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.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I made it through the wilderness...

Okay, so it was the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival.

I think it is funny how little confidence people have in my ability to rough it. The jokes are non stop: About the dirt, being a princess, high maintenance, so I am left to play the part and my 12 years of Girl Scouting is well- my own dirty little secret.

Seriously, my parents do not camp but thanks to being a Girl Scout then a Brownie Girl Scout Leader, I learned all about the great out of doors. Tent camping, cabin camping, backpacking, rv camping, etc... I have done it, at least once.

So, when my friend invited me to Mendocino county, Booneville to be precise I couldn't even make a bad joke. After a late night catching up with some LA friends that were in town, I pulled my sleeping bag off the shelf, packed my toiletries, and a really cute burgundy suede garment bag (no, I do not own any thing remotely like a duffel bag, or backpack). I filled my canvas farmers market bag with water and snacks for the two hour drive.

I was ready on time, my friend was amazed but I was really looking forward to heading out to the country.

We made it to Booneville and saw the fairgrounds, across the street from the wine tasting room. We had some time before we met up with her friends so, we decided to go wine tasting. Six tastings later, we each bought a bottle of wine, freshened up, and got the Booneville scoop from the local.

Our one day admission wristbands on, we met up with the rest of the group. A half mile trek though the dusty dirt and we were at at the campsite. It was a Seattle/LA collaboration and I found my place on the floral outdoor rug and graciously accepted a mojito. My kind of roughing it.

The two stages were filled with music, we drank cool beers like water, and ate our way though the yummy organic food.

I was amazed at the amount of happy children present. I did not see one crying baby. A Mexico city band from the Razteca movement was on the schedule and it reminded me of my cousin in San Diego and her family.

The day melted into the night and the dance hall party was a warehouse full of festival goers dancing to the beats of StoneLove- amazing. If it was hot and sunny by day, it was cold and chilly by night. The moon hung in the star filled sky and the Sierra's in the background- stunning. Found a warm cup of tea, to take with me on the half mile walk back.

The next morning our friends greeted us with latte's as we debated the drive back. Unable to will ourselves back to reality we found a campsite that was breaking up and without hesitation they slipped off their weekend wristbands so we could enjoy one more day...the company couldn't be better.

Musical favorites: Bunny Wailer, Les Nubians, Derick Morgan....unfortunately I am not that familiar with the music. As we left they asked if I would join them again- and I had to say yes:) Bless.

Friday, June 22, 2007


The Summer Solstice arrived and the skin shed: We are so predictable sometimes.

I was looking forward to the long sun filled day. Pulled out a coral strapless gauze dress and strappy sandals, felt the ocean calling. It was going to be a good day, no a great day.

The invitations rolled in and I passed; to the aquarium happy hour, the club six, bikram...

I was ready on time- rare. Looking forward to walking in the sun, simple. It was getting later, his excuses rolled in; late getting out of work, just getting on the train, not ready for my trip tomorrow. Oh, the first day of summer was not shaping up as planned.

Breath: It helps.

It didn't take long for me to walk out of our dinner. Sipped my wine, listened and smiled, felt the sunlight slipping away outside. With a tilt of my head I took one last look and got up. Turned on my heels and ignored the South American Spanish rambling on behind me. It was clear, my summer solstice rituals were being compromised, and I had to go.

Drove myself to the Ocean, and smiled as the bonfires dotted the shore. Breathed the air in deeply and thought of my friends, the ones that didn't mind the silly little things I valued and celebrated. Quirky I was called once, embarrassed then, I embrace it now.

My best guy friend in the city buzzed through. My friend invited me again to club 6, said I should come over immediately. The guy friend said it best, "Don't worry in few days you won't even remember him." My friend got in from bikram and after she said "uh-oh," asked what I wanted to do.

Having left before dinner arrived I felt something like hunger. We went to NOPA, their late night kitchen and glowing interior just makes you feel good. We sipped mojitos, talked about grad school, and planned for Burning Man. After dinner she said, "new season, fresh start."
Summer is here, the sun is out, and although I feared a funk just decided to spend sometime in a headstand and you know, I think it worked. My friend invited me to join them camping for a world music festival. Her words left me with a glimpse of the summer to come, "Lo we are single girls in the city, we don't have to answer to nobody."

True so true, but a fuzzy boy to go with summer wouldn't be completely terrible...

"The path that I'm walking, I must go alone
I must take the baby steps til I'm full grown,full grown
Fairy tales don't always have a happy ending do they
And I forsee the dark ahead if I stay" Big Girls Don't Cry- Fergie, on Mtv3 :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Los Angeles Love

Driving West into Burbank I saw the landscape along the LA River change. The first time I saw the brilliant blue and hot pink colors I wrote a poem. It is one of those things you don't expect to find- beauty along a concrete divide. The company wasn't bad either...

Back on my alma mater campus, the grounds seemed to be in full bloom. After lunch was lent an office to work in. A knock on the door, saw the ghost of someone that seemed so brilliant once. Made it through the presentation I was creating. Day turned to night and headed to a new restaurant with my friend of 20 years. My parents looked on, and we all ate and drank a little too much as an impromptu celebration.

Woke up hoping I had not lived it up too much at the Argentinean restaurant. The sun was out and my friend was driving in to take me to the beach. We took the streets, the heat rose from Ventura Boulevard as we drove west, over the canyon on Topanga. Stopped at the general store for some beach side munchies.

We sat, and lounged, he built me a pebble and stone monument, splashed in the cold water and when it cooled off drove back into the Valley. Back down Ventura Boulevard.

At the East end of the Boulevard met up with more friends. We talked non-stop over sangria and tapas followed by maza and red wine. When I mentioned the previously celebrated 20th anniversary they did the math- one friend and I were in our 21st and my other friend also our 20th year of friendship. There is nothing more comforting than people that know you- I mean really know you.

My vacation had a minor aberration, not the sun and wine from the day before. Fortunately I woke up okay, although very early. It was actually a very good day of facilitating a workshop for 70 educators working towards advancing a multicultural society. It is sort of surreal to hear someone introduce you- humbling.

Picked up some organic watermelon and ice cream before heading to a bar-b-q. Twenty-seven years my friend and I have known each other. She barbecued some veggie goods for me, we watched her beautiful 18 month old son laugh, and dance, respond to prompts in Spanish, ASL, and English. Being there seeing her and her husband raising their bicultural child, filled me up with something like hope.

My last day, was spent with my parents. They, laughed because since Palm Springs I had just been a whirl: Somethings never change. They also enjoyed the time catching up with my friends and hearing how everyone was doing. The circle seemed so complete-before I left LA I had everything.

The blessings that have followed in my new city are in the form of new friendships, many already going on three years. Guess I've broken on through to the other side.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

L.A. Woman

Nothing like standing in the Coffee Bean queue and overhearing a couples very loud conversation. If it was an interesting conversation it might be different, I believe the sole purpose was to name drop. I thought wow, that seems so out of place for Palm Springs and realized, they were a special breed of annoying L.A. types.

Palm Springs, with its warm sun and glistening swimming pools was the perfect place to slow down and get very tan. Enjoyed the moments lounging with my lovely parents and made more summer plans. Stinson Beach and Sonoma made the upcoming Nor Cal tour: Love them dearly but told them, I don't do Alcatraz.


Took the train to Union Station to reunite with a good friend. Along the way, the conversation shifted from the featured article in the weekly to a song about the Doors. Not a song but an entire album it seems, it is not my fault I only recently discovered they are from LA. Does everyone know this?!

Made our way to Boyle Heights to drink the best green non-alcoholic mojito and find a cobbler to do some emergency work on my stacked sandals, seems they got too much sun in Palm Springs. Saw the ground they broke for the metro, took a snapshot for my memory gentrification is never amicable.

Drove along to pick up precious cargo and head to old town for tacos de papa. Enjoyed the stories, the company and the laughs. Amazing how beautifully and quickly children grow up and articulate their ambitions. Their dream home, their career, a brilliant mind unfolding...


The languid afternoon passed us by and it was dusk. For a moment, LA felt like home.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Angel Island

Sailed aboard the C'est la vie from Sausilito to Angel Island. A perfect Saturday in the sunny bay water with new and familiar friends. Drank wine, hiked, met a ladybug named Friday...

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Dress

Two hours at a mega-store with a 13 year old girl shopping for a graduation outfit:

What size do you wear? "I don't know." You look like a two or 3, maybe a 5? "3, I think."

Okay, what colors do you like? As I pick up a creme and brown pattern shirt dress with a full skirt and wide belt. "That is ugly." Okay, is it the color or the dress style?

"I like this." She holds up a plunging black halter dress of that very thin disposable material with pink blotches of shimmery gunk on it.

Lets hold on to that, I am not sure it is an appropriate daytime dress. She gave me a puzzled look- I smiled.

"How about red, I like this." It is a nice dress but dress-code rules apply no red, no blue. "Okay."

Do you like this? I hold up a silky v-cut dress with a pink and beige swirl pattern. "Maybe, it is too colorful." Did you have a favorite color? "Red." Right.

There it was a soft brown halter dress, no plunging neckline, straight across the back, drop waist and pleated skirt. I think, to myself be nonchalant, and hold up the dress, would you try this on. She tilts her head, "yes, add it to the rest."

Do you want to look at some coordinates, like skirts and tops? "No, I am done shopping."

We go through the dresses, she wants the black with pink, I want the brown halter. We easily leave the swirly silk dress aside. "I want this."

Well, that is an evening dress. "Why?" The material, the glittery-ness, more appropriate for an evening event- not really your day time graduation. Can you understand that? Holding my breath, "yes, I am not trying it on though." Then I am not able to buy it for you, we need to make sure it is not too low cut.

She walks into the dressing room with one brown dress. I am hoping I picked her size and shape correctly. Maybe some of my mami's super powers will be here with me. We still have the shoes and the accessories to is going to be a long morning- I know.

Does it fit. "Yes." Can I see it? She comes out, and I try to not be too surprised that it fits perfectly. Do you like it? "Yes." Great, do you have a strapless bra? "No." Okay, do you know your size? "Yes." No that can't be it. "I know my size."

Off we go, I try to explain that we should look for a convertible halter bra. She has no idea what I am talking about. I show her one in the wrong size. She finds pink and black ones. I tell her the dress is brown, it should be brown or beige. "Why" Well if it shows, it will stand out less.

Back to the fitting room. "It is too small." No, it can't be. "It is!" from the hall I explain how to adjust it before heading out to find one more. I come back, and there she is in the hall. "I fixed it like you said." It fit? Is it on? "Duh." Perfect lets go pick out shoes.

"Those are ugly, I like these." You are 13, those are too high. Are your toes done? "Yes." "How about these?" A small heeled sandal in brown, those are really nice. Will you try them on? "No." How will you know if they fit?!

Dios mio, this is more work than I remember. I decide to look for shoes for myself, retail therapy sounds like what I might need. "They fit."

Your toes are not done, huh? "No, I am going today." Who is taking you? "My therapist." What about your hair? "My Auntie."

Okay, let's get you a wrap. "I am not going to wear it." Can we just look? It might be chilly in the morning, you will need it for your shoulders.

I didn't see anything I liked. Until she held up a silky swirly beige and brown one. "Do you like this?" It is perfect. Do you like it? "That's why I am showing it to you." Okay. I completely forgot about earings. We were running out of time. School would be out and I was expected at a faculty luncheon.

We got in line and she said, "you are really annoying to shop with. You have an opinion about everything." Well at least you know what I am thinking. Thank you for compromising on the outfit with me, she smiled.

I paid we headed out the store, I really needed a cup of coffee I could smell it in the air, but we were out of time. "Thank you for bringing me shopping." Your welcome, thank you for letting me be annoying. "Its okay."


Graduation was perfect. The therapist never showed up but her toes were done. When I noticed she didn't have earrings on I felt a pang of guilt for forgetting them. She ws wearing her wrap, she seemed happy. The guardian that had kicked her out of her home showed up, in a shimmery evening dress to a 10am graduation.

Of the ten years in the field, these are some of the moments I will miss most.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Minha Galera

Civic Center: After emerging from the train, took a wrong turn and suddenly could not find the direction I was headed. Saw a man walk out of a stairwell and asked which way was 6th street?

Direction changed I looked up to see the ghost of a friends former love. Thin and wasted I barely recognized him, and ahead I spotted my friends waiting to greet me at the stairs of the private loft.

The Loft: Inside the girls from Menorca had fresh fruit, and red wine, the girl from Brazil brought infused vodka, the Canadian girl smoked non stop and was rail thin, the green eyed blond was from El Salvador, y la tia era de Madrid. The guys an assortment of Argentina, Chile, the city. Y vos de donde sos? Mexico, I smiled.

Heard stories of travel saw pictures of home, talked about the cities we had each visited, where we last saw Manu Chao perform.


Outside the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium: Every Spanish language accent was different. Everyone was friendly and the group from the pre party multiplied. Inside a quick stop for a $12 beer and then to the ground floor. Everyone was talking and waiting patiently for the show to start.

The lights dimmed, the music started, the crowd came to life. All I could do from falling over as the sea of people began to mosh around me, was to jump, hold on and move with them.

Somehow still, I had little red welts on my knees, thighs, and arms turn to blue and purple star shaped bruises. I laughed at my near mosh experience and thought of Edgar and Oso, the boys who used to make me their + 1. They would have been proud. It had been ten years since I had first seen Manu Chau live at the Palace. That time I was in the balcony a reluctant 20 something that had to admit to the very patient guy that for all the trouble I had given him, I had really enjoyed the music.


Although LA feels different to me now: For all the years of friendship, music, and free tickets, all I feel is love.