The Ultimate Mexican Party

Identity as defined by the Oxford dictionary is: the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.

This post is brought to you by inspiration born from listening to episode 23: Chamoy Fountain of Larinos Who Lunch, by the way. Continue…

Note to future self: at the wedding have a Chamoy fountain. No me importa lo que diga la gente. 

Every so often my bad hombre and I talk about having the party of the century here in Oregon. I know for sure I want a Banda so if you know of any traveling bandas for hire let me know. Drop me a line in the comments. We’re going to serve carnitas, birria and tacos with all the fixings. And for the morning after we’re going to have menudo because we know that party is going to be fire. FIERRO! 

Most of the conversation you can imagine us speaking as if we’re already there, as if we just lived that experience yesterday. We’re full of nostalgia for what we don’t have anymore, or at least for what we don’t live day in and day out. I miss that. He misses that. The last time we both visited home we didn’t spend one cent on food. Every family we visited fed us. Estábamos como marranos.  

I’ve told a couple of coworkers about the ultimate Mexican party and I’m excited they’re excited. I work with a white majority and I’ve made a couple of great relationships. Mi hombre has made some ok connections and we both like to say we’re inviting every white person we know.They’re going to have front row seats to the mariachi and the Banda that’s gonna play until 3am.  

Ideally this party is in July (22nd because it’s my birthday) and on this year because I’ll be turning 30! Treintona y con picardia. This party will make America greater! 

Writing Out My Dream(s)

Lucid [ˈlo͞osəd] Adjective. 1. Expressed clearly; easy to understand. 2. Literary: bright or luminous

Dream [drēm] Noun. 1. a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep. Verb. 1. experience dreams during sleep.

Lucid Dream – any dream during which the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming. During lucid dreaming, the dreamer may allegedly be able to exert some degree of control over the dream characters, narrative, and environment.

Every once in a while I experience a lucid dream. I don’t know why, but they are always fun to tell and remember. One of my most recent lucid dreams has revealed and mirrored a lot of what I’ve been going through. Think of it as … part of my continuing metamorphosis. I don’t really want to write about the last dream I had but more about the dream I had in which my Nina was dying. I’ll list the characters in my dream.

  • Nina: my grandma, mi abuelita that doesn’t like to be called Abuela or Abuelita. She’s always said that name was her mom, Abuelita Goya. I spent every summer, weekend, long weekend, etc. with her and learning from her. She’s the one that gave quince minutos mas de dormir three times making it 45 additional minutes. The one that would wake me up with breakfast and the one I would take her cafecito to in her mug. I remember pouring the coffee and then taking it to her and she’d be like: pa’la otra me llenas la taza hasta arriba y caminas mas despacio.
  • Mami: my mom. Mother of 4 girls. She’s selfless and unselfish when it comes to caring for Nina and her girls.
  • Sandy: my oldest sister. The one that can make me laugh and the one I can share the dumbest things with. The first one of my sisters to become a mom and the one that doubtlessly underestimates her hard work as a momma to my two wonderful nieces.
  • Martha: the oldest female cousin, second oldest of all my grandmas 30+ nietos.

This dream was colorful and full of my Nina’s scent- you know that old abuela smell that is unmistakably your grandma’s smell? Yep, that one. Well in this dream I was taking my Nina to the store and on our way back she asks me to take her to the hospital. A bit odd, but I thought that no matter where I go with my Nina I know it’s special and she’s always with a purpose. She ends up checking herself in and in her hospital room I’m sitting crossed legged on her bed. She begins to tell me that she’s known for a while that she’s going to depart this earth and this life and that she’s OK with it. Pero, que le tengo que traer unas cuantas cocitas de la casa. I’m looking at her and noticing the details in that damned ugly green beanie she likes to wear and asking myself why the hell she’s so calm? Tears start rolling out of my eyes and I keep wiping them away telling myself that if she’s OK with this I should too and I should get myself together for her.

When I talk to the doctor she’s explaining everything she’s already explained to my grandma and I keep telling myself to focus because more than likely I’ll be the one to have to tell all of this my Mami. Me dice que hace tiempo noto un tumor y que aun no maligno, es causante de muchos sintomas que han afectado la salud en general. I’m standing there and I look over my grandma and she’s just chillin’ on the bed knitting and whistling softly. The doctor’s voice fades away and here comes my Mami rushing with a look of confusion and desperation. She holds it together as I tell her what the doctor just told me. And even though she wants to talk to my Nina I tell her we have to go; we need to get some stuff from the house to bring to her. She acquiesces and we  drive to my Nina’s house.

The drive was silent. And unlike other dreams, I’m able to move in real time; there is no slowing of movements, no blurry or fuzziness of anything and I’m following traffic signals and look both ways before turning the corner. When we arrive at the house I tell my mom what my grandma wanted us t get and she begins searching for it. The whole time I stand by the doorway observing my mom shuffling through drawers, clothes, and papers. She looks over at my and gives me that look, the are-you-serious-this-is-happening look of sadness. I smirk at her and shrug my shoulders. Defeated by her thoughts she slumps on the edge of the bed and begins to cry slowly covering her face in shame. I walk over to her and tell her it’s going to be OK. I bend down to hug her and clearly, without any doubt she says, “I hate this, Mona. My mom can’t die.” We’re hugging and her chin rests on my head as my arms are wrapped around her waist. Then I posture up and hold her face and tell her that it’s out of our control. That’s when she hugs me, tightly (I felt it, in my body as I slept and knowing this felt so weird), and she begins to sob. Now it’s me resting my head on hers and softly petting her head as I, too cry, silently. She asks quietly: what am I going to do with my days, Mona? Que voy hacer ahora? Mona, what am I going to do with my days?

At that moment Sandy walks in laughing with Martha. Unknowing as to why we were hugging and crying Martha politely steps outside the room and Sandy jumps on the bed in an attempt to lighten up the situation. I tell her that Nina is dying and that we have to be OK with it because she’s okay with it. She starts to cry too, but with an understanding that we have to now look out for our Mami because she’s going to fall apart without Nina. #end

What woke me up was my own sobbing and the feeling of my body reacting. The tears were flowing, I tell you. I look at the time and it’s 8:24am. 24 minutes after I’m already supposed to be at work. I immediately call my timekeeper, still crying. Then I call my boss, still crying telling him that I’ll be in as soon as I can. He asks me if I’m okay and I tell him that I had an incredibly realistic dream about my family. He tells me that I should take my time, but most importantly, am I okay? I assure him that I am and that I’ll see him in a bit.

In a deeper analysis of this dream my boss and I have determined that I have taken an archetype role of wise old woman. The grandmother typically represents the sage, wisdom, etc. I became the mother to my mother. Literally in my dream we switched rolls. And I explained to him what the death of a grandmother means in Dream World: the death of an old self [read: my old self] and the birth of a new self. It’s a telling of how I have come to take control of the things I can and affirm the decisions that come from that control. To be OK with those decisions… isn’t it all crazy? I mean… the change that people go through is not overnight. And I am proof of that. It’s been months that I have been struggling with defining me, and who I am, and wearing the different masks but all in play with my true self and leaving any false selfs in the past. I am maturing in front of my own eyes.

My Nina means so much to me. When I face tough decisions I go to her. I ask her what I should do and she never speaks in terms of finiteness but in terms of not doubting your gut. She’s asked me before… y que te dice to mente? And when I tell her and she usually responds with: entonces no es mal. Si es algo que tu quieres hacer tu sabes lo bueno de esa decicion. Mira, tu sabes que aqui estamos para ti si no te va bien. I don’t know why but I love that as she continues her advice she keeps knitting. She never stops only when I lean in to hug her.

Fork in the Road

fork-in-the-road2I’m standing at the tip of the road trying to figure out which path to take. Both roads have a certain predictability to them but I would say an equal amount of uncertainty as well. I keep saying I will do a pros and cons list but I haven’t because I’m afraid. I’m not even sure what I’m afraid of, but it’s been the reason I have delayed this exercise. Because the probability of me actually doing this is very unlikely I will just write it out here in a very informal manner.

Situation: I submitted my application to go back home without being certain I was ready to actually move back to LA. I have a second interview this evening and the likelihood of me getting the job offer is HIGH!

Self: Why would you do that if you were not 100% sure that you were ready to make the decision to move back?

Me: Well, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to move back when the chance presented itself. I thought that the process would be longer and I didn’t think I would be so hesitant. Maybe I should tank this second interview and then … end to worry! But what about when I’m actually ready (the way life works no opportunity will be available). *shakes fists to the heavens*

Who/what has weight/impact on my decision? My boyfriend and our long distance relationship. My mom. The fact that I care about what I’m doing where I actually am. That I still feel I haven’t done everything – or close to half the things – I thought I’d do while away from my home city and family. That being where I am feels right. But I miss being around my family; I feel I’m missing out on them.

What if I go:

What if I stay:

What does this mean?

Fears:

To be continued …

Té de hierbabuena

In other words – spearmint tea.

Growing up I spent most of my summers and weekends with my grandma. I don’t call her abuela, or abuelita, or mamá. I call her Nina; we all call her Nina.

I’ve always had a weak stomach and problems with my breathing (I was later diagnosed with asthma). She always knew what to give me. She would give me aceite de oliva, rubbed my tummy, and had me drink teas- in particular te de hierbabuena. I can honestly say that my love for tea grew from her. Even today when I tell her I’m not feeling well she tells me: tómate un tecito.

It had been a long time since I’ve had fresh tea. Most of the tea I drink now is loose leaf (dried), or from tea bags. I hadn’t really thought of the differences until the other night.

I bought a whole bunch of limes and lemons and some fresh mint leaves to make cleansing water in efforts to kick-start my way back into eating healthy and regain focus on my fitness. That night, after preparing my water I couldn’t sleep. I thought, I’ll have a tea. As I was putting the water in the pot I remembered the mint leaves I had and decided for the fresh route.

I placed the mint leaves in the hot water in my cup and the moment the aroma reached my nose I transported to my childhood. I couldn’t believe the sense of nostalgia that took over me. And once I took the first sip, I smiled and closed my eyes. I saw myself sitting with my Nina outside and enjoying the cup of tea, talking about her birds and plants, and the plans for the day. The taste of the mint and the warmness of the cup filled me joy.

Everything about that moment was beautiful.

I have been wanting to start an herb garden and I think it’s what I will start next weekend. I’m going to give her a call and get her Herb Garden 101 tips.

Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan – Book Review 

  

If I hadn’t read a couple of reviews on this book I might have started this post a bit differently. The first reviewer said she enjoyed it and thought it was funny. The second reviewer, who I believe robbed me a little of the magic, said the chapters felt as if they were short two minute bits of his stand-up. DON’T. READ. THE REVIEWS.


The truth is that they are bits. They’re not bad but they are clean comedy. He admits and owns his “clean comedy” and I respect that; it works for him. Jim Gaffigan talks about the struggle and the joy that is parenthood. He speaks on its takeover and it’s embrace. 

I appreciate his opening chapter because it truly sets the stage on the notion that he doesn’t consider himself an expert and how in parenthood there is no real way of doing it right. He and his wife, Jeannie, are raising five kids in a metropolitan city in a walk-up apartment building- somewhere in New York, I can’t remember if it’s Manhattan. 

He brings up interesting points on etiquette regarding pregnancy questions and how much of an anomaly it is to have such a large family. He calls it, “Five kids, Catholic.” As if the Catholic part absolves  them of any sexual judgement. He talks on how friends have been distanced by their large family and how much sleep he has lost. He praises his wife, which is always nice to read.

Reading this book reminds me of all the things my sister tells me she wouldn’t trade for not having her two baby girls. It also reaminds me of the feelings my mom has said her daughters bring her. Pretty much, it reminds me of anything any parent answers naive, unaware, childless individuals. These responses include: how awesome it was to see his first child be born; how he, lover of sleep, has been able to accept their breakup for his children. He goes over how he copes with the unforeseen events of dad-hood in the playground, at restaurants, in the subway, and in his cramped apartment. 

The people I would recommend this book to is the parent that is adiment on being “text book”. There are events that are completely out of the parents control and you  just have to make due. For example, one day my sister and I were on our  way to the store with my then three year old niece. All of a sudden her tummy wasn’t feeling well, and she chunked.bsrk Barf everywhere, no extra  clothes, no napkins or wipes in the car. We got the kid naked and clean with whatever extra dry clothes there was. A quick detour to a department store and done. I see the struggle  of the crying two year old and I also see the joy of seeing another human being grow and mature and all of the laughs they create. For Jim Gaffigan… They create endless material. 

Conversations With The Self

have you ever had three conversations going on in your head all at once? How about four or… 1,000?

You know that little voice inside your head? I have one too and it has a name; BJ. I remember I was around 11 or 12 when I finally decided on a name. It’s like it was yesterday* cue in harp and clouds and a fade out from reality*: I was listening to a CD on my newly gifted boombox and having a conversation with said voice. I got annoyed that I couldn’t address the voice in my head by name, so after much thought I decided on BJ. It’s a girl, by the way.

Blah blah blah. The point of my post is:

Lately I’ve been having thoughts about my future that are not as simple as they used to be. Thoughts on my financial stability, the current situation being the culprit, my status as a long distance girlfriend, the possibility of moving back to my home state or moving further into the Pacific Northwest, marriage (it matters to me outside of religious reasons), kids (would I welcome the change my body will go through?), and the lack of discipline I have on mostly everything I do in my life. I’ll be well into my late twenties by mid this year and that’s also a scary thought. Is it true that your thirties is the hardest decade? What are stats on that? Get them to me. Pronto.

Then thoughts on mundane things float around in my head that BJ desperately wants to address. For example, I set a book reading challenge to 20 books this year. For some stupid reason it’s stressing me out. I also didn’t complete a 30  day workout challenge thanks to my menstrual cramps this cycle. I would have been done this week. I’m also thinking about all the things and places I want to go while I’m living outside California and… I can’t take it!

All these thoughts turn into full on back and forth conversations between BJ and I. Sometimes I have to shake my head to refocus on the task at hand. Sometimes BJ is not even part of the conversation, it’s just me talking to myself. Here’s a recurring one:

am I truly happy in my relationship? I mean if I wasn’t why would I be in it? What if because I’m asking these questions it means that I’m not? If I share these thoughts with him would he understand? I would tell him why I feel this way and at the end of the day I can’t force him to be someone he’s not. I want sweet nothings. He’s … practical? Maybe cheap or selfish. I deserve better. Why can’t I look for better? I feel guilty for thinking this way because he might not even know that he’s doing wrong by my definition. No. Fuck that! He should know how I am based on our talks. But I also should know how he is and it’s just me putting up with it. I never thought I’d be this girl.

here’s another one:

my year on this current job contract is up in 4 months. I have to decide to stay longer (would it be forever?), move to a big city further North or go back home? But what if back home has nothing? Close to home would mean about a couple of hours away or three to four (better than 12 I suppose). I said I wouldn’t ask him to move with me after our last talk regarding my status; I hope he does though. If he doesn’t its a sign- we’re not meant to be. I would love to move to a bigger city. That means more expenses. That means moving to the bigger city expenses. That means I need to have good money saved up. I fucken don’t have shit saved up. I don’t want credit problems- I’ve just cleared that mess up. If he moves with me… what will he bring to the table? Can it work? I really don’t mind being the bread-winner. We work well together. I can see it. I have to apply, interview, get selected BEFORE I start thinking about all of this. Gah! Why am I even… really, girl? I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. In four months.

I’ve felt like I can’t catch a break. It’s constant and incessant. I’m afraid I’ll bring on another anxiety attack with all these conversations. The universe knows I wouldn’t be able to handle that right now.

Como dice mi Nina, “que Dios me libre.”

Book Review: A Piece of Cake A Memoir by Cupcake Brown

cake

Last night I went to sleep late. That’s actually not worth mentioning since I stay up late all the damned time anyway. But, this time it wasn’t because I was watching fail videos on Instagram, or trying to find a good DIY project for all the wine bottles I have at home. I stayed up late because I couldn’t put down Cupcake Brown’s memoir A Piece of Cake.

I picked  up this book only having read the back of it and I thought: why not? I kept putting it off and finally I read it.

Maybe universal powers are playing a role in the stories I come across because there is a theme at play. These stories are of people that have had fucked up lives. Not because they chose to, but because … I don’t know, they just do. But despite those obstacles they have come out alive and  stronger and able to touch lives. I would really like to get into what I’m saying, but this is a book review.

La’Vette is the name on the birth certificate (I’m sure it’s legally changed now) but Cupcake is the name of choice. According to Cupcake that’s the name her mother gave to the nurse after being asked what the baby will be named. It’s the sweetest story. But, when her biological father, whom she refers to as Sperm Donor heard of it he immediately changed it to La’Vette.

Cupcake, at the age of eleven found her mother dead in her bedroom. That’s the day it all changed. She recalls not one family member offering to watch over her or her brother, Larry. During that time she found out that her Daddy wasn’t her daddy; she had a biological father. With the intent of coming up on their trust fund money Sperm Donor reached out to take his children. After finding out that the money was under the guardianship of Cupcake’s uncle, Jr. and with age stipulations, Sperm Donor had a change of heart. As much as her Daddy and Jr. begged to take the children the court wasn’t able to release the children from the biological father. Jr. lived alone and her Daddy obviously had no blood relation.

Shortly after the car ride to Sperm Donor’s house, without even stepping inside he transferred them over to Diane, a foster parent. Enduring physical, verbal, sexual, and emotional abuse she decided to run away. During this escape she came across Candy, a prostitute who offered her weed and showed her how to get a quick money (turning a trick). From the age of eleven to twenty-seven she turned tricks, had “business partners/arrangements”, sold furniture and appliances to buy booze, weed, crack, pills. She partied, drugged, drank. She moved from house to house, faced eviction, joined a gang, got shot, banged, and made friends, lost friends. She lied, cheated, stole. She wronged and eventually did right. These experiences, however, led her to have very strong opinions on men, judges, “the system”, police, friends, and family. I don’t blame her. She didn’t have the chance to be a child and have a childhood. She was robbed and survived to tell of it all. She hit rock bottom.

After making the decision to make a change she went through a rehab program and the 12-step program of AA. That’s where she met her Sponsor, Venita (aka V). She relapsed with alcohol. She struggled and fought urges. She cut people out of her life and allowed new ones in. She started school, dedicatated herself to it and made it out on top as a lawyer.

Cupcake’s story is uplifting and impactful. It showed me the road that I’m glad I never had to travel, or even had to come across. It gave me appreciation for my childhood and my life. It gave me another insight into humanity: the good and the horrible.

I am so happy to have read her story. I cried throughout the book because it pained me to imagine that there might be (and most likely) a little girl out there being robbed of her childhood because the system mishandled a case, a little girl being taken advantage of because of her innocence and vulnerability, a child being told she’s worth nothing, a child being starved, beaten, forced into drugs and alcohol because they don’t know any better.