Familia, Mememe

On the 9th anniversary of my 31st birthday

Sean is pretty awesome at planning birthday surprises. On my 30th birthday he flew out to LA from NY to surprise me on my doorstep. Unwittingly, I messed up the surprise he envisioned. I spotted him walking up my driveway after I stepped out to take out the trash. He was bummed, but I was still happy to see him.

Today, my 40th birthday, I got in the way again. I spoiled his plans for a surprise breakfast of chilaquiles by going out for a long run (6.2 miles!) in the morning. He still made the chilaquiles, but I had them for lunch instead. Then we watched the video he made. Sean coordinated with 35 family and friends (not counting all the kids and babies!) to sing me Las Mañanitas and send birthday greetings. I messed it up by accidentally hearing a little bit of my cousin Bibi’s greeting while he was still editing the 15-minute video a few days ago, but he played it off.

The video was PERFECT. It even included a blooper reel. Of course, I cried while also laughing and singing along. 

My sister later sent me a video of the full version of her duet of Las Mañanitas with my dad. It wasn’t the same as hearing them sing outside my window to wake me up (which they did when I turned 20), but they still sounded amazing and I get the bonus of watching it over and over.
Last fall, inspired by a monthly doodle challenge to draw a party scene I drew my 40th birthday party. I knew there was no chance of it happening and as July became August I started to feel down. I felt a little silly because I’ve been fortunate to weather this pandemic okay. Not having a party for a milestone birthday seemed small when others have lost so much this year including missing milestone celebrations. Then I took the time to read one of the wellness emails from work. I usually skip them, but a comment by a colleague on the article about toxic positivity caught my attention. It was what I needed that day. I realized I was minimizing my own feelings. It’s okay to be sad.
After all, I knew the party wasn’t at the heart of my sadness, it was knowing that it’d be many more months until I was in LA again and around my parents, siblings, tías and tíos, cousins, and friends. In March, sheltering in place didn’t feel hard because I had just come back from being around family for my padrino José’s funeral. But we were approaching the end of August and I knew we’d likely finish 2020 without feeling safe to travel.
I’d love to be in LA surrounded by loved ones and celebrating in person, but I know we can’t do that. The video was the next best thing.
Whether they’ve been in my life for 40, 20, 15 or 5 years, their presence is the true gift. Thank you for making me feel loved and I can’t wait for the time when I do get to see you again.
Amigos, Bebe, Mememe


My birthday was pretty awesome.

Xavier was the first person to wake me up and wish me a happy birthday at 1 am. He gave me cuddles after his midnight snack. He did it again a few hours later, but didn’t sing “Las Mañanitas.” He left that up to Lori.

Pancakes at S&W

Sean and I went out for a first breakfast of pancakes at S & W Country Diner. Even at 8 am, the place was already busy. Xavi slept through the noise.

We relaxed at home for a little while before getting ready for a reunion lunch with college friends/former roommates. I met these women 15 years ago as freshmen and quickly became friends.

There have been many long MEChA meetings, late nights staying up writing papers, parties, happy hours, weddings, a few babies, and sadly some tears.

They treated me to lunch for my birthday and oohed over Xavi. I know babies are an attention getter, but didn’t expect so much attention from strangers.

Chilaquiles & black beans

I had my favorite Mexican/savory breakfast dish for lunch, chilaquiles.

I bumped in to my friend Diana and met her boyfriend as they were finishing up brunch at Homegirl Café. It was quite a nice surprise since she was only in LA for the long weekend.

I got birthday greetings from many friends and family members.

And then I relaxed at home with my favorite guys and tried to stay cool.

Listed, Mememe

Diez cosas

I got tagged by Julie and Shelby, two fellow bloggers for a blog award. This means I have to — well, I don’t have to, but I kinda like these memes — post 10 fun facts about myself.

1. I’m a dumbass. After doing a short easy test run a few days before the Long Beach Marathon, I iced my hamstring. I wasn’t thinking and affixed the ice pack against my bare skin. I left it there for 20 minutes. The result? An embarrassing and itchy ice pack burn. Thankfully, it wasn’t a serious burn and went away in a few days.

2. I subscribe to 34 podcasts. Some of those are super short or song-of-the day types, but several are 45 minutes to more than a hour long. I always have a podcast to listen to at work or for a run.

3. Whenever I feel pretty bummed about running, I remind myself that I’ve only been doing this for a little over 2 years. If you would have told me in early 2009 that I’d be able to run a half marathon in <2 hours (okay, barely) or run a marathon, I’d have laughed at you.

4. I watched Toy Story 3 for the third (fourth?) time on Saturday. I cried again. I blame hormones and the fact that I’m a wuss.

5. Aside from persistent gray hairs and paying bills, the biggest difference I notice about getting older is that I now regularly get motion sickness on roller coasters and spinning rides at amusement parks. I always loved the rides that made me super dizzy, now they make me want to vomit or give me headaches. Also, I used to be able to read in a car without any problem. I occasionally get queasy when I read in a car or on the bus, especially if there are a lot of turns or jerking motions.

6. I probably look a little too long when I see a mixed (black+another race) baby or kid when out and about. I blame my biological clock and the fact that I look forward to being the mother to Mexican+Jamaican babies.

7. The food I most often crave is plain old frijoles de la olla, basically a freshly made pot of pinto beans. I love beans and am so happy when I can steal some from my mom’s house.

8. Since high school my mom has predicted that I wouldn’t marry a Mexican man. She was right.

9. I get that a lot of beauty practices are painful, uncomfortable, and time consuming. I avoid most of those, but will deal with things like eyebrow and upper lip waxing because I like the results. However, I won’t suffer for fashion. I tried on a sequined dress last week just for fun. I think I looked okay in the dress, but was very uncomfortable. I left the shop feeling itchy and with red marks on my skin.

10. I take my right to vote seriously and like going to the voting booth. I’m not the most informed person when it comes to politics. I mean, I can talk about the stupid things Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann said during last night’s debate. However, I do nerdy things like write letters to my representatives on issues I feel strongly about (see: the DREAM Act) and volunteer for political campaigns when possible.

I’m supposed to tag someone, but I’ll skip that part.


The mouse and the butterfly

Mom should get all the credit on my birthday

I had a pretty low key 31st birthday followed with a long weekend in Napa and San Francisco for a wedding.

Sean and I spent the day at Disneyland & California Adventures. We’ve had annual passes since the beginning of the year, but have only used them twice since they’re weekday only passes and we’ve been blocked out for most of the summer. Yeah, I bought the cheapest pass.

Loved the upgrades to Star Tours

We arrived at Disneyland around 11 and made a beeline to Indiana Jones for fast passes and then got in line for Star Tours. I’ve never been a Star Wars fan. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the trilogy all the way through. I’ve never seen the prequels. Still, Star Tours has always been one of my Disneyland favorites. Prior to the renovation, the lines were always short and it was a nice respite from hot summer days. With the renovation, we waited 20-30 minutes, but it was still worth it. I missed the familiarity of the old story line, but seeing the new scenes they generated was pretty cool.


We spent the next three hours going on rides new to Sean (it’s only his second trip) like Indiana Jones, Splash Mountain, Autopia and Big Thunder Mountain. Most of the summer crowds were gone, so lines were pretty short. After lunch at ESPN Zone, we went to California Adventures and went on a few rides including the Toy Story-themed Midway Mania.

Trying on some new Mickey ears

We left Disneyland a little after 6. On the way out we stopped by the store at Downtown Disney and found some interesting hats.

We met up with my mom, Adrian and his girlfriend Alexis in Hacienda Heights. Dad, Danny and Lori were all working so they couldn’t make it. We went out to dinner at my favorite restaurant, Mariposa Inn in Covina. I’ve had many birthday dinners and brunches there. My mom requested we sit in Nacho’s section. We’ve been sitting in Nacho’s section for 20-something years. Even though my mom hadn’t been to the restaurant in a while, they caught up like old friends and talked about the changes at the restaurant since the longtime owner, Raudel, passed away a few years ago. Naturally, Mariposa felt different without him.

Some Birthday Flan

I came home to the last of my presents from Sean, a shiny new iPad. He spoils me.

It was a good birthday. Now I just need to get things ready for the birthday party.


31 today

I wanted this piece

Earlier this year, my good friend Rio asked me to write a guest post on his blog for his 31st birthday. Rio’s used his talent and creativity to surprise me on past birthdays (see: birthday activity sheet #1). It was only fitting that I repay the favor.

I lifted what I wrote for his blog and made some changes.


Las Jaras

I’m jealous of Rio. Today, he gets to say he’s 31. I’m counting down the days until I can say that. Yeah, I know I’m not your average woman.

I’m obsessed with the number 31. I take photos of it when I see it randomly on a bus or sign. I make a point of noting it as a hashtag on my Twitter feed when something is #31ftw (for the win, e.g., my favorite baseball player Andre Ethier hitting 31 home runs in 2009) or #31fail (e.g., Justice Sonia Sotomayor getting 31 nay votes in her Senate confirmation). My friends and family don’t get it, but they still send me photos when they spot a 31.

The truth? I don’t really get it either. My affinity began late in high school. That was when friends started teasing me about my many crushes and I earned the nickname “31 Flavors.” I didn’t mind it, after all, I was born on the 31st of August. Soon, the nickname became part of my first email address. I grew out of a lot of my other high school/early 20s mini obsessions. Not 31.

As for the photo series, that didn’t begin until I bought a digital camera in 2004. The next spring I went out to lunch with my ex-roommate at a diner. We ordered our food and the cashier gave us a number for our table. It was 31. I had to take a picture.

Soon, I was spotting it around school, LA, in my travels and so on. I took more photos. My friends and family spotted the number occasionally and sent me photos too.

I kept it up for several years, but never sat to think about what 31 means and why it’s awesome. Some reasons why:

  • The best months — January, March, May, July, August, October and December — have 31 days.
  • Some of the best days of the year are on the 31st (César Chávez Day, Halloween, NYE, my birthday).
  • It’s a prime number, a self number and all kinds of other cool math stuff I don’t really understand.
  • California, my beloved home state, was the 31st state admitted to the Union on September 9, 1850.
  • The motherland, Mexico, is made up of 31 states.
  • In Lotería, the 31 card depicts las jaras, or the arrows. (I think this is pretty cool considering Cynthia is one of the names of Artemis, goddess of the hunt, forest, hills and moon. I’m also pretty keen on the moon.)
  • Baskin-Robbins has 31 flavors of ice cream. Yum.
  • In the periodic table of elements, Gallium has the atomic number 31. It’s primarily used in semiconductors.
  • Nick Hornby wrote a book called 31 Songs all about songs that have impacted his life and his music taste.
  • Thirty-one rhymes with “flirty one” and “dirty one” making for a particularly sexy year.
  • The Dodger record for a hitting streak is 31. Sadly, Andre Ethier didn’t tie that record.
  • If you subtract 31 from 100 you get 69. I won’t espouse on that one because I’m an adult.
  • The old 31 line of the MTA started in the neighborhood where I was born and continued west in to the heart of East LA.
  • I live on the 3100 block of my street.
  • Greg Maddux, one of the best pitchers in the 90s, wore #31. His jersey has been retired by both the Cubs and Braves. (Fun fact: he pitched for the Dodgers in 2006 and 2008.) Reggie Miller (Pacers), Mike Piazza (Dodgers) and Kurt Rambis (Lakers) also wore #31.
  • Aimee Mann has a song called “31 Today”. I can relate to it in some ways.
  • If you inverse 31, it makes 13, which might not be so popular in Northern California, but is more liked in LA and Southern California.
  • If you add the digits of 31, you get 4. There’s lot of cool things about 4, like the 4 elements, 4 directions, Cuatro Caminos from Café Tacuba y más.

Those are all just random reasons, but I’m pretty sure 31 will be an awesome year for Rio. I can’t see why not.


for those of you who thought you'd be forgotten...

Yes, I’m happy to say “I’m 31” when someone asks my age.

As for the 31st birthday, it was low key. I spent the morning and afternoon at Disneyland and California Adventures with Sean. We rushed through several short lines and finally got to check out the new Star Tours. I loved the old version, but the upgrade is pretty neat. Throughout the day, I heard from several friends near and far (e.g., China). Their birthday greetings made me smile and feel loved. Afterward, we met up for dinner at my favorite restaurant with my mom, Adrian and his girlfriend. The rest of the familia was working. I’ll really celebrate with the extended familia and friends in a few weeks at my birthday party.