Team Mosqueda runs the Puente Hills YMCA Turkey Trot

I was already awake and listening to the rain when Lori texted me at 5:55 on Sunday morning.

“It’s raining right now.”

“Do you think we should just not do it?”

I hoped she’d want to back out of the annual Puente Hills YMCA Turkey Trot 5K/10K. I’m sure we both preferred our warm beds to the cold and rainy morning.

But Lori, always a trooper, didn’t back out. Instead she suggested we wear trash bags over our running clothes to keep us relatively dry.

Ten minutes later I was dressed and headed east with Sean to pick up Lori before making our way to our final destination, the Puente Hills Mall (yes, in the suburbs a 5K/10K starts in a mall parking lot).

Thankfully, the rain had stopped by the time we registered and lined up for the race. As expected, the turnout was low, a good sign for us. There were even fewer people running the 10K, which gave us a better chance at winning a turkey. In previous years, Lori had placed second and just missed winning a turkey.

The race itself was rather uneventful and led to a great run. I didn’t have time to set up my iPod Shuffle so I ran without music. I didn’t miss it since I was running with Lori for most of the race and occasionally talking. On the last mile we started loudly humming “Eye of the Tiger” and cheering on other runners just to be silly.

In previous weeks I’d been running the 10K distance at least once a week and doing speed work. It paid off as I clocked faster miles and finished with a personal record. My first mile was a little over 8 minutes, but I doubt the accuracy of the mile marker. I’m not that fast even on a relatively flat course on a cloudy, cool morning. But, I was running with Lori and I’m sure she pushed me to a faster 5K (26:26) and 10K time overall. I finished at 53:45 just behind Lori who had more energy for a sprint at the finish line. That’s a personal record for me.

At the finish line, we met up with Sean, who had been cheering us on and snapping pictures and then waited for the awards. Based on Sean’s assessment that few, if any, of the women who finished ahead of us in the 10K looked to be in our age groups, we expected to win something. And we did.

I placed second in my age group. Lori placed first in hers and took home her first turkey. I like small community races.

We celebrated with breakfast at our local greasy spoon and then went home and napped.

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De pollos y privilegios

I wasn’t leaving my parent’s house, just loading up my car and clearing my laundry baskets from the living room. As I loaded the trunk with my baskets, Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni looked on from their swing beneath the broad shade of la mora (the mulberry tree).

I put the second basket in, closed my trunk and walked over to them.

“Your trunk is big,” Papá Chepe observed. I didn’t argue or try to explain that my old car had a bigger trunk.

Mamá Toni agreed and added, “You can fit a couple of pollos in there. Two, no three, one on top.”

In case you’re unclear on the terminology, my grandparents had just sized up my car’s usefulness for smuggling migrants across the border.

I remained silent, took a seat between them, and listened as they told me about my cousin, V, and her husband who live in Arizona. Well, lived. V’s family is one of thousands of families with mixed immigration status and citizenship. She and her two daughters are citizens, but her husband is not. I had no clue about this until recently; it’s not as if I ask my family members if they are here legally or not. I’m unsure if V’s return to Zacatecas is related to SB 1070, but do know it has to do with her husband’s immigration status.

My grandparents didn’t seem worried or even saddened about V’s family’s move. They used the same matter-of-fact tone as they had discussed my trunk’s ampleness earlier. I was a little saddened. I rarely see my cousin and her family. I had just seen V reunited with her siblings and parents scattered from California to West Virginia in the spring for her niece’s First Communion reception. There were a lot of joyful tears at that surprise reunion.

That afternoon, I was once again reminded that I’m not as removed from the recent immigrant experience, especially that of undocumented immigrants, as I tend to believe. My mother and father’s families migrated legally in the 60s. They have the benefit of legal residency or US citizenship. My cousins were born here and thanks to the 14th Amendment, we’re all citizens too. We can access federal and state financial aid (yay loans!), work legally in this country, obtain an ID or driver’s license, and travel freely to Mexico. We don’t “live in the shadows” nor fear that local law enforcement will turn us in to ICE if stopped at random traffic checkpoints.

I get angry and upset over the lack of any real immigration reform, the stalling on the DREAM Act, and Arizona’s SB 1070. But it’s an anger over general injustice. It’s all kind of abstract until it affects my family.

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Fourth grade blues

Lotería Chicana turned 9 years old a few days ago. November 7th, to be exact. I don’t keep track of these things like I should.

If my blog was a kid, she’d be in 4th grade.

LC is having a tough time in school. She’s scolded for her poor academic record and many missed assignments. When she does do her work, she lacks the enthusiasm and creativity she showed in earlier grades.

Her concerned teacher asks, “What’s wrong, LC? When you show up to class, you seem distracted.”

LC nods and admits that she is distracted and does miss class often due to her monthly trips to New York. She looks forward to PE much more than language arts, math or social studies. She’s less interested in photography too.

Her teacher doesn’t even noticed that she spends most of class cutting out pictures from magazines, listening to podcasts, passing short notes, and making mixtapes for her crush.

And finally, school isn’t like it used to be a few years ago. Her best friends moved and now go to different schools. Some of them stopped going to school all together.

Maybe middle school will be better for LC.

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Brainfood

I’d spoken to several parents and emailed a few, but Marta[1] was the first parent I’d met in over 4 years working at [science program].

Jorge, a junior, was one of our rising stars. Along with several other students, he was presenting his research at a national conference in Anaheim. Marta, who lived locally, attended the community day portion of the conference on the final day.

I got to Jorge’s poster first. Rather than talk about his research, which I wouldn’t understand anyway, we discussed his experience at the conference. His mother stopped by mid-conversation. He introduced us before turning to the woman who was there to judge his poster.

I had a short conversation with Marta. I learned she was from Guadalajara and had a couple other children who looked up to Jorge.

“You must be proud of him,” I said in Spanish.

She replied enthusiastically, and then confided that she wasn’t sure what she did to get her son to UCLA. Even her family wanted to know her secret.

“¿Qué le diste de comer?”[2] they’d ask.

I smiled at the thought of Marta feeding Jorge a heaping plate of talent for math and science coupled with a tall glass of ganas.

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