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The Best Thing About Today

Day to Day Thoughts, Recollections, and Chicanisma

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esa_morena

We kissed today -- Ines and I.

I had a dream on the morning of my birthday that I was kissing some guy. I leaned in to kiss him and he kissed me back which resulted in a deep frantic session of kissing that I both experienced and watched longingly from some corner of my mind.

I mentioned the dream to Karin and Elena over a glass of wine that afternoon. We three lamented at how sad it is that this kind of "desperate" kissing is one of the first casualties of long term relationships. It was my birthday. I was newly 39 and clearly mourning my youth.

Couples with young children have to be quick and efficient in the bedroom, kissing is embarrasing and time consuming.

After pulling off a surprise birthday party for me last night (a party that was amazingly well attended), after having never, on his own volition, thrown me a party, let alone a surprise party,  and just after my mom drove off in her car and headed for home, Ines pulled me into our room and kissed me.


Regretting Not Writing and Worried About the Upcoming Election
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esa_morena
This semester I feel like I barely have had the chance to come up for air to breath. I am mind numbingly busy, and I have not been making writing a priority. That's a problem. It's time to take my life back.

A friend is having an election party at her house Tuesday night. I am looking forward to the party, but I can feel my blood pressure rise every time I think about the possible outcomes of the election. I am vehemently against Proposition 8  -- denying marriage to people is a form of discrimination. This is a human rights issue. It would be really quite sad to to see a proposition pass that restricts rights in California's constitution. Constitutions are supposed to outline and protect our rights -- not take rights away.

As for the presidential election, this one question keeps coming back to me: will this election still be so "historic" if the white guy beats the black guy, or will that just be typical? White guys have been beating black guys for a couple of centuries now; should McCain win (and I don't actually expect he will) the history books (high school text books in particular) will likely not even mention against whom he ran. Likely, the focus will be on his running mate and any highlights from his presidency. Sure many scholars and journalists would/will write books (remember I'm counting on Obama's win -- the reason for writing in the subjunctive) about this "historic" election season and it's impact on America's national character; some of these books will become best sellers but most will be flashes in the pan and out of print as fast as a bulldog can go through a tube of lipstick, but it's the history books that are important, for it's the information in history books that is passed on (or not)  to future adults who will likely forget Obama existed because they can't remember that one line that was mentioned about him in their 11th grade history book and there are no longer video clips of him on Youtube. 

Morning Edition
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esa_morena

Driving to work Tuesday morning, I heard a news story on KQED that was so ridiculous that I nearly drove off the freeway laughing. The story was about different rules being imposed at polling places in different counties and states. The rules being imposed address a concern about people showing up to their local polling place decked out in the latest in campaign support-wear: buttons and t-shirts baring the name of their candidate. The concern is that some new to voting might be intimidated by such a display, and some precincts will turn away those wearing the names of candidates on their person, others will provide a jacket for the offending pollster to wear over the contraband items, and best of all, some precincts in California will be providing paper smocks! Imagine standing in one of those voting booths covered in a paper smock -- the likes of what you'd wear while getting a doctor's exam.

While I agree that the polls should be "a neutral place," and that the polls are not a place to be intimidating others, it seems like if there was ever a day to wear a t-shirt in support of the candidate of your choice, election day would be the day. Election day is the ultimate day for exercising our democratic rights and freedom of speech is one of these rights -- one of the most important.

 By the way, I have never seen anyone "intimidating" anyone else at the polls, just neighbors happy to see each other with voter pamphlets and cups of coffee in hand taking part of the process.

To listen or read the story yourself, click the link below.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95454792

Soccer Tonight
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esa_morena
I was all fired up to score another goal after our winning game, but we were off last week -- being off sort of took the fire out of me -- well that and the fact that the game will be at 10:00 tonight. It's crazy, though, what scoring one goal will do to a person's mind. When I first started playing soccer in the summer I thought it would be cool to score a goal, but I didn't think that there was much likelyhood of that happening given how new I was to the sport. During our second set, which started in September, I caught myself thinking, "I'm going to score a goal," or simply imagining/visualizing my scoring one.

Being moved from playing mid-field during the last game, however, gave me a different mindset. All nervous from having, sort of, gotten used to playing mid-field and doing all that running around, I was up moved up front to the striker position, and began thinking to myself, "I'm going to try really hard to score a goal." Being in the new position took a bit of my confidence, as I went from knowing I'd score to committing to simply trying really hard. But I did try, and with each try I got bolder, even the one time that I kicked the air instead of the ball, causing a player on the opposing team to steal the ball from me.

Needless to say, I'm now hungry for scoring, for the sense of self-satisfaction, the team glory, and because it's actually, in my list of hard things to achieve, a rather hard thing to do -- you got all the other people trying to take the ball away from you, the goalie there blocking the net, and for me the fact that my kicks don't yet dependably send the ball in the direction I've intended for it to go. My friend, Melissa, the one who got me playing soccer, told me that the reason she decided to play soccer in her late 30's, besides her love for the games, was the fact that everything she does in her life she's pretty good at, but soccer really challenged her and made her look stupid sometimes, but it also made her try really really hard, and when you have to try really really hard to be good at something, something that you don't already have a natural inclination for, the sense of satisfaction is much greater.



Even More on Politics
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esa_morena
This is what I don't understand. The use of the phrase "this historic decision" or "historic election" without actual reference to what is actually historic about it. The media and everyone else are excited about this election, and as a result people are registering to vote in record numbers all over the country because of this historic election, but it's not often mentioned just what it is that makes this election season so historic. I noticed that the historic nation of this election season was easier to talk about when it came to Hillary and women's rights -- the16 million cracks in the glass ceiling. As I see it, the historic nature of this election season, in addition to the real chance of soon electing a woman as the head of state has to do with the fact that a country which was founded on slavery is about to, finally -- some 200 years later -- elect a black man as president. So then has "historic" become another euphemism for lingering racism? It's clear to me that the "R" word has something to do with it because no one ever wants to actually be clear about what they actually mean when they use the phrase "historic election" -- sort of like they have something to hide or be ashamed of.

Punk Soccer
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esa_morena
I know I said that I've never been on a team before, but I did play punk soccer in Berkeley with a bunch of Gilman Street punks in the early 1990's. Some of the people who came out to play were actually interested in soccer, even though we didn't play by any particular rules or pay much attention to positions, other than goalie. Who ever showed up to play were split into two groups, a goalie was designated and we ran around and kicked the ball, snagging it from one another, and attempted to make goals for our team.

Some people playing, ran around with quartz of beer in their hands, or cigarettes hanging out of their mouths, but others were more serious dressed in camofulage shorts and even gym shoes, though most wore heavy black boots. The guys from Econochrist usually came out to play, the singer, Ben, often scored goals, and I tried to be on his team because at least he looked like he knew what he was doing. Jesse from Operation Ivy and Jake from Filth would often show up to play and jeer loudly. Many of the women who came were girlfriends, me being one of the few exceptions. Some of the girlfriends would even play in boots, miniskirts, and fishnet stockings.

While we all did have some vague idea that we were out there running after the ball to get some exercise, few were willing to put out their cigarettes or drink water instead of beer. I mostly showed up to play punk soccer for the socializing or because I knew a particular guy that I had thing for would be there.

Obama the Politician
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esa_morena
I watched part of the debate between Obama and McCain last night, and it was pretty boring. I tried to stay interested, but it's hard to do when the candidates start talking about the policies that they plan to institute "when they get into office." Many of these policies are campaign promises that are never made good on, so all I usually hear is, "blah, blah, blah, blah." I wound up "watching" and playing Scrabble at the same time, losing 2 quick games in a row. After this double losing streak, I turned the TV off all together, wishing I could be more interested and focused on what they had to say.

After reflecting on it for a bit,on my apparent lack of interest, then later watching Charles Gibson and Diane, whatever her last name is  from GMA, and some guests discuss each candidates performance, one guest mentioned that the upper hand in these debates usually goes to the person who looks like he belonged up there on the stage behind the podium -- the one who looked more presidential, and he went on to say that he believed that Obama had the edge in this respect. He cited how Obama looked visually more comfortable and his more crisp performance. I noticed the more "crisp" performance and realized that I too had noticed he looked rather "presidential," but he also looked like a politician: firm, unyielding, even paternalistic. It was unsettling                                                                        

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The Opportunity To See Myself in a New Way
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esa_morena
It's been on my mind to explain what I've learned from playing soccer -- It's not what you think, those typical things about the importance of team work and learning to have grace under pressure. It's more personal than that.

Like many people I've known in life, musical, artistic types, I was always picked last for team sports PE in elementary school and high school. I was always the shortest person in my class or grade with super skinny legs, and, generally, I just wasn't particularly athletic. I was also rather afraid of being hit by the ball -- it didn't matter what kind of ball: softball, rubber ball, soccer ball, football. If I saw one flying in my direction, I wasn't going to catch to be one of many kids scrambling to catch it, I was going to be the one running out of the way. Occassionally this was due to the fact that being different, being on welfare and Mexican with a crazy mom made me an actual target for balls, and a few mean kids would actually throw them at me on purpose.

Soccer at 38, however, has changed all that. Not being particularly fond of competitive sports, I never much wanted cared about being on a team or winning trophies, so I never tried to find a sport I might like or joined any teams. However, the main reason I never considered doing so, in spite having always loved a good workout, was because I thought I'd be too afraid, but I'm not. In fact, at 38, on the soccer field, I have found that while I might feel nervous at times, I'm not afraid. I was even told by a teammate that I'm "scrappy." It's been really something seeing myself charging after the ball, pursuing opponents, and just down right fighting over the ball, toe to toe with another player. It's like I have, at 38, finally done away with that fearful of competition, fearful of being injured, skinny little girl image of myself.

Winning Feels Good
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esa_morena
Winning feels good, but scoring my first ever goal last night felt even better. Red Hot Riot finally won a game: score 13 -2! We lost to the same team a few weeks back, and they were clearly rattled when we were up 6 points at the half. It didn't feel good to feel them shouting and angry with each other, but it did feel good to finally win a game.

Now here's the thing, we don't get rattled when we lose because we have so much practice losing that the underdog advantage kicks in, keeping us cool under pressure -- probably too cool.

We started off last night's game by scoring a goal in the first few seconds and kept our momentum going throughout, unlike previous games. After taking several shots, my teammates and husband cheering each time, I finally made one into the net during the last few seconds of the game. One of my all time favorite songs (Luis Manuel's too), "Come on Eileen" had just started playing over the loudspeaker. In just a few seconds, I went from singing along to the music with a new burst of energy, to having the ball in my possession, to scoring a goal.

By the way, just like in those sports movies, the ball does go into the net in slow motion.

A Bad Teacher- Student Interaction
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esa_morena
We are really missing Luis Manuel's first grade teacher Mr. Moy. He was amazing and really connected with the kids. He was kind, soft spoken, observant, understanding, and intuitive. He also wrote all his own homework packets, and each one built on lessons from the previous week.

His second grade teacher is known for being serious and/or strict, but she seems fine to us so far. His language arts teacher on the other hand made a serious mistake. On Thursday when Ines walked LM ,who is rather short for his age, to class, and when they arrived to his language arts teacher's class, she told Ines, "He not in this class. He's not even in second grade." And she said this right in front of Luis who was already showing distress at having to say goodbye to his dad. I'm worried that she could have undone all the hard work that Ines and I have done to help LM not be too self-conscious about his size. So far, Luis Manuel hasn't mentioned the event to me, and I have decided not to talk to him about it -- to see if he brings it up to me himself. I don't want to poison the well -- to send a negative message about any of his teachers, as that's not wise or productive. I did, however, call the principal. She listened, but made a couple of questionable comments of her own.

This morning, the offending teacher told me that she was sorry  (a clear sign that the principal did her job and spoke with her about what they keep calling a "misunderstanding"  -- I call it making a snap judgment/bad assumption, but whatever on that for now) about the "misunderstanding," and after having thought about what I would do in a similar situation with one of my students all day yesterday, I thanked her and  said, "Maybe you could also apologize to Luis."

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