Cleopatra Suite calm

I’m a lazy wedding recap writer. Last post was over a month ago about my morning freakout. This one has been sitting in my drafts since I think getting ready posts aren’t all that interesting. However, now I have pictures from our pro photographer, Michael Fletcher. They’re great photos. Might as well share since I’m sure you have no idea what someone looks like while getting hair and makeup done.

Cleopatra suite, room 702

I had nothing to cry about. Really. Even before my minor freakout, things were going as planned in the Cleopatra Suite.

Bar hair styling station

Bathroom hair styling station

The suite that felt huge and empty the previous night filled up quickly with six bridesmaids, my mom, two sets of hair stylists and makeup artists, and my dad (occasionally). It was busy as everyone took turns in the makeup and hair stations.

Nancy's tattoo!

BM's getting ready

By the time Elisa, the make-up artist, arrived at 10:30 the tears were out of my system. I went from sleepy-nervous-crying bride to chill bride thanks to my mom’s reassurance and presence. Elisa mentioned my calm demeanor as did Michael, the photographer. I heard he asked Lori if I was okay because he’d never seen a bride so calm.

Hair and makeup

Elisa at work

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Grain of wheat

Music for tío Johnny

When Sean and I arrived at Tío Johnny’s viewing and Rosary I noticed a few things immediately:

  • The open casket (1992 LA Marathon finish line photo propped inside it) surrounded by collages of photos and flowers
  • The low murmur of music and a choir singing
  • The absence of my father

The second two were odd. The rosary had not begun yet and the first hour was just a viewing for the family. A good number of tía Susana’s side of the family were already seated. The Mosqueda side was on the road.

I figured dad was at the church, but he was rehearsing the music for the services with friends/family members. That’s why I heard faint music.

I walked toward the area the music was coming from, hoping to find an exit to a rehearsal room nearby. I didn’t find anything and was confused. Lupe (old family friend, tía Susana’s sister) noticed and filled me in on the music.

“Qué buscas?”

“Mi papá. Is he practicing over there?”

“No, mija! That’s us… it’s a recording.” She pointed to a grey boom box I had missed initially. “Javier had a recording of us singing and put it on a CD. Your tío John was the one conducting the group.”

And dad was surely playing guitar or bass in the background.

It all made sense. The voices sounded very young. And dad still had not shown. And tío John had made his presence felt at the viewing and rosary in more ways than one.

***

Marcianos at tío Johnny's funeral

When dad arrived a little later, he set up near the boom box. Danny joined him. Lori did too. Without a question, they would be backing up dad as we usually do in these situations. Los Marcianos — the folks from the youth group/band dad, tío Johnny, tía Susana and several others were part of in the 70s-80s — joined in as well.

I stayed in the pews with Sean, Adrian, and my grandparents thinking I wouldn’t be able to sing for tío Johnny because of my cold. I felt sad about it, but knew that I’d already sung for him on Tuesday night. When we arrived at the house in San Gabriel, my aunts were singing for tío John hoping he could hear us. I joined in, especially when dad arrived and they brought out a guitar.

On Tuesday I was okay, by Friday I was much worse. Mom asked me why I wasn’t lining up with the choir. I mentioned being sick. Two minutes later, I was standing next to Lori and asking around for cough drops. I couldn’t stay away. I had to sing as best I could and I needed to be near my dad and siblings.

I sang with my dad, Danny, Lori and over a dozen Marcianos who knew and loved tío Johnny since he was a teen. The next morning during the funeral Mass and burial at the cemetery, we did the same. This time, Adrian joined the group on drums; Danny played tío Johnny’s newest guitar. Despite no formal rehearsals, the priest complimented the choir as the best he had ever heard at a funeral.

***

I had the songs we sang for tío Johnny stuck in my head for more than a week. I must have sang “Entre Tus Manos” at least half a dozen times. “Amor Eterno” twice; tears both times, of course. “Pescador de Hombres” three times. “Felicidad” — a new one for me — four times. “Vaso Nuevo” at least twice. There were a few Beatles songs and a couple of English hymns, but “Entre Tus Manos” stuck the most. It also makes me the most emotional… It’s the last two lines.

Entre Tus manos
Está mi vida, Señor
Entre Tus manos
Pongo mi existir
Hay que morir para vivir
Entre Tus manos confío me ser

Si el grano de trigo no muere
Si no muere solo quedará,
Pero si muere en abundancia dará
Un fruto eterno que no morirá.

I know this grain of wheat is still giving abundant fruit. I can hear it and will sing along to it with my family.

Always with the guitars

“In your hands” loose translation:
In your hands / Is my life, Lord / In your hands / I place my being / One must die to live / In your hands I entrust my life

If the grain of wheat does not die / If it does not die, it will remain alone / But if it dies, it will give in abundance / An eternal fruit that will not die.]

Group photo borrowed from Lupe P.

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Tío Johnny

Tío Johnny passed away on Wednesday morning. These are the ways I’ll remember my uncle:

Always with the guitars

Playing guitar with dad at numerous parties and camping trips when I was young. Tía Susana even brought out the guitar so we could sing to him on Tuesday night. We sang his favorite Beatles songs as well hymns typically sung at funerals and wakes.

Reloj, no marques las horas...

Playing guitar and jamming with the Marcianos — the band that formed out of their church youth group — at his 50th birthday party in 2005. Dad always said they called themselves Marcianos (Martians) because they “were out of this world.”

Still rocking at 50

As the first person in the family to run the Los Angeles Marathon a couple of times. I remember thinking it was so cool. Dad displayed his brother’s finish line photo proudly in our home. During my first marathon, also LA, I got some strength thinking of tío Johnny and wanting to make him and Grandma and Grandpa proud.

Celebrating the grandparents' 40th anniversary

3/4ths of the Mosqueda clan

At big and small Mosqueda family events for anniversaries, birthday parties and holidays.

At the carwash

Surrounded by a bunch of Marcianos (he’s in red, sitting in the center of the first row). I know they’ll all come out to sing for his services.

Tío Johnny and Tía Susana

Young family

As devoted husband to tía Susana and father to their son, Johnny.

Los Hermanos Mosqueda

Cracking jokes and having a good time with his brothers.

I don’t have photos showing tío Johnny’s talent for massaging away aches and pains. He learned/inherited the gift from Grandpa Bartolo. I was lucky not to get injured much, but I know mom needed his help pretty often.

Tío Johnny and Tía Susana

I definitely don’t have photos of what I’ll remember most. Whenever I saw tío Johnny he always asked, “What book are your reading now, mija?” I went from answering Babysitters Club books to educational theory books in grad school. I loved that he didn’t just think I was the bookworm in the corner.

Love you, tío Johnny. Rest in peace.

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Mid November catch up

Día de los Muertos at Self Help Graphics

Enjoying Día de los Muertos at Self Help Graphics

I’m a little too lazy to make my own altar for my loved ones who have passed, instead I keep up a year round altar with photos of and unlit candles. Even though I’m not one for altar making, I do enjoy the imagery and the events surrounding November 1st and 2nd. It’s nice to see the community come out and artists put in lots of hard work to honor the dead.

They look like my grandparents

If I did make an altar, it’d probably look something like this since Grandma was a seamstress and Grandpa was a devotee to la Virgen de Guadalupe. I think next year I’ll make an altar in honor of my tío Johnny who passed away today. I’ll make sure it has a guitar, picks, running shoes and a Beatles record/CD or two.

Election Day

Ready with my sample ballot Sean votes

Sean and I voted early, but not often. The lines at my polling place were pretty long even at 7 am.

8 am line at my polling place

I know it would be easier to just do absentee ballots, but I usually wait until the last minute to read up on the various propositions. Plus, going to the polls means I get a sticker.

I vote

I watched election results at a party hosted by some friends. One is a political science professors and describes election day as her Super Bowl. The food was excellent as were the themed desserts.

Obama cupcakes

The guests went in on these cupcakes after MSNBC called the election for Obama.

Election night

Science time at ABRCMS in San Jose

I spent Wednesday through Sunday morning with a bunch of really smart students and my boss. We took 20 students in research programs to present their research at ABRCMS. All of our students did a great job in their poster or oral presentations; most won prizes. I got the chance to learn a little more about the problems in the STEM pipeline from a different point of view.

ROYGBIV

We stayed at the Fairmont. I liked the view from the hotel room as well as the toiletries in the bathroom.

Suit up fail

There were interesting sartorial choices and interpretations of professional attire.

Michael Eric Dyson spoke at ABRCMS

The last keynote address on Saturday was given by Michael Eric Dyson. I don’t get the hype around the guy and didn’t have high expectations. I’ve heard him described as a blowhard and more interested in hearing himself talk. The conference attendees, mainly minority college students ate it up. Perhaps if I was still 20-22 I’d be excited to hear a speaker at a professional conference quote Mos Def’s “Ms. Fat Booty” and suggest that someone should study the science behind the line “ass so fat that I could see it from the front.” I’m no longer in the target age demographic and was more annoyed that Dyson’s only mention of women or gender dynamics in science were limited to having a nice butt. It’s even more of an oversight if you consider that a majority of minority students are women, even in biomedical sciences. Still, he did have a gem or two and I can’t argue with this point:

Margarita + margherita pizza

When I was done conferencing on Friday, I hung out with Vanessa. It was great to catch up over margaritas — all should be served with Tajín on the rim! — and margherita pizza. I saw her at the wedding, but that was barely enough time to really talk.

San Jose International Airport

After three and a half days of conferencing, I was ready to go home on
Sunday.

Sunrise in San Jose

LACMA fieldtrip with Sean and Lori

Back in LA

It was a beautiful autumn day in LA and I had great views from my window seat. I love trying to spot the local landmarks like the Getty, UCLA, Dodger Stadium and even my own apartment/neighborhood.

Lori's first Father's Office burger

After Sean picked me up we had lunch with Lori at Father’s Office since she was in the area. I’m not sure she loved her first Father’s Office burger since it comes with caramelized onions.

Sean's new desk

After our late lunch, we goofed around in the furniture stores. Lori mentioned having never visited the lamppost sculpture at LACMA. We immediately changed that with a quick fieldtrip to the museum.

Lori's first visit to Urban Light at LACMA

Resnick Pavilion

Visiting the rock

The outdoor sculptures and patios at LACMA were busier than I’ve ever seen them (I usually go on weekday evenings). It made me wonder if freely accessible art in open(ish) spaces like Urban Light and Levitated Mass were the closest we come to public space in LA. Maybe.

Appreciating art

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Nonagenarian second time voters

Four years ago Lori called while I waited in line to vote. She had a story she wanted me to blog about. Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni (grandparents), first time voters, had just cast their ballot for this guy:

President Barack Obama

The following is a repost from Octogenarian first-time voters.


Mamá Toni (86) and Papá Chepe (88), first-time voters

I got to my polling place at about ten. The line was wrapped around the small Episcopal church. It was incredibly quiet, save for a few conversations between neighbors and friends. I took out my iPod and entertained myself with non-election related podcasts and games.

After 45 minutes in line, I got a call from my sister.

“Hey, I have a blog topic for you. The grandparents just returned from voting. They have their stickers on and I took a picture. It’s on Flickr.”

“Oh, cool! I’ve been waiting like 45 minutes at my polling place.”

“Dad said Mamá Toni punched too many holes on her ballot and had to get a new one.

“Oh, well. I think you’re allowed a new one if you made a mistake.”

“They’re all excited and proud of their stickers. It’s so cute.”

Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni became citizens a few years ago. I think it was around 2002, but I don’t remember exactly. They finally registered to vote a few weeks ago. Papá Chepe bugged my parents to get him registered, he wanted to cast his vote for Obama. I lagged on picking up a voter registration form for them. Eventually, dad registered them online through Rock the Vote. (Ironic, I know.)

This morning, despite both having nagging colds, Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni went out to vote. My dad helped them fill out their sample ballots and drove them to their polling place in Hacienda Heights. They waited half an hour before voting. When they got home, Lori made them pose for a photo. They were proud to show off their stickers. Later, I called Papá Chepe on his cell phone.

“¿Votaron por Obama?” I asked.

“Sí,” Papá Chepe responded. “Lo tenemos que meter.”

Photo by Lori

***

Today I texted my siblings and dad while in line to vote at 7:30 am.

“Don’t forget to vote! Take the grandparents too!”

Danny replied with a joke. Dad replied with something more serious. He said that Papá Chepe planned to sit this election out. He wasn’t happy about Obama’s track record with undocumented immigrants. He’s not impressed (as am I) with the record number of undocumented immigrants Immigrations and Customs Enforcement have deported since he took office. I was sad, but I couldn’t argue. My grandpa is informed and not spouting lies. (PolitiFact has the number at 1.4 million, less than George W. Bush’s 2 million, but that was over 8 years.)

I offered some other reasons my grandparents should vote — propositions for education funding and others — as well as some other info on Obama’s deferred action for Dream Act youth and the Justice Department’s challenge to SB 1070. Last I heard that bit of info was enough to get him to the polls.

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