Project Dissertation

I moved to this fabulous city three years ago mainly to; be near an airport for travel, be able to not trade my stilletos for trainers, and to finish my doctoral studies in four years. Yes, that pretty much sums up my priorities at 30. So now I am ABD with nine months to go and San Francisco is no easy city to ignore. Although, I would argue that each experience that deters my academic writing is really just needed inspiration. Welcome and I hope you enjoy...

My Photo
Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Bilingual, Bicultural, and Dual Citizen. J School B.A., M.A. in High Incidence Disabilities, & ABD in Education.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


We meant to start this last Fall: Even told a taxi driver about our adventures and how we were going to compile them into the Champagne Chronicles.

An aspiring playwrite he thought it was brilliant, looked forward to adapting them on stage. We promised we would seek legal counsel if he borrowed our intellectual property so he gave us his word, "I will be in touch when it hits the New York best seller list." Deal, we agreed. When your taxi driver has an MFA, and both passengers want to write as a hobby, you know the creative class is alive and well in the city.

That was when the Vixens first formed. It seemed everytime we got together we drank bubbly and effortlessly a memorable evening would unfold. Often enough the second bottle was on the house, sent from another table, or it just appeared at our booth, and we never quite new who the generous soul was.

Meanwhile dating statuses may have changed, fortunately friendships remained.

It was supposed to be a double date for Vixen 1 and 2, but both boyfriends had long days. Vixen 3 just made it in time. The fourth Vixen has been MIA for most of the new year, sometimes a heartbreak did that and only time could heal.

The reservation was waiting at a highly reviewed eatery and without hesitation the bubbly was ordered. Perusing the menu, what should be ordered opposed to what looked sinfully good. Vixen 3 had been on a dinner date, "I didn't really get Sausalito? I couldn't wait to get back to the city," so would join in on the dessert course. "Oh you were Bridge and Tunnel, we might have to revoke your membership!" a vixen scolded, then it was laughter, and stories, support, and acknowledgement of the work and patience relationships took.

Round two was Pinot, Vixen 2 had suggest red. Unsure of the mix there was a bit of a discussion Vixen 1 was the least picky that night. Then Vixen 3 remembered, "I wanted a glass of Pinot earlier, but he didn't...Then the restaurant he selected only sold Pinot by the bottle." The remaining Vixens didn't skip a beat, " then he should have ordered the bottle."

"Pinot it is, besides," Vixen 2 added after the dessert had been decided, "red goes better with chocolate." We were the last to leave, and the night was still young. Vixen 1 was not ready to go home, not that anyone was. "Let's go to Cassanova," she offered. We walked through the Mission, stopped in front of a cafe window that seemed to be glowing from the inside, and agreed to go there next time.

The Vixens, all over 30 were carded at the door.

In the crowded room three stools stared at us from the dimly lit bar and we took them, without question. Drinks in hand we looked into the crowd.

The amusement arrived in the form of a New Yorker who wanted us to engage in one to many guessing games. "Guess where I lived before New York?" Vixen 3 offered, "Algeria." He was surprised, "very close how did you know? "I dated an Algerian, how else?" Vixen 2 got on the continent, "Morocco?" He was probably used to talking to girls that didn't know geography. Obviously flustered he said Egypt next, I am from Egypt. "Oh, your Egyption" we politely replied since we felt no need to maintain the conversation. He continued with the lines but knew when to leave. Smart man, we all agreed...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Nuevas Tradiciones

We pinky swore across the kitchen table...that I had been sitting at since the sun was out. Trying to add variety to the deadline, and overcome the fact that on a lovely sunny day I was stuck inside.

My friend was heading to the market, "do you need anything?" Thank you, no I am good, I will be here, right here- still when you get back. True to my word, when she returned I was still admiring the sun from the inside.

How I wanted to just while away the afternoon with friends, maybe walking all the way to Ocean Beach and stopping for a drink at the Park Chalet on the way back. Or packing a picnic in the handy picnic back pack I had to have, but have only used twice. Even going to Murios sounded better, although that would be more like hiding out from the bright light in the cavernous space with two dollar drink happy hour and pool.

No go. Fortunately my friends boyfriend arrived and although I had been staring at my computer on and off for hours was happy to play hostess. After making sure he had a proper drink we sat at the kitchen table and talked. About things I had no idea about like hard wood floors, to things I knew very well about like dating. When his beautiful girlfriend arrived she also joined us at the table.

Instead of heading out they decided to order in. We ordered pizza and salad, and I had to pass on the wine because although my laptop was off to the side, there was still work to be done. My other friend re-emerged from behind her work and busted out some fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.

At the end of the night when it was just the girls we agreed to start looking at dates for our girls Tahoe weekend. Although it was theoretically months away we had to align all three of our calendars just so. That's when I realized we were three brilliantly successful and balanced women, not afraid to work at friendship.

Yes we cared about our careers, the new product beta, the board meeting, the publishers deadlines, but more importantly we were friends. When we are together there is some shop talk, but mostly it is the boy stories, the latest trip, lending, sharing, giving of advice, accessories and ideas.

That's when I declared we had to make the norcal girls weekend a tradicion. And promise to make it an annual or bi-annual event. That's precisely when one of the girls extended her pinky and we responded in kind with the international sign for sisterhood- the pinky swear...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Queremos Rock

My friend and I were walking down the Haight for a study break and in the window I saw a shiny black Ramones lunch pail...So I quickly switched from sharing about the conference presentations to the Reseda Country Club.

When I was 14 the Ramones came to town. By that time my gradeschool friend and I had already attended the Cure concert at the Universal Amphitheater, so having a big band that got tons of airplay on KROQ down the street, was a huge deal.

So we convinced our cautious parents by agreeing to take one of her older brothers as a chaperone. It was a hot sweaty mosh pit kind of night. Not that I was in the mosh pit, but the interior of the entire club was packed wall to wall and the music was so loud it bounced off the walls onto the people. So everybody was in motion and singing or maybe more like yelling along.

When we got out we were drenched and reeked of smoke. We found a bootleg tshirt exactly like the one inside but half the price. We put our money together and bought them while we waited for our parents to pick us up at the corner gas station. I remember trying to sleep in that tshirt that night, but because they were such quality t's there was a very strong sort of toxic smell to them. It was the classic Ramones-t with the mock U.S. emblem crest.

When I walked back past the display on the Haight, I went in. It was the last one, with a thermos and everything.

This morning when I woke up I poured my coffee into my thermos and took Johnny, Joey, DeeDee, and Marky to work with me...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

LA Love

Dia 1: The East Side, con mi Amigazo

  • Mexican food from Luz del Dia, so good the smell lingers
  • $1 grab bags from Olvera Street y DJ Che
  • Catching up over rum and coke on a warm evening
  • A special screening of a soon to be famous documentary
  • Mayan Chocolate Latte from Antigua Cafe
  • Edible art at Mountain Bar
  • Visiting with the Attorney General of Aztlan in the Chinatown Zocalo
  • OG Josh Wink on vinyl pouring out of the bar and onto the street...

Dia 2: El Valle, con Mentor y Familia

  • Co-presenting and Piloting a tool for a future study to be published
  • Recruiting the perfect Chicana to the Doctoral Grant over lunch
  • Meeting on the Textbook project
  • Getting home to fresh frijoles de la olla y micheladas
  • Stepping out to celebrate Mami over dinner with Grandma y Papi
  • Showing off the cell phone pictures of my very first attempt at making chile rellenos, to the cook!

Dia 3: Valley to Valley, con mi familia

  • Baking the perfect double layered German Chocolate cake
  • Grandma's homemade comida
  • Watching the Quince video I missed
  • Sifting through the Sunday times
  • Stopping in to visit with my padrinos on the way to the airport

Living, loving, and dreaming in LA...

Friday, October 20, 2006

iFelicidades Mami!

I am so happy I will be home to celebrate the beautiful day you were born.

You are a light that radiates from within, a love that has no end. A woman that lives an honest life, never shies away from the work it takes to be a daughter, sister, mother, wife. Your truth gives me hope.

I am so proud to be your daughter, to have you in my life, by my side as a constant as so many things around me change. You are my best friend, my guide, the voice I hear when choices try to change the path I was born to walk on.

Te quiero mucho Mami, eres unica.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


One year I decided I wanted to see the Grateful Dead. I still remember asking my dad if he might want to go, unfortunately it was the same year the lead singer Jerry Garcia passed away.

I grew up listening to my mom's Janice Joplin tape, and if I could go back in time would choose to see her live. I presently live in Janice's neighborhood and the closest I will ever get to hear her is the production 'Love Janice,' I went to see this summer. Today when I have a chance to see a legend I take it.

To see Bob Dylan onstage at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium is a testament to what makes a legend.

My best friend from ninth grade came to the city for the show. We picked up where we left off. Showed him a little bar down the street introduced him to the bar owner that tells the best neighborhood stories, and his dirty martinis aren't bad either. We walked up the hill to eat at a nearby winebar then waited for the train.

It is something out of a book I have read or maybe will write, 'emerging from the train to the civic center crossing the street to the venue, that if walls could speak has housed some of the most amazing musicians and shows.' It is a place with warmth, that is spacious yet intimate. We stood through the general admission show, laughed over all the second hand smoke and when I finally knew a song, I sang along...

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?
by Bob Dylan

Fortunately I wouldn't know.

Monday, October 16, 2006

City Nights

"Let yourself go, come on and trust me, I won't betray this love, cause I don't want to live without it. I just want you to fall in love, I just want you to fall in love with me, I just want you to fall in love, I just want you to fall in love like me..." Tortured Soul
  • In true city form the scholarly work had encountered some tough competition, but at least I was inspired. Maybe not by the latest Jessica Simpson film, or the really bad Mexican ambiance I finally endured, but by the fact that you could walk past the MOMA and W, through the Yerba Buena garden all in the same evening...
  • Then there are the girlfriends, that come together to mix information, cocktails, and outifts. The troopers get on the list and spend the night dancing, later sitting on the curb debating the virtues of pizza over crepes at 2am to soak up some of the vodka before getting back on the dance floor.
  • That night the dj was in good company with a live band and percussionest too. God what would we do without music? Or umm dj's or drummers?

It was surreal to watch Tortured Soul perform live. These NYC boys are skilled musicians and producers. Their sound on stage was as good as any record spun by the dj. Everybody was dancing, moving, feeling the music like one beautiful body. To experience them bringing their music to life with a sound as rich as vinyl will blow your mind...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Feeling Blessed

And giving praise...
  • To my godson and primita on their birthday week.
  • To my best friend from ninth grade on his new job!
  • To my beautiful friend from our days of musing in the writing group on her wedding anniversary.
  • To my og on his documentary debut.
  • To my lovely friend that may be welcoming her own Zion soon.
  • To my first friend in the city that is honest about every minute of her pregnancy!
  • To my dreamy friend that is taking us back to Xanadu for her rollerskating birthday bash!
  • To my first Chicana friend in the city that is spending the day laboring on her dissertation.
  • To the party girls that are reuniting to celebrate the friendships made.
  • To my amazing amigazas in the valley that hold my place in our friendship while I am away.
  • To my friend, that is taking that long walk with me and sharing new beginnings.


"Lift, lift, lift our hands. Now I don't see nothing wrong with singing happy songs, let the spirit deep inside and like a feeling getting strong, and there's no need for aggression we come in peace, all we ask is let the music set you free... " DJ Oji & Una

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

La Airgirl

She wanted to go to the swapmeet and we had to get, "Fiiinnne." I wasn't sure I had brought anything to wear that would meet her daytime requirements...

This wasn't just daytime guapa or cute but "Fiiinnne." I figured that meant full cha-cha make up, and good denim? I had to borrow a thing or two but all three of us pulled it off. It was worth it. We had fun walking up and down the aisles, drinking coco's helados and eating doraditos out of a bag with chile and limon, while shopping.

We headed to her favorite cafe for her pre-birthday lunch. We talked about what it was like to be away from the family, since all three of us lived in different states and had shared the similar experience. We agreed it was good to be home, and it always would be.

We tried to shop at Gigante for party treats, but all we could think to buy was diet coke, bunuelos, birthday candles and champagne. I saw a supersized Nescafe I would have loved to stash in my carryon, and La Lechera out of an ergonomic pour bottle- yum!

We took a picture of manteca, it was just cool to see it on the shelf. You could either buy it in the red Farmer John cardboard box, or in a clear butcher like package which we preferred as we squished it around under the plastic wrap. They asked me what it was. Oh, animal fat, right? "What kind?" No se, but I know it makes the food really yummy.

After we realized you couldn't put candles on bunuelos we picked up a pie. At the house we got everyone around the table and sang happy birthday...she made us sing twice and we took pictures and a mini video. She stopped to make a wish before she finally blew out her 19 candles.

It was perfect. Mis padrinos, my parents, mis primos around the kitchen table laughing and eating birthday bunuelos and pie before dinner...Love.

Friday, October 06, 2006

To Tlaloc 1

If you turn in pages of your manuscript and even one paragraph gets cut- you better believe it will be your favorite. It may not have been the best of my writing but it felt like the little sacrificial lamb, the first of many I am sure to go to the dissertation gods:

In the 197o's Mexican-American students were classified as mentally retarded based on the results of English Language IQ test scores. The discrepancies in reading and spelling were greater than mathematics, demonstrating that language was attributed to test results. When the same students were tested in their native Spanish language the students scored above the mentally retarded category (Hernandez, 1973). At that time acculturation was also seen as a solution to increased Mexican-American student achievement. What has been proven over the last thirty years is quite opposite. Academic achievement has decreased as acculturation increased as measured by generational variance (Hernandez, 1973; Valenzuela, 1999). Research has found that the educational system in the United States has failed to meet the educational needs of Mexican-American students: When a child is asked to lose his ethnic identity through acculturation, absenteeism, and withdrawal has ensued (Hernandez, 1973; Davison Aviles et al., 1999; Valenzuela, 1999; Yowell, 2000; Foley, Bradley, & Levinson, 2001; Tyrone, 2003; Cammarota, 2004).

What was said, "you can't really say that the U.S. educational system has failed to meet the needs of Mexican-American students..."

The wake was very tasteful, at a chic downtown eatery over a flight of red wine, small plates and talk with good friends.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Templo Mayor:Mexico

Arqueólogos del INAH descubrieron en el Templo Mayor un altar mexica con dos frisos adosados: uno representa a Tláloc, Dios de la Lluvia, y el otro a una deidad relacionada con la agricultura.
Foto: Marco Rosales

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

La Selva

"This is no fairy story and no joke; the meat will be shoveled into carts and the man who did the shoveling will not trouble to lift out a rat even when he saw one." The Jungle, Upton Sinclair

As my student left the school I handed him The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and suggested he read it. "Why?" I read it when I was about your age and I think it is partially responsible for why I am a vegetarian. "Oh yeah and that planet book too you told us about," yes, the Diet for a Small Planet.

"Are you pushing your views on me?" No, it is a good read and reading is good. Besides it will give you something to do the next two days and I will count it towards the work you miss.

"You could be fired ," for encouraging you to read? Hardly.

I was standing at the door of the state test I was proctoring watching him leave school empty handed. Leave school without any work for two days. A student that historically failed at school and experienced great difficulty was banned from school without a formal suspension or expulsion.

I thought of all the violence in the neighborhood streets, his strung out mother, slanging father and ailing great-grandmother. It felt like rage quickly rising from my center and I asked him to wait as I went to the bookcase. I wanted to give him something to hold onto, to do, to bring him back to school. The Jungle was staring right at me.

"I will be back on Thursday," and you better be on time I added. "What if I don't bring the book back?" Then I will buy another, but I know that you will because you have never taken anything from campus you haven't returned.

Many of us had suggested he get some work so he did not fall behind and he was told he would have to make it up in detention upon his return.

And we wonder why we lose kids to the concrete jungle?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Legally Brunette II

A well known scholar and I had lunch at a French restaurant in the city: After the business talk was done the informality came out, I meant his.

"What are your parents?" Mexican, I replied. "Where did you grow up?" In the valley. "What part?" between the church and the university.

"How many sibling do you have?" Just one. "Just one? Did they go to college?" Yes.

Eating my salad and quiche non plussed, thinking to myself this is going to be fun...

"Your parents must have done something?" They said I was going to college.

"It seems the stereotype and statistics are that there is a high drop out rate in the Hispanic community, and not much interest in college." Fascinating isn't it? Considering we are the largest growing demographic and for the last 30 years (his entire career) researchers have not been able to reverse the trend.

"The hispanic dropout rate parallels, the African- American, and Native American." Interestingly enough, immigrant students outperform subsequent generations.

"You seem to be the anomaly." I laughed at him, really? I don't think so, my friends are all just like me. Well not all from Mexico, also from Peru, Costa Rica, Colombia and first generation.

"Well you are not like the students I have met." Surely, you know Mexico is a big country with many regional variances. You can't possibly think you have met everyone in the country. Do you?

"I think I have seen many." Oh, yes well that is quite different from knowing. Smile, and simultaneously tilt head to the left. He is the trained psychologist yet visually perplexed.

I take a sip of my water wishing I had ordered the wine: What our parents did, was make us fully bicultural. I am as comfortable sitting here with you in this French restaurant as I am say traveling through Mexico and speaking Spanish. I guess the reason why I have been so successful in school is because I was never allowed to assimilate to U.S. culture or lack there of. I have a country where people like me do every job imaginable. Our hope has not been limited to stereotypes and statistics. Hmm, you know, I am really sorry it took you thirty years to ask this question- smile and sip...pendejo.