31 today

I wanted this piece

Earlier this year, my good friend Rio asked me to write a guest post on his blog for his 31st birthday. Rio’s used his talent and creativity to surprise me on past birthdays (see: birthday activity sheet #1). It was only fitting that I repay the favor.

I lifted what I wrote for his blog and made some changes.

***

Las Jaras

I’m jealous of Rio. Today, he gets to say he’s 31. I’m counting down the days until I can say that. Yeah, I know I’m not your average woman.

I’m obsessed with the number 31. I take photos of it when I see it randomly on a bus or sign. I make a point of noting it as a hashtag on my Twitter feed when something is #31ftw (for the win, e.g., my favorite baseball player Andre Ethier hitting 31 home runs in 2009) or #31fail (e.g., Justice Sonia Sotomayor getting 31 nay votes in her Senate confirmation). My friends and family don’t get it, but they still send me photos when they spot a 31.

The truth? I don’t really get it either. My affinity began late in high school. That was when friends started teasing me about my many crushes and I earned the nickname “31 Flavors.” I didn’t mind it, after all, I was born on the 31st of August. Soon, the nickname became part of my first email address. I grew out of a lot of my other high school/early 20s mini obsessions. Not 31.

As for the photo series, that didn’t begin until I bought a digital camera in 2004. The next spring I went out to lunch with my ex-roommate at a diner. We ordered our food and the cashier gave us a number for our table. It was 31. I had to take a picture.

Soon, I was spotting it around school, LA, in my travels and so on. I took more photos. My friends and family spotted the number occasionally and sent me photos too.

I kept it up for several years, but never sat to think about what 31 means and why it’s awesome. Some reasons why:

  • The best months — January, March, May, July, August, October and December — have 31 days.
  • Some of the best days of the year are on the 31st (César Chávez Day, Halloween, NYE, my birthday).
  • It’s a prime number, a self number and all kinds of other cool math stuff I don’t really understand.
  • California, my beloved home state, was the 31st state admitted to the Union on September 9, 1850.
  • The motherland, Mexico, is made up of 31 states.
  • In Lotería, the 31 card depicts las jaras, or the arrows. (I think this is pretty cool considering Cynthia is one of the names of Artemis, goddess of the hunt, forest, hills and moon. I’m also pretty keen on the moon.)
  • Baskin-Robbins has 31 flavors of ice cream. Yum.
  • In the periodic table of elements, Gallium has the atomic number 31. It’s primarily used in semiconductors.
  • Nick Hornby wrote a book called 31 Songs all about songs that have impacted his life and his music taste.
  • Thirty-one rhymes with “flirty one” and “dirty one” making for a particularly sexy year.
  • The Dodger record for a hitting streak is 31. Sadly, Andre Ethier didn’t tie that record.
  • If you subtract 31 from 100 you get 69. I won’t espouse on that one because I’m an adult.
  • The old 31 line of the MTA started in the neighborhood where I was born and continued west in to the heart of East LA.
  • I live on the 3100 block of my street.
  • Greg Maddux, one of the best pitchers in the 90s, wore #31. His jersey has been retired by both the Cubs and Braves. (Fun fact: he pitched for the Dodgers in 2006 and 2008.) Reggie Miller (Pacers), Mike Piazza (Dodgers) and Kurt Rambis (Lakers) also wore #31.
  • Aimee Mann has a song called “31 Today”. I can relate to it in some ways.
  • If you inverse 31, it makes 13, which might not be so popular in Northern California, but is more liked in LA and Southern California.
  • If you add the digits of 31, you get 4. There’s lot of cool things about 4, like the 4 elements, 4 directions, Cuatro Caminos from Café Tacuba y más.

Those are all just random reasons, but I’m pretty sure 31 will be an awesome year for Rio. I can’t see why not.

***

for those of you who thought you'd be forgotten...

Yes, I’m happy to say “I’m 31” when someone asks my age.

As for the 31st birthday, it was low key. I spent the morning and afternoon at Disneyland and California Adventures with Sean. We rushed through several short lines and finally got to check out the new Star Tours. I loved the old version, but the upgrade is pretty neat. Throughout the day, I heard from several friends near and far (e.g., China). Their birthday greetings made me smile and feel loved. Afterward, we met up for dinner at my favorite restaurant with my mom, Adrian and his girlfriend. The rest of the familia was working. I’ll really celebrate with the extended familia and friends in a few weeks at my birthday party.

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Sundresses, tequila and tejanas

My first birthday party was rather wild

Things I like about this photo from my first birthday party (one of my all time favorites):
1. My sundress (my mom has great taste)
2. My little baby arms and complexion
3. I’m wearing a Tejana (probably Papá Chepe’s or my padrino José’s)
4. Um, I’m hugging a bottle of tequila. I wouldn’t let go of the bottle even when I went down for my nap.
5. How more Mexican can a baby be?

I’m pretty sure my 31st birthday won’t involve sundresses and bottles of tequila. At least not today. But a sundress and a cowgirl hat? That could be done.

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31, Chicago & Santana

Santana's Greatest Hits #31

For your listening pleasure (via tumblr):

Evil Ways
This was my introduction to Santana.

Samba Pa Ti
One of my favorite concert memories is hearing Carlos Santana play this song. It was new to me way back then (1999), but it felt like I’d known it my whole life. I know that’s cheesy, but it’s true. The song was also a chapter in Nick Hornby’s 31 Songs (in the US it has the much less cool title of Songbook).

Oye Como Va
I didn’t know this was a cover of a Tito Puente song until I took an ethnomusicology class on Latin American and Mexican music.

Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen
During my summer of Guitar Hero obsession, I got pretty decent at playing — if you can call it that — “Black Magic Woman.”

Everything’s Coming Our Way
I’ve always loved the optimism of this song.

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31, UCLA & finding my religion

Fire hydrant 31

It’s hot out there, folks. Stay hydrated.

***

I got through the work day with some help from my Puro Pedo Magazine colleagues. We started making up titles for fake research papers on Latino movies. I offered up a few including “We have to be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans: Poch@ identity formation in Selena.

That’d be a neat dissertation topic, no? I’m already interested in racial/ethnic identity formation… it could happen. Or not.

I should probably just focus on Latino college students majoring in the sciences. I find those kids interesting. Just don’t ask me to remember their names.

Yesterday afternoon, one of the sophomores in the Program (aka Job1) spotted me at St. Augustine, a church in Culver City. I’ve passed by dozens of time while driving and running, but had never attended a service there. We got to St. Augustine with 15 minutes to spare before Mass and walked around the grounds. As we walked toward the school and parking lot, two young women passed by. The woman in a yellow sundress doubled back.

“Cindy!”

I was surprised she knew my name. She picked up on this.

“Hi! I’m in [program]! I’m a sophomore.”

“Oh, hi! Um… you’ll have to tell me your name, I forget students’ names all the time.”

I felt so embarrassed that I didn’t recognize her at all. The name thing happens more often. After their fall quarter freshman seminar, I only see the 80+ students a few times a quarter and interact with them mainly through email. I’d have to make flash cards to remember everyone’s names. I see current/former [Program] students all the time on campus, but have never seen one off campus unless it was a UCLA-related event.

She told me her name and I introduced her to Sean. I told her it was our fist time visiting St. Augustine, her home parish. She invited us to grab some food and cake at the anniversary celebration for the sisters associated with the parish, but we were full.

I’ve been pretty spotty on Mass attendance since going away to college. I’m working on getting back in the habit thanks to Fr. Ricky at St. John Vianney. When Sean and I met with him about having our wedding at SJV, he reminded me that I need to practice my faith as part of my preparation for the sacrament of marriage. Attending only on holidays, Lent and the occasional wedding wasn’t going to cut it.

Sean — who grew up Lutheran — has been accompanying me to Mass. When we’re in Hacienda Heights on a Sunday, we go to SJV. When we’re in LA (most Sundays), we’ve been going to St. Timothy in Rancho Park. Yesterday we skipped their noon service in favor of the 5 pm youth service at St. Augustine in Culver City. I generally like youth services, they’re much livelier. I like St. Timothy, but I haven’t been able to make it through a service without breaking in to giggle fits thanks to a man his 60s/70s always sits front and center. First, he has an interesting look. He has a big belly, a beard and long gray/white hair he twists so it sits atop his head (kinda like a Snork). His hair makes him easy to spot. Second, he draws out the final word of hymns long after everyone else has finished singing. It’s rather odd to hear his deep voice hang over with “eviiiiiiiil” or “peeeeeeace” in an otherwise silent church. The first time he did it, we were surprised. The next few times we tried unsuccessfully to suppress giggles.

I need to pick a new parish. SJV is great, but I won’t go to Mass weekly if I have to drive 30-45 minutes just to make it there. St. Augustine offers more Masses, including a Spanish service at noon and the youth service at fives. St. Timothy’s latest service is at noon and it’ll help me work on keeping a straight face.

Any tips on choosing a church or parish?

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Will run 18 miles for bacon, birria and beer

The Long Beach Marathon is 6 weeks away. This means I’m two-thirds of the way through my second round of marathon training. So far, I’ve been doing okay. I haven’t stuck to my training plan 100%. Who does? I occasionally skip a recovery run or easy 30 minute workout in the middle of the week. For my first few track sessions, I ran similar mileage on the road instead of heading to the track. I’m running everything faster. Not sure if that’s just because I’m improving or because I didn’t donate blood in the middle of training. Probably a little of both, but more the latter.

I wavered on running a fall marathon because I knew I’d be doing most of my long runs alone. For the LA Marathon in March, I ran all 16+ mile long runs (and one 10 miler) with the Students Run LA team at the high school in my neighborhood. I did my longest run with another SRLA team in the Valley. I really enjoyed training with SRLA, it’s one of the reasons I want to run the LA Marathon again. For those long runs, I didn’t need to do much prep work aside from fill my water bottles and bring my gels/chomps. I could have left those behind as parent volunteers staffed aid stations along the course, but I wanted to get used to taking gels and didn’t want to use up the students’ food/drinks. The coaches planned out routes that were both challenging and similar enough to the marathon course (or on the course) to get us well prepared. They also had tips on how to strategically run the race.

I also didn’t know if it’d be a hot summer or would be mild like last summer. Luckily, it’s been the latter and I’ve been blessed with cloudy skies for most of my long runs. This weekend was probably the hottest of the summer. I woke up at 5 to avoid the heat, but couldn’t avoid the sunshine once the sun rose. By the time I finished three hours later, I was a sweaty, salty mess. If this heat continues through September, I’ll have more pre-sunrise wake-up calls.

Yesterday’s long run was my second 18 miler. I ran the first 5 miles with Sean before our routes diverged. He ran 11 miles, a personal distance record! I continued on through Westwood, Brentwood and Santa Monica before heading back toward Palms. I ran almost the same route as last week at a similar pace (9:41 vs 9:44), but with more water stops. Long Beach is much less hilly than my long run routes, so I’m hoping the extra hill training will help me out on race day. In the winter, I was very sore after my 18 mile long run even with an ice bath. This time around, I don’t need much else than a massage with The Stick. Later in the day I was sleepy (even with a nap), but I still was able to dance a bit at my uncle’s party.

One thing that hasn’t changed from training in winter to summer is that I’ve still got a monster appetite after running for a few hours and burning nearly 2,000 calories. Like Winnie the Pooh, my appetite improves with some exercise. I thought it would be fun to document what I ate on a long run day:
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