Sunday, July 16, 2006


two weeks from tonight, i will most likely be spending the night in las cruces, new mexico.
all of my furniture will have been sold and/or donated to goodwill. my essential belongings--books, clothes, CDs--will have been shipped or packed into the trunk of my car.
our apartment will be empty and clean.
my roommate will be moved in (or at least partially moved in) to her new apartment.
and i will have said my good-byes, my see-you-laters to this city, to the people i love in this city, holding the hope that i will come back for visits.

i hate moving.

california will be great.
i'm so lucky to have this job. especially at a research university. in california. three hours from home.
it's nothing against california.
but i love my life in austin.

it was always going to be temporary. and, to be honest, those first two years, i wanted to miracle myself back to california every day. but here i am, nearly seven years later, wanting nothing more than to hold on.

but i'm forced to keep moving.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

the magic valley

i moved to the rio grande valley nearly four years ago, during the middle of a very hot texas summer. though i was moving to my mom's hometown of la feria, i did not have the cushion of family to help my stay. my mother's family had migrated from mexico to texas, and then from texas to california. our relatives on her side of the family live either in mexico or in california.

though my mother had introduced me to her padrinos, a very sweet couple in their 80s, who live in "el rancho" (in english, they call it "the country"), i was basically on my own to make friends and to find community.

i spent a little over a year in la feria doing field work for my dissertation. and while my time there was for research, it became personal. the people i met in la feria helped me to grow not only as an anthropologist, but also as a human being. (grad school sometimes has the nasty habit of making you kind of more "intellectual," less "emotional/sensitive").

the day i left la feria, i cried in the car long after we had left the city limits.

one would think that i would welcome any opportunity to go back. but i have to admit that it's difficult for me. it's hard to be a visitor in a town where i used to live so fully. does that make sense?

i hate how everything changes without me. that people don't recognize me as readily. that i have no place of my own to return to at the end of the day.

and so i rarely indulge in trips to la feria. in fact, i hadn't been in a little over a year until this past week. i begin to forget why i loved it so much there.

but after a few days in the valley, i fall in love again. catching up with old friends, marveling at how everything continues to move forward, to change and stay the same. being in the valley with joseph probably made the trip even more vivid, because he was seeing it all for the first time. it was nice to see how he was falling in love with it, too.

at the end of the weekend, we began the long drive back to austin, me with a lump in my throat, and vowing to return. even if just as a visitor.


Sunday, July 02, 2006

a domestic scene in dallas

we entered through the side door because of construction just behind the front door.
joseph introduced me to his grandfather as our eyes became accustomed to the dim, indoor light.
"a sus ordenes," his grandfather introduced himself.

joseph, his grandpa, and i took seats at the kitchen table while a neighbor continued to work on the floor in the living room. our conversation was punctuated by sounds of electric sawing.

i knew that joseph's grandmother had passed away some years ago, but noticed food on the stove burners. i wondered if his grandpa cooked for himself. joseph's grandfather offered him a bud light and me, a soda. when he opened the refrigerator i saw a tall clay olla and imagined there to be frijoles pintos inside.

we sat around the kitchen table, me sipping my squirt, the men sipping their beers.

his grandfather asks, "asi que ya te casaste joseph!"

no, no, joseph replied, she's my girlfriend.

the grandfather contemplated this for a moment before asking, "y cuando se van a casar?"

we explained that we'd only been dating two months.


we talked about this and that. the grandfather's relationship with his deceased wife, the effort it takes to make a relationship work. then he looks at me and asks, "sabe echar tortillas?"

the "usted" verb form and the use of the verb "echar" momentarily throw me off.

"yo?!" i stammer, my jaw droppping slightly. is he really asking me if i know how to make tortillas???

he goes on to say that this is a different generation. it's easier to go to the store and buy tortillas than to make them by hand.

i tell him that i *have* made tortillas before, but that i usually buy them from the store.
he doesn't seem to judge.

(joseph later tells me not to worry, that i can learn! i tell him that i'm NOT worried because he can learn, too!).

the grandfather is funny and wise, and we enjoy listening to his stories, his advice, and his perspective.

when he walks us out the door, he asks us to invite him to the wedding.


a lapse...historical memory

memorial and sky
Originally uploaded by lamusa.
for someone who just finished writing a dissertation that serves as an historical ethnography, my historical memory is remarkabley poor. i had completely forgotten that dallas was the city where jfk was shot in 1963.

joseph led me around the memorial, past the book depository from where lee harvey oswald took his aim and shot, to the grassy knoll where onlookers saw jfk's motorcade pass.

we decided against paying $8 to peruse the "conspiracy museum," but there were plenty of conspiracy theorists peddling thier literature around the grassy knoll.

through the rain

Originally uploaded by lamusa.
though saturday a thunderstorm spoiled (soaked, really) our afternoon plans, i really enjoyed spending time at the catholic cathedral downtown. erected to honor la virgen de guadalupe, the sanctuary boasted gracefully arched high ceilings and simple white walls adorned with beautiful stained glass windows.

recuerdos de dallas

vista del centro de noche
Originally uploaded by lamusa.
this evening marks a full week since i've been back from my dallas trip.

the city was more lovely than i could have imagined. i found myself enchanted by the city's skyline at night. one evening, joseph and i enjoyed a drink at reunion tower, where we experienced three hundred and sixty degrees of the city at night.