Sunday, December 24, 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


i took an old drive last weekend. that is, i took a drive that i used to make several times a year during a certain period of my life. east on seventh standard to the I-5; north on the five one hundred and seventy miles; west on the 152 through the mountains; north on the 101 all the way to the bay.

that was my route to and from the bay area from 1993-1999. i knew those roads like the back of my hand--every truck stop, patches of agriculture, every mountain pass, reservoir, traffic spots, etc. i used to make mix tapes that would fill the hours of my trip. i used to arrive at my destination hoarse from singing the entire way.

i used to enjoy those drives, the time that it gave me to think.

i stopped driving those kinds of long distances once i moved to texas. i didn't have family that i would drive to visit. there were trips to the valley, but those were few and far between. most of my traveling was by plane. the brief and halting flights and layovers from austin to bakersfield never held the same rhythm or inspired the same kind of meditation as my long drives. it probably has something to do with seeing the landscape, now that i think about it.

in any event, i found myself making a long drive last weekend. i had forgotten how tiring it can be in the car, how your eyes grow weary, your shoulders stiffen, and your lower back begins to ache. then there is the helplessness you feel when traffic comes to a halt on the interstate because of an accident.

nevertheless, i found myself enjoying the drive. my mix tapes have yielded to a car adapter for my ipod, and now i can chat on my cell phone with joseph, but much of the experience is the same. there are the almond groves i remember on seventh standard; the seemingly miles and miles of cattle at harris ranch; the reservoir off of the 152; the old farm houses and farms along the way.

these are some of the things that i enjoy about being back in california--the land and the memories that it elicits. these are some of the things that i enjoy about being back home.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

forbidden fruit

one of the nice things about my university is that there are citrus trees all over campus. most of them are identifiably oranges or grapefruits, but some of them, unidentified.

saturday afternoon, i enlisted joseph--who was visiting for the weekend--to haul some boxes of books to my office. (yes, i do know how to exploit my boyfriend). on our way out, i noticed that the oranges on the tree behind my office building had ripened to a deep orange color. i didn't even think about it, just reached out and plucked the fruit off the tree.

i offered it to joseph, telling him that it was probably de-licious, being fresh from the tree and all. he questioned a) whether it had been legal for me to pick it, and b) whether or not it would be suitable for consumption.

i decided to keep the orange for myself and packed him a trader joe's orange when he left for the airport the next day. i ate the orange later in the afternoon. it was pretty good, but not the best orange i've ever had.

anyhow, yesterday i participated in a tour of campus for new faculty. our tour guide made a special point to highlight all the citrus trees around campus, telling us that, prior to the 1950s, the university was a citrus experiment station. she informed us that the university still performs such operations, and that all of the trees on campus are filled with "experimental" fruit. furthermore, the university apparently fines people hundreds of dollars for picking its fruit!

i'm thinking that a) it's a good thing nobody saw me, and b) it's a good thing i haven't (thus far) experienced any side effects from the experimental fruit!

in any event, i can't help but think it interesting that all of a sudden i find myself to be a woman who has partaken of forbidden fruit. ;)


Friday, December 08, 2006

bare feet

i stole this video idea from la xicanista.

THIS is the shakira whose songs i sang at the top of my lungs during my drives from stanford to bakersfield and back during the mid-1990s. before her cross over.

notice that her hair is long. and straight. and black. and she's fully clothed.

i have always loved this song. my favorite line is
las mujeres se casan siempre antes de treinta, si no vestirán santos aunque así no lo quieran.
ten years ago, who could have predicted that i would be an unmarried mujer de treinta (y uno)?

i still haven't crossed over. ;)


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

'tis the season

it always amazes me that just as thanksgiving weekend slips by, christmas suddenly appears.

though winter is somewhat of a fiction in southern california, i returned to find christmas lights and trees and wreaths decking every corner. it's nice that christmas is finally settling in to town. the past few weeks as the sun sets earlier and earlier, and the day hours become darker, i've felt considerably less productive. i've just wanted to come straight home from the office, put on my sweats, make a hot dinner, and cozy up on the couch to talk to joseph or watch primetime (he knows which shows not to interrupt!).

nevertheless, though i had imagined the quarter coming to a quiet winter end, it seems to be becoming more frantic. the last two weeks of the quarter are, apparently, when committees convene for one last meeting and all the departments and centers decide to host holiday potlucks (why doesn't anybody cater?). my schedule is more full now than it has been during most of the quarter.

but it's just a matter of getting through all of the last minute frenzy. soon the quarter will be over, and the students will depart. i will submit my grades and make my own northern departure. i'll have some work to do--planning next quarter's class, working on an article revision--but i hope to spend a lot of time with my family and friends. much more than festive decorations, meetings, or potlucks, that time is what makes christmas matter for me.