Tuesday, September 26, 2006

self portrait tuesday

If I were alone being completely honest with myself, and I contemplated whether I really had a favorite child, the answer would sincerely be no. I do feel more mushy about one or the other on certain days, but this pendulum swings evenly. Lately, I feel extremely mushy about Mina. And this is one of my favorite photos of all time. It caps off the With Someone theme at Self Portrait Challenge.

Mina lost her first tooth last week. She squealed and strutted and shouted, "I'M GONNA GET SOME MONEY!" Then she wrote the toothfairy a letter on her own. It read: "Hi Toothfairy. Do you see my tooth under my pellow? The last time you were here you gave my sister five dollers. Did you know this is my first tooth? Isn't that amasing?" I said to Husband, "Is she busting the toothfairy's balls right now?" He said, "Yup. This kid is a money grubber."

I saw a mother yesterday kissing her four year old's neck just under his cheek. It was the rapid type of kisses where you just rattle them off because you don't ever want to leave that soft, sweet crease once you're in there. She kissed and kissed and the baby's head shook and he laughed, and I couldn't wait to get home to do the same to Mina.

The week before, when I was walking the dogs, I saw a father and daughter eating a meal on their balcony. They were eating quietly. The girl was around six and she sat on her knees and brought her fork to her mouth like a big girl even if she clutched the fork like a baby, and she chewed her tiny little bites with her mouth closed. Why this choked me up I'm not sure, but it had something do to with teaching your babies to do things or them following our lead and then all of the sudden there they are acting like little tiny human beings, miniature-like, but they do it with pure intention. They are not thinking about the day or resenting their work or worrying about bills, they are thinking about how do get that fork to their mouth so they can eat the food their dad made until they are not hungry any more. The sweetness of the scene made me want to run back and go kiss Mina's neck again.

She's doing things on her own now: Drawing her boundaries with her mami-like sister, dressing herself, telling me what she likes and doesn't like. Mina said to me last night, all bossy, "Mami, get me a bigger container and pack a big salad for my lunch. Yesterday, it was too little." And I thought, whoa, Mina's demanding that I pack her a big-ass salad for lunch so . . .OK! But then she asked for candy incessantly. She dresses herself in long, yellow baller shorts that hang over her knees. She'll then pull up navy and light blue striped socks over her knees, put on a Girl's Football League tshirt and then try to get out of the house with some red lipstick darkly spread on her tiny lips and a Barbie purse on her shoulder. I call the style Hoochie Jock. I recently cut off some yoga pants to make knee-length shorts. I didn't know Mina had fished out the cut-off parts of the pants until she came out to the living room wearing one piece of 8 inch leg as a mini skirt and the other as a tube top. I said, "What the hell--" She said, "Can I go to the library like this?" And Husband's heart froze, genuinely scared about the future of Mina's dress style. She then went to her room and cut fringe in the hem of the mini skirt and cut a keyhole in the middle of the tube top, put a piece of yarn through it and tied it around her neck as a halter. She said, "How about now?" Apparently she thought Papi didn't think the outfit was snazzy enough. I wanted to tackle her and roll her around and kiss her face until all the Vixen red gloss was off.

Friday, September 22, 2006

God Is

I caught the 6:05 train this morning because my day is accordianed into what seems like only two hours. The long commute to work cuts into the actual work part and I figured I'd find more time in my day if I lost some sleep and went to work earlier today. This scares me shitless because someone came up with this brilliant plan to get a holistic nutritionist's degree and who knows where that will be crammed in. But losing more sleep until I only have a couple hours left STILL seems better than the Indefinite Douche Bag Broker Plan.

I like the dark, intimate hours of the morning. It seems like a secret time; a sweet pocket of productivity. It was too dark to see the river from the train though, which was a shame, but I did see a sunrise over industrial areas and the contrast was stunning. I do like contrast.

When I arrived at my OC station it was 7:15 and I decided to walk the two and a half miles to work carrying ten pounds of purse and lunch and books and school papers to be looked over and signed. I haven't been exercising as much as I'd like either so the walk seemed a good combo'ed use of my time. I'm a really good Time Combo'er.

Being a pedestrian feels empowering in Santa Monica, but as I walked to work past the long agricultural blocks and business parks, I could see the looks on drivers’ faces: I wonder what's wrong. Why is she walking? It was an odd vibe on the street and made the walk less enjoyable. But as I crossed an overpass, columns of sunlight busted through steely clouds and the rays fanned out majestic-like. I am a sucker for a scene like this. I always think, "Oh, there's God" just like the old-school church goers want me to believe. Blonde, laminated Jesus is always erectly talking to those Rays of Light. So, there was God on the Irvine overpass and I plotted along, ignoring stares and reminisced about God for the rest of the walk.

On my 18th birthday, I was baptized by full submersion as a Seventh Day Adventist at an all-black church in a rough area east of Inglewood, south of Leimert Park. I found myself at this particular church because I ditched much of my senior year in high school to play basketball with a regular group of guys including a cute, 19 year old devout Seventh Day Adventist, and he invited me to a Saturday service. I accepted.

At this age, 17, I was sinking. I was tired of being the responsible Wise Child; I was sick of Baby Old-Soul Piety because at 17 I felt it all meant absolutely nothing. I was completely alone and becoming trapped by hopelessness. An internal hurricane was whirling. I could feel myself starting to crave destruction; I was reaching a point of utter uncare. School was the first to fall of my priority list because I couldn't afford to give up my jobs. Basketball and reading brought me limited relief. But I felt myself slipping. I was down and vulnerable enough to go to church.

I stuck out sorely at this large congregation. It was like I had a force field around me. “Oh, I know Chris did not bring her here,” I could hear as I was scoured with looks. Chris crumbled under the pressure and he sat with his friends. I sat alone in a back pew and leafed through the hymnal. I had convinced myself that I was supposed to be there anyway. The choir opened up the service. I couldn’t see them because they were tucked away in an alcove at the front of the church, but the first few notes of harmony clobbered me with emotional intimacy. I slouched down on the wooden bench and squished myself against the end lip of the pew. I felt tiny under the towering arched ceilings with wood beams. I was nothing next to the big hats and big voices and wigs and good church clothes. The song was called God Is and I wanted to believe in every word though they made no sense to me. Savior? Surrender? Let go? In someone else’s hands? The words had absolutely no rational meaning to me. But the choir voices went deeper than anything I understood and I put the open hymnal over my face and cried my eyes out.

Had I had more wits about me, I probably would not have chosen a ridged Christian fundamentalist route where the patrons of the church mainly ignored and rejected me. But I kept my ass in that pew because I knew I could save my life by listening to choir music. It seemed like the perfect alternative to letting my hurricane fester and explode and destroy. I was going to let someone else be the Wise One. God took that pressure off me. The girls of the church talked shit on me, Chris waffled in and out of interest and the old people shook their heads though a good few finally did extend their welcome and friendship, but nobody could’ve gotten me out of that church once I heard God Is. And no one did for two years until God restored faith in myself and my wits.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Self Portrait Wednesday

The filter on this photo is called Diffused Glow. I love the name. I love the effect. I don't really look like this though, all sparkly and glowy and giddy. I just feel like it when I'm with him.

September's theme at Self Portrait Challenge is With Someone. There are not many someones I like more than Husband.

I'm not just saying that because he's taking me to Hawaii either. That's right! We're going to Ha-waii, and I've never been-there. Ever, ev-er. I'm so ex-cited. My husband is taking me to Hawaii because he has made it to the nationals in 4.5 men's doubles tennis. He made it to the nationals! If he and his partner win, they will be national champs. Of the whole nation! And the nationals are in Hawaii, yo! Isn't that sick?

Husband is a really good tennis player. Obviously. Even though he got a late start -- he didn't play competitively until he was in high school -- he earned a ranking on the East Coast tour in college. He was a smidgen away from going pro, but time ran out. The chance to get on the professional tennis circuit is like hoping on a train traveling the speed of light. The opportunity to keep up with quick, powerful phenomenal players has a very small window if one has the chance to even find a window. But generally the interest in and the ability to play the sport lasts a lifetime. For the last few years, Husband has been back playing regularly and very competitively in the men's double club circuit. The etiquette of the sport on a club level is hilarious to me. It's so passive aggressive and tainted with a struggle for mental power. I love it. I love how they say, "Nice shot," a few tone clicks away from sarcasm. I love how they applaud on their rackets all blueblood like and say, "Well done," when they really mean, "Way to get lucky, Jerk Off." I love how they try to hook each other with bad calls only to get the mental upper hand. And I love how Husband slaps all the uppity aggressive dudes, young and old, around on the tennis court. Quien es mas macho on the tennis court? Mi esposo es mas macho! I also love how club teams manipulatively list their best players at a lower level than how they play. 4.5 is a level of play. It goes as high as 6.0, or Open Player, and the 6.0 players are aspiring or old pro’s or top college kids keeping in competitive shape. From 6.0 down is kind of a sandbagger's joke. Like, who can we pass off as a 4.5 to really murder the other team? But now, all the teams do the same and I know, in Hawaii, we're going to see some great club tennis.

At the nationals!

Way to go, Papi.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Where In the Hell Have I Been?

My home internet has been down for a week and work-computer time has been sucked up by . . .work. Let's do some catching up 'cause I missed you guys.

Maya is doing well. It hasn't been a skate in the park, but we're all adjusting. She is putting a lot pressure on herself to be an excellent student and that really touches me to see her so committed and serious. This self pressure has relieved itself in other ways like her sheer frustration of not meeting her BFF the second the first period bell rang on the first day. This, and her sprouting hormones, have made for a few after-school crying jags. These jags begin with defensiveness, flopping of the arms, rolling of the neck, looking at the sky, an inability to express herself about the meat of her frustration. During the jags, I have unleashed every weapon in my Superior Parenting Handbook which I quickly tossed in the trash. I start out cool and understanding and when the 2nd hour of crying and carrying on is rounding the corner I move into dick-mode. I'm pretty much like, "Bro, suck it up because I can't take not one more second." Last Wednesday was the hardest preteen day of my parenting career, and when we finally squashed it and exhaustedly hugged I said, "But seriously, Maya, I love you so much and all, but I really can't do this everyday." She has been pretty great since. Mina is running her 2nd grade class with her jedi mind tricks. She is also an awesome student.

Mina is at the age where she is mature enough to belly laugh to a good joke. She can now laugh with true feeling. And, really, there's no better sound. There was an exact moment when Maya started to laugh like that too -- maybe the same age as Mina now -- and I remember experiencing the same amount of joy from it. I told Mina last night, "You have a fantastic laugh." She said, "Thanks!" very proud of herself and then spent the next 10 minutes trying to fabricate the laugh I meant. She's hilarious.

By the way, this month's PMS is brought to you by my ultra sensitivity to corporate piggishness and general world corruption. Since being a vegan and more specifically since eating more rawly, my PMS really no longer manifests itself in grand sweeping moodiness where the closest in proximity to me pays the price, namely Husband and/or coworkers. Now, when the level of hormones rise, I more feel a swelling indignation about anything not liberally based. It seems that each month I become more radically left in my views. I don't apologize for this at all. I'm just saying how my PMS now effects me which brings me to last week at work. Last week was the worst week I have had as a semiconductor broker in many of my 14 years as a semiconductor broker. Let me just admit right off the bat that I have stayed a broker for so long because the money is disgustingly better than anything left-wing or creatively based. I have whored out. I don't know how much longer I can be a whore to technology money, but let's just say after last week, I hope it isn't much longer. Last week, a huge deal went awry. It happens. This particular deal, I am learning, is laced with deceit, possible counterfeit chips, and a general better-you-get-fucked-than-me mentality. It's not like all of the above haven't been a big part of my industry in the past and my company is not doing anything extra slimy, but my patience for our industry's greed, dishonesty and ass-covering is shot, gone. What do semiconductors brokers do to save the world? Brokers are their own world so in that sense, a lot. My hormonal indignation is swelling. In last week's messed-up deal which isn't resolved yet, I'm the one that has to "work it out" with the vendors which means lube 'em up in case they need to get fucked. This churns my stomach. The financial exposure on this is ridiculous which is why, as an employee, I have to do my part for our company, but to be quite honest, I feel like the stark morning after a night of black-out drinking and promiscuity is dawning. I feel gross.

Which is why I applied to college on Friday. Oh yes I did. I applied to earn a degree in holistic nutrition. I decided I'm going to save the world with natural food because god knows I'm not doing it with semiconductors. I had this holistic nutrition epiphany about a month ago but it just seemed so corny to blog about. But the truth of the matter is that I am beyond excited and it gives me hope. I feel like I have a solid exit plan. I feel like the student that strips to pay her way through medical school. Just a little . . . while . . . longer in this dirty tech industry . . .

I drive through downtown LA a couple times a week when I come home from the train station, and I have come to realize that the same group of about four homeless guys sit and lean against a fence on the corner of 3rd and Broadway. They are always telling stories and laughing; always laughing. They may be a little wasted too. Last Tuesday, there were more than usual, about six, sitting in a circle on the sidewalk in their regular spot. I looked over to check them out as I always do and one of the guys with a dark leathery face and who had wild white hair and a white days-old beard launched his head back and guffawed showing about three teeth missing. He held his stomach and tipped over leaning his elbow on the concrete, and I thought Hell Yes.

I'll talk to you guys Tuesday.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Self Portrait & First Day

I love September's theme at Self Portrait Challenge; "With Someone." One's "someone" is always a reflection, a true self portrait.

In that case, here's one of my favorite self portraits ever.

They started school today: Mina's first day of second grade. Maya's first day of middle school. We took Mina first to her school. I love the energy of elementary school. I love small kids with huge backpacks all scurrying around, saying the funniest shit. Like Mina, she said, "Boy, there's a lot of little people here." Her teacher has a warm, gushy, old pot-head energy to her. I loved her instantly. The classroom is packed with all kinds of stuff: tons of books shoved into shelves, sayings and laminated things covering the walls completely, tiny computers crammed together, yarn and markers and construction paper barely tucked away, and mobiles dangling from the ceiling . All the stuff is dying to be unleashed, the room is dying to be a big huge mess. It's the greatest kind of learning environment as far as I'm concerned. Mina sat down front row center next to a tall kid named David and she was ready to go, man. Maya and I both looked at her longingly. We got a quick wave, one little blown kiss and we knew that would be it. We knew we had to go on to middle school.

Maya and I talked the whole walk to her school. Pep talk, pep talk, advice. I just rambled as much as I could and Maya sopped it all up with a biscuit. We went over everything again: we strategized walking to school, how to be a safe pedestrian, how to survive popular girl clicks, how to pull off the whole girls' locker room fiasco, how to possibly meet new friends -- I was wingin it, man. Before we entered the school, I said, "Be prepared to see anything at this point." And pretty quickly, we saw a girl wearing transparent lace capri tights with a tshirt-sized "dress". She was also sporting a long, hip necklace that I myself own. UG. I saw another kid with the same cell phone I own and a few girls with way better shoes than I have. And a better hair stylist. And manicurist. And handbag. Maya's mouth had dropped open at one point. "Close your mouth, girl. Pull your shoulders back," I whispered out the side of my mouth. We had come early to practice getting to her classes and navigate the schoolgrounds. Maya tried to say hi to a couple kids with no luck whatsoever. She was starting to sweat under the weight of her backpack and her look became more and more forlorn. My stomach cramped. I felt like I was waving her around like tasty chum in a shark tank. I didn't want to leave her there, alone. I said, "There are a lot of kids that feel the same as you today. You're going to do great once you feel more familiar." I suggested we practice going to her classes again which we did. I pointed out a couple of other girls that had the same bewildered look on their face. We met a few of her teachers and they seemed really cool. We met Lulu, the cafeteria lady who was so southern classic. When Maya showed Lulu some manners, Lulu said, "Oh nice to meet you too, baa-bee!" I said, "Maya, always be cool with the cafeteria lady."

It was time to let her go. I knew I had to. She would do great. It really seemed scarier this time around, for me, than when I was twelve and released to the wolves of middle school. I almost threw up when I turned to let her fend for herself.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


* I took the girls to work with me today on the train. They went to work with me because, 'member, I have no day care yet and school starts tomorrow after which I will still have no day care. But I'm brainstorming, yo. Today though, I said, "Come on girls, you're coming to work with me AND you're gonna work." Maya actually labeled boxes for the warehouse and I gave Mina some projects to do for her "work." They can't wait until school starts. On the train, I gave them an LA River lesson (duh) and a young man with a great shaggy haircut and black-rimmed glasses who was sitting behind us listened intently. Then he got on the cell phone, and I listened intently. But he talked about a pair of shoes he was planning to buy that were really "part of his palette." I almost laughed aloud, but that's bad train etiquette.

* Sunday the girls and I saw the movie Step Up. Husband refuses to see this kind of horseshit, but the girls and I? WE LOVE THESE MOVIES. Usually we are freestylin' in the aisles as the ending credits roll. I'm like, "Mina, you got served!" And she says pointing to her rear end, "You can't shake your booty like this . . ." And so on and so on.

* After the movie, we picked up some food and stopped by a booth selling bumper stickers. Stickers like, World Peace and Bush Bin Lyin. My kind of stickers. I told the girls they could pick out three and the guy selling the stickers -- an Allen Ginsberg replica -- guided them through the sea of sayings. Maya picked out Girls Can Do Anything and Create Peace, and Mina picked out a heart shape with the peace sign in the middle. Mr. Ginsberg tells Maya she CAN do anything, saying it like she's never heard THAT before, and he adds, "You can even be president if you want" which seemed an antiquated thing to say. But she likes that idea and get theatrical with it: "Yes, President Maya!" He asks, "What's the first thing you'd do as president?" Before he finishes the question, she says loudly and dramatically, "NO MORE WAR." Mr. Ginsberg gets misty eyed. He says to her, "When you become president, may I be the Secretary of Peace?" And Maya says, "When I get into office, call me." I nearly roll on the floor.

* We spent all day at the beach yesterday. It was a perfect day. Our New Couple, Tee & Matty P, have turned into our Regular Couple, and we're loving them. It now seems as if we've known them forever. They asked us to join them at the beach with some of their other friends who all seem to be jet-setting, down-to-earth doctors. Or medical students slash night club owners. Smart partiers? Crazy multi taskers? One guy who could've been a chemist was a little gangsta. He was all but throwing up signs for the periodic table. A fun crowd any way you slice it. We played three-on-three football in the sand. I forgot how fun it was to dive to catch a ball. I also put the girls on boogie boards for the first time. Maya was a natural after she got more acquainted with the ocean and Mina would've gone out as far as I would've taken her. There's really nothing cuter than releasing a boogie board holding up a tiny seven-year old body to the moving white wash until she is beached and squealing. I even got on myself though I haven't been on a board in five million years. The ocean rewarded me by pantsing me any chance She got. MattyP was like, "Do you wanna hit the bigger waves?" And I said, "Uh, no because I'll be naked by the time the wave is over." A two-piece suit is not designed for waves clawing at it. Husband got in the water -- to his knees. This was a huge feat for him considering he, in general, doesn't like the beach and complains about the Pacific Ocean regularly: Too cold. Too nasty. Too this and that. He hates sand too. I mean, no one likes sand in their suit bottoms, but laying out I said, "Honey, doesn't the sand feel good on your skin?" He said, "No" and wiped off his feet for the eighty-fourth time.

* I've been tearing through a book called The Way We Eat; Why Our Food Choices Matter. (Excuse the italics. I don't know how to underline.) Anyway, guess what this is about? Dudes, you don't want to know! But all I can reiterate is that factory farming is the devil. Wait, wait, wait -- I just have to tell you a couple things: Firstly, did you know that a pig shits four times more than a human, but there are no regulations on how to treat pig waste? So, guess where is all goes, untreated like? Yea, who knows. It's kind of a multi-part answer including streams and the neighbor's soil. Hey, do you know what they do with hens after they've squeezed every last egg outta her? You definitely don't want to know the answer to this, but let's just say one farm's answer included a wood chipper.

* I'll talk to you guys tomorrow.