These are my heart songs

So as you are aware I post… very randomly and on random subjects because that’s how my brain works. I created this blog as a very free outlet for myself and I know in order to create an audience and to show my writing more I should be more consistent but such is not the case and I apologize.

Now, on to this blog post:  These are my heart songs, the ones that somehow made a strong impact in my life. They are not exactly my top ten favorite songs of all time, but it’s more like their lyrics really got to me and either changed me or helped me or influenced me in some way. They each form a piece of my life.

They are in chronological order, starting with the oldest and ending with the most recent one. I can still hear most of them and feel a special connection to them. As a bonus, I titled this blog post “These are my heart songs” after “Heart songs” from Weezer. The first time I heard that song I cried when it got to the middle whereRivers Cuomo describes “Back in 1991, I wasn’t having any fun, ‘till my roommate said “come on” and put a brand new record on, had a baby on it, he was naked on it…” I didn’t need the name of the record he’s talking about, you probably don’t either. That is how important that album is. That is how a generation transcends through music.

Nirvana – Lithium

http://youtu.be/WHZ9jh7IhkU

For a lonely, depression-prone teen like me, Nirvana was the one band I could count on to understand what I was going through. This particular song helped me realize that I was not the only one feeling sad and just trying to hang on. It was one of the reasons why I’ve always been on the creative side of the world, because I wanted to give back what I received. When Kurt died it felt like a bright star that was shining against all odds had sparked out. But I’m glad he was able to create the songs he did, because those mopey nights would have been gloomier without them.

No Doubt – Just A Girl

http://youtu.be/PHzOOQfhPFg

Say what you want about Gwen Stefani, I personally don’t like anything she has done after “Rocksteady” (and even that album is pushing it). In the 90s though, she rocked. I was not a Gwenabe, but she definitely showed me that it was possible to be feminine and cute and still rock out. Not to mention this song is a bit of a feminist song or at least it questions society. “I’m just a girl, and I’d rather not be, ‘cause they won’t let me out late at night…” It was my first exposure to this kind of lyrics and soon after I learned about the riot grrl movement.

The song has a second relevance in my life. Once I was driving home from work while on my third trimester of pregnancy. Suddenly this song came out on the radio and I started feeling kicks almost to the beat. We had performed an inconclusive ultrasound so we were not 100% certain of the gender of our baby. When the song stopped, my daughter stopped kicking. That moment I knew she was girl. I told my husband but he just laughed. Then we got another ultrasound and the tech said it was going to be a boy. I was perplexed, but I still didn’t believe him. When the doctor brought her out and said she was a girl I got the last laugh. No one believes this but I know it’s true. My daughter was letting me know through this song what her gender was!

Save Ferris – Everything I Want To Be

http://youtu.be/wZ1g9Vqurdo

This song is part of a nearly flawless album, and it’s a shame the band didn’t make it. Still, I remember hearing this song and singing along to the lyrics with all the emotion behind it. “And everything I want to be/ is just another silly dream you see/ but I’ll keep dreaming just the same”. I’m already grown up and old but I’ll keep dreaming just the same, well maybe I’ll dream for my daughter’s dreams now more than mine. I’ve always been a dreamer so why stop now.

Bif Naked – Moment of Weakness

http://youtu.be/UWuddKPLXSw

This is not a particularly great song and now that I saw the video again it doesn’t look as bada**. But back in the day Bif Naked made a great impression on me. First of all, I had never seen so many tattoos on a woman before. Even though they’re not great, they still amazed me and I just loved her look so much that I hope to one day be sleeved out on one arm. That may or may not happen due to financial and labor constraints but body art is still a big part of my life. Also the exes on her hands were my first exposure to the straight edge movement. The orange pants… well… because the 90s.

Sekta Core – Pobrero

http://youtu.be/MeQFTDxttuM

By the mid 90s I was in Mexico City listening to a lot of sad, dark music and I was growing tired of it. Nirvana was gone, grunge was dead and it was time to look for something new. That’s when mexska came into my life. Mexska is the official/unofficial genre of music that loosely describes the music scene that mixed ska with cumbia, salsa, rock, punk, reggae and a whole bunch of other genres and subgenres but in the center of it is ska.  Bands like La Tremenda Korte, Panteon Rococo, Sekta Core, Nana Pancha, Salon Victoria, Inspector, Revuelta Propia and many more formed part of the scene. Most of these bands I’m sure are unheard of outside of the Latino world but suffice it say it was a scene I am happy to have been a part of and to have been there right when the whole thing exploded was a great experience and I hope that every music fan gets to experience something similar because it is quite frankly the most amazing thing that can happen.

By the late 90s I started a website covering the scene. Many people criticized it, many people still do, especially the purists who believe it was a sort of deformed transformation of ska but I could care less. I don’t really hear most of the bands anymore and if I’m being honest most of their early work was amateur but many of the songs still hold a special place in my heart and that will never change.

This song in particular is one of the most unique in terms of lyrics because it addresses an issue that I don’t think many bands have addressed. It is for that reason that I chose it and it took a while to choose just one because so many are very important to me.

The song is called “Pobrero” and it’s a play on words joining “pobre” which means poor and “obrero” which means worker. Part of the lyrics say “The street that you live on seems like a dumpster/ but you don’t care/ because you’re a [porker? I’m just joining poor and worker here and it even rhymes in English!]/ You’re always late when you go in to work/and that’s why you will never progress.”

Not caring about the community you live in, not caring about the quality of work that you put out, I think that’s one of the reasons that a society doesn’t improve. When you care, it shows. In Mexico, there are a lot of hard working honest people, but there are a lot of procrastinators as well, and many people who don’t care about their communities. There’s a lot of dead beat dads that spend half of their salary on beer and pay more attention to the soccer game than to their kids and wives. This creates a whole cycle of apathy that keeps going and that’s one of the reasons why Mexico can’t move forward.

Hatebreed – This is Now

http://youtu.be/i072ui6A9Co?list=AL94UKMTqg-9AmsucYG8DEXuAHuDKulbrf

After college I was depressed. I felt I still wasn’t a good enough writer in English and I went back to Mexico hoping to find work over there since most of my experience was writing in Spanish. When that didn’t happen I started staying at my mom’s house being a couch potato, binge drinking every weekend and just not caring at all. This song was like the slap in the face I needed. It came out of my screen, pulled out its hands and grabbed me by the shirt and just yelled at me until I woke up from the slumber I had gotten myself into. “How can I change tomorrow if can’t change today? This is Now, Now! If I control myself I control my destiny.” It worked more than all the sermons my mother tried on me. I quit moping around, got myself a job and met husband not long after that.

Jimmy Eat World – The Middle

http://youtu.be/FV-HPOHu8mY

This song is an incredibly inspiring, upbeat, and just plain awesome song. It still rocks, and I think it will always rock. It was inspiring and uplifting when it came it and even now when I’m having a self-doubt day if I hear this song I just feel great. “Everything, everything will be just fine, everything will be allright.” Sometimes I just need to hear that.

Jimmy eat world – A praise chorus

http://youtu.be/1TrmaL5S7N4

“Bleed American” is such a great album. The whole song is perfect for working out, bungee jumping, whatever your need. I love putting on when I need to pump myself for something, like a job interview, a serious meeting or a night out “I’m on my feet, I’m on the ground/ I’m good to go. And all I need is just to hear a song I know.” It doesn’t get any better than this.

Millencolin – Pepper

http://youtu.be/VzExUXAezfs

  • “Baby what is that song from Millencolin?”
  • “Pepper”

Yes, that’s how I asked my husband because I couldn’t remember the name of this song. He is a huge Millencolin fan and he actually showed me this song, to encourage since he knows how much I tend to wallow in self-doubt. I actually did know Millencolin before we met and I like a lot of their songs but he still knew what song I was talking about. “I know it’s all in you, just gotta find out what you wanna do/I know it’s all in you, and deep inside you feel it too.”

It’s a short, quick inspirational song and it hits the spot in a jam.

B.o.B – Nothin’ On You [feat. Bruno Mars]

http://youtu.be/8PTDv_szmL0

This song came out around the time my daughter was born, and it just felt so right because to me it exemplifies the unconditional love that I have for her. I know it’s a love song but to me, it doesn’t matter who I am with or who I meet or where I am in the world, they have nothing on my daughter, to me she is the most beautiful, inside and out. It’s also one of the few songs where there’s rap that I can understand most of the lyrics.

Ten years to hear Seven Years

Saosin at Fox Theater, Pomona. June 6, 2014.

Saosin at Fox Theater, Pomona. June 6, 2014.

It’s been ten years since Anthony Green left Saosin. Fans have been waiting for a miracle to make that reunion happen and it finally did. At the Fox Theater last Friday in Pomona, everyone at the sold out show was aware of the electricity surrounding the wooden venue.

The opening bands played to an excited, antsy crowd eager to see the reunion. The first songs of the openers In Transmission were interesting but after a long dragging song, the crowd tired of them. An exhausted attendee

Saosin, Fox Theater June 6, 2014

Saosin, Fox Theater June 6, 2014

exclaimed “how much more?” making everyone laugh. “Sorry, we didn’t mean to put everybody to sleep,” their singer said.

The second opening band was the Night Riots whose music was more upbeat and their singer Travis Hawley was a combination of Morrissey and Brandon Flowers from the Killers. They played more songs than the headliner. But that didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that Green only released the EP “Translating the Name” with Saosin; a total of four songs which were the only ones from the band’s repertoire he sang last Friday.They were the four songs hundreds had wanted to hear since 2004.

It’s not that Saosin with second singer Cove Reber didn’t attract new fans. But there is a distinct musical border between the Green and Reber eras. Under Reber, the band released two full length albums and two EPs.

Green joined Circa Survive after leaving the Newport Beach band and moved back east. He has said he left Saosin due to depression, being home sick and musical differences. Whatever the reason, Green and bassist Chris Sorenson started talking after Saosin kicked out Reber in 2010 and once they found the right time; the reunion became a reality.

Green’s demeanor was thankful, pleasantly surprised and humbled at the sold out Pomona show, one of the five performances in their brief West Coast tour. “It means so much to me that these songs mean as much to you as to me,” he said to the crowd. Even though Green left ten years ago, the majority of the attendants were young adults who were around ten years old when he was in the band originally.

The audience was divided by those of who listened silently and those who jumped along the riffs and yelled out the lyrics. Listening to “Mookie’s Last Christmas” and “Lost Symphonies” with Green might or might not happen again, but the two new songs they added to their performance, one closer to Circa Survive and another that’s right where they left off are a promising  though small glimpse of a future.

Green has bands Circa Survive, The Sounds of Animals Fighting and family to keep him busy but Sorenson and company have been patient. They had collaborated with Tilian Pearson and recorded a few songs after they kicked out Reber in 2010 but he ultimately joined Dance Gavin Dance in 2012.

It would have been a treat if Green had decided to tackle some of the songs the band has with Cove but he had warned that wouldn’t happen.   Green apologized on stage to Beau Burchell, Justin Shekoski, Sorenson and Alex Rodriguez. “I’m sorry, my bad, my b,” he said as he turned to each of them. The public apology was like a collective healing after years of rumors surrounding their separation puzzled fans.

Who knows the extent of their collaboration, but for now it is evident they are enjoying their time together. “I want to thank all those who kept asking me to make this happen at every show I played at,” Green said.”In some way you’re all part of this.”

De Mini Says Top songs of 2013

I’m not into music as much as before. Mainly because my time is spent with the daughter watching “Daniel Tiger” and reading, working, going to the park and washing dishes every now and then. But this year I feel like making my own top songs of 2013 because De Mini Says So:

10. Daft Punk feat. Pharrell, “Get Lucky”

I’m listing this song because it was impossible to ignore. Not because I really liked it but it’s one of those songs that was everywhere and it got stuck in my head more than twice. This year was all about dance songs, with the 70s and 80s just invading every aspect of culture. Then my partner said it applies to tired parents that have to wait until the child(ren) go to sleep to “get lucky” and the song suddenly had a completely new meaning.

9. Fall Out Boy “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark”

I know. I should not like this song. I first heard it when I saw the video and I was disgusted. Especially coming from an album called “Save Rock and Roll,” I mean pretentious much? Then I heard it when it came out on “The Originals” teaser from CW and it was over. So now this song reminds me of Klaus and I can’t help myself.

8. HAIM, “The Wire”

I’d heard of this band but didn’t really think to check them out until they came out on SNL and I was pleasantly surprised. Their performance was full of quirky faces that earned them some criticism because “it made them look ugly” according to twitter mentions. Because I mean, a woman performing can not look ugly people! It’s just not rock and roll! Wait… Oh yeah guys make weird faces when they’re playing all the time and it’s no big deal. Anyway, the song rocks and these ladies rock and they remind me of The Cars a little.

7. Grouplove “Ways To Go”

This is one of those songs that I don’t really get into at first but somehow they make me curious about and then I realize it’s pretty good.

6. Fitz and The Tantrums “Out of My League”

This song is infectious, so 80s but done the right way and it’s just a cute song that makes me happy. Don’t hear it too often though, it will get ruined quick.  

5. La Santa Cecilia “Monedita”

Most of the songs on my list are in English but like I said I haven’t really been connected to the music world and for “rock en espanol,” radio only plays the really really famous acts. Anyway, I did manage to find La Santa Cecilia after I kept seeing their name mentioned everywhere from my musically inclined friends from facebook so I checked them out and this is their catchiest song but it’s also full of content and is a critique on consumer society that is willing to go into debt to “look good”. Their song “Ice El Hielo” deserves honorable mention as well, especially because of its lyrics that describe the hardships of immigration.

4. The Neighbourhood “Sweater Weather”

Every other state hates on Southern Cali because we have the sun all the time and people wear shorts in December. My partner and I always talk about leaving because it’s overcrowded but we have to admit the weather is great. We loved leaving in Long Beach and will go back there once we have enough money but we rarely went to the actual beach, so I loved that line in this song: “I hate the beach but I stay in California with my feet in the sand.” Sand is kind of messy and then there’s lots of people but leaving close to the beach is still nice.

Musically this song is also quite delightful. The old school feeling and beat is calming and breezy.

3. Capital Cities “Safe and Sound”

That electric drum in the beginning is just hilariously awesome. I would have made fun of this song if this was say 1999 but it isn’t and it’s time to dance! I like to dance, I may not like electronic music much but this is fine. I can dance this all night.

2. Lorde, “Royals”

There’s an old world feeling to Lorde’s voice. I don’t know how she accomplishes that given her young age but I applaud it. I was surprised to like this song because I don’t really like rap but my partner reassured me this was not rap but rather more like dub so that’s much better. It’s also basically just pop but I’ve made my peace with liking pop, because I do believe there is good pop and this is a good example. Either way it’s a great song and the lyrics aren’t bad either. In fact one of the reasons I don’t like a lot of rap is because all they talk about is precisely because of everything Lorde criticizes in this song and it doesn’t just happen in rap of course, any rock star that starts talking about how hard it is to be rich and famous and decadent isn’t attractive.

1. Arctic Monkeys, “Do I Wanna Know?”

My partner told me about this song first because he knew I would like it but I didn’t really pay much attention. He knows what I like more than I do sometimes. It’s this weird thing that happens when you spend too much time with someone. Anyway, I love this song, it’s the best Arctic Monkeys song I’ve heard. I feel like they have certainly improved their sound. That guitar riff is just killer. It is certainly the best song this year.

The Problem with September

I was going to post a blog about our gardening this summer but I am so depressed about Rafa Saavedra’s death that I have to postpone that.

It’s weird because part of me just needs to make this post Spanglish, because that is what Rafa wrote, that’s what he lived, that’s what i learned from him.

I remember going to a cafe in Mexico City and finding Moho magazine, a literature magazine full of very disturbed stories, not all of them good. Saavedra’s story “Vomito en el Freeway” (I vomit in the freeway) impressed me so much. He was a citizen of Tijuana in what TIME magazine has named MexAmerica, the informal country in between Mexico and the US where people speak between English and Spanish with no trouble at all. I was taught it was sacrilege to mix languages together, pocho was just a never, but Rafa didn’t care about that. He’d cross the bilingual border over and over, didn’t care who’d follow, but he would always hold out a hand in case you wanted to join.

It pains me that such a great writer is now gone. I’d even dare to say he influenced my writing so much. At one point he was my favorite writer, in college when I’d love reading “El problema de enero” (The problem with January) every end of January like religion. I really wished I had met him in person, maybe even taken an awkward picture with him.

He was one of the first writers in Mexico to cross the cyber border and make a place for himself among the vines of the interweb, nestled between what is now modern blogging. A true cybernaut. You’ll be missed Rafa Dro (that was his DJ name, because writing was only one of his passions).

Dystopian worlds and midnight kisses, with fangs

I’ve been falling down the YA hole for a while now. Recently it’s gotten worse. It all started when I saw the “Twilight” film. I have a thing for vampires, which I’ve explained here. But I only started reading it because I really liked the movie. I enjoyed reading the saga, it reminded me of my awkward teenage years, which is when I read lots of vampire books and wished for a boyfriend. I know there’s a lot of problems with the series, I’m not going to defend it. I’m not a “twihard,” I just enjoyed reading it. Now please let’s move on.

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Then time passed and at first “Hunger Games” didn’t appeal to me because I thought like many that it was a rip off of “Battle Royale,” which I had seen and did not enjoy much. Then my dad said I should watch it and since he usually recommends good  movies, I did. I was completely and utterly blown away. I think I got the book the next day.

The story may not be new, but the way to tell it is. Turns out there is a novel by Stephen King  under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman called “The Long Walk” about a dystopian society where 100 boys must walk until they die and there is only one winner. It was King’s first novel and was published in 1979 (Although Carrie was pusblished in 1974, King has stated he wrote “The Long Walk” first).

The difference is that King wrote about boys, and Suzanne Collins wrote about a girl (and boys but mainly a girl). “Battle Royale” was also based on a book by Koushun Takami, published in 1999. So who ripped off who? Don’t know, don’t care. the point is “Hunger Games” brings girls to the fighting arena, so to speak.

This is what I think set my fangirl hormones in motion. Scott Mendelson wrote an interesting article in Forbes about how simplicity in marketing for a film can make or break a franchise. What I found most intriguing was his argument that “young-adult literary adaptations could well-be the female-skewing blockbuster alternative to the boy-centric superhero films that dominate multiplexes.” Of course, women should have their own superheroine movie, but even Wonder Woman  can’t get a break in the silver screen (except in animated form, like on “Flash Point Paradox,” where she is both terrifying and amazing).

What ultimately drew me to read “Divergent” was not that it was “the next Hunger Games,” but that it was part of a world where I could geek out about. They were in Comic-Con, where sure even “Breaking Bad” was there, but somehow the world of fandom felt inviting. I’ve always been a little intimidated by comics for some reason although I’ve read a few (X-Men and American Vampire), but I prefer reading them in bulk. Trilogies and sagas are a little more my style. Of course, I do feel awkward when most of the fans are much younger than me. But I figured if my husband is not embarrassed when he pulls out his Superman wallet, why should I be embarrassed to wear my mockingjay necklace?

I had stopped reading fiction since college, and after that I think my world revolved around music and friends so much that I lost interest in reading. YA has reconnected me with my old love of reading.

I should mention that my reading level is higher in Spanish, because yes I know I’m too old to read and geek out so much on YA. Since English is my second language I’ve realized by reading a passage of Divergent in Spanish that it doesn’t grab me as much in my native language. I don’t think I would have finished the first book if I had read it in Spanish. In fact I remember I tried reading Harry Potter in Spanish and I couldn’t read more than the first page. Although it might have been the subject matter. Magic is just not my cup of tea. Dystopian and vampires are pretty much my areas of interest.

Illustration of quote from Divergent (Veronica Roth) created by Zack Hopeful

Illustration of quote from Divergent (Veronica Roth) created by Zack Hopeful

I just finished reading Delirium (the first  and second book, Pandemonium) and I really liked it. The idea that love can be a disease is interesting. I certainly think it can be, when it becomes an obsession.

Which brings me to why I started writing this blog post at three in the morning while I should have been sleeping since I have to work tomorrow. Instead I’m obsessing about sappy lines and authoritarian governments.

I really really love the combination of decaying societies and midnight kisses. I loved reading “1984” and “Brave New World” in high school but romance wasn’t a big part of them. I didn’t really care for romantic scenes back then though. I was a much more intellectual person then, or so I thought. Maybe I’ve just gone soft over the years. They were both also from the male point of view, so I really like that there is so much speculative fiction out there now with “strong female characters” and so strong, in the case of Bella, for example. Either way, female characters are making their mark in dystopias and fantastic worlds and I could not be happier.

The only adult book I’ve read recently is “Truth in Advertising” by John Kenney which I enjoyed very much. So if anyone has a suggestion for non YA books that are kind of disenchanted with society but still searching for meaning and maybe being hopeful then please let me know. Or recommend more dystopian love, either way.

FCC will release Low Power FM stations to non profits

The Federal Communications Commission will accept applications from local non profit organizations to acquire licenses in the FM radio frequency. The applications will be accepted from October 15th to the 29th, 2013.

Further details can be found here:FCC LPFM details

today’s links: Riot grrrls, Spanish, Turkey

I use facebook to share a lot of articles, but I don’t post on my blog as often as I should. So I thought, why not just combine some of those links in one post and stop posting so many links to articles on the fb?

So here’s my first attempt.

Lot’s of stuff coming out about the riot grrrl movement lately. There is a new documentary about Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna called “The Punk Singer” and there is the book “The Riot Grrrl Collection,” which this article (LA Times) describes in detail.

Here’s an article (LA Times) about the new book “The story of Spanish,” which offers a glimpse of the history of the Castilian language that has evolved as more tongues have used it around the world.

Turkey protests take a quieter stance, starting with one man. You can see pictures and timeline here. (NPR)

These are some links for now.

Julieta Venegas’ Moments

The other day I was lamenting myself because I no longer find the same excitement for music as I used to. There are so many new bands that I don’t even bother to even check out and I think it’s because I’ve reached a musical climax or plateau where nothing seems good anymore. Or that I’m showing signs of old age. Or that old phrase that there’s nothing new under the sun. Then I heard Venegas had released a new album and that it was better than the vapid and unsavory “Si” and “Limon y Sal”.  I actually hadn’t even bothered to listen to “Otra Cosa,” which she released in 2010, because the reviews were not particularly impressive. Well, I told myself, I will check it out, with an open mind and only because after “Bueninvento,” which is her best album and an excellent compilation of breakup songs, her happiness didn’t impress  me in her next albums when she had found love and happiness, but her Unplugged album showed her musical skills and good collaborations with other musicians. She produced better versions of ‘Lento’ and ‘Algo esta cambiando.’ Before you say those albums are just more pop and there is nothing wrong with that, I should say that I know good pop and I think her Unplugged collaborator Natalia Lafourcade does it better.

Musically, I think “Momentos” doesn’t explore anything new, like she heard Foster the People and put some synthesizers to work. She didn’t go too far from her line of work and didn’t venture into places that would be ridiculous for her but I don’t feel there’s much difference between each song, particularly the first half of the album. However, her lyrics have certainly evolved and before I listened I hoped for that delicious bitterness which makes “Bueninvento” a strong drink but I was amazed by her maturity, instead of receiving rage, she took the long road and did not say what is “’Nothing important.” Maybe now that she is a mother she has a better perspective of what is truly important. I’ve heard that happens. ‘Vuelve’ is one of the best songs for her honest lyrics and social commentary, something new for her. Her body of work is mainly introspective.

Even though it’s not as intriguing or as interesting as I’d like, it’s better than her other pop albums and I hope to see better development of the electro pop element in her next album. In other words, good job Julieta, keep trying. Thanks for waking me from my musical slumber.

The Menstrual Cup

I’ve been reading a lot about menstruation lately. About how we have considered menstruation as a shameful process for a long time that would be best not to have at all in our lives. I remember the terror I felt when my mother informed me what would happen with my body every month and when it finally happened, the terrible shame I felt going to the store to buy pads with my cousin. I also remember the disgust I felt when I found out about the menstrual cups. The idea of having to introduce it with my fingers and get them full of blood seemed revolting, until one of the videos where a woman explained how to use the cups I heard her say “it’s your own blood, get over it,” which made reconsider this issue which has been handed down from generation to generation that our blood is dirty, that we can’t talk about it or even mention it, much less touch it. It is certainly a bodily waste fluid, however I think our attitude towards menstruation is a little extreme and the use of the menstrual cup has made me question all this.

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It’s my third month using the menstrual cup and it’s been a learning process. From learning how to put it on, to knowing my own body even more. The YouTube videos have been useful, but the actual practice has been the best way to learn, because each of our bodies is different.
 
I felt the need to use the cup not just because it’s more environmentally responsible but also because every pad out there available at most stores has some sort of “thermo control” chemical or component that literally sucks everything out of you and can even affect your Ph balance. I understand the smell is unpleasant but I think damaging my Ph is taking it one step too far.  I used to think the itchiness I felt after my period was over was normal until I read that it’s caused by the “thermo control” that ends up sucking up more than it should from my vagina. I never felt comfortable using tampons and I thought the cup would be uncomfortable too, but once I learned how to put it on, I have not found it uncomfortable at all. I still sanitary panty liners (found some natural ones online) but as my training wheels come off I’ll be pad free pretty soon!

I strongly recommend using the cup, it’s intimidating I know, I bought just in the middle of one of my cycles but I decided to wait until the next one because I was too freaked out. But as I’ve gotten more comfortable with it, I really find it is more in line with my body. It will save you money, it’s eco friendly and somehow I feel it has made me more comfortable with my cycle.

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I finally got myself a bike. The wrong one for the hills of Los Angeles’ streets, but at least it’s pretty… Anyway I got it a week before the Luna Ride, and I knew I should have tried it out before and ride around the streets a little more before going out on a long ride but to be honest I’ve been scared. Scared of cars and streets and I don’t know how people do it on a daily basis! I have a cousin who lives in Mexico City, one of the world’s craziest urban jungles and he braves the streets on a bike. I can’t even think about going down the street by myself in this more subdued urban jungle of East Los Angeles or even the suburban jungle of Ontario. So I went looking for some bravery on the Luna Ride, or as the Ovarian Psycos Cycle Brigade would say, some ovarian power. There’s a reason their slogan is “Ovaries so big we don’t need no balls.” It is an all female, and female-identified bike crew, who also finish their rides with community meetings about social issues. This time the ride would end at East Side Café with a talk about the Zapatista movement.

I honestly thought that if I was just too tired I would tell them I was going to stop somewhere and call my husband to pick me up. But the Ovas weren’t having it. When they say they leave no one behind, they mean it!

The ride started out in Pershing Square, and though I was trembling and I felt so scared I also felt excited and just wrapped in this safety blanket of sisterhood bonding and all those warm fuzzy words I read about but never truly experienced until now.

About 25 women headed out from the Square onto Sixth Street, as one of them blasts music from their ipod snuggled inside a ukulele and street lights flash all around us. It’s all a blur of lights and night, people standing, looking at us ride out, a male voice yells “Boooooo!,” taunting us, some ladies yell back “Whose streets? Our Streets!”

“Why are they booing us? Because we’re all women?” asks the young lady riding next to me, who is also riding with the Ovas for the first time.

I am close to the first riders, but soon I start lagging behind, by the time the first hill rolls by I’m done, or at least my defeating mind thinks I am. I hear encouraging yells, “Come on girl, you can do it!,” “Keep going!”

We’re somewhere in L.A. I can’t see the names of streets, I can only focus on pedaling forward, trying to breathe, trying not to die. I’m not athletic, I don’t like running, I don’t like going to the gym, but this is as fun as it is exhausting. I feel the cold air rushing to my face, taunting me as it is encouraging all at the same time. It’s good weather for a run like this, a little chilly but not unbearably so, and the rain that forecasters warned about has decided not to make a cameo for the time being.

Another young woman stays behind with me. It’s Irma’s first ride with the Ovas too, but she’s been riding for 11 years, she suggests I put my seat up, because she notices my knees are bending too much. I bought a kid’s bike because I’m so short and with my last bike I basically had to jump out of every time I had to stop. It might have been a big mistake, but once they help me with the seat, riding is a little easier.

I keep going, still the last one. Maryann, on of the official members of the Ovarian Psycos and in charge of outreach, tells me I should yell “Wait!” or something but I feel too embarrassed. I know most are experienced riders, even if they haven’t been on the Luna rides, they know their bikes, they know the streets and they know what they’re doing. I don’t know if they want speed, but I know it’s getting late and I don’t want to slow them down. But still, they stop, and they wait. “Is everyone here?” “Not yet!” “Ok! Let’s roll!” and off we go, into nearly empty streets and hills.

We stand on a red light on the right side lane, then a car behind us screeches its breaks and makes us move closer to the curve. “Is everyone ok? That was scary!” asks someone. My guess is the driver got scared. I know what it’s like to see bike riders from the driver’s side and honestly not know what to do. Cars and bikes are starting to share the road, but it’s going to take a while before they start to understand where their limits are. It might take some laws and more bike lanes to shake L.A. out of it’s car culture.

I remember once getting out of the parking lot at work downtown, and heading towards the left lane, almost hitting a bike rider. He turned to me and looked as if I had willingly cut him off. I honestly didn’t see him. He wasn’t wearing anything bright enough for me to distinguish him from the urban landscape, he had blended into the street so seamlessly I wasn’t aware. Ever since then, I have become more aware of bike riders. I think that’s another part of the puzzle. Cars and bikes struggle to communicate, sometimes in a fight for street control, sometimes to look out for each other.

“Get a gear bike, if you’re serious about riding, it’s the easiest in the hills of L.A.,” suggests Josie, a mother of two who’s been riding for 11 years. It’s her first Luna ride, but she got rid of her car 4 years ago. “Honestly, it’s f—– hard! I mean it’s been glorified, but in reality riding everywhere is hard. If it rains, I have to think about how I to take my son to school,” she says. I honestly wouldn’t get that far. My new year’s resolution is to use my car less, but I don’t think I would get to the point of not using a car. I do definitely admire those who have taken the leap, or those who have never even bothered to ever buy a car. My friend Adam and my cousin Carlos are two of those kinds of freaks. Just kidding, I say that lovingly, they know that.

When I told people I was selling my car, some would instantly ask “But how will get around?” their confused and perplexed faces seemed to be asking, “But how will you breathe?” Yes, this is L.A. and cars still rule the streets, but there’s a new generation of bike riders that are challenging that. I did get another car, but I also got a bike, of course I didn’t get the right one, but it’s a process.

There’s another pit stop in front of a Zapata statue, or at least that’s what the other womyn say it is, I can’t find a plaque that states it but it’s a Charro riding a horse. I have no idea what street it was, I was trying to find my water and not faint. (Womyn is how many new feminists write women, because it removes the “men” part and it still reads as the dictionary-accepted spelling. I have also read wombyn, making reference to our wombs.)

We start rolling again. I don’t know how I’m still going, but I am. Then another hill comes. That’s it. I get off. I know I won’t make it otherwise. Albert, who I’m assuming is womyn-identified since it’s supposed to be a womyn and womyn-identified only ride, stays with me this time. “Use your heels, that’s where your strength is, use your thighs” he says. Or is it she? I don’t know… I don’t ask. I can’t even breathe. Whatever comes up… must gloriously come down. Finally the down side of the hill, but wait, now it’s too fast. I’m not used to the back pedal, my old bike had hand breaks. Slowly breaking. I’m so glad I didn’t fall.

We hit a gas station, some go in for snacks. That’s when Irma, Josie and her other two friends say goodbye, they’re hungry and there’s no food where our final stop will be. I consider staying at the gas station and calling the hubs. I check the map, we’re only supposed to be a mile away. Just one mile. I call him anyway but tell him to meet me there. I can make it. Somehow just one more mile seems possible, and I really want to get to the finish line. So I keep going. We keep going. It’s nothing really, except it’s still hill. This is why I’ve never loved L.A. I like L.A., but unlike most of Mexico City, where I grew up, it’s all hills. I don’t even like driving in hills, it’s this fear I have. San Francisco is out for me. We get to East Side Café, where womyn from the collective group ARMA will talk about the Zapatista uprising. I can’t even believe we got there. I can’t believe I did it!

Before the talks starts, Maryann thanks all of us for staying and being there. She thanks me, even though I feel self-conscious and embarrassed that I couldn’t keep up. “Sorry I kept slowing down.” “No, this is why we do this,” she and Gloria say, another official member of the Ovas.

Without Irma’s, Josie’s, Albert’s and Maryann’s help, company, conversation, and encouragement, and without all the companionship of all the womyn on the Luna Ride, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. Still, once we sit down to hear the womyn speak, I feel like weak sauce. I’m almost falling. Then Gloria, sitting next to me, starts passing some hot cheetos, trail mix, peanuts, gummy bears. Whatever, I’ll eat it. I start being able to breathe again. Suddenly, sitting down listening to the ARMA womyn I feel it. This indescribable sense of magic and peace, something that could only happen under the full moon and I feel my strength coming back. Or is it mine? It’s all of ours’.