Monday, October 31, 2005

My Love O' the Dress Up

I love any excuse to dress up. I'm dressed as Lucy Ricardo as I type this post even though everyone else at work is a total BUMP ON THE LOG.

My love of the Dress Up goes way back to near-womb status and hasn't left. In junior high I trolled thrift shops for vintage prom dresses and old, tattered wedding dresses and hung them on my walls as decoration. I collected wigs from garage sales, and I spend many an hour dressing up in my treasures. My mother, who is a painter, has a a portrait of me in a curled, red bob topped with a tiara and in a sad, frayed wedding dress which fit me, a girl of 13, well; this always fascinated me. I meant my disguises to be for my own private pleasure, not as a model for my mother, and in the painting I look COMPLETELY bummed. I really wanted to get back to talking to myself and conjuring scenarios that begged for a barefoot, bewigged, homeless bride.

Mandy and I, up until this last year, competed in a Halloween drag lip-synch contest and we consistently left our competition in the dust. You wanna know how to piss off some amateur drag queens? Have women win the drag contest. Our first year we were the contemporary version of Lady Marmalade. I was Pink. Mandy was Mya. Two boys were Lil' Kim and Christina Aguilera. Our second year, we were all different aspects of Britney Spears; school girl, drag racer, the green goddess with the snake. I choreographed the tightest, most Britneyest moves EVER. Our sucka competition got served! The last great year, we were Chicago. Mandy was a Velma Kelly INCARNATE (she looked so much like her it was scary!) our boy toy that year was an impressive Roxy and I was Mama Morton.

This weekend, Husband and I went to Pechanga with a group of people and celebrated Halloween at a night club. Pechanga, which is a casino on a Native American Indian reservation out in Butt Fuck California, deserves it's very own post, it's own dissertation and analysis really, but I'm just gonna stick to the Halloween fun.

I went as Heidi, in drag apparently. My true intention -- and stick with me here -- was for me to go as Jamie Lee Curtis in Trading Places -- y'know where she's the hooker, Ofelia in Eddie Murphy's movie, but then there's the train scene? Where she dresses as a fraulein, but she keeps saying she's Inga, from Sweden? And they say, "But you have lederhosen." And she's all, "YA, Inga from SVE-DEN." So, yeah, I was her, Jamie Lee as Ofelia as Inga from Sweden. And I made Husband dress as Eddie Murphy as Billy Valentine as the African consulate in that same train scene. “Merry New Year!” (The crowd is silenced). So, yah, too obscure especially when the people we hung out with probably weren't even born when Trading Places was made. By the time we left our hotel room, I said, "Let's just tell people we're figurines from Disneyland's It's A Small World."

So, this club at Pechangas . . .let's just say that if you go to an all-adult Halloween venue at a night club, ladies' costumes are only about one thing: Smuttiness. Which I'm totally ok with, but the bombardment of the sexy versions of costumes eventually became hilarious. Husband and I leaned on a railing most of the evening and watched the crowd. He'd say, "What is that?" And I say, "That's a fire fighter. Can't you tell by the flames on her panties and the red pasties? Doesn't the helmet give it away?" He'd say, "Sure." And then we'd laugh and laugh. Then he'd say, "Ok, let me try. Is that an indian girl?" Pointing to a girl in a brown, micro mini dress and aviator glasses. And I'd say, "No, silly, that's a highway patrol officer. See the boots?" And we laugh and laugh again. This went on all night long. Supposedly there is not one costume you CAN'T make smutty-sexy. None. There were sexy nuns and sexy babies. Sexy Brownies and sexy dolls and sexy police officers and sexy pirates and sexy devils (big) and sexy gangsters and sexy -- whatever. Fill in the blank. I am not dressed as a sexy version of Lucy Ricardo, however. But I do find the rigid conservativeness of the 50's gear and the red wig rather hot. But no, I'm not wearing a 50's dress shortened to my upper thighs, nor white stockings with the I Love Lucy garter belts. Or the platform lucite heels though I may do a striptese to Babalu later . . .

This is what sexy costumes plus alcohol do: They make people dry hump each other on the dance floor and on the couches lining the club. From where we stood, Husband and I had a perfect view of this and we gawked as shamelessly as they grinded on each other. We yelled out, "DAMN!" at regular intervals. We'd tap each other and point out a new couple spotted at another location. It was off the chain there at Pechangas. And then as the evening wound down, we'd see certain characters bite the dust to their alcohol consumption. Like the sexy Strawberry Short Cake that passed out on the couch in front of us much to the disappointment of her grinding partner. We saw the sexy mechanic just plop down in a big drunken HUFF near the coat check. We saw the dude dressed as the pope throw up on the dance floor. Wow, these people know how to Par-tay up at Pechangas.

I can’t wait for trick or treating tonight. Husband will be Ricky Ricardo (duh!) and Maya is a mime and Mina is an angel – who wanted to wear angelic black lipstick to school today. Awesome.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


We were walking along the sidewalk towards our favorite, quick Asian spot for dinner. As a family, the four of us tend to glide along in a pod either talking incessantly or encapsulated in a comfortable silence. During a silent moment, as we walked, Mina, who is tiny for a six year old, said, “I wish I had twelve hundred dollars.”

This is classic Mina. We often have no clue why she blurts out things like this, and yesterday my husband only responded by saying, “Me too.” In the past I have asked her, “Where did you hear that?” Or “Where did you learn that?” She usually says, “From my brain.”

I’ve realized that I haven’t written about Mina as much as Maya only because she is so quirky, near complicated. She is a child unlike one I’ve ever met, and I have a profound love for her because of it. I bought her a customized t-shirt a couple months ago that sums up how I feel about her personality. The shirt says, Deep.

It is easy to explain Maya. Maya is simply The Great Kid. She’s social and loving and bright-eyed. She’s beautiful and responsible. She laughs with her head back and from her gut, and that knocks me out.

I can’t seem to give an essence of Mina’s personality in a few sentences. Mina talks half as much as Maya, but seems to have a cult following amongst her peers. I think she used to communicate with our cat when she was two. She created deep art at three. She talks about death openly. She is not dark all the time or brooding, really. She seems to be inside her head a lot, but then mixes it up easily with us and other kids. She remembers the tiniest details from way back, like facts from a museum trip and she’ll rattle them off randomly, unexpectedly. She’ll freak her tiny little booty to music at the mall and will sing in front of a crowd of two hundred. If she doesn’t feel like doing something, I challenge you to get her to do it. She doesn’t like meat much, eats mainly vegetarian, but she craves pork. She will spontaneously hug people she doesn’t know when she gets a good vibe from them, but she doesn’t like being pushed into talking to them. She’d done Tae Kwon Do, like Maya, for a while now, but tells everyone she’s a gymnast. She has a sick tolerance for pain unless she needs a little attention. She is the perfect combo of Husband’s stubbornness and my weirdness and this makes her personality perplexing and unboxable.

Mina was born with the biggest head I’ve ever seen. Her black hair shot straight out of her head like static held in place and no gel on the planet could’ve kept it down. Because she had an issue with swollen right lymph nodes, her huge head would always tilt to the left. Like she had a crooked neck. It was so heartbreaking and cute that I fought the urge to hold her head up with my hand 24 hours a day. By the time she was nearly two, I did not think she could hear well. I expressed this to the pediatrician repeatedly. Mina was also not speaking much and when she did, the words were muted, like a deaf person. Husband and I would perform experiments by sneaking up behind her and we'd snap our fingers near her ears for a reaction. After repeated snaps she would finally turn around and look at us like we were the most annoying people ever. Our experiments went inconclusive. (Of course this gave Maya a new game and she would snappity snap near Mina’s head CONSTANTLY.) Mina responded to us just enough where we couldn’t tell if she was blowing us off or if she was indeed hard of hearing. When she had to take a hearing test before kindergarten, the nurse put on those huge 70’s head phones and whisked her away to the booth. And Mina couldn’t hear one beep. Not One Mother Fucking Beep. I nearly sprinted to the pediatrician’s office to tackle that bitch to tell her, I TOLD YOU. I TOLD YOU, but you said let’s wait and see, YOU FUCKING BITCH. I wanted to rip her own doctor ears off her head because she obviously didn’t use them anyway. And I cried and cried that night for not trusting my instincts more and pushing the issue, and because I let my poor little genius become deaf.

It turned out that massive amounts of fluid in her inner ears caused the hearing loss, and placing draining tubes inside her ears for six months cleared most of it up. Not 100%, but enough that her speech and vocabulary improved almost immediately. She still speaks with a limp. But she’s ambitious with her word usage. She’ll tell Maya she’s being “inappwopwiate.” Out of nowhere, she’ll say things like, “Mami, I wealized today that we are going to the park after school” or “The calcium in broccoli keeps your bones stwong.”

Maya has to work hard for good grades. I tricked her into becoming a voracious reader just by constantly introducing her to great stories. But she works hard to read well and smoothly. She works hard to get B’s and A’s, and doesn’t mind the work because she knows if she doesn’t work she will get D’s. There is no middle ground for Maya, and her work ethic impresses the shit out of me. Mina is lazy with school work. Fights me to do homework. Whines and manipulates. But when I finally get her to sit down, she’s done in a nanosecond. It’s all so easy for her. She’ll look at a word and work it out in her huge head and read it. For kicks, she’ll say, “Mami, how do you make a ‘B’?” And I’ll look at her and say, “Come on, dude.” And then we’ll laugh together like it was an idiot’s joke.

Mandy says, in the hands of other parents, Mina would stir up all kinds of shit. But this little girl has me in ways that no one else does and I constantly want to protect her quirkiness. I scramble to clear a path for her brilliance to come.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Two days ago I didn't know what meme meant. But lately it's been meme-o-rama in Blog World and I've been quickly edumemecated on what it all means. Hollyrhea gives a most excellent explanation, and in my mind it means: Write some revealing shit in list form. And you do this because you just saw another blogger do it or you were invited to do so. I call that Biting Their 'Stilo, but meme it is! I did the 10 Random Things because it was a cool idea, but I didn't realize I was getting caught up in the memephenomena. And it's kinda embarrassing to reveal so much in list form, like getting-to-know-you vomit and I doubted anyone was really interested in my inventoried shit, but I love to read other people's lists like this cool one from maven haven. . . I think I just learned you need to be “tagged” to officially meme or do the meme or be the meme; meme out with your cock out! But fuck that. I tag myself. But this may be The End of the Meme for me -- I mean, like, after this self-tagged one . . .'cause it almost feels like a chain letter or those infuriating emails that try to convince you to forward it to 1,504 friends to receive ANY KIND OF FINANCIAL REWARD AT ALL IN THE NEXT YEAR. I delete those mothers immediately. I'd rather be penniless than get suckered into that shit.

Are you lubed and ready for ma meme chose yet? Here we go --- wwwhhheeeeee!

Seven Things I Can Do (uh oh, I just realized this is gonna be hard):
1. Take people for their word. Which means I am almost teflonic to passive aggressiveness. For example, if I'm somewhere with someone and they sigh and hem and hah, I'll say, "Hey, do you want to go?" And if they say (sighing), "Noooo, it's ok. We can stay." I'll say, "Cool," and not think about it again. If you want to go, fucking tell me because I ignore all things but your word. Works WONDERS. I highly recommend.
2. Daydream to the point of distraction.
3. Be goddamn creative. The bracelet, pictured left, was my last wild hair. I made a bunch o’ bangles earlier this year, 14 different styles.
4. I can then realize that when it takes six hours to make a bangle, maybe this isn't a good business venture. I couldn't seem to charge enough money. I was too embarrassed to ask for too much. So, apparently I can shut down a business pretty well. *sigh*
5. Still hit a 15-foot jump shot. If pushed into playing, I could surprise good, male players in a game of pick up. My husband, his brother and I once ran a court in Queens ALL DAY LONG. We shoulda hustled cash money.
6. Shove in all things important. I balance well, I work hard and I don't believe in sacrificing things that are important, to me or to my family.
7. Compose an email like nobody's business. Especially ones work related; ones that need to tell off vendors, bitingly and professionally, where I eventually get my way because I've either articulated myself well enough or confused the reader. I'm pretty bad-ass at this.

Seven Things I Can't Do
1. Link the books I am reading or the music I am listening to in my margins.
2. Cut my own hair which bums me out.
3. Go on roller coasters anymore or do anything requiring physical fearlessness.
4. Lie very well. I stutter and get shifty-eyed. I choke up and sweat.
5. Read enough. A lot does not equal enough.
6. Be too strict on the girls. I'm kinda soft. THEY DESERVE SPOILING.
7. Not express myself if something is bugging me. I'm of the Spit It Out Camp.

Seven Celeb Crushes
1. John Stewart - though maven haven said she could fit him in her pocket and I laughed very hard at that.
2. Ryan Phillippe
3. Justin Timberlake (SHUT UP)
4. Luke Wilson
5. Benicio del Toro
6. **updated** Ok, so Halle Berry's man which is this guy , Michael Ealey
7. Manu Ginobili

Seven Things I Find Attractive in a Mate
1. Confidence
2. Treats me like an intoxicating goddess
3. Doesn't let me walk all over him, but still adheres strictly to #2
4. Athleticism
5. Sense of responsibility
6. Honesty
7. Kindness
7.5 Strong forearms, gush.

Seven Things I Hope to Do Before I Die
1. Finish this list
2. Raise two world changers. They will change the world if they just remain compassionate and thoughtful
3. Grow old gracefully - kinda panicky on this one.
4. Have a cult following
5. Wear gigantic hats whenever I feel like it
6. Learn to sew
7. Fix my busted Spanish

Seven Things I Say Often
1. Bananas. As in, That's bananas. I was saying this long before Gwen was all spelling it out for us on the radio.
2. Mu Fucka. As in, Listen here mu fucka. Or, he's a handsome mu fucka. Or (to the dogs), come here lil mu fuckas.
3. Retarded nice. "The spa was retarded nice."
4. Mama. I call many people this apparently. Hey mama, lil mama, mami, mamita. I swoon if Husband calls me Mami . . .
5. Do you have to go potty? Between the girls and the pugs, I say this approximately 75 times a day.
6. Holy shit
7. I love you. I do say this a lot. I can't say it enough. They deserve to hear it every other sentence.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

self portrait tuesday

Self Documentary #4 - Life With the Sisters Pug

They worship you

and adore you

and make you laugh

no matter what.

Thanks Lupe & Carmen, you crazy little buggers.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

How to Go to a Salsa Club; A Guide for Veteran Lady Dancers

Wear whatever you want. Because going to the salsa club -- after having gone to salsa clubs for twenty years -- is only about dancing. Every time you go out however, it does cross your mind to wear an outfit exactly like this fringed beauty pictured to the left. It's not practical though, and most likely not very flattering no matter how fabulous it seems. But, wear whatever you like and keep in mind these things: Sweat shows up severely on brightly-colored cotton blends, even on light colored jeans and it shows in the most inappropriate places. Whipping and thrashing hair can be an issue as in slapping dance partners in the face, slapping yourself in the face, and most grossly, collecting sweat and subsequently catapulting drops on spectators. Shoes, as gorgeous as they can be, should not be the highlight of the outfit because you will pay dearly later for trying to be too cute in strappy, death-defying albeit FANTASTIC sandals unless you are a veteran dancer that has worn four-inch heels since puberty. Please note, there are many veteran dancers in this category. Jeans are popular to wear at clubs now, but some latin clubs will not allow jeans like the time you took your very trendy LA boss to the Copacabana fifteen years ago while on a business trip and even though you warned her that they may not let jeans pass as suitable salsa attire, she was appalled when they did in fact refuse her. She was more appalled that there was a metal detector at the entrance. You convinced the bouncer, in shoddy Spanish and not without insulting your boss, to let her in. And you explained to your boss that you WANT to go to the clubs with metal detectors.

After much consideration, wear black pants, a black clingy top with no sleeves and sensibly heeled boots. Do not wear too much make up as you will sweat it off on a messy shroud of a cocktail napkin. Curled hair may be a waste of time for the same reason. A slick ponytail is good or leave your hair down because whipping and thrashing can be sexy and you don't want to look too much like a school marm for the possibility that no one will ask you to dance, which would suck. A cute purse is cool, but more practically, consider one that can camouflage well after you fling it in a corner as you dance song after song and thus cannot babysit it. The purse must be compact, but able to hold essentials including a retractable hand fan you bought at the swap meet for $3.99 that has a cheap Japanese waterfall scene adorning the front. The fan is accidentally elegant and hip, but most importantly it is essential for cooling down between dances so you don't look like you've just completed a triathlon though the way you dance expends as many calories. Consider finding a line of triathlon-like salsa outfits, then decide against this.

Go with friends or meet friends at the club. Go alone even because all you really want to do is just dance. Upon arrival, go directly to the bar and order your usual. Don't stray (unless completely coerced by friends) because the trendy drinks have enough sugar to spike your insulin and put you in a bad mood. A well-made mojito is completely called for now and again. Order a diet coke and dark rum, preferably anejo rum. This tastes smooth and wicked and gets you to the ledge of uninhibitedness.

Find Your Spot at the edge of the dance floor where you think the regular dancers will hang out. Try to stand there confidently, like it's no big deal for you to be standing there by yourself. Try to exude, subtly, that you understand the complexity of latin jazz. Slightly bob your head and tap the "clave" rhythm with one finger on the edge of your glass. Survey the scene and drink your anejo and diet as quickly as possible. Don't let others notice how fast you are downing this. Casually drag your non dancing friends to this spot though they have no idea what they're getting themselves into standing there. They will recede into the voyeurs eventually and simply encourage you to do Your Thing. After your drink, put a stick of gum in your mouth. For some reason the combination of alcohol and a vigorous workout can make your breath smell like dried dog shit.

Because you don't go to the clubs frequently any more, try to remember who the good dancers are, but more importantly just try to recognize which dancers have an innate sense of rhythm. This is key. These are the dancers with whom you want to dance. Do not discriminate by age or height. Some of your favorite dance partners have been one-hundred year old cubanos that are 4'2". But these men wear tan and white wing tips and are easy to spot so look for the dancers that may be unrecognizably good.

Your first dance of the night is the most important. This will set the tone for the rest of the night. If the good dancers see that you can dance, you will dance all night long. If you start off with a stiff beginner, this could be a blow to your dance card. But there is a way to salvage this. Immediately, when you recognize your first partner is not so good, do not follow his lead so much for the sole purpose of showcasing your own skills. Break away from this partner and dance solo for a minute or so. This is not something you'd do with a good dancer, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Initially, do not turn down an offer to dance. Any guy brave enough to ask you deserves a shot. They may even surprise you with their ability. Even the guy in his fifties dressed in all black including a spandex top -- an outfit eerily similar to your own -- who sports a south-american gheri curl and a snazzy silver western belt. If a dance is boring or bad, stick it out politely without sighing or rolling your eyes like you'd like to do. If a dance is jerky and dangerous in that he's trying new salsa stunt moves that he learned on the internet or from a video called Mambo Dips Part 4! and you fear you will go down during the dance, walk away mid-song leaving him stranded on the dance floor. He will know exactly why you did so and no discussion will need to follow. When an "Intermediate" dancer is trying new moves on you (without the threat of bodily harm), be a good sport. Do not mind that he is moving solely to steps and not to the music. When he messes up something, laugh it off and tell him to try it again. When you ask him where he is from, do not be surprised when he answers Iran/Russia/Israel/Korea/Montana. Tell him he is doing fine. Do not be mad that he thinks a salsa outfit equals high-waisted tight pants and a see-through shirt. Try not to be infuriated that he has doused his hands in cologne. Veteran dancers do that too even if that's your pet-est of dancing pet peeves. Fight the urge to smell your hands in disgust every five minutes.

If there is a great dancer that you would like to dance with, ASK HIM even if this is breaking typical etiquette. You should not give that much of a shit as a veteran dancer. This window to ask him may be small if he is a popular dancer. The best times to ask are right before a song begins or after his girlfriend has started dancing with someone else. His girlfriend is the one that actually wears the fringed dress pictured above. After this dance, no matter how great it is, do not ask him to dance again. He can ask you next time.

You understand, with your experience, that going out dancing is no longer about looking like a stuck-up sour puss, but only about enjoying the music and having fun. And getting a good workout. When you see the LA bimbo/supermodels at the salsa club who can't dance and teeter on their heels because of their blimp-sized titties, make fun of them in your mind. Feel better about yourself when you realize they have no clue how to move to your music. Be embarrassed for them. But smile at them because you don't want to come across as the threatened, hating type. When two of them brave the dance floor to do their lame pseudo-lesbian erotica for a reaction, dance your good-sized ass their way and show them how it should be moved and shaken. Shake it. Fiercely. And smile, laugh even. Show off, and pretend to do the bump with the girls or shimmy in their direction, and make your dance partner laugh at that. The young, sadly skeletal supermodels will be clueless as they writhe stiffly, uncomfortably.

The second you don't have the desire to dance again, leave. This tends to be after exactly two hours of straight dancing. Fish your purse from the dark corner. Grab your jacket and jet. Do not say goodbye to any dancers. This will give off a different message than the I'm Here to Dance Only message you've been promoting. Don't confuse the dancers.

Get your car out of valet. Check your change and count your CD's. Hydrate with electrolyte fluid during the drive home; wrap a towel around your neck. Daydream about the next time you'll be able to steal away from your family-filled, career-run, responsibility-laden life to dance again. Promise yourself you'll still go dancing when you're an arthritic and withered old bag.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Biting the Marigold

I'm stealing Marigoldie's idea to list random things about myself. She actually wrote a fantastically honest and really well-written list of 100 things, but I'm afraid once I list 100 things about myself, I'll have to close up shop because I won't have anything left to write about.

But here are 10 mad things about me, oh lucky readers!

1. I have an urge to eat flowers when I smell them, at the very least crush them against my lips. Roses especially. I want to put them entirely in my mouth, maybe take a little nibble. I want to strip off the petals and use them like stridex pads on my face and then place them on my eyelids while I nap.

2. If I were born a boy, my mother would have named me D'Artagnan, a bitch to say in spanish. But I love the name and I had brought it up during my own pregnancies. HELL NO, was what Husband said, but would there have been a cooler name than Dart Rivera?

3. When I was eleven, my mother helped kiln and lay the tile for Judy Chicago's Dinner Party. This was an art exhibit in the form of a gorgeous, full-sized dinner setting paying tribute to over a thousand famous and important women in history. Because this is where I hung out that entire summer, in a Venice warehouse with about a hundred women artists, they were cool enough to let me embroider a caterpillar on the Mary Wollstonecraft runner that went under her plate. During that summer, I remember knocking over blueprints and getting yelled at by Judy Chicago herself (whoops) and I remember the fantastic smell of baking clay and glaze, and I remember plates beautifully shaped like huge vaginas, but mostly I remember staring at the embroidered image of Mary Wollstonecraft dying in child birth as I nervously tried hard not to fuck up my caterpillar. I also remember learning, at eleven, that women are brilliant creatures.

4. I like tea cups with saucers. And this is completely unfounded in any memory or inspiration. I don't know why I like them. I love them mismatched and lovely, fragile and chipped a little. I want to buy every one I see and I want to make pedestals for them and shine halogen lights on them. And name them things like Precious.

5. When I was eight years old, I found a .38 handgun in my grandfather's night stand. I picked it up and as my heart pounded I held the gun to my temple. That thought still makes my face flush, and I wonder why a child would do that. But, to be honest, when I was young my mother often held two fingers to her head and said, "Ppkkwww" telling me it would be so much easier that way.

6. A week before my grandmother died when I was fifteen, I had a dream that I rode a raccoon across a wheat field and then watched her till a dirt garden. She looked like she was pregnant in the dream. She died of pancreatic cancer that apparently bloated her disproportionately. Her death was a surprise to me because she had told no one about the cancer, but I appreciated that she let me know in the dream. We had that kind of relationship.

7. Once when I was nine, I lost my wallet at the bus stop that held my house key and my library card that stated my name and address. By the time I made it home, my house had been robbed of our TV, stereo, all other valuables including my grandmother's gold wedding band that I was to inherit. To this day, my mother doesn't know this robbery was because I lost my wallet. I felt having the ring stolen was punishment enough.

8. Sometimes I'm afraid my husband and daughters will die, and that's a private panic that I don't share usually. I heard a psychologist once say that this is about convincing ourselves that we deserve this much love and happiness. But what I fear more is that I'll die too soon and this is worse, I feel, because I don't want my girls to suffer that kind of grief.

9. I am obsessed with March Madness, the men’s college basketball playoffs. I am enamored by the level of heart with which these kids play. I am amazed by how many games are won at the buzzer. This sends my heart a soarin'. During March is when I wish I had attended college so I can be a raging lunatic fan for a particular alma mater, but then I'm glad I didn't go to college because as it stands I can band-wagon jump from team to team.

10. When I was a kid I loved the Guinness Book of World Records. I decided I would take on the Catch the Coins Off the Elbow Record which, in 1977, was thirty-six coins. I lined up pennies on my forearm and practiced and practiced. Most of my time I picked up pennies that had exploded off my arm when I didn't catch them in my ten year old hand, but one afternoon when channel 11 played The Planet of the Apes as the 3 o'clock movie, I caught all 36 mother fucking pennies. I was like, Holy Shit, I need a camera. I looked down at the Guinness Book of World Records to figure out how to record my record, and the words "silver dollar" caught my eye. The record was for 36 silver dollars not pennies. My window to be a record holder closed. Now the record is something crazy like 400 pennies or some shit.

Monday, October 17, 2005

self portrait tuesday

This is my Self Documentary #3.

Portrait of Myself Through My Girls' Artwork.


John's on 12 Street

Here's the IM I received from Husband this morning: "Why don't you blog about the first time I saw that ass in dem jeans?" This was IM'ed to me out of the blue, after a series of What Do The Kids Need To Do Tonight texts and other parenting strategies that we do so well via IM. He's talking about our first date which was at John's on 12th street in the East Village nine years ago. And it's a great story that I gladly tell, but it has so much set up. It took awhile for us to get to that first date at John's.

We met at car show in Anaheim. Which is odd. A girl I knew had started a cigar whoring business where she sent out cigar girls to high-end restaurants/bars and charged a five thousand percent mark up because the girls showed a lot of flesh. This worked extremely well in Orange County. She was booked to sell cigars at a car and bike show, but because the show began early and ran all day, she had a hard time finding enough girls to work the show. She asked me to fill in. I was raising Maya alone, who was only a year old at the time, and I welcomed the chance to make a couple hundred bucks for a day's work. Cigar Boss Pimp Lady told me to wear something skimpy which made me queasy especially when I went to my coffee spot before the show at 8am where the locals wondered, Is she just getting in or just going out? Turns out I was the most dressed girl at the car show. You can't compete in a Skimpy Contest when the beer booth is set up next to you. The ol' biker dudes where hilarious and great. They'd saunter up to the cigar booth and say in voices so gravelly it sounded like they dragged them in on their bikes behind them, "Nice legs, honey." "Thanks," I'd say. "Where's the Bud booth?" I'd point and smile. They'd add as they walked away, "$20 for a fucking cigar?" I'd pantomime sympathy before the CigarBossPimpLady could catch me.

Mingling in the sea of leather -- skin and duds -- I spotted two preppy latinos in matching denim button-down shirts. One was short and round and the other medium-height and handsome and they wandered around staring in awe at the Biker Culture. It was October of 1996, a day after the Yankees won the world series when Mariano Rivera was an up and coming set up pitcher. When the Prepinos glided their way self consciously to my booth, their strong east-coast accents gave them up. I said, "You guys are in California after such a great Yankee win?" They looked at me. "We're here for business," the short, round one answered because he did all the talking. The handsome one played it cool standing behind him. And as the round one blah blah blah'ed, the handsome one and I tuned him out and wondered what this was, this spontaneous urge to impress each other in subtle ways; he by being quiet and cool. Me, by talking as much as possible to prove I wasn’t just a show bimbo. At the end of the day when I was relieved of my post, I put on my jacket and bravely stood next to the handsome one and we talked and made funny comments about Tommy Lasorda who was at the show on stage, drunk. I made sure to mention Maya within the first five minutes so he could run for the hills, but he didn’t seem to flinch much. Before I left, Handsome gave me his business card. He worked on Wall Street. They had been at the car show to push the stock of one of the representing car companies.

I hardly ever dated. After I had Maya, I didn’t think my feelings for a man could ever live up to the love I felt for her. The company of men was trivial compared to what I felt for her. She and I had true love, and I was convinced it was all I had room for. Maya’s father was a victim of this conviction.

But I called Handsome anyway because I felt something for him and I secretly wished he lived closer so we could give this something a shot. When I called, I genuinely just wanted to thank him. I said, “Thank you for the realest conversation I'd had with a man in a long time.” I had no expectations beyond that. He began calling me regularly. I didn’t know what to think, but I enjoyed his casual conversation. I didn’t think about him romantically until he called me on Thanksgiving, when I was alone and feeling lonely. It turned out, he felt the same, and he thought to call me. The call didn’t carry the same casualness as the others. We didn’t speak much, and in the charged silence, I was deeply touched. After that phone call, our conversations became more meaningful. We even scheduled Friday Date Night where we let all the walls down and we’d whisper our guts to each other; we laid it all on the line. During these few months, on the phone, is when we fell for each other. I hardly remembered what he looked like and because we only had the phone, we were forced to actually listen to each other. Had we been dating live, the urge to explore each other physically might have distracted us from how well we got to know each other emotionally.

I flew to New York in January. And I was scared shitless. I loved him, and I didn’t want us to ruin that in person. In many ways, I wanted to keep the relationship as it was. He picked me up in his Wall Street gear; a dark blue suit, a patterned silk tie, a tan overcoat. I wore a charcoal grey angora sweater, tight jeans and a long black wool overcoat that tied at the waist. I was giddy and nervous, which was unlike me, and he stared at me as if I was better than he had remembered. As we drove to the East Village for our first official date, we got used to speaking to each other face to face. We were shy at first. I couldn’t believe how his eyes were so black or how his lips were perfectly shaped, that his smile was what I remembered most. When we got to John’s I took off my overcoat and when I turned to hang it – and this is the part Husband loves – he says the waiter did a double take on my ass. Husband said he almost high-fived him.

So, that’s it. The three-month build up to our first date. After that first visit, we dated bicoastally for five more months until he quit his job, packed up all his shit and moved to California. We married Valentine’s Day 1998. Maya has never called him anything but Papi.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Poor Carmenita

As much as my stomach hurt last night, as much as I wanted to bolt and not attend class and run for the hills while flipping off my workshop, deep down I knew the story was good. I didn't turn in something unpolished. It's a piece I have slaved over and cried over and rewritten a crillion times. In truth, I didn't believe it would be murdered. I felt my most trusted and intelligent readers, Honduro and Mandy, had read the story and had given me excellent feedback and that the worst was over.

WRONG. I was sliz-aughtered last night. It was embarrassingly brutal.

There is a man in my workshop that I call Mr. Salvation. I call him that because he insists that each story have stark Conflict, Theme and hell yes, Salvation! "Where's the salvation in this story?" If he doesn't say this during every crit, then he's not at the crit. He started the evening off last night with, "In 20 pages, nothing happened . . ." and it went from there. It never strayed far from the negatives, just stayed in the deep grove of tear-down comfort. I hunched lower and lower with every What Was the Lesson Learned? What Does This Mean?

There were three champions for the story. Honduro, who is really the most thoughtful of critics in that if he hears a compelling enough point or if he rereads a passage that changes his view a bit, he will articulate this brilliantly. He is true to a Story not to an initial hard on about a particular point. And though he reiterated concerns, he was generous with what he thought was good. The workshop leader/teacher, Lisa, who in some ways has been my biggest writing cheerleader of the last seven years, did the same. She nailed most points and themes and expressed similar concerns as Honduro. A gregarious Hungarian woman named Claudia passionately argued for the story. At certain times, it became heated between Mr. Salvation and Claudia. I wanted her to tackle Mr. Salvation off his soap box; a flying side kick would've been cool too. But he talks way more than her. She was frustrated by him.

The story is ambitious and it's told as an allegory though most workshoppers got on This Is a Parable wagon quickly, and thus demanded a glaring lesson in the end. The very subtle restoration of faith I tried to achieve in the end was purposeful. And lost on the Clear Cut Parable Wanters. I didn't fulfill the expectations of what they really wanted this story to be.

I have thought about the workshop for the last 10 hours, nearly nonstop. I am trying to sort out my defensiveness vs. the truly constructive suggestions. I am. I swear. But here are some suggestions/comments from the workshoppers I have to sift through:

Good point of view. Change the point of view to the father. To the mother. This story is powerful. I felt nothing in the end. Why are they named that? A lot is at risk here. Nothing happens in this story. More conflict. A mother wouldn't do that. Why does the baby just grow and grow? What city do they live in? The birth scene is my favorite. The birth scene has nothing to do with the story for being so long. Why would God grant a wish and then punish them like that; God wouldn't do that (this person clearly knows the intentions of God, not my fictional God, but GOD, God, and I bow down to her for that). This piece is really polished. This piece is an early draft and with a lot of hard work might become something. (Thanks Mr. Salvation)

It goes on and on. Things were stated and then contradicted immediately by another reader. It was indecipherable until I just threw away most all of the comments and kept the most constructive and thoughtful.

Today I feel calmer even if my stomach still hurts. I realized if I'm going to be a good writer, I just gotta stay brave. I gotta write about Godzilla babies, and I gotta stick to my Gut. I'm sure all my favorite writers had to, at some point, make the decision to reject the general consensus of their work and fly solely on instincts. My story will be rewritten again, and probably more times after that, but the slaughter of Poor Carmenita made me believe in her more.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


I'm hiding out in my office because my writing workshop starts in one hour. My story is Up for critique tonight. I'm considering ditching class. My story is about a humongous baby that grows to be a ten-foot child -- not kidding. It's not even a comedy. It all ends tragically, and now I want to laugh and laugh because my stomach hurts. And I don't want them to tell me what they think my symbolism means. I don't want to hear that they cried in the end (YES I DO.) And I really just want to rip the story to shreds because I'm too in love with it, and I fear I'll punch anybody in the face if they try to criticize my poor, huge Carmenita.

After my male best friend (MBF), Honduro -- a good writer and a great reader – read the last draft, he made a song up about Carmenita. It was so unexpected, and I was so emotionally raw because I love my 10-foot girl that I almost kicked him in the balls as he sang. It turned out that he has a freakish crush on the character too. He talks about her a lot, but he always wants her to grow and grow and then he makes up stories like, Godzilla vs. Carmenita, and I want to cry when he does that even though it’s fun to play along.

Mandy has read every single draft of the story, as she has done with all my writing, and she often says, "Poor Carmenita." That's how I feel: Poor Carmenita.

And I want to run, manuscript in hand, and not let my classmates injure Carmenita or my glass-fragile ego. BE KIND, DEAR CLASS. No, go ahead, rip me up. Mandy loved the last draft; she is an insightful, emotional reader. I am an emotional writer. This works out well. But Honduro said he needed more from Carmenita. God, WITH HIS OBSESSION WITH HER. But he's right, I fear. The story is missing a scene maybe two. He said he would cry buckets if I could pull this story off.

So, I don't want to go to class now. I want to rewrite the story for the 5 billionth time. But Honduro will be in workshop tonight telling me to Buck Up. And if it gets to be too much, them tearing down by monster child, I'll shove manuscript pages in my ears and hum Feliz Navidad, and I'll remind myself that if Mandy likes it, that's good enough for me!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

self portrait tuesday

This is Self Documentary Entry #2; My Life is a Gorgeous Blur aka HOME SWEET HOME

girls in front of painted self portraits

mina & lupe

mami & papi, chillin'

Please check out my friend fotoboy's series, Life As a Commuter. Fantastic . . .

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Great Home-Base Grapple

When I’m in a new city, I always wonder if THIS is a place I'd like to live, a place I could call home? I've lived in Orange County for ten years now, but I just can't seem to get comfortable here. I lived all over LA growing up. I lived in the Bay Area for a few years. I lived in Spain and England, and I just can't seemed to feel part of/fit in/get adjusted anywhere. For as long as I can remember -- in relation to a Home -- I have felt relatively homeless. I do know that as long as I am in the presence of my girls and my husband, this is home to me. This is glaringly clear, the only clear concept of Home I have, but the feeling that I can dig my heels into a community eludes me. I have glimpses and I get my hopes up, but this is a secret void for me, one that makes me uncomfortable. I try not to talk about it much because it's embarrassing how much I actually think about how I wish a place/apartment/house/city felt like home to me.

I boast the ability to make any shithole comfortable and mine. I can add the perfect amount of books, hang great art, throw down texture and light it all brilliantly. And I've had plenty of shitholes to practice on. When I first went in search of a new hometown at age 18, I went to Berkeley because who doesn't love the Bay Area and because Betsy started UCBerkeley. I thought I'd be a student by osmosis. I wandered the campus pretending to be a part. I'd crash lectures and read greedily to breathe in what I was missing from a real class load. I slept on Betsy's couch like a hobo for a couple months and then got my own "place" which was a one-room hotel room with a sink across from my bed. I called friends on the pay phone in the lobby or they'd yelled outside my window, and I shared a bathroom down the hall with all the lunatics in the hotel. I'd take a bath every Monday because that was the day they cleaned. I believed this was as much my own bathtub as anyone else's. Bubbles in the clean water-stained bath tub, chipped toilet, one exposed 40 watt bulb, tiles missing on the floor, eyes closed; I made it mine. I hung a Georgia O'Keefe poster in my room, built bookshelves and listened to the radio. Confrontations went on all night long outside my window, but I was genuinely happy to have a place of my own. Did I think it was home? I was too aware of the derelict surroundings and I believed home felt safer than this.

My mother and I moved regularly, like arbitrary, but continual clock work. I did not go to the same school longer than two grades until I reached junior high. And until junior high, I slept in the same bed as my mother in a tight ball close to the bed's edge because my mother was a restless sleeper. I don't need a degree in psychology to understand the lack of grounding that I still feel today as a result of this. I just can't stop blaming other factors. I can't seem to figure out how to just feel settled already.

I have always loved to walk through neighborhoods, nice residentials, and peek into the well-lit and warm windows and think, "This is what home looks like." And I can replicate the look, but I can't grasp the feel.

Recently, I've declared to my husband that I want to move to LA. That is Home, I say -- I've convinced myself. But in secret, I'm not sure if I just feel nostalgic about LA and Santa Monica because now, as an adult, I can visit and not feel weighted down by the city and my history with it. I've convinced myself that this is the only real home I've had. And though I do feel a connection to the city, I am not convinced I want to raise the girls there. In fact, unless I live in a very specific, unaffordable part of the LA, I most definitely do not want to raise them there. I feel the girls are being sheltered in Orange County, but -- and this is what I grapple with most -- do I want to be apologetic for sheltering them or for raising them in precarious surroundings. Sheltering wins by a land slide. The thought of trying to protect them in LA gives me panic.

But I can't get over how interesting I think LA still is. But I can't get over how pretty and clean and calm I think OC is. I think OC people are mainly superficial conservatives that don't understand my quirkiness. I think LA people are mainly superficial wannabees that downplay my quirkiness. There are douche bags everywhere, I suppose. As I resist the OC, I try to make it less interesting than it is when in fact the libraries are beautiful and parks are mind-blowing and the public schools are top-notch, and there are gems tucked away when you open your eyes, like the gorgeous Bowers Museum and the cool Discovery Science Center. There are great restaurants in Laguna, and performing arts at the Barclay Theater.

Do I move the girls to find my own roots, creating yearning in them too, or do I just make my goddamn roots already even if I'm not sure how? I've lived here for 10 years. Do I not have roots here? They do. They feel safe. They have friends. Their heels are dug in. It doesn't escape me that I can live here solely for them and honor their roots and make Orange County home. I am not above that. I do not resent that in the least. All that matters is them, sincerely, and that they don't feel out of place their entire lives. It’s me that needs to learn how to dig in; that it's ok if I do. I don’t know if the girls can teach me that, but I’m willing to fake it until I do learn.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Turbo Cult Rocks

Guess what I did yesterday? Anybody? That's right! I spent all day filming a Turbo Kickboxing exercise video. You heard me right. I was asked to be in an exercise video. Ah huh, that's right. I'm bad-ass.

Those close to me know that I am part of a cult called Turbo Kick because I have fallen under the hypnotic spell of its leader, Cheerleader on Crack ,seen to the left. She's. Too. Powerful. She is too bubbly. Too nice. Usually I hate bubbly and nice, but she mixes it with a crazed passion for what she does and the ability to make you feel special. And I just want to crawl onto her teeny, tiny little lap and say, "Tell me how special I am again, Cheerleader on Crack!" She's like the Barbie version of Richard Simmons. You see how he makes people weep and pledge their alliance to their dying day? Well, we card-carrying members of the Turbo Kick Cult would do the same for her.

I immediately judged COC when I first met her because she is the most adorable little piece of Orange County perfection ever. And because I'm judgmental. But after one really hard class, I realized she was the most kick-ass teacher quite possibly in the world. She’s a teaching genius. She had me at "THREE MORE!". She's the type that will pinpoint the one shy grandma who's had a shitty day, and she'll say, "Great energy, Mildred!" She just knows your name like a Jedi master training us for a Cheerleader On Crack Tournament. The first time she called out my name -- when I used to stand in the back of the class for fear of getting round-housed by the first-chair kickboxers -- I was floored. I was like, Did she just say my name? That's weird. "I love you," I mouthed back. I feel bad still calling her Cheerleader on Crack. Just kinda stuck. And if by freak chance you're reading this, COC, PLEASE DON'T TAKE MY MEMBERSHIP CARD AWAY!

I've been taking her classes on and off for years now. She has asked me to do a video before because I apparently, "stand out." That's because when we're doing the "speed bag" portion of the class, I'm all doing some Beyonce move and air-slapping an imaginary ass in front of me. Hey, she said Go For It. This is another reason I love her class. She encourages us to free our inner dancing machine and thinly masks it as "kickboxing." Some of the poor, stiff women in class seem so ashamed to move their bodies. I'm like, Free Yourself, Mildred. Shake what your mother gave you and what your father told you to be discrete about - LET IT OUT. Speaking of prudish, I turned down COC the first time she asked me to be in her video. I was like, "Uh, I gotta work and further more I'll freeze up like a huge dildo in front of a camera and also I'm so hot in my mind, I don't want to ruin that by documenting otherwise on video . . .and uh, I'm sorry I said dildo." But this time I said yes because, really, why say no to shit like that?

First I’d like to report how goddamn exhausting this whole video-making process is. Do you know what it takes to make an hour exercise video? I was there for ten hours and I’m not joking when I say that I worked out for five of those hours. By the end, my mood alternated from a blubbering, aching mess to an endorphin-crazed lunatic. I was running on fumes. I was close to hallucinating. The production crew was hilarious, from the neurotic director to the rad camera men to the fantastic, leopard-print clad make-up artists to my favorite, the cunty PA’s. What is it with uber hip LA women that sport Drab Chic? I’m not feeling the stick figures with the grey-pale skin and the beige stringy hair with their affected, shitty attitudes. These bitches would look at us with disgust, lip curled, eyebrows raised and say, “That’s SO not going to work” meaning our outfits (I hope). And then they’d kibitz together like we DIDN’T HAVE EARS. I, of course, did that all day with the other kickboxers. “Uh, Patti, that is SO not gonna work because you’re lame, ok?” The mockery made the others feel better when they started to feel crushed by the PA’s. The other reason I hated these biatches was because they said to COC, “We’ve decided we’re gonna dress and act like you one day next week.” (They laughed and looked at each other) And COC said, because she’s fully aware of her personality, “Oh, you’re gonna be bubbly and wear half tops and military belts and trucker hats?” The PA’s said, “Yea,” giggle, giggle. I almost washed off my make up, added Crisco to my hair and said while looking like I hated life, “Guess who I’m going be?” Apparently, I’m just as bitchy, but I don’t wield my bitchy powers for sport. I use my powers for good, not evil -- aah, let's face it, I'm in the same league as them, but NOBODY calls her Cheerleader on Crack but me!

I have to say I’m not really looking forward to seeing the finished video. We were told repeatedly by COC and the director to smile, SMILE and MORE ENERGY and of course the very popular, Let’s Do It Again . . . and I am convinced that I will look like a complete idiot on film. Like, maybe the PA’s judgment was on-point. Incidentally, I was the biggest girl there. I wish I was joking. Most of the women were very petite and buffed even though this video was supposed to be the “real-person” video, made with real students. Let’s just say, I was really keeping it real

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

self portrait tuesday

This is my first entry for Self-Documentary October.

To the tournament

preparing for events

cheering her up

going home

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Life Elixir

Maya is a 10 year old, first level, first degree bad-ass black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Initially we had put her in TKD as a five year old because she chose it over ballet and because we wanted something that would help us guide her towards some discipline and self control. And don't get me started on the self defense reasons. Even after she earned her black belt, Husband said. "I want her to take TKD until she can legitimately kick a man's ass."

By nature, Maya is sweet and social, an entertainer who strives to be the Funny Guy of her peers. During the first few years of classes, TKD was a party where she could hardly stay still or pay attention. The sensei of the her studio, Master Park (who my husband calls Master P out of his ear shot), is a fifth-degree, stoic teacher in his late to mid 30's who looks twelve, albeit a very serious twelve. During the six years I've known him, I've NEVER seen him cut loose; not a hair has strayed from his perfectly gelled and slicked back coif. I would often hear him yell, "Maya!" just as she was finishing a cartwheel instead of practicing her forms.

When the subject of getting her black belt came up, I honestly didn't think she was ready. I believed she was too young, too goofily unfocused. For the test, she would have to write a four page essay and perform a grueling two-hour physical test that included forty-five standard push ups without rest or stopping. But she said she wanted it -- badly -- and would work hard for it. The day of the test, I told her I was proud of her no matter what. I told her to focus as best she could and make this worth her while; have all the hard work pay off in this exact moment. She deserved that for herself. And the second the test started, a seriousness fell on her that I had never seen in her and she did not break this concentration for the entire two hours. Everything she did was intense and perfect. She could've done seventy-five push ups if she was instructed to do so. To say I was choked up the entire test is a severe understatement. To see her achieve that state of determination and focus that I don't see in most adults was astounding. I learned something new about my own child that day; that even though I tell her she can do whatever she wants with hard work and commitment, she already Gets That. Not only did she earn her black belt, she was named Number One Tester of the fifteen kids who tested with her that day.

Today we spent all day at a Tae Kwon Do tournament. This is the second that Maya has competed in. She displayed that exact, impressive wave of focus during the first tournament when again, I wasn't sure she was ready to spar other kids outside her own studio, but she won two gold metals, one in forms and one in sparring. So, we went today, and of course I wasn't sure she was ready because she never seems serious enough during training. Tournaments themselves are an amazing spectacle where thirty things go on at once. There are six mats where forms and weapons forms and sparring are going on at the same time. There is a stage with the craziest board-breaking demo's where kids are back flipping and breaking things with their feet simultaneously and Grand Masters are breaking six boards with fingertips. FINGERTIPS!

The MC of the event was a sharply dressed Korean man, and we realized that most Korean Masters in TKD wear the snazziest of suits with designer ties and highly polished shoes. We always try to guess what Master P will show up in. Today I guessed dark grey. Husband guessed navy blue. Maya guessed a tuxedo. He showed up in a black pinstripe number, straight pimpin. As the MC with his outstanding charcoal suit and a gorgeous voice started to kick things off in the morning he said things like, "We'd like to thank the volunteers . . .and speaking of which if anyone would be so kind as to bring me some coffee I will do anything they want, all day long. Seriously." This was coming over the sound system at the LA Sports Arena mind you, not a small venue. He continued, "Yes, coffee. I'll take it black. I'll take it with cream and sugar. I'll take what is left at the bottom of your cup right now. I'll take it wrung out of napkin. Please, for the love of god. Someone bring me coffee; the hot, filtered brew of happiness; the sweet life elixir." I was enamored at this point and I would've jumped over the rows of seats to bring him the rest of my own coffee, but that might've raised Husband's eyebrow.

Maya's forms were sharp and strong. She, fairly easily, won a gold in that event. When it was time to spar, she faced an opponent that towered over her by six inches and outweighed her by fifty pounds. Typically, I am in love with hyperbole, but the six inches and fifty pounds is a conservative and fair assumption. During the few seconds before the umpire yelled, "Let's Get It On," or whatever they yell in Korean, I tried to assess if this girl was slow and lethargic, but we all quickly found out that she was an agressive charger and it threw Maya completely off guard. Maya was on her heels from the gate and you could literally see her confidence bottom out. At the end of the first round the girl hooked Maya in with her left hand and punched her hard in the back, an illegal move. (Do you remember getting punched in the back in elementary school; it's like coughing when you don't want to.) Maya was down five points to one. The rest of the fight, Maya pushed the girl back as best she could and she figured out how to score points, climbing back, but when time ran out The Other Girl had six points and Maya had four. She lost for the first time which, you know, is not a bad thing and can teach you a lot, but when you see your baby spent and utterly disappointed as she leaves the ring it's hard not to wish otherwise. Husband said he almost bawled when he saw her face. Gulp.

When I tucked Maya into bed tonight, I asked her if she had fun today. She said yes. I said, "Did you learn something about yourself?" She said, "Yea, I gotta get more serious when I'm training." I said, "How 'bout work on a push kick? Y'know, to push a big opponent back?" She laughed and said, "Right?"