The Earrings

Remember when you gave me the Mayan jade earrings?

It was the Friday before Christmas ’05. We agreed to meet at your place before you left to the Bay later that evening. Since we wouldn’t see each other on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, we’d be exchanging gifts that evening. In your brightly lit bedroom full of books and replicas of Mesoamerican artifacts, we nervously argued over who should go first. You went first and handed me a box small enough to fit in my open palm.

When I opened the box, I didn’t seem too jazzed. My face — always my enemy in these situations — gave me away. Perhaps any girl who opens a small box containing anything aside from a diamond ring would’ve reacted the same. Of course, I wasn’t expecting a diamond ring. After all, we’d only been dating for six months. I wasn’t quite wifey material.

I told you that evening and several times later that I did like the earrings. I meant it, I’ve never been a good liar. The dark green jade felt nice in my fingers, incredibly smooth. They looked nice hanging from my ears too. Still, I rarely wore them. You never failed to point that out.

I had excuses. Good ones too. I didn’t have much in my closet that went well with Mayan jade. And they were heavy. I could only wear them for a few hours before my lobes started to hurt.

I wore the earrings yesterday. For the first time ever, I didn’t have to take them off half way through the day.

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On beauty

I know I’m beautiful.

I know this because of my parents*.

My mom is beautiful. My dad is handsome. Since I have their genes, and many of their other not-so-visible but more wonderful qualities, I think that makes me good looking.

This logic works for my siblings too. Lori, Adrian and Danny are all beautiful/handsome.

*Going back to my grandparents and looking at my extended family, I’d have more evidence to support my conclusion.

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Luck (times two)

Adrián

I got around to checking my email a little after noon yesterday. I scanned the subject lines for the most attractive. These two caught my eye:

“Congratulations! You have won BABASONICOS tickets from Losanjeaous!”

“You Won Tickets to Attend Babasonicos’ Concert tonight!”

For a few seconds, I wondered why Losanjealous sent me two notice emails and then I remembered that I’d entered a contest earlier in the week with La Banda Elástica. Dude, I’d just gotten quite lucky… twice!

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Presents and presence

A conversation between me and my almost 14-year-old cousin on Saturday during our other cousin’s baby shower.

Stephen: did my mom tell you about my birthday party on the 21st?

Me: yeah.

Stephen: are you gonna come to my party?

Me: yeah, I’m pretty sure I can make it… Is there anything you want for your birthday?

Stephen: oh, you don’t need to get me anything.

Me: but it’s your birthday.

Stephen: yeah, but birthdays are not about presents, that’s what my parents taught me.

I was initially baffled by Stephen’s response. What 14 year old kid these days does not want birthday presents?

But then I remembered my 8th birthday party. My tía Patty and her husband showed up without a present. I was a brat/mocosa back then, so I went to her and asked, “what did you bring me?”

Oh man, she put me in my place.

I told tía Patty what her son said. She wasn’t surprised.

“Iván and I taught him that birthdays weren’t about presents. He knows that if people come to your birthday party, that’s enough because they’re there celebrating with you. If they want to bring you a present, that’s okay, but you shouldn’t expect a gift.”

I like Stephen and tía Patty’s attitudes.

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Flashback

I ran in to one of my old students, X, and his best friend yesterday. They both graduated last year, were science students and were quite involved on campus.

I counseled X during his first and second year when I was director of MEChA Calmecac, a counseling and mentoring program for UCLA students. Our goal was to raise the graduation rate for Latinos, which was quite low in comparison to other groups when concerned MEChistas began the program in the late 1980s. The director position was my first (and only) full time job. It was extremely challenging, but I loved counseling and working at the Community Programs Office, which is full of bright and talented student leaders. Calmecac led me to graduate school where I decided to focus on retention and persistence issues for Latino students.

While working at Calmecac, I realized that I wouldn’t get to see my work come to fruition. After counseling my students for two years, I’d be off to graduate school and would no longer be there to help out. But I never really left. I stayed at UCLA and kept in contact with some of my old students. They’ve all since graduated.

Yesterday, X and his best friend, brightened up an otherwise dull day. Not only did X remind me of a great time in my life, he also said something that made me feel like I did something right. He explained to his best friend, “I used to have to meet with Cindy every other week because I was on academic probation. And now look at me, studying for the MCAT.”

X takes the MCAT on May 31st. I hope he kicks ass.

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