domingo, enero 28, 2007

Two people have made the following mistake: they thought Ktrion was the one in the skinny jeans.

Against the cult of thinness

(with apologies to the two friends)

L* is the one in the skinny jeans.

And we rejoice, not because she's skinny--

chemo made her skinny--
chemo is why Ktrion screams at the television
when those diet commercials come on and say
"the pounds will just melt away"
I'll tell you what makes the pounds melt away
cancer and chemotherapy,
yes, the chemotherapy diet can work for you
take that appetite right away
you'll no longer be tempted by chocolate,
by carbs, by forbidden foods
by any foods at all
Ktrion is sweating now and turning red

We rejoice because the skinny jeans fit L*'s new form,
hug her new body, and say here we are in the here and now,
not in the suit, jeans, jacket, shirt that doesn't fit anymore.

We do not follow the cult of thinness
Whatever size L* is wearing (x)
Ktrion is wearing 10+x

We will love whatever size jeans
hug L's body
and give her back her mojo
and put her in the driver's seat

lunes, enero 22, 2007

viernes, enero 19, 2007

a fridge poem, for andie, amy, and L*

La Suegra

L* got home around twelve last night.

As usual, la Suegra surprised us all with her strength and her good sense. She did need to be with her husband last night after the surgery. He was disoriented coming out of the anesthesia, and she was able to comfort him and ground him, and let him know that even in all that confusion, she was there for him and wasn't going anywhere.

I'm constantly amazed by her at times like this. Just in the last six (oh, my god, 6 ?) months I've seen her come through like this, where she goes from being the really nice, well-mannered, friendly nana we all know and love, and it's like she moves aside this curtain and you see the mastermind has really been running the show all along. You might think she's just puttering around in her garden, dispensing amiable advice to a generation who only rarely attends, and then you see that she really is rock solid, and braver and more together than you could possibly feel.

At times like that it seems as if the rest of us go from the sensible practical people we believe ourselves to be, to a slightly hysterical swarm of bees, alighting on one branch and then another, frenzied and confused, and she just shakes her head from behind her beekeeper's veil and goes on with what she has to do.

jueves, enero 18, 2007

What the surgeon said

produces bone

just took

Family thoughts

L* and her two brothers are waiting at the hospital with her mom today. It'll be an all-day wait. Her dad is having surgery, and it's expected to be an eight-hour affair. He looked real good this morning, and mi suegra was real confident after meeting with the whole team (surgeon, anesthesiologists, neurologist, fellows, nurses).

I'm carrying a little pocket rosary and praying in Spanish every few minutes. Not 'cause I'm scared, but just 'cause I want to send el suegro good thoughts.

I came into the office to work on my course readers. I'm brewing up some green tea, so I won't be too sleepy. I am, though. We got up at four this morning.

As we drove across the Bay Bridge at five-thirty, I thought of my mom in New Mexico, and how she might herself have been on the road, driving to work. It would be six-thirty in mountain time, and she does like to go into the office early. I thought of telephoning her just to say "I'm thinking of you" and afraid that an early morning call would worry her, and how maybe if I call her more often, she won't have to "worry" just because she hears from me.

La suegra wants to sleep at the hospital tonight with her viejo, and we're all wondering things like "should we allow this?" and "who-the-hell are we to 'allow' a grown woman to do anything?"

If you have a minute today, send a little prayer or good thought on behalf of my suegro, father-in-law, or, as my loquera says "since the law's not on your side, call him your father-of-the-heart."

Surgery went great. El suegro is in recovery. oraciones de gracias

miércoles, enero 17, 2007

Choosing poems

I'm choosing poems for my lit course. Every Friday is going to be "Poetry Friday" when we take a break from the work of the novel and dip into some great poems.

Choosing poems is a tough proposition, because I sit down with a book of poetry and start reading---Today I was reading Lucille Clifton's Blessing the Boats and Chrystos' Not Vanishing. Two such amazingly different writers, who make you feel so much with words.

I realized today that Lucille Clifton writes a lot of poems about her dreams. I want to start doing that!

Skinny jeans

domingo, enero 07, 2007

Write Stuff

Big Brown Girl wrote how her new years resolution to "honestly work on my writing." That's what I like to hear!

I've been trying to work more on my writing and work more on getting it out there. So if any of you out there have connections with a theatre company, Have I got a Play for you! This year, I'm really going to see if I can get my play, Familia is a Story We Make Up produced.

It's also got a lot of cool monologues in it, so you Latina y Latino actors looking for something new to do for an audition, drop me a line.

I was also really inspired to find out that this film about transgender Latinas, Some Reasons for Living, was actually produced in a Visual Anthropology class at SFSU: film students and anthropology students collaborated to produce these films. That's so rockin. Maybe I can start something like that with performance.

sábado, enero 06, 2007

A whole lot of silliness from us

I was going through a "quiz" spell a while back--you might've noticed. What's your gang name, what's your accent. I finally stopped posting them after a while. It seems like cheating to post something that doesn't actually involve writing.

But this one has been spinning on and on in email, so I'm going to move it to here.

I took the quiz, What tarot card are you? on November 29.

You are The High Priestess

Science, Wisdom, Knowledge, Education.

The High Priestess is the card of knowledge, instinctual, supernatural, secret knowledge. She holds scrolls of arcane information that she might, or might not reveal to you. The moon crown on her head as well as the crescent by her foot indicates her willingness to illuminate what you otherwise might not see, reveal the secrets you need to know. The High Priestess is also associated with the moon however and can also indicate change or fluxuation, particularily when it comes to your moods.

Team Julien did it and Bendypalm was the Moon (and quite sure she should have been the High Priestess), and the Psychonueropharmacologist took it and she was the High Priestess. And so, I finally talked L* in to doing it, and so you see...

L* is The Moon

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Moon is a card of magic and mystery - when prominent you know that nothing is as it seems, particularly when it concerns relationships. All logic is thrown out the window.

The Moon is all about visions and illusions, madness, genius and poetry. This is a card that has to do with sleep, and so with both dreams and nightmares. It is a scary card in that it warns that there might be hidden enemies, tricks and falsehoods. But it should also be remembered that this is a card of great creativity, of powerful magic, primal feelings and intuition. You may be going through a time of emotional and mental trial; if you have any past mental problems, you must be vigilant in taking your medication but avoid drugs or alcohol, as abuse of either will cause them irreparable damage. This time however, can also result in great creativity, psychic powers, visions and insight. You can and should trust your intuition.

Now I'm starting to wonder. Four women. two cards. How many cards are there in this quiz, anyway? Are there enough variables? Or are is there more going on here. Does this actually have some deeper significance?

I'll go ponder in the bubble bath.

lunes, enero 01, 2007

The Road of Good Intentions, Part II

When last you left us, we were in Vegas, planning a flight to Albuquerque Saturday a.m.

6 a.m. found us with a room service breakfast.

By seven, we're at the airport for our 8:30 flight. Which has been cancelled. As have the earlier flights to ABQ. They're doing them one by one, though. We stand in line for an hour and a half. During which time, we call Southwest airlines and book a flight home to Oakland.

Ktrion has been talking a lot on the phone with her mom, Doña Leora since yesterday. Doña Leora is very disappointed but keeps advising us not to come. She doesn't want us to go through all these obstacles only to be stranded at the albuquerque airport or somewhere on I-40.

Much subdued, we book a 1 pm flight back to Oakland.

By the way, did I mention we're getting by with only one cell phone?

L*'s cell phone came to grief on Thursday, when, in a suicide mission, it hid in the pocket of a hoodie destined for the washing machine. When it surfaced Thursday evening, there was water behind the windows, and no sign of life.

Ktrion had meant to change the outgoing message on L*'s voice mail, but never actually got around to it.

So late Saturday morning, as we're kicking our heels in the airport, we call in to check L*'s voicemail to hear that her father's in the hospital. Many phone calls later we find out that he's actually ok. It was a scare, and a side effect of one of the medications he's on, and they kept him overnight.

With that extra bit of excitement, we do finally get on our plane and fly back to California. Ktrion resists the temptation to kiss the ground.

A really nice woman from Southwest airlines has us fill out a form regarding to our mislaid luggage (which she confirms is prob'ly in Vegas and awaiting a trip to Albuquerque.

We cook one of our favorite comfort dinners, green tea soup with tofu. L* gets an email from her folks that they to have arrived home at last.

We watch The Girl in the Cafe and Ktrion weeps profusely.
We go to bed early.

Sunday morning, L* goes to Bikram yoga, and Ktrion goes to monkey yoga.

Ktrion calls Doña Leora, and once she's off the phone, begins weeping again, just because mom is so loviing and accepting.

After las dos get cleaned up--with Ktrion living up to her nickname of La Pokey, and L* providing the necessary prodding--we head out to Berkeley with a short list: cell phones, elephant pharmacy, andronicos.

The young woman of color who helps us at the cell phone place is pretty nice and doesn't even laugh at how hip we aren't. She tries to talk us into ringbacktones. We're too embarrassed to tell her that one of our goals is to downloand "Survivor" by Destiny's Child for L*'s cell phone.

It's after four when we get to elephant pharmacy. Ktrion has been feeling ache-y all day, but attributes it to tiredness and yoga. Elephant Pharmacy is a really fun place to check things out: alternative medicine, organic cotton baby things, cruelty-free cosmetics, you name it. Ktrion keeps feeling dizzy, but finds the water cooler which dispenses free hot and cold bottled water, and sets about rehydrating herself.

Ktrion's makeup is all safely god-knows-where in her luggage. So L* suggest that Ktrion get new makeup at Elephant pharmacy. Alas, the makeup artist has just gone on break, and the woman at the makeup counter admits that it would be better to wait till the makeup artist gets back.

L* and Ktrion stroll across the street to Andronico's where they purchase shrimp. L* has in mind a new year's eve dinner of stuffed organic anaheim chile's. The stuffing will involved shrimp and perhaps quinoa. Some details are yet to be worked out. In the produce section, Ktrion's dizziness manifests as being on the verge of throwing up. Yikes!

Back to elephant pharmacy, which really, our two are now too tired to deal with, but the makeup artist is a young woman of color not unlike our hip students, and so we decide to tough it out. Ktrion sits in the tall director's chair provided and all of her symptoms immediately disappear. No nausea, no body aches, no sensitivity to light, no dizziness.

L* takes the opportunity to slip out to the cart to try out her new cell phone by calling her folks. "Buy whatever you want," she admonishes Ktrion.

L*'s folks are home and tired and a little blue.

After these adventures, we are feeling really exhausted. Perhaps too exhausted to cook this sumptuous meal. And so: Thai food to the rescue. And we are, of course, appropriately humbled when we order our food "medium" spicy and it kicks our (collective) ass. It's so hot, Ktrion feels her ears itching. "Holy Mother of God!"

A cute toddler is fascinated by L*, and then by the open flame on the table keeping our soup hot.

We get home and play with our cell phones for about an hour, then tidy up and prepare for our evening ritual. L* lights the new, clean-burning candle at the altar. We take turn reading the novena's worth of poems sent to us by Dr. CPE last week. Then we talk about 2006 which has been a harder year than we ever could have imagined.

L*'s brother died this past June. This has been the first Christmas without him, and the whole family is struggling to find its footing and to reconfigure. His birthday will be January 2nd.

L*'s cancer--you know about. The detection, surgery, chemotherapy, aftermath. In the movies, they would always talk about "her cancer is in remission" or "he's cancer-free," but it's not like that in real life. There are no tests done that will then find "no evidence of disease."

L*'s dad has been living with cancer for ten years now. I'm willing to bet there's not a man with prostate cancer in all of Santa Cruz or Monterey counties who doesn't know L*'s father. He's done patient outreach, especially with the Latino community, and really taught patients to be their own advocates. Indeed, he and L*'s mom are our inspiration as patient-activists.

With these somber thoughts, and wondering what the new year will bring, we turn in early. Ktrion is now having chills and body aches, and continues taking the Chinese remedy "cold-stop" pills.

At midnight, we awaken briefly to the sound of firecrackers and gunshots, and neighbors hooting and hollering "Happy New Year."

At 2 a.m. L* has now manifested her own symptoms to whatever the two of us have caught: she's throwing up. And continues to do so throughout the night.

Sunday morning finds us sick as dogs. L* is sipping ginger ale and coke. Ktrion is drinking tea. Perhaps our bodies are trying to purge themselves of 2006.

We both bathe and put on loungewear, and Ktrion does a masque and then puts on her makeup, having realized how central it is to her feeling of well-being.

Ktrion spends some time programming numbers into our new cellphones from both our address books. She is struck by how rarely she calls anyone.

We hope this is merely a 24-hour bug, and that we'll be back to our normal selves tomorrow.

We are thankful that we are not now in eastern New Mexico, throwing up and anticipating a day of air travel on the morrow.

The Road of Good Intentions...

Despite our best efforts to be in New Mexico with Ktrion's familia for the new year, L* and Ktrion are at home in the 'hood.

We left OAK bound for ABQ on Friday morning, checked our luggage with all our clothes. We had one carryon bag, a tote bag full of knitting, grant proposals that L* is reviewing, all of L*'s medications (since she, unlike Ktrion, knows better than to put her meds in the checked luggage), a ziplock baggie full of carrot muffins, and some snacks bestowed upon us by our super-special neighbors (chex mix and honey roasted almonds).

About the time we were expecting to land in Albuquerque, our pilot announced we were turning around because the Albuquerque airport was snowed in, and they couldn't keep one runway plowed wide enough for planes to land. But we weren't turning around and going back to Oakland. No, we were landing in Las Vegas.

By the way, if you're from northern New Mexico, like Ktrion is, you already know that it rarely snows and NEVER accumulates in Albuquerque. It's a standing joke in the state that if there's an inch of snow on the ground, they have to close the freeways, because the Abq drivers are fishtailing their camaros all over the place. Not today. No, today is the all-time record for snow in Albuquerque. 11 inches in one day.

Now, we had some rather complex plans in place already, as Ktrion's Tía -- flying in from ShakyTown earlier in the day--was to meet us at the ABQ airport , and then we would rent a car and drive the 3-4 hours to UFOtown, New Mexico.

L* was dozing when the pilot made the announcement. When she woke up, I told her the news. There was a long pause and then she said, "If we're stuck in Las Vegas, I want a great hotel room, I want to shop, I want to gamble, and I want to drink hard liquor."

(That kind of attitude, I can deal with.)

She tells me to ask the Texas lady sitting on the other side of me, which casino in Vegas is smoke-free.

(I was too chicken to do it)

The first thing they did when we landed in Vegas, was take the unaccompanied minor out of the plane. I mean the absolute first thing.

The customer service representative (who so didn't want to walk into our plane and talk to us!) announced that our flight was officially cancelled, and we should go to the nearest gate to book a flight to whereverland, but that no planes were going to Albuquerque for the rest of the day.

Furthermore, the customer service guy announces, there are no hotel rooms to be had in Las Vegas. All the hotels are fully booked for New Years celebrations.

Despair lurks.

When my cellphone starts working, i see that Don Fon (my dad) has called and left only a PLEASE CALL message.

We disembark (or deplane, as they like to say now). L* and I are phenomenally fast, as it happens that we have the aisle and middle seat in the very first row. We slip out while other people are still asking "WTF?"

Ktrion calls Don Fon, who announces that Interstate 40, the main route from ABQ to all of eastern New Mexico has been closed because of snow. He mentions that Tia's flight was delayed out of Shakytown but there's been no news.

L* gets us on Standby for the 4pm flight to El Paso, Texas, in the hopes that we can rent a car there and then drive up to UFOtown (about 4 hours). And maybe we can stay with Ktrion's sister in Las Cruces, and eat a good dinner at La Posta. (Don Fon endorses this plan as there won't be snow on that part of the state.)

Tia calls in from Midland, Texas, where she has been re-routed. She wants us not to worry our little heads about her, as she has a friend nearby she's gonna call.

We subsequently learn that no matter where we decide to fly to, our luggage is going to Albquerque. Next the car rental company informs us that they will not allow us to rent a car in El Paso and then return it to Albuquerque.

The airline then announces that we can go down to the ticket counter and wait in line for an hour and a half and if the need is urgent, the agents will get us our luggage.

We're starting to wonder if we should phone Ktrion's cuñado, who frequently acts as travel agent for the extended family. (When the comadres go on their cruises, el cuñado books the ship, the flights, and any hotel rooms. And if any little thing goes wrong, he bears the brunt) However, L* and Ktrion haven't really spoken to el cuñado since an ill-fated visit to the midWest in 2004, and are hesitant. We spy one of those little internet terminals, and L* is off and running.

She finds plenty of hotel rooms to be had for the money, and after shopping around, books us at the Bellagio.

We book a Saturday a.m. flight to Albquerque.

We go downstairs to look at the hour-and-half line of people begging for their luggage and decide to skip it. We get a shuttle and head to our hotel.

The Bellagio is swank. Our room on the ninth floor has a king bed and a truly fabulous bathtub.

We head out to shop. First stop: urban outfitters, where L* tries on several pairs of skinny jeans. So cute! So hot! She looks like a rock star. Ktrion talks her into buying 2 pair Levi 511 jeans as well as several cute little t-shirts.

We browse a lot because we're looking for a 2 oz container of bubble bath, pajamas para las dos, chones tambien, calcetines for Ktrion, toothbrushes, and bottled water. In addition to these we find a pair of fabulous maryjanes for Ktrion.

We get caught up in our quest for a black skirt for Ktrion to wear with her new shoes, but are unsuccessful. (not a flared skirt, not even a pencil skirt, really. a straight skirt. above the knee.) The gap provides the right gender of chones para los dos.

We're pretty walked out by this time, and are ready for dinner. Yeah, two vegetarians in Vegas. We finally decide to take it easy, and stop at a cheeseburger place to see if they have gardenburgers. Indeed they do, along with a tofuburger, and many other things we can eat. Ktrion starts consuming large amounts of diet coke to carry her through.

Then back to our hotel room to unload all our purchases. Then down to the casinos. Then...What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas...

Let's just say there were Blackjack tables and a High Rollers' Lounge.