Mil palabras: Bruins everywhere

We are the mighty Bruins
Powell (College) Libary, UCLA

No matter the outcome of Saturday’s big game between UCLA (9-1) and USC (11-0), I’ll be satistifed.

There will be no kicking and screaming or a desire to inflict pain on anyone who wears the colors red and gold. I may still cringe everytime I hear that poor excuse for a fight song and hiss at the mere mention of the letters U and S and C in succession.

I also might randomly break into the Eight Clap or songs like “We are the Mighty Bruins,” “Hail to the Hills of Westwood” or “Rover.”

Even though I’m hoping la Tía Macaria will make her ánimas work in favor of a UCLA’s first victory since 1999 (she never heeded any of my requests for miraculous wins in baseball, I don’t think she was a fan), I’m also undeniably realistic and a bit of a pessimist. ‘SC has a 33-game win streak and is ranked 1 in the nation. We’re ranked 12. Still good, but the odds are against us.

Still, at the end of this season I may not have bragging rights for best football team in LA, but I sure will have memories of some exciting fourth quarters.

Go Bruins!


Fertile cousins and jealousy

Baby of the family I call their generation, los bisnietos. By now my cousins on both my maternal and paternal sides have their own families. The first, Marieica, was born when I was about 5 years old. The youngest, Andrea and Jocelyn, are 4 and 2 months old. From my count — which is probably off by one — I have 27 nieces and nephews, and surely there are more on the way. I have about three dozen cousins who are old enough to have kids (or already have a few). I’m one of those, but I feel like I’ve fallen behind.

I love playing with those kids, my nieces and nephews. I get them at the good times. They’re happy, not too whiny, they don’t poop and spit up on me. It’s good. But then my cousins — their mom and dad — take them away to their homes in some far off corner of Southern California. I begin to miss the bebes and know that I won’t see the child until he’s gone up another size to 18 months or the next mandatory family event comes up, whichever comes first.

I return to my empty, messy apartment and find my books, laptop and stuffed monkey. I ignore the discomfort of pregnancy and sleep deprivation of early motherhood and keep wishing for my very own itty bitty baby.

I suppose this is all selfish. It’s like when my cousins had the newest video game console or a 10-speed bike, except now I don’t want their flashy toys. I want to have the same living, breathing, shitting brown babies they have. I want older aunts and uncles to coo over my little one and try to figure out if she looks more like me or her daddy.

“N’ombre, she’s got Cindy’s big lips,” says my tía Martha.

My madrina Chilo shakes her head, “sí, pero, mira, que prieta está la niña. Tiene el color de su papá, no está tan blanca como Cindy.”

Possibly the best part would just be the way babies attack your senses. I love their smell (well, when it doesn’t involve shit), soft sighs as they sleep and the way they wrap all five of their chubby fingers around my right index finger. I can even handle all the noise they make.

Damn fertile cousins and their super-cute offspring.


Reunion on CP time

I walked into Bilal’s restaurant ten minutes after six expecting to find a dozen old friends reunited for dinner. Instead, I found only Rose and Arshad, the usual people I meet for dinner and none of the others who had responded to the e-vite. I should have known everyone would be late since we were notorious for running on CP (colored peoples’) time.

Rose and Ghaith, now a law student at NYU, organized the dinner to reunite former “mother org” and CPO student leaders. We all attended UCLA around the same time and were involved in various student groups. Despite coming from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, we still worked together on various campaigns. The height of our coalition work came during my third year, 2000-2001, when we organized to repeal SP-1 and SP-2, two policies that eliminated affirmative action at University of California campuses. After countless meetings, a few protests and even a turnaround road trip to San Francisco, we got to know each other pretty well.

Kei was the fourth one to arrive. Her normally neat black hair looked messy due to the high winds. She apologized for being late, but she was still “early” when it came to CP time. Yousef and his younger brother, Muhammad, walked in a few minutes later. I hadn’t seen Yousef since he left to Iraq in July. Afterwards, Ghaith and Mahmood came in. I used to work with Ghaith in the Community Programs Office. Rose mentioned something about needing a tan, but how is he supposed to get one in late autumn NYC? The two Iraqis (Ghaith and Yousef) and Mahmood immediately began discussing Iraq and Yousef’s experience working in the prime minister’s office. Nahui joined us next and agreed with Ghaith that even though the weather in LA was a bit cooler and a whole lot windier than usual, it was better than the weather in Michigan or New York. Bernice, a current UCLA student who had just returned from studying abroad in South Africa, was the last to arrive before we started having dinner. As we ate, Elisa arrived in time to still enjoy some good Pakistani food. Chris, Bryant and Tad were too late.

There were a lot of questions, like “what’s new?” and “how’s school/work?” The evening was good, except for when Kei asked me if I had spoken to Ome lately. Something inside me flip flopped. It was the first time someone with no idea about the situation brought up her name. I think Kei got the sense that she shouldn’t ask any other questions. “But weren’t you two roommates?” She let it drop after I shook my head and simply said no. I looked away quickly to Arshad so that Kei would not notice me blinking back tears. Arshad and Rose are the only ones who know why such a question would affect me like that.

It was a good reunion, but there were way too many people missing. Ome was one of them.


Mil palabras: Que laureles tan verdes

That's sorgum, not corn
Rosaysela en el sorgo (Rancho los Laureles, Guanajuato)

I bought my ticket to go to Zacatecas and Guanajuato in December. This time, I won’t be going alone. I’m flying out of Tijuana with Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni and going with them to their house in Jeréz, Zacatecas. My parents, and tía Martha’s family will drive in right before Christmas. My parents and I will split our time between Salamanca and Jeréz where we’ll party it up for Christmas, New Years, a wedding and a couple of quinceañeras.

I can’t wait to be back at el Rancho los Laureles where a half-dozen of my uncles and their families live in a huge house with an equal number of add-ons. Rosaysela is one of a four kids I had a great time playing games with. I hope she remembers me.


Way too much California

Grad students are relegated to the back of the bus I made two trips to Berkeley in the last week. Early Thursday morning, around 12:30 am, I left on a bus to Berkeley headed for the UC Regents meeting. My position as EVP of the GSA requires being pretty involved in university affairs and policy changes that affect students. The position is actually great for me considering I’m interested in this stuff academically.

I was the only graduate student on the bus, but that was okay. I like the undergrads, they’re all full of energy and remind me a lot of myself. They can make 24-hour turnaround trips to Berkeley and back to LA without blinking an eye. I’ve made a handful of trips like that myself, but that was when I was young (heh).

The organization I work with as the EVP, the UC Student Association, has been organizing for quite sometime regarding the issue of fee increases for all students at the UC as well as trying to get increased financial aid. The UC Regents — most appointed by the Governor, and a few ex-officio who serve by virtue of an elected position — are generally targeted for students for doing things like passing Standing Policy (SP) 1 & 2 in 1995 which eliminated the use of race, ethnicity and gender in admissions, contracting and hiring. Lately, though, all students are pretty fed up with the last 5 years of fee hikes. The last three years, which coincide with a budget crisis in California, have been the worst. Higher education is getting increasingly expensive in California (as it is elsewhere in the nation, as well). Tuition has increased 72% for undergraduates, 84% for graduate students, and 69%-131% for professional students, the lowest for nursing and highest for law and business schools.

Ahnika, from UCSF, doesn't want to be buried in debt At the same time the fees are skyrocketing, financial aid has been cut and there are other cuts to federal financial aid.

Anyway, the rally and march to Clark Kerr Campus (part of UC Berkeley where the Regents were meeting), went well but it was a day late. The Regents, had already voted to increase fees (bad) and financial aid (good) on Wednesday. That wasn’t necessarily the result of bad planning on our part, since the Regents traditionally vote on the budget on the second day of their meeting. Oh well.

I went home Thursday afternoon still a little confused about what happened at the Regents meeting and what the next steps would be from there, but that was cleared up on Saturday and Sunday at the UCSA board meeting. I flew up Friday evening… all that travelling takes it’s toll.

Over the weekend I spent 13 hours in a meeting split over two days, hoped that the Fresno State Bulldogs would actually beat SUC (not a typo), went out to a fun bar in Oakland with Vane and two other friends from LA, drove our PT Cruiser rental car with the top down, shopped at Rasputin’s, ate some of a nutella and strawberry crepe from Crepes A-Go-Go, got two know my staff better (Linh and Monte), took a morning walk by the Berkeley Marina, and had my second Thanksgiving dinner with my friend Victor and his friends.

I wouldn’t mind trips to Berkeley if the trip wasn’t so long. There’s just way too much California between LA and the Bay.