Week two blurbs

A few days ago I attended a research talk for work. I was looking forward to meeting the speaker since I know he mentors a lot of our advanced students and he was born and education in Mexico. After our director introduced our guest, El Profe added a note on his bio.

“I was educated in Mexico, Canada, and now the United States. Since I came here in 1992, I like to say I’m of the pioneers of NAFTA.”

I think it was supposed to be a joke, but the audience of college freshmen and sophomores didn’t even chuckle. I was amused. Then I wondered, do they even know what NAFTA is? They weren’t alive when it was approved and some were just infants when it went in to effect on January 1, 1994.

Tierra y libertad!

They certainly don’t remember watching footage of the Zapatista uprising. Ski masks are probably just ski masks to them.

One of my favorite photos ever

I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more removed and from a different generation than I feel from this class. The freshmen are the same age as my cousin Valerie. I remember cradling her as a newborn during my quinceañera. It’s also been 20 years since my freshman year of high school. It still feels weird to be able to begin a sentence that way and discuss an event I remember vividly.

***

My work credit card was flagged for fraudulent activity. I was a bit baffled because the card is almost always locked away in my office. I’ve only used it a couple times too. When I called the bank’s fraud office, I found out it had been used to purchase $300 worth of merchandise at Motherhood Maternity. I grumbled about buying maternity clothes, but at least I did it legitimately. I feel bad for hoping that the thief gets bad heartburn or swollen feet.

***

My neighbor

I get a lot of emails that go something like this: I’m really interested in the X Program. Can you send me info on how to apply?

I have a general form email I send with links to our website. There they can find step-by-step directions on applying. However, I’d really like to reply with a link to Let Me Google That For You. I don’t because snark at work is probably not good and I’m sure I asked similar questions as a college student too. At least I wasn’t applying to a research program.

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Memories from a box: Away from home alone

Autobiography box

Years ago my good friend Isabel gave me The Autobiography Box: A Step-by-Step Kit for Examining the Life Worth Living by Brian Bouldrey. I love the gift, but beginning to write an autobiography or memoir, even as a writing exercise, felt odd when I was barely in my mid 20s. (If only Girls was around back then…) Still, I liked the prompts and opened the box once in a while when I organized my desk. Each time, I’d think I should tackle some of the topics. Anyway, I’d like to write more and perhaps this box can help.

First up, chosen sort of at random:
Write about the first time you went away from home alone. Was it a vacation? Was it for work? Were you looking for something? Were you running away? Do you see that excursion as a “hero’s journey,” or did you go kicking and screaming? How did it change you?

***

I’m not sure I’ve truly ever been away from home alone. Totally alone. Sure, I’ve traveled on my own, but even then there was always something familiar there. I stayed with friends or visited family.

Still, I do know the first time I went somewhere without my parents or siblings: Girl Scout camp.

Setting up camp

El Potrero Girl Scout campground is only a couple hours away by bus, but it felt far. Before going to camp, I’d never even heard of Lake Elsinore.

I don’t remember much about the bus trip aside from the scorched terrain along the mountainside. The trees were bare and dirt was black. I don’t remember if there were brush fires or the fire department had preemptively burned off the dry brush.

I wasn’t alone on this trip. There were a couple other girls from my troop attending the space-themed camp that summer. I also remember being excited to find a couple of notes from my mom packed with my things.

I really liked being away at camp. I remember feeling like a kid from the movies. We stayed in tents, did arts and crafts and ate trail mix. It was the first time I heard the term GORP (good old raisins and peanuts). We took hikes and slept under the stars at night. We had campfires, sang “Kumbaya” and freaked out over creepy things — a toilet flushing on it’s own.

There were things I didn’t like. Some of the girls were a bit catty and mean. I also got stung three times by wasps on the nose, arm and thumb. Everyone got stung by a wasp at least one, but I think I was the only one unlucky enough to get stung on the nose and develop a huge red welt.

Gee mom I want to go
But they won’t let me go
Gee mom I want to go home
From Girl Scout camp

I didn’t stay in Girl Scouts much longer after going away to camp. I don’t know if it happened that summer or the next summer, but there was a bus accident involving Girl Scouts going to camp.

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Listening to my (un)consciousness

Yesterday morning, I fainted… again. This happens once every few years. The symptoms/causes are usually similar. Last time, I was waiting in line at the school pharmacy. When I came to, there were several nurses and doctors from the student health center hovering over me. I remember one complimenting my purple flats, but mainly I was just embarrassed and my butt hurt from the fall.

This time, I was sitting. Yeah, it’s possible to faint while sitting.

When I hit the floor of the bathroom (I was on the toilet), Sean heard the noise and came in to help me.

“Cindy!” It sounded like he was yelling, I’m sure he wasn’t. His eyes were big and worried. I knew I had fainted, but I was confused why he was there. I had broken in to a cold sweat and my shirt felt damp. My head and knee hurt a bit from the fall.

It was a lucky coincidence that Sean was home. He’d left five minutes earlier to go the gym. Halfway down the block, he realized he’d forgotten his phone and returned. He came in, grabbed his phone and was almost out the door when he heard a loud thud in the bathroom.

When I was ready to go out of the bathroom, Sean helped me get back in to bed. I was still sweaty and dizzy. I immediately fell asleep.

I woke up a few hours later. My head hurt, but it wasn’t horrible. My neck felt worse. I couldn’t tilt it nor turn much to the right. The dizziness and other symptoms went away after my nap, but I still felt very tired. I rested throughout the day, drank a lot of water and Gatorade, and took a short walk to get some fresh air.

I didn’t go to the doctor until this morning. She checked me out for a concussion and gave me a muscle relaxer for my neck. I was cleared on the concussion. We talked about why I fainted (stress, dehydration, cramps, gastrointestinal issues). I mentioned running a half marathon on Sunday. She didn’t think it was a good idea, and I didn’t argue.

My neck feels better today than yesterday, but I still don’t have full range of motion. I’m a little bummed about backing out of my first race, but only because of the race fee. I knew I was far from doing my best on Sunday, but would’ve still ran the race out of stubbornness. Now, my body is saying it needs more rest. I’ll listen.

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Your middle name is always

Whenever we’re asked how we met, Sean and I both respond, “Ummmm.”

The truth?

We really don’t know how we met, but we figured we had to get the story down before we got married.

The easy answers would be “through mutual friends” or “at a barbecue,” but that’s not completely accurate.

Here’s what we know:

We met in Los Angeles in May 2002. Ten years is a long time and all I remember is being introduced to Sean and his friends from New York. I don’t even remember what we talked about, or if we talked about anything.

Seven months later, I saw him again when I took a trip to New York with a bunch of mutual friends. During that trip, I hung out with Sean and friends once or twice again. I think we watched a movie (Gangs of New York, maybe) and ate at a Chinese restaurant near Times Square.

Neither of us remember more than being in each other’s presence with several other friends.

The reception was held in an art gallery

Although we were both part of the same online network, I didn’t ever really interact with Sean. In May 2006, he came to LA for a wedding. We sat at the same table. A few years later I told Sean, “I didn’t even remember that you were at Andrea and Jasaun’s wedding until I went through the pictures.”

“We sat at the same table! How could you forget?” I blame our friends’ adorable baby girls sitting at the table with us.

I do know that Sean and I started interacting more through our blogs in early 2007.

Sean’s first comment — according to WordPress — on a post about the Coachella Arts & Music Festival: “Rumor has it The Police might be reuniting there as well.”

We soon realized we had very similar taste in music and television. We both adored Rilo Kiley and lamented the fact that our local friends didn’t love the group as much. We chatted almost daily on G-Chat about Lost theories, new music and dating misadventures.

First submission for the job of concert buddy

Our relationship continued like this for a few more years. Sean was the first person to apply for the position of concert buddy by sending in a mix CD. I loved the songs he chose and soon developed a mini crush I kept to myself… and the blog.

Sean, the New Yorker who told me I needed to be nicer

When I visited New York for an education conference in 2008, we hung out, watched Lost played video games (I won, of course) and drank beer while talking about the similarities in our upbringings as first generation kids. The next year when he came to LA, I took him out for Mexican food and watched Lost.

We were friends for a long time and got to know each other quite well before either of us ever let on that we — gulp — had non-platonic feelings. Despite this, there was still a lot I’d come to learn about Sean while falling in love with him.

Sean’s now my concert buddy for life. No plane ticket required. Mix tapes still accepted.

Wrote this for the wedding website. I was inspired to revisit it when I read Melissa Nibbles’ post on the book Love Is A Mix Tape and thought about how sharing music helped my relationship with Sean develop from platonic friendship to long distance relationship and then some.

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Two years

Cindy and I

At our first date, a Bird and the Bee concert, I asked Sean to be my fucking boyfriend. I was quoting a song by the band, but I meant it. He said yes.

We were official. That was two years ago.

A few days later, he returned to New York and we began 9 months of a long distance relationship. Now, we’re in the same city and planning a wedding. I like the changes.

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