Sunday, December 31, 2006
I've always been a lister. List of lists, accomplish and cross off. Scribble, scribble in my little black planner. It's embarrassing.
Things to Clean Today
Vitamins to Buy
Places to go Today
People to Call
Five Ways to Better the Universe This Week
The Girls' Calendar
What Should I Do with My Life; Top Six Ideas
Three New Cupcakes I Want to Bake Next
And for the last two weeks, it always comes back to cupcakes.
This is the year (season?) that I will leave semiconductors. Because of this, I've been soul scouring. I've been unabashedly and without the slightest bit of embarrassment reading Life Inspiring books and listening to new agey CD's and watching DVD's about my inner secrets. I've been lighting candles, facing east, hoping on one foot and scribbling daily lists of my intentions all to shake free some elusive purpose. The more I think, the more I ask myself: Why does it have to be so serious and final? I've also realized that the more I dig all up inside the purpose-finding part of my brain, the more I just want to bake. Baking is fun and sweet. It makes people happy. It makes me happy especially since the treats are fantastically vegan and especially when I wear some 1940's style apron and when my little house is stuffed with the smell of warm agave and vanilla; especially when the kids fight over the mixers and when my husband eats three in a row . . .it's all really, really satisfying.
I've made dozens and dozens of cupcakes in the last couple weeks. It's been a cupcake jihad. This baking thing has become an automatic Go-To every time I'm sorting out my life. This could mean one of two things: I am an escapist, which is HIGHLY likely. Or the universe is like, Hello? I'm trying to tell you that baking IS it.
Quaniesha and I have talked about opening a vegan bakery in Santa Monica. It seems brilliant though logically, I have no clue how that would even happen. I figure if I just keep talking about it, things might unfold somehow. I've already been volunteered a large catering oven and some mixers, which, uh, sounds like the right direction doesn't it? I mean, when someone says "I have an oven from my father's catering business you could have . . ." maybe I should just run a little longer with this. I'm waiting for someone to say, "I have a 1930's bungalow on Broadway for you to use for your shop. . ." I have a million other plans for the bakery too like free nutrition seminars for struggling families (or whomever) that want to eat (affordably) healthier. And free after-school tutoring for (closet-genius) kids (like Mina). And monthly fiction readings. It's hard to dream small. I have no clue how this will all get done; I just want it to.
Happy New Year, Mi Gente. Here's to all your Wants even when we don't know the Hows yet.
To-Die Tofu Chocolate Mousse with Agave Cake and Shaved Chocolate
Ridiculous Cookies N Cream Joints
Christmas Tree Cakeitas
Most of my cupcake recipes have come from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World written by vegan chef and cupcake genius, Isa Chandra Moskowitz of Post Punk Kitchen. The recipes really are brilliant and perfect.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
By Tuesday, I had let go of any ill will for my job, for my broker life. I hold true that all whores find redemption no matter how self defined. I am thankful for this chunky rich chapter that will close soon enough. I will even miss it. On Tuesday I still held a number in my mind for a little raise if they chose to pick up on it and extend the gesture. I felt liberated, supported, destined and divine. At 2pm, my bosses called me into their office via an IM that read, "MS. RIVERA, TO THE PRINCIPAL'S OFFICE." My heart was open and thankful. Whatever they had to say was ok by me. They said, condensedly: "We thought about what you said and we're going to give you a raise." And they said the same number that was on my mind even though I had not told them that number previously. I said, Thank you very much for recognizing that.
Shheeeetttt, my mind is mad powerful.
The raise did not suck me back in. I still feel liberated and destined for other greatness. And as soon as I see the slightest opening, I will kiss this industry on the forehead, thank it again, and jet without the slightest glance back.
In other powerful, Madness mind tricks, I've recently willed myself to become a fantastic vegan baker. Before veganism, I had zero interest in the simplest cooking let alone tackling the complexities of baking. Over the weekend, I read some tips on the art of cakes, bought a couple items and all of the sudden I'm churning out the bomb-shit cupcakes. Here's a lemony one with a cream cheese frosting where, in a fit of inspiration, I diced candied ginger on top. I am simply a channel at this point for a higher, cupcake power. I was going to take a picture of it whole, but I didn't do so in time. This morsel was calling to me from my desk. When I bake, I say to myself, Everyone who eats my cake-itas will experience joy and love and unsurprisingly it's true.
Sshhheeeettttt, watch out now.
Speaking of strong minds, here's a recent Mina School Outfit. Last week she emerged from her room in a whisk and sway of her teal skirt and said, "I'm ready now," her starred Vans peaking out below. I looked at her ensemble and said, "Perfect. Let's go."
Her school experience is better. I told her what I expected of her and she simply did it without grief or too much effort, like she hadn't been clearly told at school. She caught up on a ton of in-class work and she and I have been doing our At Home School for the Powerful Minds stuff. I emailed her teacher two weeks ago saying as much and that I'd like occasional feedback on her progress. The teacher hasn't emailed me back. Maybe she's too busy putting other geniuses in low-level groups. Tomorrow there is a class party and I'm thinking about cornering her uncomfortably.
Or maybe I'll just stop worrying about what the teacher isn't doing for Mina and just do everything that I can do for her. Everything will be fine because Mina doesn't slip under MY radar and because I am fully aware of her capabilities, and because we'll just make it so. We're powerful like that.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
This year's party was similar yet one-upped from last year because brokers like to do things drenched in over-the-topness. The dinner was conservative and wedding-reception pleasant. This is when we warm up, do side bends and quad stretches for what's to come later in the evening. This is when we comment -- a lot -- about how we all clean up well, because it's true, and this is when our two bosses give speeches with Oscar-winning sincerity: We are a Team, a Family (eyes glisten). Our sales are up 66% because of YOU, Team, exceptional workers, you. But -- here comes the fine print -- there will be no raises in salary or bonuses this year; in fact we're slashing your commission under the guise of corporate restructuring and adding new, evasive incentive (*wink*) programs (aka, we're gonna pay you less no matter what you do). All this in spite of that sick spike in sales and profit because we'll be putting the money back into the company by hiring pricey, fumbling middle management that do the corporate tap dance superbly (to the untrained eye) and we will be investing in a monumental software package (whether it's more efficient or not) oh, and we're also getting two "company" cars, a Porsche for Boss 2, a Mercedes for Boss 1. (If you think this is hyperbole, ho ho ho, then you don't know brokers infected with greedy-guts broker syndrome.) We clink glasses. "Here's to 2007!" And more mad growth on the backs of you, exceptional workers! Bottoms up 'cause we might as well enjoy the blinging party and generous open bar.
I actually didn't know the exact bahumbug details of the company's new Corporate 101 changes until after the party; a couple days ago in fact. I've been nauseous ever since. I feel like a sucker. A trick that's taking a pay cut from her pimp.
The gluttonous call of broker money is intoxicating. I'm not going to lie. I've lounged around it for 15 years. I've run my fingers through its hair. I've condemned it plenty though many times I've secretly wished for more of the pie. Mostly, I wish I would just chew my leg free from the trap already. But any whiff of it makes me fiend a little; makes me panic when I remember living off of generic hot dogs and worn-out clothes and one pair of shoes for the year and fucking food stamps, and I regress to a less-enlightened Madness. Broker money is so manipulative that I forget my true self sometimes and this is when I feel most like a trick. The gushing siphon of ludicrously high-margin deals where scrappy hustlers -- who could just as well be scoring 20's from three-card monte on the subway -- find themselves with piles of money. It fuels the fire, the piles. If there's one pile, there must be a nest of piles lurking. There always is. Then spending the piles becomes sport. Throwing it around in the most ostentatious ways is a must on a broker's profile. But then they pull the purse strings at the most perplexing times. A hustler wants to be known for the things that their piles can buy; they want to be known for their erratic and over-the-top generosity. It's like they throw wads of 100's in the air and we suckas scramble on the floor to retrieve them, but a raise to cover practical cost of living increases is a greedy request on our part. Deep inside a hustler is always thinking that someone's out to hustle their pile. Control the pile, no matter how illogically, and control the people hovering around the pile. This is the driving logic.
So, the party . . .Brokers know how to rage, even if they are the machine. They don't worry about how embarrassed they'll be in the morning or about the bruises their antics will leave. They are only concerned about the full-tilt satisfaction of the exact moment. And that makes for a good party.
It's not a broker party until the following things have happened:
* Someone has fallen
* Someone has caused another person to fall
* We've crashed a large corporate party being held at the same hotel at the same time
* We've taken musical instruments off the stage of the crashed party and played them until they are taken away from us
* We've taken other peoples clothing and/or hats and paraded around in it for at least a half hour.
* We've torn clothing
* Hit on another person's wife
* Someone's thrown up
* We've danced the patented back-bend, raise-the-roof, bite-the-bottom-lip dance
* Given away expensive, electronic gifts in our annual Steal the Best Present from the Little Guy Game
* We've complained about every aspect of the party
* We've put underwear on our heads
I might've missed a few.
During the Steal A Present Game, the brand new CFO (the paint isn't dry on his office walls yet) stole the prized XBox from an employee that has worked at the company since the beginning. My girl Teri was appalled that an officer of the company, that's only been with us a week, would take the best present from a veteran no less, while, sadly and classically, the rest of us thought, Nice move, rich New Guy. Portable DVD's were swiped and the finest digital cameras and iPod stations. I happened to open (see above) a hot dog griller fashioned into a mini carnival cart. I got the mini Weenie Cart with Bun Warmer covered in a red and white striped canopy. YAH! Everyone nearly fell on the floor at the irony; no one likes to smoosh my veganism in my face more than Orange County brokers. Oh they howled (though it was pretty funny, especially the look of horror on my face when the wrapping came off). Every TofuDog joke in the world spewed my way. Pats on the back went to my husband congratulating him on maybe finally getting some meat in the house. Deadpan, I said, "awesome." Then in an act of kind, anti-brokerism, Teri stole the hot dog griller from me so that I could choose another present. Bless you, T. I then picked an iPod Shuffle and I squealed with bamboozled, drunk-on-broker-fatness-again joy. I am a sorry-ass sucka.
Here are some party pictures as I contemplate my sobering review that's coming next Tuesday. This is when my cuts will be made official and when I may have to draw a line in the sand between the brokers and the real Madness.
Raise the roof, Ma!
Take it, Trick
Not his coat
Not his wife
The beautiful Ma and I winding down. I noticed I was doing that security-blanket thing with my thumb.
Whatever happens, I'll always have him. 'Til the wheels fall off, Papi.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
I am an athlete though this desciption has faded to a blur over the years. I'm disappointed that I haven't honored it enough. If being an athlete has saved my life a few times over, it seems like I should build a gigantic altar to my athleticism -- no matter how waning -- and light candles nightly and chant chants and bring fresh cut flowers in thanks. Or at the very least, get my ass moving.
I took up running. And I've been circuiting the Adelaide Stairs. And I've started a grueling core regime. I just became tired of putting off my big fantasized Return to Athleticism so one October morning before sunrise I just laced up my shoes and went. I walked some blocks and I ran some blocks until one morning I could run the whole thing. Then I added some blocks. On the stairs too, I've slowly added sets. It's been really hard. Almost discouragingly so. The hill is so steep after a long amount of time, as I get older, and I've wondered a few times why this is important. But it just is. I just want to take the athlete off the side-lines.
More red self portraits here.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
I have a bad case of holiday spirit. I almost pinned a broach to myself that plays tinny carols when you pull a cord. Maybe I'll wear a santa hat on the train. Maybe I'll make dozens of PB&J sandwiches and fold them up in wax paper and pass them out to every homeless person I see. Then I'll wait to get at yelled at for my shoddy, seasonal charity.
A couple months ago, a homeless guy asked for some money near Union Station. I had none, but I offered him a sandwich that I had packed myself. He said, "Sure." When I walked away I thought, "Holy shit. How mad is he gonna be when he bites into a Tofurkey bologna on sprouted bread?"
Today is the anniversary of my Mama's death. My mother mentioned it while she was here a couple weeks ago because she is being deposed today for her divorce. She said to me, like I was a cashier at Trader Joes engaging in friendly conversation, "I have a deposition on December 7th. That's the day my mother died." She says that every year, "Today is the day my mother died." Like I didn't know her or like I don't remember the exact day -- the very hour -- that she died.
I'm really prepping myself for my fortieth birthday, which is coming soon. Only eight months and sixteen days away. 40 has become The Milestone Year in My Imagination. I've pumped it up to be beyond epiphanic. In my mind it will be emanicipatory, and I'm not even sure in what ways it will be or how exactly I'll pull that off. The sobering vanity of turning 40 is one thing, but mainly I feel this urge to expedite passions and only do things that make a contribution. It feels so important. Only half of life is left, maybe, and I'm now really afraid of wasting time. In the morning's early hours, I feel all is possible. I ludicrously plan to sleep less so I can make it all possible though by day's end I'm exhausted. I feel defeated, wondering if I had wasted any time.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
I don't wear much red in the way of the major clothing groups: shirts, pants, dresses. Some are Red People. I am not, in dress or personality. But I ain't living life without splashes of red, in the home, in art, in dress and personality.
I've owned three red cars in my life. My favorite was a 1980 burgundy Cadillac De Ville with 159,000 miles on it that my step grandfather sold to me for $1.00. We called it the Merlot Brougham ("Bro-Ham"), from the movie The Great White Hype, and it drove like an ocean liner on well-oiled wheels. I loved especially the thin, hulahoop steering wheel with the finger grooves that swung into a turn with the smooth rotation of the palm of one hand. I loved the clunky clicks of throwing it into park, the gear shift behind the wheel. I loved the metalic dirt smell of the torn, maroon interior. I loved how the trunk could house a family of four and I loved how the dash displayed tall green digital numbers that even a blind driver could see. When Mina was born, I refused to drive our newer car because I felt safe and old-school stylin when driving the Caddie. Also, it had no air bags so I could keep Mina in the front with me instead of having her stare off into abandonment in the back seat. We eventually -- near begrudgingly -- donated the Merlot Broug-ham to the Make a Wish Foundation.
I owned a red Honda Elite 150 scooter when I was 20. I drove it rocking minidresses and a huge, brown helmet. Illegally, I drove it on the freeway weekly and prayed for my life every time a truck passed, shaking the scooter like a reed. And once I moved from one apartment to another loading all of my possessions on the scooter making the move in 2 trips. The shit I could do with a bungee cord back then was close to genius. Paintings, bags of clothes, lamps, baskets, pots & pans, small appliances all on the red bike.
I do not like to get angry. In fact, I have spent a lot of internal energy tempering my mood. It doesn’t even take much effort any more to remain even-keeled. It just doesn't make sense to me to get all worked up about things. Messing with my kids, obviously, will boil my blood. That and, embarrassingly, I get really angry if a waiter or salesperson or cashier SIGHS when I ask them a question. There have been a couple times where my face has instantly flushed from such an exchange, and I have swiveled my head and asked them, "Did I ask you to work here?" See? Embarrassing, but I can't help that my vision is washed in red after the release of a rude worker's sigh in my direction.
I experience the female equivalent of a wet dream about once a month. I wake in a jolt at the pinnacle of climax without touch or provocation. It's red hot.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
For some inexplicable reason, I receive an oversized high-end fashion magazine in the mail once a quarter. I received one this weekend, thumbed through it and handed it over to Mina. She cut out her favorite dresses and tapped them to the wall above her desk.
Mina and I did a lot of work together this holiday weekend. I tested her on reading. I made flash cards of challenging words. I made her retake math tests that she had scored poorly on in class. I timed the tests. She worked on her book report that's due next week. And I don't see it. I don't see a low-level student. She breezed through the math. She read difficult words after the smallest bit of encouragement. I then mentally dissected every bit of my conference talk with her teacher and the words "low-level" and "greatly artistic" faded into the background and other words rose to the forefront: "many kids in my class" "I don't know what she's doing during station time" "I'm not sure why her class folder doesn't have much work in it . . ." I began to get angry. I fumed at the possibility that this teacher probably doesn't have enough time to devote to kids, especially ones she thinks are low-level. The teacher probably does the best she can, I would hope. But what The Teacher had said to me does not match with the girl I've been encouragingly grilling for the last four days straight. I'm not saying she's blowing through Shakespeare, but with me she's engaged and she's reaching for more. While we were doing addition problems she asked me what multiplication was. I asked her if she was studying that in class. She said no. I explained the basic concept in a five-minute lesson and then asked her what 4x2 was. After drawing two groups of four dots on her own, she said, "Eight."
I decided that after school would be home-schooling time. Like Athena implied, Mina seems to respond better and learn more with concentrated lessons. I've already looked online for lessons and print outs. It crossed my mind to home school her on the real, but the hours between 9am and 3pm are not mine to give to her. We'll try the Mami-Mina School for Geniuses, After-School Edition and see what happens.
In other weekend news, the majority of the four days were superbly lazy. Pajama Jammie Jam Thanksgiving extended to a Let See How Long We Can Stay in PJ's Marathon. I did, however, waste an exhausting few hours searching for the perfect holiday dress for my company party which is coming up in a couple weeks. The search for a dress, for some reason, escalated to a frantic level. I spent Saturday trying on many things, always on the brink of complete boredom, and hating everything I tried on. I even tried on some Dressy Cuffed Short-Shorts and nearly cried over the lameness of it all. After a while, I became completely embarrassed by what seemed so frivolous. Kids are starving and a new dress is at the top of my priority list? Nevertheless, I couldn't stop obsessing about a damn dress. Until I saw these:
I spent my holiday dress money on this gorgeous, razor-sharp santoku set. They glide so easily through vegetables that I get goosebumps. Aren't they pretty? With the grippy-grip melon-color handles? I'm in love with them. They don't help starving kids either, but at least they are much more practical. I will use these beauties every single day. Fuck a dress,I thought. Until I went to a great thrift store in downtown SM called Wasteland and picked up this 1940's tea-length, black crepe dress for $35.
I retried it on today and I felt almost old-ladyish it in, not as fabulous as I did behind the hep, maroon velvet, thrift-store dressing-room curtains. Also, after zipping up the dress in the store, Mina said, "That's amazing," and I kind of went with her sense of style. Mina was also pressuring me to buy some earth-toned leopard-print earrings to go with the dress. But I passed though I'm questioning that decision now. The girl behind the counter said, tilting her head towards Mina, "Is she your stylist?" I said, "You have no idea." I also picked up this 1950's era clutch for $15 without any consultation from Mina. I love this more than the dress now. UG FUCK A DRESS.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
I had a parent-teacher conference this morning with Mina's 2nd grade teacher. And I learned that Mina's not doing so well. I knew I had to push her to stay focused on homework and reading; I knew that she doesn't like much school work or chores or anything else laborious to her, but I didn't know that she was in all the lower-level groups, that she does the very, very bare minimum of work. I heard words like "possible holding back" and "low end of the low group" and my face flushed and the room spun. My stomach hurt. She's bright. I know this. Her teacher knows this. Mina is just in Mina World. She is creative and pensive and stubborn. Her teacher interpreted her as very much a child, baby-like when I see her as old-man like. Her teacher didn't knock or downplay the importance of her overflowing creativity, she just said, "We have to get her through 2nd grade though." I said, "When she's supposed to be doing her work at the stations, what is she doing?" The teacher had already said that Mina isn't overly talkative. She said, "I'm not really sure." Mina World, that's where she is, designing clothes, drawing hair on the cartoons on the handouts instead of putting words on the lines. In many ways, I feel a grand sense of pride that she's so out there creatively and otherwise, but feelings of parental failure gushed at me like a busted sewage pipe. It's just that I thought her reading was coming along fine. It's just that I thought she was actually good at math. She doesn't really struggle with her homework, just needs to be pushed to do it. She doesn't like to work hard at it. And the Overwhelm says, "Doesn't this happen to kids whose parents don't spend a lot of time with them? Parents that don't watch over homework nightly?" Overwhelm says, "You do a lot. But it's not enough." And I feel too badly to shake that off.
I'll come up with a plan soon. I'll make things more fun, maybe. I'll work harder at getting her to work harder. More regimented time allotments of reading. Flash cards? Mina's gonna hate all that shit. Maybe I'll ask her questions like, "If you have 7 yards of black-striped fabric to make a fabulously strange & dark ball gown, but you only use 3 yards because you saw this pewter-glitter fabric to use instead for the trim, how many yards of black-stripe fabric would you toss or instead fashion into a coat for the dogs?"
Overwhelm is at my throat, yo.
My mother left yesterday after a four-day visit. It was good, mellow. Not high, not low. The entertaining -- even at low levels -- exhausts me. I'm not as anxious around her as I have been the previous 39 years of my life, but tension is still there in very mild doses. She's going through a nasty, bitter divorce where her character is on the demolition list. I've never seen her this humble. She seems very vulnerable and young right now, like a lot of the outer hardness of her personality is stripped away and this weekend I saw how she putters endlessly in her mind. Deep within herself there is safety from the outside. She had a great time with the girls. They made her feel better. She taught them sudoku, which of course Mina picked up in 2 seconds and then promptly lost interest. My mom still says things like, "I have a photogenic memory. Mina's got that gene too." I'm apparently the vehicle through which my mother's brilliance passes to get to the girls. She's said it about Mina's artistic side a ton of times. Feh, it could be true. Mina internally putters. Is that genetic? Maybe I can help Mina not rely on it as much, broaden her focus within and outside of herself.
Maya leaves tonight for Thanksgiving in Las Vegas. And the rest of us are going to spend it quietly it home. I'm looking forward to that. I've already dubbed it The Rivera Pajama Jammie Jam Thanksgiving. We'll camp out in the living room, watch movies. I'll make my rice & beans and Mina and I will give vegan pie making a go. Then maybe we'll try to make flash cards fun. Maybe I'll have her design a set of flash cards . . .
Last night Mina had a dance performance. She's been taking a Bollywood dance class for the last 7 weeks. She was beautiful and so sweet remembering her moves in full sari and adding some hiphop swagger to the whole thing. She hadn't shown me any of her routine because she wanted it to be a big surprise at her performance (a huge, fundamental difference between her and Maya), but I got glimpses when I would play my international CD in the car. When the song from India comes on, Mina says, "Turn it up!" I watch her shoulders bob up and down. She yells over the music, "I love it!"
My baby is so interesting and complex. I just want to unlock her mind, let it unfold to a thousand possibilities not just the ones she's settled on within her layered, but still seven-year old logic. The challenge rekindles my desire to shake off some Overwhelm. Makes me believe I can squeeze some more academic time in for her. Makes me gladly believe that I Am her Vehicle. The one that will stoke her unique and individual brilliance.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Deep down you dream of the best outcome -- maybe even a lucky one -- by working hard, but sometimes it feels like a crap shoot. For me, at least. Maybe my expectations for myself aren't always the highest. Maybe I still -- only sometimes -- don't feel that I'm worth having the best luck or the best of everything. I don't feel that way about love anymore. I feel fully deserving of that. But about other things. Even with all the work, here's what I feel lucky about: To be above the poverty line, to have a great apartment, for unlimited food, to have a car that runs, it goes on and on. This is a kind of stunted thinking that lingers from my youth.
But I see an unchartered freedom when I realize that my girls know none of this weighed unworthiness. Like when Maya works hard, she expects the very best results. And sometimes I sit in my sludge and just push her out to a place with no limits. It inspires me to wiggle myself more free from whatever it is I'm stuck in.
Maybe Maya's first Tae Kwon Do tournament after having lost her spirit in Atlanta doesn't have to be a metaphor for everything else. Maybe it was just a series of great fights by Maya and her competitors. But life swirled around in the long collaborative seconds before the referees declared a decision on her final match. I found myself standing, clasping my hands against my face, my heart pounding out all other sound of the huge convention center. I looked down in her ring, staring at the backs of Maya and the other girl who were both padded like little warrior women and I was yelling in my head, "Please god, give this to her. Please give her a little luck with everything else. GIVE IT TO HER." I don't wish luck on myself usually. I've convinced myself that it's greedy, ungrateful. But I'll openly wish it on her. Let it rain on both my girls, gratuitously and unending.
Maya's been with her new coach, Master N, for six weeks. He is attentive, encouraging and he whips her butt lovingly. Nothing pleases him more than a tough spirit and he pulls that out of Maya with smiles and affection and world-class training. Before the tournament, he had her working out four days a week. He gave her Olympic-style training; core workouts for days, things you see only elite athletes do. And she did it all with an equal amount of spunk and joy. She'd complain loudly about the umpteenth set of double kicks, but when it came time to start she'd lowered her head and kick the shit out of some pads. Master N sat her down daily and gave her strategic fighting tips. How-to-treat-the-refs tips. Tips about discipline and respect for the sport, her opponents, herself as an athlete. He gave her at-home stretching tips. And Maya gave him 110% and huge dollops of her tough spirit. He couldn't have been more thrilled. The girls also taught Master N and his assistant Luciano Knock-Knock jokes which may have been the funniest day of 2006 for me. Teaching jokes to people that have only a functional grasp on the English language is high hilarity, and I suggest it whole-heartedly. We guffawed every single time Luciano said, "Who de Boo?" instead of Boo Who . . . or when Maya instructed Master N to say WHO'S THERE after Knock-Knock and instead he said, "Oh, it's Master N!" We cried over the sweetness of it all.
Maya's first match on Saturday was tough and energy-draining because her opponent would rush into Maya's body and stay close. It's a defensive way to fight. Maya had to shove her off to get in her kicks. Maya's signature Jump Back Kick was bottled because the girl stayed too close. Husband wanted mainly for Maya to win this first fight. He felt this first one was monumental to her morale. And she got it. The ref held his hand over Maya's head at the end of the match and we exploded; Husband, me, BD and Sanne jumped in our seats and yelled wildly.
The second match was for gold or silver and it started similarly; Maya the aggressor and the opponent staying as close as possible. It's hard to tell with each match how points will be scored. You never know what a judge will allow or for what he or she is looking. And when Maya's opponent kicked Maya in the head -- not legal until age 12 -- Maya sputtered back and looked dazed. Master N stepped into the ring and protested but it looked like they would allow the head kicks, which Maya had not practiced yet, either giving or receiving. Three kicks to the head would score a point in this competition, which Maya learned mid-match. The girl nicked Maya in the chin with her toe, heeled her in the jaw, and got in another legitimate kick to the head. But Maya stayed the aggressor, shook off the kicks and got in good shots to the girl's body, even tried to kick her in the head once though not effectively. She did pull out the Back Kick and scored decisively with that. By the end of the match, they were both exhausted, and in the end I was completely unsure how the judges would call it. Did they think some of the head shots landed more than they did? Did they miss some of Maya's points? Would they score higher for aggressiveness and Maya's variety of kicks? And I stood there standing, clasping, staring, praying for some luck to be piled on top of all that talent. I was pushing her to that place with no limits with my will. She deserves this. GIVE IT TO HER. The ref had the girls bow to each other. They took off their head gear and faced the judges with sweat-matted hair, heaving through their mouth guards and the ring ref raised his hand over Maya.
There's nothing more glamorous to me than this picture. This is my SPC this week and I offer it as a reflection and an improved revision of myself.
When Maya won the fight, Master N grabbed Maya and threw her around in an enthusiastic hug. He slapped her on the back and hugged her again. When I came down to see them I said, "Master N! This is Maya's first gold medal in sparring ever!" And he yelled back, "This is my first gold ever with our new gym!" Maya had won her new gym their first gold.
But it wasn't the last gold of the day for our gym. All three of our women warriors earned gold at the tournament: Tat, Master N's 12-year-old reigning champion and her 10-year-old sister, Nic, both powerhouse phenoms.
Mina told me, in her own words, that she doesn't want to spend another tournament in the stands. She said next time she's earning the fourth gold for our team. And I completely believe her.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Who was your first love? My first love was this jerk off named Jamie from my 2nd grade class. He was the most athletic boy of our age group which I dug, but he was kinda mean. He had a blond bowl cut, shiny black eyes and dimples for days. The girls in our second grade class were divided by only this: Whether they crushed on Jamie or whether they crushed on his best friend Claude. Claude was a brown-skinned French kid who was much nicer than Jamie. Claude had wildly curly hair and gap between his front teeth and also dimples forever. I'm so much more a Claude girl now.
Who was your first kiss and when? My first french kiss was with a boy named Clay in 7th grade at a party I threw at my house. A "party at my house" is loosely said and was laughable considering my mother and I lived in a 500 sq foot guesthouse where the storage closet was my bedroom. Clay gave me a few verbal instructions and then I held my breath and did what he had said. Clay could've been teaching me how to swing a baseball bat. Once we kissed, wetly, he looked at me like, "See? Not so bad." And I thought, little weird, but ok and we got back to the party though I was kind of exhilerated having tried something new. Clay and I went steady for a ground-breaking 3 weeks. I think. He was sweet and really cute and he has a great full name. I won't give you his full name because I think he's famous in his field now and I think he reads this blog as does his wife, Susan. We all knew each other through jr. high and high school. Hi Clay. Hi Susan.
Who was your first prom date? I went to my junior high "prom" with the Nelson Twins and a boy named JR who I secretly crushed on throughout all of my school years after elementary. I liked him so much as a person, that I didn't know how to break into the romance territory. I think he felt the same. But we yucked it up at our jr. hi prom, the Nelson girls as our buffer. I wore a 1950's yellow chiffon prom dress with mad itchy netting that I bought at the local thrift shop.
I didn't go to my high school prom because I had just started seeing that Seventh Day Adventist basketball player. The prom fell on the sabbath. Betsy and I decided that instead of going to the prom we'd go on a night horse ride across the Santa Monica Mountains into Hollywood. It was peaceful and beautiful and the city lights lined our route, but it also felt oddly lonely. I still want to have a prom to make up for that. Maybe for my 40th birthday next year.
Who was your first roommate? My first roommates were a married couple, Kath and Paul. They owned the athletic-apparel store that I worked at throughout high school. During my senior year, I rented a room from them.
What was your first job? When I was eight years old, I walked a neighbor's Yorkshire Terrier three times a week before I went to school. She worked for a local TV production company and my Christmas bonus was an autographed photo of Scott Baio. HELL YES!
What was your first car? A 1970 VW 411, a model that I had not seen before my ownership nor have I seen since. My mother had a British friend looking to unload the car which he had affectionately named Wolvie. Wolvie was primer grey and ran well except for a little issue where the battery gave out regularly. The battery was located under the driver's seat and I jumped it so often that the bolts to hold the seat down eventually were lost. I couldn't gun the gas or my seat would flip back like a trash lid opening, my head lying on the back seat. I bought Wolvie for $400 at age 16 -- my mother paid for half -- and I loved that car a lot.
When did you go to your first funeral? The first funeral that I vividly remember was for my grandmother, Mama, when I was fifteen.
How old were you when you first moved away from your hometown? At nineteen I packed up my sky blue ford escort with a head gasket that was ready to explode, and chugged it to Berkeley so I could pretend I went to the university with Betsy. The gasket did blow the minute I arrived in Berkeley and the sky-blue escort stayed in that same parking spot for a year until I had enough money to fix it.
Who was your first grade teacher? We lived in England at the time and I don't remember my teacher's name. Mid-year I was yanked from first grade and home schooled through second as my mother fled from a boyfriend.
When you snuck out of your house for the first time, who was it with? Hey, I was with the Nelson Twins again. I was sleeping over at their house, I think we were in 9th grade, and we snuck out of a second story window in the middle of the night to T.P. Erica Z's house. One of the twins got caught by Mr. Z.
Who was the first person to send you flowers? The first person that sent me flowers was this 19 year old Saudi Arabian prince named Amir who looked like he was 35. I was also 19 and I was dating a personal trainer that worked out Amir's girlfriend, a zaftig blond that had pouchy cheekbones and deeply set peeble eyes. Amir invited my PT boyfriend over for a Christmas party at his apartment, an 8,000 square foot place in Westwood with its own elevator. PT brought me. At the party Amir flirted so hard with me, I would grab PT's arm and shrug incessantly. This did not phase nor deter Amir. Amir told PT and me to come back to his apartment the next day around noon, and when we showed up he whisked us and a few others to Las Vegas in a private jet. Amir's girlfriend increasingly got more pissed because Amir kept trying to have these private conversations with me that were solicitations to be his side-girl. "Do you want to learn French? I'll take you to Paris to learn." My PT boyfriend was gorgeous, but people, he was not the brightest thing in the world. He caught on to none of Amir's antics. He was having a great time in Vegas. Amir gave me$200.00 in chips to play blackjack and when I turned that into $250, I returned all the chips to Amir and said, "Thank you. That was fun." He refused to take them back. I had scored grocery money for two months! By the end of the 12-hour trip to Vegas, Amir's girlfriend had fired off many nasty remarks. Can't say I blame her though she didn't have the guts to fire them at Amir. The next day at work, I received a five foot tall bouquet of some exotic arrangement that was probably extinct or uprooted from an elusive jungle and helicoptered in. The note apologized for his girl's remarks and pretty much said, So, do you want to date the broke and dumb PT or do you want to date me and get treated like a queen? He called later to follow up and I said, "I don't whore for nobody," which shocked the shit out of him because Amir usually got what Amir wanted. Funk that.
Whose wedding were you in the first time you were a bridesmaid? I've never been a bridesmaid. Always the bride.
When is the first time you got drunk? I didn't really get drunk until my 21st birthday. I'm still not much of a drinker, but on my 21st bday my roommate and I went to a tiny salsa club in Venice called Miami Spice and we both drank two Havana Rockets each which were delicious and highly flammable. We danced with every dude in the joint, and we ended the night in a grocery store buying a dozen thumbprint cookies. We sat on the curb outside our apartment scarfing cookies and howl-laughing so loudly that it echoed off the alleys and bungalow houses for blocks.
What was the first thing you did this morning? Both girls woke early this morning and they crawled into my bed and flanked my sides in a mad cuddle. The pugs were intertwined at our feet; Husband was in the shower. And for a few minutes we just laid there, eyes open, sun rising and basked in touch.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Instead, the girls and I picked up these glamorous badges:
I love to take them voting with me. We all cram into the booth and talk too loudly. I hold the faux pencil and let them push it down to make the hole, let them feel what it's like. I'm always waiting for the Voting Poll People to tell me not to do that, but they never do. Tonight Maya told Mina to be quiet so no one would copy ours. I said, "We want them to copy ours. But they have a right to their own opinion."
"Why can't I vote now?" "Why won't Bush stop the war?" "How do you know you're punching the right hole?" "What if you mess up? Can you get another one?" "What's a Lieutenant Governor?" "Do women run for govenor?" "I have to go potty." "Do you know these people on the ballot?" "What's the Green Party?" "You don't vote for the Green Party?" "Peace and what party?" "What if it's the day before your 18th birthday, can you still vote?" We just talk it up in a 2 x 2 space.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Husband was extra nice this weekend. And I said things like, "I'm going to the movies with my friends this afternoon and no one's stopping me!" And Husband said, "Great, honey. Have a good time." And the girls were like, "Can we come?" I said, "HELLNO! I mean, I'm gonna see a grown movie with subtitles." And they said, "What about dinner after. Can we come to that?" And Husband said, "Well, I'm going to the toystore." He threw the bait away from my general direction so I could make a break for it.
I saw Volver. I thought it was excellent. Lovely and tough and touching; just how strong women know how to be. And then Quan and I ate a nice, relaxing dinner at my fav SM/LA restaurant, Real Food Daily. I had nachos with cashew "cheese" and Quan had the Thanksgiving Teaser: Faux turkey breast, corn sage stuffing, gravy, mashed spiced sweet potatoes, steamed chard, cranberry sauce. . . .So Good! They're offering this meal coupled with Butternut Bisque and vegan pumpkin pie in a take-home box for Thanksgiving so you can take your veganism wherever you end up on Thanksgiving Day. I can't wait to put my order in. We don't have Maya this Thanksgiving. That leaves us a little sad and lost on holidays sans Maya, but we're scrambling for an idea. I like our Road Trip Thanksgiving idea, but we spent that money on Hawaii. Maybe we'll just eat out of take-home boxes and watch football. I'll save my strength for Christmas.
This morning, after laundry and cleaning, I said, "I'm gonna workout, and you're not stopping me now either!" And Husband, who was working on a spread sheet, said, "Uh, cool." Even the girls were like, "Later." It was 85 degrees today. I rode my bike to run The Stairs. These stairs are famous in Santa Monica for getting and keeping all types in shape. Climbing or possibly running 170 stairs does that real quick. A group of firefighters showed up to run them as I was leaving; a few personal trainers were raking clients over the stairs. My legs were like rubber when I was done, but I felt great. My bike ride home was spectacular. It was hot, but somehow still felt like fall. The sun glittered off leaves, and the tree shadows in the side streets felt like a reward as I cruised along weaving around them.
Friday, Mina said, "Do you want to know what I learned in school?" I said, "HECK YEAH." And I couldn't wait for Mina to drop knowledge. She said, "Did you know that when the moon is full, it can rain down babies?" For real though? She said, "Did you know the sun is a star and the moon is a rock?" Cool, I did know that one. She said, "Did you know that if you can climb a rainbow, that's good luck?" That's hard-earned luck, I thought. Apparently Mina goes to a part public school, part Witch School. Which is awesome.
And my life has found equilibrium again.
Friday, November 03, 2006
I'm tired, yo. And I feel a little overwhelmed. I feel a little undervalued. Not by the blog world. Not by my coworkers. Not by my kids - ok, a little by them. I'll give you a hint. He's tall, dark, good looking. We share the same name. We live under the same roof? And those are the only clues I'm going to give you! So, yea, That Guy. Mandy and I have a decade-long joke that whenever I'm mad at Husband, I call him That Guy. Anyway, you can't really complain about That Guy on a blog because when you're done being mad, he's all, "Why'd you drag me through blogmud?" And I'm all, "You deserved it, MF." And he's all, "Yea, but now I have 10,000 people sending me negative vibes." ('Cause, y'know, that's the size of my readership. Not.) And I'm all, "Oops. My bad." And then I'll have to be the one that's sorry and he'll have turned the tables on me again.
When you complain to your homies, it's vapor release. Your friends take it in stride and say things like, "That sucks!" and "You don't deserve that!" And that's it. That's enough. Unless of course you show up at their doorstep with an overnight bag and a passport. But usually the next day you're all, "Oh, he didn't really mean it like that, Girl. What's for lunch?" But on blog, you can't really just vapor release with the same temporary flair.
I'm pouty, yo! I keep trying to interject my mood with my all-healing salve, "I Am Grateful", but that's just making me want to tell myself to shut the fuck up. Of course I'm grateful. Damn. Ug, I'm tired.
Then my alleged close friend, Honduro shows up yesterday after being MIA on biz trips for 6 months. We have lunch and as a single, childless guy he's all, "Let's do NaNoWriMo! Come on! We can easily write 500 words a day towards a novel!" And I'm all, "Are you fucking kidding me?" Though look, I've blogged every day for the last few days. That's just kind of a coincidence. No hopes are up to continue that, but you never know. Then he's all, "Ok, then let's go to the UCLA football game Nov. 11th." And I go, "That day is Maya's first TaeKwonDo Tournament since last summer's Jr. Olympics." And he kinda looks at me like, Are you sure you don't want to catch the football game? I'm all, "Come on." And he pouts, "I know, Maya's more important." Uh, ya think? See you in another 6 months, Honduro!
Ooo, I feel bitchy, yo.
So, this TKD tournament is coming with much anticipation. Maya's training with Master N and The New Studio has been rather amazing. She really is looking good. It's been a joy to watch her train. TaeKwonDo has kind of enveloped my own schedule though. My beloved walk/Farmers Market/dance class combo has been swallowed up by the girls' Saturday morning workouts. Figuring out where my stuff fits into everyone else's schedule has been, uh, a challenge. On top of? Crammed in the cracks? Midnight? A couple mornings a week I've been getting up at 5:45 to run because if I don't exercise I get mad bitchy. Like now. But many times I'm too tired to work out my own stuff, which is the first stuff lopped when editting the family schedule.
I'm bummed Dia de los Muertos is over. I realized this year that the holiday falls one rung below Christmas for me, and I'm a sentimental sucka for some Christmas. Next year I'm having a huge party I decided. Where you have to dress as your favorite dead person or just in a general DdlM theme. And I'll make vegan pan de muerto with surprises baked in the middle and vegan hot chocolate. And the decorations will be ridiculous. Anyway, you guys are invited.
I feel guilty about complaining. I feel a tiny bit better though, but it's weighted with guilt. I mean, all in all my week was pretty good with all the celebratin' and all. And That Guy did fix my dresser drawers last night.
I saw this young homeless guy yesterday and he was crossing the street with a cart full of stuff. The cart had a tall metal pole attached it and it stood a foot over the guy. Impaled on the pole was a big, fake white dove. I had to look at it three times because I thought the dove was real. It looked like the pole was up its ass and the wings were flapping around as the cart careened across the street. It made me laugh. Also, the NBA season has started which doesn't float my boat as much as college hoops, but triumphantly the NBA has switched from leather to synthetic balls this season. It takes one cow to make only four balls. That's kind of a sickening statistic when you realize how many balls each team uses. Most of the players are complaining about the new ball because it's more slippery when sweated upon. Others think the grip is better. I don't think the NBA did this for the sake of cows. Most likely it was done for big corporate $ reasons, but still. Oh, and I've been taking cat naps on the train. I should be studying, but the naps have helped. Oh, and it's Friday. That's good. I can't really remember what I was complaining about now.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
You might notice a couple subtle alterations to my costume. Putting on the same costume after it has already worked so well is like putting on a great party dress again the morning after you passed out at someone's house. For me at least. So I updated Mother Nature; really turned it into a Degradation of Mother Nature costume. I stapled plastic bags and styrofoam cups to the sleeves. You'll notice the oil-spill diaper on the front. I smudged my face with soot and stapled an S.O.S. sign to my back. Nothing like busting my coworkers' balls on the eco-tip - AGAIN. Hey, do you see Nacho Libre with his motorized scooter? He was riding it around the office halls with his cape aflappin' yelling in a high-pitch squeal, "Nnnnaaccchhhooooooooooo . . . " Then he got a little froggy and challenged Darth to a saber/wrestling match. As you can see Darth kinda punked out.
Trick O' Treatin is still a blast for me. I love to see the kids so excited about it. I love that we're usually two of few parents that go in full costume. BD, Sanne & BabyR came out with us too since they are in town. We all tried to stick with a farm barn theme, but Husband and I got a little off track. BD & Sanne were cows. BabyR a chicken. Maya a farm girl and Mina a cat. Of course, I was Mother Nature, Degradation 2006 and Husband was the Burger King Guy. Maya said the group was actually The Full Circle. HA! P.S. I got Maya's entire farmer outfit at the Good Will for $15 which included these killer boots that have little zipped pockets at the top.
More pic's from the night:
Husband as BK Guy was definitely the hit of the night. He was like a celebrity roaming our jam-packed streets. Our neighborhood was like a carnival-rave it was so alive and crowded, and every few feet we heard, "BURGER KING GUY!" People randomly sung BK's praises or they told him their grievances. "I liked the old fries. From back in the day." "I'm a big fan of the spicy chicken fingers." From little kids to grown people, but he was the biggest hit with the teen crowd, the crowd that on Halloween night wants to stir some shit up. But around Husband they got a little goofy. A group of boys huddled around Husband as one shorter kid acted as the mouthpiece for his friends. He seemed high. He talked for about three minutes as everyone listened intently. He said, "I wasn't ever gonna go back to Burger King; there just had been so many changes. But then you came along and you're the only reason I went back." On and on, and Husband nodded silently like he had been doing all night. Then the kid said, "And that football commercial you did was so great . . ." And when Husband suddenly jumped into the Heisman pose, the entire group of boys yelled "HOORAY!" and pumped their fists. It was crazy funny.
This was a tense moment:
We're off to the big Dia del los Muertos celebration down in Olvera Street tonight. Hope to have more great pictures from there though it only takes me a MILLION HOURS to download them onto blogger. Viva la Celebracion!
Monday, October 30, 2006
Saturday we went to a Halloween party. Dudes, I'm Mother Nature. And Husband is the Burger King King. Kind of ironic, but still funny. Dancing around in the mask was especially funny. People really didn't know I was Mother Nature, but when I told them I'd follow with comments like, "Thanks for the degradation of me. Thanks for ruining me. Thanks a lot." I was really uplifting.
Yo, fear me. Or just give me a cross already.
I did this pose a lot, apparently. Is this what Mother Nature would do? I thought I was looking all heavenly powerful, but it looks more like complete surrender. And the King? Always funny. This did not get old to us.
How great is Tee's Whale Rider costume? So great. And MattyP came as a half-assed pimp. We renamed him Richie Rich. Pimps are so 1997.
The Rider and me. I was losing steam with my heavenlypowerful pose. Feh fuck it, one arm is enough.
Here's a group shot for good measure. That's a box of tissues in the back. The box says Blow Me.
Sunday we went to the Bower's Dia de los Muertos celebration. Here is the gorgeous group of dancers waiting to go on.
Mina's choice of face paint:
Maya's BD and Sanne came with us to the Bowers. They brought along this precious morsel, BabyR. So beautiful! We're one big familia, people. Mina calls BabyR her little sister too. No reason to stop her.
Wishing you a Happy Semana del los Muertos. Here's to honoring our dead and living our lives fully.