Kettle Belle Chronicles: “Why I’m hostile to exercise”, or… “follow the way of the Wrecking Belle in the Real Madrid T-shirt and yoga pants.”


I sometimes toy with the idea of attaining exercise god status. The black yoga pants wearer,  that adored symbol of strength and power.  The all knowing being whom saunters into Pinkberry without a care or a ripple on her behind.  I endeavored to be the cut / toned / tony-excessively smooth pantaloon wearer.

I embarked on this journey with some reservations but higher than proper expectations.   I only wanted to do this if it fit nicely within my carefully crafted idea of invigorating exercise, and I painted a pretty good picture of the journey in my mind.  A precise one in fact.   I would accept it if it was moderately tiring but yet refreshingly rejuvenating.  If I could meet other ladies and affiliate with them and we could form a team of supportive women working toward the goal of being ridiculously hot!   Where shared experience and hardship made the journey that much easier and rewarding.  I couldn’t picture myself caring much about some sweat.  It might only serve to make me look like Jennifer Beals sans chair but still like Jennifer Beals.  I had the curly hair that hung around my face uncannily like her…when I didn’t blow dry that is.  And  I accepted that I may feel a modicum of pain, but that soon my muscles would be toned and sculpted.  But how much pain would be bearable?  And, as I would learn, I wouldn’t get to determine that.

Well it hit me like a kettle bell on the side of the temple when I found out that there was no magical group of women welcoming you into their leg pumping lair. The women arrived, threw down their keys, knock-off sunglasses, squeezed their water bottles into cubbies and threw their white towels round their necks.  They visually organized eachother, preened, hands on hips slowly checking out newcomers.  There were no smiles, just long gazes, that if you caught one, a sort of straight grimace was returned.  I seemed to have entered a paddock of overweight racehorses readying for competition.

I wasn’t exactly sure why all the life lessons I had had drilled into my psyche about ‘listening to pain’ were lost on the Exercise gods.  I reasoned, I was the person who was feeling the pain, the person whose brain was responsible for the urgent messages to cease and desist whatever the particular activity was at the moment, so why was ‘ignoring the pain’ the instruction that I was given? .” I had discovered the essence of the problem that I had with ‘exercise’  Do they believe that our minds are separate from our body? Does the body not work in conjunction with the brain?  does the brain not field signals from the body and then decide what actions to take?  Is it then wise that we keep working the body in the repetitive manner when the body is clearly saying, “NO YOU CANNOT KEEP THROWING THAT KETTLE BELL OVER YOUR WANING LEFT SHOULDER AND EXPECT NOT TO LAUNCH IT INTO THE CHEST OF THAT ELABORATELY SWEATING CROATIAN WOMAN!

We began with two laps around the building and were told not to stop.  One of the evil geniuses was stationed at the opposite side of the building to ‘keep an eye on us and make sure we did not stop.  Our herd returned bounding for the water fountain.  Seconds later we swang kettle bells to and fro.  We then did burpies until dizziness set in. We lifted heavy bars while doing jumping jacks. We swung ropes as though ceaselessly straightening them out.  We did squats that threatened to re-open our episiotomies.  Even if they were given to us years ago.  “Wider, Wider!”  How My mind begged my mouth to shout, “yah? let’s see you open that wide!”  We did push ups, chin ups, and fast weights to keep the cardio effect going.   We army crawls and the dreaded burpie.  Every time my body began to revolt, writhe with the equivalent of a physiological scream, heart pulsing out of my chest easily seen by passers-by, like some comic book grinch in love, and I would point at my chest signifying my lack of breath, The exercise god (female or male),  Impervious to my impending heart attack, would glance at me momentarily finally offer a deliberation,  “you can go further, you can do it Christine!”  As I looked up with long eyes, intentionally trying to clear my double vision, my soaked shirt seemed to bangle in the wind like some latvian wet towel air conditioner.  My jello thighs danced. My exercise god lavished a wide smile unto me saying, “THERE YOU GO!!!” Usually finishing off with the dispassionate and quite routine 90’s meme “YOU GO GIRL!!!”

The exercise gods believe in “pushing oneself” It’s a rite of the baptismal font of back sprains.  The ungainly church of belly crunches and impossibly performed burpies.  “If you push yourself, you will surprise yourself.’  ….”If you push yourself….you won’t be sorry…”  “If you push yourself you will be so proud!”  I find an extreme dichotomy in the fact that the women or men that are ‘coaching’ you, many of whom you do not know from Adam or Eve, are ripped beyond belief and do not remember their own days of cookies and carmel macchiatos. Well not really anyway.   Those discretions are seen through skinny-latte coloured glasses. If you ask them, the cookies are remembered as necessary ‘Tiger Milk Bars” maybe only two a day, and the caramel macchiatos are declared but suddenly remembered as intermittent at best.   The bad ‘ol days of minimal muscle and ripped adipose are forgotten and that is the disconnect.

Half way into the reality of the work out, the dry throat, the slight dizziness.  The women wince in pain and look up as they rise from doing push ups.  They begin to knowingly glance at each other.  The tired faux warrior princesses realize that they need each-other.      They begin to look for the affiliation that they narcissistically did not seek in the beginning of the workout.

Class after class this social machination repeats itself.  Ignore each other, then feel pain and affiliate. Rinse and repeat. Do they like it?  Do they like communal pain? Additionally, Do they enjoy paying the Exercise Gods to “make” them push themselves?  I offer that they do.

Part of the motivation comes from pure peer adulation for ‘just doing it’ being ‘brave.’ I was recently told I was a ‘real trooper’ I kept going in part because I didn’t relish the idea of letting everybody know that I thought it was ‘too hard‘ for me.  I had just been given the rather militaristic moniker of “Trooper” and I was feeling a tad nationalistic at the time.  I pictured myself a sort of stylized  Jane Q. Public  upholder of the exercise ethos. Well, within my circle of soft-bellied family and friends.

Ultimately, I found that the exercise gods wanted me to believe that my body was my enemy and that I must conquer it with my Jedi mind.

It was not proper to let my body tell me that one or another exercise could not be done.  Somehow I was to overcome all of the brutal messages that my body was sending me about my pain and satiety.  I really WANT TO DO THIS, but my analytical nature may be getting in the way, oh! that and my muscle capacity!  How can I know whether I can actually do this? …Guess I’ll just have to trust the ‘wrecking belle’ in a Real madrid T-shirt and Yoga pants.

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Stay tuned for hopefully twice weekly updates on “The kettle Belle Chronicles” (Written by unwilling exercise maven, Christina Long) about the ugly and hopefully someday ‘beautiful’ side of cardio / strength training classes in Los Angeles on “The Trouble With Milk.”  http://thetroublewithmilk.com

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Ai Meja! Maria De La Luz’ Capirotada : Memories of old and new


Ahhh Capirotada…The smell and taste of it brings back memories of my grandmother Maria De La Luz (Lucy) collecting bread pieces, me wondering why and ends with a full belly and a smile.  As a child I wondered what the heck my grandmother was going to do with all those stale bread pieces saved in a plastic bag.  Finally she fesssed,  “Oh Meija, I’m going to make capirotada, it’ll be good, you just watch!”

My grandmother a few days after marriage in Fort Worth Texas. She had been making Capirotada for her brothers and sisters many years by this time. She probably learned from an aunt as her mother had been passed away many years by this time.

Now Capirotada was a word I could just not get my head around.  Capirotada.  Capiro-WHAT??  I was six years old.  I think I was only being fed two syllable words at school.  Yes Capirotada is a weird word and I have no idea what the origin or etymology of it  is.   That being said, I’ll probably look that up in a minute and add it to this post….  But Capirotada  is a  rich bread pudding derrived of collected and deliciously stale bread.  The bread can be french bread, white bread, wheat or sourdough.  If it’s stale it’s actually better due to the slight sour taste that it imparts in the final dish.  The bread is then soaked in three kinds of milk (for some people it’s preferable to use a mexican condensed milk, and this Mexi-gringa prefers “la Lechera”), and to the uninitiated, a very strange tomato / onion / pilloncillo / clove concoction which is boiled and reduced to a sauce with some tooth to it. 

Originally “Capirotada” was a typical spanish dessert using ingredients placed in layers. Originally there was Olive oil, Cheese and eggs, The second layer added the meats, probably partridge!  (shudder)….The given name comes from “Capirote”  which was a hat that that was worn by Spanish noble women in the early 15th century.  Capirote come from the Latin word “Cappa”  which is cape or cloak.  Today’s Mexican Capirotada is certainly cloaked!  Those bread pieces are hidden and layered with many ingredients!  As the dish was prepared for more of the population and ceased to be exclusive to nobles, meats were left out and sweet overtook savory.  At some point the dish gained more of a religious significance and was prepared during lent so as to provide Christian denizens of the middle ages, sustenance in the way of protein (derived from the cheese and nut ingredients).   As is still common today,  during Lent, meat per se, is not allowed.   The ingredients and recipes for Capirotada have been recorded by the Holy Office of the Inquisition and saved to this day in the archives.

Pre-dating the Spanish appearance, Capirotada’s gastronomic ancestors can be traced back as far as Ancient Rome.  Seen in a dish called  “Sala Cattabia,”  The Romans used a bread for this casserole dish which was baked, covered with a layer of goat cheese, and then layered with chicken, cucumbers,  onions, and pine nuts.  This concoction was cooked with a dressing of raisins,  honey, pepper, and vinegar.  Spainards brought this or a dish like it to  ‘The new Country”  (that would be us  peeps here stateside), who eventually modified it to become the varied Capirotada we know today.  Capirotada is viewed by many Mexican and Mexican-American families as a reminder of the suffering of Christ on Good Friday.  Holding special the symbolism of this ancient dessert, Mexicans believe capirotada’s bread represents the Body of Christ, the syrup, his blood, the cloves, the the nails of the cross.  They believe that the whole cinnamon sticks represent the wood of the cross.  Some say the  melted cheese stands for the Holy Shroud. The truth is that a version of this dish was being served  in Spain at the time of the Conquest.  Here is where you imagine Conquistadores  abducting and  pillaging villagers and then feeding the stragglers dessert nice huh?  While the the conquest was vile and not to be glossed over by history books, the Spanish did bring changes in gastronomy and this one was good.    Mexican Capirotada has evolved to include specific types of Mexican ingredients including a special brown sugar called pilloncillo which is produced and prepared into a large cone and  Queso fresco, a Mexican farmer’s cheese.  The inclusion of  a sweet / savory  tomato ,onion, clove and cinnamon  broth begets a rich and delicious complexity within the pudding.  Some people add  peanuts or pineapple and even add festive cupcake sprinkles on the top of the entire dish.

There are alot of versions of bread pudding possibly all originating during biblical or Roman times, but the one nearest and dearest to my heart is my grandmother’s recipe, and yes it’s a MEXICAN bread pudding.  Although she is half Basque Spanish and half indigenous Mestizo Indian (of the Aztec blood line, a tribe called Tarahumara to be exact ),   The most important thing to me now about Capirotada is it’s power.  My grandmother has Alzheimer’s disease and her memory is fast fading.  When talking about Easter last year, I asked her if she could remember her recipe for Capirotada, I was hoping I could glean a few of her special ingredients, to make sure I was making it right.  I really wanted to make sure and carry on a part of her wonderful food tradition, but I also just wanted to jog her memory.

The Author's son fist bumping with Lucy, his Great-Grandmother

I was desperate to jump start any other memories surrounded by food and family and friends.   Initially I was sad to find that she could not remember ingredients, but she remembered the act of making the capirotada!  In thinking about it, I realized that I could ‘just get a recipe online” (the most authentic I could find of course), and then query her on the particulars of it.  What would she remember? Maybe we could do a process of elimination.  Did she add peanuts? Well that was a yes.  Did she add pineapple? or other fruit?   I had to laugh because mostly she remembered  toasting the bread and layering the pan.  She didn’t remember any pineapple, but she did remember peanuts.  She was insulted when I asked her about sprinkles…so that was a no!  One day she said “Leche” (but I already knew that!)  Still one day she said “sauce” cebolla and tomato…So I selected the recipe with most of the ingredients she had mentioned, and was the oldest syle of preparation, and went to town.     I was so happy to hear some of these things coming back.  She knew that she loved to make Capirotada and and that everyone on the street would stop by to have some and talk.  Her friend Joyce was very clear in her memory, which was very nice to hear, as Joyce was her very best friends and unfortunately passed away in a very sad manner later, but my grandmother’s thoughts of her were happy and included how they used to talk over capirotada and a bit of iced tea.    Funny how older memories can be eased from Alzheimer’s patients via the memories of food.  I finally made my (grandmother’s)  capirotada.  The next day I returned to her “home” with an entire tray of the pudding.  I cut that first wonderful piece as the word got out to caregivers who crowded around.  I served a piece to my grandmother.  Her hand shook, he glasses slipped a little.  She pushed them back up.   She chewed and smiled, she said, “oh Mejia…THAT’S  THE BEST CAPIROTADA that I’ve EVER HAD! ”  Now… my grandmother is not one to dole out compliments easily… or exclusives like that.   She’s usually in her chair complaining and uttering the word “Bah!” when she can’t stand something, or if there’s a situation that she can’t control.  Or in frustration when her  opinion doesn’t get the proper response. So, I was filled with surprise and joy because…well…because she was!

There’s something about that savory bite of cheese hidden within the flavors of cinnamon, cloves and raisins. It’s a natural pairing, even if I did think it was strange as a child. boy how our tastes change as we grow.  This special batch of capirotada  seemed to spark, for my grandmother, a visual, multi-dimensional memory of a happier time. A time when she proudly fed family and friends and would sit down and chat in her kitchen.  A kitchen she misses so dearly!  All she has a is a little room now but it’s necessary for her care.   Funny how food carries such  intense experiential feelings.  Memories through food can be so useful for alzheimer’s patients and for all of us.   Now my grandmother is requesting that I make  her cocido!  and bunelos!   I’m pretty worried about re-creating those recipes,  but I’ll try …. just to help her remember….

"Lucy" about 1946

Maria De La Luz’ Capirotada

1 24-inch loaf of French bread, cubed and toasted (about six cups)
2 cups of brown sugar or 16 oz. of piloncillo
2 cups of water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup of pecans, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup of raisins
½ cup of dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup of butter, melted
Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.Make a syrup by boiling the sugar, water, cinnamon and cloves together for 10 minutes or until it’s slightly thickened and reduced.In a greased large cast-iron skillet or an 8×8 cake pan, place half the bread and pour over it half the melted butter. Toss to coat. Drizzle about ¼ cup of the syrup over the bread and toss to coat. Layer on top of the bread the cheese, pecans, raisins and dried apricots. Place the rest of the bread on top, drizzle over the remaining butter and then pour over the rest of the syrup. Make sure that each piece of bread is properly coated in syrup.Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for fifteen more minutes. I like to eat it warm.

Serves 8.

My Story of Retribution and The “You Pissed me Off You Bastard” Blog..


My Song of Retribution via The “You Pissed me Off Blog”

Last week in my car whilst waiting for a spell for my children to return from their math tutor, a large black rolling living room pulled up along side of me.  The first inhabitant sitting in the backseat leaned toward their window, and threw all of his 60 lbs or so, of tutor-weary-angry-tiger-child right into throwing open that door right into the side of my car!  Big as a Mexico quake (too soon?..sorry), my car shook this Mexigringa right into next Tuesday and forced my shaken hand to load a screwed up Instagram photo. Okay, Hey! I was not done profusely editing my mediocre photo! ! I took a breath actually feeling sorry for a probable overwhelmed tiger-child who was obviously arriving to ‘tutoring’ at dinner time and I knew that must suck…when…a second door (this time the driver’s side) whipped open with wreckless abandon with ANOTHER CRASH RIGHT INTO MY CAR!! this time the driver’s door!  

The little snark’s mother now repeated his event right into my passenger side door!  Now I was done, fried, livid, seeing red and not about to sit there and ignore it, I got out of my seat and into the rain.  The sky had really opened up, but paying no mind to the rain, the heat traveled up my neck to my face and the top of my head, as I neared the snape who was exiting her door and grabbing her purse as I came around and yelled at her, “I CAN’T AFFORD THIS!!!  I CAN’T AFFORD THIS!!!…AGAIN…I CAN’T AFFORD THIS!!!  YOU SEE THE TWO DENTS? YOUR LITTLE SCHOLAR SLAVE  DID THE FIRST ONE AND I FIGURED KIDS MAKE MISTAKES, BUT NOW YOU DO IT TOO?  I CAN’T AFFORD THIS!!  she just looked at me wet hair, getting wetter, glaring with angry green eyes, my finger still pointing to the dents, she stared at me righteously,  collecting up her Juicy Couture overly patented bag, as her kid bounded past us into the tutoring center leaving his mother to deal with me. After what seemed like an eternity, she uttered,  “not my fault, sorry” as she pushed past me.  This woman did not offer to pay anything nor did she offer to help me.  I then yelled to her as she turned her back, I WAS GOING TO SELL MY CAR! BUT WHAT DO YOU CARE? YOU’VE GOT A ROLLING LIVING ROOM!  YOU SNAPE!  KEEP PLAYING SPONGEBOB UNTIL YOUR KID ROTS HIS MIND!”

She looked at me blankly over her shoulder. I was most certainly grabbing at straws.  I got back into my car, my head was hurting by that time, sorry that I used Spongebob in a negative manner, cuz I really love that guy.  I really do.  At least I said my peace. Later my boys got in my car, My hair all curly and ruined.  It was obvious I was out in the rain.  But why? The kids wondered. ‘Mom what happened?” “snapes” I said, “Snapes happened,  big rude, entitled uncaring snapes a whole family of them.” I continued, “now we’ve got two big dents in the side of the car !”  “‘who did it?”  my son Cameron persisted.  “A woman driving a Behemoth gas guzzling Suburban with multiple kid- stunners (movie screens), rolled up in all of her superiority and crushed the side of the honda’s doors!”  Cameron was livid. I had unknowingly transferred my anger to my freshly tutored “A” student who is taking criminal justice and was in the law and government program at his high school. I felt a little bad for synopsizing the event in such a railing way.  Maybe I should have just NOT told my kids?  Naw…the truth is always the way.  Of course Cam wanted to run recon and get pictures of the woman’s license plate once she returned to pick up her little uber-scholar-demon. Of course…. I let them.  I needed that plate anyway to litigate.  We actually waited for an hour after tutoring was done, (was I being a little maniacal?)  I wondered for a hot second but was back to my anger the next.  Later I posited that there must be a website where you can tell your story, and publicly shame someone.  Vindication!? was it to be had? at least online in a public forum before I did all the footwork to make her pay? Well I never found that site but tonight I sure found something funny called “you pissed me off you bastard” Click on the link under the title of this blog, and enjoy the restless griping within a well written blog.  This gentleman hails from  the UK and talks about things that piss him off in general.  The gripes are both large and small but the laughs are big.  Just what I needed to let off some of the steam!  Cheers!

My Resolve is strong: ‘What I am endeavoring to correct in the latter part of 2012’


Well I missed the boat.  The huge Italian-piloted-playboy-of a captain’s-type of boat that is.  Because well I’m just not the glitzy “12 lido decks” sailing type.  

"Lido Deck"

I like the impermanance of the warm and sea-worn dinghy.  I love the sheer mystery that goes with the wind in my hair and the”throw caution to the wind”  feeling of, “Will I make it to shore?”  So I missed the boat on putting to paper my “wants” for 2012.  First of all, I wanted the world to continue.  I did not REALLY believe that those crazy Mayans correctly foretold of the end of our spastic little attention deficit planet.  They were probably like….tired of tip tapping all that crazy angular text into stone and were like….Um…bro, I’m DONE! this sh*t’s TIRING!!! Or maybe there’s a “mayan Calendar part deux” buried beneath a behemoth pyramid and the archeologist types will unearth it and will be like…”crap….sorry…you mad bro?”   Not to knock Mayan, because I’m pretty sure their my ancestors.  I’m Mexican and Irish, which officially makes me a “Mexi-gringa” and my grandmother’s family comes from The Tarahumara Tribe.  all you need to know is that they actually chase (yes still) deer and whatever they want to eat, on foot. They wear crazy little skirts.  AND THOSE ARE THE MEN!!   They live in high altitude cliff dwellings in Mexico’s  Copper Canyon to be exact) …and drink a beverage called Iskiate that makes ecstasy look like baby food. So I don’t diss the Mayans.  I’m not an ancestry buff but i’ve a feeling the corn meal doesn’t  fall too far from the huarache if you know what I mean.    But I’m glad they got it wrong.  VERY WRONG.  Because that means we all have more time to ignore Super-Pacs, not stand up for Women’s rights on contraception etc.,  I guess what I’m saying is…DOES IT TAKE THE IMPENDING END OF THE WORLD TO GET FIRED UP ABOUT THESE THINGS?! People…PEOPLE!!!! …..  Seriously.  If you’re gonna get fired up and change things…ahem…then these are some starting points.

I’m also endeavoring to figure out why young female children are hanging their entire tiny self esteems on the millions of mostly hardened YouTube Viewer’s opinions! Patt Morrison of KPCC devoted one of her radio shows to this question the other day.  I was lucky enough to have one of my comments read on the air by Patt, (I can’t tell you how exciting this was…) but my thoughts on this subject have not been entirely aired and I wish to explore this phenomena more fully here! You lucky readers!  Okay you four readers of mine, (you know who you are…)   Personally I don’t remember being wary of my self esteem as a child never mind manically  questioning  whether I was “pretty” or not.  Not much of a thought to tell you the truth.  Not until my next door neighbor, the evil Yvette Lopez,  told me that I got to borrow the ‘ugly Barbie’ because as she put it, ‘I was ‘ugly too.’  I remember being angry, and not really believing her.  I guess my parents had done some work there and made sure my  intrinsic self esteem was intact and somewhat unretractable in a way.  Some sort of positive verbal massaging of the spirit went on.  I do know that I did not own Barbies, either by the sheer prospect of borderline poverty or by ideal I know not.  I do know, however, I was the eager recipient of an occasional chicharone or  pan dulce whilst watching 1970’s basketball with my dad.  My mother had me busy with art projects.  As for Yvette?  I wanted to punch her lights out and began making mud pies to launch over the wall into her front yard.  Being resourceful, I enlisted my little brother and the offensive began.   Looking back, that was my first taste of justice and haven’t’ lost the thirst for it.  Today I’m wondering why America has been resting on it’s laurels with regard to women’s issues.  Not only are we on the razor’s edge of losing contraception rights, we are okay with so much misogyny in our media once again.  I wasn’t around for the 50’s and I was just a wee tot in the 60’s and all I know is that in the 70’s women’s issues were important. I felt it. I saw it.  Women were in a fight.  Gloria Steinem was a common visual on my parent’s magnavox. Cher might’ve been in a tiny deerskin bikini but she was a strong woman.   Women with caftans, flared pants large flowered prints were pissed and on guard.  They wanted to be respected for the women they were.  In the eighties the idea of ‘being an airhead’ or one’s entire self-esteem being soley based on looks still didn’t fly.  There was an enduring radar out there just daring any inkling of disrespect to waft within it’s general airspace.  How did things change so quickly? Now we have The Kardashians, The Bachelor, Jersey Shore’s women put out there as defacto role models for young girls.  Women in bikinis selling hamburgers.  Maybe the ladies on Hee Haw or Petty Coat Junction we’rent perfect but they certainly weren’t bouncing booze soaked ice cubes off the pecs of half naked guido boys! There was enough strong feminist vibe going on that even girls as young as I was knew that we weren’t to be messed with or disrespected and most of all? I had more than my looks to make me feel whole.

Thankfully there is a group called G.A.T.E. (Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment) spearheaded by John Raatz, Jim Carrey and Eckhart Tolle

John Raatz, Eckhart Tolle and JIm Carrey : G.A.T.E.

…and they endeavor to change some of the tendencies in Hollywood that culminate in movies and shows that lower that self-esteem bar.  Basically GATE is trying to raise the bar making Hollywood responsible for what is conveyed in their productions.  Can we tell a good story that people want to see without all the gratuitous sex or stereotypical demography that we now use so wantonly? Can we make an impact without the gratuitous violence?  Can we merely allude to the violence in the story if it is a necessary part of the storytelling?  but not glorify it’s detail? Can we get past using sex and violence as cash cows? and raise our cinema arts to a new level?   Can we tell better stories? and can we tell stories that are more impactful and help us all get along on this tiny blue idiosyncratic planet?  I think so.  And if we do…succeed that is, in making Hollywood just a little less attention starved, we will we have an impact on young children.  We must do this because young kids  are starting to show signs of  the hyper sexualization and adult drama that they encounter everywhere in out society.  A ten year old asking the world if she’s pretty, an eleven year old worried that she’s ‘not hot’.  it’s worrisome.   Endeavor with me.  Eyes on the prize.

My Post secret Synchronicity


On New Year’s Day, (okay yesterday)... I woke up and decided to visualize my new goals and resolutions. I decided that before I got to the real  angst and torture from which all sacrifice must come,  I would flounder in my old habits just a little longer.   I proceeded to roll out of bed at 1PM, eat cereal for my breakfast / lunch / afternoon snack.  (one bowl accounted for all of those meals, but lord it was a large one).  I then lain in an extremely hot bath hoping to settle the granola that was without a doubt nefariously swimming in my breadbasket like paunch.

After enjoying my scalding dip (which lasted approximately an hour), I dried off and took a seat next to my husband at our local Mexican food eatery, “The Whole Enchilada.”  I consumed “Street tacos.”

It did, in fact, cross my mind that i just paid $10.00 for a plate of ‘street tacos’ not on the ‘STREET but ‘in THE ‘KITCHEN’ of a corporate restaurant.  I probably should’ve  mosied back down the boulevard and bought some those tacos for about $2.00!   Yes, I did get a tiny bowl of frijoles de la hoya with a ‘pift’ of cacique cheese floating in it, but even that didn’t make it a moderate economic gain.  After whooshing the corporate cloaked ‘street tacos’ down my gullet,  Steve and I decided we would see the latest Coen Brothers’ movie, “True Grit.”  but with an hour to kill before our flick,  we decided to first go to our local bookstore use it like a library (as usual.)  Usually we purchase a coffee and cookie reading books in their entirety and taking pictures of weird titles.  We’d wait until the movie started or they kicked us out.  Whatever came first.

I hung in Cultural studies / social issues because I can’t get enough controversy, stories of intervention and political unrest.  I must say that I do have a ‘highbrow literary fantasy’ so sometimes I break character and skulk over to the literary fiction looking for affecting coming of age tales with political overtones set in middle America.  Ahem Thomas Pynchon..Ahem…

Steve dallied in Tech, computing, cooking or building.  But I was hoping to find something different in my usual domain, running my finger along several spines, the  new P.J. O’Rourke, the new Amy Goodman, 

some blasted books blasting Obama, some social book applauding Oprah, what it feels like to be half black and half white, how it feels to be transgender.  Partisan stuff, union stuff, struggles of women with eating disorders and how to talk to your child if he’s in a gang.  I noticed some opinion stuff on Kabul and then… there I spotted it.  “PostSecrets.” Intrigued in general with ‘secrets,’ I opened the book.  “PostSecrets” is a book created by Frank Warren, in which people mail their secrets anonymously on a homemade postcard.

The simple concept of the project was that completely anonymous people decorate a postcard and portray a secret that they had never previously revealed. No restrictions are made on the content of the secret; only that it must be completely truthful and must never have been spoken before.

Entries range from admissions of sexual misconduct and criminal activity to confessions of secret desires, embarrassing habits, hopes and dreams.  I was intrigued to say the least.  I flipped through the book dazzled by the humor, the honesty and yes the sadness.

The sadness was striking and hard to digest at the same time since it was expressed with such artistic beauty.

Some of the revelations sworn to secrecy were familiar.  Yes, at times I do hate people who display some of the same traits that I do hate within myself.  But I read on.  I found people who felt ignored, unloved, bound and angry.  Some were flippant, using the platform / art piece / literary work as a context to simply goof on the idea of a secret through the use of exaggeration or minimalism.  There were ‘matter of fact secrets’ and then there were ones that we only have had inklings were occurring in some of our family friends and neighbors.

As I perused the expanse of artwork, now with Steve looking over my shoulder, I was turning the pages and found this!  It said, “I cheated on my husban with a woman and i’ll do it again.”  In a way I felt honored to be the unlikely and completely unexpected

recipient of one woman’s “secret.”  I felt sad that she (whomever she was), was obviously torn in her relationship, and that she was burdened with something she seemed to feel ashamed of.  I felt sorry for the unknowing party, the deceived, the husband.  This unknown woman had seen the book, gone into the bathroom which was only 10 steps from the end of the aisle where the section was located, and tore a sheet from the towel dispenser, authored her admission and left it for discovery.

I felt as though the sadness and beauty of this book had just reached out and touched me in reality, there on that shelf in that bookstore while killing time waiting for a Coen Brothers’ movie.

"I only ever played sports to feel like my father loved me."

Why I’m a dog person


I am a dog person. No I don’t profess to have any unusual parts, per se, that would make me a ‘dog-person’ say like oversized floppy ears or a stick-on, one-piece black nose that I like to shove up people’s crotches,

but i have, rather, an affinity for dogs, a love, a special place in my heart-space that smiles quietly when I see or rather feel the happy, goofy soul of a dog. Now that that I’ve highlighted the chasm between the literal and figurative …I can go on.

I like dogs because I was raised with dogs. And being raised with dogs means that you experience dogs in different ways and at different ages. If you are lucky, a single dog, or group of dogs are raised along with you. They actually become your family. I have lain on a wooden floor staring into the blackness of a dalmation’s eyes, feeling humor, a sense of incredible intelligence and yet the mystery of what they were thinking…and it was amazing. I appreciated as a seven year old the fact that my dalmation, Cee-Cee RooKoo never once protested through bark or even sneer while I used her back as an imaginary indian elephant for Barbie and Ken on thier wedding day in India.

I often wondered what Cee-Cee thought as I posed them kissing under an umbrella held by my neighbor and snarky playmate Yvette Lopez.

Yellow eyes, or so I thought....

She had yellow eyes a Honduran accent and loved to give me indian burns. Cee Cee would lay close, enjoying the cold hard floor, often assisting me in my Mattel / tropical / wedding fantasy, (Barbie and Ken married many times), humoring me most times for about 20 minutes and then suddenly jumping up sending my plastic lovers flying frighteningly near my easy-bake oven!

I knew that Cee-Cee had had it. Something called. Mother with a piece of rogue spam calling her name, or my father watering the lawn with a garden hose that just had to be tamed. Whatever the reason, I knew that dogs had to be dogs, and little girls would wrangle whatever help they could from person or canine in their imaginative play. Cee-Cee would later wear a couch arm doiley, as did I. Together we were Sonny and Cher, me with the long hair, er….my couch arm doiley…and Cee-Cee as sonny with hers. She was lucky I never thought of using my brother’s fringed leather vest on her because I have a suspicion that I would have, had I thought of it! Though I love cats also, for their fluid, sometimes sublime and yet powerful love. but they have too much independence for my liking. A cat doesn’t run circles around themselves at the sound of your car turning into the driveway and leap pointlessly at the door until you breach it. After a short petting session cats say “enough is enough.. I’m outta here” and off they go to further generalizations about them, sitting on some window sill,

or some edge of a pillow on the middle of your bed. Basically any forgotten cozy place where they can lick and sleep and lick and sleep, and lick and sleep until they are frantically looked for, or they come bounding out of their crevace at the uneven drone of the sound of a can opener. I must point out that I do hold fondly memories of stroking my cat Mahalia’s sunset colored fur while she purred loudly in a weird clicking manner whilst painfully licking her sandpaper tongue across the bias of the back of my hand.

I just think of dogs as more ‘accessible’ bounding with energy, rough and tumble, forgiving. They trust in humans outta the box… they have no boundaries, no preconceived notions, and no qualms about walking around with Baby Tenderlove strapped to their back.