Thursday, June 29, 2006

Erika's 2006 W.C. Picks for This Weekend's Games

Um, if you want real futbol coverage, check out my friend O's blog. He's the man.

However, I am the woman and I need to state my peace...


And then from there...I like...ARGENTINA and BRAZIL in a South American matchup...
and I want Brazil to take it.

It'll serve as an omen for the blended society to be the superior one.
And we'll all take note that you can be a futbol, social, party, tech, and energy powerhouse where ugly people don't exist.


That's my New World Order prediction for the World Cup.

I'll find out Saturday night when I am off river what happened...

Peace in the middle east, yo!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My Coolio Avatar...

A Spontaneous Scrabblishous Tropical Rum Party

1 pm, Tuesday.

The cellie is flashing "M".

Oh hey, it's my boy Mike from Portland...

Oh, snap! It's his parent's house in the 925...hold up...he's calling from the Yay?



"Sure, don't tell nobody you're here. Just drive down 10 hours and don't tell me...I'm not hurt or anything...really."


I give Mike shit, but it's good to hear his voice. I ask him what he's up to...kayaking and is in Walnut Creek, just hanging out before the High Sierra Music Festival...

Ah, this means that we will be hanging out with Ms. Megan...and so the plans unfold.

Our little triad makes the cross-phone calls...I'll meet them at Megan's house. She's making frozen tiki bevvies and Luau pork and we're going to play Scrabble. I have played it but 4 times in my life before.

Will he kick my ass? Most people kick my ass at board games...

I let my ego at the door.

I would be playing Scrabble with two of the finest word geniuses I have deep affection for. Plus we'd be having Tiki drinks. And I would be asking for more rum, please.

What's not to love?

We cackled the night away. I talked MUCH shit during my Scrabble game and ended up winning.

Past the midnight hour we played and among the rum mirth we decided Monsters, Inc. was a good cinematic fall asleep to...

We all little on the couch, Mike in the papasan, and Megan was the only one intelligent enough to actually claim the bed.

I woke up ridiculously early for my class the next morning, but after plenty of water the night before, the Tiki bevvies were but a memory, a pleasant memory of the joy of being a little tipsy in the safety and comfort of friends.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Holy Crap...France Won? the classroom for an hour and looks what happens...holy cow!!!!

Alas, Poor Ghana, We Knew You Well


I had hoped it would be in Ghana's favor, but I had only heard the opening ads to this morning's match before walking into class today.

I left the classroom and literally asked everyone, "Does anyone know the score to the game?"

One of my classmates, seemingly diseffected and unengagedd for his 10 am class piped up, "3-0. Brazil won."

That knocked the wind out of my sails.

That and getting home at 2 am knocked the wind out of my sails. I woke up at 7. My eyelids are tired. Very, very tired.

But not so much that I can't call my boyfriends of the World Cup.

Other people do pics. I'm going to do boyfriends of the World Cup:
I've taken to USA's Carlos Bocanegra and Ecudaor's Cristian Mora, Brazil's Ze Roberto, Germany's David Odonkor

Boyfriends of the World Cup 2006
Carlos Bocanegra

Just an all-kinds-of-American kinda dude. He's cute and he plays pretty darn good.

Ze Roberto

He has an intense look about him and totally cute twists. He probably is pondering how his foot dance can help produce more bio-fuels for his country.

That's just the beginning...I am behind on my analysis...I know. We're already halfway through the tourney, you say.

Okay, back to the blog bit.

But class was interesting. We will be doing analysis on the movie "Imitation of Life" which is a Disney-fied look at single mothers in the 40s. There's black/white race and gender and class inequality thrown in melodramatically all over the place. It's entertaining and yet speaks to how America was back in the day...or, in some cases, not so back in the day. It'll come to a dramatic conclusion tomorrow. I am psyched.

Can I just say engaging my brain in an academic way, even though my class is at the a$$-crack of dawn is invigorating? I want to take a math class next!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Know the Semiotic Method of Critical Analysis?

No, I didn't know the Semiotic method of critical analysis until about 8:45 this morning. Different from the tagmemicist and PMIS method of critical analysis, this method looks at the signs in a society that point to a particular issue.

So I am completing an in class assignment to email to my partner and my instructor for peer review.

Meanwhile, I am grooving to Cheo Feliciano's Cachondea, because when the Semiotic method is twising your brain, it's good to have something familiar keeping ya going, you know? It's a fantastic mambo that can really get you going on the dance floor with the right partner willing to dispel with convention and just go for the twirl and theatrics. Que bien! Oh, that reminds me that I need to call that dude I met the night of El Gran Combo!

Make Me Wanna Cry...

Remember this video in the 80s? BBC took it for this year's World Cup and made a promo. I thought it was clever.

Messed Up Priorities

Did you know that River Rafting trumps Amadou & Miriam (free?) and that World Cup games trump river rafting (before you're on water, of course), and that Body Pain trumps productivity post-river rafting?

Yes, Saturday morning I woke up at Camp Lotus after flitting about like a moth (I arrived in the evening) from friend to friend catching up and hugging and eating and getting to know the crew I would be boating with on Saturday.

I arrived in my wide-brimmed hat I got in Albuquerque last year and light blue flax dress (thanks to Maritza and Frances fashions). Kabobs were cooking on the grill. Life was good.

I did quick shopping on Friday before arriving home and being picked up by trip organizer Dana's friend Ryan to carpool.
Somehow in my obscession to buy organic and healthy I got tofu and string cheese and all manner of fruit. I estimated in my brain that I spent about 40 bucks worth of food and vitamins that would feed me over the weekend and some would feed me til payday. When she totaled my groceries it totalled to almost 90 bucks.

What the hell?

Oh yes, I forgot, I bought almost 13 bucks worth of cherries?!?!?!?!

Note to self: no more organic cherries. Risk carcinogenic pesticides until I jump a tax bracket.

I wanted to be generous by sharing stuff. but JESUS....

I quickly drove home, separated my weekend food from my rest of the week food and got home about 15 minutes after my rendezvous time with my carpool pal. Crap.

I quickly gather clothing, vitamins, food, wet suit, sleeping bag and tent.

I'm just about to gather the toiletries for the weekend, and doorknock.

Let me explain the state of my studio to you.

I still have stacks of boxes and piles of clothes and books and stuff ready to be sorted, but other than my "altar" of pictures and momentos and the kitchen, my house is in a certain amount of chaos. I was embarassed to let him in.

"Hey, Ryan!"

I'm sherpa-ed out with my stuff, bent over with 4 bags and as we're stepping out the door it almost comes as an afterthought for him to ask, "Want help?"

"Yes." Chivalry is such an endangered species.

We gas up in his Buick (which rocks, because it was just recovered from Hunters Point in San Francisco) and head up to Lotus, California, a Mecca of river rafting in Northern California and a portal to the South Fork of the American river, the most rafted river in the United States. He had awesome tunes on tape and I brought some of my stuff and we went back and forth between Madness and PMP #20 (Witness). We talked music, the trip went by pretty fast, considering the plug of traffic before the Carquinez Bridge.

My friend Dana from Friends of the River had organized a weekend trip.

Bring back the kabobs...

I get excited on the river. It feels more and more like home. The sky is spattered with stars and the constant sound of the rushing river is soothing.

I popped up my tent and chatted and chatted and chatted, ate, and helped clean up.

Twas good.

11 pm. Time for sleep. 6 am wake up time.

(I'm SO sad right now...there's a version of "C'mon, Eileen" that has lyrics prompting England to win the World Cup...BUT, HELLO!?!?!?!?!? Dexys Midnight Runners was an IRISH band....sheesh). I've not been inspired by ANY world cup themes this year.

Anyway, I woke up early, a little sore from the rough ground, but I freshed up in the shower with a plush stall, hot water, and a movable shower head. I have never used a movable shower head. My shoulders were SORE from the rough ground and I thought I would play with the pulse setting.

Duuuuuuuuuude. I found one of my new favourite things in the world and I think I will try to buy myself one for my birthday. I felt like a warm massage was working the knots out of my shoulders and all I had to do was hold the magic wand.

I also feel like I have been ignorant for way too long in my life of the magic of this invention.

So post shower I had my breakfast and we organized and prepared for boating!

Before our 11 am launch I helped organize lunch, pump boats, get and fill water jugs, and rig an oar boat. Our head guide Blaine was awesome and had a truck with two batteries which meant we could fill our boats with air with two pumps. This made pumping boats EASY, mang.

Our crew was about half men and woman and about half newbies and seasoned boaters. My guide Aaron was a hilarious rock star who was also a school teacher who spent some time in Hawaii. Nice.

Dana gave a thorough safety talk. No questions?

Good. It's 105 degrees and 11 am. LET'S GO BOATING!

Lots of rock and roll on the water on Saturday.

But the thing I savored most was my free-floating in the water.

Swimmers' Rapid came up and I volunteered to jump in the water and flow. The initial shock was chilly, but then I relaxed and saw the blue sky above me, the glass of water around me and I felt suspended in Life itself. It was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful and I felt connected with a capital C.

The day ended with a ninja takeout, rolling boats and putting up gear, reviewing pictures from the trip, and dinner at Marco's, a local joint in Coloma. Ryan wanted to stay the night instead of going back to the Bay that night. I agreed, but obscessed about missing the Germany/Sweden game and the Argentina/Mexico game. Germany won. Argentina won.
I wanted to see England/Ecuador and then Portugal/Netherlands on Sunday.

There was a slide show featuring world-class kayakers. Sam Drevo and a few others were showing bits of their trips all around the world to persue boating.

He and his crew actually considered going over Victoria Falls in Uganda. Um, that's 350 feet high. They had to rappel with their boats down the falls to check out the pool at the bottom. Only when paddling the lake at the bottom of the falls and deciding it churned too much did they opt out of going over.

The American River is classified as a class III river. It's fun and any consquences of falling out of the boat will probably not be serious. Class VI is considered "death".

These dudes were running rivers that had rapids classified as "minus 1, 2, and 3", rolling and being tossed out of kayaks and swimming upsidedown in them for a mile or so.

That is bravado, y'all.

After the slide show we went back to camp and I wanted downtime. I sat by the river and thought about the stars, my river experiences, and my need for this trip after knowing my dad is okay, starting my class and knowing that will go okay, and having a moment where I could just sit with myself.

My eyes welled up with tears, but I am not sure why.

I noticed the sound of the river and other campers. I noticed the effects of flashlights as they lit up the other bank. I wondered how quiet Washington was crossing the Delaware and how heavy those wooden boats must have been.

After about an hour I stood up, got my stuff from my tent and did the evening routine.

I went to bed thinking of that moment suspended with water after Swimmers Rapid. I fell asleep reliving the moment of sun on my face and being suspended in absolute bliss. Sore muscles were soothed by that.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Mother River

Mother River, thank you for ever flowing
and inviting me to your waters this weekend.

Father Competition, thank you for providing
an EXCITING World Cup tournament thus far.

Sister Perseverence, help me to appreciate my father's
recovery from his heart attack, continue pressing
forward with my class and violin lessons.

Brother Music, I can't wait to be engulfed
by you, again, this weekend at Stern Grove
for Amadou and Miriam (AFTER meeting with
Father Competition and watching the early game).

Be well, all.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Post #201

At 5 am I hit the snooze button on my phone. I crashed in the office after finishing my paper at midnight. I spell-checked. I read it one last time and didn't want to be on an overnight bus for 2 hours. So I saved myself some sleep and crashed here.

When I woke up, it was already balmy.

HEAT WAVE in San Francisco!

But I had an eventless ride to the Transbay Terminal and then onto my O bus, which was free today. We have a Spare the Air Day all day, which means all public transportation is free. Including BART. This means my ride home tonight will be quicker than the bus. Whoot!

I got to my car, all was intact on Alameda, and I put on 1170 AM. The Ghana/US game had just begun, as well as the Italy/Czech Republic game.

I don't do picks, but I was hoping that Ghana would give us a taste of humble pie. I drove home in 7 minutes, moved the radio to the bathroom, and jumped in the shower. GOAL!!!!!!!!!

Holy Shiznit! My heart fluttered that Ghana might win and my neighbors would be going ape s---.

I leapt out of the shower, did a BRIEF yoga pose, took my cadre of vitamins and supplements, got dressed and drove back to Alameda for class.

No score on Czech Republic/Italy, but the US Captain was out of the game on injury and Ghana was still up, 1-0.

My Spanish is getting better because I was following more subtleties of the game in Spanish...fouls and corner kicks and dribbling descriptions didn't seem foreign anymore.

Park. Walk, walk, walk faster.

Dude, I got into class about 4 minutes late and our next assignment was on the board. We were going to peer review our essays and then rewrite our analysis in de Bono's PMIS style. All in 2 hours and 15 minutes.

No problem.

I'm going to relive my memories of writer's cramp in this class...and I also have another chance to refine my essay. It's due Monday in final form.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Critical Thinking & Word Play

Everyone's been amazing about my dad. Thank you so much.

He's back at home and needs to driving, no working.
My father is not an idle man. He works at Bank of America. He does yard work. He cleans the pool until it glistens like the Caribbean. He drives all over Raleigh for errands and helps my mom, nephew and brother.

I'm sure he's also added to his cadre of medicine, something I am sure he's not excited about.

Yesterday was day 2 of my Intro to Critical Thinking class. 1 day is equivolent to 1 week of work and what's frustrating is that our shipment of textbooks isn't due til Friday. Grr. I want examples of the type of writing she's discussing. I haven't done anything MLA style since 94. Good gravy.

I reviewed material, brainstormed and outlined material while watching England-Sweden and waiting for Jury Duty.

Then I taught in a hot classroom for 4.5 hours.

Then I jumped on a conference call to whittle down potential grantees for the Full Circle Fund Tech Circle.

While on the call, I walked toward Mission Street and hopped on a 14-Mission bus to make the screening of
Word Play.

I finished the call as the 14 approached the Metreon on 4th Street. I haven't seen a movie here in ages...probably because I find it criminal to pay $10 bucks for a matinee.

But I had complimentary tickets from and my friend Mike introduced me to the crossword bug almost 4 years ago, now. Sure, I dabbled in puzzles before, but now I am almost a regular. I frustrate myself with clues and spend time looking up minutia on the web to expand my knowledge. I know that "epee" is a common clue.

And I love the geekiness of it.

I heard about Word Play on NPR. (NPR is featuring fully this summer with the release of "A Prairie Home Companion," cameo appearances of Tom & Ray Maliozzi of "Car Talk" fame in the Dis-nar (or Pix-ney) animated "Cars", and now the documentary "Word Play" that follows cruciverbalists to the national tournament, the history of the New York Times crossword puzzle, and the puzzlemaster himself -- Will Shortz.

I squealed at the potential geek level of this film and was sad that I didn't have geek companions to watch it with me.

I was sucked in with the titles. Of course they were clever...based on crosswords. But the music was excellent...eclectic. Cake. Gotta love Cake.

Then I was pulled into the history of the puzzle, how Will Shortz created his own major of enigmatology at the U of I and well, how he became head geek at the New York Times. The audience is also privvy to a band of cruciverbalists who love doing these things, including normal people, and not-so-normal people like Jon Stewart.

If you loved Spellbound or Mad Hot Ballroom, you'll dig this flick.

After the movie I headed for the bus station. The NL was due to arrive in 10 minutes and I checked to see if the O would be any faster.

Nope, that was due in about 30 minutes.

I cued up for the NL and began re-reading the piece from class - Chief Seattle's Oratory in 1854. I needed to brainstorm a list of questions and from there use the tagmemicist's theory of analysis to illustrate my argument.

I got tired brainstorming at 11:30 pm.

I slept until 4:30, woke up and finished my draft (it could be handwritten, thank God since I have neither web access nor printer at home). I worked on it til 6:30 am, showered, yoga-ed, and breakfasted. I also checked in on the Portugal-Mexico game and was surprised to find Mexico behind!

By 7:30, I was parked and on my way to the classroom for a 7:45 am start.

Christ. And then she reviewed what we needed and the entire class was spent rewriting the damn thing.

Tomorrow it's due -- typewritten.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

england! sweden! SWEET!!!!

okay, i am the luckiest woman i know because:

1) i was called into jury duty today
2) before i had to report i got to see the england/sweden game to kill time. AWESOME game.
3) i reported late to jury duty (what was an extra 20 minutes going to do?) and got credit for it.
4) tonight i will see wordplay off free passes i got at stern grove on sunday.
5) friday night i will be bonfiring and then saturday i will be boating.

life, for lack of a better word, is good.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Someone Tape This For Me?

I reclaim Rosie Perez.

And I so wish I had cable and a means to record...

Saturday Tea

I didn't do poorly this weekend considering my father's been in the hospital and half of my brain has been in Raleigh, NC for the last 5 days.

I spent a lot of time in bed thinking about what kind of daughter I am, thinking about the river because I'd love to be paddling the American with these balmy summer days coming up, and thanking goodness for this family that has slowly formed around me in the Bay Area.

Yesterday I called Michelle after the USA-Italy game. She said she was meeting T for tea in the city. And I said I was game. Sure.

I walked to the busstop and noticed that an NL Transbay Bus was about to hit the corner. I put my little walk to a jog and my backpack bounced up and down like I was running for the schoolbus. The stop light was with me. I arrived, regained my breath and took out my Transbay pass. It slipped in and signaled $3.50.

I walked up the aisle to a fold-down chair and pulled out my book of crossword puzzles to pass the time and divert my gaze any busriding weirdos.

I am out of practice with my crosswords, but am rediscovering them. All in time for Will Shortz's documentary "Wordplay" to come out on June 23.

Yes, Cruciverbalism hits the silver screen and I am excited to see it. Of course, what other nerdy friend can I find to see it with me? My friend Mike is in Portland and Megan is always working...dang.

Anywho. My phone is dying when I land in San Francisco and I call Michelle. She and T have switched venues and they are now meeting in the Sunset with Denise, Doug and Huy.

No problem, I say. It'll be 40 minutes.

I walk toward Market Street from 1st and Mission and head underground. The city is balmy. The wind is warm. Life is good. I am relaxing about my father's heart attack.

When I slide my MUNI pass into the turnstyle and head down the escalator, I notice a lost-looking, touristy fellow. He is blonde and looks just out of place in his dress and demeanor. I ask him if he needs help. He is looking for a MUNI map and wants to know if he's headed in the right direction toward Ocean Beach.

I agree with him. It would be a good idea if there were system maps in the underground section of the train, but you don't get to see them until you are on the train. I tell him he needs to go Outbound and I am heading that way, so he can jump on the train with me.

The mechanical announcer says, "Outbound, N, N, in 2 minutes."

There's our train. A two-car N arrives, the doors open, and our cordial conversation continues. The din of the crowd ends my understanding of what he's saying. I pull my eyes away and pull out the crossword puzzle again.

A Muslim woman with many Macy's bags nervously wheels a baby carriage in the corner of the car, while a gay dad guides his toddler near to where the Muslim woman has sat and is exclamating EVERYTHING about the people and the day and the MUNI train in a voice that seems shrill to my old ears, but engaging to the toddler.

I smile, wondering what the routine is at these two different households. Both children are about the same age, but I imagine the parenting experience might be different. I wonder if these two kids will catch up in pre-school and become best friends.

Underground becomes overground and the announcement for the stairs dropping is barely audible over the loudspeaker.

The car has become full and my tourist friend is about to get off, hails my attention and thanks me for my help.

Totally polite. Nice.

I stay on for 3 more stops and then disembark on 8th and Irving.

Where did T say to go?

I give a quick call on my dying phone and get directions. I pass by the comic shop and the Naan-n-Curry. I notice the Crepevine.

I don't notice a lot of these things in my bubble of a car.

I now feel that I smell like MUNI on a hot day and don't feel appropriate for tea. I squelch this thought as I tie my half-twisted hair into two buns and under a kerchief and thank goodness that my friends are cool and I don't have to worry about what I look like and can just make jokes up for what I smell like.

Service has just come to the table when I walk into the Tea Garden on Lincoln and 8th. Proper sandwiches, little desserts, lovely scones, jam and 4 different teas.

There are roses and tea services galore and I relax, take a seat and take a moment to realize I am with friends and it is good.

We discuss the game. The USA Italy game. And the Ghana game.

And I laugh and that, too, is very good.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

World Cup, Sleep, Dad's Home, Sleep

Thursday morning featured and earthquake.

I drove home from Dancho's house a few hours afterward and went back to sleep before going into work.

My level of motivation has been slowed due to my worrying about my father. He was in the hospital for his birthday.

My sister flew into Raleigh on Friday and I spoke with my dad this morning. He's back in his house, but he will not be flying anytime soon.

I don't know why, but I spaced on the idea that flying would effect his ability to fly.

Silly Erika.

Thursday afternoon I watched 5 of my students cross the stage and graduate high school. Inner city youth of color are not doing so well in the high school graduation department. GirlSource girls tend to be exceptional among the bunch. We have something like a 96% graduation rate. Something to be proud of.

Thursday night I zoned out.

Friday morning I zoned, but found coverage of the World Cup in Spanish on an am station...AM 1170 or something?

The coverage was animated. Much more than I was. I was a sloth in my bed...half wishing I was in Raleigh and the other half not wishing much of anything. I was out of meds and meant to run errands, but I couldn't get motivation to do much of anything.

At 11 am I willed myself to catch the Angola/Mexico game in public. I showered, I drove to Luka's and had lunch and watched a defensive match. The final score was 0-0. The crowd in Luka's felt dissapointed not to have a catharsis from the experience. I was mesmorized to see the determination between the teams. And the vexing each caused the other side.

After lunch I drove back home and managed to motivate enough to sort through more papers and send more to recycling. I also cleaned up my kitchen.

It looks so much nicer now that the dishes are done and the counter is cleared of its clutter. I need to buy some groceries. The weather is getting hot, so I should focus my energies on savory salads and fruits for my sustanance.

I half listened to the Tavis Smiley Show, and Up Front. I took inventory on my laundry.

I really need to do laundry.

The kitchen sapped me of my energy. I spoke with my mom, my sister, my brother and my father.

My head was throbbing, perhaps because my seratonin levels were off and I slumped into my bed and fell half asleep in muggy weather. I rewoke groggily as the afternoon sun sank.

Hunger overtook me. I had no idea what I wanted to eat.

I answered a call from my aunt and we discussed my mom, Dancho, NY weather. We laughed about men in general. Her humor put me in a good mood and I thought about the Lao/Thai restaurant that I wanted to try. It's within walking distance of my house.

I didn't motivate until almost 9 to go, though, so I drove. I even entertained the thought of going to the Madrone Lounge where Erick was spinning. I didn't make it that far.

I arrived at the Lao/Thai spot and ordered a Catfish Salad and a Green Papaya Salad (Lao style with crab paste mixed in. YUM.)

The portions were HUGE. I had expected a taste of each, but I have dinner tonight. The catfish salad was generous with greens and savory sauce. The papaya salad rocked. Lao style with the crab paste was yummily tasty.

I couldn't finish either, but I had to insist on mango sticky rice dessert.

This made me happy.

And I left the restaurant half-done with "By the River Piedra I Sat and Wept", which I am re-reading after 8 years. It's a Paulo Coelho novel. It's a love story with mysticism/catholicism/goddess-cism rolled in.

I'm re-reading it because I am wondering if I am on the right path and it discusses choices. There's a lot of writing in it, as well.

I came home by 10 and set my alarm for early morning to catch Portugal-Iran this morning.

This morning I snooooooooozed until mid-way through the game.

The announcer was ecstatic.

I was half in Raleigh, wondering how my parents were doing and wishing I could be there with my brother and sister and mother.

Crap. I was going to be late for my doctor's appointment.

By 9:30 I was almost in Berkeley.

My appointment was at 9.

I apologized to Mary Ann. I slumped on the couch and I explained my week.

We developed a strategy about this dad situation.

Off to USA-Italy I went.

I parked, laundry in the car, because that's part of today's plan and walked in.

Ah, yes. My hopes were actually with Italy. I checked in with both Mike and Omer about their thoughts on the Ghana game. 2-0. That game sounded AWESOME. My neighbors were going APE-s--- over that game.

I quickly fell in love with the entire Italian team and Bocanegra from the US team. And enjoyed the game. While I twisted my hair, the US was carded left and right. The Italians fell to injury and mysterious spray stuff was used to ease their pain.

I was disgruntled with all the animation on the screen indicating goal attempts, scoring, World Cup history and scores from other sporting events.



Anywho...Italy scored both goals in the 1-1 game. Beasely from the US was robbed of his goal because of an offsides call and I was satisfied with the match.

Tomorrow I will be cheering Brazil versus Australia and Huy will be hosting breakfast for the lot of us early risers before Denise and I peal off to see Aimee Mann perform at Stern Grove.

Tomorrow will be a good day.

Today will end well, so long as I get some work done here and refill my meds and get some laundry done.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

my father's birthday

today is my father's birthday.

he's still in the hospital with an oxygen mask on to help him breathe. his speech sounds weak and my mother sounds exhausted from being in the hospital for the last 3 days.

my father is 64.

like the song from sgt. pepper's lonely hearts club band.

i used to love singing that song. i used to dance with my stuffed animals to this song when i was little.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Health & Stuff

So I tarried this morning. My alarm went off at 6:30 and I was totally comfortable in my bed. I put on the BBC to get some sense of the World Cup coverage. Switzerland and France and Brazil and Croatia today...

8 am came around quickly. I remember a lot of coverage of the recent Guantanamo prison suicides. I can't imagine what it would be like to be locked up without charges for 4 years. What kind of insanity is that? Hello? Due process?

Anyway, I went to the restroom and returned to my bed and noticed my phone had a missed call. It was from North Carolina, but not any number I recognized.

And then the phone started ringing. Another number I didn't recognize. This time it was associated with a message.

I heard the message. It was my mom's friend Maria asking me to call her right away.

I wondered what was happening with my mom.

I called my mom's work, she wasn't there. I said I was her daughter and the receptionist asked me to hold on and put me through to my mom's boss.

My brain was racing at this point. What was going on with my mother?

Debbie apologized and said that she understood if I wasn't doing okay. I was confused.

She offered the phone number of the hospital where my father had been admitted.


Recieved a phone call from mom.

Apparently the summer cold my father's been experiencing for the past couple of days has been accompanied with chest pains.

I've been talking to my dad over the last couple of days for some emergency money to get me through pay day. And I felt so stupid after hearing he was carted to the hospital in an ambulance this morning from his doctor's office.

They placed a catheter in his chest to open up the valves. According to mami they they were closed. She said, "El hubiera muerto si no iba al hospital." (He would have been dead if he didn't go to the hospital.)

Somehow I didn't freak out at these words. I just took them as informational and snapped into rational mode.

What did she need? Who should I call?

I called my sister. I received a call from my brother's wife. I called my aunts. I called my brother -- his phone is not in service.


Who to call next? My uncle. I called my doctor's office to reschedule my appointment til next week in case I need to travel.

I received a call from my aunt who said we shouldn't all travel to Raleigh until we know what's going on with dad.




We joked about my grandmother who's dimentia has taken to her singing and clapping and making up songs about her private parts in the hospital.

It's very funny to hear her sing over the phone. She barely remembers who I am and her Spanish has become slurred in her old age.

I told my aunt we should record it and make it a Reggaeton song. It has the lyrics of one.

She laughed and lovingly called me "Sangana." (Silly!)

That felt okay.

But essentially I feel out of my body.

I showered and talked to my dad about El Gran Combo and other salsa in my head. I also told him that he needs to be okay because I want my future children to know their grandfather. (Grant it, that's quite a few years off, but still.)

Then I did my yoga and continued talking to my dad in my head.

"Dad, wait til you see Stern Grove in August."

"I can't wait to dance with you and mami to Spanish Harlem Orchestra."

Things like that. He and I have been having these awesome conversations about everything. And I chided him yesterday for not going to the doctor for his cold since it seemed to be lasting so long.

I really wish I had known about the chest pains. I would have pushed harder for him to go in and get checked out.

I get my stubborn streak from him.

Monday, June 12, 2006

What an Amazing Weekend

The World Cup has begun. Congratulations to Germany, England, Mexico...

After el Gran Combo on Friday, I woke up on Saturday a little tentative. I am taking medicine lately that's a little strange for me to get used to, but it's been okay. I spoke with my doctor about it as well as the week's goings-on and she laid out an observation for me that seemed revolutionary.

Armed with some new perspective, I left her office and went into San Francisco to get directions for my students' graduation. This was graduation number 2: Leadership High School. She won a Gates' Millenium Scholarship, in addition to several other scholarships. What felt pretty good was that I wrote a few letters of recommendation for her and they seemed to have paid off. Woo.

I went home to relax a little bit. I was still tentative about going to a birthday party on Saturday night because I wasn't sure how social I would be.

Thankfully part of me was smart enough to call my friend Solomon. He offered to be my buddy for the evening. Cloud covered never burned off in Oakland, but in Orinda, there were chards of sunlight that I welcomed.

We tarried talking to George and Sanjiv and then off to Albany and Montero's for Anita's birthday.

All the while I wondered how social I would be...

We walked in and the table was lined with friends...and it felt good to see them, kiss them and hug them hello.

We sat and ate. And laughed and grumbled at discrepencies between what the website said was admission including dinner and their interpretation of admission with dinner...we worked it out, however.

And a slew of us walked in, took over the lesson and doubled the couples that were on the dance floor.

When the music began we were sailing. The old crew together: Michelle, Joe, Huy, Anita, Seb, Koichi, Lisa, Ameena, Erin, Jason, Doug, Austina, Omer, Sol...who else am I forgetting?

It was awesome.

My lip stuck to my top teeth I was smiling so much.

Around and around...bouncing from partner to partner, having yelling conversations reconnecting with people.

We would down about 11:30 and decided on Schmidts (The PUB). We sat, about 10 of us drinking tea or beer or a lovely port and played What Were You Thinking?

Twas awesome, I must say.

Then Sunday I played with dirt.

I thought I would lay in my bed all day, listening to NPR and just zoning...but Bonnie called.

And she was doing gardening and I asked if I could help.

It took me almost 3 hours to motivate from bed to shower to car, but I got there and I played with Maile, ate some lovely turnip curry and dug in the dirt, filled the crevices under my nails with wet earth and planted lavender. We then took a walk with Maile and saw the goats again and fed some of the younger kids fennel.

It was like an autumn day in the Bay. And all was good.

About 7 pm I left and was headed home when Ms. Megan called. She finished teaching. I said "How about dinner?" and off to Megan's I went for leftover Hawaiian, Fame episodes and a phone call to our friend Mike and much, much mirth.

We fell asleep to one of the earlier episodes of Fame where Gene Anthony Ray's brother comes from jail to sort of mess up his flow. God, I loved Bruno. He was the thoughtful, quiet keyboardist who was fascinated by the "new" synthesizer movement.


Saturday, June 10, 2006


Anoche fui a ver La Universidad de la Salsa...el Gran Combo.

This is a band that was born into my blood. My father first's album to me was the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, but before I was even born the harmonies, horns, and percussion of el Gran Combo were playing in stereo, penetrating the walls of my mother's womb and indoctrinating my ears to salsa.

El Gran Combo consists of 10 men, 3 soneros, 4 horns, 2 percussionists, and a bajo (pass player). They're all around my dad's age (64), wearing the same guayaberas and they rock.

Rocapulco was raining sweat from the ceiling last night from all the dancing that was going on.

I did the latina preening last night. I spent most of the day lazy in bed, wondering what to wear and how to do my hair. I finally decided to spend 3 hours doing ringlets with about half a jar of gel. My hair felt CRUNCHY, but had an interesting Shirley Temple look to it.

I was lucky to have several dance partners, the first was well-versed in foot work, lead, and boogaloo. Totally fun to dance with, but became possessive. I took a break to marvel the band from the balcony, take off my taquitos, and let my feet dance barefoot on the carpet. I went back on the dance floor during a dj break and met a gentleman from Great Britain named Giffin who was hearing el Gran Combo for the first time. I gave him a mini run-down of how I had been schooled about these guys ever since I was a little girl. We danced a little. He went off for a drink and "No le pega la negra (Rebelion)" by Joe Arroyo came on. I went off, sort of.

Last night was the first night I tried to keep my shoes on all night while dancing.

And it felt a little disconnected.

I felt demure balancing heels along these little spikes. My heels are nothing to speak of. They top at 1.5 inches, I think. I don't like how my feet slide in them. I like to feel grounded as I dance, but I made due.

Vinadain was my third partner. Guatamalteco. We met when a merengue-reggaeton-song was on. He asked if I want to dance. I find reggaeton BORING, but I said sure, why not. Vinadain was an excellent and inuitive dancer. A lot of fun to dance with. The floor was crowded and I lost my footing a little, but we danced for the rest of the dj set and through most of the second el Gran Combo set. Great drapes and turns. Dancers like this make me feel like a princess and I can't help but keep a perma-smile on my face. Forget about anything else save for the dancefloor, the music in my ears and this partner who is leading me through this music. Live versions of these songs can last 12 - 15 minutes. And it's awesome.

We took a little break, I went upstairs and again watched from the balcony, dancing with my shoes off. "Chirilin" came on and coaxed me to the dance floor. As I walked forward, Vinadain was there and we started dancing again. Awesome.

The crowd was an interesting mix of more ballroom style dancers, novices, and the smooth style I am used to from the New York Salsa scene. Sometimes the floorspace was a little crowded, but Vinadain had an excellent sense of space and maneuvered me in between elbows and heels.

Muy bien.

He excused himself since he had to go to work early and I thanked him and I danced solo until my final partner of the evening picked me up. An older gentlemen in a black and red guayabera. He kept a wide grin as he effortlessly glided me in small circles. This is my father's style. It was wonderful.

My spirit was lifted.

The band left the stage and the crowd hesitated in requesting their encore.

Were they NUTS???

"Otra! Otra!" I shouted and stamped.

I joined other in the front. One gentleman asked me to teach him how to dance and grabbed me. This is the kind of partner I don't enjoy. I felt forced and pushed and I just stopped to marvel the band. No gracias.

I dialed my voice mail to capture a bit of "Para los Rumberos" that was infectious.

I heard classics like Brujeria and Chirilin, and Matrimonio, and 7 Vidas...two songs that have become favourites off their recent album.

And a new one comes out in July.

Oye, que placer ser boricua y tener estos musicos como tesoro de nuestra tierra!

Thursday, June 8, 2006

john's lesson

my teacher applauds my ambition to play a beatles song.

"in my life". i found it in the library. it's not an arrangement for violin, but i can read the guitar line okay.

my wrists have been filled with shooting pain since monday's lesson.

but tonight i picked up my violin for the first time since monday to test the wrists.
i did the build up of exercises starting from the scale (albeit not the suggested 25 times), then the hundreds piece and i even got a little further on the thousands' piece.

not to speed, mind you. but i did manage to bring my elbow in enough where i did the transition from the 3-fingers on the a string (d) to open e string without calamity. i rocked the bow, arched the fingers a little higher, and voila. i cleared the a string with little difficulty.

it's all about slowing down and finding joy in the music, sandy says.

she's suggesting that i put an hour a day in so i see improvement.

i'm not ready for that. i know that sounds terrible, but i have not balanced my life enough to carve out an hour for myself in a place where it's acceptable for me to scratch out notes on my violin. read music, maybe, but not scratch notes out.

the beatles piece isn't the charanga i want to someday play with sabor and sentiment.
but it is a song that i can aspire to. i will need to get an intuitive sense of an 16th note first.

i hope that mr. lennon is not rolling too heavily in his grave as i piece out this classic piece of music. i only mean to honor the work.

but it will take practice.

much practice.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

un momento, por favor

the primaries came and went in california.

the bond measures for the libraries and universal preschool were defeated.

in san diego the seat left open by the republican who is now in jail was repopulated by a republican. oakland may have a run-off for its democratic candidate for mayor. sales taxes were defeated around the bay to improve roads and to extend the BART system down to san jose.

my gnawing headaches from the last few days have silenced.

graduation celebration is tomorrow and i am counting the days to el gran combo.

i deserve to throw off my cares, perhaps dress coquettishly and see one of the greatest bands alive that my parents ever introduced me to.

i need it.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

California Primary Vote

This morning I woke on Sol's couch because a neighbor called me last night when I was in the office, informing me that our block was closed off with police activity. There was a shooting at the far end of the block.

I didn't want to deal with that. So I crashed in the city.

And I had trouble sleeping, but finally the buzz about a shooting where I lived faded and I found comfort and sleep. Thank you, Sol for letting me crash.

I woke up, plucky and excited about this California primary.

A lot of interesting tidbits for me as an Alameda County voter...there are a slew of folks running for Oakland Mayor, for example.

Then there are bond issues for California Libraries and Universal Preschool. Rob Reiner came to speak to the Full Circle Fund on this one. And I heard a stat that only 65% of our toddlers currently attend preschool, which is statistically a significant factor in how students perform in school. Preparedness. We want students to be prepared for school, non?

There was the little issue of the fact that I've moved twice this year. So where was I registered to vote?

I called the voter registration number and found out I was registered at my former address. They gave me my polling address, and I went eastward on the 580 toward my former address and wound my way above my former address to an adorable little neighborhood and a person's garage to vote.

It was early.

I was given a provisional ballot because of my address change. AND because Alameda County didn't get the right machines in time for the primary, we got to vote with felt pens and paper ballots that will be fed through scan-tron like machines.


I register non-partisan. I like primaries. It's like a preview for the fall collection.

I have a receipt for my ballot, which won't be counted until tomorrow. Within 28 days I will know if my vote has been counted.

Considering the expectation is that only 1 in 3 eligible California voters will head to the polls today, it's one of the rare moments when my mark may actually be counted.

Monday, June 5, 2006

More Box Sorting, Kite Flying on Alameda Beach

The weekend breezed by. I spent most of it going to doctors, checking on classes, and puttering around the house.

The sun was wonderful. My headspace was pre-occupied with health issues.

I received phone calls from Zeli and Dana. Other than that I continually sorted through my boxes and emptied more. I filled paper bags of recyclables. I rifled through old pictures, lots of old pictures and relived about 18 years of my recent history, including emails, love letters, Christmas cards, a letter from my parents from a retreat I attended. I blushed, laughed, and reminisced.

Sunday after having a meeting with a potential client, I walked to my car, picked up some groceries at Alameda grocery and decided it was such a beautiful day that I needed to spend some time at the beach and let my kite, High Anxiety, aloft and watch her sail.

She was marvelous. Spiraled black and white with two long tails. She went up so easily, as always, and I craned my neck, watching her against the perfectly blue sky.

Families dotted the beach. Some children splashed about in the water. Adults watched, squinted-eyed and stoic.

After a half hour, I drove home and continued my purging quest. I also practiced somewhat on the violin.

"In My Life" isn't coming along. And I know my strings are out of tune. How am I to practice scales with strings that are out of tune?

I listened to quite a bit of NPR this weekend. A lot of BBC coverage of the Peruvian presidential election. Congratulations, Mr. Garcia.

I did a little yoga to get myself ready for bed. I had to be up early this morning. When I did the shoulder stand I saw rolls just pouring down toward the ground. I have a grand opportunity to firm up, I said to myself!

Sleep sucked last night. My brain was busy muttering. I got up several times, tossed off the covers and then buried myself in them again.

I even drank a Golden Milk recipe to help me sleep. Milk, cardamom, tumeric and honey. It tasted fine, but didn't make me sleepy.

I tried to read a historical recount of the United States in Latin America. I began reading an outdated GRE book. Nothing.

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 am I feel asleep.

And then I woke again at 6 and 6:30 and 7.

Time to start the day.


Thursday, June 1, 2006


V for Vendetta had me sitting in my car and talking into my phone to share my thoughts.

I'm conflicted about the idea of revolution needing to include elements of violence.

But interesting film and interpretation of a graphic novel, nonetheless.

As a complete contrast, tonight I will attend the Parkway Pizza Party and watch one of the greatest movies of all time featuring a dancing gopher...Caddyshack. It was among the first "dirty" films my dad let me watch when I was a kid when we first got HBO. Chevy Chase and his twisted humor. A deranged Bill Murray as a lawnskeeper and my introduction to Rodney Dangerfield.