. They checked in right away, even though they had to truck out to various relatives houses to even have access to electricity, much less internet.

They need a new back fence and will have to patch the roof. Lina's folks had much more significant roof damage

On October 26 the server came back up and La Mere Julienne had electricity

On October 28th Los Padres Linosas got power.

down here, the hurricane center has already run out of letters for the storms and has begun naming them with letters of the greek alphabet.

[Julien] and i are wondering what they'll do when that runs out... cuneiform, maybe? hieroglyphics??

On October 29th, Lina and Julien spotted convoys of utility trucks, with linemen in the cherry-picker buckets. While they were heartened by the site, they had also been notified that they would not have powered restored to their home until November 15.

so, naturally, we began singing bucket man to the tune of elton john's rocket man.

bucket man...
we think it's gonna be a long, long time
bucket man...

They're high-sprited fellows, those two.

On November 2nd, their electricity came on, and produced happiness beyond measure.
Now they're warm and dry and clean, and working hard to bring order back to their lives.

Yard work. Survival.

Yard work (on a sunny Oakland Saturday) is a good cure for the blues.

So I was thinking about Survival. Survival theme songs. For some folks, a survival theme song is speaking truth (I will Survive!) a call to arms (I'm a Survivor!). For others, it's the blues. So, the Pet Shop Boys, Dreaming of the Queen:

The Queen said: "I'm aghast
Love never seems to last
However hard you try"
And Di replied

That there are no more lovers left alive
No one has survived
So there are no more lovers left alive
And that's why love has died
Yes, it's true
Look, it's happened to me and you

(I was never sure if it was "And Di replied" or "And I replied.")

I put on Rxi's Mix while I clean the house: to get me in a more upbeat mood, and started cracking up when Mme. Lola Beltran belted out "Soy Infeliz" (giggle giggle)

Time to scare the cats with the vacuum cleaner. There's a fur-covered crescent on the sofa where Nxi has been keeping watching for L*s return.

Blogging around

What do you do when your partner spends the night at her parent's house?

(No drama involved: she's helping them get the house ready for her dad's birthday bash next weekend)

Well, if you're smart, you go with her. But I didn't. Consequently I spent way too much time on those internets during the last 24. But LorcaLoca led me to Octopus's Garden, which made me laugh out loud. She has her kitty clipped too! I realized from all her cat fotos that our own Mxi and Nxi have not lost quite enough weight yet. In her pictures, the kitty's belly doesn't hang to one side. Back to the Rx cat food, gatas!

And now: to yard work.

Note to L: Nxi slept on the couch, waiting for you to come home.

Another pet related note: L and I saw a news story wherein a pound puppy who'd only been adopted 2 weeks earlier saved his new Daddy's life. What if there's a puppy at the pound right now, destined to save our lives?!? And, you know, with a puppy chasing them around, the gatas would really trim down. Oh well, our lease precludes puppies--even life-saving ones--so we'll return to this topic in a year or so.

Novel news: I'm wondering if the Generalito will make su appearance in the novel. (The Generalito is an Anarchist guerrilla--queer & TG) I always pictured the Generalito in more of a civil war-type scenario than a pandemic, but Agapantha sure is getting lonely!

Oh wait, I forgot to tell you the best part! All my following up on blog rolls led me to La Tarjeta de Antonio! I can't wait to read it!

viernes, noviembre 04, 2005

You know it's time to clean the house...

...when you've been sitting at the computer for nearly twelve hours straight, you've worked on your novel, two book proposals (for imaginary books), and your rock opera, and the cats have all but given up trying to get your attention, and it's still not even nine o'clock!

very well then. I shall stand, I shall stretch, and I shall clean.

maybe after that my heroine will get over her funk.

637 words

Agapantha's feeling melancholy tonight. I left her staring into her cat's eyes, thinking of the coughing babies.

I'm sure I produced more words blogging than novel-ing, but now I need some time away from my broody heroine.

She doesn't have a partner to joke about kitty tacos at moments like this.

Why you don't always want to read a writer's blog

Now, as you know, I've been on a bit of a Sherman Alexie tear. Reading his books, one right after another. digging on them. I believe I even used the words "genius," How many men have I described as genius? Ummm, this would make one. if it sticks.

Okay, so then, adding Reservation Blues to My Favorite Books on my Blogger profile, I of course look to see who else lists it. And lo and behold, I find Sherman Alexie's blog

Is this for real? It seems more like an impersonation of him. A bad impersonation. With that bad lesbian haircut.

Oh well. Guess I'd better stick to the books.

Margaret, margaret

I was digging on Margaret Cho yesterday, but was disappointed when she went into the whole comparison model of discrimination. i.e. No white person would ever think about saying X to a black person, but they'll go ahead and say Y to the rest of us.

No one would ever dream of mistaking Mary J. Blige for Faith Evans, even in jest – especially in jest. Anyone who would infer that P. Diddy was actually Big Daddy Kane would be immediately fired, and likely banned from broadcasting forever and ever. Yet is somehow is totally okay to ask me why I left “The View.”

We need to change that refrain! As a matter of fact white people don't keep their racism against African Americans private. Why should they? The racists are constantly saying "oh we're so oppressed! The liberals are trying to control our language! We can't even say black people are born criminals even though they are." When calling someone out as a racist is dismissed as being oh-so-PC, oh-so-yesterday, racist folks feel entitled to keep right on. Say something racist? Refer your retractors to your African American spokesperson and you're automatically absolved. A racist white person banned from broadcasting forever? That'll be the day.

Okay, now that I've disagreed with Margaret about something, I just have to say that she totally rocks. From the cover of her new book--Patti/Tania fantasy--to her poster for the American Library Association, to her letters to W and to Arnold, she's one fierce Mama.

Adventures in Templates

Okay, obviously I decided it was time for a template makeover!

The banner image is a super close-up of the orange shag rug in my study. I kept trying to do the green shag rug from the living room but a) the color kept coming out grayish, and b) none of the grays on this page went together. so here i am in slightly made-over format.

the book I'm using (Publishing a Blog with Blogger, by Elizabeth Castro) is LOUSY on the why and the how of templates. It's more the in the "you'll figure this out through trial and error" school of computer manuals. Of course, if I didn't have the book to jump off of, I prob'ly wouldn't have changed anything to begin with. L* asking me how to do things on her blog is also a big impetus.

Also, the examples in the book from the authors own blog are Mind-numbing. Home schooling three little white kids. Awww, here's a picture of one of them in front of the teepee their mom made. Homeschooling=scary.

jueves, noviembre 03, 2005

A good day to write

Already 488 words! L* is my inspiration in more ways than one. Her daily blog title gave me my premise for Agapantha’s day and how she looks at the world. a good introduction to the reader. Right now, Agapantha seems an amalgam of my memories and L*s, growing up in LA, visiting familia in Tijuana, teaching first-graders.

Speaking of LA, the students are behind on the reading, so discussion on the Tattooed Soldier lags behind. But they spent time talking about and developing their ideas for their group projects, and that’s a great thing. One student requested I make the Wiki tool available on moodle. I promptly did so, but now I’ll have to read up on the Wiki tool before next class.

Wednesday = 0

Yesterday was a total bust as far as novelling. Too many meetings suck energy.

Ironically, though, one of the meetings was for the Committee on Writing in Ethnic Studies. This a fabulous group: we have some great creative writers and our vision is to raise awareness about the craft and discipline involved in writing. Some folks have been disrespected in their writing, i.e. my book is more valuable than your book because your book is creative and mine is critical. (as if it's easier to publish a book of poetry!)

I have to admit, though, I'm so split about the idea of a creative MA thesis. I suspect I might have internalized some attitudes in my academic training. More likely, though, it's because my creative writing is much less disciplined than my critical writing. (i.e., I need to start putting a lot more discipline into my creative writing, but to do that I have to value it more and let it cut into my "research" time).

But the community is great on this. Really. We have great diversity, in experience, in publiation, in teaching, in vision.

I'm pretty excited about this new community.

miércoles, noviembre 02, 2005


I did get more writing done last night before bed. Somewhere around six hundred words. Like I said, it's a start.

I'm writing in Tinderbox, so I can work on little projects, then plug them back into an overall scene, rather then writing in Word and feeling like I'm on page one. Too intimidating, as L* so perceptively noted, when she busted me last night.

Of course, the temptation to focus on the software, rather than actually writing, is very great.

Write now Agapantha and Tía Tencha are writing letters to one another. So its an epistolary novel

martes, noviembre 01, 2005

The novel: Day One

Okay, I'm going ahead with Agapantha.

It's slow going. Priming the pump mostly.

let's talk about food instead!

dinner was a joy tonight! halibut fish packets with rice and baby bok choy. and organic red grapes for dessert. yummy! L* is a culinary genius.

and last night's bread came out rather well (if i do say so myself): rich. flavorful, and wheaty, without too much sweetener. EXCEPT I didn't grease the pan enough and so it stuck and i lost the bottom crust. As long as we have gas and electricty, i can bake bread. but if the grid goes down, we'll need another plan. L* suggest tortillas, but I'm no good at tortillas, whereas i have years of experience baking bread.