Ten… nine… eight

I didn’t join in the countdown, I just steadied myself against my cousin and others in our group in anticipation for the chaos at midnight.

And it was chaotic. Balloons fell, cheers broke out, people around me hugged and kissed. I didn’t join in. No boyfriend or date by my side to hug tightly and give a sloppy drunken kiss to in celebration of a new year and decade.

Instead, I swatted the silver balloons falling around me and settling at my feet. There were a lot. They crowded the floor so I couldn’t move, not that there was much room on the crowded ballroom dance floor.

As Jesús hugged Mariana and Jenn, I stomped. I stepped on one silver balloon. It popped easily under my heel. I popped a second, then a third, a fourth and so on until the area around my feet was clear.

A tall white guy — whose silly sunglasses I had borrowed a few minutes earlier for a photo to add to the weird eye-wear files — asked, “whoa, where is all this aggression coming from?”

I shrugged my shoulders. I didn’t know.

I felt out of place at the Roosevelt Hotel’s New Year’s Eve party. It was too Hollywood. My simple black dress wasn’t shiny, short or tight enough. And my heels didn’t look like a torture device. Still, I was having a good time sipping on free drinks and dancing. My original NYE plan fell through, but Jesús saved me (hah!) with a last minute opportunity.

I snapped a few photos. The tall white guy kicked another balloon my way. I stepped on it with my heel and relished the pop.

Cuentos, Los Angeles

Sunny California

Hail in LA

My mom didn’t watch much TV when I was growing up. In fact, I rarely saw her just sitting around doing nothing.

“No real work is done when you’re sitting,” she’d remind me as I’d take a seat while folding laundry.

Still, she did turn on the TV for background noise when she ironed. Most of the times it was the afternoon newscast. That was practical. She could get an update on rush hour traffic and know when to expect my dad and get the weather forecast.

In listening to these newscasts, I mistook the anchors’ “Southern California” for “sunny California.” This made much more sense to a kid growing up in the drought years as Tony! Toni! Tone! sang “It Never Rains (In Southern California)”.

I write all this to give you an idea of why I’d complain after four straight days of rain during dinner with my advisor and fellow grad students.

While my fellow advisees — tired of sloshing around campus, traffic and taking the bus in the rain — felt my pain, my advisor did not.

“You need to leave California, Cindy.”

She had just returned from a work trip to Michigan and surely some rain and lows in the 40s were little to complain about.

I pouted.

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Chilaquiles at Homegirl Café

I love chilaquiles. They’re so simple yet so tasty.

A couple of years ago I started a project to review chilaquiles at local Mexican restaurants. I did one review and then let the project go, but continued to eat my fair share of chilaquiles. The problem with reviewing food is that a photo is necessary, but I often forget to stop and take a picture.

On Friday morning, I was patient… at least for a minute.
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01.21.09 | 07.04.09 | 12.31.09

I don’t like before and after photos. They’re misleading. And yet, here I go making my own of sorts. Before*, middle, and end… of the year, definitely not the end of my efforts to improve myself and my health.

In fact, I can’t see myself stopping any of the new good habits I’ve learned and honed over the year. They feel like second nature. Even when I feel lazy, I know that cooking my own food will be healthier and will save me money (a lot more important to me these days). I crave fresh fruit and vegetables. When I slack off on running or going to the gym, I miss the runner’s high and the good feelings I get after getting my heart rate up and breaking a sweat. I like cooking and my new, awesome apron. I don’t even mind the cleanup, I like washing dishes.

It’s the fact that these habits feel like part of me now that I know I will keep moving forward, accomplishing new health and fitness goals.

I have a number in my head. It’s arbitrary. I’m not there yet. I don’t know if I even really want to get there. A few months ago, I told myself I’d stop when I could fit in to my sister’s pants. I tried on some new slacks she got as a Christmas present. They fit fine, if long. Once she gets them tailored (we’re the same height), I know I’ll be borrowing them.

So, now what? I’ll get down to the arbitrary number just because I know I can. If you know me and my mini obsessions, you can probably guess what it is. I’ll maintain that and add some new fitness goals.

*Rather, a week in to my weight loss efforts


Coffee commemoration

I thought about her all day. I looked at photos and wondered how to best commemorate the tenth anniversary of her passing. Brunch seemed like a good idea, but I woke up too late for that. A visit to the cemetery in East LA would have been good too, but I had a long day at work and there would be traffic. There’s always traffic. I settled on coffee. Grandma loved coffee, but I never really developed a taste. I drink it occasionally, the cravings having come after I had my first really good cup a couple years ago.

I didn’t have a cup of coffee until after dinner with friends. (Which explains why it’s 2:45 am and I’m not sleepy.)

When I got home, I searched through my archives for the piece I’d written about the day she passed. I didn’t need to do it again, an advantage of being a long-term blogger (and before that I wrote everything in journals). There’s also a downside to this constant chronicling. As I re-read old posts, I find myself back in the same place I was in January 2000. And once again, I get teary eyed and the pain is fresh, kind of like when you scrape off the scab over a wound.

Below, I’ve pasted a post from the old blog. Minutes after I wrote this, I learned that my Madrina Bertha had passed away after a battle with cancer. RIP, Grandma and Madrina Bertha.
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