Archive | February, 2012

The Rise of La Chona

29 Feb

It happens, even if you don’t have rhythm. It happens.  There’s a song that does it for you. Not just humming or singing the lyrics. It’s starts there, but then your head begins nodding. You hear the opening run and your knees bend a little as your hips start swaying. All of a sudden you’re having a Winona-Ryder-Ethan-Hawke Reality Bites moment at the liquor store.

As I mentioned before I love all kinds of music, I got old school, funk, country, and the 80s submerged in my bones. But this does not have me bustin’ a move in random places.

This happens to me every time I hear La Chona. Now Tucanes de Tijuana don’t play typical Guat music at all. My people listen to cumbias … groups like Sonora Dinamita and Fito Olivares but we dance it all. In my family we got marimba, cumbia, merengue, and salsa. But Tucanes de Tijuana … not so much. I don’t know how it happened but it did.

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

The song first hit the air waves in 1994, but I didn’t hear it until a couple of years later at a Mexican wedding and I was hooked. That little tune jump starts my battery and I’m out of the chair. It’s funny … the song is about a woman who loves to dance and party. Her husband doesn’t know what to do with her. She’s a dancing machine … they call her La Chona.

I was reminded of my Chona Reality-Bites moment, as I was looking through  old college pictures for this week’s photo challenge. I came across a couple of photographs of our ten-year college reunion: A group of friends at the local college pub.

This is where it happened.

We stopped by the campus pub after the homecoming game to get a few drinks. It was crowded, full of typical rugby-shirt, flip-flop wearing white dudes, and giddy, as well as hot-looking, blond chicks. Then we arrived: Latin Invasion. We reminisced, laughed, drank  and ran into old friends. But as everyone else was getting more drinks, a few of us checked out the jukebox, which was filled with Rock, R&B, and some 80s.

And then I saw it.

I couldn’t believe Tucanes were in a place like this. So I dropped my money in the jukebox and made the selection. B-17. I went back to the crowd and waited. Thirty-minutes later I hear the accordion and drum beat. I smile, kick the stool out the way and begin bustin’ a move…Guat style.

There was no official dance floor, but I made one. My friends stared at me as I hopped, swiveled, and kicked my legs around, while swishing my hips. My friends smiled and laughed. Do you think they joined me in this display of La Chona enthusiasm?

Hell yes.

We took over the bar for the next three minutes and seventeen seconds. We were so amusing, that  a couple of flip-flop wearing dudes stopped their dart game and began swishing themselves. This was the rise of La Chona.

Any time I hear that song … I hit the dance floor, even if there is no dance floor.

How about you … do you have a song?

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Indulge

28 Feb

Indulge

 

Indulge.

Indulge in face painting.

Indulge in tailgating.

Indulge in touchdowns.

Indulge in high-fiving perfect strangers because your team scored.

Indulge in interceptions caused by defense.

Indulge in beer.

Indulge in losing your voice in overtime.

Indulge in friends that stay ’till the last second.

Indulge in meeting the drumline at a local bar.

Indulge in pizza at midnight.

Indulge in the college football experience.

Indulge.

Hoo-Raw!

 

My Warrior Update #6

27 Feb

This is where my army or marine training would come in handy… if I had been an armed forces soldier. But I’m a writer. So I have to rely on my sad push-up regiment to help me conquer these Warrior Dash obstacles. You would think that the push-up would be easier by now and that I’d be doing five sets of twenty-five and be on the cover of Muscle and Fitness Magazine … but for some reason my weak left wrist begs to differ.

It’s got a kink. According to WebMD I could have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Psoriatic Arthritis. But apparently some of my friends feel WebMD isn’t the most trustful, so I will need to get it checked out by a regular-in-office-white-coat MD. Until then I’ll probably rely on BenGay, a wrap of some sort. and ibuprofen.

What about climbing?

Don’t you need wrist action for the Deadman’s Drop and Giant Cliffhanger?

Not really. I’ll most likely need biceps and quads. With all my merengue and cumbia dancing my quads are awesome. They’ll be fine. It’s only when I’m doing push-ups that my wrist is not happy. So as long as I don’t have to drop down and give someone twenty, I think my wrist will survive. Maybe I’ll start lifting some barbells to ease my wrist push-up problem. Regardless, I’m sure I’ll need some wrist strength on these climbing escapades.

The Giant Cliffhanger allows me the opportunity to “trek to the top of a massive slope” using rope as my guide. So I am basically hoisting my entire body weight up, over, and down this man-made slope … something you would see in army training, I imagine. But as long as it’s not a timed event, I’m sure I can haul my butt awkwardly over this challenge.

In the Deadman’s Drop I will “climb to the top and over an unhandy hurdle.” Safely… safely is the key word here. However, as you reach the top and climb over to the other side, the second part of this obstacle gives you two options: 1) go down a make-shift wooden slide where you may or may not get splinters on your ass or 2) jump the distance becoming the deadman that drops because you’re so tired, possibly twisting your ankle in the process.

Awesome choices … I know. I haven’t decided what I’ll do yet. Any suggestions?

I’m sure once I get up there my athlete instincts will kick in and I’ll make my decision on the spot, with confidence and without fear. Regular Guat Warrior, if you will.

Giddy up!

 

Party of Two: My Dad, The Oscars, Nachos and Me.

26 Feb

Different moments, different occasions remind me of my Dad. Random times. When most people are checking out what the stars are wearing down the Red Carpet and wondering why so many breasts are making appearances, I would always check the clock, because I knew my Dad was on his way home, ready for our Oscar Party.

Most people who I know don’t really make a big deal of Oscar Night. I mean they may or may not watch it. It’s not a DVR kind of event for them. But for me and my Dad…we had “the Dreamer’s Disease.” Well I had it and my Dad got it by association. I would tell him … “the day I become an awesome writer and get nominated for award like the Oscars or Emmys you will be date, Dad.” And when most people would laugh or just say get your head out of the clouds, his response was … “well I guess I’ll have to rent a tuxedo.”

The Oscars

The Oscars

It was a night where we hoped our favorite picks got selected. We also looked for the person with the most genuine enthusiasm as they received the golden statue, as well as the best speech. So far my Dad’s top pick was Cuba Gooding Jr. for Jerry Maguire. He smiled to see someone so happy. That’s probably what I would look like if I won. No he said…that’s probably what we would look like if you won.

Aside from looking for the most genuine, we’d also have a pool and side bets. My Dad would always choose Clint Eastwood, even when he wasn’t nominated he’d say Clint Eastwood would have won that one. Sometimes he’d go with Jack Nicholson. Sometimes he’d get it right, other times well …

But he’d get over it with food. Even though our Oscar party wasn’t ice sculptures and caviar, it had good eats, ambiance, and Guat humor. Carne asada, rice, beans, enchiladas, and nachos. I know it sounds like Super Bowl food, but for a writer and a dreamer the Oscars is the Super Bowl. With all the savory tasties you would think we had like ten people there, but no. It was just me and Dad. My mom would hang out for a little bit, but then go upstairs and crash, or watch something else. Premios Nuestros or Cristina, something like that. So for the most part it was just me and Dad, sometimes my cousin…the moocher.

But the best part was hanging out. Sitting on our worn-out couch stuffed with food, we’d sip our after-you-pig-out drinks: ginger-ale for me, coffee for my Dad. We hung out like buddies surrounded by decorations from the 99-cent store or Pic-and-Save, which I used to make it look more festive.

So today as I poured the cheese on my Tostitos, and covered them with chicken, pinto beans, tomatoes, avocados, cilantro, jalapenos, and sour cream I thought about my Dad, and how he’d probably enjoy the fact that Billy Crystal was hosting it again. I looked at this towering dish of awesomeness oozing with monster calories, and I missed my Dad, wished he hadn’t passed away.

I shook my head … too bad Clint Eastwood wasn’t up for it this year, Dad would’ve liked that.

Did She Just Say That?

25 Feb

Being a mom is an exhausting adventure. On a daily basis, you have one, maybe two, great things happen with your kids and then a landslide of disaster or the unexpected comes from your current environment, which can include anyone or anything. Today that landslide was my mother.

Her Dr. Jekyll-Ms. Hyde disorder, constantly stresses me out. I never know what to expect when she walks in the door. Some days she’s pleasant other days I just wonder how I made it this far.

I’ve been looking for an affordable place since Thanksgiving. What’s the deal with people not liking dogs. Sometimes I feel like I’m never going to get out of here. It’s pretty depressing. I might have to take up pole dancing because my writing gigs aren’t cutting it and blogging isn’t making me any money, but it sure is relieving my stress and I got plenty of it. Then author Eckhart Tolle reminds me why someone like me is in this condition … “Stress is caused by being  ‘here,’ when you want to be ‘there.'”

So as you might have guessed, this whole environment is contaminated with stress. Especially when she drops the comment. The one that gets under your skin…the one that just makes you exhale because you have absolutely no fuel left in the tank to respond.

After your normal craziness with kids: cooking, dinners, meals, dishes, sweeping, diapers, bottles, bath times and bed times, which incidentally began at 5:47 this morning and was ending at 9:24 p.m., you’re in the kitchen filling up your kid’s sippy cup when your mother is putting away some dishes and she says…”God I can’t believe how lazy you’ve gotten.”

Exhale…deep breaths…counting to ten in both languages, telling that vein in your forehead to retreat because it sounds even worse in Spanish.

Your amazed at your restraint as you sit speechless next to your son … and then he melts away the anger with a few little words. “Thanks for my water mom. I ‘preciate you. You’re a good mom.”

 Dude.

 

Street Smarts II: The Roommate From Hell

24 Feb

I don’t think anything could have prepared my cousin for this little adventure. Not even street smarts, well maybe it would have helped her prevail, but prevent … no. I don’t know if it was a coincidence or just weirdness. But just yesterday I wrote about my cousins, street smarts, and being aware of their surroundings when going to college.  They both have plenty of book smarts, but lack the street smarts instilled by the barrio. In our little conversation, I forgot to mention that sometimes you encounter the roommate from hell … and she drinks.

 

Under-age drinking still occurs on many campuses, and stupidity comes along with it. But sometimes stupidity is not the only personality trait that accompanies alcohol.

Apparently my cousin had returned from a party with her friends and had not invited her roommate. Well … more like she gave her the shaft because the roommate was a little too Jennifer Jason Leigh from Single White Female.

Police

Image via Wikipedia

So when she returned from the party the roomate wasn’t there. My cousin got her laptop and began surfing the net. Just as she was getting cozy the roommate came home, plastered and pretty hostile about being left behind. Sentences full of profanity and attitude followed. Then she snapped and began punching and kicking my cousin like one of those cage fighters.

My cousin was A) pretty shocked that this happened and B) confused that the chick who shares her toothpaste would freak out about not “running into” each other at a party. My cousin did her best to fend off the crazy roommate, I think the computer got pretty beat up too. After a couple of minutes the other roommate heard the yelling and screams and was able to break it up. Street smarts would not have prevented this, but I’m pretty sure it would have given my cousin the upper hand.

My cousin went to the dorm’s main entrance and spoke with the campus community service officer at the front desk. They called in about seven police officers. My cousin didn’t have any broken bones or sprains, just a lot of redness and some bruising on her arms and leg. She told them about the events and sure enough the boys in blue said they could have her arrested on the spot, but my cousin has a good heart and said no. She thought it was an isolated incident, even though the roommate drinks all the time. She thought perhaps when the roommate awoke she would have remorse. I probably would’ve had another answer, something involving handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit.

So according to campus policy the roommate from hell needed to be aware that A) she could be facing criminal charges, B) she was permanently getting kicked out of campus housing, and C) there would be a disciplinary hearing regarding the incident, her underage drinking, and probation, or possible expulsion.

They escorted my cousin back to her room to get her belongings and inform the roommate of her status. As they opened the door, they didn’t find a teary-eyed roommate from hell full of guilt or remorse. They found the roommate from hell half-naked on the floor making out with another chick and getting rug burns on body parts.

Dude.

If you’re not pressing charges, at least get a restraining order. This chick is from the Twilight Zone, only hostile, stupid, and horny.

 

 

 

Street Smarts: Sometimes Too Aware For Your Own Good

23 Feb
 

A while back my family got into a conversation about street smarts and book smarts. We thought about my two younger cousins and how they had the privilege of growing up in good neighborhoods and didn’t really need to cultivate street smarts. But as they get ready to go to college we began “the talks,” trying to educate them on street smarts, college life, and boys.

As we began talking about parties, the buddy system, and being aware of their surroundings, I remembered my own college experience and how one evening I became too aware for my own good.

I wish I could say I was coming back from a party or football game, but the truth was it was a late study session at the library. I know, total nerd. But there were semesters where I’d play some serious catch-up and since I was a night-owl I figured why not.

So my school was the center of this city and often raised safety awareness for female students. Telegraph Avenue was pretty much the nexus of life. Cafe, shop, and restaurant owners usually stayed open late. But once you got passed the area, the side streets were dimly lit and filled with bushes and trees where any crazy pedafile could pounce on you.

So the school usually had community officers that would escort you back home if you felt the need to do so. You know, some college dude that wanted to be a cop and was doing his service hours or something. You had to think of random conversation topics, because you didn’t want to walk in silence all the way to your apartment. I didn’t feel the need to talk about the best mochaccinos in cafes, seeing how I didn’t drink coffee and all.  I was also in a rush and didn’t feel like waiting at the library to get picked up, and since I only lived a couple blocks north of  the avenue I figured it would be all right. I had street smarts. I was a bad ass and I had mace. I’d be fine.

English: Pepper spray Polski: Gaz pieprzowy OC...

Image via Wikipedia

So as I finished my walk down the avenue and made a left onto my tree-lined street, I constantly looked behind me to see if there was any crazies stalking me. Of course there wasn’t. Nobody was around, and I could still see the avenue street lights and thought I’d be fine. I was almost home and then that’s when it happened … I had an idea.

I don’t know if it was because of lack of sleep or too much studying crammed into one session that knocked the common sense out of my street smarts, but it happened.  I scanned the area, making sure no one was around. As I was putting my mace away I notice the expiration date was in a few years. I thought, man I must have got a new can. I thought I don’t even know if this thing works. I mean what if it’s like a new pen, you know. You have to scribble-scrabble a couple of times before the ink comes out. So I thought I would test it out. I mean I had to be careful, because in the safety video it said this mist penetrated Levi jeans. I mean you wouldn’t even have to spray the perp in the face. You could spray the family jewels, and they would feel a burning sensation so powerful that they would think their package was on fire.

So I stopped in the middle of the street and pointed the can downward and away from my face. As I pressed on the button a stream, followed by a powerful mist came spewing out of the canister. Then I could hear God laughing because a strong gust of wind came whooshing by in my direction and blew the mace right back in my face.

Dude.

There I was … midnight in the middle of the street face burning,  blinded, crying and coughing. Mucus was everywhere. I could’ve totally been an episode of Law & Order. Luckily I had half a bottle of Aquafina left and I splashed that on my face. Still burning, still not breathing well. Not blinded, but blurry, like if I had cataracts. And still mucus everywhere. I ran back to my place the best I could and made it up the stairs. My roommate had a good laugh.

Sometimes I’m too aware for my own good.

So I informed my cousins that even though they didn’t posses a lot of street smarts, they would be all right as long as they didn’t test out mace canisters in the middle of the night.

Jesus and Andy Garcia

22 Feb

Cenizas. That’s a big day for Catholics. Usually everyone who ever entered a church in their life attends mass on Ash Wednesday. Even if they don’t attend the whole year you see the motley crew of Catholics, from the business man to the tattooed gangster. All under one roof for cenizas. It’s the day where most non-Catholics say … “Hey you got something there on your forehead. Did you fall down?”

It happens. I don’t take offense. That was the last thing on my mind on Wednesday night. I was thinking about the next 40 days and what if anything I was supposed to give up in “self-sacrifice”. Although since my dad’s passing, I’ve been in an argument with God, but I don’t know if He’s aware. I’ve been like Lieutenant Dan from Forest Gump, when he’s on the boat and it’s about to get hit by the hurricane. 

Anyhow, in my Lieutenant-Dan state I went to get my cenizas trying to think of something to “give up” the next 40 days. But giving up stuff has never helped my devotion, penitence, or faith. Instead I was thinking of giving to…as in giving people breaks, giving random strangers acts of kindness such as waving in hostile drivers so that they can merge into the lane. Being that chick that holds the door open at the 7-11 for the person behind me. Basically trying to be one of the characters in that Liberty Mutual commercial, a regular paying-it-forward cycle.

Andy Garcia

Image via Wikipedia

Just as I was pondering my list, I looked up and there he was, wearing his dark gray stylish jacket, burgundy scarf, and dark brown rimmed glasses. Andy Garcia. He made his way toward me and I paused. I didn’t know whether to approach him, ask him about any jobs, slip him some of my stories or scripts. We were in church. I wasn’t sure how to approach a celebrity in a holy-leave-me-alone-I’m-talking-to-God place. I mean he was in The Untouchables, Ocean’s Eleven, and Ocean’s Twelve. Granted he was in the Godfather III, but it was the third one and truth is that one sucked. I stood there thinking. Then he looked at me and walked right by me on his way to receive Communion. I thought maybe when he comes back around on the way for cenizas, I can talk to him. I couldn’t concentrate on God or cenizas, as I was trying to work up the nerve to approach him.

He hadn’t been in any movies lately and the only thing I recently saw him in was an independent movie I rented on Netflix. City Island, which incidentally was pretty good. So I waited, trying to think of what to say. But he never came back. 

So I stood there … thinking of my almost-Andy Garcia moment.  I felt kind of let down, then I thought…could’ve been worse…could’ve been Robert Redford or Robert De Niro. But if it was any of those Roberts, I think I would have jumped over Mr. Businessman and Gangster and crawled over a couple of pews. They probably would have been on the Liberty-Mutual-help-a-stranger-40-days of Lent plan, too.

You never know.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Down

21 Feb

Are you down?

 

I dare you.

What?

I dare you!

I’m down. Are you down?

Well, I’m down, if you’re down.

I’m down, if she’s down.

If she’s down, he’s down.

I’m down. We’re down! Let’s go. Let’s get in line. We’re down.

 

 

My Warrior Update #5

20 Feb

I’m not sure I can thoroughly prepare for this week’s obstacle. I mean I think I’m a little late on this one. I could have practiced when I was growing up at the neighborhood park, you know been like the other kids climbing that big geodome, but I wasn’t like anybody else …

There was no climbing in my neighborhood unless it was over a fence and even then it had to be for a good reason i.e. ditching school, running away from a suspect element, or getting the last baseball that got grand-slammed over the neighbor’s house, a regular Sandlot moment. But see these were vertical climbs.

Leave it to The Warrior Dash to have something called The Horizontal Hike, where I am supposed to “voyage over an arching obstruction”. Arching obstruction concerns me. Have you seen these geodomes in kiddie playgrounds? I was never one to climb those things. I was more of a baseball diamond chick, hoops b-baller lady, and volleyball Karch Kiraly/Sinjin Smith chica. I had no time to be falling through holes in playground climbing equipment. I fell on the field, much more dignified and athletic like.

I rock climbed a few times. I get a good grip, but once again — vertical. And incidentally it’s attached to a rock — a piece of Earth — and you’re attached to a harness and rope. Geodomes … no rock. No climbing equipment. Just a man-made wobbly structure made of metal, where I imagine if you slip, it might be painful. Metal, like wood, hurts and knowing my track record for being gravity challenged, I might need some ice packs and Ben Gay on demand.

But you never know, I could crawl over this thing like Spiderman and move on unscathed. It could happen. I got the power of positive thinking and visualization. It happens to golfers all the time. I just have to use this mentality while I’m out of breath, tired, weak-kneed, dripping of sweat, nervous, and prepared to “voyage” over an obstruction. Although adding some more push-ups to my workout couldn’t hurt.

Definitely possible. Dude … I’m an athlete. I drink Gatorade.