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a crafty Xicana, madly in love with L*, writing about the way we are now

Updated: 2017-09-14T03:36:54.161-07:00


Walking on Shoreline


I just walked two miles on the shore line. It was wonderful!

I carried my stolen stainless steel water bottle for hydration and protection. It felt pretty safe there. Not nearly as many people as the Lake (which feels very very safe) but also not as many dogs or goose shit. I was thrilled to find two water fountains on my walk, where I recharged.

I passed a pile of doggy doo and then thought about the bag in my pocket, thought about having to see it again on my way back, and then doubled back to pick it up and throw it away. I am feeling very virtuous about this--which means I am not truly virtuous, or I wouldn't have to brag about it. But still.

I was originally going to walk at the Lake, but as soon I as got into my car (which is actually a solar oven: I can't believe I've been wanting to BUY a solar oven when I already drive one) I decided it would prob'ly be too hot and maybe funky at the Lake (see goose shit above) and that it's always cooler by the ocean. So I went. I dutifully texted my husband, so that she wouldn't think I had been absconded with.

There was an oil spill recently, so the beach itself was closed but the walking path was open. There were lots of folks in "Public Works" helmets and vests around. And horses. (because horses are not affected by things like oil spills? I think not). And I saw something big in the water, I thought maybe it was seals, but it turned out to be Ginormous Pelicans. Dark ginormous pelicans, so I worry maybe they were oily. they were hanging out together and stretching their ginormous pelican necks.

I have confirmed that The Wiz (original broadway cast) is the best music for walking. "Though you know your walking might be long sometimes/ you just keep on stepping and you'll be just fine".

I've asked Nora and Jolene (not their real names) for advice about our wireless situation. I suppose I should check online to compare the range of an average apple airport with some of the other routers. They are tugging on their network of friends and family to find me some answers.

I was thinking about L*'s mother Vivian (not her real name) today. She also lives near the coast: just about six blocks away. And she enjoys her morning walk when it's not too cold. She has a neighbor, a grouchy old guy, with a new dog, I think I chocolate lab. Full of energy, fun, will come up to you with a ball to throw. (the dog, not the grouchy guy). Anyway, the guy puts his dog in the car to drive the six blocks to the ocean, to walk and play with the dog. Maybe he just doesn't do sidewalk?

I also ate a "sweet lemon" today. A sweet lemon is not actually sweet: it's just not sour. It's like somebody took all the sour away from the lemon but left the lemon there. And the bite is still there. So it's actually a little like eating a lemon peel. But my very old neighbor, don Eladio (not his real name) gave me the lemon, like it was the first time, even though he's done this like four times now, and said "Taste this! It's as sweet as sugar!" The other times I've picked a little at the lemon, but today I decided to actually eat it.

Something I actually did fix


I'm always writing to Nora and Jolene [not their real names], asking them for directions on a project which I never actually do. Today I actually did something, though, albeit not something for which they had given me directions.

Apparently, I have been simmering in renter's resentment for three years. Three years of things that the landlord never fixes. Three years of things that you tell him about and he promptly forgets. Or responds several months later "Oh, you didn't mention it again so I thought it fixed itself."

I hear tales of people who call the landlord for every little thing, and it is immediately fixed. I growl softly, under my breath. Clearly, I mutter, they are not renting from somebody's younger brother. A mental gesture to all the men in this world who don't see what there is to be done until their older sister tells them. All the men just like me.

So now we are buying this house. We are either going to close this Friday (Please, God, let it be this Friday, as L* says) or on the first of July. One or the other. Almost for sure.

And L* has been working on her garden. Planning her future garden. We bought a book on square foot gardening and I even read it. L* built an amazing shrine today full of color and beauty and life.

And I actually did fix something. I was washing my face in the kitchen sink, because the water pressure in the bathroom is so pathetically weak, it's too frustrating to try to wash your face in there. And as I was face first in the towel, I thought about when the plumber came to fix the washing machine, and when he saw how pathetically weak our water pressure was in the kitchen sink, he borrowed one of my sewing needles and fixed it.

And then I went into the bathroom and eyed the faucet in the sink. I went and got a pair of pliers out of the pantry, and unscrewed the little thingy. I peered into it and saw teeny tiny little rocks blocking the holes. I got out a sewing needle and pried them out. Rinsed it well, and screwed the thingy right back on.

And there was flow! We are still rejoicing in the flow.

L* was very very happy when I showed her. Happier even than rejoicing in the flow. It turns out she was so happy because I saw the problem, and rather than lamenting it or resenting it, I put my noggin together with my initiative and actually fixed it.

Now I am eyeing the bathtub faucet, which does not have an handy little aerator to remove and clean out. And wondering what it would take to fix the flow. And thinking of that book that we used to have (okay, that I stole from my mom), which described 101 things to do around your house. So now I'm thinking of getting another book like that. (sans larceny) and of actually fixing something else.

the children


I'm a the public library, where the kids are all
competing heavily in the summer read-a-thon.

For perhaps the millionth time,
I get the idea that you, me, and all our smartest friends
should get rich writing children's books.

a little munchkin has sat down at my table.
she is trying to read comic books
that are above her reading level. too cute.
"I'm going to find a magazine to read" she says.
her dad strolls by to make sure she's okay and that I have no designs on her.

this is ever so much more interesting than working on a tenure file.

a six(?) year-old boy says of the (latina) munchkin,
"wow, that's girl's small. and she knows english"

he himself knows chinese and is chinese, he announces.


a girl ran by who looks just like my friend wendy amai from forty years ago
(even though I only met wendy amai thirty-five years ago.)

the two boys sorting through the comic books announce
"I can't stop itching like a dog"

Here in Oakland, libraries provide the function of free day care.
So now that school is out, the libraries are bursting with kids,
whose parents dropped them off this morning and will be returning
for them after work.


a litter of pre-teens was escorted outside for a 15 minute time out.

the little munchkin has starting squealing
"I'm not screaming! I'm not crying!
I want some pizza!"

her (Anglo) dad calmly leads her out the door,
announcing "a little too late."

"for what," ask the librarians.

"for naptime."

"pizza! pizza! pizza!"

I'm lonely now.
I know I could fit at least a couple of these kids into my backpack.

[Nora writes to me that on no account am I to do this,
unless I plan to barbecue them. Nora takes pride
in her complete lack of maternal impulses. towards humans]


the librarian with the frizzly hair
has her own meltdown
and drives the moneylending
preteens from the marketplace.
Or the temple.
something like that.

One of the little charmers
speaks of the librarian in the third person
"she's got issues!"

fortunately, before the librarian with the frizzly hair
resorts to violence, her cheerful butch librarian friend
comes to her rescue.


only the second day of summer vacation
and already banished from the library.
a poemlet:

the children who were driven
from the house of books
mill about the entrance
eyes hungry
faces blank
surely, nothing they had done
has called down this banishment.
the powers that be
are obviously
having a bad day.

Hipsters, Samson, and family vacations


This semester I'm teaching 2 classes of first-year students. (My third class has students from all levels, including a lot who will be graduating this spring). It makes me think about how we re-invent ourselves. A new school, in particular, is always an opportunity to re-invent yourself. You can declare a new diminutive to your name or insist on the name in its longest form. You can be vague about your your background, your history. You can become a cultural nationalist, or queer, when previously you were assimilationist or homophobic. (I say this having gone through all of these transformations, myself.)

I'm starting to notice a pattern in school vacations, though, and their effect on the students' self-invention. And it is manifested in hair. Last semester, for example, this big white dude had this big hair! It was like the redheaded guy from Room 222. I mean it was huge!

After thanksgiving, he came back with a shorn head and baseball cap. Which to me, means he went home for the holiday, and his mama took one look at him and grabbed him by the earlobe and dragged him to the barber.

Or that girl with the weave: it was really well-maintained but also just looked like a cap of braids sitting on her head. She came back from spring break with a new crop that is much more flattering to her face.

But one of the guys, a long-haired Latino, also came back with a shorn head, and it kind of made me sad.

Maybe because I agree with parents whipping their teenagers into shape when it looks like they have "no home training." (Personally, I would like to send them photos of their kids walking around campus in pajamas and yes, girl, a towel!--did someone steal her clothes while she was swimming?) But when the kid's self invention challenges gender norms--even a little bit--then it seems more like a squashing. I don't particularly think that this kid is queer (certainly in Chicano studies long hair on a boy is not a clue to his sexual identity. In fact the gay guys tend to have short haircuts. and good product.) but his long hair was cool and lovely. And now he looks like a baby bird.

Writing in the dark


I'm sitting all alone in the dark and I'm not even depressed. This is weird. Apparently my illness this week kept us both from finding out about Earth Hour, when everyone is supposed to turn off their lights at 8pm. L* was in Santa Cruz visiting her parents. They told her and she called me. She's still not home by eight, so I dutifully turn off all the lights. Actually she didn't tell me it was earth hour, she said "you're supposed to turn off your lights at eight" and so I didn't really know how long I was supposed to keep them out.

Not very long, it turns out because there my doorbell rang. My neighbor, Sherri, is brining us some home-made minestrone, so I turn on a couple of lights and give Sherri some heartfelt thanks. (I had no plan for dinner, since L* made dinner for her parents). Then I got turned off the the lights again and got online to find out what the deal is. Ah, there's L* driving up now. Now I don't have to be alone in the dark.

Happy sounds


I'm feeling much better today. the cough is still there but the unrest in the badlands has been resolved. L* and I are planning a de-tox housecleaning. starting with the bedding and working our way out. I wonder, should we wash the curtains too? It is spring, after all.

Asthma and allergies have been really bad all around, and I haven't even been running the air purifier, since it's pre-filter needs to be replaced. arugh.

A quick trip to the Food Mill to stock up on non-toxic cleaners. While I was up yesterday morning, i watched a slew of green shows on the Discovery Home Channel, and with all the info about non-toxic cleaners I just kept thinking about all the respiratory issues L* and I both have, and feeling like we really need to be going that route.

L* is outside helping our elderly neighbor Eleazar plant his beans.

Oh, so, happy sounds! What are your happy sounds? No matter how low I'm feeling there's always one sound that makes me so happy. It's this shuffle-shuffle-run-stamp L* does when she's chasing one of our cats around the house. It's extra noisy so that the kitty knows she's coming and has a chance to race away to safety.

On the flight out to Austin, I finished reading B.D. Wong's Following Foo, about childbirth, parenthood, etc. Really tremendously moving. Prob'ly should be required reading for all prospective parents. But anyway, at the risk of spoiling the book for you, the part that spoke most strongly to me (and note that I wept several times while reading this book) was a the very end, when he says
There isn't just one dramatic thing that happens in your life that makes you "get it" forever.

Which to me mean, that even when you go through these traumatic life-changing experiences, when you make it through them, you're still you. You're not some transcendent know-it-all who suddenly has all her shit together.

Post-conference Doldrums, household hopes


L* and I are back from the big NACCS conference in Austin, Texas. We arrived at noon, got all cleaned up, and went out to look at open houses in the realty world.This one house had come on the market for $300,00 and we just couldn't believe it was real. We had to go see it. And the buyers were out in droves for houses in our price range. For example, the 300k house was not having an open house on Sunday. But as we were peeking through the gate, this nice lesbian mamilia pulled over and told us how to get in through the back yard. And while we were there, another lesbian couple came by and chatted it up with us. It was gorgeous on the outside (though a lot of work!) but the inside had been "flipped" in one of those not so great ways. (wood laminate and marble or faux marble tiles) and the money had clearly run out before the project was done. There were already two offers in on it by the end of the day.We called Our Realtor Friend (ORF) and asked if she could take us to see the inside of that one and a couple of others this week.It was easter sunday (funny how that slipped away in it all) and as we went over to the natural grocery store to pick out the greens and yummies for our dinner, we decided instead on an Easter supper: mustard-crusted tofu batons, asparagus, whole wheat crackers with fig tapenade. It was yum and delightful. and then the awful sickiness grabbed hold of me and gave me the beat down. Maybe it was all the virtual whuppings from all the all those facebook zombies, and slayers, and vampires finally catching up with me. Let's just say that there was terrible turmoil in the digestive badlands, both north and south.(my hair held up surprisingly well through all of that. Note to self: Must blow-dry with laminates more often)that was sunday night. monday and tuesday disappeared (for me) in a feverish haze of sleep. Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday meant a load of work for L*, because her grades were due Tuesday, and what with all the traveling, conferencing, and writing two new presentations, she was tired and still had a lot of work to do. The retching girlfriend installed in the master bedroom didn't make for the best of working conditions. But she stocked me up with seven-up, organic bananas and organic applesauce. L* went out to work in internet cafes which would feel less like a sick room. She worked like a trooper too: grades for all classes in by Tuesday afternoon. She starts teaching three new classes next week, so the work isn't really done for now.She did find time to do the house tour with ORF and that just had her mind click-click-clicking too. Thinking about the the 500k house on the same street as the 300k one, except the work was all done really nicely, with mature fruit trees and a fabulous deck, and space for all the raised beds of L's dreams. for prob'ly, what? $1000 to $2000 more per month (than what we're paying now). It's so overwhelming and crazy. It's easy to fall in love with houses we can't afford. Turns out one of the other houses we were looking at--the ugliest house on a great block--was actually an indoor pot farm complete with a pit bull. (that explains the odd sheds in the backyard). L* is working tremendously hard on the house hunt. After finishing grading today, she went out for a healthy dinner and then cruised by nine more properties.I'm finally feeling a little better. Drinking big mugs of sport tea (black, green, and some máte plus electrolytes) and I actually ate a banana and had some applesauce. My body wants all the drugs that keep me at peace with my environment (antihistamines, decongestants) but I'm too afraid to try them.I watched a show this afternoon called Greenovate, where this co-housing duplex (gay couple with daughter downstairs, single woman with daughter upstairs) did all the kinds of things we think about. Full house water filter (so you're not bathing in cancerous chlorine). Reverse osmosis w[...]

Open House hobbyists


One of our favorite things to do on a Sunday afternoon is to go visit the real estate open houses in Oakland. We've been going for quite a while: a year and a half, actually, and seen a lot of changes. The realtors all know us by face. That's not really a good thing: we represent the hard-to-convince prospective buyer who's prob'ly just wasting your time.

Also, sometimes we suffer from absent-minded professor x 2. As on this Sunday when we walked into to a house only to realize we'd already been there two weeks earlier. The (same) realtor looked at us skeptically, "Did you come back to buy?"

She knew we hadn't: on our previous visit we'd pointed out oddities like the extension cords running across the baseboards, and the cracked plaster behind the potted plant.

We complain about lots of stairs, because we won't be able to climb them when we're old. We walk into expensively-flipped kitchens and proclaim "hideous!"

L* has an innate sense of direction, so she usually knows which neighborhoods we're in, what we've seen before, and she's been keeping an eye on which houses have sat on the market, which are new listings, and which are bank-owned.

Me, I'm more like those people with short-term memory loss: every day is a surprise.

Lately we've been around Maxwell Park, Millsmont, and some other little area with all these "storybook" houses.

L* likes to chat up the realtors. Even the hooty lesbian one who one time told us we needed to look "on the other side of the freeway." She apparently has the same short-term memory problem as I, since the next time she saw us she radar-focused on L* and said "I"d love to meet to talk about your dream home." All my femme hackles came out and I've all but hissed at her every time we've seen her since.

We saw two houses we liked last weekend. Both of which are almost in our price range. Of the blue one, which I liked, L* said "I don't know if we're up to it. It's kind of a 1920's glam. We're more mid-century rasquach." That is, it might be too much effort for us to try to live up to the 1920's glam. Yeah, we could get the blue velvet couch that L* has been wistful about, but what will we do about the cat hair?

Well, we're in no hurry (at least until our landlord decides to put our house on the market).



Okay, we are now both officially democrats. Or I am, anyway. My card came yesterday. L* will be official on Tuesday (the next business day). We had to re-register in order to vote in the primary.

I had a lot of confidence in the guy at the Lake Merritt farmer's market who took L*'s voter registration. Unlike the folks on the SFSU campus. I think they get paid per card or something, but they don't necessarily every send the forms on. No, really, I had to register like three times when we first moved back to California, because the first two never went through. If there's one thing I hate, it's going to vote and only being allowed to cast a "provisional" ballot.

The Sign





I got called for Jury Duty. Had to defer again! I know! I must be the only person in the country who really wants to be on a jury. A runaway jury. Why didn't they call me at the beginning of January? I have most of the month off and am just eager to come down to the courthouse. But no, they call me for the second week of classes. I'm deferring again in the hopes that they'll call me early in August when I will again have time to do my civic duty. But even if they wait till late September, I MUST go next time. It's the LAW.

I know. I'm kidding myself. Like they're really going to put a professor of (queer) ethnic studies on a jury. Yeah right. that's really going to happen. But it could! Maybe I could be vague in my job description: education. What do you teach: critical thinking. Or no, better to say science fiction rather than critical thinking. Then they'll think I'm totally out of touch with the real world, and I'll have better chance to get in.

Back to The Borderlands...



No, that's not my biological time clock. It's the timer counting down to the start of spring classes.I know all the rest of you teacher types are already hard at it: L* is in her second week of classes, after all. But my semester doesn't start till next week. I'm re-tooling the science fiction class, "Race, Gender, Science Fiction." Background information: I've been developing this class for years, at three different institutions. Every time I've been able to teach it, the enrollment has been really small. My record high was twelve students. This semester, I'm trying it out as SFSU's first ethnic studies class that is wholly online. The student response thus far has been, overwhelming. There are currently forty-nine students enrolled and ten students on the wait list. And it's one of three classes on science fiction being offered this semester (the other two are in the English department).The syllabus is very close to finished, although I'm disappointed not to be able to squeeze in more films. That's okay, though, because Cinema Studies offers a Science Fiction class (just last semester, in fact) which includes the Alien films, the Matrix films, and Children of Men. So I'm settling for the original Planet of the Apes and a lot of TV episodes. (Dark Angel, ST: TNG, The X-Files.) The books I'm using are fantastic. Octavia Butler's Dawn, Samuel R. Delany's Stars in My Pocket like Grains of Sand and Sesshu Foster's Atomik Aztex (you should hear me making conversation about the latter at a cocktail party!). The last time I taught this, the students read all three books of the Xenogenesis series, which they finished way ahead of schedule. I'm still finalizing the course requirements. I'm dropping some of my previous strategies (student journals, creative projects, blogs) in favor of more structured discussion on the class forums. L* has helped me a lot on this class, because she's the master of the online class. I've been reading over her syllabi and just been wowed by how well she constructs her classes. I'm also teaching two sections of Critical Thinking this semester. I do believe this is the first time I've taught two sections of the same class since I became a professor! I'm using an anthology Re-Reading America which I've used before. I always say I'm not going to use it, I'm going to put together my own reader. And then I start marking the pieces that I want to go in the reader: Malcolm X, Melvin Dixon, Inés Hernandez-Avila, Langston Hughes, and the next thing I know, I've marked fifteen or so pieces from the same book. It annoys me, though, to see what they've taken out in subsequent editions: Leslie Marmon Silko, Jimmy Santiago Baca. And instead we have the same Richard Rodriguez excerpt that appears in almost every freshman composition reader. I'm starting to sound like my old grad-student self again, when I complained that the first edition of the Norton Anthology of Women's Literature included not one Chicana writer, although they felt the need to include all of "Jane Fucking Eyre." And the discussion questions really assume a white middle-class readership. That means, though, that we'll get to critique the discussion questions, take them apart, see arguments they're implying or stereotypes that they're buying into. And of course I'll bring in some supplements: the poetry of Mohja Kahf, Pat Mora, and the late Diane Burns, to name a few. We really do need to publish our own reader though. I'll have to write that in on the ten-year plan. In the meantime, though, there's another timer running down for a book review that's due now, so I'd better get back to work.[...]

Good Eats


L* wants us to try one totally new recipe (or totally new ingredient) every week. We're thinking of joining our local CSA, as soon as we figure out our closest pickup point. That'll mean we'll be getting produce that's local and in-season, which will call for some creative cooking on our part.

L* has already gotten the jump on that though, with a recipe using dino kale. It's amazing stuff: I see it growing in our neighbor's front yards. (That's one of the things I love about living in Fruitvale: people grow vegetables in their front yards) So L* found a recipe for mustard-crusted-tofu with kale and sweet potatoes. One word: Yum! No, two words: Healthy yum! It was so delicious. The kale was cooked with lime juice and ginger and wasn't at all bitter -- and I had tasted it raw while I was cleaning and chopping and I was very afraid of the bitterness "It sure is kale-y" is what I said, "This must be a cruciferous." But cooked it was tender and tasty and not at all "kale-y."

The reviews of the recipe said a lot of people found that the mustard didn't stick well to the tofu, and L* certainly experienced that, but it was totally delicious. We wondered if it would stick better if the tofu was first dusted with flour (or dipped in egg and then flour). Totally delicious!

Then last night, we had our second totally new recipe in two days! Singapore noodles! L* saw the egg noodles at Berkeley bowl and couldn't resist them. She cooked them up with shiitake mushrooms, green onions, curry powder and I don't know what all. It made a mountain of noodles but we ate every last one. Not as healthy as some of our other meals (noodles ≠ whole grain) but very yum.

We also received a wonderful care package from Julien in Miami: three delicious teas, two green and one black (chai). Mmmmm. We're going to become tea connoisseurs, that's us. (geez, I had to look up how to spell both shiitake and connoisseur. I must be out of practice)

Nina Simone, Feeling Good


Birds flyin' high, you know how I feel
Sun in the sky, you know how I feel
Breeze driftin' on by, you know how I feel
It's a new dawn; it's a new day; it's a new life for me;

Fish in the sea, you know how I feel
River runnin' free you know how I feel
Blossom on the tree you know how I feel
It's a new dawn; it's a new day; it's a new life for me;
And I'm feeling good

Dragonfly out in the sun, you know what I mean
Butterflies all havin' fun, you know what I mean
Sleep in peace when day is done; that's what I mean
And this old world is a new world and a bold world for me

Stars when you shine, you know how I feel
Scent of a pine, you know how I feel
Freedom is mine, and I know how I feel
It's a new dawn; it's a new day; it's a new life for me;

Assisted Living


Sheila Ortiz Taylor's mystery is a delightful novel, a cozy, a comedy-of-manners, and a new take on industry growth in the aging of Baby Boomers.

As a long-time reader of Ortiz-Taylor's fiction, I was thrilled to see in Violet March a reincarnation of the sharp and witty Aunt Vi from Faultline (1982). With her purple state-of-the-art walker, which she can turn on a dime, Violet March is an intrepid sleuth. The ensemble of supporting characters includes Diana Reyes, a Chicana lesbian accountant with a suspicion that someone is cooking the books. (Violet occasional envisions Death himself as an accountant.) I particularly like the sympathetic ways Ortiz Taylor portrays the different aged inhabitants of Casa de Sueños: a musician composes in his mind an Opera on Aging. I'm fascinated by the cosmology of the grounds (modeled on either Dante's Inferno or Paradiso, depending on your perspective). No doubt that is why people are dying to get in. and get out.

You'll enjoy this novel if you're looking for a murder mystery with a quirky heroine. Or, if you've just finished reading Ortiz Taylor's other novels, including Coachella, Faultline, or Outrageous, you'll be happy to reach for Assisted Living.

I really want to recommend this novel to specific people who I think would like it, but I'm afraid they might take it as some comment on their age...

Novel knitting news...


Okay, we're four days into December, and I need to fess up. I did not finish my novel. I did not write 50,000 words. I did write 25,000 words, (about 95 pages) and generated some cool ideas, interesting situations, and characters I really care about. La BendyPalm is a most fabulous writing partner, and we swapped drafts pretty much daily.

I discovered my own penchant for blowing things up, high drama scenes, crazy xikana nationalism, and adventurous women. And there were these crowds of supporting characters: prostitutes, children, drag queens, nannies...

In the meantime, my house is not that clean. My inner Stepford Wife** has been locked in a closet writing, but yesterday I let her out to clean the front entryway.

L* has been very patient with me through all this.

My progress was solid until around the middle of the month, when I had stacks of grading that my students actually expected would be returned to them, graded. Then I traveled to New Mexico for the guajolote days, and was fully engaged with all my family there. I wrote a story with my niece and youngest nephew about all the rest of the familia. My mom's comadre cooked us up an enormous traditional feast, complete with homemade, yeast biscuits. She made a cherry pie and my sister made a pecan pie, and everyone lavished me with lots of tender-lovin'-care.

And I brought back chile. Lots of chile. Not as much as if we had a decent freezer: five red, three green. And last night my love made us black bean chilequiles filled with chard and bañados in New Mexico red. Oh, what a joy! Oh, what a delight! We licked our bowls clean and then went back in the kitchen to scrape tastes from the baking dish. Let's just say, my L* is one in a million.

Alas, no leftovers for lunch today.

It snowed when I was in Roswell, and they don't ordinarily get much snow, so it just must be me (last year when L* and I tried to go to New Mexico after chirstmas we were completely snowed out. I mean they closed the interstate!)

Now it's back to work full time for the last great push. It's going to be quite a month, as our international familia is coming to town with the newest grandbaby.

I just wanted to let y'all know that the novel didn't kill me.

**don't take that Stepford Wife stuff too seriously. I'm just so spacey and pokey when it comes to housekeeping that I practically need to join a cult just to remember to put away things when I take them out, do my laundry, empty the trash before it spills on the floor, and so forth. and I ask for a lot of praise for these little tasks! everybody tell me how good I'm being!!



A tip of the nib to all the bloggers out there participating in NaBloPoMo, National blog Posting Month, in which they will post every single day in November. I'm already enjoying all the extra posts out there.

I'm saving up all my pennies for the novel though. You can see my progress in the red bar in the yellow widget to the Right---> (currently 9,325 out of 50,000 words).

So far I've still managed to take care of things like scooping cat litter and getting dressed and putting on makeup. I'm sticking to the minimum of 1667 words per day. Money in the bank.

The current soundtrack is eclectic in the extreme. I call it Kweer Country, actually, and it's already cycled through Willie, Dolly, Johnny, Reba, and Joan, and now it's on Loretta:

It'll be over my dead body,
so get out while you can
'Cause you ain't woman enough to take my man.


You better move your feet
if you don't want to eat
a meal that's called Fist City.

Los Días de los Muertos



L* and I saw this in Crafty Chica's book and fell in love with it.
Here's to all the wonderful animalitos our friends and family have lost this past year.

Midterm #1


Whew, L* was a harsh taskmaster with me today, but she got me to finish all of my midterm grading for class A. Class B takes their exams tomorrow, so it was really important I get rid of the old ones.

A bizarre development. Nxi the cat has had several accidents today, both times in my study, and both events in close vicinity to the stack of midterm exams (blue books, actually).

Not all that close, gracias a las diosas. I don't even want to picture having to grade and return fouled exams!)

Well, I'm due for a bubble bath and a masque after all that hard work.


A Matrix of Animalitos


If you look at the wireless networks in our neighborhood, you'll see ours, plus one called solyluna and one called roosterandpig, and one with the rather uninspired name of Wireless###.

As we drove past a mural in the Mission on Saturday, I looked at the animals painted there and realized that "rooster and pig" must refer to the Chinese zodiac signs of that particular couple. Then we started talking about our signs, Rat and Snake, although I had to confirm the snake on google when I got home. But I was pretty sure.

And when we were at the El Dia de los Muertos celebration at the Oakland museum, they were doing prayers to the four directions. And then I went to Xoloitscuintle's web page and he had the aztec calendar there, so I had to go look up both of our birthdays. And, we both have the Tochtli the rabbit in our birthdays,


which is so cute with its fangs. and i remember how my sister and I used to always express our fears of "killer rabbits" in rural new mexico. (this was before monty python).

So I was thinking of tattoos again and wondering if there were aztecan or mayan rats or mice or snakes that would look cool. Snakes for sure. But so far I'm getting distracted because there are actual species (genus?) of animals, the Aztec Mouse (Peromyscus aztecus) and the Mayan mouse (Peromyscus mayensis).

So if you know of a cool aztec rat or mouse, let us know.
The Snake is waiting!


The War on Los Días de los Muertos


Okay, ignore that Right-wing drivel about the War on Christmas. We have a serious problema going on at craft stores across the country. At least the mainstream ones: Michael's Crafts, Joann Etc, Beverly Fabric. (I won't even start with Hobby Lobby. Which I usually refer to as "Hobby Lobby which is closed on Sunday so that their employees may worship with their families" Several people to whom I have said this respond with "Lots of places are closed on Sunday. That doesn't make them überChristian." Ah, but Hobby Lobby has a sign by the front door, specifically saying "We are closed on Sunday so that our Employees may Worship with their Families." I always want to go after that sign with a sharpie and write in "even the Jews." But you know that's a big lie: I'm sure the employee application has a question about worshipping with your family on Sunday.)Okay, but back to my point: La Guerra contra los Días de los Muertos.Admittedly, it is already the middle of October, which means fifty percent of the floor space at these craft stores is devoted to...yes, Christmas. Now, L* and I have been enjoying The Crafty Chica's Collection. Now you know Crafty Chica rocks for los Días de los Muertos. One of the great pieces she has in there is this fabulous little shrine with Calaveras. She says to buy a "dollhouse cabinet" from a craft store. Between us, L* and I have been to all three of the big craft stores in the area, and no luck on the dollhouse cabinets. Nor were there any wooden boxes that would work for shadow boxes or shrines. That's a little suspicious, don't you think?Here's what's more suspicious: no marigolds. There's a lot of fake flowers to be found and Michaels crafts, and at this time of the year, many yellows, golds, oranges, and reds. Chrysanthemums, sunflowers, black-eyed susans. No marigolds though. That's odd, isn't it? this is really the season for marigolds. But no, none.Nor are there any skulls or skeletons to be found. Mummies, ghosts, jack-o-lanterns, tombstones, black cats, witches, cobwebs, yes. all of those. but calaveras, no. I'm beginning to sense a conspiracy! It's like they're going out of their way to make it impossible to build a traditional altar. Okay, so if there's no marigolds, we can always make them out of crepe paper and florist wire and tape. Except, hmmmm, no crepe paper. Yeah, something's rotten in the state of craftilandia!No molds for sugar skulls (and I totally want to try filling them with plaster of paris and seeing how they come out.). And you can find those everywhere online and at Oakland's El Corazon del Pueblo (support your local arts stores and panaderías!) But not at any of these crafty lady stores. Which have an obscene amount of wedding swag.In fact, I'm sensing a whole heteronormative narrative here: bridal-to-baby. I would suspect an anti-queer agenda. If it weren't for all the feather boas. And glitter. And rhinestones. And spangles. And Christopher Lowell.Crafty Chica has good directions for papier-mache skulls, by the way. That's on our list.Anyway, I think we need to launch a soldadera campaign to reclaim the days of the dead. It's not just about white kids parading through the Mission! It's not just about hipsters and art galleries. It's about serious rasquachi home-made altares. (You think I'm exaggerating, but some cemeteries are now coming out with reglas for what you can put on a grave--no food, no tin can containers, et cetera. Clearly targeting fabulous people-of-color ceremonies)Note: This is my 400th p[...]

Happy Birthday!


Today is my L*'s Birthday!

I'm In



Okay, I'm gonna do it.

I only wish I had structured an Ethnic Writers class around it this year. Just imagine! We could spend all of September and October reading and outlining, November writing our asses off and December celebrating (and editing--but december is short!)

Oooh, and then I could do a spring class which would have the pre-requisite of the Nanowrimo 50,000 word novel, and we could workshop it all semester long.

A girl can dream, can't she?

Throwing up my Immortal Soul


Well, that's what if felt like, anyway. Yesterday a stomach virus hit me like a Mack truck, in L*'s words. And she should know, having been awakened by the sounds of my retching. We are praying that--though it is no doubt a highly contagious virus--L* was not infected.

Students turned in projects and quizzes this week, which is no doubt how I got myself infected. (Another reason for online education, right there!) Of course, my brilliant decision to give blood nine days ago probably had a depressing effect on my immune system: in other words, my body was holding out a welcome sign to all viruses passing by.

L* took very good care of me, rushing out to the grocery store, plying me with pedialyte and saltines, and warning me away from other things I considered ingesting. She also had the best medication in her stash, which worked (and knocked me out) so that by last night I was feeling more myself again. I took a bath, put on clean pyjamas, brushed my teeth, washed my hair. you know, the things that make me feel like a person. I listened to tapes by Pema Chodrön and Clarissa Pinkola Estes, to soothe my restless mind.

L*, by the way, spent the day working on her manda. Earlier this year she revised an article she'd previously submitted to the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. She rebuilt the altar, promising a manda to la Virgen when her article was accepted.

For her manda, L is creating a mosaic of La Virgen. It's coming along beautifully and fully absorbs L*'s attention, so she is able to set aside worries like sick girlfriends and work for classes. So much so that she is going to a cafe this afternoon to work on her classes, where she will not be distracted by la Virgen's siren song.

The International Journal of Psychoanalysis


L*'s article "Primal Scenes of Miscegenation" will soon be appearing in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis.


Go L*!
Go L*!

Yeah, baby!