11.30.2007

The Real World, Sydney


Does anyone watch The Real World Sydney on MTV? I've been watching it like a rubberneck on the freeway. I don't want to see it, I know I shouldn't see it, but my morbid curiousity just pulls me in. I swore off this show seasons ago, back when they were in Miami. For the first few seasons, it was my absolute favorite show ever since they were in New York because the people on it were my age, were going through the same things I was and it was just cool.

But now, eh.

Everyone knows they are on camera and they all have their little persona they cultivate. Then they spend the rest of their adult lives whoring themselves on The Gauntlet, The Surreal Life, Road Rules Challenges, Battle of the Network Reality Stars, etc. draining that last five minutes of fame until it is bone dry. Until you want to disembowel yourself everytime their face pops up on the TV screen.

The Real World has gone beyond their social experiment of "This is the true story, of seven strangers, picked to live in a house..." It's not about trying to get to know each other...or to understand where their roommates are coming from. Now it's about being pissy drunk in every episode, frolicking naked in the hot tub and then disrespecting your roommates like yo mama never taught you any better.

I mean, if I want to see that, I could just stay tuned to VH-1 and watch New York pimp slap someone with her big chocolate implants. Or I could flip to the E! channel and see what naked pictures are being sold of Kim Kardashian. I mean, let's be creative here.

But this Real World Sydney. Uggggh. It chaps my ass. The guys are horny pigs. The girls are foul-mouthed tramps. I am happy to see Parissa kick Trisha out of the house. After all the trash she talked, she had the audacity to offer a forced apology because her dad told her to suck it up and do it. And this, coming from the "Christian" roommate. Geez. Why is it that the people who claim to be christians are often the most ignorant, hateful, hypocritical people on the show? It's embarrassing. Hello world, not all christians act like that. Don't let these characters give the rest of us a bad name. The minute Trisha discovered Parissa was sending her home, she forgot all about her apology and blasted Parissa. She even bragged about her parent's happy life, their happy daughter, their happy religion, their happy country. It was so rude and so foul. So I was glad to see her go.

And don't get me started on the other two girls, Kelly Anne and Ashli. A girl who spells her name with an "i" on the end...well, that is totally self-explanatory, isn't it? When they began to hock loogies on the glass phone booth Parissa was in while talking to her family, just to irritate her and make her want to go home, oh my goodness! If I was Parissa, I would have went up there and dealt with those two. In a very unfavorable manner. Then I would have been sent home. Unbelievable, just unbelievable.

It's a whole new generation. And it ain't pretty. I feel really sad thinking about the fact that this show is a reflection of our youth and society as a whole. Really, really sad.

Just Fine

I've been a life-long Mary J. Blige fan ever since she dropped her What's the 411? joint back in '92. She was on KDAY today and I was touched by how many people were calling up and giving her love, especially women. Mary J. Blige is the kind of artist that so deeply expresses what she is going through, it feels like you are going through it with her. Personally, I like my Mary melancholy and lovelorn but on her new single, I can't help but feel happy for her. You go, Mary.


11.28.2007

Child for sale


I was just sitting here fiddling on the computer and I showed Noah the picture down below. I asked him, "Who do you think that is?"

"Um. I don't know."

"It's me."

And he started coughing on the candy cane he was munching on. "No way! That butt is waaaaay too small to be your's!"

Um. Yeh, Noah. Thanks. It's not too late to pass on the extravagant family inheritance of paintbrushes to one of your siblings.

What is wrong with this picture?


There are several things wrong with this. Let me 'esplain.

  • I am standing out in the middle of the Eastern Avenue, in El Sereno California. East Los. Orale.

  • I am getting the autograph of a young boxer named Paul Gonzales. He won a gold medal in the '84 Olympics and I thought he was totally cute.

  • Why on earth would El Sereno, "El Tranquil", have a parade in the first place...oh, and Theo from The Cosby Show drove by us, too!

  • The time stamp on this pic says July '85. Which means I was thirteen years old in this picture...look at my butt. Does that look a like a thirteen year old butt to you?

  • I am wearing my hair in a mullet/tail. Business in the front, party in the back. Apparently this was my way of holding onto some of the hair that was down my back before I cut it off to sport this totally rad 80's 'do.

  • I'm not wearing a Davey Crocket raccoon cap, I'm wearing a tail.

  • A tail.

And this concludes the interruption to our daily programming.

11.27.2007

Let's Get Physical


Ever since I can remember, my mom was trying to get me to exercise. Look at those thighs! Aye gorda! You need to move! What do you have? Tired blood? In the 80's, jazzercise was all the rage, so she signed up for every freakin' class the community center had to offer. There was no L.A. Fitness or Bally's in those days. My sister would run around and play with the other kids whose mama's were fat asses, while my mom and I did leg lifts, stretched our arms to the sky and cycled until our thighs felt like jelly. I know my mom did it because she was a good mother and she didn't want me to suffer and be a fat adult. And she never made me do it alone, she was always by my side, working out with me.

But I hated it.

I hated to have to wear leotards and tights, leg warmers--it was sooo embarrassing. I hated that I was the only kid there, jazzercising alongside grown women. I hated the music. I hated the peppy instructors with the headbands and the heavy vein cords in their necks. Whew! Yes! You can do it! Can you feel that burn? Wooooo! Yes! You guys are awesome! Two more! Wooooohooooo! Did I already say how much I hated the leotards and tights? We didn't wear sweats or yoga pants like self-respecting people cuz that is what you wore to work out in those days. Sigh.

I also played softball for eight years. You wouldn't think so, but we ran alot. Butches get their exercise on, too. I hated to run. It took me about twelve minutes to do a mile, but I did it. That is what kept me in decent shape until college.

Before I transferred to CSULA, I attended CSULB for a year. It was there, on my own volition, that I took four aerobics classes a week. Note the change in verbiage. I can't put too fine a point on it. Aerobics, not jazzercise. Twice a week I took this class for P.E and it kicked my ass all up and through that gym. The instructor was like a crazed Jamie Lee Curtis drill sargeant on crack. She had us running up and down those bleachers, pull-ups, sit-ups, scissor kicks until I wanted to cry. I would work up a good sweat with really good house music pumping on the speakers. Me and all the tall, skinny blondes from Seal Beach. Um, yeh. When it was was over I would drink my bottled water and bite into my big green apple and feel really good about myself. It was a good thing because if you went to college in Long Beach, you would basically have to park your car in the next town and then they'd shuttle your ass in. So I had a long way to my car to feel good about myself.

In the evenings I took another aerobics class at the local recreation center. This one was a little more my style, since there were lots of other fat girls hiding in the back with their little rolled up blue mats. I have to say that for a good two years, this is what I did for exercise. No wonder I could eat like a horse, drink like a fish (and never get a hangover) and never gain a pound. I stayed the same size for years. Let me clarify, I was never thin but you could have bounced a quarter off my booty. And a fat stomach? Forget it, I was packing all my junk in the trunk just where it's supposed to be.

Then I got married.

And babies started popping out left and right. You could depend on me and the Man to procreate every seventeen to twenty months, like clockwork. I had stamina like a horse...udders like a goat. The man was like a stallion. And all of a sudden, my desire to exercise was replaced by the desire to pee alone. To shower without two beady eyes belonging to a little person peeking at me through the shower curtain. To get through a meal without someone needing their butt wiped. Simple things. And the exercise fantasy became just that, a fantasy.

I got myself into this vicious cycle where if I only exercised more, I would relieve stress, lose weight, sleep better and boost my endorphins. But because I don't exercise, I am totally stressed, the chub is spreading everywhere at an alarming rate, I take naps and I'm still tired, and endorphins...those are those grey things that swim in the ocean right?

The ironic part is, I don't think I could hang through an aerobics class today. If I were to take an aerobics class right now, I probably couldn't do a leg lift to save my damn life. These bad boys are heavy, yo! A few years ago, Michael bought me a set of Tae-bo tapes. Yes, Billy Blanks with this black nipples hanging out. Those were cool, and the chil'rens loved to jump alongside me as I was working out, but....I did not like the sensation of my chub jiggling with each kick I made. Every time I would kick my leg out, my chub would start shaking and it would take a minute for the aftershocks to stop. Seriously. It totally distracted me from the workout. So I gave that up. Then I'd go for walks. That's cool but I would complain because it was either too hot (I don't like to sweat) or too cold (and then I couldn't get out of bed). Then I would complain that I didn't want to walk alone, but then it took us all about two hours to get dressed and out the door and by that time it was time for lunch and naps. Then if I walked alone, I was like a rabbit waiting for a wolf to come out at me from every bush. That's what happens when you grow up a latch-key child.

So I finally settled on swimming. That has to be my absolute favorite exercise. I guess because it doesn't really feel like you are exercising. While all the old ladies with plastic caps are in the corner splashing on noodles at the Y.M.C.A, I get into a lane and just start swimming laps. I wish I could swim as smoothly as some swimmers I've seen. They swim lap after lap, they peek their head out for a quick breath of air and they just keep on swimming. I want to swim like that! The best part about swimming is when I am underwater, it is absolutely silent. Sure, you can hear a few muffled sounds, but for the most part, it is still and quiet. My mind goes blissfully blank and I focus on my breathing. While you are stretching out your arms and your legs, you feel weightless. And your lungs...after your swim they feel deliciously spent.

But it is the quiet that I love. It's not so much the actual absence of noise, although that is wonderful. It's the rare quieting of my mind that I really appreciate. No stress, no bills, no schedules, no crying, no refereeing...just getting to the end of the pool.

11.24.2007

Habitual Rituals


My dad was one of those long-haired hippies in the 70's. He didn't start out as one because he was an honorable young man who served his country in the Vietnam War. Now he is about to turn 57 years old and the Veteran's Administration has declared him 80% crazy.

It's all good, though, Dad.

He has been able to sustain his mental capacity with some help from an herbal ally, otherwise known as cannabis sativa. Sure, there is counseling, depression meds and group therapy, but there is also something that grows straight from the ground (or in a college student's closet, under a High Pressure Sodium lamp and proper ventilation) that is guaranteed to help you cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, an Estranged Wife that still expects you to financially support her and crazy fools that you encounter on a daily basis. He gets insane in the membrane.

I'm not bragging or glorifying it, by any means. What he smokes on his own time is his own prerogative. He is a grown ass man. It's something that I have just accepted as part of my father's personality. I don't think he is a bad person because of it. I don't think he is a deviant. If he needs it to cope with life, then that is his business. He never "acts" high. It's never prevented him from holding down a job, having relationships with friends and family, from being Dad. He is who he's always been, cracking jokes and telling long stories. And his bloodshot eyes, well, I've never known them to not be red, so what can I say? That is just Dad. He told me that when he gets too old to function, instead of putting him in a nursing home (as if), I should just take him to the desert and drop him off with a chair and a few dime bags and he would be just fine. Sounds like a plan. It's way cheaper than a night nurse.

Over the years, I have stumbled across his stashes here and there. When I was young, I just used to think he smoked "funny" cigarettes. When a funny smell came wafting from the front seat, I was more concerned about the hot ashes being flicked on my arms and legs through the open window than anything else. When I got older and curious, I will admit to helping myself to his stash every so often. I banked on the fact that the mary jane messed with your short term memory, so he would forget he started out with three joints instead of two.

A couple of years ago, I was sitting in his truck as he ran into the bank to pull out some money. I'm just sitting there, minding my own business, looking at cd's and messing with the radio when I noticed he had a little Starbucks mint tin under the stereo. Hmmm, I'd like a mint, I said to myself. But when I opened the tin, what did my astigmatized eyes behold? Two perfectly rolled joints. When I asked him about it, he laughed it off saying, "Oh, those are old! I've had them there for a while..."

Oh. Okay. Suuure, Dad.

Good old Dad was over on Tuesday to visit my sister and I. He hangs out with us, visits with his grandchildren, I usually make him something to eat and then he is on his way. As I walked him out to his truck, he told me to wait so I could listen to this new cd he bought. So as I am leaning against his open door and he is going on about this cd, I look down at the little door cubby and notice his sunglasses case, a box of cigarettes and oh, a Starbucks mint tin. I casually pick it up and give it a shake. Hmmmm, doesn't sound like mints to me. A quick inspection tells me that no, there sure ain't mints in there and yes, Dad still has the manual dexterity to make a perfectly rolled joint.

"Dang, Dad!"

His head whips around to see me scoping out his stash and he looks sheepish, "Nooo, Mija! Close it! What are you doing?! Those are old. I've had them there for a while..."

Whatever you say, Dad.

So on Thanksgiving, I did what any blabber-mouth-who-can't-keep-a-secret-to-save-her-life-would-do, I told my brother and sister about it while we were washing dishes. As we were laughing and my mom was shaking her head in disbelief and disgust ("I can't believe your dad still does that stuff--he's an old man!"), my cell phone rings. It's my Dad.

"Happy Thanksgiving, Dad! Speak of the devil...were your ears burning or what?"
"What? Were you guys talking about me?"
"No, we were just saying how we could really use a Starbucks mint right about now."

11.21.2007

Sweet Leaf

Driving around town tonight, running errands and disgusted by all the local traffic snaked through all the streets, I put the radio on scan to see if I could find something good to listen to besides the eternal booty-shaking-shorty-drop-it-to-the-ground-like-she-ain't-got-no-manners stuff.

I came across a very familiar riff on some classic rock station. Black Sabbath. Ohhh. Sweet Leaf. Ahhh. I may not look it, but I was a big Black Sabbath fan. Before Ozzy ate the head off bats and then proceeded to have a brain the size of a bat due to years of drug and alcohol abuse, he was off the chain. Many, many alternative rock bands you hear today have stolen riffs from Black Sabbath. Even Led Zeppelin stole riffs from Black Sabbath. I read that somewhere. If you ever hear Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Give it Away", then you know what I mean. Sweet Leaf riff...straight jack move.

I distinctly recall having intense guilt (or you could say conviction) when I listened to Black Sabbath. They were a very dark band, and their lyrics, even darker. I mean, at the time they were pretty dark but compared to some goth and death metal stuff that is out there today, they are pretty tame. It was their open references to the devil, lucifer, witches and black masses that gave me the heebie jeebies. But there was something hypnotic about the music that drew me to it. And that is what scared me! It was bad enough I was a heathen christian, drinking, partying and getting high every weekend unless I was visiting family and then I was required to go to church with mom on Sundays. There I was, going to hell in a hand basket and Black Sabbath was my soundtrack.

One day while worshipping at Tower Records, which was something my homie Power I did on a regular basis way back in the day before we were two old married ladies with chil'rens, I was browsing through cd's, waiting for something exciting to pop out at me. We would walk in that place and split up for hours, looking at magazines, books, listening to music, with our eyes peeled for cute boys. On some random visit, I decided I was going to buy Black Sabbath's We Sold Our Soul For Rock 'n Roll. I sat there wrestling with it, should I buy it? I could hear the angel on my shoulder (who sounded suspiciously like my mother) say it's evil! Evil! Don't buy it! Then the devil on my shoulder was saying, but it has Fairies Wear Boots on it! Sweet Leaf, you know how much you like Sweet Leaf! And the best ever, N.I.B!! You know you want it--you NEED this cd!

Have I mentioned that I have a very active imagination?

So as I reached over to grab the cd, I felt this tremor go through my hand. Almost like an electric shock, but it went through my whole hand and wrist. It was the craziest thing. In paranoid hysteria, I found Power and told her what happened. "I think this means I shouldn't buy this cd! Do you think that's what it means? Duuuude, I must be tripping! Maybe that was God's way of telling me to stay away from the cd?!" Um, yeh. We looked at each other with big eyes, not knowing if this was some sort of battle between good or evil or the fat joint we had smoked out in the parking lot before we came in. Hmmm.

Needless to say I did not buy the cd that day. I ended up with it somehow, but I can't remember how I got it. But I'm okay now. And I haven't seen the angel or devil on my shoulder since.

11.20.2007

TP--are you with me?



So the topic today is toilet paper. What brand do you like and why? It has been on my mind because for the last few days, we haven't had any toilet paper to speak of. I should specify that my bathroom hasn't had any. So I have to keep borrowing some from the chil'rens bathroom or I am forced to bring a couple of napkins with me. If I am too lazy, I'll reach for Xixi's package of Costco wipes. They work like magic. My only complaint, it leaves your butt wet. And it's not cool to walk around with a wet butt crack. How do babies do it? And yes, we have been out shopping but we keep forgetting the TP. I was just out last night grabbing bleach and toothpaste but of course, I forgot again!

I am a very picky TP person, which stands to reason if you have a rather large bootay. These types of things are bound to be important to you. I can't be wiping with just any old stuff, you dig?

If we don't buy the "lifetime supply" of TP from Costco, then I'll buy Charmin or Scott Tissue, which is my favorite. It's not too thick and quilted. It's just strong enough to handle those big jobs. It doesn't pill up in your ass. The roll is big enough to last a few days. I have Michael to thank--he turned me on to Scott tissue. Personally, I thought it was a bit too expensive...but it's your butt we're talking about here. You can't get a clean butt shopping at the .99 store!

I don't know about you, but my butt is worth it.

11.18.2007

Did you ever know that you're my hero?



My dear, dear husband. Sometimes he says the funniest things. And what makes them funny is the fact that he isn't trying to be funny. He is being totally serious.

Last night over a very nutritious dinner of pizza and hot wings, we were discussing our Thanksgiving plans. Here is a little insight into the Cortes household.

Me: Well, you know I am a flexible person but the one thing I absolutely refuse to bend on is our Thanksgiving plans. We have to be at Mom's on Thursday.

In my entire thirty-five years of life, I have spent exactly two---count 'em, two--Thanksgivings away from my mom. And they were horrible and I was sad just like a big fat baby. Hence the inflexibility of my holiday plans.

Michael: Well, I don't have to be there.
Me: [incredulously] Um, excuse me? And where would you go?
Michael: Where do you think I'd go?
Me: [rolling eyes] Yeh, I guess you could go to your mom's house. But all these people (pointing to the chil'rens), they're going with me. Your mom doesn't even celebrate Thanksgiving! She works.
Michael: Sigh. Now honey, you know my mom. I am her oldest. Her oldest and her youngest are the most special to her. I have a different relationship with my mom than my sister and my brothers do. I am kind of like the wind beneath her wings.
Me: [mouth hanging open] Um. Okaaaay.

And he said this with a totally straight face. I love him so.

11.17.2007

Magazines, paper cannibalism, and Good Things



I just got the December issue of Real Simple magazine today. I was so excited. There is nothing better than getting a fresh, crisp, shiny new magazine in the mail. I love the way it looks, the beautiful bright colors, the glossy pages, the thickness of it. I am a magazine ho.

My magazine obsession has been a long-standing one. Back in my college days, I had I don't know how many subscriptions going...Spin, Rolling Stone, Interview, Allure, Marie Claire, Sassy, Details, Glamour, Mademoiselle, Metropolitan Home, Vibe, Entertainment Weekly, National Geographic and Cosmopolitan. I had stacks up to here in my closet. Even after I read them, I just couldn't get rid of them. They all had little tidbits of goodness in them, pictures I liked, articles that were interesting--I just couldn't throw them away! So I told myself I had to keep them so I could go through each one and cut out things for my collages.

Funny story. Before I could afford all these subscriptions, I would prowl around the campus library and make a beeline for the magazine section. Then, armed with a giant stack of yummy mags, I would find a shady little corner where people were either snoozing or getting freaky, and I would get my handy-dandy, trusty #11 x-acto blade from my backpack and proceed to cannibalize the pages. Flip, cut, flip, cut, cut, cut, cut! Now, before you get all huffy about defacing property belonging to our beloved educational system, let me just say that I jacked from magazines that ya'll probably don't even bother reading. But they were interesting to me and I used them in my art projects. I wasn't hurtin' nobody. That is what I like to tell myself, anyway. But it got so bad that I started busting myself! I would pull a cool magazine and open it, only to find that I had already cut it all up. Damn!

These days, my magazine collection is a bit different. My, how things have changed. I have stacks of Country Living, Martha Stewart Living, Country Home, Cottage Home, Better Home & Gardens, Home and Garden, Real Simple, House Beautiful, Natural Living, Cuidad, and Inland Empire. And before you consider me completely pathetic, I also read In Style. No, I don't subscribe to all of them, fortunately my mom also has a magazine addiction so I benefit from that. My favorite thing to do when I visit my brother and sister is to read their magazines. I know I can depend on my sister-in-law Cassie to supply me with all the latest celebrity gossip with her Us and People mags. When I visit la toilette at Jen's house, I can peep traveling magazines,Us and People mags that Jen has mooched off Cassie (which I already read) or I can "read" my brother-in-law's Maxim and FHM mags. Can someone tell me the difference between those two magazines and porn? Hmmmm...just wondering.

I'm not the only one with magazines all over the place. Michael's got stacks of graffiti magazines, signs and graphics mags, Juxtapose, XXL and the assorted Vibe. They are everywhere. I can no longer rationalize the wicker baskets for all the magazines...the mountainous stacks in my office a.k.a the bathroom. But it just kills me to just throw them away. I've gone through them and tore out pages that I use for my decoupage crafts and collages. My next move is to go through them and cut out recipes and house projects I like.

Someday, someday soon I will get to it. Then I can be done with it. By that time I can start a new wave of addiction, maybe Family Circle, Good Housekeeping, or Woman's World (like my Nana). Some old chick magazines. I can't wait.

11.16.2007

Turbo

I just saw this on Michael's myspace page. Old skool. I loved breakdancing. Still do, too. I'm really hoping one of my kids picks it up. So far, I've got one that likes to Krump, so things are looking up. I remember seeing this at the movies. This was my favorite part of Breakin'. It was doooope.

Dang, I'm old.


11.12.2007

Hand-painted kicks...you know you want some!

As an artist, the most frustrating thing is to see other artist's making money off of things you were doing years ago. Oh! Another thing that chaps my ass to no end is when you know you could do just as good, if not better.

I hate it when that happens.

I was reading about this company called Enchanted Royals, where these two youngins decided they wanted to share their love of craftiness and shoes with the world. Hmmmm. They are cute but dang, I was writing and drawing on my Vans and Converse since 1985, yo! When I hear they are selling these bad boys for $90 a pop on Melrose, I want someone to smack me upside the back of my head.

Apparently, the whole hand-painted shoe phenomena is a big deal these days. I mean, it's always been around, but now it's on a whole 'nother level. A company out of Beverly Hills called Your Kicks is selling them to hot, young celebutantes for...gasp...$194. $194! For some hand-painted shoes. Smack me...someone smack me upside the back of my head again!

I had two pairs of slip-ons for my boys sitting in the hallway for a couple of weeks now. Before you stone me, I will admit they are not Vans, but Airwalks. Hey, this sister is on a budget. My intention was to paint a little somethin' somethin' for them. After seeing other's artists work, I was inspired. So here is a pair I did for Diego. I think it matches his demented elf personality just perfectly.

Two of my favorite things...slip-on Vans and art. Sigh. If anyone is interested in some kick ass hand-painted shoes, holler at me. I plan on painting more of these with some more figurative work and I'll put them up as I complete them.

Laying out the design in white. Once again, Michael did the design because he is good at starting and I am good at finishing.


Half-way done.


The finished product. That was fun!

Cool cap


What do you do when it is cold outside and you don't have anything to do (besides clean) and you don't have any money (cuz you're broke) and you don't have anywhere to go (cuz your car is out of service)? You paint. I painted this hat for my nephew Ezra's birthday. Well, actually, both Michael and I painted it. He did the layout in white and your's truly put down the outline and color. It was fun. All my boys like to sport caps with marker or graffiti on them, but none of them were painted by Michael or myself. I thought I would try something new. Plus, being low on funds motivates you to be a little more creative for birthday gifts.

I think it came out cool. You like?

11.10.2007

Video games suck...


I don't know what it is, but I have this intense dislike for video games. They suck. I don't think they are inherently bad, unless you are playing a game where you are pimping some chick off the side of the road , cutting someone in two, or beating a dude with a crowbar.

Seriously.

I can totally understand taking a break, chillin', having some fun. But when your video games get in the way of having a meaningful life with other human beings, when it interferes with your education...when you are driving your mother to insanity because you compulsively ask her "Can I play? Can I play? Just for a little while? Pleeeeeeease!", then you got yourself a little problem.

I have seen my husband play Tony Hawk until the wee hours of the morning. I have caught my sons getting up at 5 am. so they could get some uninterrupted video game time. I had a brother-in-law who used to hold his newborn baby in his arms while he played Madden NFL at all hours of the morning. I guess that qualified as quality bonding time between him and his newborn. What is it about video games that make anyone with a penis compulsive and addicted?

I've been to the Game Stop! I've been all those fiends walking around that place.

I think what is most frustrating for me is the fact that a video game addict is allowing his life to pass him by. You are sitting down, moving your thumbs and your eyes but other than that you are sitting on your ass. You're not getting any smarter, or richer, or making an impact. Again, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with some downtime but come on...my kids would be on that stupid thing all day if we didn't extract the controllers from their sweaty little hands.

I'm a chick so I just can't understand this whole gaming phenomena. Sure, back in the day, I enjoyed me some Ms. Pacman, Frogger, Centipede, and Donkey Kong. I also played a little Atari...some Kaboom!, that game ( I forget the title) where you build hamburgers. What was that game called where you raced cars of slippery ice? I can clearly recall my brother being a fiend over his Atari and Nintendo, even while we were small children.

I wish I could say my children spend their time crocheting, gardening or making gift boxes for missionaries or something like that. Sigh. I told myself if I ever had children, I would not allow my boys to own a video game. And to our credit, we have not ever gone out and bought them a console. But very well-meaning friends and relatives feel that our children were deprived (you poor little brown child...you are not really experiencing life if you don't have an XBOX), so they bought them one. They have had Gameboys, an XBOX, a Playstation and a Playstation 2...all for free. The video games are a two-edged sword for me...I can use it "as a reward" and let them have at it so they can finally shut their pie-holes and I get some much-needed quiet time, or Mama and Daddy time, or telephone conversation time. Or they can start punking me and pull that bad boy out every two seconds, harass me constantly and make all conversations about games, what moves they made, what they read in their cheat book, the many wonderful adventures at the Game Stop, etc. etc. It's like you are making a deal with the devil sometimes.

I have tried many methods of curbing their video game addiction. Using it as a reward (they would consider putting their shoes in the closet befitting a reward)...making sure all chores were done (covering dishes that need to be put away with a dish towel)...making sure all homework was done (just ramming it back into the backpack)...hiding it. Yes, that is my method for keeping their video game habit under control...I hide it. In various drawers around the house, under the bed, up in the linen closet, under the sink, in my file cabinet, the junk closet by the front door. They are crafty little suckers. They find it every single time.

Sometimes I will rain down terror over the house and declare that I am getting rid of it for a week! Two weeks. A month, just to really make them suffer. Heh. I am one mean mama. And I am ruthless, because I don't feel sorry for them one bit.

It's all their Dad's fault. Heh.

11.06.2007

L.A art and friends...

One of the perks of being on a marriage conference is having an entire Saturday night to do whatever we wanted. We could have stayed in our room and lazed in bed like sloths. But why do that when there is so much happening out there in the world for us to enjoy?

So we drove out to L.A., of course.

I haven't had that much adventurous fun in a long time. One of the best things you can do for your marriage and relationship is to do things together. Get yourself out of the husband/wife/mother/father paradigm and see each other as individuals, with interests and opinions. Then it almost feels like you are dating again. We didn't have to worry about it being too cold out for the kids, about parking in a dark area, about being out too late, about the food being too funky for the kids to eat. Free! We were as free as two birds!

I know that Michael enjoys when I am smiling and I'm game for anything. If plans suddenly change, or dinner plans take a twist, or he just wants to go for a walk exploring new territory, I will take his hand and smile. I will follow where he leads. I'm not one to complain and drag down the entire evening. Are you kidding me? I am like that starving man on the island...you toss me a cracker and I am gobbling that sucker up. I'm not going to sit there and complain that the cracker was not to my liking!

So we started the night at the Crewest gallery. The Top of the Dome show consisted or artwork done on white skeleton heads in honor of Dia de los Muertos. The artwork was awesome and the DJ was bumpin'. Michael got to meet up with Man One. They didn't recognize each other. Which is totally funny because they knew each other many years back and I guess we tend to keep that image of the person in our head. We gave him props forhis gallery and then we were on our way to the next spot.





Next on the agenda was the Japanese American National Museum for the Giant Robot Biennale. Being at that place took me back to the time and space were I regularly went to shows and exhibits and enjoyed all the wierdos and wierdness of my fellow artistes. There was live music, videos of the artists while they were painting a mural, food, wine, hipsters and art. Really creative art that was alive. It was pretty inspirational for an old chick like me.

Michael had been communicating back and forth for months with an old friend he used to do graffiti with. We finally got to catch up with Mo, a.k.a Retna of the Seventh Letter Crew. It was really cool to hang out with him and just vibe off his creativity. It did my man's soul good to see his old friend. We had a good time, talking, laughing, reminiscing and eating sushi.

Good times.






Getaway Fun

Out of all the pictures we took and were taken of us, this is the only one that didn't come out crappy and out of focus (thanks Rod!).



At dinner. Everything looked beautiful!


With the lovely Christina and Will Cordero (who were late).


Getting our groove on with the Cordero's (waaaay late).


Our best B-Boy stance(did I already mention they were later than we were?).


Do not feed the Bears. Love them instead!


DJRickyG on the ones and twos...with his fly hyna on his arm. His shirt lit up with the music. Cool!


Michael and Will had this chemistry. Me and Christina just sat back and let them enjoy some man love while they danced the night away.


More man love and more dancing to 80's music.


Workin' it.

11.05.2007

Brotherhood is...love


Amongst all the craziness going on in my life and in my home, there is one thing that I have neglected to blog about. I struggle with discussing this topic because it makes me run the emotional gamut...anger, joy, irritation, happiness, laughter, sadness, crying, despair and hope. Always hope. My blended family woes are just that, woes.

My stepson Mikey lived with us for a whole six weeks back in April. It was a short-term arrangement we made with
his mother, who from this point on shall be referred to as BM (biological mother). Needless to say, we did not mean for it to be that short-term, and he was taken from our home with force, i.e the po-po's came and intervened. It was a very unpleasant scene, to say the least. This just sowed even more discord between us all. I try, to the best of my ability, to act like a civilized Christian woman when dealing with her.

It ain't easy. The hood rat in me really wanted to make a special appearance.

So that was seven months ago. Seven months passed us by and we were not able to see him or speak to him, all because the BM felt his life would be better if his father just left him alone. He already had another family, so he didn't need Mikey in it. Baby mama drama. Yes, it is totally screwed up thinking and it is sad to say that there are many women out there who feel the same way. Baby mama drama is rampant around these parts. Do they send these chicks to Baby Mama Drama University or what? Is there a G.A.I.N program out there for them? A certificate program at the local community college?

I mean, come on. I don't get it.

Do you want to know what is the biggest bone of contention we have with the BM? Clothes. Plain and simple. She does not send him with clothes she has paid for (even though she gets child support for this sort of thing). So we have to supply him with a wardrobe for our home. Makes sense, right? But oh wait. She also wants Michael to buy him clothes to take home with him. Of course, we never see those clothes again. We are stuck between a rock and a hard place. If we buy him clothes, they get sucked into the BM vacuum. If we don't, then we are on the same level as her, extremely petty and arguing over clothes. It is a vicious cycle. So now we are strict. Her clothes stay there. Our clothes stay here.

What do you think she has been biatching and moaning about for the last seven months that we haven't seen him? Anytime we attempt to contact him over the phone, this is what is brought up. The clothes. The clothes she bought. The clothes "I" kept. Apparently I can fit into a preteen boy's clothing. And no, my boys don't fit into his stuff yet. Mikey had his own separate drawer with all his own things. You wouldn't believe how many obscene phone calls we received over The Clothes. Ridiculous! Get a life, BM, please.

But thankfully, my mother-in-law decided to step out of her box and reach out to Mikey and the BM for Mikey's birthday, which is a week before Michael's. The BM very "graciously" allowed my mother-in-law to spend the weekend with him, knowing she would inevitably bring him to our house. Her first demand? "Tell Michael I want all the clothes back..." My eyes are rolling so far back I need someone to come and smack them back into place.

Mother-in-law decided she wanted to bring Mikey to our house so he could surprise Michael and all the kids. It was so hard for me to keep it a secret! My boys love their big brother, and they talk about him and ask questions about him all day long. Finally, after seven long months, they were going to see him!

When they pulled up, Michael was already at the window. I wish I could describe the look on his face. He was so happy! He grabbed Mikey in a bear hug and he said, "That's it! I don't want anything else for my birthday!" The boys were so excited, shrieking and yelling and attacking Mikey. All except for Xixi. She just looked at him with caution, like I don't know you. She did that all weekend long. But the boys, they were so happy that it made me want to cry my eyes out.

"Mom! Moooom! Did you know Mikey was coming over? You kept it a secret from us!"

It felt so good to see them all together again. No matter what has gone on or what words have been said, they still love each other. Me, I was a bit more reserved, unsure of how he would act around me. He was older now, able to see more with his own eyes. His mother, regardless of what I say or do, never has a kind word to say about me. It's tough when you live with someone who throws poisonous darts at those you love. But he was the same Mikey when he came up to me and gave me a hug and kiss. But still, I stayed in the background so he could enjoy his father and his siblings.

It was a sweet time.

That was three weeks ago. We haven't been able to see him or talk to him since. But I am happy that Michael and the kids got to see him, even if it was just for a little while. This way Mikey knows he has another family that loves him, even if he is being told otherwise. And my kids, I know they can hold out for another seven months, if need be. Until then, we think of him daily, we talk and laugh about him, and most importantly, we pray for him and his mother...that God would soften her heart so she would allow Mikey to be a part of our lives once again.

11.01.2007

Dia de los Muertos...All Souls Day


The lovely woman in this photo is my cousin Samantha. She is all dressed up because she is celebrating Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. So what's up with all these dead skeletons and stuff, anyway? You might be thinking. I heard it was just Mexican Halloween! Not quite. Let me drop some science.

Each year, the beginning of November brings with it a tradition that many people of Latin America hold close to their hearts. Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a tradition dating back since the Aztecs, the first people of the Sun, who held feasts to honor their dead. Eventually, indigenous practices blended in with Catholic tradition. Throughout the years, elements of both the Spanish Catholic and Aztec beliefs have survived. The merging of cultural expression blossomed into the creative spirit, which can be found in decorative sugar skulls, playful skeleton dioramas, paper crafts called papel picado and ofrendas. These ofrendas, or altars, are built to honor the dearly departed and they are beautifully decorated with bright yellow marigolds, the loved one's pictures, favorite food and drink. People go all out when decorating these altars and it becomes not just a way to honor the dead, but to create art.

So how does this "pagan" practice reconcile with my Christian faith? Well, I see it more as a cultural practice and a way to fondly remember and honor your loved ones who have finished walking this life. There is no worshipping of evil spirits or anythng like that. It's a happy event, a celebration. What a beautiful way to remember your loved ones and how they enriched your life by making their favorite food, lighting candles and putting out their pictures and setting it up in a way where you are giving them honor and respect. I also see it as a wonderful way for artist's to express themselves, but in a different genre. There are some whose entire body of work consists of Dia de los Muertos themes.

I look at Dia de los Muertos as celebrating the continuation of life; the belief is not that death is the end, but rather the beginning of a new stage in life.

Check it: Dia de los Muertos


Top of the Dome 4 :Fourth Annual Dia de los Muertos Exhibition


Opening Reception: Sat. Nov 3, 2007 from 6PM - 10PM


CREWEST
110 Winston Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

(between 4th and 5th street, south of Main Street)


Over a 100 ceramic skulls painted, sculpted and designed by some of today's best known and emerging graffiti artists, designers, tattoo artists and sculptors. Artists include: Gregg Stone, Cache, Vyal, Werc, Mr. Cartoon, Dave Kawano, Wisk, Alonys.Art, Chris Brand, Man One, Big Pranks, Relax, Toonz, Natoe, Stan Corona, Antonio Mejia, Susan Bolles, EMI, Smear, Chuy Quintanar, Vague, Derek Puleston, Ritzy Periwinkle, Mr.JJ, Randy Kono, Grillo, Pint, Taer (Oscar the Grouch), Rage.One and many others


Cost: FREE!

Official Site: http://www.crewest.com/
I'll be there!
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