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...

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

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

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Heading Home

Driving to San Jose, I called my friend that has commuted his entire career. He laughed because I had never been one to commute much. Told him I had already drank my water, eatin my Larabar and was barely on the on-ramp. So it was time to bug him. His commute was much earlier and longer, he was already in the office. Assured me it would not be that bad. I drove, music too loud and amused at how I never thought twice before of driving 45 minutes or an hour in LA.

San Jose, reminded me of a little kid playing dress up. The buildings and downtown seemed too big for its inhabitants. The meeting of professors and policy makers informative, leads on commissions, committees, and teaching opportunities abounded. Four hours of that is a lot though, so I made the graceful lunch time exit.

Detour after detour finally found the road back to the city. Fortunately the afternoon mixes had me dancing in my seat. Laughing at how that always seemed to kick off a holiday weekend, Richard Vission on Power. Good times. No idea who I was listening to but greatful for a familiar distraction of music spanning the last two decades that I could sing along with.

Back in the city met my friend and his mother that was visiting for a bottle of wine. Asked about my morning in San Jose and I told them about my observations. He said to his east coast mother, "It is the valley of the bay area." Easy, I am valley girl you know, then smiled because we are notorious.

Called my mom and told her about meeting my friends mom, and how he suddenly reverted to being a little boy in her presence. As we spoke and I drove the other line was an invitation to happy hour with my friend and her co workers. They suggested we hookah, and I am a growing fan of mint tea. Realized everyone was coming together to wish each other well before they headed to NYC, Seattle, Tahoe, and Los Angeles. Everyone does leave the city around the same time.

The sun has been out making it easy to work from home, walk to yoga, volunteer, pick up a latte. To restless to stay home join a friend for a walk into golden gate park, walk to the market and decide it is a salad and fondue night. Choose not to take up the three outstanding invitations. Staying home instead with friends, fondue, and of course wine.

Laundry done, suitcase half full, happy at the thought of heading south. Excited to visit with family and friends, yet suddenly feeling I am going to miss the urban buzz of this city.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Volunteering is Sexy

Altruism is sexier...

And it feels good. Doing something for others because you can, knowing that you are contributing to their well being. Expecting nothing in return, anonymity at best.

I grew up seeing my parents generously sharing of their time and energy with family and friends. Through their example and encouragement I learned to share what I had. If it was a collection of Alms, the jar in my home would always return to the church full. When the phone calls came at strange times of the day or night, they would make the effort to support their loved ones through their discomfort. I never really thought this was out of the ordinary, just what familia did.

In my own physical limitations I have never been one to run to someones hospital bedside. Not my strength and fortunately due to my faintness at such moments not expected. Do I share my time, energy, and resources when possible? Absolutely, it feels awkward not to.

It is the kindness of those around me that facilitates many of my own good intentions.

Just back from chaperoning a snow trip. My friend donated her home in the snow. For socio and economic reasons, the students had not left the city, seen the snow, sat around a wood stove as the fire burned. Many of them, do not have the experiences of traveling or vacationing with family or parents...

The sacrifice on the chaperons side were minimal; no alcohol obviously, or hottubbing- not when all 8 are teenage boys, Dios mio!

If you have the time, energy, or talent- share them, you will leave an impression and memory that did not exist before.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Reading through the Common Ground Magazine I picked up while volunteering, I came across an article on emotional addiction. All About how we trade expansion for only survival. From Evolve Your Brain by Joe Dispenza:

Feelings are the past memories of experiences; learning is making new memories that have new feelings...

The explanation is simple. A new experience evokes a new feeling. An unknown experience might expose us to an unknown feeling, so it initiates the survival mechanism of the personality. Because we have not experienced this novel event, the 'self' runs through its databases of prior experiences, looking for familiar patterns and associations to forcast what feelings that situation might bring. The neural nets attempt to evaluate the future. When we run out of options, we will simply steer clear of the unfamiliar experience. The chance to experience a novel opportunity is now overrideen by the firing of our old neural hardware. In other words, it is outside the limits of our comfort zome. And so, we fear the unknown.

Sharing weekend stories over dinner my friend and I agreed, a drink in hand really does facilitate new experiences...

Saturday, March 24, 2007


I went to a birthday party last year at an art gallery here in the city. My friend was drawn to a tall and quiet man. She told me she believed he was a Santero. We ate some good Peruvian food, enjoyed the art and music. The whole night my friend was fascinated by how he remained quiet and still as everything moved around him, approaching no one and touching nothing.

The birthday girl was a follower of Oshun. I asked my friend if she followed also and she said no, they met through yoga. The only thing I really new about Santeria was that it was the belief of Celia Cruz and India. One of my favorite Lil Lou and India songs was about the goddess of sweetness.

Fast forward, the Santero barely moved and always had people around him. Later in the night as we sat, not to far from him, he left the group around him and walked over to us. As we sat he smiled and nodded pausing before us. His eyes were kind and energy emanated from his body. No words were exchanged and then he was gone.

I asked if she knew him, my friend said no, he was drawn to our energy and chose to acknowledge us.

Until this week I had forgotten about this exchange.

Behind the bar at the Senegalese restaurant the bartender had gold bracelets like my own, long hair and a turquoise top. I found her to be very kind. Since I was not sure how interested I was in the company I was keeping I turned the conversation to her. She had good energy I thought, and noticed my gold bracelets. Asked what they meant. I told her. She told me hers were for Oshun, she thought I might follow.

My date continued the conversation, about Santeria, his visit to Cuba and other Orixas...I looked down and realized she had been holding my hand across the bar as I listened. She said simply that she loved Oshun.

She didn't touch him I noticed. I asked him what he followed and said he was spiritual. I said I was Catholic, she was Yoruba, it is good to follow something.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Teotihuacán en Primavera

Equinoccio de primavera 2007, 21 de marzo.

Monday, March 19, 2007

16 Hours

Cosmopolitan musings...

Weekend luggage unpacked, quick change to 6pm mass in keeping with Lent. Reading on the prodigal son, in my brain re-scripted to the prodigal daughter, I naturally get to be the daughter that has always been.

After the daydreaming walk away with the words: What matters is how we treat the sick and needy. Mental note, check, got it...

Text message shows dinner at 8pm. Conversation from me goes something like, "I just got out of mass, can't wait til 8." Dinner moved up, my friend is not alone, entertaining guests from the UK.

Oh, got it. In my mind I think mushrooms, bread and a glass of Sangria then home.

No, of course that is not how it goes- at all.

The engineer and the bodyguard make enchanting dinner companions. And picture phones help bridge the funny dialect differences and customs. I see my friend whispering to her guests and they are asking if I might join them for a day in wine country. I smile and say, I don't think so.

Well, I think I am being smart by evading another pitcher of sangria with a stop at Murios for post dinner billiards, but the tables were busy. My friend suggests the Elbow Room, they have billiards, right?

Right. So, a neighborhood away from home, the drinks flow and the bloke fresh off the international flight is out for the count. Game over, my friend decides we should go to Dub Mission, just upstairs. I really like it there. Ah, the music fused all together, dancing, and hydrating, where does the night go?

Sonoma was lovely. Nothing like leaving the city fog for a trip to the vineyard's...drinking, eating and sharing stories from trips taken and trips to come. Window down, green grass and grazing cows, imprinting new memories, and making new friends globally.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Girls Gone Tahoe

Depersonalization Disorder. Just read it on the road trip home, in a fashion magazine of all things. In the DSM but with very little known about how to treat it. Looking to the big pharmaceutical companies to cure it. About a sense of disconnected, surrealness, about ones life. A combination of Anxiety and Depression Disorders. A Buddhas teaching of egolessness gone bad.

I was riding back with a scientist and asked her about it. She said, she had read the article too. My other friend commenting on how it sounded like a deep depression if the person was unable to lift themselves out of bed. Then I commented it was much like a character in the book I had picked off her shelf before we headed out of town, Oh the Glory of It All. In the book the best friend had usurped her, taking her husband and sons affection with it, now she laid in bed, days at a time.

Between the champagne, playstation and the snow the second annual girls weekend was a hit. Truly articulate women commenting on how monogamy is a trade. How marriage, does require decisions. How silly it was to be called an opt out wife if you choose to stay home with your child. All thirtysomething with no children. Confident that the choices we made would be our own.

Yet somehow, I realized we spend so much of our life coasting. Comfortably numb, and one psychologist commented in her book that the same comfort we carve out leaves us so guarded and safe from even our own emotions.

It is funny how it all comes together, the books, conversations, articles in glossy magazines to make a commentary on being comfortably numb. As I unpacked my weekend luggage I thought, of words like coasting, getting by, just really words that lack any true feeling. Everything comes so naturally, so easily, that we loose a part of ourselves that challenged or questioned. A zest, the drive, complacent to not, question or challenge, not stand up to what is not right. Staying in the relationship when you know clearly you are settling, or maybe you don't know, and that is even more troubling.

The symptoms of the depersonalization disorder are linked to an adolescent experience that is traumatic in nature, or an illness. It may be a long shot, but it sounds like if we take what is easy, then we will question our own ability to feel in the long run.

The weekend away was perfect. The time spent with new and old friends significant. Reaffirming, reassuring that experiences do not occur in complete isolation, when you share your story. Addiction, tough love, sibling relationships, family, all issues we have had to take unpopular stands on. All decisions, thoughtful and life altering, we can wake up and know that we are not numb, not de-personalized, thankfully quite outspoken.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Bebe Love

My Tia Alma Delia, by birthright although younger, had the perfect courtship. She was finishing up her master's degree, and her mother refused to attend her wedding until she did. So there she was simultaneously planning her wedding and writing: A first born and dutiful daughter. Women of her caliber are rare.

I remember meeting her fiance Alex after we had lunch one visit and the poor thing couldn't believe more women with his beloveds temperament- existed. As we walked around the city trying to decide if we wanted to see a film, or go for a drink, listen to music, we just enjoyed catching up, finally we settled on a cafe, for coffee and desert. They are my Mexican contemporaries and although we love our families enjoyed getting to see the city on their terms.

When she asked me to be in her wedding it was a combination of excitement and logistics. I was moving that summer first to Santa Barbara and then up north. Nonetheless, I factored in visits for the dress maker and fittings. Went to Calafia to see the grounds where the wedding would take place. We even held her bachelorette primas only weekend in Las Vegas.

The whole process was enjoyable and she was a stunning bride, unless my memory is failing me, that was the last large scale wedding my family has held. The party they planned was flawless and fun. The pre reception mariachi in the outdoor courtyard, the sit down dinner with a trio, then the DJ maybe a band, and never ending alcohol. It seemed like the dance floor was as packed as the really gorgeous open air patio facing the ocean.

We stayed at Calafia and the next day all slightly hung over, my mom organized us to go to Puerto Nuevo. The garlic buttered lobster, made me think maybe I was missing out...

This morning my mom called me to tell me my abuelita had been at the the birth of Alma Delias first born, a son. It was about this time four years ago, when the whole process of her wedding had begun. At her September wedding I remember thinking how perfect everything was and how lucky I was, to be born into so much love.

Bienvenido, lindo bebe.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Lending Hope

My friends father has cancer. Not the terminal kind, the still in chemo kind. The stage you pour all of your hope into, because that is what you have. The cancer and your hope.

She travelled from NYC and stopped up here first, soon she wil go on to LA. It is that respite before, the visit. I know it well. We have been friends for 15 years. Yet for the last 12 years have managed to not live in the same city, state, or country.

I credit her as the reason Cal even made it on my radar. Early memories of Pizza and beer in the dorm rooms, dinner parties with international students, and coffee houses in the rain. We can talk about a shared experience but stumble over what city it took place in.

Over the years we have corresponded via letters, then email, recently text. Since we don't communicate much in between, our visits are always one long conversation. Her invitations and my conference travel have allowed us to visit in NYC and Miami. When I moved away, she stopped to visit at my research site in Santa Barbara before we took a road trip up here to see the place I know live.

We have been through the career changes, the grad school choices, the good and the bad men in our lives, while always maintaining our friendship. Sometimes I think it is like that for everyone, but I know it is rare and why we can recognize it in each other.

This visit our first in SF has been full of cafes, window shopping, and planning, future trips. Things have come full circle talking about the slow food movement, politics, and how when we have our own families we would gather around the same rental on some foreign soil. She could teach them Italian and I Spanish.

She says she has a delicate constitution- mockingly. She has character, I tell her and integrity. At the end of the day, that is the only thing you can ask of in a friend, sister, and ally.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Cyber Babe

Something humorous for a Friday Morning....

Girl ventures into online dating cautiously hiding her profile only to approach the men she might find interesting...two men later there is the issue of dating both of them at the same time, plus the lawyer that has become an admirer and dating three men takes way too much effort.

Girl decides haphazardly to choose the engineer. Who ends up far more in love with his job than he ever would be with girl so girl decides to dump him too. Pulls the online plug and decides to meet guys the old fashioned way, by going out.

Girl meets a dentist and an artist and the month of online dating is quickly forgotten. Neither work out. Sometimes it is good to be single, no it is GREAT to be single!

Months later girl bumps into the other from her online dating world, offline. The one she didn't pick is single. So, they decide to try again. Both make irrational propositions: I only want to date one person, lets try again...

Suddenly they have more interests in common, he invites her on a holiday and she declines...things in the first week are clear.

Then one day girl opens inbox to find said boy from her previous online life (from which she has withdrawn) being pimped out by the service. There his bright and smiling face tempting to lure her back to online dating. A place place he never left, where he looks, and has been looking in the last 24 hours.

Girl effectively calls him out on this. Calm, but clearly commenting how funny it was to see that he was still online...although she does not know much about online dating there is something to be said for telling the truth, and being an intuitive Latina.

Her friends on the other hand had the following to say:
"You are dating dickwads," male friend
"Sometimes you call guys on their shit, and they don't want to hear it," non-latina single friend
"Men lie," Friend in a relationship
"Babe In Total Control of Hersel," Sherry Argov, Why Men Marry Bitches

Just another week in the other place I would rather be.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Daily Candy

The website sent this little travel tip to my inbox...

Mexico Pretty

Cafe culture meets gallery chic in Condesa, the Mexico City neighborhood that’s become the new oasis for young bohemia. We went south of the border to check it out.

Lay of the Land

By day, stroll Amsterdam, the art deco main drag, for indie boutiques and hot galleries. After dark, the scene hits hotel rooftops, mezcalerias, and late-night eateries along avenidas Tamaulipas, Oaxaca, and Nueva Leon.


Condesa DF, the area’s first boutique hotel, with its iPod-appointed rooms, hammam, and outdoor therme, attracts the young and impossibly cool (Avenida Veracruz 102; +52-55-5241-2600) as does sister spot Hotel Habita in nearby Polanco (Avenida Presidente Masaryk 201; +52-55-5282-3100). Prefer something a little more old-school? Just-opened Hippodrome Hotel is located in a renovated historic landmark (Avenida Mexico 188; +52-55-5212-2110).


Locals love stripped-down taqueria El Califa de Leon, where steak and chicken tacos (con queso) are served with fresh avocado (Altata 22; +52-55-5271-6285). Nearby hotspot Aguila y Sol is the mecca for beautiful people and nouveau Mexican eats like guac with pomegranate and tequila y sangrita (Avenida Moliere 42; +52-55-5281-8354). After dinner, the DJ may save your life at Ixchel’s blue room (Medellin 65; +52-55-3096-5010).


Ricardo Seco stormed Fashion Week Mexico (yeah, they have one) with deconstructed Converse and clothes (Amsterdam 308; +52-55-5584-8449). Nearby Colectivo 7 is where up-and-comers sell one-of-a-kind clothes and bags in traditional Mexican colors with a modern alterna-bent (Amsterdam 92; +52-55-5553-1793). Get empowered ’round the corner at Juana de Arco (Joan of Arc) in hot bikinis, colorful lingerie, and girly knits (Montes de Oca 14; +52-55-5212-0559).

The Rest

• Go high-low: Ogle wrestlers at Arena Mexico (189 Calle Dr. Lavista, Col. Doctores; +52-55-5588-0385) and contemporary art at Kurimanzutto, the hot gallery (Mazatlan 5 Depto. T-6; +52-55-5286-3059).
• For breakfast, eat pan dulce (sweet bread) and chilaquiles (tortillas in salsa with eggs). Work it off at Tamara di Tella’s Pilates studio (Amsterdam 282; +52-55-5564-3344).
• Make like a local: Don’t hail a cab. (Kidnapping is no joke.) Have the hotel or restaurant arrange a safe ride. And beware the alcohol consumption. Altitude sickness is no joke either.
Now andale.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Comfort Food?

Friday finally made reservations at the new Asian fusion restaurant the Poeleng Lounge for a friends birthday. We sat around a shellacked wood trunk table that made me giggle because as we sat the bottles of cold sake on top of it, all I could think about was my abuelitas table. When I was growing up there was a lot of shellacked wood arts that her boys brought home from shop class. The fireplace was on and the dinner was like my run on sentences. Everyone kept ordering and shared, after moved to the next room to dance it all off.

The sun was out and I was meeting a professor for lunch. It was a Saturday and decided to pick a place I wanted to be. The Park Chalet, that faced Golden Gate Park, seemed perfect. The one hour wait worth it. No, I would never wait an hour. I just smiled and asked if they could serve us in an area that was not set up, but available. I don't know why no one else thought about it. Any seat there is perfect, the glass walls all slide open...

A stunning day, is hard to ignore. When friends called from a nearby cafe, I took the walk over to meet them for coffee.

By that evening I was tired of eating out but had dinner plans. So suggested a lounge that I had never been too. It popped with bright orange and fuchsia and supposed to be a little like a swanky spot in Vegas. It was one of the places I had always wanted to visit, but hadn't the occasion. Anyway Frisson is French fusion and I have never had luck at those restaurants. Mainly because of the lack of vegetarian option. But enjoyed the innovative cocktails, company, music and tried not to seem like a picky eater. Sometimes though a salad is good enough, besides it had a truffle oil dressing. Very fond of truffle oil, one day perhaps I will actually get to eat one of the covetted mushroom truffles...or maybe I already have?!

By Monday, I walked into a market, because I remember I had at some point in the last week craved a chocolate Hostess cupcake. Did they go out of business? Because I can not find one anywhere in this city! I Wanted something that eluded to comfort food and decided on organic chocolate milk.

Later that afternoon, when my friend called we debated yoga, or a walk. We had a lot to catch up since Friday and both had worked out enough that week. It was one of those days when I craved something familiar. I call it the adult happy meal, discovered the Monday special last year. A burger (veggie for me), fries and a well drink, for $8! Quite a steal at Harry's. As we window shopped along Filmore we ran into another friend and her boyfriend out for their power-walk. I realized that no, food would not provide the comfort I sought, but the pursuit of it was.