Mexican pop culture costumes

I’ve written before about my distaste for those pop-up Halloween store “Mexican” costumes. You know the kind, the ones with brightly colored sarapes, straw sombreros, and mustaches. The type that inspired the We’re a Culture, Not a Costume campaign.

Aside from the inherent ignorance and racism (considering the roots of such images) of such costumes the laziness also bugs me. You want to dress like a Mexican for Halloween? There are so many other options. Hell, you could go as George Romney. I heard he was born in Mexico, just like my dad!

Since 2007, I’ve modeled and featured creative and low-budget costumes. Some are based on Mexican and Chicano cultural icons. Some were based on scandals that year and have lost their humor. Anyway, if you need some last minute ideas, check out the list.

Red & yellow!

El Chapulín Colorado (or La Chapulina Colorada)

La Dama costume

La Dama from La Lotería

Hairdresser on fire

Hairdresser on Fire (Morrissey inspired)

Calendar girl (3)

Mexican Calendar Girl

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August of this year

Status updates:

1. Still not running much. I think the only miles I’ve run in the last few weeks have been while doing intervals at the end of my NROLW workout.

2. I completed stage 2 of NROLW. I didn’t like stage 2 as much as stage 1. I purposely kept the weights lighter and might’ve sandbagged a bit. Additionally, I began using the gym at work (same as the one the students use). I like the convenience of the gym being 5 minutes away. Plus, there’s no excuse not to go when it’s 5 minutes away and I already have my clothes with me. I like the facility, but the weight room gets just as crowded as my local 24 Hour Fitness. At least it’s bigger and more well stocked with the weights I need. Another downside os the lack of some equipment (e.g. a low step). Since I used different gyms, I wasn’t that consistent with workouts. I took a week off from stage 2 and 3.

3. I started stage 3. Workout A kicked my ass. I’m still sore two days later.

4. There’s some vanity to my change in workout plans. I tried on my dress while meeting with a tailor. I fit in the dress, but didn’t like the look from behind. My butt looks fine thanks to all the lunges and squats. My upper back? Not so much. It’s not just the wedding dress. I really would like to fit in to half of my clothes (especially my business casual dresses).

Ornate flower girl dresses

5. Wedding planning is coming along. It excites and worries me that we’re less than 6 weeks away. Even though I feel like we’ve gotten a lot done, I know there will be stuff to do at the last minute, but I want to minimize the rush in the final days. Things we’ve done lately:
– Bought accessories for the ceremony (unity candle, lasso, ring bearer pillow, etc)
– Bought dresses for the flower girls (not those above, that’s too frilly)
– Selected and bought our wedding bands, fixed my engagement ring
– Planned out the liturgy (readings, prayers) for the Mass and met with the music director/organist to plan the music. My dad helped out here since he’s very familiar with the music selections.
– Applied for a marriage license
– Found a tailor, took in my dress for some minor alterations
– Found someone to do my hair, need to work out details
– Bought my shoes and some accessories for the bridesmaids

6. Work is going well, but it’s overwhelming at times. In my old position I had very few moments where I needed help. After six years, I had figured things out and due to the cyclical nature of the program/academic year I was sort of on auto pilot. That’s not the case in the new job. I’m not complaining. I like the challenges and opportunity to learn new skills. The trouble is that while I’m trying to learn a new job, I’m still filling in the tasks of my old job since a new person hasn’t been hired.


The new-ish job

“So, what’s new?”

I used to hate hearing that from friends. Well, it was one friend — more like ex-boyfriend — who would started conversations with that question.

What’s new with what? Can’t you be more specific?

Then there came a time when I hated the question simply because I didn’t have anything new to talk about. I was in the same city, same apartment, same graduate program, same part-time job, same relationship status, etc.

That’s changed recently. I left my graduate program*. I got a new job. My living situation will change. I’m getting married. There’s plenty of new in my life.

About the new job, it’s more new-ish than actually new. Since 2006 I’ve worked in a department that runs various undergraduate research programs for science students. In my half-time position, referred to previously as Job1, I was a coordinator for an academic support program for freshmen and sophomores. I loved working with [Program], but knew I couldn’t stay on if/when I left graduate school as the position is intended for a graduate student.

Leaving grad school became a lot easier when I was offered a full-time position in the same department/office. It was an easy to say yes to the job. Rather than go to a new company, university or even department I’m still in the same office just at a different desk. I’ll tangentially work with [Program], but the bulk of my job is managing research programs for upperclassmen. Even though I’ve been in this office for a while, I feel like the new kid as I attend various trainings and rely on co-workers to figure things out. At least it helps that I worked closely with the previous two people who held this position.

I’m grateful the timing worked out and that my boss thought I’d be a good fit for the position. I know the job market sucks right now; I’m lucky to have easily found something in my field and in a great work environment.

*Many thanks for the thoughtful and supportive comments on the graduate school post. It was a tough decision, but the support of friends, family and my Job1 supervisor made it much easier.


All (non) apologies: I’m sorry if this post offends you

Don't know why he was crying

When I was a kid, I used to occasionally get in fights with my brothers and sister. I said mean things and threw a punch, kick or pulled hair. After pulling us apart from each other and making us quiet down, my mom would make us apologize.

I didn’t want to apologize. I was still mad, but would sheepishly grumble, “I’m sorry if I hurt you when I hit you.”

This did not fly with my mom. She knew I wasn’t being sincere and only apologizing because I got caught and it would mean a lighter punishment.

“That’s not an apology.”

“I’m sorry for hurting and hitting you.”

“That’s better.”

That “if” made a big difference even if it was only a minute later.

I see that “if” in non-apologies all the time on blogs.

Example: blogger writes a post, uses a term that is offensive but often used in everyday talk by people who don’t know any better, or maybe just don’t care. A commenter or two point out that term is offensive. Blogger who is actually only sorry she got called out by a reader responds, “I’m sorry if I offended you. I didn’t mean to offend you or anyone else.”

An even better example, Geraldo Rivera’s non-apology regarding his statement that Trayvon Martin was partially responsible for his death because he was wearing a hoodie. Of course, Geraldo added a lot more than the typical blogger making it even harder to believe that he actually is sorry.

If you need to apologize, keep it simple and sincere. Leave the “if” out and just write, “I’m sorry I offended you.” Five simple words.


Tidbits on work, life, and play


The projector

When my parents got home from Arizona earlier this week, I helped my dad unpack the car. As I carried out a box from the car, he told me I’d love what was in it and that he’d show me later. Shortly before Sean and I returned to LA, my dad set up a projector and reels of short 30+ year old home movies. I watched my first birthday party. Short observations: (a) my mom was a fox in 1981 and still is; (b) I’m glad my dad no longer wears short shorts; (c) I was a decent walker at 1, but had no idea what to do with a rooster-shaped piñata; and (d) it was funny to see Danny punk another boy who tried to ride off on my new wheels. We need to transfer these Super 8 movies to DVD.

Lent is one of my favorite times of the year. This is the first year in several where Ash Wednesday Mass isn’t the first I attend since Christmas. I’m more invested in my faith these days and giving up something like meat, tortillas, shopping, or alcohol doesn’t fit with how I want to observe the season. Instead, I’m adding some things in to my life that I hope will help me grow in my faith and as a person.

At Job2, I’ve been coding transcripts from interviews with black, Latino and American Indian pioneers in the sciences. Most of them have dedicated a large part of their career to increasing diversity in these fields. It’s pretty cool to read about their successes, but it’s saddening to hear about the struggles they’ve faced in the academy because of their race or gender.

In the news
Speaking of diversity and higher education, I was surprised to hear on Tuesday that the Supreme Court will hear a new case on affirmative action in college admissions (NYT story). As a post affirmative action kid (thanks, proposition 209!) and higher education nerd, this news piqued my interest and worried me a little. I’ve studied the University of California’s race blind admissions policy as well as the benefits of diversity in the classroom. I’m no legal buff, but did read a lot about Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) and Gratz v. Bollinger (2003) as part of my coursework. This was right after the decisions came down and some of my professors had contributed to the social science research cited by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in the Grutter majority opinion. The higher ed nerd in me wonders what, if any, role social science research will play this time around.

A couple weeks ago, I read a review for The Baker’s Daughter: A Novel, by Sarah McCoy on Feminist Texican’s book review blog. A couple minutes later, I purchased and downloaded the book to my iPad’s Kindle app. The Baker’s Daughter attracted me because the two main plot lines occur over 60 years apart and in two different countries. Of course, the story of Elsie in Germany is linked to her German bakery in present day El Paso, Texas. Second, as Melissa (Feminist Texican) points out, it might be one of the few works novels to consider both the Holocaust and the politics of immigration at the US-Mexico border. I loved The Baker’s Daughter and would definitely recommend you read it while enjoying some coffee or tea at a local bakery — preferably one that makes traditional German breads and pastries. You’ll get hungry reading about freshly baked brötchen, lebkuchen (gingerbread), cakes and kreppels.

Papá Chepe was the supervisor, he's quite bossy

I finally got around to watching A Better Life. Demián Bichir’s best actor nomination was well deserved for his portrayal of Carlos Galindo. Bichir gave a great performance as a father trying his best to provide for an ungrateful and difficult teenage son while dealing with the challenges and consequences of living in the shadows as an undocumented immigrant. It made me think of Papá Chepe and tío Pancho, both immigrants and jardineros in LA.

Muppetvision 3D

I watched the Oscars mainly out of habit and curiosity. I hoped Bret McKenzie would win for Man Or Muppet (he did!) and wanted to see how things turned out for Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. I’m still annoyed that there was no performance of Man Or Muppet, but did see Cirque du Soleil perform. The latter seemed like free advertising for their show at the Kodak Theater. I was pleasantly surprised when Natalie Portman described Carlos Galindo, portrayed by best actor nominee Demián Bichir, as an “undocumented immigrant.” I was glad the show writers didn’t use “illegal immigrant.” Drop the I-word!

I’m supposed to figure out a race pace this month. I haven’t figured it out yet and doubt I’ll have it by Wednesday. Also, I’ve largely ignored other fitness goals that don’t have anything to do with training for the LA Marathon. I’m okay with that.

Finishing strong

Some long runs are decent and not that difficult; others really suck and make me hate distance running. During this training cycle, I’ve had very difficult 16-milers. The 18- and 22-milers have been less difficult. Sunday’s long run was tough. I had to take short walks a few times. Long runs are supposed to be slower, right? The only good thing was that I didn’t give up on it at 13 miles when I made a quick stop for water at home.

Wedding planning

Sean registering for a grill?

I thought I was going to like registering for gifts. It’s a bit more involved than I expected, just like the rest of the wedding planning process. Also, I know it’s just one more way stores are trying to get me to be a loyal customer for years to come. Hey, wedding industrial complex! I see you lurking behind those unnecessary one-purpose appliances.

Although it involves a lot of driving, I have enjoyed the caterer search. We’ve met with a couple for tastings and like what they have to offer.