Thursday, June 22, 2006

chicano/as en dallas

tomorrow i'm off to dallas.

not to mourn the fallen mavericks, but to finally acquaint myself with joseph's stomping grounds.

back in april, when i heard news of the dallas megamarch, i couldn't believe that dallas was home to 500,000 latinos who would march for immigrant rights. while the numbers surprised me, i imagined the latinos in dallas to be recent immigrants.

then i met joseph, who is a sixth generation dallas chicano. SIXTH generation.
his speech has a hint of drawl, and he says things like, "you *know* he had a come-to-jesus talk with her!" come to jesus? clearly he lives in the bible belt.
he is polite the way you imagine southerners to be, all "sir" and "ma'am" to strangers.
and he loves tejano music. while you hear other guys his age bumping hip hop in their cars, when joseph turns on his engine, it is puro tejano blaring through the speakers. little joe y la familia, ruben ramos, etc. etc.

joseph is texan AND tejano. and he has invested himself in documenting chicano dallas history. both the history of the community and the history of his family.

he has been educating me about dallas. not the dallas i've seen on television--mostly stereotypes of big trucks, big hair, and rich oil barons--but a dallas that is home to raza. several generations of them.

and, of course, a dallas that is home to joseph.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

happy father's day

in this picture (circa 1979), i bear a striking resemblance to my dad. i actually remember being photographed; i remember wanting to emulate his expression. i wanted to be just like him.

though these days, i am more the spitting image of my mom, i still believe myself to be deeply influenced by my dad.

when i was in high school, i told him that i wanted to learn about politics, and he encouraged me to read the editorial pages of the newspaper. in that way, he told me, i would get to read different peoples' opinions about poltical (or politicized) issues. he encouraged my high school involvement in speech and debate because i would be forced to understand and debate both sides of a particular issue.

though as a younger man, my dad was a democrat, he is now a moderate republican. i imagine that, over the years, it must have caused him some consternation that his eldest daughter had become so liberal. a chicana! a marxist! i don't know how he felt when i told him that i wanted to get a ph.d. in anthropology, but he never tried to dissuade me. he trusted me.

nonetheless, my father, the republican, always keeps me grounded. he quietly sends me articles and editorials he finds in the bakersfield californian or in the los angeles times. offers me a perspective he knows that i probably won't receive in liberal academia. we talk, in the most calm and rational way, about different political issues. he as open as i am to a different perspective. because i consider my dad to be a thinker, and because he has lived a longer and harder life than i have, i respect his opinion.

though i consider myself to be very independent, i am very much my parents' child, holding strongly to their integrity, their values, their stories and perspectives. and i'm grateful to be rooted in that way.

i love you, dad.


Friday, June 16, 2006


went for a swim a couple of nights ago at bartholomew park.
i arrived in a speedo racerback swim suit with goggles and a swim cap in hand, walked around the perimeter of the pool to the lanes they have roped off for lap swimming.

there was anarchy in the rest of the pool.

mostly black and brown children from ages five to fourteen, jumping and splashing, yelling in spanish and english. laughing in the bright blue water as the daylight waned. most congregated in the shallow end. each time i ended my lap on that side of the pool, a chubby mexican boy asked me if i could retrieve a small green ball his friends had thrown over his head and in to the lap lane.

the first time i obliged.
the second time i obliged with a look of exasperation on my face (he was ruining my stride!).
the third time, he said, "it's not my fault."
"i know, sweetie."
and then i witnessed the culprit throw the ball far above and beyond his head!
i told her that she was not supposed to throw anything into the lap lane.
then one of the life guards reprimanded the boy for venturing to the second lap lane (not the one i was in) to retrieve the ball.
"see?" i told the girl. "you got him in trouble." and i returned to my swim, wondering when i became such a cranky old lady.

i wasn't always this way.

every summer that i remember of my childhood, my mom used to enroll me and my sister (my brother, too?) in swimming lessons at siemon park. i think that she wanted us to conquer her fear of the water. and i think she wanted to get us out of her hair for part of those long summer days.

we happily obliged. all of the swim lesson kids would line up outside of the pool and be forced to walk through a corridor of cold water-spouting shower heads before each lesson. the instructors told us it was for us to become accustomed to the cold water so that we'd be more apt to jump into the pool. some of us would sprint through the showers to avoid the shock of cold water. others would creep along the sides of the corridor, carefully avoiding the water. if we weren't wet enough, the teachers would make us go through again.

other than the initial shock of cold water, the swimming lessons were great. i loved being in the water during the brutally hot summers in bakersfield. and my mother was right to assume that it would make me comfortable in the water.

to this day, i love the water. i love the feeling of weightlessness gliding through a swim. i love the silence under water, the peacefulness. being able to focus on the most basic things--my breath, my thoughts.

i see those kids at bartholomew pool, and i remember those summer days that were filled with sun and water. and think that someday those kids will be remembering the same things.


Friday, June 09, 2006

punking out

i've decided not to do the triathlon on sunday.

it is now friday, and i am still hobbling around the office. after my last swim training class last night, i noticed that my limp had become slightly worse.

so this is it for me. when i began the triathlon training in march, my goal was not to win, nor was it to beat my frenemy. i simply wanted to cross the finish line feeling strong. i imagined that, more than likely, i would be tired, but my hope was that i would also feel exhilirated.

i don't think that would happen on sunday. even if i were to jog/walk the 5K, i'd be overcompensating on my strong leg, essentially limping 3.1 miles. in the texas heat!

last night my swimming instructor asked me if i would ever compete in a triathlon if not the danskin.

"i'm only 30!" i responded. it's not as if i have one foot in the grave!

i have to confess, however, that this training has been special. the trainers for the group with whom i've been working, L.A.T.I.N.A.S, focus on creating a non-intimidating atmosphere to encourage women who don't necessarily see themselves as "athletes" to participate in these kinds of events.

and the women involved (frenemy included) are inspiring. they range in age from 18 to 40. some are students, others full time working women; some are mothers; some are single and swinging. all of us are at different levels of fitness. i've had a lot of fun with these women over the past few months, and feel like we've successfully created a fun and supportive community through our commitment to the tri training. we've come to believe in each other. and that has really made this training over the past few months--race or no race--worth it.


Sunday, June 04, 2006


i've been hobbling around for over a week now.

did i mention that i had been without health insurance? i never thought of being insurance-less a big problem; i'm rarely sick. it's only moments like this--when you accidentally debilitate yourself doing a triathlon--that you think it might be nice to have health insurance.

well, one of the perks of my new job is that i was to finally be granted health insurance, effective june 1st. though did appreciate all of the lay medical advice i received, i have to admit that i was looking forward to hearing what diagnosis an actual doctor would give me.

i called a doctor on my plan on may 31st for an appointment the following day.

he looked at my foot and said that it looked pretty bad, but that i seemed rather "stoic" about the pain. (that's because i'm tough, y'all). he wouldn't be able to diagnosis me without an x-ray. in the meantime, he told me that i shouldn't participate in any training.

the next day he informed me that my toe/foot was NOT broken! and that i could participate in sports "as tolerated."

here's the thing: i still can't really walk. i'm limping. how can i run? i swam yesterday, and it was fine. but the triathlon is in ONE WEEK. even if i wake up that morning and my toe is perfect, i won't have really trained for two weeks. can/should a person attempt a triathlon without having really trained during the two weeks before the race?

i have been training for two and a half months! has it really come down to this? *sigh*