Party girl

M turns 8 in two months but I’m already planning her party.  Actually, we started planning her party in April, a full five months in advance.  I have a list that breaks down guest list, location, and favors.  No, no soy one of those Pinterest moms.  My gluing skills are limited to dance and Carnaval costumes.  While I love to cook, this year we’ll be offering all-American burgers and chips.  Like every frazzled parent I know, I sigh and say I’m done with the big birthday parties every year.  Then the cycle starts anew. 
As a child, my parents always threw us huge parties. My dad’s entire soccer team and their families, my godparents and my brother’s godparents and their kids, and any relatives would come. There would be tons of Peruvian food, a giant sheet cake, a piñata for the kids, and dancing to salsa and merengue.  Because I was an introvert, I found all the people and activities overwhelming. But memories were made.  Like the time the big boys decided to tightrope walk around the fence in the backyard and were threatened by the mean next door neighbor  Or the time we realized we could Tarzan swing across the garage.  I especially like how happy my mom and dad always looked. And still look. Because you best believe mi mama isn’t letting a birthday go by without some sort of gathering. 
Celebrating my 44th. Notice the look on my mom’s face(she’s on my right). 
Unlike me, M doesn’t seem uncomfortable at her birthday parties. In fact, she says she loves the attention, the little diva. Ever the assertive leader, M has helped pick a theme for her celebration from the time she was 4.  They have been often been tied to a favorite TV show.  Lately they also incorporate her Halloween costume (yes, we are a family of planners.)
Yo Gabba Gabba  Dancey Dance Party
Princess Costume Party 
Wonder Woman party 
Wizard of Oz theme. Notice her tee. Her dance recital had the same theme. Why not stretch out a good theme? 
So while I may balk at the work and expense that goes into planning birthday parties, I do love the memories we’ve shared.  They are moments that remind us of what truly matters.  

Red carpet ready

Tradiciones.  I wanted my daughter to experience traditional celebrations from an early age. Quite a few we established as our own family though neither Rambo nor I had experienced them as children including setting up a Nativity crèche during Advent, building an altar for Dia de los Muertos, and celebrating SuperBowl Sunday with our extended family of college friends.  Some I inherited from my own childhood: celebrating Nochebuena, honoring El Senor de lo Milagros in October, and being aware that 28 de Julio was as important to my folks as 4th of July.  Some I continued from my single days: participating in the Dance-Along Nutcracker and hosting an Oscar party.  These are our traditions. We celebrate them year after year with our loved ones. They help us savor the seasons and make the most of moments.
The kiddos approved of the 2015 host
In recent years, the Oscars have gotten increasingly disappointing. They have always been god-awful long. They have always had their share of too-long speeches and ill-conceived musical numbers. They have always been really white.  I have watched the Oscars since I was a junior in high school and the Oscars have rarely featured folks who look like me. Now I love J-Lo but she don’t look a thing like me. Besides, she is nowhere near winning one of the coveted gold statues. In any case, the closest someone I can truly relate to was even close to an Oscar was when my man crush por siempre and once-upon-a-time dinner mate Benjamin Bratt was escort to Julia Roberts.  So, yes, #Oscarssowhite and yet here we are, a household of brown people and our multiculti clan of friends and family still gathering over a feast to watch the damn awards.  You may wonder why.
Sometimes I ask myself that question. Rambo pleads with me at least once a year to give up and host an Alma Awards party.  My one-word answer: tradition.  When I was a misunderstood artsy high schooler, film became a passion.  I would hop on BART and head to the Embarcadero or downtown Berkeley and check out all the Best Picture or Foreign Film nominees. Once I could drive, I’d make my way to the Piedmont.  As with books, movies became a vehicle to unwind or an opportunity to let my own creativity be inspired.  So, watching the Oscars became a way to celebrate some of those films and performers.
Before the New Parkway opened in Uptown, we mourned the loss of the original
The annual Oscar party became a way to share my pastime with my friends but more importantly to bring folks together.  Now, in our 13thyear, my close friends expect my Oscar party. They know I will choose a theme, that I will cook main dish and sides in conjunction with the theme, and that we will roll out our own red carpet. On occasion, I have given out Oscars for best movie-themed costume. My brother is our Meryl Streep, having won the award the most times (twice). Now that the little ones are older, they will cheer for the Best Animated Film nominees and maybe admire a dress or two.  The grown folks will vie for the award for best commentary. With Rambo in the mix, even more shade is thrown. If I was more Twitter –savvy, I’d live tweet some of our zingers.  We have a great time, even when the awards show is a fail like the time poor James Franco and Anne Hathaway nearly killed us with their ill-advised co-hosting gig.
If throwing an Oscar party in light of all the boycotts this year makes you question my ability to think critically, then question away. Folks have been questioning my “wokeness” for years.    It’s my party and I will cry or laugh if I want to.  I’m well aware of how race and ethnicity have played out in Hollywood and it is maddening and frustrating.  But canceling a party that loved ones remember fondly won’t change that mona que se viste de seda.  Chris Rock and I will be holding it down. Besides, maybe Queen Bey will crash the party and let everyone have it with more “Formation.”  One can hope.
M’s 2011 red carpet look

Why Latinos don’t obsess over Prom

What today’s reflection forgot to mention was the ethnic twist on the whole situation. Maybe, just maybe, the reason I’m not tripping over this whole Prom Night thing is because there are other rites of passage that I have celebrated and most definitely plan to enjoy in the future.

M’s Quince:

Someday, M’s boda:

And maybe we’re not in formal attire, but the ultimate pachanga (and it’s coming soon!!!) :

Musings on Heaven, Ch. 1

Note: I know my child will someday speak/write/think for himself/herself. But for now, his presence within me inspires these thoughts.

In heaven, the unborn and the dead are friends. They mix and mingle in the ongoing celebration. It is always sunny and warm. There is always dancing. My baby gets to party with my godfather and my Play Brother, with my friend from high school and the cute Australian actor. They dance to early 80s New wave, disco, and whatever feels good. Everyone wears a favorite outfit and they are in their best state of health and beauty. So my nino is young and strong. My Play Brother is at his Cutie Pie best.
The party is better than a 1990s Sunday at the Endup.

Post Bowl Belly Aching

No, I’m not mad about the Giants’ upset. Those last 5 minutes were worth an aching rump and swirling tummy. Despite an aftermath of bed rest for the 2nd workday in a row, I enjoyed the 42nd SuperBowl–or at least the Crew’s celebration of it.

Never mind that half the Crew stayed in Oakland, watching the festivities at Babo’s(this time, he even snubbed my bro, yikes!)the Marine and his lovely wife, Smiley, hosted in their lovely home in our neck of the East Bay. We were treated to bingo, spinach dip, ambrosia salad, and other goodies. At first, it was me and my bro in a sea of Niner fans(yikes again!) but everyone was nice enough as we gave running commentary to the dozens of ads.

Now I’m not generally a fan of pro sports. Cal football is my passion and nothing comes close. But the SuperBowl is about the commercials. Kudos to the giant mouse attacking to a Carmen soundtrack for Doritos, the “aww” appeal of the Dalmatian training the young Clydesdale to the tune of “Rocky” for Budweiser, and one of my bro’s faves, the talking baby spitting up at the end of the E-trade ad. Boos to the stereotype-laden Taco Bell commercial(white girl, you best put your hair back up) My favorite was the Sobe Life Water ad, featuring grill-wearing geckos dancing to the choreography I covet most, “Thriller,” next to a very young looking Naomi Campbell. And Iron Man actually looks good, despite my doubts about Robert Downey, Jr.

Speaking of doubts, I dig rock legends as much as the next person but can we get a hotter halftime show? No one needs to rip off clothes but how about some dancing? Tom Petty is cool and “Free Fallin” sounded great but otherwise he and the Heartbreakers were looking a little old. My bro and I amused ourselves discussing our favorite petty videos and lamenting he didn’t play either tune. Haven’t we suffered enough for Justin and Janet’s faux pas?

Midway through the game, some of the Crew finally showed. Elbow came without his Mrs.and got razzed for wearing Raider gear. Mo showed up with his old girlfriend, his siblings, and the ever amusing Beautiful. No one seemed to notice my extra pounds, cleverly hidden in my old school adidas track suit. It was good to see everyone, if only to cheer and shout, just like usual.

The super Sunday ended on a not so super note. I cringed with misery even as I watched one of my all-time favorite episodes of Degrassi, “Venus,” before crawling into bed. I fell into uneasy sleep under the watchful snuggles of Blues, who is home again.

So it’s day 2 of sitting in my bathrobe for hours. But that’s what happens after a good party.
And I’m not even drinking!

Holiday Hangover

I don’t need menudo nor would I eat the nasty sh**(even though HWSNBNLIR made me have a big bowl of it once since his grandpa made it and fat lot of good it did me since it was some mousy, dumpy gringa he chose but I digress). The last few days have been busy with family gatherings, rich food, and even the occasional glass of booze(since Blues doesn’t partake, I haven’t taken in those extra calories). My bum leg and tummy are paying the price. But it’s nothing ice and sleep can’t cure. As my uncle Pedro said last night, tomorrow we could die. Living isn’t always easy but it is worthwhile.

Confession 6: Lush

See what had happened was we was only gonna get one drink. Just one and then we’d head home unless the guys were really cute. I said wouldn’t it be funny if Memo was in the house cuz that’s his spot. Look down the bar and there he was getting his drank on. V-Town shows up dressed as an Army boy and y’all know I had a Toni Braxton unbreak my heart moment but then it was also funny. The universe ain’t about to let me forget the man who left. But I digress! So we got more drinks. V-Town bought me a couple including a Framboise just like I had in that cute spot in Cashville right before I lost my damn mind. Anyway, all the men were fine and the old school jams were playing. It was on! We so money! V-Town asked me if I wanted to go to the car and next thing I know it was like that Total Devastation cut, “Many Clouds of…”. Hadn’t done that since my school days. Camera phone snapping. V-town romancing an African girl. Memo getting spanked by the devil dom. Me trying on the camo. The Amy Winehouse lighting up her spoon. The green eyed Mexican declaring “that’s why you so fine” after I told him I was born in the Town.
Happy Halloween indeed.
What you mean work at 7:30?

Fun hangover

If there’s a bad influence within a 5 mile radius and he’s Latino, chances are I’ll get mixed up in some madness. Halloween 2007 was no exception. It was Thank God It’s Friday meets Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. Okay so there was no nudity or cheetah riding but there were a lot of hilarious moments, courtesy of my bro’s bros and yours truly. Stay tuned for the play by play…

Cinco De Mayo with my crew

Ahh, my crew. All the bros and their ladies and me, everybody’s favorite dancer/drinker/ sis. We gathered at my boy Babo’s pad to watch Golden Boy Oscar de La Hoya take on jackass of the year Floyd Mayweather(or whatever his name is.) I was appalled when I saw Floyd decked out in red, white, and green with his entourage dressed, as R. put it, like un grupo, Los Tucanes. If I was still in college, I would have written a controversial column about the play on race and ethnicity(why is it okay for a black man to mock Mexican pop culture but there would have been a riot if Oscar came out in overalls holding a watermelon.)Then it was time for the fight and damn if it wasn’t a letdown. No drama and a loss for our side. The best part was hearing the boys’ running commentary.

All night I had quietly had my share of Mexican beers: Pacifico, 2 Sols, a Modelo. Then H., that devil, brought out the Cazadores and handed me my shot. Me, brash as ever, downing it. A while later, he brought out what was left of the bottle and said, “Finish it. I bet you can’t.” Me, chip on my shoulder growing by the second, taking the bottle and tipping it back.

We danced like mad. First it was old school jams, some hiphop. Finally, we put on the reggaeton and it was on. I did some belly dancing to Yankee’s “Mirame.” Q. was so impressed he told his gf E. all about my back-in-the-day go-go girl antics. So I decided to show my audience my samba moves to “Pam Pam.”

My sis drove me, my bro, and my boy T. back to my neck of the woods. On the 880, we called up Beautiful, supposedly in the South Bay smoking and drinking. My bro gave him a hard time about flaking on the fight. Beautiful told him he wouldn’t be at R’s wedding on Memorial Day weekend so I started yelling that he was wack. I had T. call Beautiful on his phone. Beautiful spoke with me for a few drunken minutes. He had the nerve to ask if I would join him later. I told him we had already had that conversation(birthday flashbacks!) and reiterated “I wouldn’t touch you with a ten-foot pole.”

The guys wanted to hit up the local biker bar, the one where Play Brother was hit on by an old lady back in the day. We stumbled in, getting hard looks from the locals. My bro claims some girl threw a balled-up paper towel at him. We left before my bro could get too loud. Dropped off T. and then they left me at home. Time to sleep and worry about the hangover later.